Sell Yourself: Making money on Online

The business model used by social media sites differs slightly from traditional media. They’re both based on “building and aggregating mass consumer audience shares for the purpose of selling that audience share to other companies.” Television networks provide programming. The larger an audience is, the more advertisers are willing to pay for ad space. Web 2.0 isn’t entirely different. Social media sites provide us with a free service, in turn, we watch advertisements. Users are not customers. We’re the product. And I’m perfectly fine with that.  The success of companies like Facebook and Twitter suggest that for most of us are as well. Honestly, before this assignment, I never noticed the ads on my Facebook page. Despite recording my browsing history and using cookies, most of the ads are completely irrelevant. Primizie bread, Toyo tires, and Custom bar crawl t-shirts? No thanks.

One major difference between more traditional media is that the web offers regular shlubs an opportunity to monetize their content online.  When discussing  web economics, we often focus solely tech companies and their bottom line. However, it’s useful to determine what this means to the average person. The low barriers to production and distribution via websites like Youtube make it possible for anyone with compelling content to sell advertising space.  For example, Google’s Adsense allows users to place advertisements on their page and throughout videos. These are usually the annoying T-mobile ads  you can’t skip or the pop-ups that obscure most of the video.

Smosh is Youtube’s top channel featuring the comedy duo of Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, who started by making Flash videos around 2005. As of 2013, they’re the most subscribed channel on Youtube with over 8.7 million followers and 2.2billion channel views. In addition to making painfully lame skits, they operate a blog and produce 3 different web series.  Their channel has brought in over 10 million in revenue this past year, and their ad sharing revenue is well over $9000 a month.  The following is one of their more popular videos. It’s awful. You’ve been warned. 

Third on the list is Jenna Marbles, another “Youtube personality.” She makes humorous potty-mouthed rants about things like “How to Trick People into Thinking You’re Good Looking.” It probably doesn’t hurt that she’s attractive either.  Currently, she has over 1 billion channel views. Unreliable internet guestimates place her total earnings somewhere around 1 million.

This last one is my favorite. Since 1996, Brian Bates, the self-proclaimed “Video Vigilante” has been catching prostitutes with their “johns,” camera in hand. He usually follows them in their vehicles until he catches them in the act. Bates opens their door with his catch phrase, “you’re busted buddy”. He then posts the video online to shame the “johns,” and discourage further soliciting.

Not everyone will get rich online, but a strong following on Youtube can mean additional income for anyone. If you’re funny, unfunny, attractive, unattractive or enjoy following prostitutes, there’s always the possibility of earning money, provided your content is interesting.  Who hasn’t spent hours watching Japanese poodle exercise videos? My question is, what could possibly be the downside of monetizing your content?

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2 Responses to Sell Yourself: Making money on Online

  1. emedrano9 says:

    Dear God that was a stupid Mario video (shivers). Anyway I’ve heard about people making money on Youtube, but I feel I should mention that a majority of those that do began as an entirely independent users not originally intending to make money, whom are eventually approached by companies to agree to allow advertisers to take advantage of their wide pool of often young subscribers. Take the Angry Video Game Nerd, James Rolfe, who started his videos as intending to be only a two part series of cheaply made video game commentary focusing only on dubiously awful Nintendo games. AGVN was eventually approached by ScrewAttack and GameTrailers, and exploded into a heavily sponsored channel with hundreds of videos of him bashing a variety of mostly older games, featuring a wide variety of special effects, film reviews, and yes, advertisements. Nearly a decade later, he’s still doing his thing in his 30s- still the same comedic, short-tempered, alcoholic who loves to hate on bad games. So pretty much if you’ve opened up a loyal audience, advertisers are more that willing to capitalize on your hard work for their own gain. This isn’t always a bad thing. It often leads to upgraded and more consistently posted videos, and the user get paid for his/her creativity. It worked out very well for AGVN. After all, advertisers want to expand on an already established audience, and it wouldn’t benefit them or the sponsored users to lose viewers by appearing to sell out… God that was a stupid Mario video.

  2. dcrase712 says:

    There are many issues with attempting to monetize your work. First off, do you even have a fan base willing to put up with ads to watch your videos? When going “pro” with sites like youtube, you are allowing for ads to be placed before and around your videos. If you do not have a fan base prior to doing this, you are more likely to lose viewers. This is due to the laziness of people today. Why would you want to sit through a 30 second ad for a person that only has 200 views on their videos. That means it is not good right? While making money doing things you love sounds great, it is often harder to gain views that way. Once you begin monetizing your videos, people can begin to criticize and believe you are doing it for the money. While this is often not the case, it is a fair argument. I myself have not placed ads anywhere near my videos or short films out of fear of losing what little audience I have. Just today I found a video I made in high school which now has over 100,000 views. If I had attempted to monetize that video I would not have anywhere near the same amount of views as shown. Not to say that this is always a bad thing. But for the little guy, it can be death.

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