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Every year since its inception, VidCon has been one of the most important annual events for people who make and share things on YouTube. This gathering of influencers, content creators, programmers, and other people closely entwined with the world-famous video-sharing platform never fails to show off new things coming to YouTube. At this year’s VidCon in Anaheim, California, multiple new ways for YouTubers to make money on their videos and channels were introduced, as well as a new way to raise money to good causes and a new system to encourage more educational channels to take off.
New ways to make money on YouTube
Not too long ago, YouTube added Super Chat, a live-streaming feature that allowed fans to talk with content creators in real-time. This allowed fans and personalities to connect in a way that had been lacking on YouTube for a long time. Since it’s release, Super Chat has grown to be used on almost 100,000 different YouTube Channels. At VidCon this year, a new feature for Super Chat was announced: Super Stickers. These are packs of animated stickers with a variety of different themes, encompassing everything from sports to emotions to gaming and more. Fans will have to pay to use these stickers during live streams, giving creators (and YouTube itself, presumably) a way to raise a little extra money, while giving the fans more ways to express themselves, a win-win situation!
“Merch” is a term more often associated with concerts than anything else. It’s short for merchandise, and it usually refers to things like concert t-shirts, signed albums, etc. that people buy (for vastly inflated prices) when they go see their favorite band play live. Now, YouTube, with the help of other companies such as Teespring, Crowdmade and Rooster Teeth, is allowing content creators to sell merch as well. If creators feel that their fan base is large enough, they can design a range of products that represent their brand, everything from t-shirts with a popular catch-phrase to coffee mugs with a famous scene from a video. While merchandise was originally announced at last year’s VidCon, this year saw a great deal of growth in the idea, with new companies on board (the idea started with just Teespring’s backing) and many more options for YouTubers to design and sell physical goods to their fans.
At last year’s VidCon, YouTube announced the introduction of paid channel memberships. These allowed fans to pay $4.99 for access to exclusive content that YouTubers created just for them such as members-only videos, news, shout-outs, and exclusive streams. While this system has met with a good deal of success, YouTube is taking it one step further with the announcement of multiple-tier channel memberships at this year’s VidCon. This upgrade to the paid channel membership system allows creators to set up different levels of paid membership to their content, with differing prices and access to content for each level. Creators can have up to six levels of paid membership, so they can have a cheap option with access to just a little extra content for small-time fans, up to extremely expensive memberships with tons of exclusives for super fans! The React entertainment channel, created by the Fine brothers, has already increased the revenue by six figures, just by adding one more tier to their channel memberships (of course, they do have close to 20 million fans).
Giving money and education
YouTube has a lot more potential than just being entertaining and making money. Content creators also have the ability to reach out to thousands of viewers and teach them things or to encourage them to give money to a cause they support. In accordance with this potential to do good, two other announcements were made at VidCon this year: YouTube Giving and Learning Playlists.
YouTube Giving allows content creators to add a button on their channel which viewers can click on to easily donate money to a charity chosen by the creator, from a list of approved organizations. This allows creators to give back to their communities or to help causes which the creator feels personally invested in. Every cent of money donated this way goes to support whatever cause the YouTuber chose. Potentially, popular content creators could raise thousands of dollars for their favorite charity through this simple button on their channel.
Finally, YouTube announced the addition of Learning Playlists to their platform. While YouTube is being somewhat cautious with the release of this new attempt at increasing the educational options available, they are hopeful that it will encourage people to view the video-sharing service as being good for more than just entertainment. Some high-profile content creators have already agreed to participate in Learning Playlists, including those behind famous education videos from Khan Academy and CrashCourse. The Learning Playlist system will allow content creators to group videos together into “courses” and removes the “Watch Next” module at the end of videos, which YouTube feels would distract from the educational aspect of the channel. This new feature will encourage more educational channels, from a variety of content creators, to flourish on the platform, and will hopefully teach internet-savvy people all-new sets of skills!
The number of people making five or even six-figures a year off of their YouTube content has grown about 40% from year-to-year, according to Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, and a keynote speaker at this year’s VidCon. With additions such as these, the number of people making a living solely by entertaining or education people with YouTube videos could increase even more.