Moto-Vlogger Oggy F: ‘I Haven’t Let YouTube Semi-fame Get to Me’
The Mumbai-based social media icon on staying away from ad deals, his charitable video channel and being responsible for a niche community
The only reason Ogden Fernandes started riding a motorcycle was because he wanted to cut down the travel time between his home and workplace. He soon developed a passion for motorcycles and decided to start vlogging and documenting his rides on YouTube four years ago through his channel, Oggy F. Although the Mumbai-based moto-vlogger now boasts more than 67,000 subscribers on his channel, he comes across as soft-spoken and humble, mirroring his social media persona. “I haven’t let YouTube semi-fame or whatever this is get to me,” he says.
After being influenced by U.K.-based moto-vlogger Royal Jordanian, who uploads videos of people parking in illegal spots and breaking traffic rules, Fernandes felt that there were bigger problems to deal with in Mumbai. Equipped with a GoPro on his helmet, he began recording the various situations he came across on his daily commute. “Every single day I come across something weird,” says Fernandes, who holds a full-time job as a management professional in an MNC.
The Mumbai moto-vlogger started to gain popularity through a video series on his channel titled Bad Mumbai Drivers, where he showcases drivers and motorcyclists putting others–as well as themselves–at risk and not following basic traffic rules. He also began posting riding vlogs and product reviews too. “I realized there are not a lot of people that ride sensibly, and these videos are starting to make a difference to the younger generation who are just starting to ride motorcycles,” Fernandes says. “I felt a lot more responsibility on my shoulders all of a sudden.”
Fernandes also has a second YouTube channel called Motovlog For A Cause, in collaboration with Mumbai-based moto-vlogger Ralph Vaz (Reck It Ralph). The channel focuses on giving back to individuals and communities around the country. All the money accumulated through Motovlog For A Cause is donated to cancer foundations in Mumbai. In this exclusive interview with Rolling Stone India, Oggy F talks about distinguishing his content, dealing with haters on YouTube, not setting goals and more.
Watch the first episode of Motovlog For A Cause below:
When did you start taking moto-vlogging seriously?
I started with putting out funny videos. Then two years ago, I got messages from people telling me, “It is because of you we started wearing riding gear.” So I realized I needed to address things that are wrong with the Indian motorcycling scene. I also realized that the way content is put out makes a big difference to the way people start riding and interacting with other bikers.
How would you label what you do?
I categorize myself as a motorcycle enthusiast. Beyond that I don’t get into other stuff. I’ve been approached by other companies to advertise their T-shirts and stuff but I stay away from it; it doesn’t really appeal to my audience.
How are you able to keep your audience coming back for more?
I was looking at a lot of these channels on YouTube which have advice on how to build your brand and how to build your channel. It said that when you categorize it, people come back for more. For example, the Bad Mumbai Drivers series has done by far the best, from any of the other series. I realized every video is not the same as the last one. I wanted people to understand what to expect in the next video, so that’s why it made more sense to categorize.
Does the comments section bother you at times?
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. Some of those comments are a bit personal too. Watching bigger YouTubers like Superwoman and Casey Neistat–they say if you balance it out, if you look at the likes to the number of dislikes, you really shouldn’t be bothered. Most of these people don’t really know the hard work that goes into it. So it is easy to say things, I think. The way I handle it is–I either respond to it without having to drop to their level or block them from commenting.
On the contrary, you have more fans than you do haters. How does that make you feel?
It’s nice that people come up to me and say they watch my videos, it feels good after all the hard work you put into making a video, that someone out there is investing their time in watching it and is appreciating what you do.
In the last couple of years the moto-vlogging community has grown drastically. What’s your take on that?
It’s never a bad thing to see the moto-vlogging community grow, it means that there are people putting cameras on their helmets and riding around. With the way the biking community is generally viewed in India, it is not a very favorable impression we have on parents and on society in general. People assume that we are all rash riders. For law enforcement as well… I think the only thing we need to be a bit cautious about is that we need to be careful of what kind of videos we put out there because we are that influential now.
How did the idea for Motovlog For A Cause happen?
I make it a point to respond to as many questions as I can, [so] it was really heartbreaking to know that one of my subscribers was diagnosed with cancer and all he wanted me to do was be a little more frequent with my uploads. I wanted to make it personal for this particular subscriber, so Ralph and I rode to Nagpur to visit him. I also wanted to do something that also helped the cause and that’s why it made perfect sense to do the face reveal on the second channel too. People wanted to know who I was, that hype was already built up, and everyone was already searching. It worked out well because people who wanted to see it went to the second channel and we got the views which gets channelized [sic] towards a cancer foundation.
You were recently invited by India Bike Week (IBW) to speak at their event in Pondicherry. How does it feel to receive recognition at such platforms?
It was very nice that IBW got in touch. I think people are starting to take note of the moto-vlogging community a lot more now. The good part was that they gave me freedom to do whatever I wanted. They never really asked me to speak about a certain topic. This was the first time I was invited to an event as a guest and it felt really nice that my work is paying dividends. MRF also called me for their test of the Masseter tyres. It’s great that people are taking notice of what we do seriously and how big a brand we are on YouTube.
Do you hope to make vlogging your full-time job very soon?
Currently, there’s not enough [money to be made] to go full-time unless you’re very regular with uploads. [There’s] good pocket money and it helps you keep your passion alive over the weekend. I would definitely recommend it to college-going people. [But you] have to find a niche market. Otherwise, it’s hard to be successful.
Finally, do you have any targets? And what are you hoping to achieve with your channel?
I don’t set targets. For me, the market we have is so small and my content is focused on motorcycles, so I don’t want to be disappointed by failure. At the end of the day, if I come back home happy with the way my personal life, professional life and my time on the motorcycle is going–that is an achievement. That’s the goal I want.
Watch Oggy F’s vlog from his Mumbai to Bengaluru ride earlier this year below: