The Merrell Twins have a Youtube channel devoted to discussing teens' issues. Screen capture from

YouTube is more than You See

February 12, 2018

Have you watched a video recently? If so, then you’ve likely interacted with the all famous YouTube. You’ve likely joined the, “over one billion users”, as YouTube reports, and you’ve likely been tuned into one of the numerous channels YouTube has to offer. Although it would be difficult for a person today to have not interacted with YouTube at some point in their life, people may not realize the deeper details and workings behind the social media outlet and the channels it contains.

Making of a Channel and a Company

For starters, the videos and channels on YouTube have to be created by someone. So, how does one go about creating a YouTube channel? YouTubers themselves give out the tricks of the trade. Alisha Marie, a young YouTuber with over 6 million subscribers gives great advice in her video, “How to Start a Successful YouTube Channel!!” , posted on January 2, 2016.

“Make sure you are starting a channel because you love it. Because you have a passion for it. Because you love being creative, you love making videos. Do not do it for the money, because that will not come for the longest time. Don’t do it for the fame because you’re gonna have so many haters talking crap on you that most people can’t even handle that,” Alisha said.

Another young YouTuber, LaurDIY, gives similar positive insight in her video, “How to Start/Grow a Successful YouTube Channel! | LaurDIY”.

“And just remember this is a passion project, not your college trust fund, so make sure you’re making videos for the right reason,” LaurDIY said.

YouTubers with millions of subscribers are not the only ones who know about how YouTube works. Lauren Stone, a Fort Wayne teenage girl, is also very knowledgeable about YouTube, and has even started a channel of her own called Cute&Crazy. Stone is a devoted YouTube viewer who is very knowledgeable about the site.

“It’s not just a full time job, it is your life,” Stone said.

YouTube becoming someone’s whole life seems like a big step to take. Before anyone could devote their life to YouTube, however, there had to be a YouTube. What are some of YouTube’s roots?



Starting off

When did YouTube enter the world? According to the site itself, in 2005, the social media outlet first served its purpose with the video seen here and below. The video, while certainly not long, is the clip that was the beginning of the mass of videos, channels, and users that was to come.

Additionally, something else likely unknown is the idealistic YouTube mission statement. It’s not hard to find, but it wouldn’t be surprising if a number of people didn’t realize that YouTube is a company with such purpose.

According to YouTube, “Our mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world.”

The goals don’t stop there, however. The site also elaborates on this mission statement, breaking things down into four components: Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Opportunity, and Freedom to Belong. Big goals, right?

Do the people posting videos give their lives to YouTube because of YouTube’s lofty goals? Perhaps. But it cannot be unsaid that YouTube provides monetary benefits as well.


Monetary Perks

Giving your life to YouTube may seem like a bit too much of a commitment to make. However, such a commitment does not come without its perks, specifically its monetary perks. At first, Stone was at a loss for exactly what to say regarding YouTube money-making.

“Okay, this question, a lot of YouTubers don’t even know how to answer, like bigger YouTubers, because YouTube as a company changes how you make money so much and how your videos are suggested and how people can see them,” Stone said.

Despite the ambiguity, Stone was still able to provide insight to the question of how YouTubers can make money.

“How YouTubers make the most money is through brand deals,” Stone said.

Stone explained a system where YouTubers and companies communicate to make said brand deals. Yet, brand deals are not the only earning opportunity. If you are a YouTube participator, there’s no doubt you’ve seen the advertisement videos you wish you could skip. That too is a money maker.

“And then, the ads that are played before videos. If someone watches the entire video or if they interact with the advertisement by clicking on it or something like that, then that can earn them [YouTubers] money as well. Again, that’s the sort of thing that changes a lot,” Stone said.

If you watch a YouTuber, there may be a number of times when you see the money signs flashing in front of the things those YouTubers say and do. Brooklyn and Bailey, a YouTubing duo, recently made music and went on tour, which, one can only imagine can likely bring them in a pretty penny. The twins also have something that Stone noted as another means to YouTube money-merchandise.

“And then, once YouTubers get big enough, they can start selling their own merch, and obviously that would get them a bunch of money,” Stone said.

Stone makes a good point about size. Small YouTubers may not be racking in the dough like other, bigger names on the site. In fact, subscriptions, which is a constant plea of YouTubers, have a hand in this. More subscribers can mean money for a YouTuber.

“You don’t start earning money on YouTube until you have so many subscribers,” Stone said.

Even YouTube has been able chime in on the money talk, giving big numbers for earnings.

According to one YouTube page, “The number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube is up 50% y/y [year over year].”

It’s exciting to think about making money from videos. However, although YouTube certainly has its monetary perks, it also has its monetary drawbacks.

Everything Costs

Anyone who has tried to buy a nice camera likely knows that this isn’t something to buy without a second thought. Having a YouTube channel has its costs. Stone notes many of the more obvious ones (Lighting, camera, editing software), but she also brings up costs that many may not consider, like attire.

“Appearance is just something that is so valued, especially on a platform like YouTube,” Stone said.

Photographers, experiences to video about, items to put into videos, and YouTubers’ locations in cities are other important cost aspects that Stone talks about. So, while money can be made on YouTube, it can also be spent. However, money isn’t the only cost of YouTube.

YouTube Negativity

YouTube has its issues. Stone discussed some of the negatives she is able to detect.

“The not so good things I would say would be people trying to compete with each other and people just bringing each other down. There’s one YouTuber I know that all he does is make diss tracks, so like putting other people down basically,” Stone said.

Paige Clingenpeel, a mental health therapist at Carroll High School, can see the drawbacks too.

