Susan’s 5 questions for Aja Dang
May 07, 2021 – minute read
Aja: I first signed up for YouTube on my first day of graduate school at USC, because at orientation they recommended we sign up for every social media platform with our names. I had no intention of ever using my YouTube channel, it was just a way to make sure I had control over my name on social media. Two years later, I launched a sports show with Maxim Magazine called Maxim Sports One-on-One and uploaded the first video in my first series: "Ask Aja: Dating Advice" in order to further engage my viewers. The first couple years of me being on the platform, my videos were heavily geared towards men.
Aja: Never in a million years did I think I would become the poster child for financial health but as I documented my journey towards debt freedom, I realized how important it was for people to see, in real time, the hard work and dedication it takes to accomplish something so impossible. Every video I uploaded about my debt, the comment section would flood with comments thanking me for being so transparent and asking questions about my finances. I realized that if I had someone to watch on YouTube who shared their student loan journey while I was in college, I would've done things very differently. I was inspired to share my experiences with debt and debt pay off so 1) people wouldn't make the same financial mistakes I did, and 2) they could see that it is possible to dig yourself out of debt and use the tools and lessons I learned to do so.
Aja: During Vlogmas 2017, I posted a video sharing how much debt I was in because that day I had to dog sit to make extra money to afford my student loan payments. I didn't expect the video to resonate with so many people but I realized how many of us felt alone and isolated with our financial situation. I am not easily embarrassed, so sharing how much debt I had was never an issue but I noticed that the more I talked about my debt, the more people became invested in my story. For many people, especially women, I was the only person in their lives who talked about money. I realized that the only way to accomplish financial literacy is to make the talk of money, income and debt less taboo.
Aja: I never envisioned myself becoming a small business owner but after becoming debt free and looking at the keys to my success, I realized that my planner and journals were a huge part of that. I had to carry multiple journals with me not only to track my work and personal schedule but also my finances. I created financial flow and goal charts that I would share on my channel so I took all those pages and built my ideal planner. I knew some people would love the layout but I didn't expect to sell out in three days. I thought launching a business would be the same as my smaller merchandise launches on YouTube but I was wrong. There was a huge learning curve with pricing, web design, product development, etc., but I'm so excited that this is a new journey for me. We'll be restocking our undated planner and launching our Academic planner for students and teachers this summer.
Aja: Continue to give us a voice. Highlight Asian American creators making a difference and help us be seen by people from all walks and thoughts of life.