Becoming an Expat You Tube Millionaire
Part 1 How and Why
I like the title of this blog entry – it kind of reminds me of the “How to Live Like a King in the Philippines for only $1,000 Dollars a Month!” blurbs I sometimes see on some Philippine expat channels – a catchy phrase, but one that’s more than a little misleading…
In all honesty, I actually do intend to eventually become a millionaire on You Tube but with one caveat – my goal is to be a Philippine peso millionaire, which at the latest exchange rate comes out to about $21,000 USD. And as for fulfilling that goal, I think I only have about another seven or eight years to go… Woo-hoo! In the meantime, I’ll just keep adding up those centavos as they come trickling in….
There has been some talk on some Philippine Expat You Tube channels as to how much one make by monetizing their travel YouTube site. Some of the numbers that have been bandied around are a bit off, so I thought I’d take some time to address that. Bottom line is – unless you are REALLY good at making viral videos that get over a million views each, you are not going to make on You Tube to sustain anything the lowest levels of existence. Even with the realities of the very low cost of living in the Philippines – it’s just not going to happen. That said, be assured that it will add something in terms of supplemental income – just how much depending on how hard you are willing to work and how much engagement you can create on your channel. But we’ll get into engagement a little bit later…
Why Do It
There are a number of reasons for starting up a You Tube channel. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Legacy: We all want to leave something behind. The transitory nature of life can be kind of depressing at times, and leaving a tangible legacy can bring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Sure, folks one hundred years from now might look at our footage the same way that we now look back at the “talky” movie footage at the turn of the 20th century, but as long as they can see it, appreciate it, and maybe learn from it, it’s all good.
Money: If you enjoy doing videos, you can also make a little money along the way, which is never a bad thing. You won’t get rich, but after a while, it might pay the rent.
Information: The emergence of the World Wide Web changed EVERYTHING. Information is now at the tips of our fingers and learning new things has never been easier. Need to know how to solder on a new laptop video card? Google and You Tube to the rescue! Expat channels in particular can be a good source of information for those thinking of living, studying, working or retiring to the Philippines. And through our experiences (and misadventures!), having a YouTube channel allows one to pass of some of that knowledge.
Communication: Having a You Tube channel is a GREAT way to keep family and friends appraised of where you are and how you are doing. My mom and dad were my earliest subscribers, and they always look forward to new videos. I can’t really rely on them for actual, objective criticism, but hey, they’re my folks.
Learn New Skills: Learning new things is always good, especially for us “old dawgs.” If you start a You Tube channel, you are going to learn a great deal about using cameras, editing software and video composition. And with its sometimes steep learning curve, your Google search skills are going to develop exponentially along the way as well!
Become better orators: As with the new skills noted above, you will notice your elocution skills in front of the camera getting better over time. I can still remember my very first video – after about fifteen takes of getting tongue tied and losing my train of thought (right off the rails), I finally gave up and packed it in for another day. Now, I can pretty much just remember some key points and babble away in a halfway coherent manner with a relative minimum of ‘ah’s’ and ‘um’s.’
Purpose: I am a big proponent of having passion and purpose in one’s life, and as long as you truly enjoy doing it, creating steady content for a YouTube channel can go a long way to maintaining both. Well, that is until it starts to feel more like a job than anything else (see Downsides, below).
Objectivity: Watching yourself on video is a pretty weird experience, especially when it comes to noting your mannerisms and body language. These are things that we normally don’t see when we are walking around looking out of our own eyeballs. As I note, some of the things you might find out about yourself might not be all that pleasant (I relate some of my own deficiencies in the video), but when it comes to personal change, recognizing those exhibited shortcomings is the first step to doing something about it. Plus – like me – you might notice some odd physical characteristics that you didn’t realize you had: In my case, the amazing size of my nose, which I had never noticed before as I had always viewed myself straight on in the mirror.
Posterity: We are all getting older and our memories are starting to fade. What won’t fade, however, are the videos and information that we are putting on the net – they are there forever. Ever since video technology has been dropped into the hands of humankind, we’ve been using it to take “home movies,” recording the moments in our lives that are important to us. And as technology has moved along, the ease of use and longevity of the medium has increased exponentially: An 8 mm home movie of your first communion won’t last long on celluloid, but that digital video you uploaded of your wedding ceremony is there to stay. For better or for worse….
And it will sure be fun to look back 20 years from now at our younger selves and get a good chuckle at our own expense.
As with most things in life, there are downsides to maintaining a You Tube channel. Or, as I am wont to say – it’s not all puppies and rainbows.
Anonymity: If you become somewhat popular in your particular niche, you’re going to lose your anonymity and strangers are going to approach you on the street. It’s a bit odd, but it’s something to keep in mind. Luckily, everyone we have met thus far has been very nice and no one has punched me in the nose for portraying the Philippines as something that it is not. Phew!
Grinding Content: Uploading regular content can be onerous at times, occasionally feeling more like a job than anything else. This happens to me now and then, and that’s when I’ll usually take some time off to clear my head and smell the mango blossoms. All work and no play, makes Ned a dull boy, after all…
Trolls: Welcome to the internet, my friends. Couched behind anonymous screen names the usual social controls of human interaction are gone, and over time you are going to attract some pretty odd ducks. You can usually identify them by the comments they make not only on your channel but on other’s YouTubers’ channels. I don’t have a whole lot of free time, so I usually just hit the block button once they start in with their diatribes. After that, all they can do is come by and give you “Thumbs Down” votes on your videos, which is OK as it only increases your video engagement rates and boosts your earnings.
List of Philippine Expat Channels
Up to a few years ago, there were not that many Philippine expat channels to be found on YouTube – when I was doing my own research for a possible move to our island kingdom, it was basically Popz65, Soyummykaya (now gentooman19), Jack Northrup and Life Beyond the Sea. Nowadays the “market” is getting rather flooded with all kinds of folks starting up channels. It has some small affect on earnings, but keep in mind that competition is always a good thing as are alternative viewpoints and takes on life in a foreign land. With that in mind, if you are going to be truly successful, try to hone out your own little niche in the growing market.
Here’s some examples:
Brit in the Philippines: A British gent trying to maintain a budget of $575 a month in the Philippines.
Bud Brown: American and his Filipina wife come back to the Philippines after decades in the United States. Bud is also quite the linguist, being fully fluent in Tagalog (Filipino).
SezStyle: Young American and his wife living in San Francisco.
Nomadic in the Philippines: A young Canadian and his Filipina wife backpacking around the Philippines.
Hoodwinked by an Angel: No idea how to describe this one….. sort of a cross between Dr. Seuss and Apocalypse Now. J
Evan Burris Trout: A young American film maker’s experiences in the Philippines while attending Big Foot Studios in Cebu. Just check his earliest videos. Highly recommended!
Jack Northrup An endearing gent living on the southern part of Luzon. One of the earliest Philippine expat YouTubers.
Gentooman19 Formerly SoYummyKaya, he now seems to be based in and around Angeles City on Luzon. A genuinely funny American with a dry sense of humour that I can totally appreciate.
Life Beyond the Sea Henry is the second biggest You Tuber dealing with life in the Philippines. Before I came here, I think I watched all of his videos. I think at this point, he has over 500 up on his channel.
Finally, be sure to check out the video below. It is a video done by Evan Burris Trout, a young American filmmaker’s first week in the Philippines while attending Big Foot Studios. More than anything else, it truly captures that WTF feeling you have after first arriving here.
Are you a glutton punishment and want to check out part two of becoming a Philippines Expat You Tube Millionaire? Just click HERE to feel the pain.