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Let’s be hon­est: the ad­ver­tise­ments be­fore YouTube videos are just an ir­ri­tat­ing ob­sta­cle, which force you to wait like a dick to watch that video of the Top 10 Pug Fails of all time.

For some peo­ple though, the ads mean a pay cheque.

Be­ing a ‘Youtu­ber’ has gone from be­ing a niche hobby, en­joyed by loud teenagers, to a fully-fledged ca­reer-path that can rake in thou­sands of euro a year. In fact, if you work hard and get lucky, you can make a full-time job out of cre­at­ing videos that end­lessly dis­tract oth­ers from ac­tu­ally do­ing their full-time jobs!

What does it take to make it as a round-the-clock YouTu­ber?

First you have to un­der­stand how YouTube’s ad­ver­tise­ments work, be­cause they’re your main way of earn­ing money. Ads are tacked onto videos au­to­mat­i­cally by Google’s au­to­mated ‘Youtube Part­ners Pro­gram’. Every time a viewer watches an ad at­tached to your content you earn a lit­tle bit of money. That is: you’ll earn roughly half a US cent per video, so you can expect an av­er­age of $1.50 per 1,000 views.

If a liv­ing wage is about €460 a week, you’ll need a mas­sive 92,000 views per week to bring in enough to keep the wolves from the door. Sadly, even if you are draw­ing those sort of num­bers, it isn’t that straight­for­ward. View­ers have to watch at least 30 sec­onds of an ad be­fore you earn any­thing – and we all know how crush­ing the urge to ham­mer “Skip Ad” as soon as pos­si­ble is.

On top of this, ad-block soft­ware is prac­ti­cally de rigueur for many peo­ple, which to­tally rules out any chance of rev­enue be­ing gen­er­ated. To fur­ther com­pli­cate mat­ters, YouTube has re­cently up­dated its poli­cies that dic­tate what makes a video ‘ad­ver­tiser friendly’ – so if your content is risque at all, you may be stripped of your abil­ity to mon­e­tise it.

To in­crease your chances of a de­cent pay­day or two, clearly you’ll need to at­tract as many views as pos­si­ble. This is where your sub­scribers come in. Sub­scribers are your chan­nel’s fans: as the nomen­cla­ture sug­gests, they’re more ded­i­cated than ca­sual view­ers. In ef­fect, their views are of­ten your main source of in­come. Their at­ten­tion is also what will drive your chan­nel ever fur­ther up in the ranks of YouTube’s dis­cov­ery al­go­rithm. The higher your rank, the more po­ten­tial sub­scribers you can draw.

So, there are a lot of pit­falls and ob­sta­cles to over­come on the jour­ney to YouTube star­dom. That said, it can be done. We spoke to three YouTu­bers, and they told us about the highs, lows and gen­eral weird­ness of mak­ing five-minute videos for the in­ter­net. Sinead Cady is the most suc­cess­ful fe­male YouTu­ber in Ire­land. She’s ex­pect­ing to hit one mil­lion sub­scribers in the new year. Her chan­nel, The Makeup Chair, is a beauty and life­style guide. Her make-up tu­to­ri­als are watched all across the world and the multi-chan­nel net­works have started to take her un­der their wing.

“When I started my YouTube chan­nel, I was ac­tu­ally try­ing to get into col­lege to study to be a makeup artist. For the course, you needed to have ex­pe­ri­ence; I didn’t have any, be­cause no one was tak­ing on some­one who had just fin­ished school – so I started cre­at­ing videos.

“I got into the course – but it wasn’t long be­fore I re­alised that my chan­nel was tak­ing off and get­ting views and sub­scribers.

“At that stage I didn’t have a clue what that even meant. But I still thought, ‘You know what, I’m go­ing to fo­cus on this’, and I just kept work­ing at it – and now it’s my full time job.

“Back when I first started in 2011 or 2012, peo­ple didn’t have any idea what a YouTu­ber was, so I just started call­ing my­self a blog­ger – then peo­ple un­der­stood. My chan­nel is a tu­to­rial for makeup artists and peo­ple who just want to see what the lat­est trends are. I like teach­ing the back­story as to why we do cer­tain things, whether it’s con­tour­ing that suits your face-shape or cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent looks for dif­fer­ent eye shapes.

“I like teach­ing: that’s my thing. I get a lot of in­spi­ra­tion from my fol­low­ers. They sug­gest top­ics, ask­ing, ‘Hey Sinéad, this is a new way to do –’ for in­stance con­tour­ing or strob­ing ‘– can you ex­plain it to me be­cause I don’t know what it is?’ So, I cover cer­tain top­ics to make things eas­ier for them.

“A lot of YouTu­bers work out of their bed­rooms, but I have a sep­a­rate room. I think it’s bet­ter to break it away from your own per­sonal life. If you’re work­ing in your be­d­room when you go to bed at night you’re think­ing, ‘Oh there’s that there and that cam­era’s there’, and it’s hard to shut off your brain.

“I’m not look­ing for it to grow too much.

