Saturday, January 15, 2011

My wild YouTube ride

I started posting clips to YouTube innocently enough, maybe as far back as 2005. YouTube offered a pretty low quality image back then, but then again so did I. I kept plugging away, as did YouTube, being absorbed by the Google collective. Video quality improved, at least on YouTube's end. More people started watching my clips, which was cool.

In December 2007 I was surprised to get an e-mail from YouTube, inviting me to join their partnership program. This meant I could make some money off advertising on my channel. I figured what the hell and gave it a try, though I never expected to make much money off it. Maybe enough to cover a nice new lens some day. I expected it would take a while to earn the $100 minimum to get a payment, so I didn't even bother setting up in my Adsense account or "monetizing" all my clips for the first few months.

I was in the Navy for 20 years, much of which I didn't enjoy a lot but I stuck it out for that pension. After one year as a partner I found my little hobby generating more income than my pension. I have a pretty good paying job with the Navy as a civilian now, but for the last half of 2010 I was making more from YouTube.

Yep, I was lucky. If I thought the money was reliable I would have quit my day job, as some successful partners did. But that was a big "if." My audience grew, but largely because YouTube was constantly thrusting my clips in front of people who didn't want to see muscular women. Negative comments, thumbs down, and flaggings for inappropriate content increased with my viewership. I also got more aggressive about asking YouTube to take down my clips when they were copied by scammers and thieves, knowing they could retaliate in cowardly ways I was vulnerable to. The bigger the audience and checks got, the shakier it felt.

Anticipating this post a few weeks ago I captured the above image from my statistics page, showing the steady increase in views over time. The lower chart features 2010, as my daily views staggered up from about 80,000, then leveled off around 120k for a bit, then a sudden surge close to 200k... and a sharp descent to under 80k again.

So, what happened? This past December 1 I came home from work and checked YouTube out. Cleaned up the comments, checked my daily ad income and started uploading a new clip as I did every two days. As I edited the clip info I noticed there was no place to adjust the advertising settings. No big deal, that happened now and then, it would be ready to edit after the clip uploaded. Only it wasn't, and there was no advertising on any of my clips. After a day I e-mailed customer support, and I wrote back every few days after that. Nothing back.

On 16 December I received the following:
I write on behalf of Google to inform you that we are exercising our contractual right to terminate your Content License Agreement (“CLA”) with 30 days written notice. We have determined that the videos associated with your YouTube account are not suitable for advertising. This email serves as written termination notice that the CLA will terminate thirty days from December 16, 2010. After termination of the CLA, your “Tomnine” account and all of the videos in that account will remain on the YouTube site subject to the YouTube Terms of Service, including the applicable license provisions.
I replied with some questions, and received a prompt answer that this decision would not be reversed. There was no clarification about what would happen thirty days after December 16.

When the ads were dropped, my views actually went UP for a while. I had pre-roll ads on my most popular clips, and I assume some people never made it to the clip. My single most popular clip, an interview with Dawnice Beckley from 2007, soared to over 100k views a day by itself, eventually getting well over 21 million views. Then it was flagged for adult content, that is the big drop at the end of the graph.

A few more clips were flagged, including many that were totally G rated. While I was a partner I think I was protected from random flaggings and real people reviewed the complaints, but no more. Attacks from the parasites increase, bolstered by their earlier victory in getting Mike from HerBiceps knocked off YouTube. I was also curious about what would happen "thirty days from December 16" A few hours ago I got this e-mail:
The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines:
  • Barbara Fletcher - FBB - 2008 - (TomNine)
This is the second Community Guidelines warning strike your account has received within six months. Accordingly, the ability to post new content to YouTube from this account has been disabled and will not return until two weeks after you acknowledge this message. Please review the YouTube Community Guidelines and refrain from further violations, which may result in the termination of your account(s).
This was a very vanilla clip that no one could object to. I went to log onto my YouTube account to acknowledge receipt so I could get the two weeks suspension over with, only to find more trouble.

Oh well, easy come, easy go. I always viewed my success with YouTube as a happy accident, but was also proud about it. Muscular women are rarely seen in the media, so I was glad to present what I thought was a positive image to folks who would never see it otherwise. It was also nice to give back a little cash to the ladies, along with the publicity.

I have lost much of my zeal for YouTube, and for "do no evil" Google in general. I may start a new channel some day, or maybe not. I will absolutely continue to remove my content from the parasite's pages.

I plan to keep puttering along with what I'm doing, just with a smaller presence of the interwebs, and certainly paying the models less than I would if the cash was still pouring in. Maybe there are some new wild rides waiting for me.