We’ve all thought about it at one point or another, “Man, I should start a YouTube channel. That’s got to be some of the easiest money you can make.” While it might be true that the platform’s biggest names could support a comfortable on ad revenue alone, those channels that have actually been able to be profitable did so early on. It has become far more difficult in recent years to get the kind of traction you could get ten years ago, or even five years ago. If you’re passionate about making an online debut with the intent of making money, it’s important to understand what a steep uphill climb it has become to be a sensation on the site and to make enough for such an investment to be worthwhile.
The first hurdle a new channel on YouTube will face is something I call the 10,000 View Threshold. Only after your channel has racked-up a lifetime total of 10,000 views will your content be eligible to be monetized. It may not sound like much, and if you’re a real talent or personality, this might not be a problem for you; but for most people, meeting this minimum quota could take several weeks or possibly several months. The reason for this change is said to be that YouTube uses the time between a channel’s beginning and the channel’s 10,000th video view to assess the legitimacy of the channel – whatever that’s supposed to mean. These ambiguous guidelines that determine the worth of a channel’s content leads me to my next point – the reason why these guidelines are getting stricter.
In a statement released by YouTube on its creator’s blog last March, YouTube outlines in plain language its latest efforts to moderate content in order to satisfy the demands of its advertisers.
“…there’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against.”
The statement goes, already feeling ominous.
“Our advertiser-friendly content policies set the tone for which videos can earn revenue, ensuring that ads only appear where they should.”
In short, YouTube has outsourced its standards to special interests and large advertising companies. So unless you make the videos they want you to make and say the things they want you to say, your revenue dries up. A deeply disturbing precedent.
Do you remember when YouTube was just starting out? When every channel had its own unique content, and complete nobodies became internet hallmarks seemingly overnight? It was like a gold-rush. My feed used to be populated with the best animators of my generation: Egoraptor, OneyNG, Harry Partridge, Hot Diggedy Demon. Now Partridge has all but abandoned YouTube, Diggedy does movie reviews (though they are animated as well, and the general tenor of his content is virtually unchanged), and the other two are Let’s Players now. But that’s where YouTube stands now. You can be the funniest, most talented artist on the internet, but you won’t get a tenth of the traffic that someone who records himself watching an anime fight or records themselves getting spooked playing Resident Evil 7 will get.
It’s sad to say, but as someone who still spends a great deal of time on the site (and I’m sure you do as well) I can definitively say that YouTube just doesn’t endorse creativity like it used to. We’re dealing with a platform that dishes out to those that produce quantity rather than quality. As a result, the media-marketplace has been completely saturated in Let’s Plays, make-up tutorials, opinion channels, and clips of television shows and other channel’s videos (what is essentially theft). If you’re new to YouTube and you have a new and original idea, it’s not likely to stay that way, as it is common practice for copycats with a larger following to simply rebrand your concept and sell it as their own.
It. Is. A. Mess.
But there is hope. Many of YouTube’s contributors have adapted to the times and have chosen to supplement their ad revenue with viewer donations via Patreon. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, there are indeed alternatives to YouTube are far less populated and not as well known. Sites like Vidme and BitChute could be just the place for new and aspiring content creators to gain a foothold on the web and earn a reputation. Also, if you’re tired of Facebook and Twitter who also suffer from many of the same issues as YouTube, then I would suggest checking out Minds – a monetized and community owned social media platform currently in beta – and GAB – an Advertisement-free social media site.
Earlier I referenced the Gold-Rush: A time when people took a chance in parts unknown to make their fortune. YouTube is well known, but what we know isn’t good and it’s not getting better. We can admire those that made it to the top, but that doesn’t mean those at the bottom have to settle for making and consuming mediocre content. If you have great ideas and the drive to see them become more than ideas, than those channels at the top should be all the proof you need that it can be done. Though best it be done elsewhere. And in memory of the YouTube that used to be, we should never forget the words that used to sit beneath its logo.