After breaking the news at last month’s VidCon, YouTube is finally rolling out their new Fan Fund program. It’s in beta at the moment and only open to a select few but I have a feeling it’s going to take off like crazy by the end of the year.
With Fan Fund, YouTube fans can donate money to their favorite YouTuber with just a few clicks. Actually, let’s not use the word “donate”. That sounds too much like a charity situation. Let’s call it what it is, money to help a YouTuber you like keep doing what they’re doing.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Giving money to strangers so they can live their dream? Not really. You pay to buy a book from your favorite author; to see a movie with your favorite stars; to download songs from your favorite band. How is paying for YouTube any different?
There are a couple of things to note:
First off, it’s completely voluntary. YouTube channel owners have to opt-in to the program. Right now it’s by invitation only. That’s a good thing. What YouTube doesn’t want is for people to build channels for the sole purpose of raising money. They probably wouldn’t make money but it will dilute the effect if every channel has a “support me” button.
Right now, the complete opposite is happening. I couldn’t find a single channel with a Support Me button other than Jehanr. I thought for sure I’d spot it on the more popular Beauty channels, but no.
Second thing to note is that you have to use Google Wallet to pay – no Paypal. That means typing in your credit card info and agreeing to all kinds of Terms of Service. I understand the reason behind the move, but I’d be more likely to send money if all I had to do was click for Paypal.
If you do pay, YouTube gets a small percentage.
Right now you can send payments from the US, Mexico, Australia and Japan. (No UK?) The transaction fee varies depending on the country of origin. And I can already hear people complaining about YouTube’s percentage but let’s be real about this. They’re making it possible for vidders to make money. They can take a percentage. It’s like giving your agent his cut.
There are a few rules on the creator side. You can’t ask for charity or political donations and you can’t ask people to fund a specific project. You can say:
“Hey if you love my channel I would love your support! I’ll use the funds for my upcoming tour!”
But you can’t say something like:
“Fund my upcoming tour!”
YouTube encourages fundees to customize a thank you auto response. You can even create a thank you video that will be shown to anyone who offered financial support. Nice.
I watch about a dozen people regularly on YouTube and I’d be willing to kick in a few dollars to keep about half of those going. I wouldn’t do it every week but I think there are fans out there who would.
Bottom line: I think fan funding is going to help a lot of vidders quit their day jobs to work on YouTube full-time.