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When most people think about monetizing their social media presence, the first thing they probably think of is YouTube. Put up a few videos that pull down a lot of views, and you’re well on your way to monetization, right? For years, that was the formula followed by small video creators as they set out to make money from their videos uploaded to the YouTube platform.
YouTube raises the bar for small creators
However, over the past year, YouTube has been making it more and more difficult for small creators to monetize their work on the video platform. In 2017, YouTube raised the bar to 10,000 views on a channel before you could start monetizing your videos. In other words, you couldn’t just appear out of nowhere and start making money on your videos – you had to have an established presence on the site and commit to making regular videos in order to reach the 10,000 view plateau.
If you were a fitness vlogger posting daily videos of your gym workout or a foodie vlogger posting videos of what you made for dinner each night, then this might not have been a high hurdle to cross. But what if you were a small business owner? Were you really going to making a video every single day – or even every single week?
And now, in 2018, YouTube has once again raised the bar for content creators. In order to monetize your videos, content creators now have to have 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 viewing hours per year. Until you reach this threshold, you won’t be able to monetize your videos. So, you’re essentially working for free until you get big enough.
It’s hard enough getting the 1,000 subscribers, but the really hard part is the 4,000 viewing hours. Most people upload brief 1-minute or 2-minute clips because they are the easiest to make. But in order to get the 4,000 viewing hours (not content hours, mind you!), you’d have to commit to make 10-minute, or perhaps 20-minute, videos every single time because people are only going to watch the first few minutes anyway.
And there is one more thing that YouTube is doing that could shut down small creators – it has declared that all creators who want to get monetized on YouTube must submit to a manual review of their content. The video giant is even going so far as to hire thousands of reviewers who will watch each and every video to make sure that nothing extremist or overly controversial (like, say, a Logan Paul suicide video) ever gets monetized.
YouTube tips the scale in favor of advertisers
So why exactly would YouTube want to discourage small video creators? Well, a lot of it has to do with advertisers. A long-form 20-minute video is like a 20-minute TV show – it’s the perfect length of time to run ads against. If you buy into the argument that Internet video is starting to look more and more like TV, then this makes perfect sense. In essence, YouTube is weeding out all the small-time creators who don’t want to make regular and/or weekly TV shows.
Of course, YouTube is saying that it is doing all this to improve the overall quality of the platform. It never wants a repeat of the Logan Paul fiasco. And it is trying to improve the quality of videos that appear on the platform. It wants YouTube to look, well, professional.
Will YouTube’s new strategy actually work?
With its new strategy, YouTube could be killing the golden goose. Some people may enjoy watching lots of 20-minute videos filled with annoying ads from brands that already advertise on TV, but most people love YouTube because you can find viral 1-minute videos and watch them during your lunch break. These people have already cut the cord to cable and don’t want another form of TV on their digital devices.
Even worse, YouTube could lose its cachet with the really edgy content creators. They will look elsewhere to post their content. Instead, we’ll be left with a lot of very safe, family-friendly content that won’t offend the world’s biggest advertisers. YouTube has shown us what they believe in – not artistic freedom and creativity, but making as much money via advertising as possible.