Thursday, January 18, 2018

YouTube's Controversial New Partner Program - My Thoughts

Normally I don't speak up about these kinds of issues, but I feel so strongly about this one that I feel the need to vent about it; and what better place to do it than here? My blog doesn't get a lot of traffic, so it's unlikely that anyone will read this, but if you happen to stumble upon this post, welcome. This entry will be long, so I recommend that you bring a snack if you plan to read the whole thing.

The fact of the matter is that YouTube has made yet another controversial change to its platform that's angering creators. As I found out a couple of days ago, YouTube will now require its content makers to attain 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in order to be considered for its partner program; anyone who is currently part of the program but does not satisfy this threshold will be kicked off the program on February 20th. With this comes unwanted consequences: they'll lose the ability to monetize their videos and also lose access to all the other exclusive features that comes with being a YouTube partner such as end screens and annotations. Whenever I check social media, I now see a countless number of small YouTubers reporting that YouTube has sent them an email about being kicked off as a partner.

What could be the cause of all this? Why do the small creators keep being punished? It's simple. It's because a big YouTuber screwed up, and now we smaller YouTubers have to pay the price, which I think is completely unfair. I'm pretty sure you heard about the big outcry on YouTube right at the beginning of 2018; it was a disgusting act on the part of the uploader, who I will not name because he doesn't deserve any more recognition at this point. The issue at hand has already been discussed as much as it possibly could, so there's no point in me paraphrasing what everyone else has already said. Long story short, his choice to post such vile, insensitive footage was despicable, but because he's one of YouTube's biggest stars, the website did nothing about it for the longest time until everyone else on the site voted that he needed proper punishment.

Part of the reason YouTube's new change frustrates me is because we small YouTubers already have it hard enough as it is. When the new algorithm kicked in a couple of years ago, many of our channels saw their deaths. It reached the point that only the big YouTubers' videos showed up in the results and were recommended to people while the smaller users' content was buried beneath the bulk of the popular crowd. In the past, the algorithm wasn't as discriminatory. Everyone had an equal chance of having their videos show up in the search results and going viral. Now, the same can't be said because, again, YouTube only favors the popular creators, which forces the smaller ones to give up on their passions. Therefore, how is it realistic to expect someone to reach 1,000 subscribers in a year when channels that are just starting out barely see the light of day? If it takes longer than a year to reach the threshold, it seems that they'll never have a chance at becoming a YouTube partner. I know for a fact that it took me much longer than a year to reach that amount, and had I started this year, I probably never would've had a chance at becoming a YouTube partner.

With that being said, bigger YouTubers' lack of empathy for those at the shorter end of the stick is really beginning to irk me. There are SEVERAL of them behaving this way, including people that I've supported. Many of them claim that those affected are complaining too much and that they should "check their privileges" if they're upset about losing their partnership. Am I the only one who finds this completely ironic? The individual who spoke about "checking privileges" has over seven million subscribers and makes a lot more money than those that need to "check their privilege". I find the whole thing hypocritical. You're going to talk down on people who are just trying to make a little money from what they love to do, which is EXACTLY what you're doing? Honestly. Others have stated that small creators shouldn't be focusing on money and discourage them from starting a YouTube channel if they go in with the intent of monetizing their content. "YouTube isn't about the money; it shouldn't bother you if you're not earning anything. It's not going to hurt you to lose $5 a month." Again, am I the only one who finds this completely hypocritical? The ones saying this are the ones making a living off creating YouTube videos. If it's not about the money, why do they get so upset when their videos are demonetized? Why do they open Patreon accounts to receive donations so they can keep making videos? Why do they cover trending topics so they can get more views and therefore get more money? If YouTube should just be about doing what you love without pay, then maybe they should demonetize their accounts and stop doing YouTube in place of what people call "a real job". If they're going to bash aspiring, hardworking creators who are trying to achieve the same successes as them, then maybe they should just do YouTube as a side hobby and stop making money from it as well. I get that it's annoying when people open accounts, post videos that don't require any thought, and expect to make a big buck out of them, but many smaller creators, myself included, invest a lot of time and hard work into our channels and want to see them grow. When you spend days, weeks, and even months working on one specific video to make sure it's good, invest money to buy new equipment and sets to improve the quality of your content, and take the extra time to write scripts, edit, voice act, etc, is it wrong for you to turn that into a form of compensation? In fact, I feel that smaller YouTubers' content is 100 times better than their larger counterparts. Their videos reflect time, dedication, and originality, unlike many of the bigger uploaders out there. Do they not deserve recognition just because they're small, just because their subscriber count is minute? So when big YouTubers talk down on small YouTubers like they don't matter, like they don't deserve to earn a little money from what they love to do just as they are, I begin to lose all respect for the bigger creators.

