YouTube personalities are turning to sponsorships or other sites like Vessel to make more money.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I’m a big YouTube fan. Most days, I’ll watch a handful of videos on the site instead of watching TV — I find it to be more entertaining and relatable. I follow a long list of online content creators, ranging from makeup gurus to gamers to people who really love reading.
Recently, there’s been some controversy about Vessel, a site that allows you to gain early access to content created by popular YouTubers (who opt into the site) by paying $3 a month.
According to the site, they estimate creators will earn $50 per 1,000 views on Vessel — 20 times more than they’ll earn on YouTube. Creators will get 60 percent of subscription dollars and 70 percent of ad dollars. That’s way more money than you earn on YouTube.
People are really mad about this. Why would they want to pay for something that has been put out for free? While I’m not about to buy access to see a video 72 hours early, I’m not quite as enraged as some others are. I don’t think there is a large benefit to getting early access to these videos, but there are definitely some people out there that would love to be able to see them before everyone else.
While YouTube partners make a small chunk of change from the site, it’s easy to see that they need other ways to monetize on their online success.
Many have sponsorships from brands they use and receive compensation when that company is mentioned in the video. This was one of the original ways for creators to make money. As long as the creator is upfront about his or her sponsorship, I have no problem with this.
But now, creators are reaching outside of the platform and launching brands, books and tours. Others are branching out and doing different forms of entertainment along with their online videos. Grace Helbig, for example, is launching a TV series on E! in April. Most YouTubers with a large following even have agents.
There’s also YouTube “festivals,” where fans from around the country travel to see all their favorites in person at panels and performances. I’m not sure how the creators make money off of these, but it’s an interesting aspect of the culture of the site.
In some senses, YouTubers have to be creative with the ways they’re going to make money, just like other industries are doing (hello, journalism!). Some people claim they’re trying to “sell-out” by monetizing their content.
Specifically talking about Vessel, as long as the regular content stays free, I don’t really have a problem with creators allowing people to pay for early access. There’s no issue with them trying to make more money than they would be able to from simply creating their videos, as long as their videos stay free.
Sophie Kruse is a junior studying journalism. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her @kruseco.