I just want to im­prove and to cre­ate bet­ter qual­ity videos – and also to have more time to com­mu­ni­cate with my fol­low­ers. If you’re start­ing a YouTube chan­nel, fo­cus on your­self. Have your own iden­tity. Don’t worry what other peo­ple are do­ing or the num­bers they’re get­ting, be­cause they don’t re­ally mat­ter as long as you’re cre­at­ing good content. Just fo­cus on what you love to do.”

Gavin Dunne is pos­si­bly the big­gest in­die mu­si­cian in Ire­land. He’s re­leased eight al­bums and has thou­sands of fans all around the world. But you’ve prob­a­bly never heard of him. That’s be­cause he works nearly ex­clu­sively through YouTube. His project ‘Mir­a­cle of Sound’ takes big video game re­leases, and pro­duces songs that fit their tone and themes.

“When I started do­ing video game-in­spired songs they were some­thing that was just re­ally a bit of fun to get over the fact that I was a lit­tle bit sad that my pre­vi­ous band had fallen apart,” he says.

“I’d been play­ing some video games at the time and de­cided to write some stupid songs about the char­ac­ters for fun, to see if peo­ple would like it – and they started to get a lot of views.

“I used to go onto The Es­capist (a pop­u­lar gam­ing pub­li­ca­tion) a lot and I mes­saged them and said, ‘Hey, look is this the kind of content you’d be in­ter­ested in pro­mot­ing?’ They lis­tened to the songs and re­ally liked them and it was like: ‘Yep, this is some­thing dif­fer­ent and orig­i­nal and we’ll give it a go.’ And that’s where Mir­a­cle of Sound started.

“That was back in 2010. Since then there’s been huge changes in YouTube. It’s be­come, and I say this not with the neg­a­tiv­ity that you might expect from this word, far more cor­po­rate. There’s a lot more fo­cus on ads and a lot more fo­cus on se­lect­ing cer­tain big chan­nels to push things – and, in re­turn, get­ting big­ger pushes from Google.

“I think that kinda sucks for a lot of smaller chan­nels that are just start­ing out, but

I’m lucky that I got in there early and

I’ve been pretty lucky with my YouTube part­ner­ships. YouTube is the best place for me to up­load things. It makes it easy for peo­ple to find.

“When peo­ple ask me what I do, I don’t even say Youtu­ber. I say mu­si­cian. Then of course the first ques­tion is ‘what do you play’, then you have to ex­plain: ‘Well, I play ev­ery­thing’ and I think, ‘Oh, I should have just said Youtu­ber’.

“I work from home in a tiny, lit­tle be­d­room stu­dio,” he ex­plains. “I have a cou­ple of gui­tars, a MIDI key­board, and lots of mix­ing and synth pro­grammes. I al­ways take it as a huge com­pli­ment when peo­ple say that my work sounds like it was pro­duced in big, ex­pen­sive stu­dio. That’s the won­der of how good home record­ing equip­ment has gotten th­ese days. You can fool peo­ple’s ears into feel­ing it was recorded some­where much more ex­pen­sive.

“The funny thing is that most of my au­di­ence is out­side Ire­land: they’re in Amer­ica, Rus­sia, the UK, etc. It still nice the odd time I get recog­nised – it hap­pens maybe three or four times a year, where some­one will stop and say ‘Holy shit, you’re Mir­a­cle of Sound’ and I’ll be like, ‘Al­right, nice to meet you’ – but I can tell you, I cer­tainly don’t get mobbed walk­ing down the street in Cork.” Conor McKenna, bet­ter known by the moniker ‘Arms’, is part of com­edy sketch trio Foil, Arms and Hog. The group have been ply­ing their brand of sketch com­edy since 2008, and in the last three years have un­der­gone a sort of so­cial me­dia re­nais­sance. Post­ing a video a week, their content has be­come uniquely share­able, spread­ing across so­cial me­dia like ring-worm in a stu­dent house.

“Our orig­i­nal idea was fairly ca­sual,” Conor ex­plains. “We just thought that we’d put to­gether some videos and put them on­line and show our friends. About three years ago we started to take it a bit more se­ri­ously and put them up more fre­quently.

“It’s all about the fre­quency: you just have to get one out every week, oth­er­wise they won’t come back. We nor­mally pro­duce videos on a week by week ba­sis. We do ev­ery­thing on a Wed­nes­day: we meet up and all three of us will have at least one idea and we’ll work alone for maybe an hour. Then we meet up in our of­fice at 11am, and dis­cuss what we have.

“If we have some­thing good we get to­gether straight away and try and fin­ish it by 3pm. Then we get the cam­era set up and by 5pm we’re film­ing – we shoot about two hours. Then it’s home for the edit, which we fin­ish at about 12 or 1am.

“The Youtube com­ments have a rep­u­ta­tion,” he adds, “but peo­ple by and large are extremely nice. One lad wrote un­der­neath a video, ‘This is fuck­ing shite’. I replied, ‘Sorry about that, hope you like the one next week’ and he wrote back, ‘Yeah, me too, I’m a big fan’. They’re your fans and they will tell you when they don’t like some­thing. Some­times the way they’ll tell you might seem rude but you’re kinda stupid to think they mean it (laughs).”

Sinéad Cady: make-up wizard. (Be­low right) Conor McKenna of com­edy trio Foil, Arms and Hog.

Gavin Dunne: Is he Ire­land's least known suc­cess­ful mu­si­cian?

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