I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for an absolute AGE but I’ve been so sick with migraines and so busy, I had to push the blog posts back for a little while. BUT I’M BACK BABY!
You know that Rose and I love to be brutally honest with you guys, sharing our embarrassing confessions and secrets with you like we’re chatting with our best friends. Because, in a way, we kind of are!
So today I wanted to be transparent with you about MONEY. Being a YouTuber is still a fairly new job and I find that there is so much mystery and also confusion surrounding it. And I get it! It IS confusing, even to us! There’s a lot of mixed messages, slanderous articles in the media, and a few really big YouTubers making some seriously questionable mistakes and giving the rest of us a bad name. I’ve seen memes and comments and forums discussing YouTubers and money and their lifestyle and they get it SO wrong!
So I wanted to clear a few things up with you guys today and answer what I imagine are some FAQs.
How Much Money Do We Make?
Not as much as you’d think! Rose and I share three channels between us, the main channel, the vlog channel and the gaming channel. We have a channel parter who is Studio 71 and they take 10% of our YouTube earnings and then pay us, but the money is paid by Google Adsense, if you’re wondering how YouTubers even get paid. The content is free for you to watch, and we put a lot of effort into making our videos entertaining, lighthearted and fun for you. You will probably be shown at least one advert before you watch the video, possibly more, and we earn a small percentage for that view on the advert.
So how much do we get? We get one payment from adsense to share between us per month, and we make less than enough to cover all our mortgage and bills.
Obviously this could change and we usually make a small amount more around Christmas when we put out even more content. Adsense varies for a myriad of reasons, what the advert was, how many people watched the video, how long they watched it for, where they watched it from etc, so no two YouTubers will earn the same amount, even if they have the same amount of subscribers and produce the same amount of content with the same views. Which is why some Youtubers can live off Google Adsense and others can’t.
But over all, it isn’t enough for us to live off. Which is why Rose and I have to take Ads, which brings me on to my next point….
You Do So Many Ads Now. You’ve Sold Out.
Nope, we haven’t. We are exactly the same people as we started out, only a little older and with more responsibilities. We have bills to pay and we also want to create a tiny human, and that is going to cost us money!
Rose and I literally get emailed about brand deals almost once a day, but we are so so choosy about what we will and won’t advertise. We only want to recommend to our audience products that we genuinely LOVE, use or need. I’m also going to start reaching out to more brands that I love and use a lot, because I think there’s nothing more genuine than that. A favourite brand deal of mine was Instax Mini. I’ve been using Instax since 2014, so I was really happy to promote their newest Instax at the time. I’m a normal person, just like you guys, so there are products I love and products I hate!
So how much do brand deals pay? That totally ranges. Again, it depends who the brand are, what their marketing budget is, what platform the advert is featuring on, etc. I’ve seen smaller YouTubers charge much more than us, and I’ve seen huge YouTubers get ripped off and underpaid. A lawyer once told me it’s like the “Wild West” out there in the influencer marketing world. Sometimes brands get an agency to act as a ‘middle man’ between the brand and the influencer and they obviously need to take a cut of the payment for their time. Some influencers have managers and they take a cut also. But, for example, for an Instagram advert I’ve seen people get paid between £500 to £6,000. It’s interesting actually, someone who would obviously be paid thousands of pounds or more would be Kim Kardashian, right? She’s absolutely huge on Instagram. But her engagement on Insta is shockingly low at 1.57%. The global average engagement is 3%. In fact, loads of celebrities have terrible engagement. and I believe it’s because, even though they are REAL celebs who are ten thousand times more famous than Rose and I… they aren’t as engaged with their audience in real life. Whereas YouTubers who are good at their jobs (in my opinion) will be tweeting their viewers, following them, responding to them, asking them what content they want made. In my opinion, it’s influencers who recognise that this relationship with our audience is special, and a two-way street, that do the best. Again, on Insta there are people who get paid way more than us who are smaller than Rose and I. It’s tricky because people set a price on what they think they are worth and sometimes the brand will pay it and sometimes they won’t. Rose and I were recently advised by a few people to set our prices higher. What I like about that is it does enable us to take less ads and still pay the bills.
