A Tale of YouTuber Stupidity
Now if you haven't been living under a rock then you are likely aware that there are a great deal of people on YouTube. A select few garner enough of a following to actually profit from it. Some currently make enough on YouTube to have quit their jobs. Which is probably the dumbest thing they could do, and I'll tell you why. It's not so much the instability of internet fame. Though that is a part of it. It's more to do with the fact that the platform itself makes it harder for you to make and keep money.
I'll explain it simply. Let's say you have a business. In a normal scenario you ideally want to receive your income directly with few people in between you and the money. If you have a pizza place you're hoping that people walk in the front door and you make an exchange. They give you money. You give them pizza. But the way that things work when you receive money online, it's like if you met someone who said that they would find you people who want to pay you to make them pizza in exchange for a cut of the money. But no one comes to buy your pizza unless you go through this guy who helps you to find people who want pizza.
You're probably thinking, "Fuck! Why do I need to pay a pizza pimp to find people who would like to pay me for pizza?" Well you don't, which is why I used this metaphor to illustrate the absurdity of the way a lot of people make money online. Every single method that people like YouTubers would use to receive money from people who want to fund them, uses a service. It uses a third party through which the exchange process takes place.
So whether you receive money from ads, people who pay you on Patreon, or directly through Paypal, you must use third parties to receive your money. You might think, "Hey that's not so bad." Well you're wrong. Because let's say that these companies don't like your content. Maybe they find it obscene. Maybe they just don't like the message, or they feel that they don't want their product associated with what you do for whatever reason.
Well guess what? These third parties can decide that they don't want to do business with you. Which is perfectly within their right to do. It is their company after all. They have to look out for their own interests. They aren't required to do business with every person who puts up shit on the internet.
Herein lies the problem that a lot of the more controversial YouTubers are facing. Because right now a lot of them are making allegations that some of their videos have been demonetized. Some are making the claims that YouTube is shadowbanning people. The claim is that people are making content, and that followers end up not getting alerts that the person they are following has made a new video. There’s stuff about the algorithms making it harder for some channels to be seen. They also claim that comments made in the comment section aren't able to be viewed by everyone, and or that they can no longer run ads on their videos.
How much of this is true is honestly anyone's guess, but that certainly hasn't stopped some people from panicking as though this is the fucking apocalypse. It also hasn't stopped people from making allegations that YouTube is violating their free speech rights. To be honest they aren't stifling your free speech. You are using a service that you don't pay for. A service which YouTube provides to you and can choose not to provide to you for whatever reason. They aren't required to do business with you. They can change their rules and guidelines at any time, and there's really not a single fucking thing you can do about it. So if you quit your day job to be a YouTuber, you might want to rethink that.
You might say, "Well fuck that. I'll just go to Patreon." Well you'd also be forgetting that Patreon is also a third party that can refuse to do business with you for whatever reason. They have refused people in the past and they can refuse you too. Also Patreon if I'm not mistaken gives you your money through a Paypal account. Paypal too has refused to do business with certain organizations in the past. So even if you went with direct donations, even that isn't completely safe.
This is ultimately the price to be paid when you have your income entirely determined by several online third parties. If any one of these third parties decides that your content is so obscene that they won't do business with you, they can cut you off and there's not a single fucking thing you can do about it. You're screwed.
So to the people endlessly complaining now about how YouTube is dying, or that it's some fascist company now, well I've got no fucking sympathy for you. This is what you signed up for, and if you didn't know that this is what you signed up for, well now you do. Your only other option now is to create an alternate platform. Having seen the alternate platforms currently available, I'm less than impressed. Unless some more skilled people come out of the works, none of these alternative platforms are going to be viable for at least five years or maybe more.
If you want to get some idea of the oncoming storm, take a look at how a lot of the more high profile conservative outlets on YouTube have bunkered down and prepared. Most of them have a website that they run, sponsors they directly do business with, an alternate means of distributing their content, and they now have subscription fees. But for the rest of you with controversial content who have not planned this out, and have squandered your internet money on hookers and blow, you're all probably fucked. I really hope this is your wake up call.
To those of you doing relatively mundane stuff on YouTube and Patreon, you are all probably going to be just fine. I would just seriously suggest that you all get a back up plan just in case. Get a sponsor. Sell a product. Because honestly on places like YouTube you are the product. Your ability to get web traffic is the service you provide to them. That is what you're getting paid for, and YouTube is the service that pimps you to advertisers. You are their metaphorical hooker, and if you don't work the metaphorical street corner the way they would like you to, they have an unlimited choice of content producers that they can pimp instead. You are easily replaceable.
Internet fame is more fleeting than the fame of being a child star. Eventually you stop being all that damn cute. If you know it's fleeting, you have a choice. You can be a Mara Wilson or a Gary Coleman. Don't be a Gary Coleman.
If you think even for a moment that this is fleeting and can't last, you're probably right. It's best to use the skills you've learned as a YouTuber to get a real job or to make one. Save your money and get out before you stop being all that damn cute. But I know most of you aren't going to listen to anything I've said. You'll decide that this can't happen to you, and if you get your 15 minutes of fame you'll blow through the money and find yourself trying desperately to figure out how to put "YouTube celebrity" on a resume in the next few years.