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YouTube Automation Sprouts Cottage Industry That Promises Fast Money

Scott Mitchell was convinced that YouTube would make him rich.

Mr Mitchell, 33, got the idea last year from videos that promoted courses on creating so-called Cash Cow channels, which are often created through a process called YouTube automation.

So he bought one course, then another and another. He also paid for consulting services. Mister Mitchell spent nearly $15,000 on his YouTube venture, faced with obstacles at every stage – courses that taught him little, freelancers stealing content, and audience growth tactics that got him in trouble with YouTube.

“I have tried three courses and one specialist, and the only thing I found was an empty wallet,” said Mr. Mitchell.

YouTube automation has fueled the cottage industry with online influencers providing tutorials and opportunities to make money fast. But, as is often the case with online businesses with promises to make a fortune quickly, the YouTube automation process can be a money pit for aspiring Internet entrepreneurs and a magnet for posers selling useless services.

It’s not hard to find a video that fits the YouTube automation model, though it’s hard to say for sure how many of them have been made. They usually have an unseen narrator and a catchy title. They share news, explain a topic or provide top 10 lists about celebrities or athletes. They often collect content such as video clips and photos from other sources. Sometimes, they get into trouble with copyright rules.

The term “YouTube automation” is a bit wrong. This usually means hiring freelancers instead of relying on an automated process. This is hardly a new idea and yet one that has become more popular recently. Farming out work allows people to play multiple channels, without the time-consuming tasks of writing scripts, recording voice-overs, or editing videos. And the process is often touted as a foolproof way to make cash. To get started, all you need is money—how-to courses and video creators.

Courses instruct people to find video topics that appeal to viewers. They are asked to hire freelancers from online marketplaces where independent contractors, such as Fiverr and Upwork, manage their channels and create videos that cost from less than $30 to over $100, depending on the rates the freelancers rate. offer. And this is where many people have trouble.

Cash cow channels with large audiences can generate thousands of dollars in monthly advertising revenue, while creating nothing that is unpopular. After a channel gets 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of viewership, YouTube shares the advertising revenue with the channel owner. Monetized channels get 55 percent of the money their videos generate – that is, if they manage to garner that much interest. YouTube declined to comment on the automation process.

Last summer, Mr. Mitchell paid $500 for a course called “Tube Mastery and Monetization” taught by Matt Parr, who said he made $30,000 a month on YouTube. He said that successful students had made $20,000 per month.

The course includes videos on various aspects of YouTube automation, including choosing the most engaging topics, outsourcing work, and using keywords to make videos easier to find on YouTube. Mr. Par also explained how YouTube’s algorithms work.

But Mr Mitchell said there were gaps in the curriculum – it lacked the know-how to make high-quality videos with good scripts. He and other students also complained in a private Facebook group that Mr. Paar’s course material was available for free on his YouTube page.

“It’s basically selling dreams,” said Mr. Mitchell. Mr Par did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Mitchell, who asked The New York Times not to reveal where he lived, started his first channel, Bounty Lux, about money and celebrities, last fall. He paid a freelancer he met on Fiverr $2,000 for 20 videos. YouTube removed one of those videos, about Dwayne Johnson, that featured stolen content from another channel, leading to a dispute with the freelancer. Bounty Lux didn’t make money and struggled for audiences, so Mr. Mitchell dropped it.

He later bought a course for $1,500 and spent over $3,000 to learn from an influential figure in Pivotal Media, Victor Catrina. He paid Mr. Katrina’s team a further $3,000 to produce the video, but, he said, the ideas and scripts were sourced from other channels.

After his freelancer went missing for five days, Mr. Mitchell decided to stop investing in an unprofitable channel. Mr Katrina said if he ever found out that one of his teams was paraphrasing other people’s scripts, he would change them.

“I am nowhere near perfect, and neither is the program,” said Mr. Katrina. “And I have openly and happily sent refunds to people who either had financial struggles or believed the program was not up to their standards.”