For YouTube, prices are constantly changing. There was a time when I felt like everyone else was getting huge, life changing brand deals and Rose and I weren’t. I had a friend make £100,000 in one MONTH. I grew up poor, and never take money for granted. That kind of earning is life changing. Some people were charging £30,000 per ad on YouTube. Rose and I obviously weren’t. There was definitely a time when being out and proud as LGBT on YouTube was hindering us money wise. I remember a brand was going to work with Rose and I on a pride campaign, but then chose someone else, who had just recently come out, but whose channel was not LGBT content. They told us, “yeah your channel is good but XXX’s audience has other interests other than being gay.” Ummm…. our audience has other interests!!!! They just happen to be LGBT. Do you think that’s all they care about??? LGBT people have passions, hobbies and buy products too! It was absurd.
Rose and I NEVER thought that would be an issue. We had just been ourselves online from day 1. We would never have hidden ourselves to earn more money. I’d much rather have the freedom of being myself.
But I have noticed that as time has passed, companies have started treating minority groups much better, and I’ve seen way more people get ads who aren’t just white, straight people. I’ve seen companies run campaigns benefitting just about every person, and it’s great to look back at our journey and see that shift. I feel being LGBT definitely doesn’t affect us anywhere near as much as it used to work-wise, and I’m proud we’ve only ever stayed true to ourselves and never sold out.
Then, there really was this thing called the Ad-pocalypse where loads of brands suddenly recoiled in horror.
They realised that they had just been putting ads in front of random YouTuber’s videos but there hadn’t been much thought or control surrounding it. Their advert could have been placed in front of someone with really horrible opinions, someone brands didn’t want to touch with a barge pole, let alone be associated with. Literally overnight, every YouTuber’s earnings went down. Adsense was affected, and rates of brand deals were affected, our two primary sources on income.
Was it scary? Uh, yeah!
But equally, it had to happen. There are big YouTubers pulling stupid stunts, like Logan Paul and the dead-body-gate. It makes us all look bad. We are not all like that. So at least now brands were thinking about who makes good content? Who is spreading a positive message? And I believe that also helped certain people. It does sadden me that in the media, you usually only hear about big YouTubers doing something stupid, like a girl who shot her husband and accidentally killed him, all because they were trying to film a YouTube prank video. But there you go. The media is a whole other ball game.
Anyway, back to YouTube earnings… I remember having over half a million subscribers, an amazing engagement and doing a really heavy advert for £2,000. I liked the product, but I really didn’t want to do the ad, and felt I was ripped off and that it was too forceful a sell. I did it to make my management happy. A while later, Rose and I left our management. One of the main benefits of this was that we didn’t have to take on any adverts that we didn’t want to. And now we don’t. I’d rather do one big, high quality advert that we absolutely love, than keep putting out content containing loads and loads of small, shit adverts. A personal favourite advert of mine was VIPOO. It absolutely suited us, we got to have fun, and I believe our audience noticed and recognised that, and enjoyed it a lot.
Name Some Spon You’ve Turned Down Then
Sure. Most recently we turned down a well paid ad with Fabletics – Kate Hudson’s activewear business. This one was a difficult one and I’m still unsure if I made the right decision, because although I haven’t tried Fabletics I’ve heard they are AMAZING. I’ve heard they are comfortable, well made, have pockets (!!!) and once people buy them they tend to live in them. BUT I also know that they do an offer which is something like £20 for two pairs of leggings, but when people do that offer they are opted into a monthly charge that people weren’t aware of, and some people are calling it a scam. Although I’m sure I would have loved the leggings and would have appreciated the money made from the ad, I didn’t want my viewers getting trapped in a scam or losing their money, so I turned it down.
Another well paid Ad we turned down fairly recently was with Huawei phones. They wanted us to advertise how amazing their camera on the phone is, and I’ve heard that it’s amazing. We chose not to, because we have been gifted (not paid to advertise) a Google Pixel phone each and we LOVE the camera on this phone. We feel it really makes taking Instagram pics a dream and we are very grateful to Google for gifting us this, as phones can be incredibly expensive. We turned down Huawei because when we find a brand we love, like Google Pixel, why advertise another?
