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Thursday 24 November 2011

Money, Money, Money?

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?


  1. I noticed that the video description for Charlie now explains, "No, this was not faked, it was just the kids playing." I also just checked my own channel, nearly 2 million total video views, but it's not even close to a part time job - it just covers "expenses."

    YT has, in recent months, broadened the invites to make income, and I received one at my "quick response" channel, that only has 3,775 views, and on which I'd only posted one video in the last year. This invite was careful not to call it the "partner" program, but it was asking permission to place ads on those videos in exchange for a small share of the revenue.

    Now everybody can get in on the action and be swimming in riches the way we are ;^)

  2. I read an article last month in the online New York Times, "Cashing In on Your Hit YouTube Video." According to the article, YouTube does indeed invite you to become a partner if one of your videos takes off. It also offers a service called "Content ID" which allows you to block others from posting your video (presumably only on YouTube) or getting paid when they do.

    I've always felt that my performance of "The Ride of the Valkyries" on kazoo deserved a wider audience. Five years and seven views—six of which were my own—later, I deleted the video after the world's indifference became too much to bear.

  3. Ken: the interview i saw last night explained how the video was made and why it was posted onto YT in the first place.
    Like most parents, they bought a video camera to record their kids growing up & one day, Charlie just happened to bite his brothers finger when they were filming.
    They posted the video onto YT as it was the easiest way for distant family members to see it.
    I bet many other parents have similar footage, but just never thought to post it online?
    I really must sort through that old video footage of my kids growing up ;)

  4. Dugal: Now i'm intrigued by your skills with the kazoo. That video is a loss to the viewig public :)

    Becoming a YT Partner is certainly easier than it used to be. I applied twice & was rejected both times. I then gave up trying & then YT contacted me & asked me to join. That decision hasn't cost them much money so far!