As for the "you're only making $5 a month, so you're not losing anything" statement, that is completely absurd. The number of views it takes to reach 1,000 subscribers differs for everyone. From my experience, it took me around one million views to reach 1,000 subscribers, and I can tell you for a fact that that's more than $5. A million views is worth $1,000 on average. Who wouldn't like to have an extra $1,000 in their pocket? That money could be put towards new equipment, clothes, or even used to pay a bill. And even if someone did make, say, only $25 or so a month, that money builds up. Every four months, you could have an extra $100 in your pocket, which could really help you out depending on your financial situation. And the fact that you earned that money from doing something you love makes the reward even greater. You feel like you've accomplished something. You have the desire to keep going because maybe, just maybe, it could take you on an exciting journey. And there's nothing wrong with that. But everyone else wants to paint this picture that you're driven by greed and that it's your only motivation for making videos in the first place.

From my personal experience, I started YouTube as a hobby like most everyone else. I wanted to practice my video-making and see how much I could improve. As time wore on, I found myself working harder and harder on my videos, sometimes months for a single 20-minute stop motion, while other people made money on the content I posted for free. Back in the day, YouTube was awful with false copyright claims, and at the time there was nothing I could do about them, so scammers made thousands of dollars off of MY work while I didn't get a penny. So a few years later I decided I wanted it to stop. If I'm going to put so much hard work and effort into my content, I want to earn something from it, not have everyone else monetize my labor. And that's why I abandoned that channel and pursued another one so I could become a YouTube partner and make a little cash from my creations. I never made a fortune (but I can tell you it was more than $5), but I was proud to have earned that money. I used it to buy props and other things I needed for my content that I otherwise never would have been able to afford without it. I was able to buy myself new clothes for school without having to rely on my parents' wallet. I bought my first suitcase so I could have something to put my supplies in for vacations. I was able to start saving up for my future. These are all things I was able to do from making money on my small YouTube channel, so those saying that the money you lose doesn't mean anything can zip their mouths shut.

Even so, what if someone is just starting out, unable to monetize their content, and happens to post a viral video? They could still have under 1,000 subscribers while their video is earning millions of views. By the time they reach all the threshold's requirements, YouTube would still have to approve their application for a partnership, they would have to go through the process of setting up an Adsense account, and by then their video could have reached six million views. That's around $6,000, which they could've collected had the video been monetized in the first place. But now they've lost their chance.

Someone pointed out in a tweet that per YouTube's new partner program changes, ads will continue to run on your videos even if you are not monetizing them. Simply put, this means that YouTube will continue making money off YOUR videos that you spent so much time creating while you won't earn a cent. What's the point of posting on the site if they're going to steal the money that's rightfully yours? Previously, YouTube's ad revenue share was 60/40; you earned 60% of the revenue while they took the remaining 40%. Then they changed it again sometime in 2016 to where you only earn 55% while they take 45%. Now it's to the point that they take all the proceeds while you get nothing. Makes me wonder if they changed these numbers a third time. Beforehand, I typically received $1 or more from 1,000 views. Now, 1,000 views can barely scrape 30 cents. Sounds fishy to me. I wouldn't be surprised if it's part of YouTube's plan to discriminate against and get rid of small creators. But back to my main point, in no way would I post my content for free for others to steal, re-upload, and plagiarize and for YouTube to earn money on while I get nothing. I may as well keep my projects to myself if they're going to do that. "But what if you reach the threshold and can apply for a YouTube partnership?" you may ask. Just because you reach the threshold to apply for a partnership, that doesn't mean YouTube will accept you. You have to be worthy of the position, and if they don't see you fit, they won't let you in. Then, after all that hard work, it seems it would have been for nothing while YouTube made a big buck off your projects. It's not worth it.

