Although I’ve always been a big fan of online videos and find many such projects entertaining to watch, I’ve never really seriously considered doing anything on YouTube. That’s despite the fact that I’m fully aware that some people are making a living on this endeavor.
First of all, YouTube has changed dramatically over the years and not for the better. Specifically, the algorithm used for featuring what’s hot on the YouTube homepage has degraded drastically, in a desperate effort to promote “fresh” content creators. In other words, if a producer doesn’t publish videos frequently, they are not promoted much by the algorithm, something that inevitably gives rise to sloppy and cheap content, created merely to satisfy that mindless algorithm. Of course many YouTube fanatics (or YouTubers as they like to call themselves) have their own channels and networks of promoting their stuff, so they get some views regardless. However, the effort it takes to build such a network and the fact that it require constant work to keep it active, makes the whole process inefficient and problematic in many ways.
In addition, YouTube has started to filter its content in an effort to block offensive videos from being made available. It’s not that the company gives a damn about what you view since there is already a plethora of super low quality videos over there, but it wants to avoid lawsuits. So, in a desperate effort to save its ass, YouTube has aggressively started filtering its content through any means necessary. This includes having its own unpaid workers, some dedicated users that have nothing else to do with their time, to do this deed for YouTube. Of course these people are not trained while the guidelines they have been given are vague at best. So, it’s up to their limited discernment to figure out what constitutes a bad video and what doesn’t, so what they flag is oftentimes seemingly random. This way, many legitimate videos have been filtered as inappropriate just because some idiot couldn’t tell what they were about. This resulted to the corresponding producer not receiving any revenue from these videos, despite the amount of work he/she has put into these projects.
Moreover, the revenue YouTubers make from a single video is not that high, unless the video goes viral. What’s worse, the revenue decreases exponentially since just the most recent and most popular videos attract enough viewership. Who cares about something that was published a year ago, right? Well, wrong. If a video is of a certain quality standard, it is bound to be good to watch even after a year or two after its release date. Then again, most YouTubers have given up on quality videos since those take a lot of time and they need to get something online soon, if it is going to be fresh. So, since I don't have a whole crew working for me, if I were to do YouTube videos I'd make a fairly small income from the videos themselves, unless of course I were to have some sponsor. Sponsor ads however are not something the viewer wants to watch, so once you have a sponsor in a video, its quality immediately drops.
Furthermore, as I have a better alternative to YouTube (the Safari platform), it makes no sense whatsoever to settle for a less professional platform. Besides, YouTube is only popular because it's been around the longest and with newer and better platforms entering the scene lately, it's doubtful this trend will continue. As a bonus for not working for YouTube, I don’t have to worry about the Article 13 issue that seems to trouble YouTubers, nor do I have to busk for subscriptions from my viewers. I still get some nasty comments from time to time, but the majority of the feedback I receive is positive.
Finally, there is also the recent fiasco with the YouTube Rewind 2018 video (which broke the record for the number of dislikes in a single video, as well as the record of how quickly a video accumulates dislikes). This may seem insignificant to the YouTube fanatic, whose allegiance to YouTube and Alphabet trumps any rational thoughts on this matter, but the fact is that the company doesn't care about its content creators. Otherwise, it would mention the ones that actually make a contribution to it, instead of veering away from them, in favor of a celebrity and some not so relevant YouTubers. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not make videos at all than publish my videos to a platform like this, which fails to appreciate its contributors.
So, if you are someone thinking of becoming a content creator and make a revenue from all this, there are better ways than YouTube. Perhaps it was a viable option once but right now it’s one of the worst places to publish your stuff. Besides, with Safari and other quality-based platforms out there, figuring out what to do with a quality video is really a no-brainer.
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Zacharias Voulgaris, PhD
Passionate data scientist with a foxy approach to technology, particularly related to A.I.