YouTube. Where you can go from watching a simple music video to lying in bed at 2am learning how to fight off a bear using only a toothbrush and a small pebble. You know it. I know it. The place of dreams.
It’s also the place that many well-known stars started their empires. There is Zoella, who makes £50,000 a month from sharing makeup and beauty tips; PewDiePie, who has earned about US$114 million from YouTube views since 2010; and, of course, Justin Bieber, who was first discovered through his preteen video uploads.
And because of this seemingly endless stream of success stories, every semester when uni starts to get just that little bit harder, I always have the same thought, “I’ll just drop out and become a stripper… or maybe a YouTuber?”
It’s a sturdy Plan B I think, the YouTube idea, not the former. I mean, I have a YouTube account, an okay camera and some books that I can set it up on. I love getting free stuff and I am usually okay at talking. That’s all I need, right? Wrong. Oh so very very wrong.
Trying to climb that YouTube ladder is exactly the same as climbing the corporate ladder, except whilst one is sitting at a desk filing reports, the other is sitting in a bathtub full of orbeez.
Not only is it extremely difficult to gain a following in the world of YouTube with over 400 hours of content being uploaded every minute, the bar has been raised just that bit higher. Yep, the almighty law makers at YouTube HQ have altered the criteria needed for content creators to qualify for the partner programme.
This has caused quite the commotion amongst YouTubers across the world. Why is this an issue? The partner programme is what allows YouTubers to monetise their content. Being eligible for the monetisation of YouTube videos is what brings in the money.
You know those 30 second ads that show up before you’re allowed to watch the video? This is how YouTubers make money. That’s right. They aren’t just there to annoy us until we can finally click “skip ad”.
What is the new criteria?
To get those money making ads working their cash flow magic on your videos, you need at least 4,000 hours of watch time on your channel in the past 12 months.
But wait, there’s more. Your channel also needs at least 1,000 subscribers. This makes it virtually impossible for the new kids on the block to begin raking in the money as quickly as their predecessors. So, if you are planning on starting up your own channel, hold onto your day job for a bit longer. And maybe try to start teaching your grandparents how to hit that replay button.
Additionally, videos that go through Google Preferred, will be watched first by a human before advertising is approved. Now I know, you may be wondering “what is Google Preferred and why do they get special treatment?” Well firstly, Google Preferred is a classification that partners top-tier ads with influential creators’ videos. Secondly, because Google owns YouTube they like banding together to push their favourites forward, into the spotlight.
See YouTube is that mother with one daughter winning a gold medal at the Olympics at the age of 15. Whilst her son manages to come home with grass stains covering his white uniform and a note from a teacher saying he failed to hand in his assignment on time. They’ve both got a favourite child.
Need a visual representation? Say no more:
YouTube is the dad. Child no.1 is Google Preferred members. Child no.2 is the rest of us.
Why were these rules implemented?
Ultimately, these changes hurt the smaller YouTube channels, but the move has advertisers’ and consumers’ best interests in mind. At the end of 2017, many advertisers felt as though they couldn’t trust YouTube.
These companies pay big money for their ads to feature before that hilarious video you’re just dying to watch. A large portion of that money was going to waste on videos that contained inappropriate or offensive content that brands didn’t want to be attached to or associated with. This resulted in many advertisers suspending their commercials on YouTube.
This issue was brought to head earlier this year when YouTube’s golden boy, Logan Paul, who was a member of Google Preferred (a favourite child), posted a video which depicted a man who had taken his own life. This video was monetised under the previous criteria and henceforth Logan Paul made money from this insensitive and quite simply disgusting video.
If advertisers can’t trust YouTube, then they will take their money elsewhere. This means no money for anyone. If YouTubers then leave the platform to follow other sources of revenue, where does that leave YouTube? As a platform with an archive of video content people can access but absolutely nobody can build a career on?
It’s understandable that raising the standards has upset smaller YouTube channels, but at the end of the day, without this change YouTube could just become the next MySpace: something we look back on fondly to remember the good times.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly don’t want YouTube to become obsolete. What else would I waste time on once I’ve gone on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Snapchat? Please, I’m a pro procrastinator and I can’t get by with only five platforms that suck me down the rabbit-hole of the internet.
What does this all mean?
For me it means that I’ll probably never be able to buy that Gucci belt from a YouTube salary. Instead, I’ll stick out this whole university thing, I guess.
And ya girl don’t have a plan C.
For everyone else it’s quite possible that YouTube will now only be filled with the already well known and established names. However, for you aspiring YouTubers, it means you’ll need to put in a lot more work with no financial reward straight up. But stick with it and maybe one day you’re fellow YouTuber boyfriend will buy you you’re very own pastel coloured Nissan Figaro.
I must also add that one important exception to ALL of this is if you are ridiculously attractive AND have a twin. If that is the case, the YouTube world is yours for the taking. Go forth and conquer.
Alright guys that’s it for now! Don’t forget to like and subscribe!