How Do I Become a YouTube Partner and Make Money on My Videos? 2012

Here's you as a YouTube Partner. Hmmm.

I’ve had a few requests from readers/viewers to clarify YouTube’s evolving Partnership program, and help “up and coming” YouTube creators understand how to make money via video. As always, I’d caution YouTube video creators to keep realistic expectations on earnings– right now there are hundreds of YouTubers earning six-figure income from YouTube. But the majority are earning small amounts, and the driver is daily/monthly views.

Below is some information about the evolving YouTube Partnership, and 9 additional ways to make money via video.

A YouTuber can expect to make anywhere from 50 cents to $5 on every 1,000 views. So a channel getting 1,000 views per month can maybe cover a cup of coffee. The bigger YouTubers like RayWilliamJohnson are making anywhere from $500K to $4 million a year (SocialBlade), and I’d guess it’s around $2 million. It’s a steep pyramid, folks.

So here are the ways to become a YouTube Partner, where you’re eligible for “revenue sharing” on your videos. Ads appear before and around your videos, and Google shares a percent (roughly 40% of what advertisers pay for those ads).

  1. Sign up to become a Partner on YouTube. Unlike previous years, most are granted Partnership (including my dog, FreddieNalts). In truth, this isn’t a full Partnership as we previously knew it. You’ll make a smaller amount of money because the ads are not exactly premium. YouTube has effectively changed the name of “monetize your videos” to Partner.
  2. If you’re getting tens of thousands of views per month, you could approach an Online Video Studio (OVS) to come a full-fledged Partner with advanced branding. You’ll need to share a percent of your earnings with the studio, but you’ll get some help resolving issues, and potentially some help building an audience. This type of Partnership also allows creators to customize their channel page and put a small icon over the videos that appear on “watch page.” This used to be available directly via YouTube, but YouTube is increasingly encouraging intermediaries to handle this process… remember Google doesn’t like to deal with people. It’s a technology firm, and isn’t resourced to provide personal attention to millions of YouTube creators. So becoming a full Partner can be accomplished broadly in two ways. First, you can sign with an “Online Video Studio” (OVS). In that post about web studios, I neglected to mention The Collective, which has helped a couple YouTubers (Fred, Annoying Orange) cross over to television.
  3. Finally for smaller YouTubers, there’s another option I discovered via Jason Urgo last night. Urgo/SocialBlade is helping smaller YouTubers (maybe 1,000 views per month) you can apply to become a Partner via Maker’s RPM Networks. The result is similar to option #2 but the bar is lower.

Don’t think of YouTube ad revenue as your only source of income for video creation. Here are 9 other options for making money via online video:

  1. Create Commercials. If you’re talented and have high production capabilities (but don’t have an audience), you might join Poptent and create videos and commercials for brands… you’re not guaranteed to be compensated, but if a brand selects your video, you can make $5 or $10K.
  2. BYOS. If you have a large audience, you can pursue your own sponsor (bring your own sponsor- BYOS). Just call a company and see if they’ll pay for a custom video or some product placement. These are easier to get if you’re in a web studio/OVS.
  3. Get Free Loot. Call a company and see if they’ll send you free loot in exchange for your mentioning them. It’s not easy to find the right person, but I’ve been surprised how receptive companies are. They often have programs to reach online influencers, and if you have a decent audience… that includes you.
  4. Sell Your Stuff. This DailyFinance reminds us that artists can sell their stuff via video. Got something on eBay? You could mention it in a video, and see if you can get the video SEO-optimized so it might appear via a Google search.
  5. Sell your videos if you think there’s a market for them. Learn more here. I believe you need a Partners account to do this, and I wouldn’t count on this tool. Most people don’t purchase amateur video content, unless you count porn or Louis CK. I suppose there’s some “how to” video that’s worth buying, but I don’t see this as being lucrative.
  6. Drive to Website: you can try driving traffic off YouTube onto a website that allows you to sell loads of additional advertisements/sponsorships. It’s difficult to get people to follow a link of YouTube, and I’d estimate low single-digit numbers (depending on the reason). But Smosh’s “Smosh Pit” is a nice example of how YouTubers have created adjunct websites where additional monetization is possible.
  7. Affiliate Links: If you’re really cheesy, you can try making videos an inserting affiliate links into the description. I’ve never seemed to make anything notable via affiliate links on my blog and in a few links from a video.
  8. Merchandise: CafePress and other sites allow you to create your own branded merchandise and sell it to viewers. I think I’ve sold max. a dozen things on CafePress, but I haven’t put much effort into it.
  9. Get Rich Quick: Try one of the bullshit “get rich quick” schemes. Good luck.

