By Emma McDowell
Like much of Generation Z, Maggie Atcheson grew up playing with technology. Before the days of being able to film with a movie-quality phone, Atcheson played with her dad’s video camera. She filmed at-home videos with her twin cousins, Megan and Ciera Stitz. Eventually, her dad bought a MacBook, and the trio of girls discovered the magic of iMovie. They started editing the videos on iMovie and quickly found a love for the hobby.
In 2011, Atcheson and her cousins started uploading their videos to YouTube. At the time, YouTube was only five years old and nowhere near the giant it is today. The only famous YouTuber Atcheson knew at the time was Fred. Youtube was simply a convenient place to save the trio’s videos, not an avenue for internet success.
Their channel, TheCheernastics2, followed them through their teenage years and continues to be a regular part of their lives today. It boasts over two million subscribers and 500 million views.
Originally, their content focused on their after-school activities of cheerleading and gymnastics with videos like “Family gymnastics challenge,” and “How to get your back handspring in one day.” Now, they post a mix of fitness and lifestyle content.
Growing up, Atcheson never felt different from her peers despite her large following. She lived through a normal adolescence and enjoyed sharing her passions with an audience. Looking back, she says she’s able to understand that there were things affecting her childhood that she didn’t realize.
“I got my validation a lot from comments, people telling me that what I was doing was good. As our channel has died down, I’ve realized it’s important for me to find validation in myself,” Atcheson said.
Currently, all three women attend college full-time and are able to maintain a regular uploading schedule for their channel.
“It’s something that I’ve always juggled in my schedule for ten years now, so it’s become easier for me as I’ve experienced it more. When school classes start, I put classes first and YouTube will take the backburner,” Atcheson said.
Atcheson entered college with knowledge of her passions and an understanding that she wanted to pursue creative endeavors. After exploring journalism and public relations, she landed on advertising. Without the push from YouTube and social media, Atcheson doesn’t know what she would be doing today.
While at Greenlee, Atcheson has utilized her content creation skills in classes such as JL MC 307, “Digital Video Production.” She often draws on experience creating content for her shared and personal brand while completing schoolwork.
She has also found ways to translate her college education into strengthening her social media presence. As an advertising major, she often learns about practical marketing strategies that can be applied to her brand.
Atcheson is thankful for the opportunities her YouTube channel has afforded her. While their channel was at the height of its popularity, the cousins traveled, built a personal brand and paved the way for a successful career. She’s unsure of her path after graduation but feels confident about the future.