Youtube Stories: My Journey to Monetization

The podcast of this blogpost is available here.

This post has been languishing in my drafts folder for months, and I thought it was about time I finished it and published it. I’ve been a content creator for 9 months now, but I actually started in Youtube in 2007 as a “watcher” — as part of the then growing YouTube audience. I did try to make a video or two in the intervening years since, but I never really quite caught the groove. So I dropped out, came back, and was totally discouraged by the monetization requirements of years past. I marked my web presence on Instagram and recently, Tiktok, but it was just me being there, documenting my days. It was just like writing here was to me— a way to memorialize life.

Then sometime in June, a friend who has had quite the success with her own channel goaded me into giving it a try. This time, I had her wisdom and guidance to encourage me through the seemingly tall order of racking up 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours within a year. (240,000 minutes!) She told me she knew I would be able to do it, given my penchant to snap pictures and videos of things I bump into and pass as a denizen of New York City.

I had 3 accounts which had videos of some sort and which were connected to my personal brand and pursuits. There was GothamChick which, like my blog, was meant to be my crafting channel. There was The Postcard Storyteller which had two or three videos uploaded in the last year, given my return to active postcard trading. Then there was, of course, Pinay New Yorker, which I snagged in 2007 when I started on YouTube.

Of the three, the choice of Pinay New Yorker was obvious given my focus on “New York.” I also thought it would be a good partner to my 2-years-in-the-making podcast which I wanted to call “Conversations with Pinay New Yorker”. With all that settled, I started with begging friends and relatives to subscribe and add to my 20-something viewers. This was important because I could not do any streaming videos until I hit 50. And when I did, the journey started in earnest.

I knew from the start my vlog was going to be about New York. There were endless subjects to film as I had been doing, and it was a topic of interest to the world. Something as common as walking past the Chrysler Building (which happens to be my favorite building in New York City, by the way,) was a sight to behold for people thousands of miles away. I could take footage of my walk to work along Park Avenue, and that was already one video to upload.

I also didn’t even have to debate the topic of being in front of the camera or just putting out a so-called faceless channel, because I wanted the focus of the channel to be New York, not me. I have always been confident that New York, by itself, would be enough to sell my channel. And to be honest, I don’t have the self-assuredness to actually show myself on cam beyond my voice and my hands. So that was settled.

I published a long livestream the first opportunity I got, which was when I hit my first 50 subscribers. I uploaded content consistently, going around the parks and sights and doing Times Square and similar attractions. I made sure my videos were at least 10 minutes long, and I toyed with the thumbnail until I settled on the current one which I am reworking across my channel. It was simpler, direct to the point, and almost always mentioned New York or NYC somewhere there. This wasn’t my own idea— I looked at well established channels showcasing destinations and picked up the simplicity of their titles.

I managed to rack up the 4,000 hours before the 1000 subscribers which was the more difficult task of the two for me. I joined community chats in the livestreams, actively sought out so-called “new and beginning YouTubers” like myself, leaving comments and subscribing to their channels. And more importantly, I started creating shorts.

Shorts are a minute or less clips that have their own category in the YouTube realm. Again, I focused on the easily obtainable clips of my daily life. People walking to work, the New York icons all around me like Times Square, and our parks. My breakfast or the sizzling steak I’m cooking. A BTS birthday video I caught quite by accident, or clips of magazine pages referencing HRH Queen Elizabeth II when she passed. I was so surprised at what topics or clips caught people’s fancy. And I was even more surprised at how those shorts brought in the subscribers.

In 4 months, I became a YouTube partner. My channel was finally monetized with my 1000 subscribers, and over 5000 of the 4000 watch hour requirements.

It’s been just over 5 months since, and I’m at 2270 subscribers as of this writing. And to be honest, my YouTube revenue just slumped over $20 a week or two ago. Yay on that! I’m not fazed or discouraged. This whole journey, after all, has always been meant to be a stress free and fun passion project. And to date, it has stayed that way.

I’m hoping to make it to 3000 subscribers by the time I hit my first year anniversary. Baby steps.

I am still a new YouTuber, otherwise referred to as a beginner. I claim no expertise other than what I have managed to build within my channel. I want to help fellow new YouTubers to establish their own channels by sharing my journey, and I have been so surprised at how many Pinoys are out there. It makes me feel proud to be among both small and big channels alike, because I feel like I am part of a big community of kababayans (countrymen) who are trying to make their way around YouTube.

And my biggest supporters and mentors have come from the same group. Being on YouTube isn’t quite as easy or as glamorous an activity as others might think. You have to go in with low expectations, and a boat load of confidence. You have to be willing to learn and to share, and do your own marketing and networking to grow. it does take a village, starting with your first 1000 subscribers. Your first 240,000 minutes watched or the 4000 watch hour requirement cannot be achieved alone.

So I seek out new organic subs and watchers— I look at what my analytics tell me, and I try to learn from those who have done more than I have. It is a journey I have come to enjoy and have fun with — and one I will stay on for as long as it stays that way for me.

I upload shorts everyday, and a long form or full video at least every 3-4 days, if not daily. You can find me on YouTube as @pinay.newyorker , or you can just click on this link.

Finally, as we YouTubers always say, please don’t forget to click the “like” and “subscribe” button.

Below is my latest upload, showing New York as I ride a bus out of Manhattan, on the way home.