If you follow me on YouTube – and at this point, I really, really REALLY need you to! – you probably know I have strong feelings about their recent changes to the YouTube Partner Program. Specifically, I’m talking about demonetizing channels with less than 1,000 subscribers and less than 4,000 watch hours in a 365 day period. The night the word first came down, I made a stream-of-consciousness video about it (watch it below).

As a YouTube creator with an admittedly “niche” channel, this affects me. While I’ve been slowly but confidently building a base of subscribers over the past several years, many of my views come from web searches. My most popular stuff has been how-to videos, and my most popular video (with over 200,000 views) is a top Google hit for a particular automotive search. I’m not a car guy, but one little video of mine has gotten that many views because it was helpful and well-made. I’ve been getting tens of thousands of views on another video on gardening, even though that’s not the focus of my channel. I put up things that interest me, and up until now people have found my stuff and responded to it.

YouTube moved the goalposts on me just as I was nearing 500 subs, a milestone I had never thought possible when I started putting up some of these random videos. It was also a threshold that took a damn long time, because I am a very niche creator. I don’t have – or imagine I’ll ever get – a massive following, and that’s never been the goal. I’ve just enjoyed putting up stuff and getting good feedback on it (and of course the occasional troll). The ad revenue wasn’t huge, but considering how small the channel is, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it. The fact that I made $10 a month every month on one automotive tip video I made several years ago was a boon to keep going. The tiny pittance I made off ad revenue on my videos gets plowed back directly into the videos – new flash cards, new lights or mics, and so on. The fact that YouTube doesn’t think I’ll miss that money is a pretty big slap in the face.

Recently, on the heels of backlash from me and other small YouTube creators, YouTube sent out a (rather lengthy) survey on the platform and their relationship with creators. I’ve since calmed down a bit on the matter, but the survey came while the sting of demonetization was still very raw with me. I had forgotten until today that I copied and pasted a few of my essay-length answers to that survey to Notepad, so I thought I’d share them here.

Why do you disagree with the following statement: YouTube is the best place for creators?

I do not feel YouTube supports smaller creators, as evidenced by the recent change to its partner program. I feel smaller creators like myself who are trying to build an audience and grow their channel have now been unfairly penalized for the actions of bad actors on the platform, by being denied the opportunity to monetize their channel as they had before. While I realize that many smaller channels do not generate much in revenue, there are ones like mine that generate many views despite a low subscriber number (~500 subs). I believe the new policy and demonetization unfairly disadvantage channels with very niche subjects. We may not be “personalities” but we strive to provide helpful, meaningful content. You may not think that $15-20 a month means much to smaller up-and-coming creators, but that’s a new microphone, better equipment or even the simple prospect of reward for a job well done. Taking that away so abruptly for what I feel is no good reason – these new policies will do little to discourage the bad actors – is a huge slap in the face and discouragement for small creators.

Why do you disagree with the following statement: YouTube provides me the best opportunity to make revenue as a creator?

When you’re a creator with niche content, building an audience is an uphill battle. I’ve been on YouTube for a few years now and before the recent policy change announcement, I was elated to be within reach of 500 subscribers. Since the policy change, I’ve been extremely discouraged as a YouTube creator. I was making probably a little more than other smaller creators as some of my content is the kind of content people search for rather than subscribe for. I was starting to make some traction at building an audience, and now I feel like the goalposts have been moved as a punishment for Logan Paul and other bad actors on the platform. There are undoubtedly changes that need to be made to the platform and many improvements that could be made, but punishing smaller creators who work hard and play by the rules seems unnecessarily cruel and misguided. I now feel like I have to look elsewhere for opportunities to earn revenue for the work I do and love.

Why do you disagree with the following statement: YouTube compensates me fairly?

As of this month, YouTube will no longer compensate me at all, even though I’m sure ads will continue to run on my videos.

Is there anything else you want us to know?

Since the policy change that results in demonetizing and punishing smaller niche creators like myself, it has forced me to take a hard look at how much I rely on YouTube for my video content distribution. I have long been a YouTube evangelist and fiercely opposed to platforms like Vimeo and Twitch, and have found small success with YouTube with minimal effort, which encouraged me to redouble my efforts in the past year or two. This policy change to the YouTube Partner Program does not make me feel like YouTube and I are partners anymore. I do not feel supported, rewarded or championed anymore. I feel YouTube is becoming a place where only strong personalities – and bad actors – can thrive, even after the policy changes. Prior to these changes, I had started feeling more part of a growing community of small creators who don’t chase fame or money, but just do what they do because they love it. Being able to reap some modest gain through monetization gave us a little wind at our backs in upping our game and driving our voices forward. Doing away with that with little warning and no good reason is a major slap in the face and a clear message that we are no longer wanted in this community. Unless real change is made and rules are made more fair, we have no choice but to funnel our creativity elsewhere. I feel incredibly saddened and rejected by these policy changes and call on you to hear the voices of myself and thousands of other creators who now feel alienated and cast aside by these new policies – which, I would remind you, will no NOTHING to curb the bad actors and actions you claim it is intended to do. There is a better way to move forward, and I plead with you to listen and engage with your creators of all sizes on this issue.