Lessons from YouTube Channels Making Money

YouTube has become quite the pop culture shaper and launched a little cottage industry for thousands. I’d anticipate that will only continue to grow. That’s entertainment!

Wired magazine recently featured a dozen or so Partners in The YouTube Laugh Factory: A Studio System for Viral Video (December 2011) and distilled these 5 rules for getting noticed according to YouTube Partners (people making money via YouTube):

  1. Make a lot of content. A lot.
  2. Target a niche.
  3. Connect with your fans.
  4. Collaborate.
  5. Optimize for the algorithms.

These YouTube Partners are mentioned in the Wired article:

Tay Zonday https://www.youtube.com/tayzonday
Shane Dawson http://www.youtube.com/shanedawsontv
DeStorm Power http://www.youtube.com/DeStorm
Olga Kay http://www.youtube.com/OlgaKay
KassemG http://www.youtube.com/kassemg
Ray William Johnson http://www.youtube.com/RayWilliamJohnson
LisaNova http://www.youtube.com/LisaNova
Corey Vidal http://www.youtube.com/ApprenticeA
Shaycarl/ Shaytards http://www.youtube.com/shaycarl
Freddie Wong & Brandon Laatsch http://www.youtube.com/freddiew
Jimmy Wong http://www.youtube.com/jimmy
Nice Peter http://www.youtube.com/nicepeter
MysteryGuitarMan http://www.youtube.com/MysteryGuitarMan
Michelle Phan http://www.youtube.com/MichellePhan
Phil DeFranco http://www.youtube.com/sxephil
Ryan Higa http://www.youtube.com/nigahiga
Vlogbrothers http://www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers

According to a USA Today article (June 2011), there are over 20,000 YouTube Partners and a few hundred are making over $100,000 per year. At least 1 has made over $1,000,000. Revenue estimates 2010 are projected in this article, How Much Money Do The Top Grossing YouTube Partners Make? quoting the Business Insider piece, Meet The YouTube Stars Making $100,000 Plus Per Year.

According to a YouTube Partners discussion thread, the legal (and confidential) agreement states that “… You may accurately disclose the amount of Google’s gross payments to You pursuant to the Program” though it’s often erroneously rumored that YouTube Partners are prohibited from disclosing earning figures.

Note you can make smaller amounts of money at an entry level called Revenue Sharing on YouTube videos; but to make bigger money and get extra perks, apply for approval to the Partners program. And YouTube provides tips and resources for producing quality videos at  Creators’ Corner and Creators Hub. After all, if you make money, they make money.

Here’s 5 Secrets of YouTube’s Success (April 2010), an article published for the 5-year anniversary of YouTube with observations about why it’s succeeded beyond survival, and how it’s thriving and growing —

  1. It elevated the absurd.
  2. It got creative with advertising.
  3. It plays nice with Hollywood.
  4. It launched a new creative class.
  5. It’s willing to reinvent itself.

And, by the way, it’s messing with our brains – Clive Thompson on How YouTube Changes the Way We Think (December 2008). Keen insights from the communication-meister Marshall McLuhan:

Marshall McLuhan pointed out that whenever we get our hands on a new medium we tend to use it like older ones. Early TV broadcasts consisted of guys sitting around reading radio scripts because nobody had realized yet that TV could tell stories differently. It’s the same with much of today’s webcam video; most people still try to emulate TV and film. Only weirdos like MadV are really exploring its potential.

A bigger leap will occur when we get better tools for archiving and searching video. Then we’ll start using it the way we use paper or word processing: to take notes or mull over a problem, like Tom Cruise flipping through scenes at the beginning of Minority Report. We think of video as a way to communicate with others—but it’s becoming a way to communicate with ourselves.



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