If you’re a YouTube vlogger or produce other types of content for the popular video site, you probably know that there has been a big change:
It’s now far tougher to make money.
For most big YouTubers, these changes won’t make any difference. But you’re not a big YouTuber. Few people are. So, how do these revisions to YouTube’s monetization rules hurt the “little guys,” or as we prefer to call them, “SmallTubers”?
— ?Luna? (@lunacatte) January 19, 2018
More importantly, is there anything you can do? Is it the end of your time making videos, or is there another way for you to at least break even? Let’s find out.
What Happened and How It’s Affecting SmallTubers
On January 16, 2018, YouTube issued an email headed “Important updates to the YouTube Partner Program.”
In it, they outlined how the recipients’ YouTube channel had not met a new minimum threshold for watch time and subscribers. Additionally, the chances of meeting this new threshold were made very small, with the deadline just a few weeks away.
“Under the new eligibility requirements announced today, your YouTube channel… is no longer eligible for monetization because it does not meet the new threshold of 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. As a result, your channel will lose access to all monetization tools and features associated with the YouTube Partner Program on 20 February 2018 unless you surpass this threshold in the next 30 days.”
Initially, there was considerable speculation that this move was a reaction to the Logan Paul video. However, this doesn’t really weigh up.
Logan Paul, the YouTube golden boy who can do no wrong, films a dead body to clickbait impressionable children into watching his videos. YouTube's response? To punish unrelated small channels, again. #YouTubePartnerProgram
— Lee McMonagle (@yourpallee) January 17, 2018
#YouTubePartnerProgram so, instead of properly punishing big creators who break the rules YouTube decided to punish 100s of 1000s of smaller creators by kicking them out. Just like that. We're nothing to them, yet they bend over backwards for the bigger guys.
— ?Lyca? (@Lyca29) January 17, 2018
Understandably, a lot of people are upset about the entire thing. You might be too. So what can you do about it?
Find a New Video Host
If you’re feeling like you’ve had enough of YouTube, why not change video host providers? YouTube has long had rivals. Some of these are increasingly welcome to YouTube refugees.
Many people who have heard of YouTube, and are active on it, have probably heard of Vimeo. Less widely used, it is however YouTube’s biggest competitor (in terms of video hosting sites, at least).
Indeed, this latest development is just another reason to use Vimeo instead of YouTube. Fortunately, Vimeo has a better reputation than YouTube; it doesn’t allow you to upload anything you like. Instead, they demand high-quality videos, often documentaries and short films.
Monetization on Vimeo is limited to its VOD program, however. This means you’ll need to build a large, loyal following who are prepared to pay for your content.
A France-based website, Dailymotion is considered by many to be YouTube’s main competitor. Easy to sign up to, Dailymotion gained popularity by hosting material that Google has discarded. (Examples include old TV shows.)
Dailymotion limits you to 60-minute uploads, no larger than 2GB. They have support for 4K video, and support all common video formats. They also offer a monetization program that anyone can join.
Another video hosting option, MetaCafe, is also available. Offering a quick sign up, you should be able to upload your videos swiftly. MetaCafe requires short videos, rather than long ones — a sort of opposite to Vimeo.
However, monetization options for MetaCafe are limited. At the time of writing, it seems that a previous monetization program has been put on hold.
This isn’t the first time YouTube has applied “draconian” new rules. Over the past few years, more and more YouTubers have jumped ship, concerned that advertisers have too great a say in what material is allowed on YouTube. (Either that, or YouTube is using the threat of less revenue as a way to push its own agenda.)
One response to this shift away from YouTube has been BitChute, a peer-to-peer video hosting service that describes its mission as “to put people and free speech first. It’s free to join and create and upload your own videos to share with others.”
Currently, there is no BitChute-provided monetization option.
A brand-new social network, Minds is open source and based on a foundation for transparency and privacy. Importantly, it has a multimedia focus, enabling you to upload videos.
Additionally, several monetization options are available, such as the ability to earn subscription revenue, Patreon-style. You can also earn 25 percent of the revenue Minds generates from referrals to the site via your account. A points system is also in operation, but for standard YouTube-style monetization, users are limited to generating $1 per 1000 views. However, as Minds is a newer, growing service, this might be the right place for you to build a new audience.
Many of the services above don’t appreciate video game and e-sports content. As you may know, Twitch does. Following YouTube’s announcement, this happened:
Twitch is synonymous with streaming, but that's not *all* our creators do. We're rolling out Video Producer, a new way that creators can do what they do best, now for pre-made videos. https://t.co/gYAQzYOcL2 pic.twitter.com/0NP8mffHQ7
— Twitch (@Twitch) January 18, 2018
If your content is videogame based, and you’re not already on Twitch, now is definitely the time!
Consider Social Networks Too!
Speaking of social networks, the old-school social networks that you already use can host your videos. These will not make any money, but they can be shared quickly. Additionally, these videos can be used to highlight your expertise in a subject — useful if you’re trying to get a sponsor interested.
