I am writing this daylog to do two things: shill my YouTube channel, and talk about the weaknesses of the gig economy and the ludicrousness of people who promote social media and being an "influencer" as an easy way to fame and fortune. Since I don't feel like I can write a complete essay on the matter, I am just going to write my thoughts on the matter.
First, the fun part: how I got a viral video, and by "viral video", I mean a short video that gets about a half-dozen hits a day, unbidden. Where do these views come from? From deep within the YouTube algorithm, apparently.
This is my video. The disappointing thing about it being popular is that it is not my best work, even within my self-created genre of "pictures with piano riffs over them". The video is just some pictures I took of a crow, with a few piano lines placed over it. It is probably found, inadvertently, by people who are actually searching for real videos of crows, not someone's art project. Hopefully I don't annoy my chance viewers too much.
I have more videos I prefer more, and that took a lot more work, like:
"Bubbling", which I liked because it seemed both fun and someone sinister, seeing "random" shapes move about.
And probably my best so far is this:
Which is also the first one I made after I got a real keyboard (a minimal Casio, but a keyboard all the same), so it was easier to record a more complicated piano pattern.
I have several more art videos, several videos about math, and even more "travel" videos of me bicycling around town. Creating content on YouTube has been fun. Depending on the length and complexity of the video, they can take a minute to make (if I am just recording something) to several hours (if I am making animation, creating stills, and recording different narrative audio files, etc). It also takes a while to upload. It has been a fun hobby, and I like learning a new skill.
But now that we have gotten that out of the way, lets talk about the serious, big picture issue: making money by being an internet celebrity. There are a lot of people making a lot of money on YouTube. Some people make sketch comedy, other people play video games, some people make mini-documentaries. And perhaps you've seen a cat video on the internet with 10 million views, and thought: I bet I could do that! After all, it seems easy to turn three minutes of work pointing a camera at an adorable cat into internet fame. There are a couple of problems with this. First is that the YouTube algorithm is mysterious and not particularly charitable. For every piece of cuteness, humor or absurdism that makes it big on YouTube, there are probably thousands of videos languishing with a few dozen views. Yes, someone's video of their LEGO creation has 20 million views. That doesn't mean yours will. That ties into another point: making a video is more time and expense that it seems. A simple sketch comedy video might look like it is someone playing around with a camera for ten minutes, but it probably involves more sophisticated equipment and editing than it appears. In many cases, those "silly little videos" represent a day's work.
Right now, checking my "monetization" tab on my YouTube studio account, I have 17 subscribers and 8 public watch hours. To join the fabled halls of "YouTube Partners", I need a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours. So I would need to get 50 times as many subscribers, and 500 times as much viewing time, before I would be eligible. And how much money would I get? I don't know the specifics, or even if they are publically available, but I have heard something like $3-5 per 1000 views. So if I did grow my channel to that level, which seems like a longshot, I might be getting...a few dozen dollars from YouTube, per month.
From time to time, I have seen suggestions that doing YouTube, or Instagram, or TikTok, or Soundcloud, or some type of creative endeavor on the internet is a way to make money. And for a few people, I am sure it is. There are some "influencers out there", some making ludicrous amounts of money while having fun. I am sure that it happens. But realistically, it is more like: if you have good equipment and editing skills, and if you get lucky, and if you wait for six months or a year, then you can...start to make a small amount of money on YouTube. There isn't some easy gravy train of intarweb money just waiting for people to jump aboard.