Why Hank Green can’t quit YouTube for TikTok - The Verge
All the ways to make money as a creator on YouTube versus TikTok versus Instagram — from science videos and brand deals to sock subscriptions.
In October 2006, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. On January 1st, 2007, the brothers Hank and John Green started making videos for each other and shared them publicly on YouTube. That same year, YouTube rolled out its partner program, which shared ad revenue between YouTube and the people making videos. The split was 55 / 45 in favor of the creators.
The partner program basically launched the creator economy as we know it today, and YouTube is the gold standard for creators. It’s something we’ve heard on every creator-focused episode of Decoder we’ve ever done: if you can make it big on YouTube, you can make it a career.
That’s not the case on other platforms. There is no revenue share on Instagram. There is no revenue share on Twitter. There’s no revenue on Twitter at all, really. And importantly, there is no revenue share on TikTok. Instead, there’s something called a creator fund, which shares a fixed pool of money, about a billion dollars, divided among all of the creators on the platform. That means that, as more and more creators join TikTok, the money is split more ways, and each individual creator might make less.
In this episode, I’m talking to Hank Green. Now, as you’d expect from one of the original and most successful YouTubers and creators out there, Hank has very strong opinions about platforms and how they pay creators. In addition to being an individual creator, he’s also the CEO of Complexly, a 50-person company that makes educational content about science, history, and art across about 20 YouTube channels and podcasts. And if it weren’t for YouTube ad money, none of those shows would exist.
So, in February, Hank made a video about how the TikTok “creator fund” is a really bad deal for creators and said the YouTube model is still superior. As it happens, that was right around the time I was talking to YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan. After that episode with Neal came out, one of Hank’s friends tweeted it to him and said he should go on Decoder and talk about it. So Hank invited himself on the show — of course we said yes; it’s Hank Green!