One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel,” said the email I got from YouTube this morning.  Apparently their “anyone” doesn’t include me.

YouTube says it is tightening its rules and raising the minimum threshold of subscribers you must have in order to monetize your content.  You will know need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of “watchtime” within the past year.  My account has neither.  I will certainly miss the 29 cents I made in December and $4.29 ads earned on my channel lifetime. I had almost earned enough in 8 years to get a quality cup of coffee!

“As a result, your channel will lose access to all monetization tools and features associated with the YouTube Partner Program on February 20, 2018 unless you surpass this threshold in the next 30 days,” YouTube said by email.

While it really doesn’t make a difference to me, it does make a difference to an awful lot of small publishers that have found niche audiences, like Reenie’s Travel & Lifestyle channel.  “I spent money on new camera, equipment, laptop and just about to reach my threshold on google adsense,” Reenie posted. Or Angelmika who commented, “It’s always something with youtube…it’s not the smaller channels that caused negativity within the last year but us smaller channels have to suffer.”

99% of the channels affected, the company says, were making less than $100 a year.  90% earned less than $2.50 in the last month.

“A big part of that effort will be strengthening our requirements for monetization so spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors can’t hurt our ecosystem or take advantage of you, while continuing to reward those who make our platform great.” – YouTube Creator Blog

So… I guess I could get traffic to my channel quickly the old fashioned way:  Buy it.  There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of companies that will sell you YouTube subscribers – mostly fake accounts – and promise video views – mostly bots I suspect.  For small publishers, though, that would be an ego play and not worth the investment given the small returns.

“When they reach 1,000 subs and 4,000 watch hours they will be automatically re-evaluated under strict criteria to ensure they comply with our policies. New channels will need to apply, and their application will be evaluated when they hit these milestones.” – Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer and Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer

Just as Facebook let publishers know they would de-emphasize their content in its news feeds, YouTube is reminding us again that they can change the rules at any time.  They are in control, not us.