YouTube in China is hard - Steemit may save my career

3 months ago

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As a YouTuber in China, I have a lot to deal with.

I am http://youtube.com/laowhy86
and http://youtube.com/advchina

It starts as a hobby, and when you have a few hundred subscribers, it's quite enjoyable to put out a fun little video here and there showing people around the world what it is like as a foreigner in a very different country to most of the English speaking world.

That's how my story started, and around 2011/2012, there was only 1 other guy doing it (SerpentZA). When people started to pour in to the channel, the drive to simultaneously bring up the quality and frequency of the videos was instant, especially with the allure of all of those sweet, sweet potential Adsense dollars rolling in.

The time was ripe for being a China based YouTuber. It's not like the competition was fierce.
The "rise of China", "waking the sleeping dragon", "China is going to take over the world" - all of these headlines covered the news at the time, and suddenly, the world cared about modern China.

The growth was staggering. I watched my subscriber base creep from 10,000 to 50,000 basically overnight. When I took a trip to the states to see my family, I expected a downturn due to slowing down the frequency of posting, but no, 100,000 subscribers.
Pairing this with my other channel (ADVChina) I was now looking at monthly income that eclipsed my real life job, and it got to a point where I was shooting and editing videos upwards of 40 hours a week. Pair this with full time work (I owned a small education company that trained adults in English and helped with paperwork before going abroad), and it made little sense to not go into it full time.

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There is a bizarre sense of freedom, and it's something a lot of people will never experience; to do something that you absolutely love doing, and getting paid for it. It's not only an artists dream, but I think the dream and fantasy of everyone in the world.

So there I was, full time YouTuber. Some videos breaking 1,000,000 views, and the Adsense checks rolling in. Here I was, supporting my stay at home wife (we just had a baby) with a salary from my dream job.
The problem is, despite feeling like an entrepreneur, and looking at a possible boss-less future, I realized that I had a new boss.

And this boss is mean, and unapproachable.

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Here's where things get messy. As a YouTuber, you rely on Google to pay you out through Adsense. Despite checks coming on time, you can never guarantee where the ebb and flow of the advertising market is going to take you. However, as a smart content creator, you can follow trends, adjust video length, experiment with ways to increase audience retention, do proper SEO and tags etc... but this facade of control you have over your content doesn't actually mean you have a say in what choices the guys in the Google offices are going to make.

Cue the "adpocalypse". Advertisers being spooked by family unfriendly content tarnishing their squeaky clean, good mommies drive Toyotas, and good daddies drink coke, image, led to a massive exodus from advertisers that were quite comfy throwing money at a platform that had much better engagement than traditional TV and magazine ads.

Fueling this paranoid pullout were mass media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, who created no better than tabloid level trash articles painting creators like Pewdiepie as racist, bigoted, white supremacists, who run amok and get paid by these companies you and your family love so much.

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Triggering a bit of a trickle down effect, it wasn't just the big guys that were hit with de-monetization. Family friendly content, like mine was deemed safe, so the ads remained, but the price and quality of the ads did not. While everything was promised to go back to normal, it hasn't yet.

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I have seen more than a 50% loss in both channels ad revenue, despite consistent views and growth. There are theories, and analytics, and articles galore, but the truth at the end of the day is that YouTubers make less money now, and other than expanding to other platforms (Facebook still hasn't monetized content for most people), us creators are left without a choice.

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I began a Patreon account, and the support rolled in. Despite being hit hard from Google and advertisers changing their minds at the drop of a tabloid, hundreds of fantastic and loyal supports helped me and my family, and offered a new platform to share more personal content that I might not be able to share from China.

Patreon was a massive bandaid on the wound, but even that, a platform which allowed the biggest fans to contribute outside of YouTube, seems to be on a trend of removing users that they deem unsavory.

It was fans, friends, and other Steemit users that pushed me here. I'll admit, adopting a new platform of social media is difficult, especially when you work for so many years to create a fan base.

However, after a lot of reading, and enough awesome people patiently explaining crypto, new world platforms, and decentralized media, I can safely say that I am a convert, and for very good reason.

