YouTubers branching out on the tree of money

October 11, 2017 — by Elaine Sun and Rahul Vadlakonda

When YouTuber Zoe Sugg’s 2014 book “Girl Online” was revealed to have been written by a ghostwriter, fans were heartbroken to see that one of their idols had cheated them. Though this was one of the more negatively associated attempts of YouTubers branching out to other forms of communication, many of YouTube’s most popular stars have nonetheless successfully expanded into other media.

After the YouTube Partner Program was introduced in 2007, YouTubers have been able to earn money through the ads played before and during their videos. In the meantime, the number of active users on the site has increased exponentially, reaching over 1.5 billion monthly users according to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and many creators now feel the need to cater to their growing audience’s demands by branching out to other platforms.

The YouTube Partner Program states that users can apply for the program once a channel reaches 10,000 views, gaining the ability to monetize their videos. This program has allowed creators to use the videos they upload as their main sources of income. According to Business Insider, popular YouTuber Jenna Marbles, who makes videos on her lifestyle shown to about 17.6 million YouTube subscribers, makes around $350,000 annually.

However, being a YouTuber is not always a long-term profession or a guarantee of riches. Viewers can be fickle, and a YouTuber’s annual income can decrease as they struggle to remain popular. This is another reason many creators have branched out from the video platform.

YouTubers such as Tyler Oakley, Connor Franta and Miranda Sings, who are usually known for the popular culture types of videos, such as challenges, video blogs and comedy, have published self-help books on stories about their lives and their journey to YouTube fame.

They have also been known to get sponsors for their videos. Companies that commonly appear in videos are Audible and Squarespace, which allow users to get trials for the products of their services with discounts.

YouTubers release merchandise as well, promoting their own T-shirts, phone cases, sweatshirts and posters, which results in them getting a portion of the sales revenue and more advertisement for their channels. Logan and Jake Paul, brothers who both post daily video blogs about their lives, have both reached 10 million subscribers on YouTube in around one year, have been  known to constantly promote their merchandise.

Another option YouTubers have chosen is making podcasts. A popular example of this is “Good Mythical Morning,” a podcast created by popular YouTubers Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Neal, where they talk about popular cultural practices, such as challenges and experiments.

Junior Rohan Pandey, who often uses YouTube to get his share of politics, science and pop culture, said that branching is a good move on a YouTuber’s part.

“I think it is great that YouTubers find other ways to make a living because they can no longer trust the platform [for a stable income],” he said. “It’s important for them to do this.”

Junior Ria Jobalia agreed, saying: “If they develop a fanbase who would buy their book, there’s nothing wrong with spreading their message to another platform.”

Senior Sarah Deng, who has attended many book signings and corporate events for famed YouTubers, also agrees that writing books is smart, but if the book is ghost written, it can lead to hate mail.

“I think fans enjoy when their YouTubers come out with different content, or even the same content through new platforms,” Deng said. “If he or she or other wants to write a book, it’s a great learning experience and a chance to reflect on oneself.”

Even though YouTube has gained huge popularity in the past couple of years, all these various avenues are just some of the financial benefits of having a big social media following. Capitalizing off of their popularity allows YouTube and its users to grow together. By expanding, YouTubers can be a part of their viewers’ lives in more than one way.