A 20-something man sits in a robe in his bedroom, talking about nothing in particular and belching at the camera. He interrupts his conversation with the camera to chat with viewers, whose messages constantly stream to the right of the video. This is the world of YouNow.
Sometimes there’s more substance to the video streams. For example, one artist draws pictures while viewers watch and ask questions about her technique. Others play music.
But many people who appear on YouNow offer nothing more than a glimpse into their lives and a running commentary to go with it.
Why would you turn the camera on yourself and let the world watch as you drive around town or sit on your porch talking? Maybe you just like to share your life with others.
Well, here’s another reason to consider giving it a try: If enough viewers decide to follow your regular video adventures, you can make a lot of money on YouNow.
This Isn’t YouTube
One thing you’ll notice right away is this isn’t like making YouTube videos. In fact, you’re creating a video that will never be seen again.
On YouNow, you simply appear in a live video stream. No retakes, no editing. Just turn on the camera and start talking or doing something.
Another difference is the lack of advertising. That may be nice for viewers, but that ad revenue is key for YouTube creators.
So, how do you make money on YouNow?
You get tips. That’s right, you rely on tips — and you aren’t allowed to ask for them or do anything specific to encourage tipping.
The company rejected an advertising model in favor of a more “creator-centric approach,” YouNow Chief Executive Officer Adi Sideman told Bloomberg.
YouNow viewers earn digital “coins” by logging in and watching videos.They can use these coins to buy “bars” to tip creators. YouNow takes a cut of about 30% before sharing these tips with creators as real money.
How Much Can You Make as a YouNow Star?
A number of people actually make a living on YouNow, just from those tips, reports Bloomberg.
For example, Tayser Abuhamdeh, a former store clerk, makes as much as $1,000 for a 45-minute broadcast. Another broadcaster, a college art teacher, quit his $73,000-per-year position when he saw his YouNow income could replace that salary.
As you might expect, you need a big following and a lot of on-screen time to make much money. Abuhamdeh, who makes three times what he made as a store clerk, has 135,000 followers and sometimes broadcasts for hours at a time.
The other way to make money is one that’s worked for social media stars elsewhere: Parlay your fame into something bigger.
— At least a dozen 2015 movies will star people who got their starts appearing in videos on Vine or YouTube, reports The New York Times.
— Benny and Rafi Fine got their own TV show after posting videos on YouTube.
— Television ads using Vine videos are becoming more common.
— However you feel about him, you’ve probably forgotten that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube.
Other Opportunities for Fame
— It’s easy to find long lists of celebrities who started on YouTube.
YouNow might have similar potential for cashing in on a bit of fame.
How to Get Started and Qualify to Get Paid
Sign up for a free account on YouNow.com, download the app, and you’re ready to turn on the camera.
But to get paid, you have to become a YouNow Partner. Here’s what you need to do for a shot at the money:
- Broadcast at least twice a week.
- Have an average of 500 viewers.
Follow the rules, which include the following:
- Don’t hurt yourself or others.
- Keep your clothes on.
- No hate speech or bullying.
- Never share contact information.
- Don’t solicit tips.
- Don’t violate copyrights.
- No impersonating other members.
Will YouNow Last?
If you want to become a YouNow celebrity and make money streaming your life and thoughts to the world, you might want to start now.
In June, “users spent between $1.5 million and $2 million giving each other digital tips, with the company keeping about 30%,” according to Bloomberg. But the story also quotes a number of cynics who think the model is unsustainable.
If, as the skeptics predict, YouNow is eventually forced to change to an advertising-business model, you might still make money. Revenue sharing, as is done on YouTube, seems likely at some point.
On the other hand, if YouNow continues with the tip-based model, and viewers, who are largely used to free entertainment, stop tipping, the whole thing could go down in flames within a few years.
So make your money now if you can, and do as many other creators do: Keep posting videos to your YouTube channel just in case.
Your Turn: Do you broadcast and make money on YouNow? Please share your experience in the comments!
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier. But of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).