With massively disruptive middle men, and large corporations, being a content creator has become a career in which you not only self censor, but also share your hard earned profits with what is basically a dictator. Your contents success is dictated not by you, the creator, but by the company that makes you feel "lucky" for being able to use their platform.

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The second reason that I believe that Steemit is the way forward is another conundrum that I face.

Although YouTube has a copyright protection system that leaves much to be desired, it at least has one.

The Chinese government has banned a good portion of non Chinese websites, and that means that I need to use a VPN to access the internet from China. This limits my audience to the tiny portion of Chinese subscribers that actually use a VPN, and the limited audience of people in other countries with unblocked internet who are actually interested in China.

However, in this push to block everything from the outside world, China has created a mass of domestic apps and social media sites. Things like Youku, BiliBili, Acfun, and Tudou, Chinese internet users have their own home grown ways to share and watch videos (albeit highly censored).

This has created a seemingly lucrative business. I now have nearly a billion potential new fans within what can be described as an intranet.

However, this is the very source of the problem.

With little to no copyright protection in China, my content is stolen by more influential channels, and some of my videos can receive 100x the views that they would normally get on YouTube, with me receiving 0 revenue. Having my content stolen and mistranslated by Chinese netizens has created a situation where I am misrepresented in the Chinese internet sphere, and I lose any potential revenue to the thieves who have stolen the content, and use the millions of views to promote the product they are selling etc...

Here you can see 189,000 views on YouTube, while the stolen video received over 1,000,000 views on a Chinese platform
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Steemit relies on a reputation system that rewards not only the creator, but the curators who share and comment. This ingenious system creates an ecosystem of honest and moral content sharing. The incentive to steal another creators work is punished by a community, not a faceless corporation. The reward for creating content is bolstered by a community who is rewarded fairly, and based on merit and reputation.

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So effectively, Steemit has allowed creators to grow in an environment that directly shows them whether their content is enjoyed by a community that shares the same values and enjoys what they produce, and also allows them to breathe easily, knowing that their content is theirs, and anyone putting their name on the line to share it out also gets a piece of the pie.

Thank you, Steemit, and it's dedicated users. You are all doing something special.

Sincerely, a very grateful content creator.

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Keep creating and I will keep supporting!

Smooth read, man! Your blogging skills are on par with your video making skills!

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Thanks so much for sharing it out man! I appreciate it!

On a post on steemit there was statistic that there are around 30k active users on steemit, hope the network grows a lot more and can support more great content creators like you :)

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Thanks so much, I hope to bring a lot of people over!

Power to the steemit platform!
It's a stroke of genius! :)

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agreed!

When successful you tubers like you come to Steemit I really see more clearly how the domino affects has started and i think an explosion of increase in users is just around the corner for steemit . YouTube is shooting themselves in the foot so what do they expect ? I have lived in china for 15 years so the copyright issue I can really understand is something terrible. This hopefully will improve over time because otherwise new creative and inventions wont appear as people don't feel like their content is protected. Wish you all luck on the network :)

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It is really a terrible thing for content creators in China. There is so much potential, and so much copyright theft. Thanks for your support!

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Great read and nice to see you're sticking around on Steemit. Tell Winston & prozzie to join :)

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Will do! Thank you!

Back when I lived in China, I used to watch many Korean, Japanese movies in BiliBili, I think now they are censored, sadly. I liked your channel and Vivi's as well.

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Yeah, things seem to be getting more and more censored these days. Thank you for watching us!

Yes! Bring in your quality content to this side of the web :)

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That is the plan!!!

I am so happy to read this.

Maybe a word on your Youtube content, that you probably heard a million times but still needs to be said: I was searching for a real look into the chinese society, not some headlines that biased media puts out.
You guys gave me exactly what I wanted.

Oh and on a personal note. even though everybody is cheering for Wing, Vivi and Prozzie. You are the glue that keeps you all together, imo. Serpent is the old grummy grandpa. He is a character and I really do appreciate his honesty a lot. Even though I would disagree on some of what he says and I think he is a little too negative in general, I am German so I see where he is coming from .
Your positive attitude, C-Milk, is also balancing it out really good, very ying and yang like.

