I've just reached the #500 video milestone on Youtube. Wow! I can't imagine that I've actually created so many videos and actually crossed this milestone.
Today I want to share my journey as a Youtube creator. So let's start from the beginning...
Five years ago in 2011
2011 was probably the year I started making videos. I remembered I had a new camera and wanted to see how good it was at recording videos.
The first few videos were sketchwalk videos. I had just joined the Urban Sketchers Singapore and recorded the monthly sketchwalks whenever I could. I love going back to watch those videos occasionally. It brings back wonderful memories. People who I was not able to recognise back then are now my sketching buddies. It's nostalgic and special.
I only made videos once a month.
In 2015, I had started to add some variety by introducing some product reviews, sketching and tutorials. The schedule at which I create videos was erratic. I just created videos as and when I felt like it.
It was only after the Urban Sketchers Symposium that happened in Singapore during 22-25 July 2015 that I decided to see how far I can push this Youtube channel. I had 35,000 views in July 2015 and made USD $35 that month from Youtube. Most of the views were probably from the Urban Sketchers community.
When I decided to focus on creating content for my Youtube channel, I just want to see how far I can go before I got bored and quit. Since January 2015 to November 2016, I've made 464 videos. That's like 20 videos per month. And this month I reached the #500 video milestone.
Why I was I able to stay motivated?
Making money from Youtube provided some motivation. But let's face it, US $1 per day is not going to make anyone rich. Money can only motivate to a certain extent. I've started other blogs with the objective of making money but all of those were shut down even though they had money making potential. I know from personal experience that money is not going to motivate me to do something that's not enjoyable.
So what's the difference between creating art videos versus my other blogs?
Well, it turns out that making videos had the fun factor. But there are many other factors as well. I like reading comments about how people feel about the videos. People would tell me that they find my reviews or tutorials helpful, or the sketching videos are inspiring. People would ask questions about tools that I use and I enjoy sharing with them my knowledge. For some reason, the community on Youtube is more vocal than readers on my blog. Perhaps it's because when people can hear your voice, it becomes more personal. Or it could be something else, like people could comment so easily.
When the numbers for the view count and comments started increasing, it provided additional motivation for me to make more videos. It was fulfilling to see that by putting effort, you can make something grow.
Mind you, I have a full-time job besides handling my blog and Youtube. I use to spend a lot of time on my blog but now most of the time are spent on creating for my Youtube channel. My full-time job starts at 5pm and ends at 1am so I have the whole morning and afternoon when the sun is out to make videos. I'm quite lucky to have a job that night because otherwise, my blog or Youtube channel may not have happened.
Nowadays, I wake up every morning excited about what videos I can make before I head off the office. Where do I find all the time to do all this? Well, I don't do anything else. I cut down all the time I spend on social media. With any free time I have, I would write for my blog, record videos, or sketch with my friends outdoor, or spend with my wife.
Can you make money on Youtube?
When you read about so-and-so making so much money on Youtube, do you think about the amount of work they have to do behind the scenes to make their channel work? Making money from Youtube becomes easier after you have put in the hard work. And the reason why it becomes easier is because the help from each video will cumulatively add up as a whole to help you in the future. A creator with 200 videos a year will most likely outperform one with just 10 videos a year.
You can make money on Youtube but don't expect to be rich unless you treat it like a full-time job.
I work from 1030am to 330pm on weekdays on my blog and Youtube channel. That's 5 hours each day, 25 hours each week.
I've studied many other artists on Youtube and there's always one thing in common to their success. They have spent years creating content on Youtube before they were able to see any success. The first year is always going to be tough. You won't get a lot of subscribers or followers unless you're a superstar artist. But even if you're a superstar artist, it won't help with your growth if you don't put out content on your Youtube channel regularly. No one's going to visit your channel again and again to see the same old work. And that's why the successful creators are always putting out content consistently.
It's a challenge to create content regularly on Youtube. And when you don't see growth in your channel, it can make you think that it's not worth the time to create content on Youtube. That's when you slow down and see less growth. That's when you'll forget that you've even had a Youtube channel. It's a vicious circle.
There are also other things that prevents you from making videos. It could be your day job, your busy family life, or procrastination.
If I had started my Youtube channel back in 2008 when I started my blog, I would be able to make a full-time income from Youtube today. No kidding. But even if I wanted to, I wasn't able to because I had not started sketching back then, and I'm just a beginner artist without much experience or knowledge to share with anyone. Fast forward many years later to today, I'm relentless about putting out content because I am making up for lost time. Successful Youtubers have started many years before you. If you start today, you can only start to taste some success after a year or two. There's no instant gratification but fortunately the pay-off is worth it, provided you're in for the long run.
