YouTube (and Amazon) Are Not Your Friends

YouTube (and Amazon) Are Not Your Friends

Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.
I’m gonna talk about the recent changes YouTube has made to its ad policy, because a lot of people are upset about it and I have some thoughts.

Now of course, my channel is tiny. Not even 4,000 subscribers yet. And that might be enough reason for you watching this to say I don’t know what I’m talking about and stop watching.

I think that would be a mistake, though. And I’m not saying that because I want your watch time, because this video isn’t even monetized.

See, I’ve never been a big YouTuber, but I am a pretty successful independent author. And so for the last couple of years I’ve straddled this line between YouTube and Amazon.

And the two platforms are different in a lot of ways, but they’re almost identical in others.

And because of the money involved, indies have been very aggressive in hacking Amazon, and it’s taught us MANY lessons that we all take for granted, but which aren’t widely known in the space of online video creation.

And I keep seeing things happen on YouTube, big, site-wide crises that lots of people are affected by and talk about, and the problems stem from something that indie authors kind of solved a long time ago.

The biggest, most pervasive, number one thing I wish people would realize about YouTube, that indie authors have long since realized about Amazon, is this:

If you don’t own your own audience, you will never survive in the long term, no matter what platform you’re on.

This is the very first thing you learn as an indie author. It’s drilled into your head by every single person who knows what they’re talking about.

What that means for an author is that you have to have an email list of people who you can email when you release a new book. Or a bunch of people subscribed to your blog or other website, who you can tell when you’ve released a new book.

Because if you just put out a book and rely on Amazon to tell people that it’s there, and that they should buy it, you’re almost certainly not going to succeed.

And YouTube is the same way. You DO NOT own your subscribers on YouTube. You don’t have their email addresses, you don’t have any way to contact them EXCEPT YouTube

And we’ve seen that YouTube isn’t exactly super dedicated to making sure your subscribers see you.

So you’ve got to own your audience, but what then? Even if you have a channel with a million subscribers, AND you have all of their email addresses so you can email them whenever you put out a new video, is that a guarantee of success?

Of course not. Because, how do you make money on YouTube? Through ads. And how much control do you have over those ads?

Right. Not very much. None at all, in fact.

Let’s not even talk about demonetization—or, wait, actually, let’s DEFINITELY talk about demonetization.

YouTube can take away ALL ads on your channel at any time! And they will! They have! They DO!

And this is the other big lesson indie authors learned a long time ago. It’s not enough JUST to own your audience. You then have to have a product to sell them that YOU own and control.

And the more products the better. Indie authors with more books do better than indie authors with less books. Period. Makes sense, right?

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at

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