Globally, YouTubers are coining it. Big money can be made from YouTube ads and the more hits and subscribers, the better.
Some of SA’s biggest YouTubers – think Caspar Lee, gaming geek Grant Hinds and action man Chris Rogers – have gone abroad to really make their bucks. We sat down with local YouTube star Moyin Oloruntuba to find out how she is trying to change the way that money is made in South Africa’s YouTube space.
Nigerian-born Oloruntuba, 26, is based in Cape Town and hosts the A1 channel, an entertainment and pop culture news portal with more than 7 000 subscribers.
The A1 channel went up in October 2015 and since then Oloruntuba has been working hard to create quality content, and make money from it.
“I was blogging at first, primarily about African fashion, but I didn’t really enjoy writing,” says Oloruntuba. “Through my blogging I got in contact with quite a few entertainment industry people and found myself getting invited to industry events. I decided to start filming these experiences and interviewing people that I knew at these events.” She has always loved watching TV and YouTube videos – Zoella and Caspar Lee are favourites – so it made sense for her to try this space.
Oloruntuba doesn’t only use YouTube to post her videos, but has also used the platform to perfect her craft. “I learnt how to properly shoot and edit by watching YouTube videos. I started the channel
to make myself a better presenter and build a portfolio, so if opportunities in the entertainment industry came up I could show people what I have done.”
From day one, the A1 channel did not compromise on quality. Regardless of a lack of resources, A1 has always looked like a professional TV production. “I’ve always been really great at creating visuals. I can’t watch a bad production so I can never create one. I spend countless hours editing my work,” she says.
When she isn’t working on her channel, Oloruntuba uses these skills to create visuals for websites and brands. In the South African economic landscape, a YouTube channel alone cannot pay the bills.
“People, including some of our big brands, think that having many subscribers is the marker for a YouTube channel’s success. This isn’t necessarily true. Reaching ten thousand subscribers means that you get your own URL; it doesn’t always mean more money,” Oloruntuba explains. “Money is made through views. A view is 13 seconds long. The amount you can make from a view is dependent on ads, the type of audience your channel attracts and if people are watching the ads all the way to the end.”
The average amount of money YouTube pays for 1 000 views is 10 cents, so with a million views a month she could earn R10 000. “If I worked entirely on my own and kept my expenses low, while managing to achieve that monthly amount of views, I could somewhat live off YouTube.”
A million views a month is nothing to some international YouTubers, but in South Africa it is an exception, not the norm. A channel’s monthly view count is unpredictable, which leads to an unpredictable salary. This is why You-Tubers collaborate with brands to make profits off their channels.
“The US has far more adver-tisers than we do and YouTube fame is easier. That fame often leads to book deals, TV shows or working with major publications. Here, doing campaigns with brands is our bread and butter, but brands don’t always want to pay content creators or they don’t understand how a campaign can work for both parties.”
Oloruntuba found great success in her recent collaboration with Burger King. She wants to do more though, to teach brands the value of YouTubers and teach her fellow content creators how to approach brands.
“Hosting events where brands and content producers meet and discuss the way forward is one of the projects I am working on. Brands think working with a YouTuber is a risk. I want to show them that this is not the case; I want to show them the opportunities that can come from working with me or other You-Tubers,” Oloruntuba says. “I need to teach them that paying people in product instead of money is counterproductive and make them see the hard work and time that goes into creating YouTube videos.”
Even though Oloruntuba has faced her challenges, she is having fun. “At the mall the other day, I was in the bathroom and a young lady walked up to and asked if I have a YouTube channel. I’d never been recognised like that before.”
Now that she’s developing a loyal fanbase, does that mean it’s time to leave the Internet and get a hosting job on TV?
“I would never leave the A1 for a TV opportunity. I would have to do both. We’re thinking of branching out to doing A1 sports and a vlog called A1 life. I could not possibly leave the movement that I have started.”