For some time, let’s players and YouTube personalities like Lazy Game Reviews and Cygnus Destroyer have been able to use YouTube’s monetization system with moderate success. Both feature family-friendly content that covers epic moments in video game history — but recently, they’ve come under fire from the overlords at YouTube, who began demonetizing a select few of their videos seemingly at random.
Unfortunately, even with subscribers numbering into the hundreds of thousands, both of these channels are feeling the negative financial and professional impact that comes with demonetization. When compared to bigger and profitable channels with coarser content intended for mature audiences, it really begins to feel like YouTube is cherry-picking who they want their stars to be.
YouTube: “This guy’s better than you.”
For example, despite the recent Internet backlash and sponsorship smackdown that Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg endured, he’s still worth $20 million. And how did his subscriber count fare after his most recent controversy? 57 million, up from 53 million reported in February 2017 by TechCrunch.
Not a bad payday. But what about other large YouTube personalities like Markiplier and Jacksepticeye? Well, Markiplier has 18 million subs and a $9 million net worth, while Jacksepticeye has 16 million subs and a similar $9 million net worth.
With that kind of subscriber count and net worth, both of those channels would still continue to be profitable even with the occasional demonetization flag due to perceived “offensive content”. However, YouTube would be absolutely foolhardy to completely remove any of them from their network given the amount of traffic both bring.
But this isn’t the case for smaller channels that haven’t reached the superstar level of notoriety that some of the aforementioned personalities have achieved. These channels have suffered a lot more at the hands of YouTube’s demonetization tactics than their bigger counterparts.
Luckily, though, there are some alternate routes that such channels can take advantage of that will allow them to keep creating content while monetizing their work to keep the lights on and continue growing.
Start a Patreon
Already employed by multiple YouTubers, Patreon has helped many content creators monetize their work. Founder Jack Conte started the company in 2013 to help him do just that — and as of May 2017, is on track to pay out over $150 million to its over 50,000 active creators.
Patreon pays its creators on a monthly basis, and gives users the option to include reward tiers based on monthly contribution amounts. This could be anything from pre-release sneak peeks to content collaboration between creators and viewers.
There’s no need to worry about advertiser pullout, and the success of the campaign lies solely in the hands of the creator. Take a look at the Patreon pages for Jim Sterling and AngryCentaurGaming to get an idea of what works for YouTubers who create game-centric content.
Set Up a Paypal
An alternative to Patreon, PayPal gives would-be backers the opportunity to donate to the cause through a one-off payment as opposed to a monthly recurring one. Moreso, there’s little pressure to deliver exclusive content to tiered backers, which is an attractive option for those who work for a living and create videos in their limited spare time.
PayPal users can elect to use either a single payout system or even a full-on crowdfunding campaign. Spanish developer Locomalito has utilized a PayPal account to accept donations on his site’s download pages since I first met him over three years ago, and it’s allowed him to fund his efforts, while providing him the freedom to create on his own time.
Become an Affiliate
What if you just got done writing a review of the best Atari plug and play system no one seems to talk about, or posting a video of you and a buddy trying to defend the ultra-shitty NES title Snake’s Revenge that somehow got over 1,400 views?
Whether you just discovered an unmet need that like-minded gamers are seeking out or simply talking about a specific game, consider joining an affiliate program and linking to that product to help generate passive income.
Video descriptions and on-site reviews are perfect for inserting a relevant affiliate link that sends your users to the best deals from reputable sellers. There’s no pressure to buy from site visitors, your earning potential is limited only by your creativity, and you can focus on creating content that attracts them in the first place by providing actual value, not spam!
Freedom or Conformity: Taking Control of Your Content
In case you forgot, this recent spate of demonetization is not YouTube’s first snafu. In fact, spurned uploaders have been saying that YouTube is dying since as early as 2009, and the conversation has reignited again and again through the years, with another bump in 2016.
One thing all of these so-called controversies have in common is that creators themselves are:
- Not made aware of YouTube’s consideration prior to demonetization.
- Left powerless to do anything about it once a final decision has been reached.
- Left to do the footwork of mediating research and outreach to correct any issues.
- At risk of receiving a strike if a dispute falls through.
On that last note, once three strikes are accumulated, your account is terminated outright. Sure, you can dispute any strikes you may receive before you get to that point — but how many success stories have you read about strike disputes recently?
Ultimately, these behind-the-scenes practices are affecting content creators who have essentially no idea that changes are even happening until they see flags on their videos or revenue drops.
YouTube will not warn you about policy changes prior to demonetization, but it will provide plenty of vague and general responses on why it did so, while directing you to dead Q & A forums. This mean that YouTube’s big wigs — and no one else — have the power to determine who is successful on the platform, and what’s deemed as being offensive by any given demographic.
If the monetization fight with YouTube becomes too stressful for you as a content creator, keep in mind that there are other video sharing platforms out there (such as Dailymotion and Vidme) that can be used as alternatives. The latter even provides its users with a built-in tipping system that’s powered by viewers, not faceless corporations who’ll ding you for making 100 dick jokes in a row.
It’s time to make a decision on who controls your fate (and your funding): you or YouTube?