Can Filmmakers Really Make a Living on YouTube?

Top 1000 channels prove you can, and a pretty healthy one as well

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When you first decided to become a filmmaker, you had likely had visions of being on a big blockbuster epic and started imagining your Oscar acceptance speech. But many just want to make a living doing something they love, rather than bring food to a table as their day gig.  And with the advent of YouTube actually paying channels for content through sharing ad revenue, one cannot help but wonder… can I make a living while I practice my craft? Turns out it’s quite possible. And not only that, you can make a pretty lucrative paycheck… if you have the right traffic.

The leading brands on YouTube have developed their audiences by balancing engaging content with a clear message, and they’ve gotten results.  But there’s room to grow. – Infographic from MDG Ad agency


Some hard numbers are required before we move forward here.  Every minute, over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.  Over 50 million hours of video every year.  And it’s aimed at mostly ages 18-34, who are visiting the video portal several times a week.  In fact, nearly half visit the site every single day.  And not only that, but according to Google, the viewing time is what’s really key.  Those over 1 billion viewers are watching over 6 billion hours of video every month and it’s growing.  The average time a viewer watches YouTube videos is nearly 6 hours a month.  And that translates to ad revenue that both YouTube, Advertisers, and Content creators are cashing in on.

According to a recent advertising breakdown by MDG, the top 1,000 YouTube Channels are making about $23,000 a month in ad revenue from an average of 884,0000 monthly views from about 35,000 subscribers a piece.  That’s not a lot.  But it shows that if you have a dedicated niche following, you can make a pretty good living to the order of over a quarter million a year.  That’s not bad.  In addition, those same top 1,000 channels added over 200,000 followers on Twitter and over 2.5 million likes on Facebook.  That’s some serious exposure that advertisers would surely like to mine.  In addition, MDG cited the most popular video on the portal – Psy’s Gangnam Style, which has reached over 1.5 Billion views and nearly $900,000 in ad revenue based on those views.

And because nothing happens in a vacuum, those users are also interacting with their content. They’re sharing videos on average of 350 times per minute of video for the top channels.  To social media like Facebook, Twitter, and via email.  And they’re giving 25 million comments and 55 million ratings.  So they’re not only watching the video, they’re talking about it.  Approving it. Disproving it. Arguing about it.  And that’s a key demographic that advertisers can feed off and want to be a part of.  To the tune of over $4 billion in ad buys this year, and doubling that projected out to 2016.

Now, granted, when starting up, most who are putting up regular content are lucky to get gas money. And many are being tied down with contracts from YouTube Channels they soon live to regret. But it does show that a decent living can eeked out by filmmakers who are just wanting to practice their craft and improve it.  And if you know how to position your content and film it right, you can use that data to your benefit. Check out the video below to see how Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch have followed the formula.

Hat Tip – NFS

About doddle 16509 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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