YouTube is the world’s biggest digital sharing video platform with more than a billion viewers a month and 400 hours of videos uploaded every minute.
In South Africa more and more video content creators are gearing up to make a living from YouTube. But can you really make enough money to live from YouTube in South Africa?
While many international YouTubers have made sustainable careers for themselves, some have questioned whether that is possible in South Africa.
“Creators that succeed on YouTube approach it as a business – they find a topic they’re passionate about that resonates with a specific target market and they create a community around that passion,” said Mich Atagana, the head of communications at Google South Africa.
“They spend time and effort researching their content, their video techniques and how to best engage their audiences,” she said.
“Africa right now hasn’t reached the levels of America and Europe so a lot of the time we suffer,. When I say we I mean Africans, because data is expensive. We don’t have that many people that are watching or are able to access our channels because of the expense,” said Thembekile Mahlaba, a member of the YouTube channel Pap Culture.
Grant Hinds, from his namesake YouTube channel, said he hopes data pricing in South Africa changes for the better.
“I’ve been oversees for the past year, in London, and very inexpensive data pricing in London has led to huge amounts of very exciting projects and avenues of reach that even the telecommunications companies themselves are utilising because they’ve got an established audience,” he said.
Hinds also said he hoped YouTube would provide ways for people to contribute funds to creators like some of its competitors – that helps creators sustain their channels financially.
“YouTube also have those features but they’re not currently active in South Africa. So South African viewers can’t participate and contribute to my channel financially, which sucks,” said Hinds.
Atagana said there were opportunities to make money.
“For creators, partnering with brands offers them an opportunity to earn revenue of the time and effort they put into their channels, and possibly make a living out of them too,” she said.
On the flip side if you have a brand you can monetise on YouTube as well.
“Brands run their own YouTube channels which show content of resonance and relevance to that brand’s audience. They can also invest in advertising on YouTube either through running advertising on channels, or through partnering creators to develop sponsored content,” said Atagana.
YouTube does not have total figures but there are some South African YouTubers who make a living off their channels. This includes Suzelle DIY, Sibu Mpanza, Six Pack Factory, Grant Hinds and Yellow Brick Cinema.
Tips on how you can be successful from YouTube:
• Invest in equipment;
• Spend time and energy on the community you create and understanding what is important to them;
• Be consistent – both in output on the channel and how often you post;
• Collaborate with other YouTubers where there are shared passions or just for fun and;
• Take it seriously.