As a blogger, I’m basically a bus: I’ll go weeks without posting and then I’ll post two days in a row.
But I was prompted to write another post because I received an email today from YouTube, telling me that they’re bringing in a new policy and under the terms of it, my account will no longer qualify for monetisation. Not only would I need 1,000 subscribers (I currently have 522), but I’d also need 4,000+ hours of watchtime each year, which someone on Twitter said to me they don’t even get with 3,000 subscribers. To put that in perspective, I got about 510 hours last year.
Should I meet these requirements in the future, YouTube helpfully informs me, monetisation will be re-instated.
Now, I don’t vlog for the money. I’ve had a monetised account for about four years, and have yet to reach the minimum threshold to get paid — it was never going to be a big earner for me, mostly because I’m just so damn inconsistent about actually making videos. However, knowing that the hours I put in might eventually contribute to a bit of extra cash was an incentive to keep going even when it felt like a lot of work for little reward.
The work has stayed the same, under this new policy, but the potential reward has got even smaller. The heights I’d have to reach to re-monetise my account… well, unless I randomly go viral, they’re just not going to happen. I’ve been slowly building my YouTube channel over the course of years, and I’ve only got this far. It’ll be at least another decade before I manage what they’re asking.
YouTube has always been a lot harder work than blogging. Finding a place to film that’s both light enough and quiet enough is challenging at university. Editing is tiring and often difficult if my hands are having a bad day and can’t manage lots of computer use. It can take a couple of hours to produce a 5-minute video that maybe a hundred people will watch — whereas a blog post might take only twenty minutes and continue to get hits years in the future.
There are times when vlogging has been useful. My room tour videos at Newnham are among my most popular uploads, and they can’t practically be done in a written format; likewise, it’s nice to have somewhere to occasionally put creative projects up for others to see, such as a song I wrote a few years ago.
So it’s not like it’s a waste of time, or pointless, and like I said… I wasn’t doing it for the money.
But this does discourage me from vlogging more actively, because even if I get my act together and post semi-regularly, I’m never going to be a big enough name for YouTube to care about me as a ‘partner’. Meanwhile, it’ll continue pouring money into controversial, disrespectful dickheads that I’ve never heard of until they’re all over the news for doing something awful and suddenly I wish I never had heard of them because I was happier beforehand.
(No prizes for guessing who I mean this time. No doubt there’ll be someone else in a few weeks.)
YouTube doesn’t value me. I’m not a hard-hitter, a big name, a producer of viral content — and so I’m not useful to them. I’m wondering whether it’s time to take a step back and realise that vlogging perhaps isn’t the best format for me to share my thoughts.
Oh, I wouldn’t delete my channel. I like having a record of my terrible hair and bad camera quality back to 2011. I like noticing that my voice has got lower. I like seeing how my new videos contradict my old ones. I like watching my bookshelves in the background change over time as I acquired more books. Some of the videos are cringey as anything, but they’re a part of my personal history.
Nor would I rule out ever uploading anything. Like I said, sometimes there are things that just wouldn’t work in a written format, like room tours or music or poetry readings.
But… maybe I shouldn’t vlog anymore, unless the topic particularly demands it. Maybe I should concentrate my time and energy on blogging instead (as I already do most of the time). Take better pictures to share here, instead of relying on videos to show you my bookshelves and face. Create pretty graphics with the time I don’t spend editing vlogs.
Vlogging has always been a mixed bag, anyway, and if I change my professional name (as I plan to do before long) it was going to be complicated to rebrand my YouTube channel, much more complicated than just redesigning my blog and redirecting a few links. Perhaps this is the sign I need that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
At the same time, I know there are people who watch my YouTube videos who don’t read my blog. I’ve even met people because they came up to me in the corridors at college and told me they recognised me from YouTube — something that isn’t possible in a written format. Do I want to lose that network of people, however small it is, just because there’s no longer a few pennies in it? Then again, it’s not about the money, but it’s about what the money symbolises — that I’m not YouTube’s ideal creator, that my channel doesn’t do what they want channels to do. And to be honest, I’ve been wondering if vlogging’s worth the effort for quite a long time now.
(Actually, I just went back through comments to try and find a video where I talked about potentially giving up vlogging, and found tons of comments on videos where I’d reappeared after long silences that were full of people saying “YAYYY YOU’RE BACK” and “I MISSED YOU”, so now I’m feeling guilty about even writing this post…)
Anyway. I don’t know. It’s a lot of work. Maybe this is a sign that it isn’t worth all of that, or maybe I should just keep making videos and ignore the lack of any material reward. I’ll probably make a video discussing these same points so that people who only know me from YouTube can weigh in, but if any of you have any thoughts on what I should do, let me know.