Don’t Count on Getting Big on YouTube

If you’re going to try and tell me that there has never been a point in your life that you have considered dropping out of school, spending your life savings on a film camera and a ring light and trying to make it big on YouTube, you’re a liar and I don’t trust you.

We’ve all been there. We all see the influencers making countless videos where they test out weird Amazon products, try weird TikTok trends or try and spend 24 hours inside of a Walmart without getting caught.

I won’t lie, it looks like a lot of fun. And getting paid to play a giant game of hide and seek as an adult doesn’t sound so bad either. It’s the Gen. Z American dream.

Then at the end of the videos, there is usually some type of outro in front of a giant mansion, while whomever you’re watching is sporting a brand new Rolex, leaning against their Tesla and telling you, “don’t forget to like and subscribe, hit that notification bell and tune in next time!”

Then the screen goes black, and you’re left staring at your own reflection in the screen, wondering how the hell these people are so rich? How is this 16-year-old boy that plays pranks on his dad, affording a $400,000 Lamborghini? How in the world is David Dobrik, one of the biggest Youtubers right now, just giving away Teslas like it’s free candy?

My first thought was well, YouTube is a huge company. They were bought by Google for $1.65 billion in stock in November of 2006, and ever since then, it’s been the main hub for video content worldwide. And today in 2020, they are a $15 billion a year company, according to The Verge.

That seems like enough money to keep a business going and pay the content creators, right?

Well, maybe. But that’s still not where the real money comes from.

According to TurboTax, “YouTubers can make anywhere between $0.01 to $0.03 per view with Adsense.”

Basically, Adsense is Google’s way of monetizing videos and determining how much a content creator gets paid based on how many views they are getting on the advertisements before, during, and after their videos.

But as for all of the other monetary variables, it all depends on how much you can get paid per video.

Factors for pay include the number of views your video obtains, the number of clicks on an ad you receive, the quality of the ad on/in your videos, whether or not ad blockers are involved and the length of the video.

If you actually want to know where the real money comes from, it’s sponsorships. David Dobrik for example, the so-called ‘King of YouTube’ and apparent Tesla hoarder, has an on-going sponsorship with SeatGeek, a ticketing app for concerts and events. They give him a certain amount of money to help him produce his videos, and all he has to do is a promo for them in his video.

These advertisements alone pay for David Dobrik to be able to give out free Teslas.

Because of SeatGeek, YouTube, and other sponsorships, David Dobrik makes an estimated revenue of around $4,750 per day ($1.7 million a year), according to Naibuzz.

But if you aren’t David Dobrik, and you don’t have hundreds of celebrity friends and a deal with SeatGeek, here is where it gets difficult.

The real kicker is that in order to get paid anything at all, you have to meet a list of very specific conditions.

You must have at least 1,000 subscribers, reach 4,000 valid public watch hours in the past 12 months, sign and agree to the terms and conditions, have an AdSense account, and get reviewed and approved by Youtube themselves.

Even if you meet all of these conditions, YouTube reserves the right to shutdown payments to any account at any time.

Recently, YouTube came under huge scrutiny for blocking comments and refusing to monetize videos that featured children.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “On Sept. 4, the Federal Trade Commission hit YouTube with a $170 million fine over allegations that it illegally collected the personal data of children.”

After settling, Youtube decided to eliminate personalized ads and turn off commenting and notification features on videos made for audiences under the age of 13. They also stated that the platform would disable commenting features on videos that are focused on minors between 13 and 18, believing that those ages have a risk of attracting predatory behavior.

Keeping children safe online is a major responsibility for a platform as big as YouTube, but at the same time, by turning off comments and notifications, they are severely undercutting the income of many of their content creators, specifically family vloggers.

YouTube has a huge market for family vloggers and children’s content, especially in places like Utah where families often have many kids.

Featured: The Bingham Family
Photo Courtesy of The Bingham Family

One of the most popular family vlogging channels, This Is How We Bingham, a family based in Utah, makes an estimated $2,500 per day, which means $900,000 a year from their video content alone.

But with the comments section and notification feature crackdown, many family vloggers are now having trouble communicating with their fanbase.

According to The Verge, Kevin Chapman, a popular British YouTuber who found success using his secondary channel for family vlogs, has experienced a major decline in the bond he feels between the channel and viewers.

“If we don’t have comments, we’re no different from the TV,” Chapman said. “And it’s so important that we’re different from the TV because that’s why people like us. Anyone can talk to their favorite YouTuber. But if you take that away, if you take away that connection between the creator and the viewer, then we’re just making short films — and nobody watches short films.”

It can seem exciting and even tempting to drop everything you’re doing and try to make it big online. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Making a living on the internet requires a vast amount of knowledge about content creation, video production, business and so many more essential skills that you have to be proficient in if you want to make any money at all.

Sure there are people who get lucky and find a random niche that maybe they were born to entertain for the world, but for the majority of us, it’s just like anything else.

It takes practice, skill, and a whole lot of hard drive space.

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Kaitlyn Hart

Kaitlyn Hart

Just trying to become the next Gloria Steinem.