 

What To Do When You Go Viral… Accidentally

So your video of you dog/baby/pratfall suddenly goes viral, and you’re faced with choices… how do you capitalize on the luck?

Can Fail Dog be the next "Guilty"?

I’ve had the pleasure of informally coaching viral lotto winners, from “David At the Dentist” and Richter Scales to the recent Dagfinn (who is navigating his stick the way I manage my career). It’s a small world, and if I’m checking e-mail I’m happy to help a fellow “Viral Video Genius.”

Anyway, here are some of the pieces of pro-bono advice (I never ever ever charge fellow creators) which I’ve provided. In general, the goal is to knock out some important things (getting channel in shape, applying to be YouTube partner, tagging video), enjoy the ride, and hope the 15 minutes lasts.

  1. Get your YouTube channel submitted to become a Partner (I used to help rush that before YouTube scaled back on human contact)
  2. Optimize the video for search. Most viral lotto winners have failed to describe the video, and load the description/keywords with terms that people might use having heard about the clip.
  3. Provide a URL (or Facebook fan page) in the video description with more info and contact information. It’s very difficult to use YouTube’s lousy message system which GOD FORBID they merge with Gmail (I’m on year 4 of that idea). Make sure this hyperlink appears in the truncated description.
  4. Pay attention to, but doubt, the multitude of business propositions. Sure it may make sense to create some merchandise but a) it’s kinda cheesy, and b) It won’t be a drop in the bucket relative to ad revenue.
  5. Pray the viral viewing continues. By my best guess, David at the Dentist has paid for an Ivy League college with his viral clip, which has surpassed 100 million views.
  6. Be open to a sponsorship ($5-$20,ooo) but that depends on timing and the content. It’s unlikely these will keep rolling in, so be selective and more while the video is hot. It’s generally hard to find these… they kinda have to come to you.
  7. If you’re lucky enough to get national media inquiries DO IT. It’s free (except hotel/travel), but it will drive views and intrigue. If you are going to merchandise, here’s a way to promote that subtly. For instance don’t pimp a website, but consider wearing a t-shirt that celebrates your viralicity.
  8. If you plan on creating more videos, then ask viewers to subscribe. Also create a good looking YouTube channel page… otherwise people won’t even think about subscribing… they’ll just think it’s a one-hit wonder.
  9. Post more videos but do not expect anywhere near the views. For proof, check the other videos on any channel that has a viral one. It’s very rare to see, for instance, a second “Charlie Bit My Finger” do anything even close to the first. Still worth trying.
  10. If you want to do some audience development and promotion, check out my free eBook called “How To Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent” (version 4). If you really want to get fancy, pick up my real book “Beyond Viral“).
You get typos when you get an eBook cover designed on Fiverr.com for $5

 

NextUp YouTube Winners in NYC

So the NextUp YouTube winners are in NYC right now… receiving loads of love from Google/YouTube. It made me happy seeing the next generation of amateurs… and to see that Google/YouTube still encourages them even while commercial content is on the rise on the world’s second-largest search engine.

I was invited to speak to the 25 of ’em, and here’s my presentation. If you were one of the wanna-bees, don’t fret. I asked if they’d be picking a new crop 3 times until I got the answer I wanted to hear… yes.

After I cranked this presentation out, I realized I’d been billed as the marketer. So this deck actually represented only half my time. During the rest I decided to play the role of an amalgamated product director, and I replaced my “Nalts” hat with a blazer. I asked them to pick a product (they said Coke), then I proceeded to explain my goals, hidden agendas, beliefs about YouTube and my understanding about product placement and sponsorship. I couldn’t help but point out that Coke gives out free products on the streets of NYC but no swag to people that have hundreds of thousand views daily. Hmmmm.

