I had that "told you so" moment many many months ago, yet nobody seemed to listen. Now, even big content creators are feeling the pinch.
To give you some context to what I am about to share with you, I have been a content creator on YouTube for almost nine years. Around 2-3 years ago, myself and many fellow content creators saw a shift in the way their channels were promoted. YouTube changed their game and did not communicate this effectively to the thousands of channels that were partners. For want of a better explanation, partners earn revenue from the adverts placed on their videos. Even top performing channels were hit by these changes and only those on their rise to fame seemed to be protected.
Being what I would term as a "professional content creator" part of my daily, or at least weekly tasks is to keep an eye on my viewing figures. This includes seeing where views are coming from. When this decline in views started to happen, I noticed a shift in how little my channel was being "promoted" by the powers that be. In previous years, I would find myself featured in the "Top Ten Channels" in my particular genre. This was one of the features and promotional activities that had disappeared. Alongside this, YouTube was investing in top channels, injecting cash into their business activities to increase their production value.
So I had analysed my own channel and moved on to checking how others were doing. I saw the same trend again and again. Reaching out to some content creators, they confirmed the same thing was happening to their views and indeed revenue. It seems the right thing to refrain from naming any of these channels here, as I would not like them to have to deal with any fallout.
A couple of years ago, I really felt I had to talk to my viewers about the importance of pivoting. How they should change paths, look for new platforms and revenue models. Because I care so much and was aware that many of my viewers were also YouTubers, I wanted to warn them to always be on top of their games. Many of them took absolutely no notice or even argued the fact that I was the only one experiencing a drop in views. It was important for me to take action, so soon after I came across Patreon and launched my own campaign, giving loyal viewers the chance to support what I was doing and trying to achieve.
Patreon is a website/service that allows content creators to gain support from their viewers, readers or listeners. Think of it as a subscription model, whereby the creator offers various perks in exchange for a small monthly contribution. Many viewers rebuffed this model, as they were (and still are) so used to getting their content for free. Only loyal supporters realised that their favourite creators needed support to continue what they are doing.
"I had that 'told you so' moment many many months ago, yet nobody seemed to listen. Now, even big content creators are feeling the pinch."
Just today, I watched a video from one of my fellow video creators. I was so happy to read the title of the video, but also had another "told you so" moment. Toward the latter part of the video below, Linus starts to talk about the recent changes YouTube have made to their Terms of Service and the need to look at other revenue models. Citing the likes of another revenue generating platform such as Vessel.
As a whole, this is a very positive video from Linus, but shows that even channels with over one million subscribers cannot sit on their laurels. They have bills to pay and revenue to generate, to enable them to do what they are passionate about … sharing great content. YouTube either need to sit up and listen. They need to publish clear and concise guidelines. It is also time that they re-evaluated their own business model and offer professional creators on their platform a better deal and more opportunities for stable revenue streams.
Jon Rettinger, President & Editorial Director of Technobuffalo adds … "This is a very scary time for content creators. Once reliable streams of revenue are being systematically closed and replaced with a system that is taking chunks out of profits. TechnoBuffalo is currently partnered with Discovery Communications and is grandfathered into their old Tos, so fortunately, we are not affected. However big paradigm shifts like this are a primary reason I started the website, as an extra insulatory layer from the changes in the video space. The best advice I can give is to hedge your bet. Don’t rely on one single source of revenue. Diversification, much like in the market is always to your advantage."
Now is the time for change! If you are a viewer, maybe consider supporting your favourite content creators. If you are a content creator, do not get lazy, get creative and research different ways to generate revenue. It would be a shame if we all rely on this "free model" only to find that the only free videos out there are nothing more than a toddler biting a babies finger.
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