For the past few days I've been forced to reevaluate a lot of the reasons that I chose to get into reviewing anime and manga. The recent YouTube adsense crisis, and the monetization apocalypse has hit more than just my kind hard in the wallet, though I'd be lying if I said that I actually made enough money from reviewing anime to do more than maybe buy a subscription to a few streaming sites, and an occasional piece of new product. Hardly enough to pay my water bill.
And, while others have seen a drastic drop in their viewerbase, many of them have been able to rebound, or at least redirect their audience to other internet resources, such as Twitch or crowdfunding like, Patreon.
I on the other hand seem to be in the minority of those that don't have that luxury. I am caught somewhere in the middle of barely enough viewers to get my videos seen, and total and complete obscurity.
I'm sure if you were to ask any one of the hundreds of other anime reviewers if they'd ever heard my name, they'd probably say, "no." Which is understandable... I'm not very outgoing, I'm not apart of any groups, and I've only ever collaborated with one other YouTuber on a project.
Looking over the more than 500 videos that I've produced in the three years I've made reviewing anime and manga, and discussing J-pop my thing, I've come to some hard and rather disturbing truths. Primary of which is, "Reviewing Anime Really Sucks!"
Don't get me wrong, I love discussing anime, and manga... I love the whole experience of being a part of the movement, and generating awareness, making comments and engaging in deep conversation about the nuances of the art form, but when it comes down to actually doing the job, and seeing the fruits of my labor... the end result is less than satisfying. In fact, it's been more than a bumpy road, and filled with nothing but struggle up-hill.
The biggest questions I often ask myself when I spend a whole day making a video, and then watching as it sits there doing next to nothing is, "What is wrong that no one wants to see this?"
Which leads to other questions. "Is it the quality of the video?" "Is it that I'm such an older person?" "Do people not like the sound of my voice?" "Have I been secretly blacklisted?"
I'm being honest... I've actually wondered if there was a secret circle that I wasn't invited to, that mandated I'd never rise above a certain point. Other YouTubers have come along at almost the same time as myself, and are now sporting over a hundred thousand subscribers, and make a living off of their earnings... with a fanbase that loves and adores them.
I have to depend on my friends to watch my videos, and make comments, and contribute to my channel. And if it weren't for some of them, I wouldn't get enough money to pay that water bill.
After three years, I've yet to learn that secret. I've yet to tap into that one vein of even mediocre popularity, and I've hit the wall. I sit back amazed at how fast others are sprinting past me, with relative ease... and I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee watching as my most recent video has 18 views. A review on a currently airing show that is highly popular. I can't even begin to offer an explanation for this conundrum.
In the beginning, I started this channel for fun. I tell myself that everytime I see the recent activity of my videos. I told myself that even if one person watched these videos that I'd be happy.
That was three years ago. I've since moved past making two videos a week, and only when I felt like it. I've since decided to make this a full time occupation... and why not? There are hundreds of thousands of people that get paid to do what they love. Why should I settle for just doing this when I feel like it? Why can't I get in on the pie as well?
At the beginning of this current season of anime, I began with the full understanding that I'd be spending more than 50 hours a week working on this thing. I had more than 14 videos to produce a week... and in that time, my channel hasn't grown. Well, if you can say that a few subs here and there is actual growth.
All future projections for my channel show that I'll break a thousand subscribers in over a year. And by the end of five years... I'll still be less than 4,000. In five years I might be able to make enough revenue to pay my water bill and my phone bill. That is, unless YouTube decides to take my monetized videos and cut them down even further.
Today, I analyzed my channel's stats. I did some maths and discovered that last year at the height of the year, I was getting a 15% monetization rate. I might make 3 dollars a month... if I was very lucky. Today I examined the last ten days... after the adpocalypse. I'm at a 3.8% monetization rate. I might make a dollar a month now. And I've got three times the subscribers I did last year.
Is it all about the money?
I'd say yes... but then how could it be? I'm not making any. Which leads me into my next gripe about why reviewing anime sucks.
Anime fans are greedy bastards.
Most, not all... and maybe less than most, are fans that hate buying anime. They would rather stream it, or steal it. They choose to download it, via torrent sites, and watch it for free rather than support their own favorite industry. Because why should they pay for something... they're the fans, the people making it should be grateful... so grateful in fact that they deliver it to us for nothing.
So getting these people to support my channel is out of the question. I'd have an easier time trying to pry money from Ebenezer Scrooge than one of those tight-fisted assholes. And I'm trying to be as polite as possible. Really, they'll only support me through crowdfunding if I were a bit more goofy looking, made like I was some scrawny nerd that lived in a cave, and jacked off constantly to the anime that's constantly in the top ten.
I'd ask my friends to help spread the word... but that usually only lasts about as long as a day. And most of their friends are my friends... so the network isn't very large. And it's not as though I can go on Facebook, and have family support me... holy god. Half of them would take one look at what I do and get out the Gospel of Judgement, and start making with the condemnation.
So here I am, watching as YouTube systematically takes more of my videos everyday away into Restricted Mode. I watch as less of my video are getting views... and I watch as my adsense turns into a fickle mistress, only coming around when she wants something.
At this rate, it's costing me more to make videos than it ever has... time, resources, etc...
So at this point, even if I were to try to revamp my channel, try a new direction on the effort, it seems as if it wouldn't make much difference. Between the stingy fans, the stingy ads, and YouTube fucking me every step of the way... I can only surmise with the strongest sense of irony...
"Reviewing Anime Sucks!"