A 20-year-old student has found a way to earn the big bucks by making role play videos of her whispering and sharing them online.
Lottie Fellows, who is studying accounting and finance at the University of Bath, uploads videos with the aim of helping people fall asleep through autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).
ASMR is the feeling of a tingling sensation in the head, neck, spine and sometimes legs which makes people feel sleepy and relaxed.
According to Sleep.org it can be triggered by certain noises and visuals, and videos show people doing simple, quiet tasks, such as folding towels, whispering, brushing their hair, or flipping magazine pages.
Describing the feeling, the 20-year-old said:
It’s like the sensation you get from a scalp massage or when someone plays with your hair.
It’s that intense feelings of relaxation that almost makes you shake it’s so good.
Lottie experienced ASMR herself from a young age, though at the time she didn’t know what it was called. After finding out more about it last year, however, she began to get more involved.
My earliest memory of experiencing tingles was in primary school listening to a teacher softly read the class a story. The soft-spoken words and the sounds of the pages turning made my head tingle, and I would always feel sleepy.
I only discovered ASMR online in early 2018 after my mum had heard about it on the radio and suggested it to me after I’d been struggling with mental health and sleep.
I remember looking it up on YouTube and initially thinking it was the weirdest and funniest thing. After watching it for a few minutes I then realised that it was a massively relaxing feeling that I had always experienced but didn’t know exactly what it was. I have been hooked ever since.
The student created her own page in September 2018 as a hobby to help with her mental health, though she kept it quiet at first and only made the videos late at night.
Her subscriber growth was slow initially as she figured out how to film and edit, while also saving up for a new camera, microphone and lighting, but she has since racked up over 87,000 subscribers.
Lottie now has 170 videos on YouTube, some of which have over 245,000 views, and after earning £45,000 in a year her income continues to grow.
Speaking about her videos, the 20-year-old said:
I was shocked when my channel began to grow, it was very surreal.
I remember watching my videos back and cringing a bit, so knowing others were enjoying it was a surprise.
She whispers phrases such as ‘hello my darlings’ and role plays different characters, such as a medical practitioner, a big sister and a stylist to give her videos a ‘personal’ feel.
Her content is created solely for the purpose of relaxation and sleep but Lottie has said her videos can be misinterpreted as sexual.
When people say ASMR is sexual I respond with the argument that anything can be sexualised.
I can understand why slow whispering or the words ‘roleplay’ can be misinterpreted as being sexual, and there are some female creators who show a bit of cleavage to get more views.
It frustrates me because without giving it a chance people can easily dismiss ASMR as weird and sexual when actually it seriously helps so many people! In general, there is nothing sexual about ASMR, and when it’s sexualised, it’s totally misrepresented.
Last year, the University of Sheffield conducted a study into ASMR and found the videos can help people get to sleep and even aid some viewers with anxiety and depression, as they helped reduce heart rate and increase positive emotions, including relaxation and feelings of social connection.
Speaking of her work, she added:
I make ASMR because I do really enjoy it! I love using my creativity to edit videos and interacting with viewers is so lovely. People reach out to me a lot saying how my content helps them, and that motivates me to carry on.
Obviously the money is also a bonus as it means I don’t have to have a mainstream job, I have bought myself a car, and am saving money for a house deposit.
I feel lucky to get paid for doing something I love, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
ASMR videos have become a phenomenon online as celebrities such as rapper Cardi B have expressed their enjoyment of the practice.
While it doesn’t work for everyone, ASMR can help people overcome insomnia as it triggers the feeling of relaxation before bedtime.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.