While it might be true that the platform’s biggest names rake in millions each year in ad revenue alone, those few channels that have actually been able to be profitable did so early on. It has become far more difficult in recent years to get the kind of traction you could get ten years ago, or even five years ago. If you’re passionate about making an online debut, it’s important to understand what a steep uphill climb it has become to be a sensation.
The first hurdle a new channel on YouTube will face is: only after your channel has racked up a lifetime total of 10,000 views will your content be eligible to be monetized. It may not sound like much, but for most people, meeting this minimum quota could take several months or an eternity. The reason for this change is said to be that YouTube uses the time between a channel’s beginning and the channel’s 10,000th video view to assess the legitimacy of the channel. These ambiguous guidelines that determine the worth of a channel’s content lead me to my next point – the reason why these guidelines are getting stricter.
In a statement released by YouTube on its creator’s blog last March, YouTube outlines its latest efforts to moderate content in order to satisfy the demands of its advertisers. “…there’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against.” The statement goes, already feeling ominous. “Our advertiser-friendly content policies set the tone for which videos can earn revenue, ensuring that ads only appear where they should.” In short, YouTube has outsourced its standards to special interests and large advertising companies. So unless you make the videos that “sell,” your revenue dries up.
It’s sad to say we’re dealing with a platform that dishes out to those that produce in quantity rather than quality. As a result, the media-marketplace has been completely saturated in Let’s Plays, make-up tutorials, opinion channels, and clips of television shows and other channel’s videos, and copycats.
However, there is hope. Many of YouTube’s contributors have adapted to the times and have chosen to supplement their ad revenue with viewer donations via Patreon. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, there are indeed alternatives, albeit lesser known, to YouTube. Sites like Vidme and BitChute could be just the place for new and aspiring content creators to gain a foothold on the web and earn a reputation. While you’re at it, if you’re tired of Facebook and Twitter, who also suffer from many of the same issues as YouTube, then check out Minds – a monetized and community owned social media platform currently in beta – and GAB – an Advertisement-free social media site.
Back to that Gold Rush: A time when people took a chance in parts unknown to make their fortune. YouTube is well-known, but what we know isn’t good, and it’s not getting better. We can admire those that made it to the top, but that doesn’t mean those at the bottom have to settle for making and consuming mediocre content. If you have great ideas and the drive to see them become more than ideas, in memory of the YouTube that used to be, we should never forget the words that used to sit beneath its logo.