How to Make Money on YouTube: ‘Elementary’

YouTube has made a number of recent announcements aimed at helping more than a million YouTube Partners from over 30 countries around the world earn more money from thousands of advertisers who are placing TrueView in-stream ads inside Partner videos. And you don’t need to be a member of the Baker Street Irregulars to know, “The game’s afoot.”

Two weeks ago, YouTube said it will bring advertisers into its Partner Program, which provides video content creators with resources and opportunities to improve their skills, build fan bases, and earn more money. YouTube has already invited American Express, General Electric, Johnson Johnson, and PepsiCo to participate in the initial pilot program for this new partnership endeavor. The program will kick off in September with a week-long workshop in Los Angeles and the plan is to have 100 brand content partners by the end of 2014.

Lucas Watson, YouTube’s VP of Video Online Global Sales, told Anthony Ha of TechCrunch, “By inviting advertisers into our partner program, we hope to give them access to resources and expertise that will help them develop even more compelling and authentic content on YouTube.”

A week ago, YouTube released a short trailer announcing the launch of the YouTube Pro Series for emerging content creators. It provides the latest advice from top YouTube Partners on building a sustainable career on YouTube and beyond.

Carla Marshall of ReelSEO observed, “YouTube has previously offered creators guidance via the Creator Playbook and through their online Creator Academy but the new venture looks like it might be more business orientated, offering suggestions how to best monetize a growing audience and cope with the demands and challenges that a successful channel makes on a creator.”

And this week, the YouTube Creator Blog shared a playlist from the first YouTube Pro Series. In four videos, Dane Boedigheimer of Annoying Orange, Spencer Griffin of College Humor, Kurt Hugo Schneider, and Elle Walker of WhatsUpELLE talk about “Working with Advertisers.” They give advice on pitching an idea, what to include in a contract, how to price a deal, as well as staying true to your audience through the process.

What deductions can we make from what we’ve observed?

Sherlock Holmes and Dr WatsonIf Dr. John H. Watson asked Sherlock Holmes to draw large conclusions about the YouTube Partner Program from small observations about these recent announcements, the consulting detective would probably reply, “Elementary.”

In April 2012, YouTube had more than 30,000 partners in 27 countries around the world. And hundreds of partners were making six figures a year.

Then, the YouTube team updated its partner eligibility requirements across 20 countries where the Partner Program had been launched. Content creators in these countries could quickly become YouTube Partners simply by enabling their YouTube accounts, and monetizing at least one of their videos.

Today, YouTube has more than a million partners from over 30 countries around the world earning money from their YouTube videos. And thousands of channels are making six figures a year.

But, the significant growth in the number of top YouTube Partners who are making six figures a year masks the dramatic growth in the number of YouTube Partners who aren’t making that kind of money. There are now close to a million partners who are still trying to build a sustainable career on YouTube and beyond.

That is a large population – larger than the population of Detroit, Liverpool, or Vancouver.

So, the number of advertisers who are using TrueView in-stream ads needs to increase significantly and/or the amount of money they spend on YouTube advertising needs to increase dramatically, or an awful lot of poor YouTube Partners are going to face a hard decision this winter: remain starving artists or look for another day job.

Now, in the long run, this current storm and/or tempestuous season will pass.

The number of video ad views on Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at, reached 2,553,208,000 in May 2013, according to comScore Video Metrix. That’s up significantly from 1,385,273,000 in May 2012.

So, in the short run, YouTube is providing video content creators with as many resources and opportunities to improve their skills, build fan bases, and earn more money as it can muster.

Now, imagine that Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard asked Holmes, “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” The consulting detective would probably reply, “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

But, Gregory would probably observe, “The dog did nothing in the night-time.” And Holmes would probably point out, “That was the curious incident.”

So, what is the dog that didn’t bark in this current storm and/or tempestuous season?

There are more than a million advertisers using Google ad platforms, the majority of which are small businesses. And there is already a program, Google Engage for Agencies, that helps search engine marketing agencies, web development firms, and online marketing companies master the art of online marketing so they can help their small and medium-sized business clients succeed online.

Eligibility for the program is currently limited to agencies and clients based in the U.S. and Canada. And most of the program’s online training courses, webinars, and events are focused on AdWords.

So, why hasn’t Google updated its partner eligibility requirements in over 30 countries around the world and/or added more online training courses, webinars, and events focused on what Google calls AdWords for video and/or what YouTube calls TrueView ads?

That is the curious incident. That is the dog that hasn’t barked … yet.

So, what will Google and/or YouTube probably announce next? The answer is: “Elementary.”

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