It was after Krishnan joined the creative team, Chandar told me, that ChuChu really began to achieve global popularity. What made the difference, in part, was that Krishnan decided to rewrite nursery rhymes that he felt didn’t end well or teach good morals. What if Jack and Jill, after falling down while fetching the pail of water, get back up, learn from the resilience of birds and ants, actually get the damn pail of water, and give it to their mom? “It was ‘Jack and Jill 2.0,’ ” Chandar said. “I thought, This is how a nursery rhyme should be.”
One reason is that it caters to a narrow audience of young viewers. Music videos are its most popular content. YouTube’s stars remain relatively unknown. Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is the biggest star, with 35 million subscribers to his wacky videogame montages. Even Ms. Wojcicki hadn’t heard of him before joining YouTube, she told a conference last fall.
“Even if advertisers are paying a decent amount to promote their products through video ads, only a portion of their expenditures ever make it into content creators’ pockets,” says entrepreneur Michael Johnston. “For example, if advertisers are paying an average of $20 per 1,000 ad impressions, the videos where those ads are being shown may only generate $2 or $3 per 1,000 views.”
4. Use product placement and video sponsorship: Companies interested in your channel’s audience might sponsor your videos or offer you product placement deals in exchange for a shout out. You’ll likely receive payments on a per-sale basis or in commission tiers. Search on sites such as ShareASale, Clickbank and CJ Affiliate by Conversant for possible corporate partners — and be sure you’re willing to vouch for the company and products you’re selling before signing up.
This indirect, dog-whistle form of alt-right messaging is common for the channel, which deliberately uses pop culture imagery, mainly drawn from animated series like Death Note and in particular the Cartoon Network TV series Steven Universe, as a tool for spreading white supremacist propaganda. Some of the many examples littering the channel’s videos include frequent references to media creators and other public figures using the historically loaded slur “Jews,” and references to anti-Semitic conspiracy phraseology such as “the Jewish question,” a frequent alt-right dog whistle that refers to the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” — German for “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and the official Nazi code language for planning and carrying out the Holocaust.
“A whole bunch of things happened that made me feel like I didn’t have any control in my life, so I had to do something,” says Fischbach, 29, who now lives in Los Angeles. At first he recorded audio snippets as practice for a potential career in voice acting, but he soon found an audience through clips in which he played video games while providing wry running commentary.
But recent research has painted another picture. Scoring a place in the top 3 percent of most-viewed channels could bring in ad revenues of just $16,800 per year, according to analysis for Bloomberg News by Mathias Bärtl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg, Germany. If you quit your job, that's barely enough to break through the poverty line.
Still, one of the main ways (or easiest) to earn money on YouTube is through YouTube running ads on your videos. Once you get a certain amount of views, you can connect your account to a Google AdSense account, which will allow you to start earning money on your videos, according to USA Today. In order to qualify, you reportedly now need (as of January 2018) 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months, plus 1,000 subscribers to join the YouTube Partner Program (which will get you ads and therefore cash from your channel).