Alexandra Fasulo of Fort Myers, Fla., and her cousin spent $20,000 on a YouTube automation program by Caleb Boxx in March 2021. In return, Mr. Boxx’s team managed a celebrity channel for Ms. Fasulo, 29, and produced videos for more than that. six months. But there were quality issues, she said, and the videos failed to capture many viewers. Mr Boxx did not respond to a request for comment. The channel made less than $10 a day, so when it came time to pay for a new batch of videos, it dropped it.

“That’s why automation isn’t worth it – you put a lot of money upfront,” Ms Fasulo said.

Dave Nik, a Serbian creator whose real name is Dejan Nikoli, has promoted YouTube automation since 2019. Mr Nikolic, 20, appears on camera on three channels, and said he has four channels with unseen storytellers and 12 on YouTube Shorts, a quick-clip competitor to TikTok.

Mr Nikolic said he made $1.4 million in 2021, including his own how-to courses and services, and has already made $1 million this year. The key was his $995 course, which accounted for 70 percent of his income.

“Not a lot of people have made over two million in a year with YouTube automation,” he said. Online business services is “how do you get eight figures”.

He said that many of his students made five figures a month on YouTube, but he didn’t have an exact count of how many.

Mr. Nikolic’s YouTube videos highlight the money he has earned and how much viewers can expect to make on their own. His Instagram account has excerpts about building a travel destination, a Rolex and a Porsche, as well as a YouTube business. But Mr Nikolic said his life “wasn’t just glamorous.”

“I spend about 15 hours a day at my computer,” he said.

One key to making money from automated YouTube videos is feeding the internet’s obsession with tech billionaire, Elon Musk.

Chanel Elon Musk Rewind was last introduced by Jailin Brands of Urk, Netherlands. Some of its content is inaccurate, such as a recent video announcing the launch of a Tesla smartphone. Still, Ms. Brands said it has made $250,000 since its launch. (The Times was unable to verify this figure.) Her channel included news, rumors, and speculation about upcoming Tesla products.

She also offers a how-to course, and many students in her course have started Musk Channels, even though she told them not to. She also competes with her sister, who has a channel dedicated to the billionaire.

“The business model is going downhill because the competition is so fierce,” said Noah Morris, coach of the Miss Brands course at Cash Cow Academy Netherlands.

Ms Brands began offering the courses in December 2020, months after paying $1,000 for a YouTube tutorial, which she later learned was only a four-page document. She said she has 1,700 students, most of whom paid 1,000 euros for her course, she said. Between 100 and 200 of them told them that they were making money on YouTube.

“I love my job,” she said. “I don’t even consider it work. It is like a hobby for me. It’s like a game.”

Still, she’s not untouched by the vagaries of YouTube’s algorithms. She said her Musk channel earned €7,500 a month, down from €50,000, or about $50,000, in November. He said that the income of his alumni has also seen a decline. Recently, he created 16 channels in a week to stabilize his business.

The challenging landscape has also prompted some of Ms. Brands’ students to offer their own courses.

Youri van Hofwegen, a 21-year-old Dutch creator known online as Youri Automation, said some people had unrealistic expectations about YouTube’s success.

“They want to pay $200 and make $20,000 by next week,” he said. “There’s no secret, magic strategy. It’s just about putting in the work.”

The course caused problems for Mr. Mitchell. A freelancer from a guru’s Facebook group asked him to buy a money-making channel from a company that earns fake viewers from bots. Mr. Michel gave $5,000 to the freelancer to make about 60 videos about crypto and making money online.

YouTube quickly stripped a channel of its ability to make money. The other struggled for months to find an audience before uploading three pirated videos. YouTube removed the channel for copyright infringement. The freelancer claimed that someone else had posted videos of sabotage.

But Mr. Mitchell is still considering taking out a loan to buy a $30,000 YouTube channel.

“It’s my last ditch strategy,” he said. “I just need a little more time.” And Mr. Mitchell can offer a course or manual of his own once he knows what to teach.

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