The Online-Video Creative Barter Economy… 4 Chickens for Your Goat

Wow how’s this for timing? I’m working with some other video creators on what I think will be a very fun and popular parody of video-game violence and legacy PSAs. I sent out a message to some fellow creators and I’ll give you the verbatim quote I used just moments ago:

I can’t wait until a revenue model exists so collabs don’t have to be charity and for cross promotion alone!

The truth is, these people are extremely talented. And I wish I knew the money would result in a decent check that I could share with them all. As I reflect upon that, I find this “Barter Economy” article from TVWeek by everyone’s favorite bad-hairday online-video watcher, Daisy Whitney. Now I’ve got to get one more post in before I hasten a shower and send the kids off to the bus…

Indeed the advertising revenue is not sufficient for people to collaborate for financial gain. Money was far from the motivator of mutual YouTube collabs and even our appearance on larger outlets (like the HBO series).

So what’s the end game? Cross promotion leads to mutual popularity. And that popularity, while some find fulfilling by itself, will hopefully result in a side income. I’m finding the perks of popularity to be less motivating than I thought, and in fact a demotivator (it sucks my energy away as a closet introvert). But the creative satisfaction and hope of future income is a decent motivator.

So here’s hoping the bartering eventually pays off for viewers, advertisers and the creators that connect them.

18 Replies to “The Online-Video Creative Barter Economy… 4 Chickens for Your Goat”

  1. When I was accepted into the Partner Program, I asked George if there would be a way to receive individual reports for each video every month, so I could cut my collaborators in on the revenue based on percentages. He said no.

  2. Where’s my broker?! So what will you give me for 5 potatoes, 3 leeks, 1 eggplant, a pack of gum and a politicians? Wow there goes my stomach, I already feel like I’m back on Wall Street 😉

  3. We have plenty of goats here, thanks (click), so your offer of four chickens is a bit low. 8 chickens would be closer to an even exchange. Or, if you had two chickens and a carburetor for a 1983 Ford F-150, then we could talk.

    I think anyone who believes that the videos we create themselves will ever make them rich is lying to themselves. (Or at least I’d be lying to myself if I said that. For crying out loud, my “click” video on this post is the most polular video I’ve ever created. Sad, eh?)

    Having said that, online video creators will eventually find out what most athletes, TV personalities, and other popular indiduals not on the hollywood A-list have discovered: Sponsorships are good, and being a spokesman for something is really good.

    Sponsorships are already happening on YouTube. Nalts is proof of that. But When the day comes that online content creators find themselves as corporate spokespeople, the gap that divides “professionals” (and their money) from “amateur” content creators will get a lot less gappy.

    Ford Trucks pays Mike Rowe handsomely as a Ford spokesman, not only to be in their commercials, but also to promote their products wherever he goes. As a result, you’ll see that from time to time on his own show (Dirty Jobs), he mentions Ford in a positive light. Tiger Woods doesn’t just show up in Buick ads, he sponsors them. And look at all the athletes Nike has brought on as spokespeople over the years.

    For the corporate spokesperson, there’s a big payout: daily bread and butter, just for promoting a company you probably loved to begin with. And now that there are sites like tubemogul, who offer reporting on day-to-day popularity, I see corporate entities realizing that some online content creators are as popular month-by-month as the golf pro they just crated up an SUV for, and getting onto this trend.

    In conclusion, trying to make money on videos alone won’t cut it. If you want to live off this stuff, you need to get the collateral exposure as well. But then, what do I know? My “best video ever” was a goat giving birth!

  4. Yeah, I got that email, but decided not to participate without getting some cash remuneration, you cheap bastard. I don’t need no fucking goats.

  5. Jim — This is a great post. And I think I pretty much entirely agree with you on all points… Thus far in my online video foray, I’ve found that the key to making money ’round these parts is making sure that popularity, sponsorships, and talent come in some sort of balance.

    Talent + Sponsorships – Popularity = contest winners. This is where I’ve found my best luck financially. By creating good quality videos with salient messages for Brands who ask for them. Where I don’t have the popularity factor in this equation — I’m not a partner, I don’t plan on being invited, and I KNOW that the not-as-purposeful videos I create, whose views average in the low-to-mid hundreds, will never make me any money — I’ve had to rely on getting my videos in front of the people who are prepared to pay for them. So far, so good.

