Why Piques quit his six-figure job to become a social media star

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Just over one year ago, Jon Paul Piques was a regular guy, making six figures as a business insurance agent who just happened to create fun internet videos in his spare time. He's since quit his cushy salaried job to become one of the largest social media stars around with millions of followers from all over the world on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Snapchat.

AOL.com was able to catch up with Piques, who was at the official Native.Digital Panel at SXSW, where we chatted about his journey to social media stardom and his future career plans.

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What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Facebook, for sure. Facebook allows us to create wider content. There is no cap on the amount of seconds that we are able to use. Also it is a very shareable platform. The users are a lot more mature as well. A big reason of why we like Facebook is because if the positivity on the app. There's not a lot of hate and if there is hate, you can filter comments on your profile.

And now Facebook is testing out monetization for videos, correct?
Yeah, it's a smart move for sure. It's going to give a lot of people on the app and that's going to start wi just getting people like us, how we started, they're going to start on Facebook and you're going to start seeing a lot of people who are just living their every day lives making videos and those videos blowing and making Facebook celebrities.

At what point in your life did you realize this could be a legitimate career path for you?
I never thought that this would be my full time career. I always had social media as a hobby. I would say that I realized something when my influence from social media surpassed my regular job. I was working as a business insurance agent, making six figures a year. I was comfortable. It was kinda like I was working for someone else and making them more money rather than making myself all of the money. I wasn't waking up happy at the end of the day and since I've kind of committed myself to this I haven't looked back and it's been great to see.

Whenever a guy tries to cook... 😔#CantEvenTurnAStoveOn

A video posted by Piques (@piques) on

How long ago did you start doing this full time?

It was one year and three months ago. It was scary at first because you never know what's going to happen. But if there's no risk, there's no reward so you just have to take the risk and see where it goes.

Outside of social media, what would you say your passions are?

I used to be a professional soccer player so I've always been active in sports. I'm a very big sports enthusiast and I love gaming, I love technology. I'm pretty much a nerd when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Do you have a favorite video?

I would say there's one that's definitely memorable and it was on Facebook. It was basically a compilation of my videos. What I was doing on vine a lot is I was making vines that were first world problems. So you know, when you stub your toe on a table or when you get a paper cut. Just every day stuff that everyone can relate to in their lives, I just made it really exaggerated. So what I did is I made a compilation that was about one minute and 45 seconds long that was just all about all those vines put together and not thinking anything of it -- just doing it because, hey, why not, right? -- and it got over 120 million views within four days. I gained 1.2 million followers in one week on Facebook. So that's when I got so many eyes on me because I just kind of blew up on the Internet and everyone is just talking about me and having been in social media for over 2 years, I never really had that blow up. It was always like a gradual gain and having witnessed that and experienced it, I was just like, 'Holy s***. This is what it feels like to blow up on the Internet.'>

It was crazy. I was getting so many calls, like 'Yo boy, I didn't know you were making videos. One of my colleagues from work shared your videos. Are you doing that now?'

Just like a lot of that and the whole Facebook thing, I think that's when a lot of my friends and family took it serious because they weren't on social media apps like Instagram and Vine because they're a lot younger. A lot of the older generation had Facebook and when my dad sees that one of the cousins from Portugal share one of my videos on Facebook and it has 100 million views, my dad comes to me and he's like, 'Is that what you've been doing? And I'm like 'Yeah, dad, that's what's I've been doing for the past two years! Thanks for acknowledging it now (laughs)!' So yeah, it was cool.

Piques Vine Compilation

Posted by Piques on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

So you make videos for Instagram, Vine and Facebook. How do you adapt them for each platform?

So, originally when I moved to Facebook -- I was always doing Instagram but I was always just doing pictures -- I would always just put my vines onto Facebook or I would put two vines together to fit into the 15 second Instagram video. Now, what the majority of us are doing is we're creating the longer form content on Facebook, trying to cut it to 15 seconds to see if it still works -- most of the time it does -- but if the videos are over like a minute long, it's really hard to and then if it's possible to storyboard it down to 6 seconds then we'll do that, but that's becoming the hardest part.

