Getting rich on YouTube isn’t as easy as some make it out to be
Scott Mitchell became convinced that YouTube would make him rich.
Mitchell, 33, came up with the idea for videos last year that promoted courses on how to create so-called cash cow channels, which are often created through a process called YouTube automation.
So he bought one course, then another and yet another. He also paid for mentoring services.
Mitchell spent around $15,000 on his YouTube business, encountering obstacles at every step — courses that taught him little, freelancers who stole content, and audience growth tactics that got him in trouble with Youtube.
“I tried three courses and one expert on the side, and the only thing I got out of it was an empty wallet,” Mitchell said.
YouTube automation has led to a cottage industry with online influencers offering tutorials and quick money opportunities.
But, as is often the case with promises of quick fortunes in online businesses, YouTube’s automation process can be a money pit for aspiring internet entrepreneurs and a magnet for posers selling useless services.
It’s not hard to find a video that fits YouTube’s automation model, although it’s hard to say for sure how many of them have been made.
They usually have an invisible narrator and a catchy title.
They share news, explain a subject or offer a Top 10 on celebrities or athletes.
They often bundle material like video clips and photos from other sources. Sometimes they run into problems with copyright rules.
The term “YouTube automation” is a bit of a misnomer.
This usually means outsourcing the work to freelancers rather than relying on an automated process. This is not a new idea and yet one that has recently become more popular.
Outsourcing work allows people to operate multiple channels, without the tedious tasks of writing scripts, recording voiceovers, or editing video.
And the process is often touted as a surefire way to make money. To start, you just need money – for practical courses and video producers.
The courses ask people to find video topics that viewers crave.
They are told to hire freelancers from online marketplaces such as Fiverr and Upwork where independent contractors offer to run their channels and produce videos that cost from under $30 to over $100, depending on freelancer rates. .
And this is where a lot of people run into trouble.
Cash cow channels with large audiences can reap tens of thousands of dollars in monthly ad revenue, while unpopular channels can earn nothing.
YouTube shares ad revenue with a channel’s owner after a channel reaches 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.
Monetized channels get 55% of the money generated from their videos, that is, if they manage to attract that much interest. YouTube declined to comment on the automation process.
Last summer, Mitchell paid $500 for a course called “Tube Mastery and Monetization” taught by Matt Par, who said he made $30,000 a month on YouTube. He said successful students earned $20,000 a month.
The course featured videos on different aspects of YouTube automation, including choosing the most lucrative topic, outsourcing the work, and using keywords to make videos easier to find on YouTube.
Par also explained how YouTube’s algorithms work.
But Mitchell said the course had shortcomings — it lacked information on making high-quality videos with good scripts. He and other students also complained in a private Facebook group that Par’s course content was available for free on his YouTube page.
“It’s basically selling dreams,” Mitchell said. By did not respond to a request for comment.
Mitchell, who asked The New York Times not to reveal where he lives, launched his first channel, Bounty Lux, about wealth and celebrities, last fall. He paid a freelancer he found on Fiverr $2,000 for 20 videos.
YouTube removed one of those videos, about Dwayne Johnson, which featured stolen content from another channel, sparking a dispute with the freelancer.
Bounty Lux didn’t make any money and struggled for viewers, so Mitchell dropped it.
He later bought a $1,500 course and spent over $3,000 to learn from an influencer at Pivotal Media, Victor Catrina. He paid an additional $3,000 for the Catrina team to make videos, but, he said, ideas and scripts were pulled from other channels.
After his freelancer disappeared for five days, Mitchell decided to stop investing in the nonprofit channel. Catrina said that if he found any of his teams paraphrasing other people’s scripts, he would replace them.
“I’m far from perfect, and neither is the program,” Catrina said. “And I openly and happily sent refunds to those who were struggling financially or felt the program didn’t live up to their expectations.”
Alexandra Fasulo of Fort Myers, Florida, and her cousin spent $20,000 on a YouTube automation program from Caleb Boxx in March 2021. In exchange, the Boxx team ran a celebrity channel for 29-year-old Fasulo , and produced videos for over six months.
But there were quality issues, she said, and the videos failed to attract many viewers. Boxx did not respond to a request for comment. The channel was making less than $10 a day, so when it was time to pay for a new batch of videos, they dropped it.
“That’s what makes automation not worth it — you’re putting a lot of money up front,” Fasulo said.
Dave Nick, a Serbian creator whose real name is Dejan Nikolic, has been promoting YouTube automation since 2019.
Nikolic, 20, appears on camera on three channels, and he said he has four channels with unseen narrators and 12 on YouTube Shorts, a fast-paced competitor to TikTok.
Nikolic said he earned $1.4 million in 2021, including for his own classes and hands-on services, and he’s already racked up $1 million this year. The key was his $995 course, responsible for 70% of his earnings.
“Not many people have made more than a few million a year with YouTube automation,” he said. Online business services are “how you get to eight figures”.
He said a number of his students made five figures a month on YouTube, but he didn’t have the exact number of.