It’s taken a couple years to get my YouTube channel off the ground. Before you can “monetize” and make a shiny penny off your videos, you need 1,000 subscribers and 1,000 hours of people watching your material. It was surprisingly easier for me to get the hours than the subs. Now it makes sense. My content is for people who are fairly sophisticated about art, in which case it’s going to appeal to a lot fewer people, but they will also have greater attention spans. 

Once I was finally accepted, I had months of problems due to my setting up my YouTube channel when I was in Cambodia, in which case my country of origin was registered as Cambodia rather than the United States. So, when I needed to confirm my identity, my passport didn’t say I was a Cambodian citizen, in which case there was a conflict that the system was designed to discover in order to eliminate scams. There was no easy fix, and I had to get someone to manually help reassign my birth country. I gave up on the process more than once, including when I got a notification that my channel was rejected, even though it had already been accepted.

But now it’s all straightened out, so I decided to try to put out some new material. I’ve got something coming up in several days that I’m proud of.


Until then, you’ll notice I did some rebranding, so to speak. All my thumbnails were different, and I got inspired to create a template to unify them.

The new look has my logo on the upper right so my videos are instantly recognizable as nobody else’s. The titles are B&W bold banners on a white background. This has the effect that the text is above the thumbnail because the white blends with the background of the page. Most people are going for bright yellow lettering, which is what research says grabs the eye. Nobody I’ve seen is doing what I’m doing. I put a film reel effect on the left to indicate it’s video, and to give a “film” aura to it.

Videos have a description under them, in which case I can make the title into a headline, bold as possible, and people will inevitably scan the description to find more details.

Let’s compare the new template and an older thumbnail:

Above, I changed virtually everything. I prefer the new version, but it additionally has consistency with every other thumbnail, and makes the job of creating thumbnails a bit easier as well.


So, now that I’m eligible to make money off my videos, how much am I making? Jack squat so far.

Above, you can see my stats for the last 28 days. That’s about $14 a month. Hey, man, that’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, but check out how many hours people have watched. I’ve told a few people about how many hours people have watched my videos, and I seem to be the only one whose mind is blown by this. This is not in a bragging way, but in a perplexed/amazed way. I can’t believe people have spent that much time with my videos. Since I started the channel it’s over 16,000 hours.

Let me do some math. I get about 52 cents for every hour someone watches. Wait a second. That’s not that bad.

I read that YouTube pays between $6-$12 for 1,000 views, but you can see below that I’m skating in around $4.25.

Most my videos are earning pennies. I see other art channels getting vastly more views, but also ones that have good content getting less traffic.

I really enjoy making videos and have a list of dozens I would like to make in the future. If I stick with it, maybe I’ll get a break and something will reach escape velocity and propel itself out of the gravitational pull of the algorithm.


Some of you who follow me here and subscribe to my YouTube channel might have noticed a couple re-uploads. It’s not me trying to pull anything over on the public. I don’t do that kind of shit.

This is NOT a completely new video, though I did make some changes, and not just to the thumbnail.

This video was demonetized and blocked in several countries (I have no idea which) because of a few seconds of footage in the background when I was discussing Karlheinz Stockhausen’s claim that 9/11 was a great work of performance art. The footage showed a plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. I argued that the idea that everything is art leads to even terrorist acts being classified as art, which I disagree with. Well, my video was flagged as potentially upsetting because of a few seconds of comparatively mild footage of the tragedy in question. Yes, it was flagged as too shocking because of content about terrorism! Absoultely ridiculous, taken out of context, and blow waaaaaaaaaay beyond a few second of background imagery.

So, I went back in, deleted that footage, and bleeped over when I articulated the word “terrorism”. As long as I was doing that, I removed the former sound track because all the songs were from YouTube’s free-to-use song library. And that brings us to the next video I’ve re-uploaded:

I re-uploaded this one as an experiment. I created this video back in December, and for some mysterious reason after the first several days it flatlined like none of my other videos had. I thought it was because I had all the trouble validating my identity and country of origin at that time, when they also stopped collecting $$ for me from ads.

There was a one month period where I earned nothing.

By the way, while the “estimated revenue” is $52.46, I won’t get anything from before the dip because I had to create a new Adsense account.