How do you come up with ideas for content?
Content is basically just stuff that happens in my every day life. I mean, something that could happen right now, like, 'Oh, s***, that would be a good video', and then you think of how you could make that even more funny. So like I said, a lot of the stuff I create is relatable stuff -- stuff that's happened to me in my life. Kind of like when you're singing in the car and you don't realize that the person next to you is watching you, so I would look and that idea and think, 'Okay, what's the funniest way to portray that?' And that's how the videos I make are made.



Do you have any fun projects coming up in the future?
Yes I do. I have a lot of stuff in the works for 2016 and I will be announcing it in the next couple of months, which will be exciting.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yeah, I'd just like to add that I think that social media is the new form of celebrity and I also feel that people who want to come into the industry should try to be themselves at first and then once they create an audience then they can adapt into other things. That's what the majority of us have done. If you look at all of our videos from 2013, they're going to be a lot different than they are now because we know we have to follow trends and follow the media and see what's hot and create your stuff around that.

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AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 13: Editorial Director of InStyle & StyleWatch Ariel Foxman and actress Kerry Washington attend 'Kerry Washington and the New Rules of Social Stardom' during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 13: Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany appear at the pre-premiere cocktail party for 'The Other Half' at Basecamp during SXSW on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/FilmMagic)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 13: Grumpy Cat appears during SXSW on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/FilmMagic)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 13: Attendees participate in a virtual reailty enhanced bicycle experience at the IBM installation at SXSW Interactive on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/FilmMagic)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 13: Actor Toby Huss appears at the cast cocktail party for 'In A Valley of Violence' during SXSW on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/FilmMagic)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 13: Attendees during the cast cocktail party for 'In A Valley of Violence' at Summit during SXSW on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/FilmMagic)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Cast and crew attend the premiere of 'My Father Die' during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Alamo Ritz on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Producer Aaron Cruze (L) and actress Cameron Esposito attend the premiere of 'Operator' during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Alamo Ritz on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Comedian Ian Edwards speaks onstage at SXSW Comedy with Natasha Leggero during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at The North Door on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by JEALEX Photo/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Baron Vaughn speaks onstage at SXSW Comedy with Natasha Leggero during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at The North Door on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by JEALEX Photo/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Actress Kate Cobb attends the premiere of 'Operator' during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Alamo Ritz on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Natasha Leggero speaks onstage at SXSW Comedy with Natasha Leggero during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at The North Door on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by JEALEX Photo/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Actors Ashley Wilkerson (L) and Thomas Q. Jones attend The Samsung Studio at SXSW 2016 on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Director of New Frontier Lab Programs at Sundance Institute Kamal Sinclair (L) and director Casey Neistat speak onstage during 'Breaking Barriers: How Content Will Accelerate VR and 360' at The Samsung Studio at SXSW 2016 on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Director Annie O'Neil, director of photography Todd Pinckney and director Jessica Lewis attend the World Premiere After-Party For 'Phil's Camino' At SXSW Film Festival 2016 at Zax Restaurant on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Halle Bailey of Chloe & Halle performs before the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Missy Elliot attends the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Sophia Bush (R) and Queen Latifa attend the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Missy Elliot (R) and First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama attend the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Sophia Bush attends the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Missy Elliot attends the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama attends the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 17: Creator of Summer Camp Julia Pott attends the Cartoon Network: Disrupting with Post Its and Pencils panel during SXSW on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. 26003_004 (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Cartoon Network)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 31: Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams performs at Music Is Universal presented by Marriott Rewards and Universal Music Group, during SXSW at the JW Marriott Austin on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 17: Associate Product Manager at Pandora Kevin Kaiser and singer Kat Dahlia during the PANDORA Discovery Den SXSW signing up for AMPcast on March 17, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Pandora)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 17: Musicians Page Burkum and Jack Torrey of the The Cactus Blossoms pose backstage during the PANDORA Discovery Den SXSW on March 17, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Pandora)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 17: Creator of Uncle Grandpa Pete Browngardt attends the Cartoon Network: Disrupting with Post Its and Pencils panel during SXSW on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. 26003_004 (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Cartoon Network)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 17: Erin Davis (son of Miles Davis) serves on the 'Miles Ahead' panel Celebrating the Life & Legacy Of Internationally Renowned Music Icon Miles Davis On His 90th Anniversary at SXSW on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 17: Vince Wilburn Jr. (nephew of Miles Davis) serves on the 'Miles Ahead' panel Celebrating Life & Legacy Of Internationally Renowned Music Icon Miles Davis On His 90th Anniversary on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
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