I wanted to tell you "It is OK, you can just link your Youtube Videos here, You don't need to write articles". I am so happy that you did actually write an article and also see the bigger picture of Crypto and Steemit.

One of my first articles on Steemit btw https://steemit.com/china/@thatgermandude/adv-china-an-insight-into-chinese-culture

Did I tell you how happy I am?

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Thanks so much man. You really made my day with this comment. I appreciate you sharing our content around as well. You are the man.

BIG support from me! Anything supporting press freedom :)

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Thank you very much!

Good to know the truth behind the youtube bologna ... Sad but the all mighty dollar rules over all.

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let's hope that is not the case in the future!

love your videos on the adv china channel hope you keep them up :)

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Thank you so much!

Sounds like a good deal. Sucks that adpocolypse affected so many even without losing ads. I hadn't realized just quite how naster it has been. All the best

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It does suck. Thanks for the support!

It's WIN - WIN C-Milk! The platform is great for you and the platform is greater with you! Got to luv it @laowhy86

It's like, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, kind of deal
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Happy to resteem, since it's a great post!

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Hahah great gif~!

Hi Mathew, good post and thanks for the heart btw ;-) (upped and resteemed)

Copyright is a HUGE issue in China right now, and has been for a long time. I constantly see contents being stolen from YouTube and put on Chinese sites, where the original creators don't make a single penny off of, as well as having a more views because of the population of China. YouTube and other sites being blocked from China isn't helping this situation at all. The big guys like TV networks, I don't exactly care too much about them to be hoenst, they make enough already. It's the smaller content creators that are being massively affected. Streaming site in China like Youku are only focused on their membership and TV shows, they don't exactly give content creators a lotta benefits like YouTube does, and then there's acfun and bilibili, two sites that are filled with stolen content. Papi is trying something different, but the so called PapiTube isn't exactly the ideal platform, it's basically Buzzfeed videos in a nut shell. I truly hope the situation changes soon.

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Let's hope! Thanks so much for your support. I hope things get better for us.

You need to get serpentza on here too.. Im hooked on all three channels.

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I am going to try!

Nice to see this angle on things. However, I'm curious (and perhaps a wee bit clueless) how does crypto factor in?

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Thanks man. Crypto ties in with the whole decentralization aspect.

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Nice! I think you might want to check this as well https://view.ly Its steem powered atm:

https://steemit.com/trending/viewly

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Thanks for that~!

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Thanks mate

People are not banned on Patreon for no reason. I also thought it was for not having the correct political ideologies but the CEO explained everything. Dave Rubin and Patreon's CEO have a discussion on the fears people have(He misspoke once about the fears but corrected himself later).

Thats why I love decentralized systems! There is no goverment in the world who can control on what and how much of my money Ill spend and what kind of content I create!

When writing a case study about YouTube for the Strategy module as part of my Master's degree programme, I predicted that YouTube was going to start moving away from user generated content and towards professionally generated content in an attempt to possibly even compete with conventional TV services. However, some of the ways that they have gone about achieving that mission were not quite what I had expected at all.

It was not just those channels that supposedly spread 'hate speech' that were affected; even channels such as 'China Uncensored' have apparently been affected, which I believe few people could have truly expected due to the fact that YouTube is not so easily accessible in China.

Throughout its entire existence, YouTube has apparently never been profitable and is still to this day, effectively propped up by Google. Whether the 'advertiser friendly' moves are done with profitability in mind or achieving the political objectives of the far-left leaning corporate leaders in Silicon Valley, one cannot be certain what their aims really are.

wow, this is a crazy story. I'm glad you found Steemit....

wow this is a really interesting post! I'm definitely excited to follow you ! I was doing youtube for a while and was really excited about but I slowly got discouraged as I found myself obsessing to make it work and not getting the results I was looking for :/ I'm a singer / songwriter/ vlogger.. I tried for a few months and gained 800 subs and basically gave up.. happy that your here!

Have you considered moving your content to Dtube? :)