YouTube | Revenue | Monetisation
My Friend Has 40k+ Subscribers On YouTube, and We Talked About His Payouts
“Being a YouTuber is a cakewalk for me”, says CoolSandBoy, “and it isn’t easy to walk on a cake.”
I first met Mysore Venkata Siva Sandeep, alias CoolSandBoy in my university, VIT Vellore. He remembers me as the first person who took a selfie with him when he had just 1k subscribers, and was always proud of it.
We often take online content for granted, and fail to recognise the efforts of creators behind our entertainment. Especially YouTube, where we spend most of our binge time.
However, we wonder how much YouTubers make every month, and how much our view contributes to their payouts, or at least, if it could be worth their time. I’m not an exception too, and luckily, I got a good YouTuber friend to get my doubts clarified.
Saying that, I can’t wait to share with you what I learned from our conversations.
#How it all started
Few days after his 16th birthday, he was randomly doomscrolling through YouTube when it suggested him a PewDiePie video. Stunned by its view-count, he clicked on it. He really liked the creator’s concept of reacting to existing memes, creating laughter, and ultimately making a living out of it.
He was already so addicted to memes on YouTube, so he wondered if he could try PewDiePie’s way and become popular by just monetising his hobby. After his 12th class, he started a ‘Gaming cum Meme reaction’ channel CoolSandBoy (Sand is shortened version of Sandeep)
It’s common for content creators that their elders and peers say against them on their idea. They claim its futile, and ruins their studies. Still, Sandeep moved forward and his passion kept on gaining fire.
Our university VIT Vellore is largely cosmopolitan. We have people from every state of India, and he wanted everyone to understand his videos. So he made them in English (He doesn’t know Hindi).
Despite working 8–10 hours everyday for scripting, recording, and editing videos, his growth was sluggish. He was always happy with his growth but he wasn’t satisfied.
Subscribers count skyrocketed in lockdown
Covid-19 made irrevocable losses to the world, but it was quite a boon for content creators. The lockdown and boredom helped them make better plans for creating content.
At lockdown, he wasn’t in college to play pranks on people from other states. So there was no one to speak in English, and make videos in that language. So he tried making some meme review videos in Telugu (our mother tongue), and surprisingly he noticed faster subscribers growth.
Anyway he’s comfortable with his mother tongue, and regional people liked his way of reviewing memes. So he completely switched his videos into Telugu, and noticed more and more growth. Such a fast growth that:
Literally Nothing – 3,000 subscribers → Two years
3,000 – 40,000 subscribers → 5 months
He says niche is very important for a creator, because:
- He could target specific audience.
- A niched creator has lesser competition than a creator who focuses on wide niches.
- It would be easier to gain dominance on a single niche.
He focuses on entertainment. And he makes it sure whatever video he makes, it would be funny and enjoyable. He doesn’t shift moods inter-videos or intra-videos, so he gained credibility from his viewers. He eventually became a one-stop zone for funny meme reactions.
His viewers got so hooked to his videos that when he wasn’t uploading content for a week due to university exams, they DM’d him why he wasn’t uploading.
Contrary to popular belief, he says, “Quantity matters more than quality, and with time, quality automatically increases.”
He’s also proud of saying he’s the only YouTuber in Telugu who creates meme reactions. In English, we have PewDiePie, and in Hindi, we have CarryMinati.
His formula for virality:
YouTube algorithm favours videos on trending topics, and he made advantage of that fact. 6 out of his 10 most viewed videos are made of trending topics those days.
Also, he noticed trending topics have higher CPM (Cost per mille), that means they earn more money per 1000 views than regular content does.
To put it Simple,
Trending + Niche = More views
YouTube pushes a video to viewers on basis of clicks and watch time. If people click away from a video before it ends, it affects its recommendation. Also he needs to make people like (or dislike, which he doesn’t do) his videos so it will be prioritised higher in the complex YouTube algorithm.
He uses yellow and orange colours in his video thumbnails to make them look brighter and clickable.
More views ≠ More money
His CPM ranges from $0.2–$2 and it depends on the topic of video he makes.
When is CPM higher?
If the niche is popular, there will be higher competition among advertisers to feature themselves. So, they pay higher money to put ads in related videos.
The most popular niches in YouTube are money making, law, software, marketing, and beauty.
As you see, there’s no ‘Entertainment’ here. So, the only way of creating more revenue here is to act fast to trending topics and get recommended more. And the CPM depends on the scale of trending.
Lower views on trending topics earn at par with higher views on regular videos.
For better understanding, here’s an example:
Both videos have almost equal views, but the second video has 7 times more earnings than the first one.
If the video length is more than 8 minutes, he has the facility to put more ads, which usually doubles or even triples his earnings.
Did you know?
