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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Get Rich Quick: Try one of the bullshit “get rich quick” schemes. Good luck.
ReelSEO’sTim Schmoyer interviewed Jason Urgo about his Social Blade, which helps YouTube creators track fellow YouTubers. The website captures public information from YouTube’s API and databases them — to help creators “stalk” top YouTubers, but also see what “competitors” are doing.
People are obviously interested in how much income YouTubers earn, and Social Blade provides a broad earning range based on total monthly views x estimated income per view (maybe 50 cents to $5 bucks per 1,000 views). There’s also an “SB score” that tracks YouTube influence (ala Klout). The site also makes projections around YouTubers hitting certain subscriber milestones, and provides simple graphs on any YouTube channels; these display data otherwise difficult or impossible to access (see chart).
Vidstatsx has a similar offering, but SocialBlade goes deeper by tracker YouTubers that are getting smaller viewers. Urgo also is helping smaller YouTubers become YouTube Partners, which gives them advanced functionality on their channel page. Here’s where you can become a Partner via Urgo and “RPM Networks,” which is a division of web studio Maker. Not everyone is approved, but it helps to have at least 1,000 daily views, clean content, and no copyright infringements.
See the video below for more info, and check out my Nalts page. You’ll see my ever-shrinking subscriber list (from 244K to 225K subscribers). I’m losing about 600 per day since YouTube is scrubbing out old, inactive accounts that subscribe. Obviously this won’t effect me since dead accounts don’t watch a lot of videos. By comparison, here’s the VidStatsx page on my Nalts account. It focuses more on top YouTubers and hour-by-hour changes.
The data sites continue to emphasize subscriber data, which to me is not as important as a) a channel’s total views to date, and b) the average number of views on a creator’s recent videos. The former drives a creator’s income, but the latter is important for brands looking to sponsor YouTubers. How many views can they expect on a sponsored video? To get an answer, look at the past 10-20 videos and average their views.
My absolute favorite line: “Go to Tide’s website and hang there for a while. It’s a totally awesome place to go and play online games and meet other cool fans of Tide products.” Because we always want to hang out with fellow customers of our brands.
The article opens by making reference to an “awesome new web video by Tide detergent.” A video that “everyone is discussing it on popular blogs and linking to it from social media platforms.” Sadly, there is no such video.
But in a self-deprecating and timely display, Tide and Digitas filled that void. Embedded below, please find Tide’s very own lampoon, which has already gotten some industry trade magazine attention (MediaPost). Per The Onion, Tide provides a hip rocker, puppets and groovy 80s music. Just 10K views so far, but that beats the ExpoTV product reviews littering Tide’s YouTube channel with views as low as 15. Even more notable is the sheer number of positive “likes” the video has so far (even though we know where some of those are coming from). And the video ends well like those rare SNL skits. Meet the bird in the laundry basket who tweets the finale.
Some brands have cringed from The Onion satire. Others would have ignored it and moved on. Tide and Digitas get credit for embracing it, and riding it fairly quickly — especially by P&G standards. Despite my temporary Twitter hiatus, I couldn’t help but notice an @nalts tweet by Digitas’ John McCarus (who I met while working on a different P&G brand). His self congratulatory tweet just fits the whole thing beautifully.
Now for the learning for brands and social media folks:
Laugh at yourself. It makes others laugh with you, instead of at you.
Humanize the brand as being self deprecating
Move quickly (this wouldn’t have worked as well if it took one more week to post)
And the final lesson is revealed in this priceless quote by the fake author: “Everybody in my office has been going crazy for this video. It’s practically all we’ve been talking about.” Do everything you can to avoid drinking your own Koolaid and thinking/communicating that your brand is way cooler than it is. Let other people tell me how cool your brand is.
In appreciation of this campaign I promise to: a) buy Tide, b) give Digitas props, c) not sue P&G for infringing on my Nalts logo.
The headline is a quote by Mark Cuban, who is very rich. The full quote, as captured by Adam Kleinberg in last week’s Videonomics event in Dallas Cowboys stadium, is: “Online video is irrelevant. The top videos most days on YouTube get 250-750k views. If you got that kind of traffic on TV, you’d be a huge failure.”
Before I comment on Mark’s thoughts, I gotta say… I love Adam’s post for three reasons:
He references me before Mark Cuban.
He captured the quote I was too lazy to write down.
Adam let me kiss him on the head, and he’s like a human teddy bear. I told him I almost want to go back to a big company just to hire his agency, Tractionco.com. If you know anyone from Studio Lambert, tell them to get Traction Co on The Pitch (AMC) NOW.
I did get a photo of Mark Cuban and me, but nobody seems to care as much as I might have thought. Only 5% of the people I know seem to recognize him, and only 14% of that segment seem mildly impressed that I arm wrestled him. Some were more impressed that he’s on Shark Tank than the fact that he sold Broadcast.com for 55 billion.
