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Extricating Myself From The Sticky YouTube Web

As of this moment, I have close to 620 videos uploaded on my YouTube channel, which I began in earnest in 2010. I should have at least 100K subscribers, right? And be making a couple thousand dollars a month?

Well, right now I have just over 2,000 subscribers. About one percent of them watch all of my videos. And, no matter how many videos I post a week, no matter how well I do my video SEO, and no matter how closely I stick to one subject, I make an average of $50 a month.

And have been making that average for the past several years.

That’s right – it hasn’t gone up, even though the number of my initial views per video has.

That’s been frustrating me and driving me crazy. Because even though I don’t need to make money with YouTube, I would like to see some return on my efforts.

A better return than what amounts to be about half of minimum wage.

In an effort to increase that income, I recently subscribed to a bunch of gardening channels that I otherwise never would have found – or watched. And began watching every single one. And making (mostly) useful and helpful comments on every single one.

To the extent that I have not only been depleting my “eye energy” watching videos I really don’t want/need to watch, and depleting my free time that I could be using as writing time. Or having fun with my family time.

After about three weeks of adding this bit of misery to my life – jumping through yet another YouTube hoop – I checked my channel analytics. And discovered…

Hardly any of my views come from people on other channels checking me out via a comment I made.

Off and on for the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to tell myself that if I’m going to create videos for YouTube, it should be for fun and personal enrichment, not money. This stern internal lecturing has increased both in frequency and in volume over the past couple of weeks.

Yesterday, two things happened that just might have gotten the message through my thick skull. First, I realized after getting halfway through a really good novel (Words by Ginny Ytrupp) that, despite everything I’ve written on this blog or said to my  husband, I really and truly do want to keep writing fiction – even novels! I don’t think the desire has ever really gone away, it’s just that this piece of work reawakened it.

In light of that discovery, I decided to estimate how much I’ve made per hour with my book writing over the past five years. Figuring in the cost of marketing, I conservatively estimated that I’ve made at least $20 per hour. Not phenomenal, but five times that what I get from YouTube.

Again, not that I need to make money. But it’s nice to know that I’ve been decently compensated for the time and effort I put into my writing.

The second thing was scanning over all the newly uploaded videos on my YouTube subscription page. A vlog about a minimalist family. A video from a guy who’s growing an urban food forest. A tiny house video. A couple more videos that, a week ago, I would have watched just so I could comment on them. Do my YouTube networking.

I looked at those channels, those videos, with new eyes, and I realized that I was not interested in watching a single one of them. And why on earth should I watch something I’m not interested in? I’ve been wasting my time watching YouTube videos, hoping to build my own channel, instead of pursuing activities that truly interest and fulfill me!

NO. MORE.

From now on, I’m only going to watch a video if I’m researching something, or if I want to watch some particular entertainment, like a music video or stand-up comedy. And if I like the video…I’m not going to subscribe to the channel. Shoot, I’m thinking about unsubscribing from all the channels I’m subscribed to! (I already unsubscribed from at least a third of them a few days ago.)

And honestly, a part of me – a big part of me – wants to quit creating and uploading videos altogether. The editing is hard work, and I’d rather use the time and “eye energy” to write.

Moreover, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make the paradigm shift from “YouTube is an income stream” to “YouTube is a fun hobby, and who cares how many people view my videos?” Not to mention the fact that I continually have the ungodly attitude of, “I’m at least as good as so-and-so. Why shouldn’t I have as many subscribers/make as much money?”

In addition, as someone who espouses an anti-consumerist, simple lifestyle, having ads on my videos at all has always made me uncomfortable when I have allowed myself to think about it. Can you say, “hypocrite”?

Finally, while there’s a lot of great and useful content on YouTube, it’s noisy. A whole lot of people doing a whole lot of things in the name of making money (which are likely often not in line with God’s purpose for their lives), and distracting people from their own creativity and dream-fulfilling activities.

Not only that, YouTube is doing to critical thinking what social media sites are doing to relationships: distracting from, discouraging, and diluting it. Nobody wants to try to solve a problem for themselves. No. Just do an online search and see how somebody else did it – or, better still, find a video about it on YouTube!

YouTube and social media are making people lazy. Including me.

Whether to continue to continue making and uploading videos is still up in the air for me. But as far as jumping through all the hoops that supposedly help you build your channel, as far as wasting my time watching content that doesn’t really add value to my life? I’m done.

UPDATE: Just after publishing this post, I went over to YouTube and discovered that my last two videos were flagged as “not suitable for most advertisers.” This is due to some bug in YouTube’s system, and means that I can’t make money from Adsense from then. No problem; all I have to do is request a manual review, and in a few days the video will be monetized again, right?

That’s how it used to be.

But when I went to request a manual review, here’s what YouTube said: Review requested.   Right now we are only able to review videos with at least 1,000 views in the past 7 days.   We’ll review your video once it reaches that threshold.

INSERT EMOTICON OF FURY HERE. What YouTube is saying is, “We don’t give a flying fig about small channels, who are lucky to get 40 views in the past 7 days.”

This morning, I was praying for some sort of undeniable confirmation that I was supposed to stop being a YouTuber.

I am taking this incident as divine confirmation.

GOOD-BYE, YOUTUBE!!! (And don’t be surprised if, in the near future, the Crunchy Emily channel disappears forever.)

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