Update: YouTube Just Made It Harder To Earn Money If You’re A Small Channel

You kinda saw that this was coming, right?

YouTube Logo

YouTube, the world’s largest destination for consumption of media has had its fair share of up and downs. The most recent being that whole Logan Paul issue and how they dealt with it all (Poorly if you ask me). But even prior to that, people have been saying that YouTube is becoming undone,  and I tend to agree with that.  So what does YouTube need to do to get better? That’s a good question, but it sure the heck isn’t what they recently decided.

Just an hour ago, YouTube posted an update regarding several upcoming changes. Changes that will impact anyone who was working their way up to becoming a YouTube partner.

You can read that post here. But let’s give you the cliff notes of what’s happening.

2017 marked a tough year for many of you, with several issues affecting our community and the revenue earned from advertising through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Despite those issues more creators than ever are earning a living on YouTube, with the number of channels making over six figures up over 40% year-over-year. In 2018, a major focus for everyone at YouTube is protecting our creator ecosystem and ensuring your revenue is more stable.

Starting today we’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you. They will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors). These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone.

So, they basically have made it harder for anyone outside of those already established to earn any money. Sounds bad, right? Well, you haven’t gotten to the real shocker yet.

Here it comes…….

On February 20th, 2018, we’ll also implement this threshold across existing channels on the platform, to allow for a 30 day grace period. On that date, channels with fewer than 1,000 subs or 4,000 watch hours will no longer be able to earn money on YouTube. When they reach 1,000 subs and 4,000 watch hours they will be automatically re-evaluated under strict criteria to ensure they comply with our policies. New channels will need to apply, and their application will be evaluated when they hit these milestones.

I dunno YouTube, this seems very reactionary. While not addressing your real issues. This also is a huge roadblock for anyone who was either just starting out on YouTube or those who were on their way to the previous numbers to be partnered. For many, the question is going to be “why am I doing this without any compensation”? It was already hard enough with all the huge channels on YouTube. Not to mention the demonization issues that have been hitting just about everyone. Now you have to worry about this?

People have already sounded off on this in the comments following this post. Just check out a few of the replies.

You must be joking.
I’ve been working for MONTHS to meet the 10,000 views target. NOW you’re making it EVEN HARDER?
Why do I bother?
One of our major Youtubers the guy “WE” (Youtube Execs) decided to let him be the face of youtube , has made a big bad mistake 
so we’re gonna make sure every small Youtuber pays the price for the mistake made by the BIG youtuber that WE “Youtube execs” made big by promoting him continuously
Written likes this is to benefit creators, when actually it’s to benefit YouTube. 

TLDR; If you don’t have 1000 subs, and 4000 hours of view time = you don’t have the chance to make money until you do. So YouTube will profit off your videos, but you won’t.

As a channel with just under 200 subs, this really hurts me as a creator. While I do know I’ll get to the point of being able to monetize, the restrictions are going to make it much harder. I’m disappointed in YT for making it harder on the smaller creators, when it’s obviously the larger ones that are the problem. When’s the last time you saw a small YTer in the news for something they did?

Treat your creators as creators, YT. Not as things you look at once and then forget exist. Start monthly check ins. Talk to us. You get lots of money. Start a team that specializes in keeping an eye on your creators. THAT is what’s going to help your community. Direction. Not telling people they can have something at a certain point, then taking it away from some people, while also making the bar higher for the people who were so close.

This is soul crushing. It eliminates any incentive I’ve had to create new content. As a smaller channel I can’t see putting years in to a channel with out ever getting paid. Even if it is a small amount.

No wonder everyone is looking for a viable alternative. Sadly, one doesn’t exist and thanks to YouTube’s popularity, one may never even happen. It just seems like the leak in the damn is getting bigger and bigger. So big that one has to wonder how long will it be before it finally gives way and does irreparable damage.

That all said, despite this being some depressing news, it isn’t the end of the world. While it will most definitely impact channels that are affected by the new numbers. They aren’t that far out of grasp for many and I know there are some really ambitious people out there that are going to look at this as a challenge. For those who are frustrated, I would hope this doesn’t deter you too much. I’ve seen plenty of small channels with lots of fantastic content. Some don’t grow, others are sitting at over 40,000 subs and higher. You can still make that money, it’s just harder than before. For those who are being affected by this, now is also a good time to start looking for an MCN (Multi-channel Network). There are lots of them and many pay you better than what YouTube/Adsense has been doing.

But what I want to know is how you’re going to follow your own rules, YouTube, and punish those who constantly break them? You know, instead of making it harder for people to at least attempt to do something they enjoy and get paid for it.

Update: YouTube updated its stance as to why they made these changes. See their response below.

Our recent changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) are designed to curb bad actors, stabilize creator revenue and provide greater assurances to advertisers around where their ads are placed. By making these updates to YPP, we aim to help creators of all sizes find more success. We have many free resources in place such as our Creator Academy and YouTube Spaces to help those just starting out build a community around their channel so that they can ramp-up fast and monetize their videos.

Let us know what you think about the recent change in the comments below.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.