- Ethan Marrell, known online as Ozzy Man Reviews, has 11 million Facebook followers and 4.6 million YouTube subscribers.
- Marrell is an online content creator who does comedic video reviews of everything from influencers to the coronavirus.
- As part of Business Insider Australia’s Under The Influence series, Marrell spoke about trying to become a traditional filmmaker and ending up one of Australia’s most popular creators, some of the mistakes he made along the way and how he makes money online.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Just a few years ago, Ethan Marrell was performing children’s education theatre in Western Australia. Today, Marrell leads a team behind the Ozzy Man Reviews, one of Australia’s biggest names in online content.
Marrel is the inaugural subject of the Under The Influence series, which interviews Australia’s top online content makers about their content, career, how they make money and what sets them apart from other creators.
How would you describe your work in a sentence?
Every Ozzy Man Reviews video should feel like a great party. Raucous, fun, top notch music, and overall ya don’t want it to end.
Tell us about your audience: how big is it, who and where are they?
On YouTube it’s at 4.6 million subscribers. The Facebook audience is at 11 million followers. Instagram 1.7 million, Tik Tok 800k and on and on and on we go. In regards to who, I’d assume it’s a crowd predominantly consisting of human beings ay. Maybe a couple of dogs and cats watch the videos. The biggest geographies for me are the USA, UK/Ireland, Australia, Canada, India, Philippines, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, and South Africa.
Before you started creating content professionally, what did you do?
I have a Diploma in Screen from 2005, so traditional filmmaking was a big part of my life for a decade, especially screenwriting. I travelled to Los Angeles 6 times in my early twenties pitching ridiculous screenplays to companies. I also have a Masters in Internet Communications from Curtin University in 2013. I focused a lot on internet culture in that degree – from web media such as remixing, mashing up, memes to entertainment law, social media web 2.0 vs web 1.0, politics and power online and many more units. It was a prolific time of essay writing for me. Getting a higher education is the best decision I’ve ever made.
I also used to do stand up comedy between 2003 to 2007 (National Finalist for Raw Comedy in 2005, National Finalist for FHM Search for Australia’s Funniest Man in 2005). Bloody hell, I’ve worked a lot of jobs. Planet Video in Mount Lawley, Walkabout Pub in England, performing Bogan Bingo around Perth and Western Australia. Performing children’s theatre for Constable Care in WA.
I ended my 20’s and began my 30’s being very, very, very exhausted and I wanted to quit working in the arts, but that’s precisely when Ozzy Man Reviews blew up via the Game of Thrones recaps and reviews.
When did you first decide to go pro?
There was never a conscious decision to become professional. I think if you have an inclination towards a creative vocation (screen, web media, music, theatre) you just keep playing and experimenting. Eventually, all of the experience you gain throughout your twenties in particular amounts to…something. If you’re in a creative industry for the right reasons (passion vs fame and money) there will be a pay off in future.
What’s your average day like?
I always liked Jerry Seinfeld talking about the moment he saw construction workers going to work at 6am and decided to approach his comedy and writing in a similar manner. I’m up at 6am because of my 2 year-old-son anyways, so my day starts early and I want to be getting to work like “a normal person” by 9am. I check emails, I check inboxes and look at what the fans want to work on, I talk to half a dozen staff members I have helping with merchandise, content research, editing and writing…and we all get to work.
The concept of Ozzy Man Reviews can be very broad, I can take it wherever I like on any given day in terms of topics to look at, so this helps keep it very fresh.
You don’t have to say exactly but ballpark: how much do you earn and where does that money come from?
I don’t wanna go into figures because the industry of making content for social media is still maturing, so earnings fluctuate drastically month by month, year by year. The ecosystem of earning money from ad revenue remains the core cash cow for creators (pre-roll ads, mid-rolls ads in videos). I’ll tell ya that December was a big month leading up to Christmas because advertisers spend more money online, and January will result in about 50% less revenue.
The only way to gain stability is through multiple revenue streams. I earn revenue from ads being served in my videos on YouTube and Facebook only, and beyond that there’s merchandising and bespoke sponsorships to consider as additional revenue streams. It’s a lot to juggle and keep in a healthy state business-wise, but it’s the only way to maintain stability financially. Like any business I suppose…diversification, new opportunities etc. are all great to explore.
Have you ever had a bad experience working with a brand or partner?
Yeah, absolutely, and often it’s my fault. There are so many opportunities to consider weekly it can result in the old “biting off more than you can chew” scenario. Because revenue streams and popularity feel so volatile every week (even due to my own self-deprecation or paranoia) I find myself saying “yes” to things too much. And then I grill myself. e.g. “I’m in my goddamn mid-30’s, why am I not saying NO more and just moving on, instead of wasting my time and other people’s by becoming an unreliable fuckwit.”
There are a million creators out there, but you’re one of the best. What separates you from other creators?
I like that I’m older than many people in this industry. There’s a lot of attention and communication that comes your way as you become a popular content creator online. The positive aspects of why it’s cool are also what make it very negative. For example, people like that there’s a differentiation between traditional celebrities and new media celebrities. An online content creator can be seen as being more accessible, engaging in a many-to-many conversation and collaborating with fans etc.
This is all great and very empowering as a creator, comedian, artist or whatever you are, no agents or managers are required, no middle-men distributors with your work, a direct and unobstructed line to a fanbase…but mentally, it’s a lot of responsibility to take on and can burn ya out.
Maybe a lot of YouTubers in their early 20’s are reminiscent of traditional celebrities that broke out in their younger years too… It’s a lot of attention coming at ya fast. It’s so much to manage creatively and business-wise. You must pace yourself, surround yourself with top notch people, and keep remembering why you like doing what you do.
What other Aussie creators are doing work that you like?
My favourites are Fairbairn Films, RackaRacka, Superwog, and Georgia Productions. They are fantastic, creative, funny and talented as fuck entertainers. And lovely people.
What do you think you’ll be doing in 5 years?
Exactly what I’m doing now as long as I enjoy it and the fanbase still enjoys it. That’s all that matters.
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