So you want to know how to get views on YouTube. You want to grow a vibrant YouTube channel, go viral, and become the next Ray William Johnson. Do you cheat, or choose a more proven way?
No Kindle lovers… you could read a great American classic on that sun-enabled iPad you call a Kindle. Or you could dive into some magazine article about the proliferation of germs on door handles. But here’s “How To Get Popular On YouTube Without Any Talent” right on the Kindle store. Is this a blatant promotion? Yes!
Oh it’s 34 pages long which is pretty beefy even though the image makes it look like a tomb.
I was happy to hear Threadless founder and former CEO Jake Nickell on public radio’s “Markeplace” tonight, and how he was “crowdsourcing” in Threadless’ decade of business… even before there was a name for it. “Last year we paid over $1.5 million out to artists,” he told interviewer Kai Ryssdal. Designers upload their creations, and the community votes for the best… which are produced and sold with artists getting a $2K cash prize, $500K in a gift certificate, and royalties.
Then I compared it to today’s news. Philadelphia-based Poptent (www.poptent.net), which crowdsources video production for large and mid-sized brands, has given out $1 million in cash payments. That’s certainly a first for online video, and considering in no doubt went to a small sub-segment of the 20,000 Poptent videographers, it’s a pretty good sign for the online-video creator community. The million-dollar man was hit by Sean Cunningham, a NY-based freelance videographer who received $10,000 for creating this video as part of GE’s “Tag Your Green” ecomagination campaign. Disclaimer: I worked with Poptent when it was Xlntads, and also participated in the GE campaign as a YouTube creator.
It’s a wonderfully inspired “amateur” creation that could easily fit as a broadcast television ad. Community comments on the video are positive, even if some might have been from competitors. Cunningham has been a member of Poptent since October 2008 and participated in previous Poptent assignments for Becks Beer, eHealth, and Snickers. All four of the crowdsourced GE videos can be viewed here.
What’s even more encouraging? The assignment came not directly but via a major agency’s digital arm (OMD). That tells me the market is finally understanding that while agencies won’t soon lose their seat at the creative and strategy table, there are lots of Cunninghams with bright ideas. Even if it took six versions (see screen shot).
Viacom employees had secretly uploaded videos from the company’s movies and shows even as they were complaining about copyright violations, as The New York Times reported. Zoing!
USAToday’s “Juicy Details piece” puts it like this: “Google cites a marketing executive at Viacom’s Paramount studio who said that clips posted to YouTube “should definitely not be associated with the studio — should appear as if a fan created and posted it.” To accomplish that, Google says that “Viacom employees have made special trips away from the company’s premises (to places like Kinko’s) to upload videos to YouTube from computers not traceable to Viacom.” Kinkos FTW.
Payouts earned from the YouTube sale, as detailed by All Things D. Chaching! That’s a whole lotta sheep.
$516 million to Sequoia Capital
$334 million to co-founder Chad Hurley
$301 million to co-founder Steve Chen
All Things D also pulls some revenue figures from YouTube’s inception in January 2005 through August 2006, the last month before the company sold itself.
It wasn’t until December 2005 that YouTube started pulling in revenue, and it wasn’t until August 2006 that the company turned a profit. (The company showed a 186 percent jump between July and August of 2006, to $2.5 million.)
Wired Magazine also had a lengthy story documenting YouTube’s past 5 years, but it’s not online… which I find really annoying. Basically YouTube isn’t bleeding anymore, but it’s not exactly a “cash cow,” as Wired states (clearly someone didn’t read the Wikipedia on cash cow before filing their piece). I’m so over Wired.
How much do YouTube stars make each year? Oh for goodness sakes. Just like my same 5 YouTube videos (see right column of channel page here) represent the majority of my online views… It seems that most of WillVideoForFood’s blog traffic comes from people searching for how much YouTubers make. If you’re curious, read on. If you want to make big bucks, buy my book first. You’ll still be facing tough odds, but at least you’ll wander into the jungle equipped with some survival tools.
We YouTube “Partners” (or “stars” as I hate saying) are all contractually forbidden to share our revenue. But I’ve given hints and clues over time. For those of you who Googled your way here, I’m both a marketer/advertiser and a creator/YouTuber, so that gives me two lenses into this Da Vinci-Code like mystery. Davinci made me think of “Da Bears.”