YouTube keeps 45% of all money from advertisers and distributes 55% to creators.
CPM also depends on the cost of living of a country. If a viewer from US, Canada, or Australia watches his video, he’s awarded more money than that from a viewer in India, Pakistan or Nepal.
“Any video made solely for views? Though you are hesitant?”, I asked him.
“Roast videos”, he replied.
If you don’t know what a ‘Roast video’ is, Wikipedia says: A roast is a form of humour in which a specific individual, a guest of honour, is subjected to jokes at their expense, intended to amuse the event’s wider audience.
He is reluctant to make fun of a real person, but if it’s a trending topic, he couldn’t help but make roast videos for views and popularity, and makes sure the roast isn’t too much. The most popular YouTubers PewDiePie and CarryMinati get more views by roasting only.
Also, CoolSandBoy’s most viewed video is a roast video.
AdSense isn’t the only way he earns on YouTube
I thought monetising channel is the only way to earn money on YouTube till he said there are many other ways. The ways he uses to earn money on YouTube:
We know it already.
Memberships enable viewers join a channel and avail wonderful, exclusive perks from the creator, thereby supporting him financially. The perks include custom badges, emojis, access to moderation, exclusive live-streams, and other custom perks by the creator.
Did you know?
YouTube keeps 30% of the fee from memberships and gives away 70% to the creator.
YouTube calls it ‘Paid promotion’. It’s when a creator accepts anything of value from a third-party, and is sponsoring them in his video.
It’s a win-win situation as the third-party makes advantage out of creator’s popularity and the creator makes money.
There are many other ways, like selling merchandise, placing affiliate links, super chats, super stickers etc…
He’s able to withdraw his earnings monthly once $100 accumulates in his payouts, else, he needs to wait till they accumulate.
Types of ads and how they impact earnings
Let’s discuss about the types of ads in his videos and their impact on his payouts.
1. Skippable ads:
As you’re already familiar, these ads can be skipped after five seconds. A creator is paid by the advertiser if the viewer watches the full ad, or 30 seconds of it, or clicks on the CTA, whichever comes first.
If you skip the ad after five seconds, like 76% of audience reported they do, your favourite YouTuber isn’t paid.
2. Non-skippable ads:
These shouldn’t bore the viewer, and should be shorter than 20 seconds. Here, payment is guaranteed.
Bumper ads: 6-second non-skippable ads
3. Non-video ads:
These come in between videos on the lower half of the screen. Here also, payment is guaranteed.
However, if you’re using an Ad blocker, you’re denying a YouTuber’s revenue. A creator on YouTube is never paid if the viewer uses an ad blocker. Luckily, we haven’t found a way to block ads on mobile app, from where 70% of watch time comes.
Now you may ask me: What if the viewer uses Ad-free YouTube premium?
YouTube pays creators proportional to the premium member’s watch time. Say he watches 15 videos in equal watch time in a month, then the money is distributed equally to all of them. The higher the watch time is, the greater a creator gets paid.
He uses copyrighted content, and no one claimed for it. I asked him how.
He uses movie scenes, songs, and other videos to provide reactions to memes.
He told me he’s safe as long as the snippet is less than 10 seconds, there’s no trouble. In case he needs to put a longer piece, he puts his face at some corner, there will be absolutely no risk of copyright strike and it comes under fair use.
He’s addicted to making content
He checks stats once in every hour (I know, it’s too much), and gets excited about raising graphs. He claims it helps him know which type of videos people generally like.
He uploaded a video every day, sometimes twice a day, until one day YouTube gave his channel a strike one day for not obeying child safety policy. It stopped him from uploading videos for a week.
He didn’t understand what went wrong. When he contacted YouTube, they told him he reviewed a meme where a child simply slipped on a floor. It’s a very common thing that happens in Just for Laughs Gags videos. But he wasn’t able to help it.
That made him lie on bed with boredom, waiting for a week to pass on, just thinking about YouTube. He then realised he’s greatly addicted to making videos.
Did you know?
If a channel gets three strikes in 90 days, it would be permanently removed from YouTube
“How do you receive criticism?”
At initial stages, he valued every feedback so largely that sometimes he felt down for negative comments. He often used to ask us in college how his latest video was. — Validation.
Of course, positive feedback and constructive criticism from his peers and family was firstly his motivating fuel. But once he started growing, he lost the necessity to value every feedback, be it positive or negative. But if a specific comment comes from many mouths, he considered it.
Since his childhood, he didn’t want someone to be above him and give orders for work. That’s why he liked being a YouTuber, so he could just do what he loves and earn money for that.
Success on YouTube, or any other legitimate money making platform, is a long journey, and needs lots of patience, perseverance, and dedication. Finally, it’s easy consuming content while having sips of tea, but creating content isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.