York dad-of-two Chris Wilkinson is quitting his job to concentrate on his YouTube channel on fragrance – Frag-mental. MAXINE GORDON talks to him about the sweet smell of social media success

CHRIS Wilkinson has had many jobs, but his latest is the most unusual.

A trained actor who spent a year in Coronation Street (playing gay character Karl Foster in 2004), he also worked on a building site and currently is a part-time personal fitness trainer at David Lloyd gym in York.

But for the past two years he's been developing a sideline – creating a YouTube channel reviewing fragrance. The channel – called Frag-mental – now has more than 22,000 subscribers with his most popular videos heading for 100,000 views. He is now the third most popular UK fragrance reviewer on YouTube and is earning enough from YouTube advertising that he can afford to quit his day job at the gym at the end of this month.

He is heading for 10,000 followers on Instagram (fragmental.uk) and has just launched a podcast called The Scent Geeks with fellow fragrance reviewer Steve Ward.

Chris, 40, who lives in York with wife Helen and daughters Lilly, seven, and Evie, five, is excited about his new career reviewing the latest scents – mostly male or uni-sex fragrances. He said: "It won't make me millions, but if I can feed my family and pay my mortgage by having fun and making videos then I'm happy – that's all I need."

It also means he can work more sociable hours (he works shifts at the gym), spend more time with his family and attend auditions because he intends to keep up his acting career.

Currently Chris, a graduate of Film, TV and Theatre at York St John University, is the "voice" of Jet2, a role he has enjoyed for eight years. "I am the voice you hear when you are onboard, and on TV and radio, and if you ring up it's probably me on the other end!" Other acting roles have included Waterloo Road and Dr Who.

Looking ahead, his plan is to make three videos a week (he currently makes two) for Frag-mental and grow his audience and number of views. The more views his videos receive, the more money he will make.

"Ad revenues depend on how many views your video gets," explained Chris.

So how has he developed a YouTube channel that people want to watch – and can give him a good living?

His success is as much a surprise to him as family and friends, he admits. He had been looking for an avenue to flex his entrepreneurial talents when he stumbled across business opportunities on YouTube. He'd been a fan of mountain-biking channels and had seen how they had been monetised. He decided the obvious market for him – personal fitness – was saturated so was looking for another area to explore.

"I was thinking 'I wouldn't mind a share of this pie'. I wondered what could I do that would get me creating content for YouTube and allow me to do it from home?"

Chris was a competent video maker and editor having made films as a hobby since childhood. Coupled with his acting skills, he was determined to have a go.

"I came across fragrance channels and I didn't know it was a thing – people making videos about perfume. I wondered if I could do that?"

Chris admits he was a novice – he liked fragrance and had his favourite: Jean Paul Gaultier's Le Male, but that was about the limit of his knowledge. But ignorance was no deterrent. Without telling family or friends, Chris began making videos and launched Frag-mental.

He dared not tell anyone, he admits, in case of ridicule. "I felt a bit embarrassed and didn't tell anyone, not even Helen. I spent hours in the studio at home and then thought she was going to get worried about me being locked away in my room for hours on end!

"I first wanted to see if it had any traction and took off before I came clean to anyone."

His first YouTube videos featured Chris reviewing cheap fragrances which he had bought online from Perfume Parlour. "They were copies of very expensive fragrances and I started buying them for £5 which allowed me to buy a lot and discover more about fragrance."

The videos did well and he started to build up a solid following among subscribers.

Fast forward two years and Chris's reputation and social media standing is such that he now gets sent the latest fragrances from the top design houses and leading perfumers for him to review on his channel. He's even been invited to Milan and New York for work – and landed an interview with Roja Dove, dubbed the "professeur de parfum" after a career with Guerlain. And he is now very knowledgeable about fragrance. When we meet for the interview, he is armed with a bag of his favourite scents which he proceeds to spray on to blotting cards, enthusiastically dissecting in forensic detail each "note" and ingredient.

And Chris is hopeful things will only get sweeter.

"The trajectory for growth is really encouraging," he says. "Looking at YouTube analytics, my curve is constantly up and never dipped. As long as I keep releasing valuable content my growth should continue. Ad revenues will increase also by getting more subscribers and views. I'm excited by the prospect."