While YouTube is still the most popular destination for amateur and user-generated video content, it's clear that times have changed and the online video space has evolved. There's no doubt that YouTube has made a clear and calculated shift towards focusing on more professional grade content--funding original content channels, and featuring TV-like content for advertisers.  With this shift, many YouTubers, including those original partners who felt a close connection with YouTube a year ago, are beginning to feel ignored.

On this week's ReelWeb, we discuss this shift with our friend, Kevin Nalty Nalts and ask the question - Does YouTube care about the amateur anymore?  Is there hope for passionate creators that are not professional Hollywood studio types?

Is Amateur Hour Over for YouTube?

The word that’s been floating around a lot on blogs, Twitter, other YouTube channels, is the idea that YouTube is really saying goodbye to the amateur content creators and favoring the professional.  According to an article posted on Huffington Post, "YouTube Amateur Users Alienated by Pros Flocking to Video Website", amateurs are not making the money, getting subscribers, or getting the attention that they used to get.

Kevin wrote an opinion piece about this on his site, “Does YouTube care about amateurs anymore?” where he proclaiming that amateur hour is over. He was inspired to write the article after reading an article on the Chicago Tribune titled, "YouTube Alienates Amateurs by Courting Pros" where it was stated that some individual’s income dropped by as much as 90%. Kevin stated that he has also seen his revenue from YouTube drop precipitously over the past couple of years:

My 2 cents: I’ve also seen my YouTube revenue plummet compared to last year. I’m earning about 10% what I earned in my peak period in 2011. Views have dropped from hundreds of thousands daily… to maybe 40K per day. It’s disappointing but I understand why. YouTube needed amateurs to migrate from a collection of copyright infringements… to something that may rival TV.

Jason Ergo, however, raises a good point in his video that technically the definition of amateur is one who doesn’t receive income.  Based on that definition, none of us are amateurs. Nalty defined an amateur as an individual that is on his own, and who is making money, but not tied with any studios or any major TV properties.

The Seven Phases & Generations of YouTube

Over the past few years, since maybe 2009, the individual vlog star is declining and giving way to a whole new generation of YouTube. In his blog post, Kevin talks about there being seven different generations and phases of YouTube (definitely worth a read).

  • Phase 1: Copyright Infringement ‘R Us
  • Phase 2: Viral time
  • Phase 3: Why Don’t You Stay a While
  • Phase 4: Age of Amateur Vlogger
  • Phase 5: Semi Pro Time
  • Phase 6: YouTube the Video Jute Box.
  • Phase 7: Digital TV

If you look at YouTube since its founding, it was originally sort of a copyright infringement haven, and then it began to feature individuals, vloggers, and solo acts. Now, long form television-type programming content is what YouTube is seeking and getting advertising dollars for.

That doesn’t mean that an amateur can’t succeed at this point.  It just means it’s a lot harder to stand out, and the amateur can’t count on YouTube alone to help bolster them up.  An amateur will have to build their own audiences.

If you are just starting out on YouTube, if you’re planning to build your own channel, etc... you still can succeed if you develop content that’s true to your heart, actively engage with your audiences, and keep your focus on creating something that’s really unique and valuable.  Keep in mind, it probably wouldn't hurt to spend some time studying and learning from the professionals. They deserve a certain amount of respect for the time they've spent building their careers in video and it never hurts to up your production quality when you can.

QUESTION: What would you tell these amateur YouTube creators who say they're feeling left behind?

  • http://twitter.com/nalts Kevin Nalts Nalty

    Nalts is brilliant

    • http://timschmoyer.com/ Tim Schmoyer

      Definitely agree. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/douthit L Ryan M Douthit

    IMHO, Youtube should have reached out to existing partners to see what we could do with more reliable revenue. (I was the subject of the original article, btw.) Bringing in Hollywood players that have no history with engagement and audience development at this level seems to the best way to spend the most money for the lowest results. But - it does generate some good (albeit expensive) PR.

  • DavidPylyp

    All great points! I don't think that amateur hour is over... I think the field like you say is indeed getting more crowded. You need to stand out with unique content that is keyword searched and fills the audience's appetite for content.
    Our video's need to become Storyteller marketing; mini vignettes with a lesson. More importantly searchable content with great audio that is suitable for viewing at work.

    David Pylyp
    An Etobicoke Real Estate Agent with 100K youtube views and counting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.fisher.37 Ken Fisher

    Yessir Jules. That’s what I’m aiming at. I’ve never considered the number of subscribers and ad clicks. It’s more about putting video on a niche platform to sell niche products. Fortunately those in my industry do not see it. But then, they’ve always been behind about ten years on the web anyway. Direct links from YouTube is just icing on the cake!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jules.watkins Jules Watkins

    Good tips, seems like there's a difference in trying to get a huge subscription base, make money from ads and sponsorship by volume as opposed to driving a niche following off YT to your own products and services. You can see how the fitness people are doing this and building big lists and income. Now YT say they are going to allow direct links of annotations to your own site, seems like the way to go might be to build a niche audience and create a product for them to buy rather than aim for millions of subscribers and ad clicks?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.fisher.37 Ken Fisher

    It will be interesting to discover what establishes professional video content or what YouTube is looking for. Is this something that can be discovered with their artificial intelligence work, similar to their Panda algorithm? Personally I think most of what’s on YouTube is absolute garbage. Examples would include poor audio and video quality.
    I feel it's like any business. Do it right or just get out of the way. For those that have made good money and are now affected I feel for you, but why not invest your profits in producing high quality content?

    • http://www.facebook.com/douthit L Ryan M Douthit

      We've always spent more money on our series than YouTube brought in (by a significant margin, in fact.) It's not fair to clump in all YouTube Partners with the Vloggers (and, in spite of the original article, we're not all amateurs, either.)