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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Marina Orlova - Utilizing YouTube for Fame
Friday, November 06, 2009

National television appearances, a show of her own in development, a gig as a GoDaddy.com girl, a new book, an iPhone app, the title of being Wired.com’s “World’s #1 Sexiest Geek,” and all from posting videos on YouTube about the origins of words. To put it lightly, Marina Orlova knows a thing or two about working the web. With her website, hotforwords.com, expanding by the minute, and her YouTube videos having racked up over 250 million views, I sat down with the foxy philologist to find out more about how she went from posting short clips about word origins to starting her own empire. In addition to some business secrets, Orlova also revealed that Bill O’Reilly has a soft side, and why a ticket to space might be the ticket to her heart.

Adam Bernard: When you started putting videos of yourself explaining the origins of words on YouTube, what did you expect to happen? Did you have a goal in mind?
Marina Orlova: Not really, I just wanted to try it out and have fun with it. I decided to do it just as a hobby. I cannot dance, I cannot sing, so I decided to talk about words. I spent hours and hours, 24/7, being at my computer, for a year. All my friends would tell me “it’s stupid, what are you doing, go get a real job,” but I had some savings, so I could spend time at my computer. I had no idea it would become so popular.

Adam Bernard: How did you utilize YouTube, and the internet in general, to grow your Hot For Words idea?
Marina Orlova: I communicate, I integrate with the audience, I reply to the comments. I make sure they know I’m online and I didn’t just upload the video and leave. I’m there, looking at the comments and responding to them. I make sure, in the videos, I mention people who requested words so they feel like a part of it. Those are some different tricks, not tricks, but techniques I used that help to get more views.

Adam Bernard: What would you say some of your biggest learning experiences were from when you were just starting out online?
Marina Orlova: The first lesson is that you never pay attention to negative comments. There are plenty of mean and jealous people out there, and because of anonymity on the internet they will try to put you down. They will tell you you’re ugly, they will tell you to shut up. Don’t even pay attention to it, just ignore it. Only pay attention to the good comments. That’s the first really good thing I learned, and that you need to know before you start something.

Adam Bernard: Obviously a lot of people initially became hooked on your videos because of your looks, but why do you think they stick around as subscribers and continue to watch clip after clip?
Marina Orlova: Because of how interesting the content really is. It’s not just a pretty girl talking about how wonderful her shopping spree was, I’m actually talking about something that people are interested in. When you watch one video, or read one chapter in my book, you’re like “interesting, I’ve never thought about that,” so you get hooked and you keep going. I get 300K views a day from all my videos. If I was boring they would stop.

Adam Bernard: OK, so you’re not a dumb girl talking about shopping, but there are a lot of shows on TV that are just dumb girls talking about shopping.
Marina Orlova: They like that, they like the reality, and that’s what bothers me in America, everything is about reality. What’s the point of watching someone go to a coffee shop? I don’t understand that.

Adam Bernard: Do you think there’s a place for an intelligent person in the midst of all that?
Marina Orlova: Yeah, of course. There are plenty of people who are smart, but the highest rated shows are, unfortunately, reality shows.

Adam Bernard: So you’d have to go on Survivor.
Marina Orlova: Survivor, I’ll survive, believe me, I’m from Russia. I like camping and fishing. I was in Venezuela for a week in the jungle. I slept in hammocks and we went to the tallest waterfall in the world. I loved it. I stopped in Spain first. I was not planning to live in America, but when I discovered LA I was like, I like it, it’s warm, it’s nice. I didn’t move here because I wanted to be Hollywood.

Adam Bernard: But now that you’re in Hollywood you’re certainly making the most of it as I see you’ve been doing quite a bit of TV. Do you have any especially memorable moments from those experiences that you can share?
Marina Orlova: I like when Bill O’Reilly asks me about my mom. Nobody asks me about my mom except Bill. He’s so sweet. Every time I’m on the show he always asks “how is your mom doing?” I told him once that she downloaded the video of me on his show and put it onto her phone. She doesn’t speak English, she just likes how Bill communicated with me. She said she likes the way he sits and listens. I told him that and I guess he remembered. Now he always asks.

Adam Bernard: In addition to your website, and your videos, you also have a book, Hot For Words, and your very own iPhone application, Attack of the Zombie Bikini Babes from Outer Space. What other opportunities do you think are out there for you?
Marina Orlova: After the videos became popular I realized it was getting somewhere, so I built the website. Right now I’m working on expanding the brand. I want to create different parts. It could be anything, but it has to be people who know what they’re talking about. It can’t just be somebody who is reading a teleprompter. I’ve already had one conversation with a girl who is also a GoDaddy girl, Vanessa Rousso. She’s a poker player and she likes the idea and wants me to help her get an online presence. She wants to make videos teaching me poker and through them she’ll also be teaching everyone who’s watching. That will be Hot for Poker. She also likes the idea of the book, so she’ll have the same thing I did, just with her. It’s like the Dummies books.

Adam Bernard: Since you were named “World’s #1 Sexiest Geek” by Wired.com, tell me, where does a sexy geek go to meet other sexy geeks?
Marina Orlova: Online. Just kidding. Actually, why not? I meet a lot of people through Twitter. They communicate, I respond. It’s such a great tool to communicate and promote yourself. I get half of my traffic on my website through Twitter. I’ve even met musicians there who want to put music in my videos.

Adam Bernard: What makes for a good geek date? Don’t say going on Twitter!
Marina Orlova: I was going to say going into space, but nobody can afford that. I like the idea, though. Richard Branson, I think he’s working on a space shuttle that will be affordable for a lot of people and you’ll be able to take it with a group of people and go into space. That would be cool. I would go.

Adam Bernard: Finally, one word related question for ya – how did our “butt” become an “ass?”
Marina Orlova: I did a video on that!

Related Links

Website: hotforwords.com
YouTube: youtube.com/hotforwords
Twitter: twitter.com/hotforwords


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:18 AM  
  • At 9:52 AM, Blogger Karl said…

    Great interview Adam. Marina is the best and she is full of surprises and learned some new things about her.

    It has been a great pleasure watching and learning from all 504+ of Marina's videos at

    Marina's videos are awesome and exciting and I have learned something from each one of them.

    ~PK pedanticKarl

  • At 9:03 PM, Blogger richard said…

    I really enjoyed this interview. Thanks Adam and Marina.

    Yeah, Marina, it's not just a pretty girl reading from a 'prompter. But you know what? It's also not just because you're also interesting.

    It's simply you.


  • At 12:55 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thanks for the props! I'm glad everyone is digging the feature. Marina was certainly a pleasure to speak with.

  • At 7:52 PM, Blogger BookingAlong said…

    Love the interview! I've found Marina to be one of the most accessible and nice celebs around. I don't know how she finds the time -and now she has a new book out, featured on Marina magazine, etc!

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