Note that with any of these social networks, as with YouTube, your video could be removed at any time. This may be because of a change of policy, or because the clip breaches T&Cs. As such, remember to retain a copy or make a backup of these uploads.
It’s not difficult to upload your videos to Facebook. It will take longer than simply sharing a YouTube URL, however. Make sure you upload to your Facebook page, and pin the item so your followers can see it.
Don’t forget: you can also produce live videos on Facebook.
Like Facebook, Twitter can be used to upload your own videos. However, these are limited in length to 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Live videos can also be created, if necessary. These are not limited in length.
Like Twitter, Instagram can be used to host videos up to 60 seconds long. For many vloggers, this is likely to be too short. However, if you regularly produce smart, tightly edited “how-to” videos, then there is a good chance that these could be edited into 60 seconds.
Not ideal, perhaps, but ready to be seen by a huge audience. Check our guide to producing Instagram videos for more tips.
Could You Host Your Own Videos?
Alternatively, you may prefer the idea of abandoning third party hosting sites entirely. Is it possible to host your own videos? Yes!
A trio of particularly good options are available.
An open-source YouTube alternative for you to create with your own web hosting, MediaDrop has support for HTML5 and Flash video. With this installed on your site, you can host video locally or add from YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon S3, and other servers.
For administrators, statistics are available, and a slick content management system is provided. If you like, other users can upload to your YouTube-like channel, and social media sharing is available. As this is your own site, how you monetize content is up to you.
Describing itself as a “decentralized alternative to Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud,” MediaGoblin claims to be the perfect tool for sharing self-produced media.
Decentralized and extensible, MediaGoblin is intended for long-term use. It doesn’t appear to be open-source at this stage (although it would appear this is in the cards) but MediaGoblin is free. Many sites are already using MediaGoblin: take a look at this demo site.
Finally, it’s worth checking out this newer free and open-source video CMS. It’s easy to use, and produces HTML5-compatible video clips with support for all major browsers. Check out the demo site for a better look.
Whichever system you use, just remember: when uploading content, ensure it doesn’t breach your web host’s terms and conditions. Also, more video means greater bandwidth needs and higher hosting costs.
Find New Monetization Options
Many SmallTubers hit by YouTube’s new monetization strategy probably weren’t making thousands, but enough to make a difference. So, what happens to that money now?
Simple: YouTube takes it. Sorry, people. Think Logan Paul made YouTube greedier? Think again — this has been coming for months. But what are you going to do about it?
Standard Ad Networks
If you need to generate cash, joining an ad network is a good idea. However, these probably won’t be interested in you if your site or self-hosted video network doesn’t have a large audience already.
Another option is affiliate ads. These are advertising services that you apply for. Again, there is a barrier to joining if your traffic is low. Try to stick to programs for products that are relevant to your audience.
An increasingly popular solution for creators to gain money from their audience, Patreon is free to sign up to, and lets you publish content direct to subscribers.
Patreon has not been without its own problems when it comes to users monetizing their content, however.
Yes, it’s a browser, but it’s worth checking out Brave’s $1 million token giveaway.
For those losing your partnership with Youtube I highly recommend you create a shirt on Teespring, you start a Patreon, and make sure you're a verified publisher on Brave (They're even giving away $1 million in tokens to incentivize support for creators). https://t.co/3YdgeS2JC9 pic.twitter.com/RGqyHgJdlr
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) January 17, 2018
It’s simple, really:
“We’re giving away $1 million in tokens. The goal is to introduce new users to the Brave browser and incentivize more support for content creators through Brave Payments. Users! Grab your tokens before the last grant is given. Creators! Tell your audiences to claim some tokens to support you.”
Frankly, everyone reading this should be already downloading Brave and encouraging their audience to get on board.
If your YouTube channel is regularly discussing a specific product or type of product, why not consider sponsorship? Get in touch with a business known for that product/topic, and ask them to provide backing.
Not necessarily monetary, such backing might be hardware costs, or travel costs, perhaps.
Join a Channel
Finally, look at joining a dedicated online video channel. This might mean abandoning any of the previously mentioned platforms and joining a proprietary network. Several are in operation, offering dedicated content produced (or purchased/licensed) specifically for that network. Often these online channels will only accept pitches via a broker/intermediary, however. If you can find one, great!
Don’t Let YouTube Get Richer Off of You
YouTube’s attitude to small hosts, amateur vloggers hoping to get a start via the platform, and other trouble-free YouTubers is saddening. There’s no way anyone struggling to get a foot on the ladder needs to then have to deal with having to find new monetization options, or even a new host.
Moreover, it makes YouTube richer. Does Alphabet really need the money?
Fortunately, alternatives exist. You can host videos elsewhere; you can even host them on your own website. Monetization can still be found, but how you organize and produce your material may have to evolve. All we can say is this: don’t take YouTube’s decision as a hit. Fight back, change, and embrace the new way of doing things.
Were you hit by YouTube’s new monetization threshold? Perhaps you’ve previously abandoned YouTube? Tell us about it below.
Image Credit: lightsource/Depositphotos