And now to the point (you buried your lead again, Nalts): Mark Cuban’s point was that the view count of “YouTube’s most viewed videos of the day” pales against television-show viewership. He’s got two reasons, the first is that YouTube most-viewed daily videos sometimes don’t often more than a few hundred thousand views. Second, the views are brief relative to viewing durations of Shark Tank, which Mark says is the show most watched by entire families. Mark appears on that show.
What Mark didn’t point out is that the most-viewed YouTubers (top 50-100) typically have daily views that exceed top television shows. Annoying Orange or Ray William Johnson get 10x the daily views of many network shows. They are, in effect, small networks. Sure the views are minutes not 30 or 60 minutes. And they’re less monatized. Furthermore, here’s another little secret for Mark. Sometimes a creator’s “daily views” are not, in fact, driven by their most recent video — a creator’s daily views are often driven by the cumulative views of the creator’s collection. (For instance, my recent videos tend to be viewed a mere fraction of the total daily views I have; the latter number is driven by a few older videos, like “Scary Maze” or “I Are Cute Kitten,” that continue to accumulate views).
During last week’s Videonomics event, Mark invited people to challenge him, but I declined because… this is all a moot point. Why? For starters, advertisers want eyeballs, and they don’t generally care if they bought 100 ads on 100 YouTube videos or 5 ads on 5 television shows.
They want targeted reach with spending efficiency.
Period. Advertisers also need scale, and if media fragments so too will their media spend. Most studies show that online-video advertising growth will come at the expense of television advertising in years ahead… but eventually these budgets won’t be separate. That brings me to my second point… in the next 4-8 years we won’t really discern between online video, cable TV, mobile and television. It’ll all be video, and the long and short tail will both matter to advertisers.
It appears the “webstars” are on their 14th minute. The major online-video properties are now putting dramatic emphasis on professional content with big celebrity names.
Every year at this time, the television networks showcase their new shows to advertisers in what’s called “up fronts.” This week the major online-video properties (YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL) mimicked this ceremony in what’s called the “Digital Content NewFronts.” For some nice coverage of the NewFronts, see iMedia.
The LA Times is calling it the first-ever event, but I participated in a version of it in 2009 with Tom Green and Paula Deen (hosted by Digitas, a digital agency). This year, however, it’s unmistakably grown. Explains the LA Times:
“The tech companies are taking a page from the Big Four TV networks, which every spring woo advertisers with lavish million-dollar presentations and parties to showcase their fall prime-time schedules.”
This “lavish” activity makes sense, of course. Online video advertising is expected to increase 55% this year, exceeding $3 billion (researcher eMarketer). It’s on track to reach $9.3 billion by 2016.
“With tens of billions of dollars in advertising spending represented in the room, it is a small price to pay to capture the Holy Grail of TV ad spending,” said Yahoo Executive Vice President Ross Levinsohn.
What’s interesting is how the video destinations/distributors are almost excessively touting professional-grade content with celebrity appearances.
Yahoo showed off Katie Couric’s show called “Katie’s Take.” Clearly Couric’s new-media prowess is a result of my tutoring (see “Save Old Media“).
Google last night presented its YouTube Originals to more than 2,000 people. Top celebrities have been passing through YouTube’s NYC offices all week (see Amy Poehler with “Key of Awesome” folks Mark Douglas and Todd Womack). Of course I was there yesterday and conveniently missed them all.
AOL Video shows included such personalities as supermodel Heidi Klum, “Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia and former Bravo TV “Top Chef” semifinalist Sam Talbot.
This activity reinforces the increasing convergence of traditional media properties and online-video distributors… especially as TV dollars flow online. A good example is Discovery Channel’s acquisition of Revision3, which is hot off the press.
By 2015 will there be a NewFront? I’d imagine the Upfronts and Newfronts will merge. You?
The New York Times “Critics Notebook” came down hard on YouTube’s attempts to create TV-like content. See the full article here, and now some highlights…
Do you agree, or have a different thought?
With regular weekly shows and viewer-friendly playlists, they are indeed slightly more televisionlike than the millions of mostly homemade videos that surround them.
But the harder they try to resemble television, the less interesting they are.
All of these shows could, with minor modifications, look at home on television, and the production values on many of the new channels are comparable to those on the lower and middle regions of cable.
On the other hand, entire categories of these new YouTube channels — on pop culture and gossip, music, sports, women’s topics — mostly feel like imitations of what cable outlets like MTV, Spike and Bravo already do… There is also a sameness to them
Watching these channels, in their bland uniformity, underlines a continuing reality… there are unbridgeable differences between YouTube and television.
The shortness and vast abundance of videos, along with the easy but largely random nature of navigation among them, make YouTube an oddly static, timeless experience, no matter how quickly you click from one video to the next. Its channels are video archives, not places where one show follows another.