The one thing great about Youtube is, your success is determined directly by the amount of work you put in. All successful Youtubers follow the same success template on Youtube which is to persevere when it comes to creating entertaining or helpful content. If your video does not inform or entertain, then it's very difficult to gain any traction.
Using math to calculate how much you will make
As with all things online, making money is about web traffic.
Generally speaking, 1,000 views will net you USD $1. It could be more, or less, but I want to use that number because it makes the math easy.
To earn $100 per month, you just need to 100,000 views. The math is easy right? So how many views do you have to create to get 100,000 views? That's the difficult part. If you have a popular video, you can reach that view count fast, but are you able to create such high quality content regularly? I personally cannot that's why my strategy is to create many shorter videos that talk about specific topics relating to art. If I can get 1,000 views per video, I just need 100 videos.
Viral content is not easy to produce. So most of us have to go attain success through the tried and tested route of hard work.
There's this website called Social Blade that tracks statistics of Youtube channels. You can use that website to see how much view counts a channel is getting per month. And work backwards to use the 1,000 views = $1 formula to determine how much your favourite Youtube channels are making based solely on ads. Social Blade also display estimate earnings but the range they produce is too wide to make the estimate realistic. Views per thousand impression is still the most accurate rate to estimate earnings.
Still around after all that math?
Here's the brilliant thing about Youtube. If you create content regularly, your subscriber count will grow. If you have more videos on your channel, your numbers will become statistics that can give you insight into the future. For example, if you receive 100,000 views this month, and get 10,000 more every month, one year later, you will get 100,000 + 120,000 views. Unless you have wild fluctuations with your numbers, that growth rate is predictable and you can use it to calculate how much you can make in one year's time. Wild fluctuations are results of viral content (something you can't control), or from your recent post when you haven't posted for months (something that you can control), or simply because your view count is too low. E.g. 1 view vs 2 views is a 200% increase!
Other monetization methods on Youtube
So far I've only talked about basic ads.
There are other ways to monetize the traffic.
Once you have enough subscribers, you can actually start selling stuff. If you're an artist, you can sell your art. I've seen artists who sell their work through Youtube and the viewers actually buy them through eBay. Again, this is a numbers game. If you can get 1 sale from 1,000 views, you know exactly how many you can sell if you have 5,000 views. Personally, I don't monetize this way because I would rather spend my time creating videos.
The other way to monetize is through getting commissions. As your channel become more popular, chances are high you'll receive commissions from your viewers. I do not promote my art services and I don't sell my art but I do receive occasional comments on whether I do sell them. Imagine how much more work you can get if you promote your art services.
Then there's sponsored content. Sponsored content can be paid or unpaid. All sponsored content that I do are unpaid. Sponsored content means a company will sponsor you some item to review in return for a review. I do not seek monetary compensation because it creates a conflict of interest. For example, if I receive money, it might make me feel bad about saying negative things about the company. Anyway, I've reviewed so many items that I've already passed the stage of feeling bad. If your product sucks and you pay me to review it, I'll get the money and say your product sucks. Doing so may put you on the company's blacklist and they won't contact you again for future collaboration. But as I said, I'm past that stage, no collaboration is totally fine with me, I was never paid for sponsored content to begin with.
Generally speaking, to get paid sponsored content, you need to know how much views you can give your client company. It's all about the views. The more views you think you can garner, the more you can charge. And remember, if you have been creating content consistently, you can estimate how many views you can get based on the most recent videos that you've published. If your last video was 6 months ago, can you sure that your subscribers are still around to watch your new video?
I only accept sponsored content when there are no conditions on what I can and cannot write. I hate to work to the whims and fancies of others. It's already a challenge to create content regularly. If there's going to be to and fro with clients, count me out.
The next way to monetize is to through Patreon, a monthly subscription crowdfunding site where your supports can donate a certain dollar amount per month (for some rewards that you've promised them). Basically, you just ask your viewers to support you on Patreon through your videos. It will take an even longer time to get Patreon supporters because only a small percentage of your Youtube viewers will support you. If 10% of my subscribers donate $1 to me per month, I would have $3,200 monthly income. I currently have $509 on my Patreon page which I appreciate because any amount more than 0 is good to me.
All the things that you've just read, I've repeated many times to my friends. None of them have followed my advice. It's not easy to set aside time to do something where you can't see the results immediately. You will be faced with days of doubt wondering if you have wasted your time. I've been through that phase once with my blog and it's a phase that lasts for several years. With Youtube, that phase is shorter because everything is accelerated but, in my opinion, a minimum of a year or two of consistent hard work is unavoidable.
I find it fun and fulfilling to create content on Youtube. I can see myself doing this for as long as I can. The potential on Youtube is limitless.