At the start of a recent video, StudyTuber Elaine Herkul welcomes her subscribers—or “studypuffs,” as she calls them fondly—with a warbled greeting. “I wanted to start normally, without singing,” she goes on to explain. “But guess that didn’t work out.”
The delightfully theatrical welcome makes perfect sense because Elaine, a Methodology & Statistics Master’s student in the Netherlands, is first and foremost an actress and spoken word performer. Her Studypuff University YouTube channel is simply a much-loved side hustle.
For the uninitiated, StudyTubers are, as the label suggests, vloggers who focus on all things studying. Some dish out learning tips or review pens and pads—others live stream as they hit the books, inviting fellow students across the globe to “study with me.”
Much like ASMR, which Elaine claims she’s “too loud and high-energy” for, StudyTube crept out of nowhere around five years ago and exploded all over the internet. But why would anyone want to make such content? Some creators are definitely in it for the glory of a soaring subscriber count and the moolah this attracts.
Not Elaine, who prefers to keep her sub count locked in the same vault as her age. And although grateful for a little extra jingle in her jeans, she cares more about motivating and supporting a community that has taken several years to build.
“If money is your goal and you can make it, then great, I’m here for that. But I wanted to create an environment where people could get together, enjoy studying, be productive, learn about and from each other, and cheer each other along.”
Behind Elaine’s videos, there’s also a clear concern for the wellbeing of her studypuffs. “I teach them that there’s a lot more to life than studying. If you end up being depressed because you’re constantly working and not enjoying life, then it’s not worth getting that 10/10.”
And why would anyone want to watch such content? Explaining the genre’s appeal from Venice, Enrico Vincente broaches research by Mitsuko Tanaka. “The study shows that a good group work environment positively impacts motivation and learning outcomes.”
Enrico, who boasts 77.3K subscribers, adds, “I have had countless students write me about how their motivation and learning outcomes improved due to joining my ‘study with me’ streams.”
While this is a gig with evident appeal, degrees end. Where do StudyTubers take their channels once they’ve ritually burned the textbooks and the terror of adulthood begins?
For Elaine, currently on summer break and finding plenty of material for her online family to study along with, this is an easy question to answer. “I will probably be here as an 80-year-old grandma,” she jokes (or not). “I cannot ever imagine myself leaving the platform, even if it means that I’ll only be there once a week for five hours. I enjoy streaming too much to quit—it has been such a powerful thing in my life and in the lives of others.”
Enrico carries a similar torch for StudyTube and has no intention of leaving it behind. “I don’t think I will ever stop studying, at least to a certain extent. I would like to keep producing educational videos, and maybe some other types.”
Time will tell as to how Elaine and Enrico evolve their content. Across the pond in Toronto, Breanna Quan already has some idea of the post-uni videos she’d like to produce for her 512K subscribers—and any newbies. Inspired by older StudyTubers taking their channels in a different direction after wrapping up college, the 20-year-old suggests “a post-grad diary with a lot on learning how to ‘adult,’ live on your own, and stuff like that.” She already makes a lot of lifestyle content, so this would be a natural path to take.
Breanna also reckons that early integration of new content is key. “The shift in focus should begin gradually a few months—or even a year—before graduation. You will lose people, obviously, but you also want to start reaching a new audience.”
What about the future survival of StudyTube? This proves a more divisive question. Elaine has a hunch the genre’s popularity will wane even if it never fully falls out of favor. “Some people live further away from libraries and other places great for studying,” she reasons. “So this is the perfect place to be at.”
Enrico, meanwhile, says the numbers speak for themselves. He hints at a Google Trends search “showing stable and steady growth over time” and recommends specific scientific research into this “dramatically underrated” genre. And why not, given that studies on ASMR. have helped us gain a better understanding of “the other” major YouTube craze and its reported benefits.
Whether or not the party does come to an end, or at least ebb down the line, StudyTube is a remarkable resource. Anyone else who had the misfortune of attending college back in the dark ages wish it had existed? So, those readers lucky enough to be studying in shinier, tech-powered times, get in there.
Steven Allison (@stevenallison33) is a freelance writer & journalist, covering all sorts including entertainment, tech and queer culture. When not chained to his desk, you’ll find him wandering the streets of London looking for inspo and guzzling tea.