To Monetize, or Not to Monetize…

In Soapbox by Nate Clark

When I posted my first video, “I Towed Joey Graceffa’s Car,” I chose not to monetize it because of… well, several reasons:

  1. I intended for the video to poke fun of the money many YouTubers make from content that is devoid of creative effort, i.e. vlogs like Joey’s
  2. I released (sort of) information about Joey’s income, and it felt hypocritical to capitalize on mocking him in that context
  3. I felt like monetizing it would somehow compromise my integrity and jeopardize the opportunity to grow an audience for my comedy/commentary

I made a conscious decision not to place ads on the video, even though my YouTube account was already verified and set-up as an AdSense partner (because of other content I’ve created for other projects and clients). I could have placed ads on the video from the beginning, but I didn’t.

I Towed Joey Graceffa’s Car (Video)I didn’t expect to receive such a positive response to the video… I was expecting to receive a shit-storm of hate mail from Joey’s throngs of subscribers. The day I posted it, I went to sleep with ZERO subscribers to my YouTube channel. (Seriously. Not even my parents had subscribed.)  My YouTube preferences were set to notify me by email  anytime a person subscribed to my channel. I originally thought that I would personally email each person who subscribed… 

The morning after I posted the video, I woke to find 1913 emails in my inbox on my phone.  Overnight I’d racked up 1913+

My inbox when I woke up.

My inbox when I woke up.

subscribers, in addition to several hundred thousand views to the video. It was bananas. And the numbers continued to grow when I received bumps in traffic from the Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Gawker and Philip DeFranco.

But still, I didn’t monetize it.  Because I felt icky about doing that. It passed the 1M mark, and still I didn’t monetize it. Even when it looked set toward 3M views, I didn’t monetize it.

Until now. 

I am finally putting ads on the original video because… I’m no longer sure why I shouldn’t. Why not? YouTube is making money form it. Other websites are making money from it.  Even Joey is making a bunch of money from the traffic my video created for his channel.

So why wouldn’t I?

I missed the boat on making any serious money on the video at this point.  The traffic has stalled around 3Million, probably because it is a topical video – not a funny sketch or a music video that continues to draw attention for months and months after its release.  I think it had it’s place in time and will probably sink quietly into the litany of viral videos that explode almost weekly. And that’s fine. It was a tremendous opportunity for me as a comedian, and I am very grateful for the chance to suddenly have a jumping off point for my YouTube channel. It will always serve as a reminder to trust my own voice.

But now I am left, mostly, in a similar position to where I was when I started. I don’t have much money to produce the content I want to make, and I am still doing this all on my own.  That’s part of the magic of today’s digital age: we all have the potential to shoot a video in our garage and find an audience of 3 million people. It’s amazing. It’s fantastic. It is lightening in a bottle.

But in order to continue making the content I like, I have to find the money to do it. I’m not talking about money for my time or even money to pay a crew.  That’s all volunteered at this point.  I’m talking about renting a green screen for an afternoon. Or buying a costume. Or paying for web hosting for this blog. It adds up.

So, I am putting an ad on that video and, probably, the rest of my videos as I move forward. It’s the lesser of two evils and it will help to allow me to make new content each week. I’m excited about that.

If you think that makes me a terrible person, I’d like to hear from you.  Use the contact page on this site to send me a message. If you agree with me, maybe let me know that, too.