Making Money off Social Media
Why companies want social media stars
Social Media has grown from a means to connect with loved ones and friends from far away, to an instrument for people to share their creative outlets and express themselves outside their social circles, and social media is now a possible way to pay the bills and put food on the table. Billboards, flyers, and even door to door salesmen pale in comparison to the power social media holds in marketing – bringing a new way for products to be advertised and showcased to the general public at a significantly lower cost.
Now, with social media, we have what we like to call “Influencers” or “Online Personalities”, people who have amassed a huge following online and have developed fan clubs based solely on their social media.
Unlike Hollywood celebrities, social media stars are more consistent with their presence. For example, you don’t hear much of Brad Pitt or Leonardo Di’caprio unless they do a movie coming soon, whereas online personalities are seen and heard pretty much every day; from controversies, new videos, or online collaborations, these types of celebrities have the presence you could consistently feel as people have incorporated social media as a part of their daily routine.
When you open up Facebook, the app pretty much shows you the biggest stars they have based on your interests, so if you like cosplay or video games, they’ll probably show you the official pages of Jessica Nigri and PewDiePie.
This algorithm is exactly why sponsorships, brand deals, and other marketing strategies are directed toward online advertisements.
This is why famous YouTube channels like PewDiePie or David Dobrik, aren’t exactly earning much from YouTube, but instead on their influence. Let me explain, for a person like PewDiePie who has one hundred million fans, one small shout out from him would greatly affect that product’s reputation.
If PewDiePie went “I only use Pantene for my luscious and smooth Swedish hair.” people are more likely to flock towards this specific type of shampoo solely because of a person who has earned the trust and subscription of this many people.
There is more credibility on famous people than normal people who did a commercial flipping their hair back and forth on television. This type of marketing: exploiting society’s dependency on social media has given this generation the hope of becoming a social media star themselves.
Seeing YouTube stars now earning millions and millions of dollars just because they’re talking to a camera, seems so appealing to some, but reaching that level, isn’t exactly easy.
Creativity and Originality is Hard to Come by
Why channels like Girlfriend Reviews got insanely popular way too quick.
Technically, anyone could be famous through YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. Literally anyone, it mostly depends on luck, persistency, and overall creativity: Belle Delphine leveraged her attractiveness and catered to a specific demographic (mostly male teens) to reach the net worth she has now. Smosh used comedic sketches and parodies to gain a wider audience on YouTube who seek comic relief in their stressful lives. While stars like Jeffree Star, who is ridiculously rich started off by doing makeup tutorials. It all really depends on creativity and your ability to hook a viewer into watching your video from the very first minutes.
Another example would be one of my favorite channels on the platform, Girlfriend Reviews; where a girl narrates her experiences watching her boyfriend play video games. The concept seemed so simple on paper, just a girl being clueless at what’s happening on the screen in front of her but nonetheless loves her boyfriend enough to keep watching. The concept might seem simple and easy, but the execution totally nailed it.
The channel is run by a couple who managed to use their skills in narration, video editing, and very funny dialogue making to produce videos that are truly of high quality and obviously made with joy and love. Their videos consist of clips of the game they’re reviewing, while the girlfriend narrates what she loved about it and what she hated, providing a fresh new “spectator” perspective, letting their viewers see through the eyes of someone who is only beginning to delve into the world of video games, all the while memes and relevant video clips are squeezed in for segue and comedic effect.
Aside from Girlfriend Reviews, whose videos practically scream witty creativity, there are also channels who have taken a lighter and more relatable approach. Like Cody Ko and Noel Miller’s content that relied solely on their comedic chemistry and conversation to get viewers – practically eliminating the need for flashy edits and instead only consisted of them talking and reacting to what they have on screen. In one of their hugely popular YouTube series “That’s Cringe”, one episode had loads of editing and sound additions that viewers simply did not appreciate because they preferred their normal video format of just the two of them talking.
Their sarcasm, wit, and total self-awareness of what the internet has and is capable of, has made them into YouTube sensations.
As I said, creativity plays a huge role in whether or not your YouTube career takes off. We could take a look at an insanely popular YouTube channel called Dude Perfect, where they perform various sports related trick shots, like shooting a basketball while on a wheelchair from halfway across the court to a world record breaking shot of shooting a basketball from five hundred feet above the ground. Their videos leave you with this sense of satisfaction, awe, and hype that it’s no surprise they’ve amassed almost fifty million subscribers.
This Isn’t a Pyramid Scheme
DO NOT EXPECT A LOT OF MONEY STARTING OUT
Contrary to popular belief, YouTube does not necessarily mean instant money. Making money off YouTube alone might not even be what you expect, there could be problems with monetization, with your ad revenue, and of course what every YouTuber dreads, copyright strike.
