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?
View The Full Video Transcript:
Hey, guys! Let’s talk about all the news recently about how YouTube is really favoring professional content, and the amateurs are just really on the way out. Is there really hope for those of us who aren’t like professional high level studio Hollywood people? Let’s talk about that coming up.
Hey, guys! My name is Tim Schmoyer from ReelSEO.com, and I want to talk about something that’s been floating around a lot on blogs, Twitter, other YouTube channels, and this is the idea that YouTube is really kind of saying goodbye to the amateur content creators and really favoring the professional, and how the amateurs are just kind of screaming and yelling that we’re on the way out. We built this site to what it is, and now YouTube’s just forgetting about us. And we are not making the money, getting subscribers, getting the attention that we used to get. This has been pretty hot on, like, Huffington Post, for example. You know, YouTube Amateur Users Alienated by Pros Flocking to Video Website, and it just goes on and on and on about how some of the partnered channels that were, you know, a big part of YouTube from the beginning are now making like 90% less than they used to make. Also the Chicago Tribune did the same thing, YouTube Alienates Amateurs by Courting Pros. And then Kevin Nalty on WillVideoForFood.com, you guys have seen him on here as well a bunch of times. Does YouTube care about amateurs anymore? Not in Phase 7. And I thought that Kevin’s article here was actually really helpful, pretty insightful. So I reached out to Kevin, asked him a couple of questions, and Kevin, I know you’re watching this right now, is amateur hour over for the smaller guys here on YouTube?
Yeah, Tim. So I did write a post on Will Video for Food proclaiming that amateur hour is over. It was inspired by a Chicago Tribune article that said some individual’s income was dropped 90%, and I’ve seen my own revenue from YouTube drop precipitously over the past couple of years. So, I would proclaim that amateur hour is over, but Ergo, in a video, raises a good point that technically the definition of amateur is one who doesn’t receive income. So by that, none of us are amateurs, but let me define amateur as an individual on his own, yeah making money, but not tied with any studios or any major TV properties. And I would proclaim that over the past year, since maybe 2009, the individual vlog star is declining and giving way to a whole new generation of YouTube.
In your blog post, Kevin, you talk about there being seven different generations of YouTube, starting with copyright stuff, and then age of the vlogger, and semi-pro content, and a bunch of other ones. Where are we right now?
So if you look at YouTube since its founding, it was originally sort of a copyright haven, and then it began to feature individuals, vloggers, solo acts. And this has changed dramatically. In the past few phases I would argue music has overtaken, and now long form television is what YouTube is seeking and getting advertise dollars for. That doesn’t mean, though, that an amateur can’t succeed at this point. It just means it’s a lot harder and that we can’t count on YouTube to help sort of bolster us up. We kind of have to build our own audiences.
What would you say to an amateur on YouTube right now?
You know, just as the beginning of YouTube, if you’re gonna build your own channel, you still can, thanks to your tips and others. And, you know, I still encourage people to do that. Develop content that’s true to their heart, you know, actively engage with their audiences, focus on something that’s really unique and different. So those things are still important. It’s just that I wouldn’t look at the Chez Carls and the Trippies and say I can be there because we’re kind of at the point where the rich get richer, and those folks have sort of aligned with studios, and they’re increasingly difficult to usurp, if you will.
Thanks a lot for hanging out with us, Kevin. That’s really great. Do you have any gratuitous plugs you’d like to give?
Why, yes, Tim. I do, as a matter of fact. Beyond Viral, the book I wrote, is now available on iTunes in audible for those of you that, like me, don’t like to read.
Thanks, Tim! I’ll link up Kevin’s full post as well as the other posts he mentioned in the description below as well as two other videos of people talking about this issue. One Jason Ergo from Social Blade, gives his response. He doesn’t think that amateur hour is over and gives his reasons why.
There’s plenty of individuals on YouTube, and while they might watch some of the big YouTubers, you know, the ones that YouTube is pushing here for the professional content, I think there’s still plenty of people, myself included, that really stay away from a lot of that and watch a lot of the regular YouTubers.
And Nalts also talks about this in a little video post he did on his vlog channel.
At 777, a New York gathering, like, everybody was equal, for the most part. You know, the popular creators hung out with folks that like to watch them. There weren’t really stratas.
I’ll link to that below as well, but I want to hear from you guys. Do you think amateur hour is over for us on YouTube? Do you think we’re on the way out and professional content is going to be getting greater, and we’re going to get squeezed out of the system? Or do you think YouTube is really still favoring us and that there’s still hope and room for us? Comment below or leave a video response. That would be awesomer because it would be really good to just, kind of, talk about this and have a great dialogue. So, do that below, and thanks for hanging out with us, guys. Your first time, subscribe. I’d love to have you join us for content we’re doing, like, all the time, multiple times a week for you guys. Make sure you go check out ReelSEO.com for lots of great stuff we’re posting for you guys all throughout the week. And I will see you guys later for another post as I’m out of time right now. Talk to you later. Bye.