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A handful of internet stars turn video views into pay cheques.
Gayathri Vantillu (44) is a homemaker who likes to cook. But unlike others she put her passion for cooking to use. She began uploading home videos of her cooking – shot on a handycam – on video streaming site YouTube. Later, her neighbour's son also helped her sign up as a partner on YouTube. Three years, 290 videos, 2,000 subscribers and over five million views later, today, Vantillu earns about Rs 40,000 a month from her online cookery channel.
Vantillu could earn money from her videos because she chose to sign up for Google YouTube's partner programme, which allows content owners to monetise the content via online ads. The now famous Kolaveri video, which got more than four million hits in just about 10 days, did not earn any advertising revenues as the content owner (Sony Music) was not a YouTube Partner.
To sign up for partner programme, content owner needs to contact YouTube and once approved, they can start a small enterprise right on their computers.
YouTube has been the starting ground for many internet stars, but only a few have been able to turn the video views into pay cheques. With 23 million unique users landing on YouTube, as per comscore data, it's a huge market place to sell original content.
Another cooking enthusiast, Veena Nair started her channel on YouTube to help bachelors, professionals craving for homemade food or newly-married women across globe. She recently won the "Next Chef" contest on YouTube, bagged $15,000 as prize money, along with professional film-making and editing equipment and a 12-week course that to enhance her cooking and style her video clips.
Online content sharing has been the buzz for quite some time now. Pop artistes and celebrities have been using the medium to interact with fans, and monetise their content through advertisements that appear on the same page. The trend, however, is just emerging in India.
Nair points that from being able to make only instant noodles as a new bride to now teaching people the finer aspects of cooking Italian, continental, Chinese, Thai and Indian cuisine, she has come a long way in the last 18 months. "I wanted to feel confident in the kitchen. Once I picked up tips from friends and family, I thought of helping others in a similar predicament. YouTube provided me with the perfect platform," notes Nair.
YouTube has broadened its partnership opportunities to include individual video owners along with professional content producers like YashRaj films, UTV, Shemaroo and many more. As a partner, YouTube allows creators to monetise the video and share revenue earned from it. What's the catch? YouTube partners must create original videos suitable for online streaming, regularly upload content, and give permission to use and monetise all audio and video content uploaded.
The knowledge sharing could be about anything. While cooking and fitness top the list, make-up and style tips, music and video blogging about films and current events are also popular. Basic research, good presentation skills, and regular uploading of content ensures not only subscribers, channel views and strong advertising revenues, but also, sometimes, rewards and recognition.
Raghav Pande, fitness trainer, nutrition specialist and winner of YouTube's "Next Trainer" contest says, "YouTube as a medium allows me to attract and interact with a wider audience, which was my aim in taking to the internet." He now has clients from all over the world who visit his website and keep in touch with him for their fitness and nutrition requirements." His channel on YouTube has garnered more than 2,40,000 views and over 1,200 subscribers in the last couple of years.
It doesn't take much effort on Pande's part to maintain the channel. A non-professional cameraman helps him shoot the video over a day or two, which then takes three to four hours to edit. The final clip, running up to 3.5 minutes is then given to YouTube to upload.
If one does not wish to be burdened with the task of production or managing a channel online, there are companies like YoBoHo, which has collaborated with musicians, fitness experts, video bloggers, amateur cooks, among many others to produce content with them and then monetise it. The payment for a single clip can range from anywhere between Rs 300-Rs 1,000 or even more, depending on the channel's subscriber base, the potential to attract channel views, thereby increasing the advertising revenues.
Hitendra Merchant, CEO of YoBoHo, says understanding the target audience for the video clip is essential. "Building a dedicated subscriber base, providing them with a steady stream of creative, original and communicative content, and keeping them updated about new videos is the key to make it successful here."
Singer and songwriter, Neha Bhasin who has over 1.2 million views since her channel's inception in September 2010, ensures that her channel's home page is an extension of her personality and the brand of music she produces. "Internet audience is very different from TV audience." On her channel, subscribers know expect more than the regular Bollywood fare, she adds.
Regular uploads of new content is also important in keeping subscribers happy.
Yoga teacher Devidatta Sukhatankar uploads anywhere between one video a day to at least three videos a week on his channel. Maintaining the frequency of uploads has ensured his channel 1.6 million views in the last one year, building his real world clientele as well.