in the Noise Floor. behind the youtube curtain

Howdy folks. Here we are nearly 2 years since I uploaded my first video - Happy Birthday! I started this YouTube channel as an experiment:

  1. To see how many people I could reach and share some knowledge
  2. To see if I could overcome my introversion, and if I could speak to an audience effectively
  3. To keep my tools sharpened by using them for each video
 My 1st solo cake project. Coraline.

My 1st solo cake project. Coraline.

My wife had a custom cake business several years ago and she was so insanely busy, she barely slept. Ultimately she had to shut it down because there was little time left for anything else. I wondered at the start of TCS, would this be the same scenario? I set an arbitrary goal to see if it would be worth it. The goal was, reach thousands (really 2k) of people within two years and/or make enough money from the videos that the operation would be at the least, self-sustaining. So let's take a look at some metrics and see what we've drummed up for the past two years.

First and easiest to dissect are the financials or revenue. Let's look at the heaviest hitter when it comes to revenue. That would be #18 Unregulated Power Supply Design which I released on Oct. 19th 2016. As of today, it has 15,891 views and the primary reason that its one of the most viewed videos on TCS is because Hackaday picked it up as an article last year. So it's pretty easy to see that YouTube doesn't pay all that well when it comes to ad revenue, or I should probably say that what I expected is orders of magnitude less than reality. Other than those spikes, the remainder are video releases, activity usually lasting for only a day and then radio silence afterwards.

 Best revenue, Hackaday article on video #18

Best revenue, Hackaday article on video #18

So before I bitch too much about YouTube, there has been steady growth, but you wouldn't notice with all of the ups and downs within the graph above. So here's a little chart showing monthly growth. You can see it peaked at a little over $12 in August!

 Monthly Growth

Monthly Growth

 Overall earnings in two years

Overall earnings in two years

 

The above earnings look solely at YouTube and do not consider those fine folks supporting my channel through Patreon (if you're curious, that produces $21/video at this time). So what about viewership? Well, let's look at the number of views, which other than subscribers, is the primary metric. That beautiful spike below is of course the Hackaday article. A few blips to the left is a mention on The Amp Hour, episode #300 so thanks Chris. You'll notice that a slight upward trend is going on around 1/29/17 and that is the point where I was releasing a video every two weeks. Notice that it starts to sag around 3/14/17? Thats about the time I started to release videos every month. YouTube channel Veritasium did a little video on this which is eye opening and I hope you give it a look. I am definitely not following this advice. I am seeing the same behavior though, interest on the day of release, but then... crickets. WTF YouTube?

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Now let's have a peek at average view duration or viewer retention. You can see from the start that some people watched the videos in their entirety, some just a little poke. As time goes on over the months, we're hitting an average view time of 4 minutes. Huh? My videos typically range from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. That tells me that folks are generally skipping over the majority of the content. I have to infer from this data that I must be doing something wrong. Either I babble on too much, the presentation or personality leaves something to be desired, or the content itself just doesn't hold anyone's interest. I have to ponder this one, but if you have an opinion, good or bad, leave it in the comments.

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Feedback, comments & thumbs. This has generally been positive. Being a small channel i don't see a lot of negative feedback or trolling. Of course I make mistakes. If you look hard enough at each video you're bound to see something amiss. For example, using darlington transistors in the "Driving Inductive Loads" video, I note Vbe as 0.7 volts though it should be 1.4 volts because of the series base-emitter junctions. It's bound to happen, and I would correct items like this, but alas, YouTube has removed annotations after the video has been uploaded. WTF YouTube? Anyway, you can't please them all and I'll admit a couple of videos are stinkers, but I keep them up because I won't sweep things under the rug.. as a result I get some dislikes. Not a ton of feedback from viewers, but enough to make some inferences - see below:

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I'm not fishing for compliments or attempting to stroke my ego, but I am confused why the positive comments and poor view duration. Personally if I like a video, I watch it all the way through. At least thats what I used to do before I started this gig. Now I'm lucky if I have enough time to watch anything at all. Yes, I'd like some cheese with my whine.

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To conclude, I love making these videos. It's fun because I get to tell a story, I get to keep my tools sharp and learn new things about shooting video, storytelling, continuity, editing. The list goes on and on. But it seems like the current format just isn't cutting the mustard. The experiment over these past two years is failing. I've reached some people and I am very grateful for that! However, the channel isn't self-sustaining in its current format. The revenue isn't "in the black", meaning more is going out than coming in. I was cool with that for a long time, but at a certain point where do you draw the line? That is to be determined I suppose. At this point, it seems that more technical videos and less builds is the roadmap. I don't want it to go that route, but YouTube has really hamstrung creators.

Beware newbie content creators.