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You on YouTube: Making a Living as a Partner Starts With Passion

By Susan diRende

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YouTube.  The site means so many different things to different people.  Some love it.  Some think it’s a garbage dump.   But unless you are a Luddite who has kept your typewriter and only send mail that takes a stamp, you watch it.  YouTube is the main nexus for moving images on the web.


YouTube lives or dies from people uploading content. YouTube makes sure that people have easy access on both the up and down loading side.  Most folks are thrilled to have this virtual place where they can join in the great explosion of moving pictures.  Until the web became robust enough to handle it, there were either home movies or Hollywood film and television.

Having content only be in the hands of business meant the content was controlled, not only for quality, but also for message.  Starting some time in the 30’s through the heyday of Hollywood, the industry censors had rules about what stories could or could not be made. The bankers who paid for the films demanded their image not be tarnished.  The rich as a class could not be condemned. Corruption of public officials could be shown, but only if there was someone higher up who was honest.  Women who “strayed” had to come to a bad end.  Films with “colored” people had to be made so that the scenes with them in it could be cut out of the film for Southern distribution, unless the characters were servants.  And there was nothing you or I could do about it.

The advent of the independents that started in the 60s altered the balance of power, but it still took hard cold cash to get movies made and distributed.  There was a second tier of power, but it still took enough investment that only those who could fight their way to the top of the pyramid got their work seen.

In a few short years, all that has changed.  Suddenly we can have our say.  That doesn’t mean anybody will watch, but we no longer can complain that “they” won’t give us a chance.  You can “green light” yourself.

Defeatists can still find excuses.  They say that with an hour of content being uploaded every minute, that no one will find you.  So why bother?  If you’re one of those people, the answer is don’t bother.  But, if you’re one of the people who loves to watch YouTube so much you have to make videos to join in the conversation, then odds are you will find your audience.  You could even make a living at it through the YouTube Partners Program.

But don’t start thinking profit.  The successful Partners didn’t.  Many big companies are trying to capitalize on the social media explosion of audience, trying to corral those eyes for their purposes and profit.  But the thing about social media is that it is social.  Like someone who wants to join your circle of friends just to sell you all life insurance.  Yuck.

From my personal sampling of the successful partners, they are very social (it's called social media for a reason) and all of them made loved YouTube first and made videos second.  Even after becoming big on the site, they don't just make their videos, they watch them all the time.  They comment on them.  They talk to their commenters.  They start to know each other and a community is born.  Community, once formed acts like a magnet drawing others in who otherwise might not have joined.  And the party starts.  As a clear example of this, Derek Sivers shows the attraction of group enjoymentin the video below.  And while TED has a very nifty website for their videos, you can also watch them on - yes - YouTube.


The lesson is that you can make a living on YouTube if it’s your playground as well as your job.  Yes, making a living is also work.  The Partners making a living online are also savvy about when to upload, how to interact with their viewers, and use all the fabulous analytic tools that Google and YouTube offer to see what works and what doesn’t.  But don’t start there.  Start in the place where you want to share something so bad you’ll do it every day.  A subject you love so much you watch videos about it all the time.   YouTube is one place where if you do what you love, the money will come.  It all starts with the love.

Published on Mar 14, 2011

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