In writing all of this, I don't think I've discussed what YouTube's intention is with making these changes. They made them in an effort to curb the amount of spam accounts re-uploading other people's videos and monetizing them, but in the process they slapped a lot of small users in the face. Surely there was a better way to go about this? Why do they have to hurt so many aspiring creators who try their best to put out good content? Too many times I fall in love with small YouTube channels only to have them announce that they're quitting because of the lack of support. A lot of the creators I speak of produce short films and web series that are top notch quality compared to what I see more popular people post. In their statements antagonizing small YouTubers, the upper hands told them that the key is to post what you love and what you want to see and everything else will follow. I'm sad to say that they're sorely mistaken. These small channels that I speak of that were forced to quit did what they loved and never got anywhere. I myself have been doing what I love for almost ten years and never got anywhere simply because my content isn't a hit with the popular crowd. The average person isn't going to be interested in Strawberry Shortcake videos, and I've had to accept that harsh reality. Even though countless other toy channels take off like a rocket, mine has always remained in the shadows. But I'm doing what I love, right? Shouldn't that be enough? In this case, people have told me that I need to make content that appeals to a larger audience, which completely contradicts the "do what you love and everything else will follow" advice. In order to become popular on YouTube, you have to do what everyone else is doing; you have to sacrifice your creativity, which is something I've never wanted to do. As a result, I've kept at what I was doing because ultimately, I would rather be original and fairly small than unoriginal, thoughtless, and huge. So the "being yourself" strategy doesn't always work. Sorry.

Throughout this entire process, first with YouTube's new algorithm, then the adpocalypse, then the hurricane of demonetization, and now with this new partner program, I've come to realize that the chances of ever starting a successful career on the internet are very, very slim. It's as rare as winning the lottery. Not everyone who tries succeeds. Sometimes, I hate to say, your efforts to become popular are in vain, but at least you'll have learned a lot of lessons while trying. Not too long ago, I was obsessed with fulfilling the YouTube dream as everyone else is. I thought that if I worked hard enough, I could eventually turn YouTube into my career. Where I live, pursuing something such as filmmaking and animation is unheard of, so your best bet is to study to become a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, or a dentist. Even the schools around here don't teach anything regarding the arts unless you want to become a painter, and even that's rare. With that being said, I felt that the only way I could turn my passions into a career was through YouTube because I had nowhere else to display my talents. However, just like the real world, YouTube is a tough game to play, and if you play incorrectly you have to suffer the consequences. This whole process can be very discouraging because it often leaves you wanting to give up on your dreams. That's how I felt, at least. Perhaps your hobbies will forever remain hobbies and not branch into something else. That's the brutal reality, and it happens to many of us. Throughout these feelings, I began to open my eyes more as to why school is so important. You're getting an education so you can have a career. I was caught up in seeing how many people on YouTube have dropped out of school to do YouTube full time, but honestly, I don't know if that's the wisest decision. Those that have opportunities outside of YouTube might be okay, but what happens when the channels of the ones who don't have all those extra outlets die out? It's difficult to remain relevant forever, and meanwhile they dropped out of college to pursue something that has led to a dead end. As hard as it is, try not to focus so much on what you see other people accomplishing. I'm really guilty of this myself, but as the cliché saying goes, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. YouTubers have to do whatever they can to stay relevant, or else their channels will go down the drain and they won't have any source of income. If you are a successful or even mildly successful YouTuber, don't take it for granted, don't look down on those below you, and make sure you have a backup plan in case things don't work out. It's very seldom that I see YouTubers who remain popular after three to four years.

