How to Make Bank as a YouTube Creator: Diversify Your Portfolio

To make a living on YouTube, a creator needs to work hard. In a recent Betabeat post, I explained how YouTube divvies up revenue in its user-partner program: reportedly, YouTube splits ad revenue 45/55 with the partner, in the partner’s favor. If the partner is affiliated with a MultiChannel Network (MCN), the MCN will also take a cut. The earnings from ad revenue — the CPM — will vary. And, of course, you’ve got to spend money to make money. Investing in staff and technology (editors, cameras, etc.) eat up an additional share of revenues.

Kevin Kelly has theorized that to make a living, a creator needs to build a core fanbase of 1,000 “true fans” — people who can be relied upon to buy pretty much anything the creator puts out. Alex Carloss, YouTube’s global head of entertainment, recently echoed this sentiment in a speech at the MIPTV conference in Cannes. If all a creator puts out are YouTube videos, though, a creator with these thousand “true fans” is going to have a rough time making more than pocket change. So, to make serious money, a creator needs to look beyond ad revenue alone. If you’re a YouTuber hoping to make a living, and if you’ve managed to build that core fanbase, you’ll want to do everything you can to diversify your portfolio. Here are some of your options:


Letter From 2013

A friend forwarded an email I’d sent him in response to some questions and a conversation he and I had about the MCN business from a year or so ago. His fwd was sparked by the Disney/Maker acquisition. Interesting reading it now knowing what’s happened already. I got a few things right–


Front Seat At The White House

Back in December, I was fortunate enough to be invited to The White House Youth Summit, which was “made of up 160 of this country’s finest national and local leaders aged 18-35.” It was a pretty incredible experience. Obama came and spoke to the group (check out the video below), and I got to speak with the Obama administration’s staff, including the digital team. The event made news nationwide and was picked up by CNN, USA Today, LATimes, and dozens of other outlets.

The event was December 4th of last year, and the day started in the early afternoon. After going through multiple security checkpoints, I eventually arrived at the South Court Auditorium, which looks a lot like the traditional press/briefing rooms you see in movies. The room has a small stage with big blue drapes and a podium with the presidential seal; it felt like something right out of the West Wing.

After signing in everyone spent some time taking photos before a swarm of press came in and quickly lined up across the back. Within five minutes there must have been 20 major TV networks and cameras set up. After a short introduction Obama waltzed in, and the small room erupted with hoots and applause; he called us a rowdy group, which I think we all felt a sense of pride in. It was exciting seeing the president in person, and also disarming how relaxed he seemed, at times leaning on the podium and seemingly speaking off the cuff and cracking jokes.


I’ll Be At TNW Europe

I’m excited to share the fact that I’m going to be speaking at The Next Web Europe Conference 2014, in Amsterdam. I’m pumped to be in the mix with an all-star lineup that includes the likes of Kevin Rose, Brian Solis, and Dale Stephens.

You can read about my talk here. Overall, I’ll be sharing the tactics to create and promote shareable content. It should be a lot of fun, I’m currently working on pulling some data to help support the narrative of YouTube being the most powerful social network. Hoping to be sharing that on the blog some time soon.

Anyway, TNW always has amazing speakers and thought-leaders. Honestly, I never thought I’d be able to be one of them.

Here are a few of my favorite keynotes from previous years.


Yahoo Considers a YouTube Knock-Off…Sort Of

Re/Code reported yesterday that Yahoo is considering a plan to woo away top YouTube talent to help ramp up the company’s web video presence. However, Yahoo isn’t planning to let users upload video to their platform, which makes the comparison to YouTube rather baffling — it’s the openness of the platform that puts the “you” in YouTube, after all. Instead, it seems that Yahoo is attempting something more akin to AOL On, a delivery system for curated content, which also poached proven YouTube talent.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Yahoo’s attempt will bear fruit. By cherry-picking established YouTubers, the company may be able to draw an audience — and thus advertisers — to the site, but this model for content delivery seems unlikely to threaten YouTube’s dominance. After all, it’s really just an online version of the old-fashioned television network model, and Yahoo will be competing with sites like Hulu and Netflix for a share of the online video pie.


YouTube Is Overtaking Traditional Media

Check out my Betabeat post on this topic.

YouTube has overtaken Hollywood.   This crop of Jon Stewarts, and Ari Emanuel’s didn’t rise to prominence through ruthless boardroom tactics, climbing the corporate ladder, or auditioning for a breakout role. They built an audience from their bedrooms using YouTube to broadcast themselves to the world. With one billion unique monthly users, six billion hours of video watched each month, and over 100 hours worth of video uploaded each minute YouTube has captured the attention of an entire generation, becoming the single most popular site among youth today.

YouTuber, Charles Trippy and his unsigned band, We The Kings, knocked Beyonce off her #1 spot on iTunes two days after her most recent album dropped.

Odds are you’re not aware of the impact these YouTubers are having if you’re over the age of 25, but that doesn’t mean its not there. They’re building media empires, clothing and fashion lines, and their doing it with the audiences they alone can wield. I don’t believe YouTube is the future of media. I believe it’s already arrived.

YouTube Marketing Resources

I’ve been working in the YouTube space since 2006 and get asked about the platform a great deal.

YouTube is an amazing marketing tool – a hybrid social network/search engine/content host. However, it changes constantly, so I’ve gathered a list of my favorites resources here. You can also get email updates with the latest tools and resources here.

Getting Started (YouTube)
2013 YouTube Marketing Guide (KissMetrics Blog)


Forbes CMO Network SXSW Excursion

While in Austin, I was fortunate enough to meet with CMOs from Emerson, Neiman Marcus, Polycom and others to discuss the future of advertising–and the technologies that are shaping it.

The event was hosted by Forbes and the discussion focused primarily on how to keep current with new technologies and how CMO’s should allocate budgets for experimental marketing efforts. It was a pretty humbling experience and exciting to sit down with such a talented group of people. I did my best to keep up 🙂

(Via Forbes)

Ryan Holiday: Growth Hacker Marketing

Understanding human behavior as well as the ins and outs of digital media is a difficult task. Ad Agencies, PR firms, and digital shops staff hundreds of people to service their clients in the space and few really accomplish much. However, Ryan Holiday, has mastered the two skills in a way few have.

He just released a brand new book – Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising. If you’re not familiar with Ryan or his work, I suggest you give it a read.

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Three Tips To Help Your Video Gain Traction Online

While at the ReelSummit where I participated in a panel called ‘Content vs Community: Which is King’ the awesome guys at pulled me aside to do a quick Q & A. I talked a little bit about my thoughts on how to help your content generate interest and viewership online. As usual I discussed the importance of engaging communities and influencers – getting them invested in your content.

What do you think?

(Via ReelSeo & Tim Schmoyer)