The young Irish people who are cashing in on YouTube
There’s money to be made on YouTube: one 25-year-old makes up to €50,000 a year talking about lipgloss and anxiety. Another makes a living talking over videogames
Every minute of every day, 300 hours of footage are uploaded to YouTube. That head-melting statistic alone shows how the video-streaming website has changed the way consumers think of the world. Almost every music video, TV programme and how-to guide imaginable is at your fingertips at all times.
However, apart from its entertainment and news value, can YouTube make you your fortune, or at least provide you with an alternative revenue stream? For some people the answer is yes.
YouTube is just 10 years old and, along with Google, probably the most significant website in the world. The democratisation of video is one of the wonders of the internet age. Filming was once the preserve of TV stations and film studios. Footage was expensive and complicated to produce. And how could you distribute it? You needed a camera operator, sound person and editor to create worthwhile footage, and the outlets for showing it were limited.
YouTube has created a small global army of internet stars. Once they might have existed on a local cable channel with a tiny audience; now the world is their potential audience.
A manager and sponsorshipOne of them is Melanie Murphy (25), from north Dublin. Murphy, who has a degree in educational training from DCU, began making videos in her final year because she considered herself a poor public speaker. Inspired by other YouTubers, she set up her own channel.
Murphy’s monthly views now average 1.5 million. She talks about everything from lip gloss and nutrition to coping with eating disorders and her lifelong struggle with generalised anxiety disorder. She is the star of her own YouTube world. She has a manager and gets sponsorship from top brands. “You have to diversify your income,” she says. “You can never know from month to month what you are going to get.”
YouTube is coy about how much it pays its YouTubers, but Murphy says it is between $1 (90 cent) and $8 (€7.20) per 1,000 views. This can amount to €1,500 to €5,700 per month, a healthy income for someone who is being paid for essentially being herself. YouTube, she says, calculates payment according to the level of engagement – or, to put it another way, how long somebody spends viewing a video and the time of year it is watched. YouTube engagement closer to Christmas, for example, pays more than at other times.
Website Social Blade (socialblade.com) calculates how much YouTubers earn from their videos monthly. Murphy had 1.5 million views last month and 18.6 million since she began two years ago. Social Blade puts her monthly earnings at up to €4,500 and annual earnings at up to €54,200.
English deliveryThe beauty of YouTube, from an Irish perspective, is that communicating in English delivers a global audience. To attract a large following, it is necessary to have a channel about something universal. Tutorials on the Irish language are unlikely to make you a YouTube millionaire.
Most of Murphy’s subscribers are in the UK and the US, but she also has a large fan base in Asia. “I get subscribers just because I’m Irish,” she says. “They tell me that they love my accent.”
Even with that fanbase and earnings, Murphy barely cracks the top 25,000 in terms of YouTube income. There are a lot of people making a lot of money out of YouTube, and some of them are in Ireland.
One of them is Daithi De Nogla, who spends his time filming himself talking while playing videogames. De Nogla averages 16 million uploads a month, and Social Blade calculates his annual income – without great precision – at €37,500 to €600,000.
However, the star of all Irish YouTubers is JackSepticEye aka Seán Mclaughlin, who is ranked in the top 100 in the world. Mclaughlin (25), who also makes a living talking his way through videogames, has accumulated 1.5 billion views. Social Blade puts his annual income at a minimum of €510,000. The maximum is a multiple of that sum. If these figures are to be believed, most of us would appear to be in the wrong line of work.
75,000 in 90 daysTo be a YouTube partner, you must have accumulated 75,000 cumulative watch hours over the past 90 days. That sounds like a tall order, but 300 Irish YouTubers have easily surpassed it.
Murphy says investing in the right equipment is essential to ensure the maximum number of viewers. Wannabe YouTubers often start out recording on smartphones, but the more professional the set-up, the greater the possibility of accumulating lots of viewers. She has invested much of her earnings back into equipment. She now has a Canon 600D, a professional microphone, and Final Cut Pro for editing her videos.
“The quality is such a high standard now,” she says. “I’m not near the standard that most of the bigger channels are. They have professional set-ups. The camera and audio is important, and you need a professional microphone. “You’d want to have the best set-up to give yourself a chance.”