Blog: The Future? By: John Heisz
As many of you regular visitors to this site and / or viewers of my YouTube videos know, I do this for a living and have been since 2013. However, over the last year, I’ve seen a marked decline in the number of views on my videos and as a result, the ad revenue generated by those videos has dropped dramatically. And at this point, my earnings from YouTube are very close to what they were when I first started doing this full time, five years ago.
Along with the decline in views, traffic to this site has also decreased, as at least some of that comes from the videos on YouTube. And consequently, plan sales have also fallen, since they rely on both the traffic to this site and the videos that link to them. So, when the big one (YouTube) goes down, it drags everything else with it.
I talk specifically about reasons why I believe the views on my YouTube channels are falling in the video below, but I’ll briefly go over that here as well. I think that a large influence on how much YouTube promotes your videos is based on how many of your subscribers watch your new video when it’s published. Or, more precisely, the percentage of your subscribers that watch. And if that’s a low percentage, YouTube interprets that as not worthy of promotion.
Contrast this to how it used to be, where pretty much any video that did reasonably well was promoted. And by promoted, I mean it will show up more often in the recommended videos in the sidebar while watching another video. Since there is much more quality content to choose from now, YouTube can be more selective and only promote videos that it knows will be watched by a larger number of viewers.
Given that I obviously need to earn enough to live and pay the bills, I’ve come to the conclusion that the current system is not sustainable and I need to find other ways to earn money.
One possibility is to start doing sponsored videos to supplement and replace the dropping ad revenue. I’ve strongly resisted that up to this point, since I don’t think I would enjoy making projects and videos for the sole purpose of selling a product or service for another company. And yes, before you say it, I know that the traditional ad revenue from YouTube and this site are basically the same thing, but there are key differences: Adsense is more of a passive approach – you set it up and there ends your interaction. Where a campaign for a specific manufacturer brokered through an agency requires much more involvement and there is also the strong possibility of creative control over what will go into a video / article. And while these sponsored deals are fairly easy to come by at this time, I expect that to also change in the near future, as the better opportunities will go to the channels that get consistently more views.
Another fairly radical solution that I considered was to abandon (or sell) my existing channels and start a new one. The downside would be starting from scratch again, but with the real advantage of already being known – the viewers already know me and what I can do / have done. Also I already know how to make good videos and have all of the equipment and facilities in place to do that.
The reasoning behind this approach would be to try to break out of the rut that the older channels are in where a small percentage of the subscribers watch the new videos. I believe, based on my observation of channel growth across YouTube, that new channels that do well out of the gate are promoted more aggressively by YouTube, and that will be self perpetuating, as long as I can keep putting out good quality content consistently.
There are many examples of this happening, and it’s certainly not limited to woodworking and DIY.
However, again I don’t think that there are any guarantees for that long term, assuming I actually could get onto the track where my videos are regularly promoted by YouTube. They are constantly changing things up, and the super hot channels of today may fall by the wayside tomorrow because of that.
That leaves me with what I think is the best option, and that is to move away from doing YouTube content creation full time, and go back to my roots in construction. And by construction I don’t mean what I was doing before all of this came along. While I certainly loved doing that work and the money I could earn from it, there were an equal number of downsides that I hated.
Instead, the plan is to look for and buy a house that can be fixed up and resold. Yes, this commonly know as house flipping, but that term carries a lot of negative connotations with it, like shoddy workmanship and dishonest practices. Also, I know what some of you are saying already: “Aren’t you doing that right now with your own house?” And: “you can’t wait for 10 years for a payday while you do the renovation in dribs and drabs!”.
The difference is that I’m keeping the house I’m currently fixing up, while I’d be quickly turning over the new one. And would limit the work to maintenance / cosmetic and energy efficiency upgrades only and buy accordingly.
And after the first one is sold, look for and buy another to do the same. The specific advantages of doing this are beyond the scope of this article, but top of the list is the amount of freedom it affords, and how well suited I am for it. I can do the bulk of the work myself (and my brother Don says he will go in on this with me), and can therefore walk away with more money after the sale.
And so what becomes of this website and my YouTube channels? The site should carry on very much as it is now with fairly regular additions to it. Much of that will be related to the house flip activity, but there will still be the traditional shop projects I’ve always done – I’m not going to stop doing that, just cut back on the smaller projects that only existed in the first place as filler to keep the traffic up.
It will be the same for my main channel – I’ll still make project videos, but there won’t be as many and I will be a lot more selective over what qualifies. My home renovation channel is the one that will get the lion’s share of attention, with regular updates on the house progress, both the new one(s) and my own as I try to get it finished.
Of course, this won’t happen overnight. My tentative schedule is to start looking for a potential property this late winter or early spring, in time to start work during the summer. Until that actually happens, you can expect that things will be very much like they’ve always been, both here and on my YouTube channels.