Over the past couple of days, i have noticed quite a bit of talk in the media about people making money from online videos and especially from uploads to YouTube.
I have no idea whether this is a coincidence, or a consequence of people looking for alternative ways to make a little money in these challenging times?
Maybe, it's just a case of the mainstream media finally catching up with what many people have been doing for a number of years now? I suspect that it's a combination of the two.
I saw an article on the BBC last night about just this topic. They showcased the, now infamous, "Charlie Bit My Finger" YouTube video. This video is now the most watched online video of all time and has been watched a staggering 390 million times. Yes, that's 390 MILLION times!
Now, that's a pretty mind blowing figure and one that surprised even me, someone who has been making and uploading videos (over 700 of them) to YouTube for over 5 years now. But, it's one of those so called "viral videos" that get passed around between friends and work colleagues via emails, Tweets, Facebook links etc etc. It is also one of those videos that tends to get watched more than once. I know i've seen it several times and i suspect that you may well have done so as well?
But, that video is the exception rather than the rule.
In an interview with Charlie's family about the video, they talked about how they had managed to capitalise on its success and make some money from it. They admitted that they had made in excess of £100,000 from their videos on YouTube. Money which, according to their YouTube Channel is "going towards the boys future or treats we would not normally have bought".
Now, that may sound like a lot of money? It certainly did to my wife!
But, when you consider that the families many YouTube videos have been watched a total of over 502 million times, is it really?
I accept that we don't know how far above that £100,000 figure the family meant. But, even so....
One thing that always amazes me and was evident on the BBC program last night, is that so many people are still unaware that money can be made from uploading your videos to YouTube. Or, even how popular viral videos are and how many people make and upload their own videos. We all watch these videos online, or on our phones etc, but don't seem to think about it any further.
One other point always seems to be overlooked when talking about making money from YouTube videos. You have to be a YouTube "Partner" to get advertising onto your videos, or channel page. Without this advertising, no money is generated for you.
"Partnership" is still only available either by application, or invitation. I've no doubt though, that if a video of yours started getting huge viewing figures, that invite wouldn't be long coming.
I know of many YouTube video makers who do make what is sometimes a very good living from their videos. But, as with so many things, they got in early, saw a gap in the "market" and are very good at what they do.
These people also generate income from outside of YouTube. For example by having their own website, blogs etc that contain advertising, or even sponsorship. They often also sell related products, such as t.shirts, mugs etc.
This is not a part time, or spare time occupation, this becomes a full time job. These video makers are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do and what they create. They are often artistic people for whom sites like YouTube are a great way for them to showcase their, undeniable, talent. Those people that the world of big media have passed by.
Some of them even end up getting signed up by those same big media companies. Those media companies now use sites such as YouTube as a kind of online casting couch, or talent show. They spot what is popular and think of ways to transfer that to more traditional media outlets.
Unfortunately, due to the wild west nature of the Internet, this transfer does not always have a happy outcome, or ending. There is quite often a very good reason why certain content is on the Internet and not on regular TV.
Yes, there are money making possibilites out there for those with the talent, original ideas, dedication and luck required to make those, hopefully, viral videos. But, just be prepared to be outshone by a cute cat, a sneezing panda, or a baby biting his little brothers finger.
One thing that all of those last examples have in common, is that they're all natural events, or accidents and are not actually anything creative. Although, this doesn't stop people trying to "fake" these kind of events. Don't worry though, those videos are usually spotted early on. So, don't bother trying.
So, as my wife suggested yesterday, maybe the best things to do is do trawl through that all old video footage that you have of your childrens early years, in the hope that there is something funny and unusual going on?
See you on YouTube.
PS: Although i've been on YouTube for over five years, have made over 700 videos, which have been watched over 245,000 times and have been a YouTube Partner for a few years now. I have only ever made a very small amount of money.
Maybe i should go out and buy a cute kitten?