YouTube's Next Up stars are an elite group of lip-dubbing, indie-band interviewing, and action-comedy producing grassroots talent pulling in okay bucks from not only YouTube's partners program, but also a cash prize that came from making the Next Up list.
No one is suggesting that being a YouTube phenomenon is a good job. Or, that it's easy. Or that it's anything other than an aspiration with worse odds than earning a spot in the NBA.
Plus, your parents weren't hoping for this. I promise. Not with that geology degree from MIT. Or even State. Or wherever you went and whatever you got the day you graduated.
Yet, consider the field of competition for a paltry return on effort. Hard to imagine but true: your average three minute upload competes with 72 hours of other video uploads added to YouTube every minute. Every minute. 72 hours of video. My calculator makes that 103,680 hours of new content uploaded each day.
Good luck on your cuddly cats sleeping with their arms outstretched!
No wonder no one can pay off their student loans.
The YouTube payoff
YouTube's Next Up is akin to winning the poor man's lottery. That is, this lottery rains down a mere $35,000 (cash - no strings!) and the right to keep producing content in your bedroom. I believe this would put winners close to the poverty line, albeit in a self-employed occupation with low overhead.
But, a YouTuber does not live by winnings alone. These self-made stars are reportedly among the "hundreds" who earn around six figures from an intense commitment to their art and their audiences.
Thinking you're going to be a thousand-aire from YouTube might lead you to produce a clip as good as "Ching Chong! Asians in the Library Song," which also netted it author Jimmy Wong a moment on NPR to explain himself.
It appears that YouTube is to paid content as Ebay is to paid stuff you want to get out of your parents' garage. It takes nearly 3 shifts a day everyday to monitor and prod this income producer along, but it's worth it because you may need that garage longer than you'd hoped, and are starting to think about living more spaciously with better insulation.
So, really! What is the lesson to be learned about your own personal branding, given the relative success of the Next Up stars?
These talents have
"worked their way up from small audiences with whom they tend to interact directly on the site's comments boards… Building audience is a challenge.. It means the audience actively and intimates creates its stars," per the New York Times magazine article profiling these heroic achievers.
On your personal brand
On sites like LinkedIn and other places like your blog: what are you doing to produce and push content that stands out from the clutter of other people who are trying to gain the attention of the same audience you are? That audience might be recruiters, employers, prospective clients, referral sources, new partners, or maybe even investors.
How are you interacting with these audiences once you've netted a comment or a link?
Is your web presence what you do? Or is your web presence something that you have?
The world and its fortunes large and small will go to people who earn their personal brands everyday, the hard way. By working it - putting great stuff out there, shopping around for where your audience is, and attracting them to go see your stuff. Use every social media and networking form you can try. Stick with those that seem to need you. Ask them to like you. And show how much you value them.
You might be next up for the next great job, promotion, project or capital investment.
But before you are next up? You've got to show up.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen