Friday, 11 February 2011

Becoming a YouTube partner

And, much like posting videos online, only the idiots
seem to get noticed.
Putting videos online is kinda like holding a witty banner at a protest - there's no guarantee that anybody is going to see it, there's certainly no positive way to make sure people like it, and half the time somebody has already done it and done it better. Actually getting noticed is a change roughly on par with winning the lottery without buying a ticket. Never-the-less, video sharing sites constantly rank as among the most viewed on the internet, with the absolute granddaddy of them all being YouTube.

YouTube is easily the best known and most popular video site, and with pretty good reason. It's one of the oldest, it's probably the easiest to use, and it has more content than any of the others (with over 24 hours being uploaded every single minute). Of course, that's not to say YouTube is perfect - indeed it's probably best known for having some of the most moronic users all waiting to post badly spelt insults on anything they find - but in terms of video sharing it's pretty darn good.

One of the things YouTube offers that no other site does is the unique partnership program. This program offers users who have a large subscribing audience, a large number of views, and who upload videos on a regular basis the opportunity to increase their audience through featured videos, customize their own brand through banners, and last but by no means least earn some money off of their videos (and let's face it, we all love money).

Now, YouTube isn't the only site that offers monetary gain for your videos - other websites, notably Blip.tv also offer money in a similar way to YouTube, although everybody is able to earn money from the get-go. In that sense, it's certainly worth a try, although it should be noted that videos on Blip are generally exceptionally high quality. It's a popular site for web critics and "Let's Play" video creators because it's not watched as tightly as YouTube is for copyright infringement.


So what does being a partner actually mean?


Featured videos by search results, featuring
yours truly
As mentioned above partners get a few additional tools at their disposal. The brand recognition is very popular to the point where a lot of people have asked me why I don't currently have a banner. Your videos also show up as "featured videos". This is when videos show at the top and at the side of search results, and also at the top of the "recommended videos" at the side of each video. This earns you many views - since becoming a partner my video views have absolutely sky rocketed! You can upload videos longer than the current 15 minute limit too, although this has also been offered to some non-partner channels, and you can upload custom thumbnails if that's your sort of thing.

Featured video in the suggestions
You also get to put adverts on your videos, and I do have a very thorough post on the pros and cons of this that you can read by clicking here. To give a brief summary, you can put videos at the side of your videos, at the bottom of the video, and before, during, or after the video itself. Then through an AdSense account you earn money when people click the adverts, or when lots of people view them.


What do I need to do if I want to become a partner?


I am asked the questions "am I good enough to become a partner" or "what should I do to become a partner" almost as often as I'm asked beatbox-related questions! The thing is, I can't tell you. Nobody can. The exact requirements are not posted anywhere so it's far from black and white. I can, however, detail roughly what is needed. YouTube looks at:
Face it - it's not gonna happen.
  • Your total video view count
  • The number of subscribers you have
  • The frequency you put videos up
  • Whether your stuff is "advertiser friendly" (so nothing sexual or explicit, nothing overly violent or shocking, and so on)
  • Your country of residence - the partnership program isn't available in every country
  • Whether or not your account follows the terms and conditions of the site
The final category is one that a lot of people have trouble with - it means that if you have any strikes on your account, whether they're community strikes or copyright strikes, you're almost certainly out with very few exceptions allowed.

Now for the video views and subscriber count I cannot give specifics because, as I said above, nobody knows - each application is looked at separately. However, I can vouch that when I become a partner I had just reached 1,000 subscribers and around 250,000 total video views. I have not had any trouble with copyright (everything is mine and mine alone) nor have I had any community strikes. I was putting videos up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and I had been a member of YouTube for around six months.


What if I've uploaded copyrighted content?


In short, you shouldn't've done that, and it's almost certainly going to bite you on the backside.. It's your own fault, all you can do is delete the copyrighted material and hope for the best, or start a new account. Note that song covers and parodies can count as copyright infringement - that's something to look out for, beatboxers.


How do I apply?


Go to http://www.youtube.com/partner and apply. If clicking the "Apply Now" button takes you to the homepage you aren't able to apply in your country.

You'll need to submit some information including your name, email address, and details of your YouTube channel. Then it's a case of waiting.

No really, you could be waiting for a really long time. I've heard of people waiting for up to and over a year for an approval. If the answer is "no" then that sucks, better luck next time; you can apply again after two months. If the answer is "yes" then congratulations! You'll then need to set up an AdSense account to get your money paid into, then when you reach a certain amount (£60 for the UK, $100 for the US) you'll have a payment made to you.


This is roughly how much you'll be earning.

How much money will I be earning?


To be blunt, not much. I won't discuss my personal earnings (partly because I'm not allowed, partly because it's none of your business) but unless you're getting tens of thousands of views a day you won't be earning anything you can live off of. However, it's enough to be useful, and it'll certainly go towards equipment and the like.


Is there a way of getting the benefits of being a partner without becoming one?


No. Not at the moment, anyway. Previous partner-only benefits (like channel boxes and longer-than-15-minute uploads) have been made available to non-partners so it's not a complete impossibility, mind you.

I've also seen a lot of people ask if it's possible to become a partner without having adverts. While it's technically possible to get partnership and simply not enable ads you'd probably end up having your partnership suspended; from a business standpoint the entire purpose of the partnership program is to earn YouTube some revenue. To carry on from here, if your AdSense account is closed for any reason your partnership will be cancelled. I found that out the hard way due to a mishap with changing my AdSense address from the UK to the US.


I wasn't accepted when I should have been - who can I complain to?


Absolutely nobody. All you can do is wait two months and apply again. Take that time to increase your audience, upload new videos... basically everything you can do to improve your chances. I've seen a lot of somewhat self-congratulatory channels that believe they should be eligible, then after closer inspection they've used sub4sub or spam to falsely increase their audience, or have uploaded only a dozen videos months ago, or have only a thousand or so total video views, or (more often than you'd think) have uploaded material that very obviously isn't their own. Simply put, it isn't going to happen. Even if you do have high views and a high subscription count, and even if in your eyes your channel is absolutely perfect, kicking up a fuss really won't make a difference.

I guess the point I'm trying to hammer at here is that you are never guaranteed partnership.


I was invited to put adverts on one of my videos - am I a partner now?


Yes and no. If a video of yours is getting popular YouTube may invite you into the IVP (or "individual video partner" if you want to use the longer and harder to spell name) program. This is when videos are placed on that video and that video alone, and your earnings are paid into your AdSense account. There is no limit to the amount of videos that can be invited, although if you are being invited a lot you should apply for full partnership.

If you don't see this, you aren't a partner.
Sorry.
You do not have any of the other perks to being a partner, so you won't be able to have banners or enable adverts on videos that weren't invited. If you aren't sure whether you're a partner or not go to http://www.youtube.com/partner - if it has a congratulatory message then you are a full YouTube partner, but otherwise you aren't.


Conclusion


The partnership program certainly isn't right for everyone so before applying take time to work out if you really want it. You aren't going to get rich overnight through the program, nor are you going to become a celebrity over the weekend through the additional traffic, but if you put in hard work and are enthusiastic about making videos then it's definitely worth checking out.

If you have any questions feel free to ask and I'll see if I can help!

Peace, love, and noise

-FT

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Making a DVD

So there I was, sat in bed, when suddenly a thought struck me like a stone hurled by a particularly accurate stone hurler. "Why not make a DVD?" my brain excitedly yelled. "It'd be so much fun and you can call it 'Fat Tony's Beatbox Tutorials Volume 1' and people can buy it and you could even handwrite little thank-you notes when you send them!"

Rather foolishly, the rest of me replied with "wow, brain, that's a really good idea" and thus the concept of a DVD was born. Of course, saying "I would like to make a DVD" is extremely easy, but within twenty-four hours my old friend Low Self Esteem (hereafter referred to as LSE) started kicking up a fuss along with Mr Dilemma (hereafter referred to as MD).

LSE: Nobody would buy it, you know. Your videos are all online, people would just view them there, it's a waste of time and money.
MD: You should re-record the tutorials then, and make them higher quality.
LSE: Oh yeah? With his stupid little camera and little netbook? It'll look terrible.
MD: Then maybe just a DVD with the tutorials on it in an easy-to-view layout?
LSE: Why would anybody want that?
MD: Shut up, I'm thinking here... now, should you sell them through a publisher direct or have a few hundred mailed out to you?
LSE: A few HUNDRED? Only he and his mother are actually going to buy a copy, what will he do with the rest, hand them out on street corners?

And so on, and so forth.

I would very much like to put out a DVD but I am somewhat torn with the various options (just looking at how to produce it is enough to make me crawl under my blanket and weep silently). I would love to refilm a bunch of tutorials but that would take an extremely long time and probably wind up being more effort than it's worth. I might end up just editing each video slightly to chop out the credits and bloopers and stuff.

The point of this (rather confused) blog is basically to ask for input from you guys, my fans, subscribers, and viewers. What do you want to see? What would you buy? What would you absolutely not buy?