I told them I wanted to sell more Coke so I could become Chief Marketing Officer, and that I was mostly concerned with reach, frequency and single-minded proposition. I wanted to leverage emerging media, but I deferred YouTube spending to my media agency. And I wouldn’t know how to begin to tap YouTube creators… frankly I’d be scared they’d harm my brand (as a product director, of course, I wouldn’t realize I could review/approve any sponsored videos).

Lots more detail in my free eBook or Beyond Viral, which you really should just go ahead and buy. And dont find any thpelling erars.

 


YouTube Acquires Next New Networks

Who said Google isn’t in the content space?

Today it announced via YouTube the acquisition of Next New Networks (NNN)… and the creation of YouTube Next (see YouTube blog). Cartooninator and NNN co-founder Fred Seibert is not staying on board, but many of the folks behind Obama Girl, The Key of Awesome and AutoTune the News are (see Next New Networks blog). Yeah click that.

Advertisers Like “YouTube Safe” Content: So…

Advertisers like safe content, and it won’t be long before media buyers restrict certain YouTube ads to “safe” videos to protect their marketing clients and brands. So now that mama Google allows YouTube partners to note that the video is “safe” (no drugs, no violence, no sex, and no drugs), I’d urge you to code yours accordingly.

I just found my three most-viewed videos representing 50 million of my 160 million views (one is a scary prank, one is “funny“, and the third is “cute“). Then (see below) I rated them “safe” via the content-rating tool YouTube rolled out recently.

YouTube allows advertisers to target videos to ensure ads aren't displayed near strong language, nudity, sex, violence or drugs.

Are advertisers yet targeting content, and serving higher “CPMs” (the cost per impression metric that is the lifeblood of YouTube) around these videos? Don’t know yet, but it seems inevitable. And it took just a few minutes.

I can’t hurt since I am not so ambitious as to stray from generally family-safe content… I think I’ll survive if I just lost some high-CPM preroll ads featuring porn and crack ads. Yes I just said crack.

Hey this post will be good for search-engine discovery. Watch it become one of my most-f’ing viewed posts.

RSS a YouTube Channel

Some of you aren’t regular YouTube viewers, but have loads of RSS (feeds) available via a reader. I use iGoogle as my reader, for instance, and I have a customized page loaded with RSS feeds from my favorite blogs and websites. Butterfly.

If you prefer to get alerts for new videos that way, here’s a feed URL you can use.RSS it, and you’ll have the latest Nalts video available without having to check YouTube subscriptions.

To change it to a feed of someone with talent, simply replace “nalts” with their username.

http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/api/users/nalts/uploads?orderby=updated

YouTube Partner Income Sporadic

While we’re precluded from revealing specifics about YouTube revenue, it’s now becoming more common for YouTube “partners” to know what others are making. While the CPM (cost per thousand views) once seemed to have settled, the creator income fluctuates wildly. As noted in this chart, the month of May took a nose dive for me– June was up slightly. July’s amount (due in days) will tell give us a sense of trends, and whether we’ll return to the peak of the first quarter when InVideo ads were flowing like wine at a wedding.

What’s interesting is that views/subscribers don’t appear to correlate with income very well. See TubeMogul stats (chart 2) for monthly views, but recognize that YouTube’s Partner revenue (paid via AdSense) lags by a month. Any statisticians in the houuuse?

It would appear to me that there are two variables a creator can’t control, and significantly alter  YouTube Partner earnings:

  1. Inventory. If YouTube isn’t selling InVideo ads (ads that surface on bottom of video after 20 seconds) in my videos, there will be almost no income. The income from text ads and banners is paltry even in volume. If that yellow line is in the video player I’m a happy camper. Otherwise I fear retiring a corporate mule. I am aware that this isn’t healthy, thank you. Keep in mind that my revenue is not necessarily suggestive of YouTube revenue or inventory — it could simply be that my specific videos weren’t targeted by advertisers in a certain period. I do see a day where the creator can help sell his/her own advertising revenue, but that’s a logistical challenge.
  2. Location of view. YouTube currently doesn’t flight InVideo ads except for videos viewed on YouTube.com. That means a sweet lil’ old blogger embedding my video and getting me hundreds and thousands of views is of no consequence yet to her or me. Yet. Yet!

