Keelin Moncrieff: "I’m only hot and young for a small portion of life, I might as well take advantage of it"
You're reading Her's digital cover story. September 2020's star is self-proclaimed anti-blogger and YouTube star, Keelin Moncrieff.
“You need to have a certain amount of confidence - and I do."
Keelin Moncrieff doesn't make a conscious effort to curate her content.
Unlike many of the bloggers and influencers out there, she finds it easier to just "be real."
"I wouldn’t make a video that came across fake," she tells Her. "If I did watch something back and felt like I was trying to fit a certain criteria, I don’t think I’d put it out.
"If I was filtering what I was saying, I wouldn’t upload it. It wouldn’t be interesting."
At 22-years-old, Keelin has already identified her gap in the social media market - and dominated it.
Daughter to broadcaster Sean Moncrieff, she began her career on Snapchat Stories, later moving to YouTube to find a permanent home for her content.
The platform allowed her to amass a following of (at the time of writing) 54,000 subscribers, all eager to listen to her talk about her life, her relationships, her fashion, and whatever else she wants to, really.
People like Keelin's content because it appears to be real. For the most part, her life isn't so far away from your own. She could be your big sister or your friend.
What you see online is what you get in real life. "It's kind of like you already know me," she says.
Keelin has long been known as the "anti-blogger." She's got the followers, but she's not trying to keep them happy. They listen to her, but she's not an expert. She's selling you her life, "I'm not not selling a product."
“The traditional blogger comes with a marketing tactic, they're a peer-to-peer trusted voice ," she says. "I’ve never really seen myself that way. I sell ideas about lifestyle and my own experiences.
"That's why I stick out, especially among the bloggers in Ireland. I’m unique in that way."
Keelin's videos follow the standard YouTube format, but her approach generally doesn't.
She uses social media to discuss things that matter to her: sustainable fashion, the dismantling of Direct Provision, vegan food, sex, upcycling, music, and her newest vlogs, to name but a few.
In one of her most recent uploads, 'happy girl diaries GRWM [get ready with me]' she apologises for rambling at the start of the video. "It is fully just my train of thought," she says, "puked onto a screen."
Keelin doesn't like the term 'blogger' because it doesn't represent her, but she doesn't mind 'influencer' because, essentially, that's what she's doing: influencing.
"I am influencing people in some ways, but I'm not influencing any kind of consumerism. Or at least I don't think I am," she says.
"Humans are inherently made that way, it’s all monkey see, monkey do. Whether I do something negative or positive, that's probably going to influence some of my followers.
"But I’m definitely not an expert. Most of the time, I don’t actually know what I’m doing."
Staggering audiences of 50,000 - and counting - are part and parcel for content creators who share parts of themselves online. They're adored for their insights, but criticised for their mistakes. They're applauded for their confidence, but shamed for being audacious. They're admired for being real, and treated like they are not.
“People don’t see us as human," says Keelin. "It’s like you’re a robot putting stuff on the internet.
“If you’re using a massive platform you should have thicker skin, it’ll just come naturally, but that doesn’t excuse online abuse."
When it comes to online hate, Keelin doesn't get a lot of it. Mild criticism, sure, but she's adamant that she's not going to let it get to her. Rather, she tries to learn from it.
“I don't exacerbate negativity. I’ll either ignore it or delete it," she says. "But there's a difference between productive criticism and hate.
"If I mis-word something or I accidentally say something offensive I’m open to accepting that and taking responsibility. A lot of people can’t do that, admit that they’re wrong. It’s way more respectable if you do admit a mistake rather than sweeping it under the rug."
Keelin points to the recent controversy surrounding Dublin's Berlin Bar and their recent 'Baked Brunch' event as a case of criticism turned nasty.
Following a video depicting a staff member standing on the bar and pouring shots into attendees' mouths, influencer Jess Brennan was bombarded with messages from members of the public. She later issued a statement saying that she had received "floods of abuse" for her involvement in the event.
“Jess Brennan didn’t deserve that," says Keelin. "She was getting death threats. There was no empathy there.
"We shouldn’t be so focused on cancel culture because you’re not allowing for the progression of humanity at all. People are just broken down and they go into hiding.
"Criticism is needed, but there has to be room for redemption too."
The small amount of straight-forward hate Keelin does get tends to be borne out of unawareness, a misunderstanding of who she actually is and what she's about.
She's been called a "bad parent" when her younger sister has appeared in her videos. She's been deemed "self-indulgent." She's been criticised for using OnlyFans and, more specifically, for being candid about using OnlyFans.
The content subscription service, best known for its hosting of adult content, has long been lauded as an easy way for its users to make money (OnlyFans only takes a cut of about 20 percent from its creators). It has also been criticised for reinforcing the objectification of women.
Keelin isn't surprised by the criticism. In fact, she gets it.
“It can be controversial and I completely understand why people disagree with using it," she says. "There are problems with objectification but there’s also a lot of assumptions around what kind of content is on there.
"People assume I’m curating myself to appeal to the male gaze, that’s the impression they have. But 60 percent of my OnlyFans subscribers were women."
In the beginning, Keelin used her account (which is currently inactive) to sell bikini pictures for a YouTube video, an experiment to see how OnlyFans worked.
When she saw how easy it was to make money, she decided to keep the account, selling photos of her feet and donating the money to various climate change funds and women's charities.
After that, Keelin posted sex toy reviews. She chatted about consent and shared content detailing how to arouse women.
She shared side-by-side nudes, posed versus unposed, "so then all the male followers I had on there would know that porn stars are airbrushed to look a certain way."
“PornHub is so corrupt, it’s full of revenge porn and it’s pure objectification of the female body," she says. "I saw OnlyFans as a good opportunity to get away from that.
"As long as something isn’t affecting my friends or my family then I don’t see it as an issue. But I'm just one girl, and I'm never going to have a 'normal' job. Unfortunately I can't email everybody's future boss and tell them that using OnlyFans isn't going to affect your ability to work.
"I don't encourage other people to make money from OnlyFans, but I'm doing it for myself and I have that freedom. I’m only hot and young for a small portion of life, I might as well take advantage of it."
Keelin plans to reactivate her account soon. Right now, she's saving for a mortgage and her OnlyFans income should make a considerable difference.
Her substantial following on Instagram and YouTube meant that amassing a subscriber base came easy. She hasn't used the account for a while, but a couple months of activity earlier this year tided her over for much of the summer.
"It was like winning the lotto," she says. "I had never had that much money before."
Elsewhere, OnlyFans has been reprimanded for making it more difficult for some sex workers to do their jobs. The over-saturation of the market has led to more varied content, but it has also triggered fierce competition.
"It can seem like you’re leaving sex workers behind," says Keelin. "But they’ve put in the work for us OnlyFans girls.
"A lot of people see OnlyFans and sex work as different. They say ‘I wouldn’t sell myself for sex, I’m only selling images of my body,’ but it’s all under the same umbrella."
Keelin's career is online content. She's selling her lifestyle on YouTube, her clothes on Depop, and at some point, she's planning on going back to selling adult content on OnlyFans.
Like most jobs, the gig can come with its pitfalls. But for the most part, according to Keelin, the good always outweighs the bad.
“You need to have a certain amount of confidence - and I do. But I don’t have a superiority complex," she says.
"I have to focus on the positive. It can be overwhelming sometimes having that many followers, but I do enjoy it. It’s the easiest job in the world."
Images by Hal Dunne.