Woman Makes $5K A Month Building Film Sets In ‘The Sims’
Meet the woman who earns $5,000 a month building fancy houses and film sets in “The Sims” computer game – including Hogwarts, SpongeBob’s Bikini Bottom and “Family Guy.”
Danielle Howell, 20, spends hours on the game – designing and building the extravagant houses before posting the finished work on her social channels.
She says she “always had a passion” for video editing and began to post her builds online.
One of her videos – where she built the apartment from “iCarly” – quickly went viral and Danielle gained over 100,000 followers on her TikTok account in less than two weeks.
Danielle then eventually took the plunge and started working on her Sims building career full-time last year.
She spends hours replicating each frame from a film set until the build is complete – with her Hogwarts Castle design taking over 14 hours.
Danielle meticulously inspects every room, window and hallway before painstakingly bringing them together in the game.
Aside from earning her money, Danielle’s skills have proved useful in the real world when she designed her apartment bedroom on the game before decorating it in real life.
Danielle, from Birmingham, Ala., said: “I started playing The Sims game at 7-years-old and I’ve always had a passion for video editing.
“I remember I was watching ‘iCarly’ one day and had The Sims on in the background and I decided to build their apartment – that was the viral one that started my career.
“I filmed the process and posted it when I had 400 followers and the next day, I woke up with seven million views.
“I then got loads of suggestions for other TV shows and film houses that I should build.
“I don’t get as many requests anymore as I’ve done a lot.
“But some of my favorites are SpongeBob Bikini Bottom, Hogwarts Castle, ‘Monsters Inc.’ The Laugh Floor, the house from ‘Encanto,’ and the house from ‘Family Guy.’
“Whenever I do a TV show build, I have to re-imagine some bits behind the scenes and the fourth wall.
“I go frame by frame on the TV show to try and make it look exactly the same.
“I have a really keen eye for detail and people always comment if I’ve missed the slightest thing, so I try and take my time to avoid those comments.
“I’ve built my apartment in The Sims too.
“I built it and decorated it to see what my bedroom would look like before we put everything in the apartment, so we had less work to do.”
Before going full-time with her Sims building career, Danielle was working in a grocery store and says she became burnt out.
She said: “I was working this grocery job and I just got burnt out.
“People there who watched my videos would ask why I still worked there.
“One day, I just decided I didn’t want to be at work thinking about what I really want to be doing, I should just do it.
“So, I handed in my notice and started posting more often and then my followers went up more and I started to get more brand partnerships.
“I’ve now worked with DoorDash and DunkinDonuts where I made two videos for their campaigns for students in college and it was a really relaxing style video.
“I’ve worked with Frontier, a games development company, in the UK.
“And for Beacons – a web design company – where I built their logo in The Sims on top of an apartment.
“My main source of income comes from those sorts of sponsorships making adverts for brands.
“The most I’ve made in a single month with everything combined was $5k but I know I have to stay consistent to have a consistent income as some months it can be a lot less.”
Danielle says she often gets questions about how she comes up with designs or knows how certain items work well together.
She puts it down to simply having played the game for so long.
“I kept getting comments asking about which items work together and I don’t know, I guess it’s just a talent,” she said.
“I’ve never done it in real life, so we’ll see how interior designing goes when I move house.
“But on the game, it just comes naturally because I’ve done it for so long.”
Danielle’s favorite design to date is Bikini Bottom from “SpongeBob SquarePants” because she initially didn’t think it was possible.
She said: “I didn’t think I could pull it off as there wasn’t the right build space in the game, but I managed to manipulate certain items to look like one item.
“For example, using a chair in the shape of a shell.
“So, I used silly little things like that to make them look like other things and I can kind of get away with it.”
One of Danielle’s successful ventures on YouTube involves combining the world of ASMR with her building.
She said: “I invented this new concept of Sims videos called building ASMR where I remove the game sound and just have the building sound and people really like those.
“They can take up to six hours to do sometimes and building and editing usually takes between two and eight hours.”
Danielle has a long list of ideas she wants to do going forward, but top of it is hopes to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
“I think I’m most excited to do ‘Stranger Things’ sets because I built the running up that hill scene with the red rocks on and some of the houses before,” she said.
“So, I’m excited to see what the new season comes up and if there are any new things for me to build.
“I really really want to try to build Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – I know anything is possible but that’ll be the most time-consuming thing but the end result would be amazing.”
Danielle added: “You need a lot of patience – I guess the reason I’m able to have that patience is I have thousands of people looking forward to it.
“Since this is what I love to do and people love to see it, that’s my motivation to get it done and also on Sims four people can install my builds on their game which is really cool.
“On the gallery I upload all my builds and my most downloaded build has 9,400 downloads, which was a Twilight house.
“That’s why I do what I do because i love it and I love knowing that people will have my builds in their game.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker.