When YouTube first burst on the scene in 2005, it appeared to be just another social media platform for people to share videos with their social circles. Few could have guessed that it would serve not just as one of the decade’s largest social influences, but that it would also serve as a way for ordinary people to make a living. However, in the past year, the video-sharing giant has faced criticism for unfair monetization practices, biased algorithms, and putting profit over creators- a claim that YouTube denies. To learn more about YouTube’s new opportunities for promotion and profit as well as equitable exposure efforts, YouTube star Jouelzy sat down with Malik Ducard, YouTube Director of Content Partnerships for answers to questions about the YouTube content creator world and how to get promoted and to learn more about how new and medium-sized channels can thrive on the already crowded platform.
Jouelzy’s first questions were naturally about YouTube’s often confusing monetization policies. While Ducard didn’t specifically address the complex calculations that are involved in ad revenue except to seemingly agree that only the super popular creators can make a living via AdSense revenue, he did share some new monetization options for smaller creators with loyal fan bases such as building out alternative monetization streams. He mentioned that YouTube is rolling out an option in which creators can merchandise branded products through companies such as Teespring as well as points to Famebit.com, a website that matches creators with brands that align with their content and audience. Both companies are independently operated outside of YouTube and essentially remove the video sharing platform as the middleman.
Ducard also references the new channel memberships option, which is currently in the testing phase. Like other streaming services, it allows creators to offer paid subscriptions in which paid members can access exclusive content. Ducard notes that this option allows for stronger brand integrity and provides a monetization option for more niche creators who may have a fan base that while not as large as super popular mainstream creators, is still very loyal.
Jouelzy also addresses the idea that many fans feel there is a lack of diversity on YouTube and questions whether or not it is still geared primarily towards American teenagers to which Ducard notes that YouTube is focusing on building a stronger mutual culture exchange by building a presence in the global market, including places such as India, Indonesia, Africa, and other developing nations and by focusing on “Skill Tubers,” creators who are sharing a specific skill rather than just entertaining for entertainment’s sake.
Ducard also notes that YouTube is in the testing phase for Social Impact Initiatives and is working on a feature that will allow donations to nonprofits, charities, and other causes via a donation button (similar to the existing subscription button).
In the end, Ducard points out what many successful creators know- that the platform is a mirror of society and is constantly evolving, therefore it is vital that creators continue to evolve alongside their audiences.
Most importantly, he emphasizes authenticity, originality, and creativity, pointing out the importance for creators to be their authentic self.
He concludes: “At the end of the day, that’s the drive that drives longevity.”
A rising YouTube star, Jouelzy advocates for “the Smart Brown Girl.” discussing lifestyle and cultural topics that impact us daily. From mental health, relationships and family to the African diaspora and the evolution of the Black identity in America.