Like a lot of youngsters my age, I have a hard time remembering what I did with my free time before the time of YouTube. But I can assure those who are unsure it existed in their lifetime: It did. YouTube was founded only 12 years ago, in the early months of 2005.
Allow me to make everyone feel either very old, or very young–I was a mere 10 years old.
As someone who has grown up with YouTube as this massive internet force that literally takes up hours of my time, I was struck by the fact that while I knew quite a bit about the YouTube Partner Program, and the most effective ways to create content on the video sharing platform, I had absolutely no idea where the original idea for the site came from. So as I’m working on my final project for this Innovation and Entrepreneurship class, I have been thinking more and more about what the huge successes actually started out as.
I bet no one is surprised that YouTube was not the first name or idea. But I am surprised that the original name for the site was “Tune In, Hook Up.” And that it was a dating site where you could post videos and then decide whether to romantically court your virtual date or whatnot. It bombed. Okay, good to know that a smash hit isn’t always a crazy, random happenstance. The three guys who left PayPal to start “Tune In, Hook Up” dropped that idea but had hit the nail on the head with the video-sharing and commenting platform that they had developed which led them to their next venture: According to this article, YouTube started because they were complaining about how hard it was to find a clip of Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction.” Amazing. I guess the real reason guys love the internet will never change. From there, things were looking up and people were using the site, and Google bought it in 2006, and launched the YouTube Partner Program in 2007.
What’s the YouTube Partner Program, you ask?
It’s a really smart business move on Google’s part. In an effort to keep people using the site and draw in more users, YouTube offers content creators partnerships if they have a certain number of subscribers (who are pretty much reliable viewers) and a certain number of views on at least one video (I believe it’s something like 1,000 views on one video). This was also meant to be a way to ensure higher quality content of the sites. Partners have the ability to monetize their videos, and collect revenue based on the advertisements on the monetized videos and how many people view, like, or comment on a video. While people were initially annoyed with the addition of advertisements on YouTube, it has shown to be a great source of success not only for the company, but for the individual content creators.
Take for instance, the highest grossing female YouTube personality, JennaMarbles. Jenna has been around since 2009, and has not lost any of her relevance or followers. In fact, she is a full time YouTube personality; creating weekly content for her YouTube channel, a weekly podcast, and a weekly radio show on Sirius XM. She gets paid to do almost anything she feels like doing, just as long as it goes up. She is a 30 year old woman who has been making videos from her bedroom as a full-time job for over 6 years now. If that is not inspiring and informative of what a time to be alive this is, I don’t know what else I could offer you.
As long as you find your market, and figure out what it is people want to see, you could quite literally do almost anything in the world we live in with websites like YouTube.