A copyright strike essentially means your video has been taken down from YouTube because a previous owner sent a request. A lot of people abuse this mechanic – for example, your video has been referenced in another channel for about 30 seconds, you didn’t like what they had to say about it so you filed a copyright strike, essentially taking down their entire video stripping them of content and income.
Demonetization is also a problem that many content creators suffer from: a process wherein a video is denied paid advertisements, denying them of additional income. David Dobrik, another popular YouTuber has admitted that he doesn’t make enough money as he should be through YouTube mostly because of demonetization as his videos according to YouTube, consist of slightly inappropriate content, he mostly makes money through his merchandise and paid sponsorships. Demonetization is also a huge problem on YouTube as it seems to be biased and only targets those with large followings: PewDiePie frequently has demonetized videos, following his controversies, while other creators simply fly below YouTube’s radar.
That’s not the only example, remember Logan Paul’s huge controversy of filming a dead body in Japan’s suicide forest? YouTube did absolutely nothing to punish what he did, because his video still brought them ad revenue while smaller channels have to endure demonetization and community strikes time and time again.
YouTube seems to prefer those who have a huge following, which means those who are thinking of starting out, would have to undergo a lot of obstacles before the platform recognizes them.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Social Media Personality
Really think about your next career choice
There are some advantages to starting a YouTube career though, if you’re one of the brave souls attempting to make it big on the platform:
- The bigger the subscriber count the more views you get,
- More views means possible sponsorships.
- You can actively share your opinions and beliefs to reach a wider audience,
- You can work from the comfort of your own home,
- And there is technically no limit on how much you could earn.
- You could be part of a community that shares the same interests as you
And with advantages there are still disadvantages:
- It takes time, like it really takes a lot of time. Gaining subscribers could sometimes take years or months, and some never get to see the limelight
- Around this time you would be barely earning anything
- You are on your own, think of it as a business and the only way you’ll get paid is if you get productive in the first place
- Speaking of productivity, to have a consistent and high quality channel, you HAVE to dedicate time to it.
- You have to research, film, edit, market, and monetize each and every video and that’s not an easy task to do
- Opening yourself up to criticism on every little thing you do,
- People on the internet aren’t exactly nice, you can’t expect to do great in your YouTube career if you can’t take negative comments. Thick skin is an absolute must.
- Lastly, some employers aren’t exactly all too happy having one employee in the public light. Especially if they can’t regulate what you say and do as it might reflect in their company.
As scary as the disadvantages might be, with a little luck and persistency, all the hard work could be repaid easily (and in millions of dollars). There are those who have braced themselves and followed the footsteps of those who went before them, who have started YouTube from scratch with zero marketing.
Girlfriend Reviews, turned out to be a goldmine of fresh new content only possible by the comedic chemistry between the girlfriend Shelby and the boyfriend Matt (the channel’s creators).
Showing the platform incredibly high quality, and hilarious content that seemed to shock everyone including the creators at how much of a success it was getting.
What’s it like being a newbie
A look into what happens starting out.
(Image Source: Youtube.com/Honey Bliss)
There are also small time YouTubers who set their sights on YouTube as a career via baby steps and small adjustments. Meet Honey Bliss, a small time YouTuber, only posting her first video on December of 2018. Starting off her channel wasn’t as a means to pursue it as a career but as a means to express creativity to get through postpartum.
I personally interviewed Ms. Honey to give us a little insight as to what it is like at the starting line.
Her first trudges into the YouTube world wasn’t to make money, or get new cars from SeatGeek, it was a means for her to express what she was feeling in postpartum. After posting her first makeup tutorial, she was surprised at how many people watched it despite not being posted on other forms of social media – this was when she realized that this career is actually possible.
It’s not exactly easy though, working small time means that fresh content isn’t properly expressed. Honey has to base all her ideas on makeup tutorials that are relevant and up to date, keeping up with trends to steadily gain a following.
Interestingly enough, small YouTubers usually have small communities amongst themselves, Honey Bliss has managed to enter a few, but does not participate in subscribing to the channels of those she meets in these groups.
Not because of their quality or character but because in groups who do an eye for an eye type of subscribing to one another, is usually not genuine.
My point being is that most channels on YouTube who have thousands of subscribers, usually only get more or less a hundred views per video as most of their subscribers don’t actually care for their content.
YouTube is a little tricky, your views are what gets you paid, and your subscriber count gets a higher chance of being on YouTube’s recommended, from what I’ve observed anyway.
Being a fresh new content creator, she is slowly experiencing one by one the worst and best practices. Honey has observed how much of a difference it is to post consistently, reminding her social groups or fans that she still has her presence.
