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Making Money On YouTube…Worth It?

Interested in making money with YouTube? Before you use your precious time and energy trying to build up a channel, you might want to hear…

My sad YouTube story.

I started my channel in 2010. As of this writing (a bit more than seven years later), I have nearly 600 videos uploaded, fewer than 1 million total views, and fewer than 1600 subscribers. My ad income from YouTube peaked at around $70 in a thirty-day period about a year ago. Six months ago, I didn’t upload any videos for a two-month period. Even though I kept getting an average of one subscriber a day, my income went down from a $45-50/month average to $30 per month.

A couple of months ago, I decided I was going to try to build up my channel and started publishing four to five videos per week. My income slowly crept back up to around $50 per month…and stayed there. Actually, it’s slipped down lately, even though I’ve been getting a decent number of views from my most recent videos. 

Subscribers do not equal fans

Here’s the deal: the VAST majority of my video’s views do not come from my subscribers. I probably have around ten to fifteen subscribers who actually watch every single video I put out (if that’s you, thank you). So for most of my new videos, in order to get any decent number of views I have to wait for one of two phenomena to occur:

  1. YouTube starts showing my videos to people who don’t know me in their “recommended for you” section of their YouTube home page, or
  2. YouTube decides to put one of my videos in the sidebar as a suggestion for what the viewer might watch next.

Part of my problem is that my channel has videos on a wide variety of topics. Some woman who subscribes after watching my video about my capsule wardrobe, planning to watch any future videos I put about clothing and fashion, will never watch another video on my channel again.

Ditto for the wannabe Back To Eden gardener who subscribes because he watches my video about my first (and last) attempt at a Back To Eden garden.

The other thing about viewers is I can’t read their minds. What the heck do they want, anyway? The sad (and to me, frustrating) thing is that I have hardly any views on any of my videos about health or personal finance. Self-help videos are on the bottom of the video totem pole compared to entertainment. And then people blame their cancer and heart disease on genetics, and their debt on the economy!

I’d better stop. This is an topic for a separate blog post.

And then, there’s me

I can’t put all the blame on fickle or picky subscribers. While I’m a great speaker when I write a speech and practice it ahead of time, I don’t do so great speaking off the cuff. Which is what I’ve done for most of my videos. And so, a video that ends up being only ten minutes long might require me sitting in front of the camera for thirty minutes or more, because I have to keep going back and correcting myself. Or redoing entire sections.

Sometimes I even have to redo the entire video after I’ve gone through well over half the content.

And even when I get it right, my videos end up with a lot of “you knows” and verbal slips that I have to correct with annotations during the editing process.

Speaking of editing, that takes time, too. Between my mouth and brain having trouble coordinating, and having to sit down and edit each video, I’ve always been frustrated with the process of making videos.

I’m a writer and an actress – but this actress needs her lines well-prepared in advance. You won’t be seeing me on the show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” any time soon (if they still even produce that show).

Then there’s the fact that in order to make my “talking head” videos, I have to kick J and B out of the house. That always feels icky. And I have often wished I could be out having an explore with them, feeling like I’ve been choosing making money with YouTube over being with my family. Double ick.

Gone are the days…

In a recent video I made about true financial independence (you guessed it – I haven’t gotten many views on it), I talk about how the make-easy-money-online ship sailed seven or eight years ago. If you want to make money with books, a blog, or with YouTube, you have to do some serious marketing, especially social media.

I don’t do social media. I’ve never been a social person, and the couple of times I tried to use Facebook or Pinterest for the sake of gaining friends or followers for the sake of eventually making money, I felt like a fraud and a manipulator. I can’t pretend to be social and enjoy having 2,000 “friends”, when I don’t.

It’s a lot easier for me to publish a book, set up a couple of free promo days, and pay a book promotion site to e-mail my book title to their list of thousands.

If you really want to try to make money with YouTube…

  1. Understand that if you’re hoping to make money by becoming a YouTube partner and earning money from the ads YouTube puts on your videos, it takes about a million views in order for you to make a thousand dollars.
  2. Make your channel about a specific subject you are passionate about (and which a lot of other people are interested in), so the people who subscribe will be more likely to watch future videos you create. Don’t have a jack-of-all trades channel, like mine.
  3. Be willing to spend at least an hour on social media every day, including participating in groups so that you gain more friends and followers. And be sure you promote your YouTube channel at least a couple of times a week on the other networks. (Do not post YT videos to Facebook, as YT will not count those views.)
  4. If you decide to allow comments, expect cruel and insensitive remarks. Delete them, but respond to the nice commentators. I don’t allow comments because of jerks, but YT experts would say that’s one reason I don’t get a lot of views/subscribers.
  5. While quality is still better than quantity, because of the high competition on YouTube these days you would do better to produce and upload at least three videos per week, than to produce only twice a month or once a week.
  6. Use quality equipment. If you’re going to use a video camera, make sure it will create quality pictures, and save your videos at a higher resolution. If you’re going to use photos and narrate about them, make sure you have a high-quality microphone.
  7. Be patient. Nobody with any standards of ethics (and of course, that describes all of my readers!) makes a four-figure – not even a three-figure – monthly income from YouTube until they’ve been plowing away at it for some months, maybe even years.

I’m not quitting YouTube, BUT…

I’ve decided not to try to make money from YouTube anymore. It always has felt a little icky to me to be on Google’s payroll. When I upload a video, it will be one that I believe will be helpful to people, like maybe a how-to or me singing an inspiring song.

I’m going to do what I should have been doing in the first place: focusing the time and energy I want to devote to creative projects, mainly writing and gardening.

In other words, I’m going to start practicing what I preach and be true to myself. 😉

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