Please comment, I could use the input!

Peace, love, and a battle within

-FT

Monday, 15 November 2010

Adverts on YouTube

For those who are not aware of the fact, I'm part of the YouTube partnership program and have been for a little over a year now. It's a very nifty scheme with some fantastic benefits that I plan on discussing in a future blog, and it's one that has expanded my fanbase and potential to a level so extreme it's almost overwhelming.

In this blog post I'm going to discuss more specifically the adverts that you can run alongside your videos, along with some of the pros and cons that are associated with them.

When will I see adverts on YouTube?

There are a few different occasions you'll see ads on YouTube. The most common is when a YouTube partner has enabled revenue sharing on their videos. The partner can choose to place adverts beside, below, and within the video in question, and earn money depending on the amount of views and "clicks" the advert receives.

You may also see adverts on videos that are using copyrighted material. Let's say somebody really loves Justin Bieber and decides to produce a fan video consisting of drawings they've done of him set to Usher's "Yeah". SME spot this video and flag it up for copyright infringement. They then have the choice to have the video muted, to have the video taken down completely, to ignore it, or to monetize the video themselves. These adverts do not earn the uploader any money, and the uploader has no control - or any right to control - over them. This is something else I'll be exploring in more detail in a future blog post.

What kind of adverts are there?

There are several types of advert available on YouTube, and as a partner you have direct control over which ones you put on your videos (and even, to an extent, what they contain). The most common adverts are shown to the top right of a video above the suggestions, and as a small pop-up ad during the video itself.



These are the adverts that you'll see more often than any other. The other option is called "Instream" advertising. This is the somewhat notorious and slightly controversial method of advertising where video adverts play before and/or after your video (and, for some longer videos, during). 

So how do YouTube partners earn money from adverts?

YouTube runs it's adverts through Google's own AdSense program. You earn a little revenue each time an advert is clicked or gains a certain amount of views, and when you reach a set amount (in the UK it's £60, here in the US it's $100, and it varies from country to country) Google sends you a cheque or money transfer at the end of the month.

It's not huge amounts so unless you're getting hundreds of thousands of views a day don't expect to become rich, but for smaller partners like myself it's a very effective way of helping offset the cost of equipment and software, and a very nice reward for the videos we produce.

But I hate adverts, I don't want to see them!

There are many complaints
like this!

This, along with the flipside "what if my viewers don't want the adverts?" is by FAR the most common topic and issue raised when discussing adverts on YouTube. People feel remarkably passionate about adverts, far more than I'd personally have anticipated, and to be fair there are occasions where it can be a little overkill (something I'll discuss a little later in this blog). The main complaint is that YouTube is cramming too much advertising onto their website - this is, of course, a misconception, since as I pointed out earlier the channels themselves have full control over what adverts, if any, are shown on the videos. So, the real complaint lies with YouTube partners monetizing their videos.

What a lot of people fail to realize is that making videos is hard work. When I post to my beatbox tutorial series, for example, I post two videos at a time. These take a full day of producing. I'm not exaggerating - every single one of my videos goes through a process that includes scripting, planning, filming (including setting up the camera, sorting focus and white balance, etc), editing, rendering (a process alone that can well over an hour even for a video that's five minutes long), uploading, describing, tagging, annotating, posting to Facebook and Twitter and various other websites... that's not even including replying to comments, deleting spam, and responding to emails I'm sent! Generally when I'm posting videos I'll be working from 9am with 9pm generally being the time I'm finally finished. That's 12 hours for two videos, with maybe an hour where I'll grab something to eat during the day.That's more than a standard full-time work shift, and I don't mind confessing that I work much harder producing videos than I have at any job before!

YouTube's "Destorm".
On top of this, making videos costs money. I purchased my camera, laptop, and editing software with my own money.

With all of this in mind, I find it rather exasperating when somebody complains about adverts on my videos. I recall when I first became a partner a user posted an extremely abusive comment on my channel and unsubscribed. This was before I'd even added the pre-roll adverts to my main video series! While the idea of losing subscribers and views is not something that appeals to me, at the same time I'm not that fussed if somebody cares so little about supporting me that they'd leave when I start making money! That is, after all, what it all boils down to - support. I have a lot of fantastic fans that show me support, and return I'll carry on making videos for them!

As I've touched on above I've added pre-roll ads to my main series. These are the most controversial adverts by far; generally they consist of short ~15 second long adverts that play before a video. There are occasions where the criticism of these can be somewhat reasonable - for example, I've seen videos that are only 30 seconds long that have these adverts - but these occasions are few and far between. To bring the point up again I spend hours on my videos, and I know many YouTube partners work much harder than I do with far better equipment. If you don't like the adverts, don't use that channel. It's as simple as that!