    Talent + Popularity – Sponsorships = potentially large, long-term contracts. Guys like Rhett&Link, nalts himself, MediocreFilms, etc. I really think these kinds of guys are the leading edge of the long-term financial success of online video creators. However, I don’t think advertisers have “caught up” with the idea that these guys are viable pitchmen. There are some exceptions — Rhett&Link’s Alka-Seltzer road trip series comes to mind. I think that’s a great example of how such a model should/could work. I hope they made beaucoup bucks on it.

    Popularity + Sponsorships – Talent = Fad. — Two words. Tay Zonday. Pardon my blasphemy, but he’s not talented. He’s lucky. Yeah, he may have made a quick hit financially, but he won’t make a career of this. Too much depends on luck for this to be a viable way to make a consistent living. I think we’ve all kinda come to the conclusion that there’s no way to predict what will become popular, so we probably shouldn’t bet the mortgage on it either.

    In getting back to Kev’s original point about collabs leading to financial gain, I’m not counting on that to be the case when I collab with people. However, my subscribership always bounces up a few points whenever I collab with ANYone. I do it because it’s fun, it’s cool, and it’s great for networking. It’s why I enter contests, and stay visible on sites like XLNTads and GeniusRocket. I’m not much interested in popularity on YouTube. Oh, sure, it would be nice, I suppose, but what’s much more appealing is doing some creative work, and getting it in front of key people who may see one of my videos and say, “Hey, can you do one like that for us? In exchange, we shall offer you this large sack filled with hundreds.”

    Hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?

  6. Sum daaaaaaaaaay, over the rainbow….. sum day not too soooooooon…… I’l’ crap out a pop video…..that’ll get me viewed.

    Forget about revenue-sharing. That’s all smoke and mirrors, the kind the Wizard used.

  7. Yet again the comments are better than the post. I feel like ripping your text, and posting it in the post above. That way I can make money off your thoughts. Oh- wait. That’s right. This blog produces less revenue than eefoof.

  8. I just want you to notice that I’m not the only one who writes long posts hereno one reads (except me).

    as far as making money, big money, it’s not in online video, there are easier ways to get the big bucks [dangles lotto ticket]

  9. Geeeeeeeeze! Kevin put your google adsense at the bottom of the page already, I don’t care. Besides, you want to do it before Google get’s sued and has it’s ass handed to them by the former lawyer for Mickey Mouse [click]

  10. Kevin. This is not in response to your post…because I rarely read them anyways.

    Charlie and I did the response video for VH for you.

    Cross that off your endless list.

    We are going to go tape up the screen door now so the swarms of bugs stay outside. Heh.

  11. @ 7

    You know, Kevin, it’s so nice to be FINALLY appreciated for my intellectually superior contributions here. Feel free to rip my comments at any time and add them to your blog. But only with attribution, beyotch.

  12. This is what I think the model for internet-comedian-as-job will eventually be: the free stuff (YouTube) makes a bit of money (nothing to laugh at but not a lot compared to TV) but exposes people to your work and gains a base of people that care about the material. Then there is paid content (iTunes/DVDs/whatever) and merch that makes the real money.

    Fairly simple, but I don’t see how it is ever going to be anything but this to make yourself a living.

  13. I think we could all be spokespeople today for SOMEONE.

    “Uncle Elmer’s Old Man Rub” ointment has been looking for a spokesman for years. Someone who’s young enough to relate to society, but old and balding enough to have that old man smell.

    Wait, I think I know a perfect candidate!

  14. @14.

    hm… you know, you don’t TECHNICALLY have to be paid to be a spokesperson, right? so I could theoretically declare myself to be a spokesperson for willvideoforfood right now (click), and I wouldn’t get a dime from it.

  15. What nutcheese said. That keith dude was a total dick last night and got that terry girl kicked off the show with his attitude. I haven’t picked a favorite yet. I thought Joe’s dress was the best. I can’t even remember who won. Oh yeah I do. Jerrell. That outfit was hideous.

    I’m thinking of stuffing the delicious goodness of the white stuff in a twinkie with vicodin, if only nalts would quit bogarting his stash and send me some.

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