And the best practice to follow is to always be mindful of what your thumbnail might be, it’s just the first thing the viewer sees, so make sure you get them to click the video but don’t lead them on to a lie; Yes, always take into account what your thumbnail and title is because if you lie to people and make them click something they thought would have been interesting, they won’t let you live that down.
All the steady climbing she has done has gained her about 200 subscribers a month and local brand deals of various make up brands and perfume companies. In contrast to huge influencers who are paid hundreds and thousands of dollars for shout out of their products, Honey has no plans of asking for sponsorships or making money of product reviews.
She simply asks for them to send their product over, then she covers the downsides and upsides, what it does for your skin, etc.
The makeup industry might be the go-to for most aspiring YouTubers, such as Belle Delphine, who posted her first video as a little makeup tutorial, pretty normal until she started posting her octopus friend thus slowly spiraling into the content we know now.
PewDiePie started off as a gaming channel where he records himself playing mostly horror games, and people seemed to enjoy that type of content, but still he now makes commentary and reaction videos and now his channel is not so much as a gaming channel now. Both of them started off pretty normal, but they still had ideas that they wanted to explore, so it’s fair to say Honey Bliss still has more ideas she could explore as now she’s doing a hybrid of make-up and vlog type videos.
Stars Who Got their Big Break From YouTube
All it takes is that one special viewer to jumpstart your career.
A lot of people see the video platform as a possible source of income, but there are some who see it as an opportunity to gain a little spotlight on their work. YouTube is well-known as a platform that could be used to gain an audience.
Below is a list of international stars, who started their way to fame through YouTube.
One of the biggest stars to every come from the platform. Justin started out with a video singing So Sick by Ne-yo, a rendition that would be sure to make you nostalgic seeing him with bangs, a high pitched voice, and no tattoos, makes me think just how old I really am. It’s a little hard to believe that this pop star was discovered just because someone accidentally clicked on it, and that someone happened to be Scooter Braum, a high profile talent manager and investor.
Scooter Braum wasn’t the only one with the power to make someone famous just because he accidentally found one video – even Justin Bieber himself has given Carly Rae Jepsen the opportunity for a music career. Justin found Carly’s video “call me maybe”, he made a video lip syncing to it, and also tweeted that it might be one of the catchiest songs he’s ever heard. A strong recommendation from Justin himself made Scooter sign her right away, proof that all it could take is that one lucky viewer.
It wasn’t only YouTube that contributed to these people’s success, but through various forms of social media, one of them being Twitter. One Tweet from Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen’s song went viral, and one tweet from One Direction member Louis Tomlinson, it wasn’t long after Louis’ fans became their fans as well.
Ed Sheeran’s talent is just something else, being able to play multiple talents, and a singer overcoming stuttering through hard work and dedication (and rapping along to eminem’s songs). It’s hard to believe that Ed Sheeran started out just like a lot of musicians in the 2010’s, with someone holding the camera and filming the videos in either a couch or on the backyard with birds chirping in the background. No matter how talented Ed is, there’s still no denying that without any social media presence, there’s a chance it would have gone unnoticed.
This group started out as a simple acapella group on YouTube. A genre of music that a lot of people seem to ignore. You could also technically search for the word acapella in YouTube’s search bar and you’d be greeted with a lot of high school groups that showcase their talents covering popular hit songs – Pentatonix however did something different, by incorporating their own style, by modernizing the tone and beat a little while still maintaining the original song’s “feel”, made them gain a lot of fans for their take on fresh music. Incredible style, and ridiculously talented members has earned them the right for two Grammy awards.
Really Love What You Do
People will know if you’re doing it for the money.
All these people didn’t get to be stars overnight, they didn’t have amazing connections to boost them up on YouTube’s recommendation list. All they did was post videos because a lot of people enjoyed it.
Everyone I’ve mentioned started YouTube because apparently a lot of people watched them, and enjoyed their content; they didn’t post more videos because they wanted more subscribers, they posted more because the subscribers they already had, meant something to them.
Everyone, from the King of YouTube, PewDiePie had to go through a lot videos uploaded, just to get 100 subscribers, and now he has more than 100 million to Honey Bliss, a small-time YouTuber who decided to start her YouTube channel not because it could be a good career, but because it allowed expression of creativity. Nigahiga, one of YouTube’s original content creators even back when you couldn’t make money off the platform, made a video addressing how much you have to love the content you post.
I could go on and on about how each and every channel I’ve mentioned started because they truly enjoyed it (except for Belle Delphine, I have no idea how and why she started YouTube in the first place).
Like any job, you have to enjoy it, and posting videos online could be a job albeit a job that takes time to pay you but a job nonetheless. Successful YouTubers enjoy their time, enjoy the feeling of having subscribers, and enjoy posting high quality video and audio.
Without a sense of happiness, people would much rather quit content making than to push through and see where it takes them.