So what are the pros and cons of running adverts on your videos? How can I run adverts without alienating my fans?

The main pro is, obviously, earning money! For my videos I've had to buy my own camera and laptop for editing, along with the editing software (which alone can cost hundreds of dollars). Therefore earning some money for it means I can upgrade my equipment (I have major plans to upgrade to a tastier laptop!) as well as earn some spare cash for my own use; I have a wedding fast approaching, after all.

The cons boil down to the reaction of your fans. You might lose subscribers (although I've only lost one) but to be honest any real fan will understand and even appreciate being able to support you. You'll get the occasional hateful comment, but nothing too overwhelming in my experience.

Really it's a case of balance. As I've touched on a couple of times it's very possible to go a little overkill with adverts. If your video is particularly short a pre-roll advert is probably not a good idea. To visit the example I gave of a 30 second long video having an advert, that means a third of the time I spent on that page was consumed by an advert. That's a little too extreme in my opinion. Treat pre-roll ads responsibly - limit them to your "main" series, or to your longer videos.

Conclusion

I spend a lot of time on the YouTube help forums for a variety of reasons and adverts are probably the most misunderstood subject I see. Viewers, it really boils down to this: if you like the channel you are watching, then show your support and accept the adverts. If you don't like it enough for that, go elsewhere. Uploaders, make sure you don't go overboard with your ads, and keep constant interaction with your fans so they understand it's you, not YouTube, who place the adverts there. Make sure they understand your appreciation for their support.

Thanks for reading!

Peace, love, and if I see that blinkin' Vampires Suck advert one more time I'm going to punch someone

-FT

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Nintendo DS - My Boyfriend review

There are many things women can't do. They can't drive, they can't play video games, and they can't read for more than 15 minutes at a time without having to pause to do something ladylike, like cooking or doing the washing up.

One thing they are able to do is get guys. And girls, sometimes - let's be honest, we've seen it, we're all on the internet - but that's beside the point.

I'm here to talk about My Boyfriend. Don't get too excited lads, I'm not coming out the closet, I mean the DS game.


My Boyfriend is one of many (generally awful) games on the DS aimed at young / teen girls and is one of the few games for that demographic that doesn't have "Imagine" stapled to the title. While that already gains it some bonus points it almost goes without saying that this game is awful. Sure, I'm not young, or a teen, or a girl, but I still feel qualified enough to call it bad.

The game begins with you picking a name for yourself and picking your dream guy. I named my lass Fat Tanya (because if there's one thing teenage girls need it's self-confidence and weight issues) and picked my dream guy as somebody tall, dark, handsome, and musical (the idea being if he was exactly like me it'd be less gay).

The game plunges STRAIGHT into the action by having your hopelessly socially inept girl texting her friend about some dreamy guy she's seen who, believe it or not, is tall, dark, handsome, and musical. The rest of the game is basically set around trying to get this guy to fall in love with you through a series of mini-games.


Now, this is one occasion where I was expecting some X-rated DS action. I mean, in this kind of game you expect mini-games like "thrust the stylus against the required orifice" or "move the stylus up and down paying attention to his mood meter". Alas, there's no such luck. There are, instead, games involving pizza toppings, alphabetising books (because NOTHING screams fun like sorting paperbacks in a library) and dog feces. I wish I was joking about that last one. Said feces-based mini-game is actually the most rewarding since you can net roughly $35 per go - you get a dollar for each dog poo you clean up. Mini-games are the only way of making money which is what drives the game forward. That's not to say the game is entirely without innuendo, however - one peculiar challenge saw me pitted against a rival female in a mini-game called (I wish I was making this up) a Beat-Off.

A green high-cut sweater. Fat Tanya, you saucy little minx, you.
  
The entire premise of the game is "make money, buy slutty outfit that you only wear for five minutes, meet your guy and use your psychic powers to predict what the game wants you to say, and repeat". That's IT. The game is so blatantly sexist that it makes my opening paragraph look like a quote from Abigail Adams. At one point you're even told by a club owner that you look so bad you're putting off his other guests. Fat Tanya has enough problems, you insensitive jerk!

While I knew from the start I was going to hate this game nothing can really excuse such a poorly made product. Mini-game driven stories are only really good if you enjoy the mini-games - this offers little variety, and the games NEED to be played so often that even hardcore dog poo lovers won't be able to get into it.

Avoid, girlfriend.

Peace, love, and does my bum look big in this?

-FT