Howdy Folks,

So about a week ago, all of my videos were demonetized. I saw the little banner display on my YouTube Account Dashboard saying that my channel didn’t meet the new requirements for earning ad revenue through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and when I check my videos, all of the little green dollar sign icons had vanished. At that very moment, it is safe to say that Channel Creator lives and dreams were smashed – at least in their own eyes…

Now I won’t lie to you, I was unhappy about the new decision by YouTube at first but not so much about the fact that I would lose ad revenue. I never really have made that much from YouTube ads in the first place – not even $100 after a year of having the channel. What upset me was the abrupt and sudden disregard of small channel creators and the obvious focus on the big channels that make the company the most money. That is what bothered me the most. I still feel like YouTube could had done it differently and tried to focus more features on small channels to help motivate them to try harder and grow within a healthy capacity. But at the time of the chaos, for a moment, it seemed like YouTube was turning its back on creators that made them didly-squat. Let’s look at some my favorite largest creators on the platform. What’s Inside (5+ million subscribers), Casey Neistat (9+ million subscribers) and Brave Wilderness (9+ millions subscribers) just to name a few. These channels likely help YouTube earn a lot of revenue from serving ads on their videos – they’re huge and watched by many all over the world. But guess what? Every last one of the huge channels (including Pewdipie) started out with 0 subscribers, then 100, then 1,000 and so on. That is what upset me the most, YouTube gave me the feeling that it was turning its back on smaller channels to focus on larger channels that were once as small as the rest of us.

YouTube should had done it differently, I will stand by that statement. But I don’t hate YouTube because they are in a hurdle. If advertisers turn away from them, no one makes money from ads and Google will shut down the platform because video hosting takes a lot of resources, employees and money to make possible. Try to upload several videos on a shared web hosting platform and see how fast the host requires you to pay a lot more. I have a dedicated server for this website – it isn’t cheap and even though it is huge in terms of space and resources, there is no possible way that I could host all 200+ videos that I have on YouTube on my server. YouTube had to do something to please the advertisers in order to allow channels to still earn revenue and enjoy YouTube altogether. In the end, YouTube started out as a business and remains a business.

Now what did ad revenue mean to me?

I want to touch base on two very important notes about earning money on YouTube through ad revenue. What little money I was earning, made me feel somewhat happy and motivated about my channel. This is because, the amount was start to increase after each upload telling me that I was getting more subscribers, more views, more engagement and more folks were enjoying the content I was producing at that time. It was somewhat inspirational. But the other point is my lack of control for the ads served on my videos and the middle man – that being YouTube. YouTube can serve ads on my videos and page anytime they wish without paying me anything for it, it is their business, they can run it how they see fit. They really can run any sort of ad topics they want, even ads that wouldn’t be friendly to the outdoor community and there is little I can say or do about it. This has always been my problem with ad networks, lack of control of the ads being displayed. I don’t want to serve ads that encourage the demolition of forests in order to make some fancy toilet paper that us soft and will not make us get a rash – lol. I want ads to relate to the folks watching my outdoor recreational videos. So is losing the ability to get ad revenue really a big deal? Not really…

I didn’t make Hiking with Shawn solely to make money. However, I do have a goal to profit from this, that is my strategy, folks. I spend a lot of time, resources, money and commitment into making my videos and making you all happy so I welcome a chance to earn revenue from it. And if it turned into a full time job, I’d be thrilled to be able to deliver the best videos I could to you – full time! Hiking is my passion, I’d love to do it all the time and get paid for it. šŸ™‚ Who wouldn’t?! But that isn’t all I want from this…

I want to build a community of outdoor lovers on one side and folks who cherish the Shawnee National Forest and parks in southern Illinois on the other side. And when you all send me messages thanking me, wanting more videos, asking for a sticker and telling me you love my content – that is what gives me the most pleasure of continuing my YouTube Channel. The ability to bring hiking, outdoor recreation, the Shawnee and beautiful woodland southern Illinois to you is a pretty big payment for me. Money isn’t everything to me but I allow it to be a part of it all.

Let me tell you a little about my education – I have an MBA, Masters of Business Administration, which is a big deal degree when it comes to business school. I know a lot about business, marketing, search engine optimization, social media optimization – the works! That knowledge is my strategy for earning revenue from my YouTube channel, not YouTube ads or the YPP. I treat Hiking with Shawn as a business. Because it is one. I’ve registered Hiking with Shawn as an LLC to protect my personal assets from liability as well as to initiate business standards in taxing and legal issues. I will soon carry business insurance for my equipment and assets that I use to make this channel happen. I have a trademark pending for the term ‘Hiking with Shawn’ to help protect the brand. I’m very much toning a strategy for Hiking with Shawn to be able to earn revenue.

But my main product, hiking and the Shawnee….it’s free and it will always be free.

I’m not monetizing on the forest or the ability to show you my hiking experiences. That is free. That is my main product and it should be free. My strategy to earn money is through branded content whereas companies send me products to review and advertise, or pay me to shout them out and recommend them or give me codes to offer you all to get good deals. That is where I am looking to earn revenue from. In the future, branded Hiking with Shawn apparel will come in play as well. YouTube ads is pocket change and a sketchy way of earning revenue, no offense YouTube, but with your random sudden changes, the YPP is hard to chew. That doesn’t make YouTube a bad thing though, like me, they’re trying to run a business.

Am I making money now? Nope…

I’m not currently focusing on revenue. I’m focusing on building a community, gaining a reputation, networking, meeting people, collaborating, getting better at filming, mastering video editing and for crying out loud, I’m focusing on having the most fun I can possibly have. Being in my 30s has been the most wonderful years of my life because I’m starting to really focus on my own passions and YouTube has developed into one of them. Small channel creators, quit dwelling on the YPP policies and start having fun! Isn’t that why you started to begin with? If you honestly started thinking that YouTube ads was going to become a million dollar deal, you don’t know much about business… You don’t become a huge success overnight, folks, you have to work for it, and work hard. You have to live on a budget. You have to make sacrifices. You have to live in reality and continue being a needed member of society. Everything else is a day dream…

Eventually, I’ll focus more effort on earning revenue, skipping the middle man and raking in everything I can. I’ll create a budget for the channel to pay for expenses, potentially hire employees and even buy awesome stuff to give away to you all but for now, I’m focusing on building something special, making friends for life and enjoying YouTube as it strengthens my passion for hiking and outdoor recreation which is making me healthier by the day and more aware of preserving the environment which we actually need to be preserved in order exist as a species.

Before I end this blog, I want to say this… I will never sell out. Last year I was contacted by an Asian camping equipment manufacturing company. They wanted to send me a load of stuff free of charge, and asked only that I make a video recommending everything they wanted to send me. I started researching the company and the products and found out it was all junk, worthless and way less quality than what they were charging for it. I could have got a lot of free stuff and maybe even some good profits but I turned them down without thinking any further. I will never lie to you folks, cheat you, trick you and manipulate you into spending your hard earned money on junk just to make money for me – that isn’t business, that is being a pitiful excuse for human being… I won’t sell out, ever.

I want to thank you all for reading this blog and feel free to share your thoughts below! šŸ™‚

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