Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

poortaxChapter 45 – The YouTube Conundrum
by Leesa Dean

Last week, there was an article in the New York Times about Olga Kay, who’s a really successful YouTuber and it contained a lot of food for thought.

Essentially, it breaks down exactly how much work Ms. Kay, who has about a million subscribers, puts into her multiple channels (a TON). She posts at least 20 videos a week to her main channels—something I can’t even fathom. Yes, the shows are typically make-up reviews or fashion tips, series that don’t involve much writing, but believe me, you can’t just turn on a camera and expect people to watch these days.

She works at home (mostly), filming/editing/producing and starring in her vids. And she’s been doing this since 2006. She averages around $100,000 to $130,000 a year which is a really good salary to make from videos, but considering all the work she does and the years she’s put into it? Not very much. Especially since she sinks most of it back into production.

The article points out that most YouTube video makers do not sell an ad on every view of a video. It’s more like two out of every 10 views have an ad, which amounts to roughly $2,000 based on a million views. And the maker gets to keep 55 percent of that, or $1,100.

So where does that leave people who are doing indie web series, which typically don’t get a fraction of those views? Well, not getting paid.

I realized this going in, luckily, so I decided from the get go to use YouTube as a platform to build my brand (my abilities as a writer/producer/animator) versus to make money. A side benefit is, it takes away the pressure of having to get those huge views on a regular basis.

Kinda the way Abbie Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City did. They started out a number of years back and never got very many views, but successfully built their brand by working their outside contacts.   The way they did things had a big influence on me from the beginning.

When you think about it, it’s a great way to have people pay attention to what you’re doing. Even if you don’t have a million views.

That’s the beauty of the internet. You never know who’s watching.