I’d estimate there are have at least a few dozen YouTube Partners earning $100K per year. That’s great money if you’re in your 20s or 30s and have minimal costs in production or overhead (like 4 kids and a horrific mortgage). But it’s a rounding error for a professional content creator or network.
To calculate a particular Parner’s income, here are some tips:
You basically take the Partner’s total views for the month, multiply it by a fraction of a penny, and you have a rough idea. TubeMogul‘s Marketplace shows some of the most-viewed people (and their monthly views). But remember: the most-subscribed are not necessarily most-viewed and vice versa. YouTube doesn’t give a hoot how many subscribers you have (although that certainly helps drive views, but increasingly it seems less powerful than being a “related video”). In general, the commercial content is getting more daily views but the amateurs have a lock on subscribers.
Most ads are placed by advertisers based on total 1K views, but some is on a per-click basis (CPC text ads placed by Google Adwords/Adsense). Google/YouTube is usually paid by an agency or media buyer a CPM (cost per thousand, say between $5 and $25 dollars per thousand views), then shares some of that with the creator. This can be highly misleading, because:
Some views earn nothing (if they’re embedded and no ad follows it).
And increasingly advertisers are paying a high premium for specific content they commission, target, or hand select. Sometimes this might average a few bucks and others it might be much higher… $25 CMP was the published rate of InVideo ads and I know of specific integrated campaigns that command a higher premium from YouTube. Yey!
Another confounding variable: potty-mouthed creator turns away advertisers. So watch the ads on your Partner for a while. Are they premium InVideo ads with accompanying display (square) ads? Or are they garbage Adwords/Adsense ads?
The text ads may SOMETIMES be paid on a per-click basis, which can make them fruitless or profitable depending on people clicking and buying the advertiser’s product (the latter must occur, or a savvy advertiser will quickly stop the campaign that’s raping them of click dollars and not generating business). I was telling my YouTube buds to turn these off because they’re ugly and don’t make much money, but a few of them gave me a stern stare like they knew otherwise. So whatever… maybe they make money and maybe they don’t. I don’t get a breakdown on them, and they’re still ugly.
Then you have to factor in “sponsored videos,” where a YouTuber promotes a product or service for a flat fee (or variable based on views) via Hitviews or related companies. That can easily be more than YouTube shells out per month for ad sharing. The going rate here is incredibly wide: from $1K to $20K and higher per video.
So in conclusion:
Do your own math using monthly views on TubeMogul and assuming some CPM (cost per thousand), but recognize YouTube takes a cut and some of the advertising inventory isn’t sold or is driven by keyword Google adsense text thingies. Maybe the creator/partner gets a few bucks per thousand views and maybe more or less.
Use some of the assumptions above to calibrate your estimate if you’re trying to peak into the W-9s of your favorite “Stars” like Fred. There are now dozens of popular YouTube people that make a full-time living on YouTube revenue, and I’d guess a lot of $50K-$100K per year people. I am not among the full-timers. With a family of 6, I gotta have a day job too. But Shaycarl, Sxephil, Charles Trippy, Michael Buckley and many more… they’re full-time at this. If I was making the bucks I’m making via YouTube after college, I’d probably go full-time too. Fred? Let’s just say he’s got college covered, or a nice nest-egg.
Before you get excited (or jealous), it’s a long haul to cashville. And if you start with the hope of making money, you’re doomed. You need to LOVE it, and be extremely patient as the road to loads of views is tougher to climb, and requires an ass-load of persistence. Start as a hobby and “just keep swimming.”
Finally, there are two forces at odds that impact the sustainability of this revenue for YouTube amateurs. First, we’ll probably see continued competition from more professionally-produced content that fetches higher ad dollars because it feels safer to squeamish media buyers (see, I’m not calling them all dense anymore… only the ones that don’t read this vlog). But the good news is that dollars are projected to grow dramatically. Currently, as a marketer, I’d argue that YouTube is selling itself short.
How’s that? About as specific I can be without breaking my contract or confidence from my friends.
I know some of you peeps know more than I do, so feel free to comment below anonymously or not. Da bears.
Oh sure. It’s vogue to slam poor little Fred. But you know damned well this little Christmas Cash music video will have you singing the refrain just like iJustine’s dad. Try to resist it, and it will tempt you all the more.
For your convenience, I’m linking to the refrain to save you the 1:00 minute it takes to warm up. Fred Cash Music Video.