Alright, I suppose I've vented enough about this topic. I guess YouTube's new partner program just goes to show that everything is temporary; everything you have can be swept from under your feet in an instant. After 2018, I wanted to put my channel aside and start fresh again by working towards my own brand, but considering how difficult YouTube has made it to do so, I find myself crawling back to my current channel. I only hope that you understand where I'm coming from in saying all of this. Small YouTubers matter, too. We have a voice, too. Though we seem fairly insignificant compared to the larger crowd, that doesn't mean we have nothing to offer. So if you're a fan of any small creators, please make it a point to support them as much as you can. They need you. Even if they're not making hundreds or thousands a month, that doesn't mean their earnings are worthless, so I ask that you keep that in mind. Thanks for reading.


A Small YouTuber

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Another New Year

Wow. It's 2018 already. It feels like yesterday when I wrote that blogpost about going on new adventures and being excited about what 2017 may bring. And I'll tell you this...the year turned out being not so great, but I'm sure that at the end of the day most everyone felt the same way. With that being said, I'll stop on that note since things are supposed to be lighthearted and shortcake-themed here.

So what's in store for 2018? Given that it's only the sixth day of the new year, I have no idea; no one does. But I won't let the events of 2017 deter me from trying to remain optimistic about this year. Lately I've been reassessing my goals in life and separating the realistic from the unrealistic, and in that time I've come to some rather eye opening realizations.

With that being said, 2018 for me will be about change and growth. Sometimes it's a little scary to leave what you've always known behind and to try something new, but after spending so much time in the same field, I feel ready to break out of the bubble.

So I guess I'll spend this year experimenting with new things and seeing where they take me. As for you, dear reader, I hope 2018 will bring positive changes to you as well.

See you soon.

                                                                                                                        - Miranda 💜

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Going on New Adventures

Has it really been four months since I've updated this blog? Wow. Time really flies by. Are we actually about to enter April of 2017? Wasn't it just Christmas?

Recently, I've done a lot of thinking these last few months regarding my YouTube channel. One day I would feel excited to work on a new video, and the next I would rule out working on a project because it felt like a waste of time. SSCTube just isn't working for me anymore. It was never great to begin with, to be brutally honest, but now it seems to be coming to an end. My genre of SSC videos, such as stop motions, original series, vlogs, etc, isn't doing so well anymore, which grows very depressing. I struggled a lot with this, along with YouTube's new algorithm (which does absolutely nothing to benefit smaller YouTubers). However, that's another story. If you want to know what's going on, feel free to check out the video I did touching on the subject here.

Long story short, I want to spice things up on my channel. I no longer want to stick to reviewing anything and everything Strawberry Shortcake-related and announcing every last bit of news regarding her franchise. I found that to be very boring and rather insignificant. Instead, I want to return to my roots and go back to uploading my own original content - not reviewing what everyone else has done. Besides, the SSC franchise only releases something new every fifty years, so everyone ages a good amount by then. One thing I'm looking forward to in particular on my channel is the premiere of Project SSC. You know that new series I talk about from time to time? Yeah, that's it. It's finally coming together, and the editing of the first episode is coming along rather nicely. Be sure to buckle your seat belt: this series is going on a wild ride.

In the meantime, Strawberry and I have been going on a few of our own little adventures. In the next episode of Berry Bitty Vlogs, Strawberry and I are going house hunting! We're not the ones moving, sadly, but hey, maybe it'll happen soon! How cool would it be to have our own place? We also have a new furry friend in the family, so I can't wait to introduce her to you all (she'll make her first appearance in Berry Bitty Vlogs #16)!

Until next time! 💙