How Juanpa Zurita became an international superstar @eljuanpazurita

juanpa zurita

By Mark Schaefer

In 2014, before Juanpa Zurita became an international entertainer, model, and YouTube star, he was a silly kid making wacky six-second videos on Vine.

This is his story …

One morning I woke up to more than 1,000 tweets demanding that I follow a guy named ElJuanPaZurita. Certainly an interesting way to start your day.

When I dug down to the bottom of the pile, I discovered that a young man named Juan Pablo Zurita had tweeted me with a request to follow him so we could chat. The tsunami of tweets? His fans trying to help him. His … fans?

juanpazuritaTurns out the 18-year-old Mexican not only has about a million fans, he also has a manager. The young man emerged virtually overnight as an international sensation and is making a comfortable living as a “Viner” creating funny six-second videos nearly every day. He is so famous that he is asked for autographs when recognized on the street in New York.

He wanted to ask me some questions about the future of the Internet, so I invited him to have a Skype chat. I discovered that Juan Pablo is a talented, grounded, and extraordinary young man with a vision of accomplishing much more in this world beyond funny Vine videos. I wanted to share his story with you.

Here is an interview with Juan Pablo Zurita, teen heart-throb, creative genius, and one of the world’s greatest Viners:

Mark: What you do is NOT easy! I am astounded by the intense creativity it takes to be consistently entertaining in six seconds! How do you keep coming up with new ideas?

Juan Pablo: It’s actually easy … every day of my life I experience stuff that happens to a lot of people, so I simply take these funny coincidences in life and make them funnier! Sometimes I run out of ideas but another one always pops in a little while.

On the other hand, it’s not always “real stuff” on my Vines. I also might create a “mini” movie with a joke in it, create some scenario that doesn’t really exist. I make fun of current events and stuff in the news … but always with respect.

You often use special effects like stop motion to create zany scenarios. On average, how much time does it take each day to edit and produce a Vine video?

Some videos I can come up with in a minute or less. But most of my Vines take much more time, 10-30 minutes to film, and more time spent in editing. Sometimes it takes me hours to film a six-second video, because I have to drive to another place, or change clothes, etc.

Tell us a little about how you got started. What do you think ignited your content and attracted so many fans?

I first started doing Vines in English because I thought that interest in Vine didn’t exist in Mexico. But when I got up to 1,500 followers, I realized there was great interest here. I contacted other Mexican Viners with more or less the same amount of followers as me and started making videos in Spanish and collaborating with them. We helped each other to learn and grow our followers together.

About the million fans that I have now … I really don’t know what happened. It seemed like it almost happened over night.

The first time I was asked for an autographed picture was when I had 3,000 followers.

juanpazuritaI think people feel connected to the Vines I do. They live those same experiences and that makes a bond between the us. And because the videos are so natural, organic and looping … People really love them and it gets to a point when they admire you. I think it’s crazy! I still don’t understand this Vine phenomenon or how it happened but I do have to say that it has changed my life. My fans have helped me achieve a lot of important things in Mexico, and I love them.

In just a few months, you have become an Internet star. How has this impacted your personal life?

Totally, Vine had an impact like nothing else in the world, not like YouTube, not like Twitter, Instagram, or anything. It was one huge BOOM.

My life totally changed in several ways. People started recognizing me in the streets and asked for pictures. At the beginning they said “you’re the guy from Vine!” and then it was “you are JuanPa Zurita” as if I was an artist they admire.

Then I was asked to be on TV shows and attend meet-ups and conferences in different states in Mexico … Really crazy!

And of course I started making money, not only with Vine, but also Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, because as Vine grew, my other social networks grew too. So at the beginning Vine was a hobby but it has become a responsibility and I treat it like a job.

But the most important thing is to always remember who you really are. I am just a kid with a good sense of humor. I know that. A lot of well-known Viners have really changed, thinking they are actually famous and they have stopped being humble. I want to always know who I really am.

juanpazuritaWhat kind of money do you make as a Viner? What kind of sponsors do you have and how do they find you?

I do make money on Vine but because of my audience I also have sponsors on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I also charge for appearances at conferences and shows.

So, the way it works is that a brand gets in contact with me and asks if they can sponsor a certain amount of Vines/posts/tweets, and I agree or disagree depending on the payment. Sometimes I chat with the brand for several days to achieve the price that I want or just not accept it.

I also have a manager that is in contact with a lot of brands and he offers me several deals. If he gets me a campaign he gets 20 percent of the payment and he handles everything for me. But in the end it’s me who decides if I want to do the campaign or not.

I have worked with a lot of brands, small and big ones in several social networks. I’ve done pictures for Motorola, tweets for movies like The Fault in our Stars, and Vines for Coca Cola, Axe, Bubaloo, and many others. I work in Twitter and Vine for Telcel. It’s the biggest mobile phone company in Mexico.

How long can you sustain a career as a Viner? Where do you go from here? What’s next?

I believe Vine has a strong future. It has had its epic moment and right now growth on Vine is stable.

On the other hand I am starting to make Snapchat stories … this is a whole new and different thing. I think you have a bigger connection with the followers. It’s like a window into your personal life and I think it’s going to get even more important in the next years.

Then of course there are opportunities on YouTube, which I do not consider as a social network, but mainstream entertainment. A huge future. I’m going to start making YouTube content to the max! The key is to always be consistent, and have an honest presence in all social networks.

About sustaining a career … I believe I can sustain a career doing what I do on the Internet. But if I have the opportunity to study in college, why not take it? Even though I have a profitable career, following through on an education is important. I’m not abandoning the Internet, I am just making my opportunities larger.

By associating my college career with my Internet career I believe I can do even bigger things in the future and have an unbelievable impact on people.

Since I conducted this interview, JuanPa has exploded on the social media scene. He has not pursued a college career and Vine was discontinued as a social media service. However, JuanPa effortlessly moved into Instagram and YouTube where is an even bigger star. He has 30 million followers.

Zurita appeared in the YouTube Red original movie “Alexander IRL,” a teen comedy released earlier this month starring Nathan Kress and Brent Rivera. He will co-star in “Airplane Mode,” a film written by digital creator Logan Paul. Zurita also walked the runway at Dolce & Gabbana’s show in Milan this past weekend and recently signed a contract to be represented by Creative Artists Agency.

He has indeed leveraged his fame to create good in the world, recently raising more than $2 million dollars for earthquake relief,

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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