Over the years we’ve turned down tonnes of ads, and there are also plenty of products and brands I DREAM of working with. But I think it’s important not to sell out. If you just advertise any old product to your audience, they will know that there is no genuine passion behind what you’re saying and they will no longer trust your recommendation. Trust is an extremely important factor for us! And of course, even if we aren’t paid to advertise a product, we can still recommend it, and I have a non sponsored skincare blog post coming soon filled with products I love!
Rules and Guidelines
First of all, the rules and guidelines are different in different countries, which is pretty frustrating, as some people don’t have to declare their ads at all. I actually like being transparent with our audience, I don’t want to trick them or lie to them. BUT when something is an advert it tends to get lower likes and views, I guess because people think “Oh, they’re only doing this because they were paid to” but that’s not necessarily true. I remember Rose took an INCREDIBLE photo of me for a Pandora ad on instagram. It got slightly less likes and I was upset because I think if that picture didn’t say ‘ad’ on it, everyone would have loved it. I don’t always understand why that word off-puts people. All content we create is free for you to watch. We HAVE to take ads to enable us to continue. We probably put the most effort into the content that has an ad behind it, so it’s sad when people simply won’t click on it.
The rules are basically; let people know it’s an ad. If the entire video is an ad, people need to know before the click on it, so put ad in the title or thumbnail. If only a tiny segment is an ad (like if you do a 15 minute vlog and 2 minutes of that is an ad) during the video you can let the audience know that what you are saying is now an ad, by either telling them or putting a pop up disclaimer on your video. It’s not that hard, but I see sooo many YouTubers not declaring it, or using some really vague wording “we’ve teamed up with XXX”.
If it doesn’t say ad on my content, then it’s not an ad and I’ve not been paid to promote the product and I’m in no way obligated. I remember one time Rose posted a picture on insta that was an advert for Barclays bank. It said ‘AD’ on it. Then I posted a photo wearing a Barclays T shirt. It did NOT say AD on it. Someone messaged me like “Ummmm declare your ads???” It wasn’t an ad. I wasn’t paid to upload the photo, I wasn’t asked to or required. I took a pic I liked and uploaded it to Insta. If it’s an Ad we will TELL YOU. No one needs to get all private detective on us. We aren’t deceiving you, we always let you know the deal, I promise.
There’s been a shift in the rules lately and one of them I think is REALLY stupid. You have to declare stuff that is gifted. If something is gifted to you, a brand has sent it to you, but has not paid you to promote it and there is no contract. You have no obligation to rave about it. But for example, my Google phone was gifted to us. Should I put #gifted every time I tweet using that phone? Forever? Every time I post an Insta using the phone, or with the phone in shot. Every time I glance at my phone in a video, do I have to declare it was a gift? It’s silly.
I constantly tell people NOT to send us free stuff, I would much rather pay for it. Sometimes brands are cheeky and send you something for free (like a card game or something) and then a few weeks later email like “Hi… are you going to post about it?” No. Not if I think it’s shit. Why would I promote some free gift that I don’t like to my audience? If I like something I will promote it. I genuinely love my Google pixel. It’s my favourite gift I’ve ever had doing YouTube to date. Everything else I usually turn down.
Another silly example is when YouTubers get invited to an event, we now have to declare that as a gift?? Why? It’s an EVENT. We were INVITED not gifted. When celebs go to the Met Gala you don’t see them saying “Thank you SO much #gifted” so why can’t I get invited to something and just go? It’s making something nice like an invite somewhere special look like a manufactured ad. The rules for us are different to rules everywhere else in the same industry. Magazines get gifted tonnes of free clothes and jewellery to put on their models, or makeup and skincare they write articles about but they don’t have to put #gifted. They also get paid to promote certain products and they don’t declare that either. But influencers get threatened with influencer jail. Serving time and serving looks.
So. I hope this post has cleared up a lot of questions you might have. I guess the summary is: YouTube is like any other job. Some people can make it to the top and become millionaires. Most people don’t. It can be extremely rewarding and it can be hard work. There are amazing benefits and huge drawbacks. I love my job, I’m grateful for every day I get to do this. I’m a creative person and have big ideas for the future. YouTube enables me to share my dreams, passions and vision with you all. Thank you for reading this post, and for supporting Rose and I. If you have any other queries that you’d like to know, or if you liked this post, please comment below!