A few lessons for those hoping to make a living via online video:

  1. Be realistic. It takes a long while for views to translate to income. Think of it as a bonus not salary.
  2. Don’t count on it as a primary income unless you’re one of the top most-viewed creators and your audience is attractive to advertisers. In that regard, it feels more like TV/movies. Hopefully the predictions of radical increase in online-video advertising will equalize this effect… making it more democratic.
  3. If you expect to live on YouTube, become a hot rock star or lower your cost of living.
  4. Expect fluctuation. While in theory you control your views, thse too are dependent on a variety of factors. And unless you start selling for YouTube, the total advertising revenue and inventory is out of your control. People kinda have to be travelling on Maine highways for your Maine hotels to have high occupancy. You can make sure your hotel is more attractive than the very busy Motel 6 across the street.
  5. Find other ways to earn money via online video. Don’t bother selling crap to people (to date, the Nalts DVDs and merchandise has accumulated less than my worse month on YouTube). Rather find ways to appropriately sponsor brands or companies, and pursue those deals on your own. Until I start popping up in keynotes at Advertising conferences, it’s going to be a while before advertisers come hunting for you.

But I’m working on waking the sleeping giants.

More Video Views Than People Living in Top 20 US Cities?

When I think about uploading a video to YouTube, I envision five audiences:

  1. The people I know in online video- fellow creators and members of the online-video community.
  2. Permanent record: is the video going to be a tattoo I might regret? Will it cause my kids or family any embarrassment that I haven’t already inflicted?
  3. The folks I know from “meat space” (not virtual). Friends, family, neighbors. Most don’t watch.
  4. My professional colleagues (most who don’t watch).
  5. The rest of the people on planet Earth who might stumble into a video by accident.

So this morning (while in the midst of crunching numbers for our annual Marketing Plan) I’m thinking about how 500,000 views for a recent “scary maze” and why a Pesto recipe video (5,000 or so views) got 100 times fewer views. I’m thinking 5,000 is kinda lame, and maybe I should stay away from recipes. But then I realize that 5,000 is actually a lot of people.

What would it feel like if 5,000 people showed up in my front yard one day to see me?

So’s then I become curious about physical metaphors for the total number of times my videos have been viewed across the globe… somewhere between 30 and 40 million (hard to count beyond YouTube and a lot of my stuff is ripped). These numbers don’t include television audiences when my clip appears- these are straight, measured online views.

Even 35 million is about 1/3 of the total people that watched the last episode for M*A*S*H or the latest Superbowl (which, of course, is far from comaring apples to apples).

Then I run a list of the population for the top 20 US cities. According to Wickipedia, there are about 32 million people in the top cities. Some of my videos are presumably viewed by multiple people at a once, and more are maybe viewed  by the same people more than once. I would imagine there’s a high “abandonment” rate in the first 30 seconds, so although 3O million views at an average 2.3 minutes sounds like I wasted maybe 150 days of cumulative human lives, it’s probably far less.

And here’s the irony. I walk around with my Nalts hat all the time, and outside my own community, I’ve been recognized exactly one time… 2 weeks ago at the LA airport by three young girls. I was speaking with Charles Trippy on my cell, and told him I had to hang up because fans were waiting.

I’m glad I can’t see everyone’s eyes. I used to get stage fright standing in front of an autitorium of 400 people. The thought of the New Orleans Superbowl filled 400 times over is a little daunting.

So even if you have a few hundred views, think of it in physical terms. It’s kinda surreal.

Instructions for YouTube Branded Channel (pdf)

Hey, look what I found while Google searching for specifications to create YouTube channel banners (not the paid banner ads, but the branded banners that appear on the top of customized brand channels or partner homepages).

A lot of this applies only to “branded channels,” but it’s still more informative than the meager YouTube help section.

Not sure if this was a fluke or if it’s supposed to be public… Hey, YouTube/Google. You want these pulled down and I’ll do it. A Google t-shirt would expedite this request to our level 1 web support.

  • www.youtube.com/pdf/YouTube_Brand_Channels.pdf

YouTube Channel Specifications Help

Here’s one for running contests:

  • www.youtube.com/pdf/YouTube_Contests.pdf

youtube contests instructions