Observations on publishing stuff to YouTube

posted by Jeff | Thursday, December 1, 2022, 5:30 PM | comments: 0

It was about two years ago that I decided I wanted to make some videos and put them on the Internets. That was my pandemic move since I already had a podcast before it was cool. It took me almost six months to do it, first thinking about it in July of 2020 and not getting anything up until the very end of the year. In my defense, I was making a lot of things at the time, including a radio show, my own cloud music service, a rewrite of my blog app, and other things.

I didn't have a lot of rules about what I wanted to make, but I figured at the very least I would slug it with my ancient SillyNonsense name. I'd put it on YouTube, even though I despise their revenue sharing model and its minimum requirements (because I used to make a few hundred bucks a year on the very small number of CoasterBuzz videos I have). I wasn't going to worry too much about quality. I was going to make whatever I felt like, which is definitely a way to not have a specific audience, but that's fine. It started out with some videos on cocktails and LEGO build time lapses. Eventually I even did a stock video clip piece on gas prices. But it has been uneven at best, because I'm all over the place.

So once I started the SillyNonsense channel, I kind of watched to see what happened. I've always understood that the biggest problem with putting anything on the YouTube is people finding what you have. Quality doesn't necessarily garner attention. If you want to build an audience, obviously you should focus on something specific, which I haven't done. But over the last two years, the dozen or so people publishing really good stuff that interests me have all talked about how exhausting it is to get the right title and thumbnail to attract viewers. It's like the usual social media attention whoring stuff that I have absolutely no interest in, which is why I will probably never develop this into anything popular, and that's OK.

The algorithm makes no sense at all. My most watched video is of the Lego Titanic, which I posted pretty late after the Lego-preferred folks already posted their videos in advance of the release. But that very quickly reached over 10,000 views in a couple of days, and has more than 13k now. Why? There's nothing unique about the content, the title or the thumbnail. Next largest was the Lego Loop Roller Coaster, which quickly scored a thousand views and then kind of stopped. The rest range from 33 to 200.

Even with this relatively small amount of action, based on my experience before they changed the rules, I probably would have made around $200, on video that they're showing ads on and keeping all of the revenue. To make money, you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time. I have 68 and 400, respectively. It's clear that over time if you just keep posting stuff, you'll hit the time threshold, but the subscribe thing is totally annoying. I think to get anywhere there, you have to also maintain a presence on the social media, which as I said, I couldn't be less interested in.

I'll keep making these silly things (see what I did there?), but it grinds me that someone else makes money from what I create and I get nothing. The platforms have made it difficult for low volume creators to make anything, and it isn't free to make things. It has changed so much from the days when there were dozens of ad providers for web-based content and you could at least make burrito money.


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