I must confess that when Mr. Hodson asked me to write an article on Real Life Reviews I was pretty reluctant. This primarily was because I have worked hard to keep the aforementioned YouTube channel separate from RHS. However, as Mr. Hodson then suggested, perhaps an article could lean towards my experiences with YouTube and running a channel, especially as a number of pupils have a YouTube channel and post to the platform. So below is a bit of a mix of experiences and answering the common questions that I get asked.
So let’s deal straightaway with the elephant in the room:
Can you make money from YouTube?
The simple answer is ‘Yes’ and we all know of popular channels and vloggers who have hit the headlines and make a small fortune out of it. However, the reality as you might expect is very different. Even relatively popular presenters who some of you will know, such as Sam Pilgrim (1.4 million subscribers and over 260 million views) and Tom Cardy, do not make enough to do anything other than get by. What they are doing is financing a lifestyle that they enjoy.
How do you get your video to make money?
When you upload a video you simply ‘tick’ a box to ‘monetize’ it(sorry about the ‘z’ – YouTube is American and this is their term). You used to be able to ‘monetize’ any video and subsequently receive advertising income. About two years ago though YouTube made a big policy change that upset millions of small channel YouTubers. In a step that saw them reduce administration costs as well as their actual of pay-outs, YouTube decreed that a channel had to have over 1,000 subscribers and over 4,000 hours of view time over the last twelve months before it was eligible for monetization. You need to have worked hard and built up a significant fan base before you can even think about earning anything.
How much do you get per view?
Probably the most common question I get. YouTube doesn’t work like this though and you don’t get paid per view. YouTube is far more interested in ‘view time’. Even this though doesn’t directly generate payments. YouTube gets its money from advertisers paying to have their adverts displayed in and around your videos. If watchers spend time watching an advert then that creates the first tiny amount of income (we’re talking about 0.1 – 0.01 of a cent US). This then goes up a little if watchers click on the advert to visit the site and then more so if there is an interaction and a purchase.
Different genres of channel have different types of viewers who will interact differently and therefore some will generate more income from fewer views. You can look at your data and work out roughly what you get per view but it’s not an exact science.
Do you need an expensive camera?
No. You can use your mobile ‘phone if you want. Indeed, a lot of vloggers run their channel this way. Higher definition is not necessary for YouTube. Most people watch YouTube on mobile devices with relatively small screens. YouTube will downgrade your video by a step so as to save on storage when it processes it anyway. In addition, it can take many hours for YouTube to process a 4k video. Only if you’re doing something like a smart business presentation that is likely to be shown on a large screen do you need higher quality.
Is there anything to look out for when you film?
Children. That’s not tongue in cheek. There are now so many hoops to go through to get your video both published and monetized, many of them centred on having young people in them and the use of foul language. I had a video blocked and not published a couple of years ago because I’d filmed it in my living room and there was a picture of one of my daughters on the wall. She was fully clothed and the picture was out of focus and only just recognisable as a young person. After three months of trying to get YouTube to publish the video I gave up and re-filmed it. Luckily I’m now in a position where I’m a trusted site and can make self-declarations. It only takes one slip up though.
Do you get upset by bad ‘comments’?
These are actually incredibly rare. You’ve just got to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion and that you’ve put your media out onto a public platform. The vast majority of ‘comments’ are incredibly positive and satisfying. With reviews you will always find someone who has a different opinion and if something is written that is unjustified then the general public will see that for themselves. Not a comment but a similar example, my video of the Topeak Smartguage has 7,960 views with a string of very positive comments, 388 likes and 1 dislike. Each to their own J.
Do you get lots of freebies?
Yes and no. It depends what you mean by ‘lots’. I get some, more commonly from new companies who want as much exposure as they can get. The bigger, more established companies tend to want bigger and more established advertising outlets. That’s not to say that they don’t provide anything but it does tend to be more specialised.
Are you sponsored?
Not directly. I’ve received sponsorship for doing certain events and a ‘freebie’ is a type of sponsorship but it is limited to that one review.
What are your biggest highlights from running your channel?
I think I’ve got three:
i. Crossing the 1,000 subscribers meant a lot at the time.
ii. Getting 1,000,000 views was a bit of a milestone. It sort of passed me by but a number of friends contacted me to say that they’d seen it and to congratulate me.
iii. The first time I genuinely got recognised in public. I was in the athlete village/trade fair at Ironman UK in 2018 and the MD of a sunglasses company called me out as I walked past his trade stand. There and then he started talking about the channel and offered me pairs of sports sunglasses with various interchangeable lenses for different conditions. The day just seemed to get better and better from then on – it was a bit of a domino effect as people would hear someone talking to me and then they’d come over
to chat (or just find out what the fuss was!). I’ve still not encountered some quite like it since.
If someone wanted to start a YouTube channel, what one tip would you give them?
I think it would simply be to do it for fun. Take something that you enjoy and show other people how much you enjoy it.