I have now discovered that the same video flatlined in exactly the same way despite there being no restrictions on my account.

It was climbing fairly steep, and then BOOM, flatlined. That’s when YouTube stopped recommending it. Not sure how the algorithm works. I can tell you it doesn’t matter if people upvote your content. All my content except one video is over 90% upvoted.

What matters is not likes or quality but what percentage of a video is watched. That’s a more reliable marker of whether people like something and less easy for a bot to perform. At least that’s my guess. Also, YouTube no longer shows downvotes. My cynical take on that is that some wildly unpopular videos still get lots of views, and are thus profitable, so it’s best not to alert the public to how much they are despised. Just a hypothesis of mine. 

Several of my videos were in some sort of quarantine, and I’ve managed to free all but one.

For example, I just contested one video being demonetized and got this surprise email:

It’s been reinstated.

That was my first video on the channel:

Back to the video I re-uploaded because it originally flatlined, only to flatline again. I’d used a lot of YouTube’s free music. Nope. It’s NOT free anymore! Now, if I use any part of a song, 50% of any profits go to whoever created the song. If I used five songs, I wouldn’t get much of anything. When I reuploaded this video, I discovered how this works. So, from now on, I get all my music from the Free Music Archive, put together by my old favorite radio station, WFMU. Glad I sorted that out. I’m still disappointed because I’d spent months only listening to the YouTube songs so I could find my favorites and incorporate them into my videos. Time wasted.

If you are not a YouTuber yourself, considering getting started, and wanted a peek under the hood, this might have been interesting. Hopefully others found it worth reading as well.

We’ll have to see if the channel will pick up any speed. It’s got to do about 35 times better before I can feel hopeful of making a day job out of it that can compete with working part time at McDonalds several days out of the month. But at least it’s doing something I love, and I really am amazed and humbled by how many hours people have spent watching my content.

If you feel like supporting me in the war against the evil algorithm that rewards the lowest common denominator, the key is to let my videos play all the way through. Shhhhh. Just start it, take a shower, make dinner, or mow the lawn if you don’t feel like watching the whole thing, or you already read the blog post version…

If you’ve never seen this one, it may be my favorite so far (unless we include the epic Salvator Mundi series spanning 3 videos and a few hours]. I’m digging the new thumbnail and title.

Also, don’t worry about my night job of making visual art. I’ve been rethinking it and have a plan I’m excited about.

Be back soon with another baboon

And if you like my art or criticism, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.


Or you can make a one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).


8 replies on “My YouTube Channel Got a Makeover

    1. Denies access. Oh, I must have given my personal link of some sort. Will replace that with the general one presently.

      Yup. Had the wrong link. The new one should work fine. Thanks for pointing that out for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Liking your unified thumbnail approach! Nice design.

    Good luck with the monetisation – sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through.

    I used to make a small amount from my occasional videos way back before they changed the rules in order to exclude (what I imagine would have been) loads of folks – I’ve got one about the pronunciation of the town Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch that has about 450,000 views. Doesn’t matter though if you only got a few subscribers.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. 450,000 views! That’s pretty good. That would earn you around $2,000–$3,000 if my math is right. But, yeah, people who’ve been doing YouTube for a long time frequently lament that it’s much tougher now to get any real exposure.
      Also, quite a lot of the videos I see seem to be coming out of a framework of seeking to make as much money as possible. Everyone is trying to game the system, trick the algorithm, and gain an advantage. And there’s got to be a magnitude more people making videos as well. You now have to compete with all the stuff that is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Tough to even get off the ground. But it may still be possible.
      I’m planning on integrating videos with blogging and making art. Maybe they will enforce each other. We’ll see over time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those views were over quite a number of years. But still…

        I only post the odd video mainly for my own satisfaction, but I really do appreciate all the quality content that folks share on the platform.

        With today’s biggest commodity being attention, I guess it is inevitable that a lot of folks will try to play the system with an emphasis on trying to grab attention at the cost of quality of content.

        Anyhow, best of luck with your endeavours!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this peek behind the scenes. I’m very new to Youtube and had no idea you could monetize at 1000 subscribers. I doubt I’ll ever reach that point, but it’s interesting to know that it’s possible. It’s also interesting to get an idea of how Youtube functions generally.
    Saving this post for future reference. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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