“Negatives would be the site and content is unmonitored and without a moral compass. People upload opinions and proclaim they are truths. And individuals who are easily persuaded would base a belief on information unfounded and promoted via this site,” Clingenpeel said.

Users add another element of negativity to the site as well, with their capabilities of posting what they think through comments. This, Clingenpeel would agree, can be detrimental.

“I believe that individuals who found fame from a venue like YouTube have a pressure to continue to entertain the masses. They have to be constantly performing, which is draining and unsustainable. Many people also find their worth in the approval of others opinions, and with YouTube you can instantly see via comments/likes/followers, etc., the opinion of others…,” Clingenpeel said.

Despite the cruelty that can come, some YouTubers, including the Merrell Twins, are able to not take the negativity to heart. The two discuss the topic in a video posted by AwesomenessTV titled, “HOW TO DEAL WITH CYBER BULLIES w/ the Merrell Twins”

The Merrell Twins Video on Cyber Bullies

“There are more important things in life than stressing over a mean comment online,” one Merrell Twin said.

Such positivity from YouTubers is actually an aspect of the site that people enjoy.

YouTube Positivity

Certainly not all of YouTube is negative. Stone states one of her reasons for being a viewer is found in the exact opposite.

“Well, I know for me, I will watch YouTube a lot to kinda forget about my own life. And that sounds like really weird, but just to watch someone be so positive in their life and with what they’re doing, makes me a more positive person. And so, I watch YouTube every day when I put on my makeup in the morning,” Stone said.

Clingenpeel can also see the benefits that YouTube can produce in terms of connections and helping people.

“Positives for a site like YouTube is allowing people to connect with others of similar interests, to learn new skills, or to share experiences that others can relate with,” Clingenpeel said.

It is great that YouTube isn’t only a site with all bad and no good. It’s important to be able to see both. However, there are still some unanswered questions.

Going Further

First is the aspect of how YouTube itself makes money. Considering that YouTube is the means by which YouTubers share their lives and ideas, it is not hard to believe when Stone notes that the company takes their cut of the advertising profits before others get to the money.

“YouTube gets so much of the profits…YouTube gets paid first, and then the YouTuber gets paid,” Stone said.

Stone agreed with the fact that YouTube has more control than people may know. YouTubers do what they need to do in order to get the earnings they desire.

“That’s one reason people do trends and do the stuff that’s cool is because it’s getting them more money,” Stone said.

One way Stone notes that YouTubers join the trends is through the seasonal videos that they make, which can also bring in more cash. One YouTuber, Cambria Joy, says in one of her videos that she will be sure to participate full-on in Vlogmas, a time of the year when YouTubers make numerous vlogs around Christmas time.

“Yes, we’re doing Vlogmas. No, I’m not gonna have a miserable fail like I did with Vlogtober. I love Vlogmas, and I will be committed to that,” Cambria said in one of her vlogs of 2017.

While it may not have been as important to Cambria to be consistent with Vlogtober (making vlogs during the month of October), participating at Christmas time may be more important for money reasons. Stone gives information about this seasonal difference.

“A lot of YouTubers will start coming out with way more videos during Christmas time, not because they want to, but because Christmas time is when YouTubers earn the most money…I think it’s Back to School and Christmas are the times that they [YouTubers] get the most money for stuff,” Stone said.

Stone noted a parody video from the YouTuber Superwoman as revealing this info to her. Such a video’s existence proves that YouTubers themselves aren’t afraid to speak up about the ins and outs of the organization they work with.

Besides the interesting facts about the people who work to make YouTube what it is, there is also another key component to the YouTube equation-the viewers themselves.


Who’s Watching?

Viewers are the people that come to participate in the varied content of the platform, whether it’s to see an inspirational video, perhaps like this one, a comical video, like one of these, or even to learn something as ridiculous as making toast. The users are a varied group from different places in the world and in life. YouTube gives some statistics regarding the people they serve.

“Help us make the world more connected. With 95% of the global internet population watching worldwide in 76 different languages,” YouTube said.

Thus, with an international reach, comments from people all over the world are not uncommon. For example, one channel, Cute Girls Hairstyles, posted a family vlog titled, “Brooklyn & Bailey’s ACT Test Drama | Family Fun | Behind the Braids Ep. 15” and the comments on this video alone show that viewers come from different parts of the world.

“[W]hat are ACT’s? [A]re they the equivalent to GCSE’s in the UK?,” Sarah O said.

“What is the difference between SATS and ACT [?] Do you have to take them together or one or the other. [P]lease explain[,]I am from Canada,” Ashley Maria said.

“Hi! I love all of you! Sending my love to all of you from Sydney[,] Australia!,” Mona Katherine said.

From the UK to Australia, it isn’t hard to see that YouTube’s reach does expand far and wide. The same is true for the ages they appeal to. YouTube provides another statistic.

“Help us make the world more entertained. With more 18 to 49-year-old viewers than any cable TV network-on mobile alone,” YouTube said.

With such varied content, it isn’t difficult to see how anybody can find something to enjoy watching.

Keep Learning but Stay Discerning

YouTube is such a major part of the social world today, and learning more about it, its creators, and its users, is important. People should know what they are interacting with, and the way that things are operated at a company. They should also know how to stay safe and understand the reality of YouTube.

“I try to remind my students and my own kids that opinions are NOT truth. Just because someone has gone ‘viral’ with their personality and beliefs[,] it does not mean their behavior is healthy nor are their beliefs accurate,” Clingenpeel said, “So be discerning!”



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