Indonesian content creators turn YouTube into profession

Indonesian content creators turn YouTube into profession

Who hasn't lost hours meandering on YouTube, entangled in a stream of puppy, parody and beauty how-to videos?

Since many already use the video sharing platform so much, there's no harm starting your own channel, like some Indonesians who have launched careers as YouTube content creators, amassing both money and Internet fame along the way.

Indonesian YouTube user Diwantara Anugrah Putra said he had turned his hobby of uploading video tutorials on visual effects into a fully fledged profession.

"I believe that I can carry on with this career for the long-term, as long as I maintain my channel, making sure that it remains entertaining and informative," he says.

Diwantara is partly behind the YouTube channel Tara Arts Movie, which has more than 75,000 subscribers. Through this channel, Diwantara and friends upload short clips of self-made movies embellished with visual effects alongside tutorials on how to create those effects.

He said he could "earn quite well" from his videos and had even received offers to work for digital studios abroad.

"I have asked my friends who work as managers about their salaries and I can confidently say that what I earn is competitive," Diwantara says.

"I treat my channel like an office job too. I work on my channels from Monday to Friday, shooting videos in the morning and editing them in the afternoon."

YouTube content creators primarily earn money through the advertisements attached to their videos.

Diwantara is not the only one who has turned to YouTube professionally. Popular chef Bara Pattiradjawane recently established his own channel - Bara Supercook - after having launched his TV career roughly a decade ago.

"However, unlike television, in which I had a crew of 25 people to support me, I now have to do everything myself," Bara says.

"I currently work with a borrowed video camera and shoot videos from my living room."

Hence, production costs were kept low.

"My target is to produce 10 upload-worthy videos from a single shooting session, and this keeps the costs affordable at below Rp 2 million (S$213)," Bara said. 

According to Bara, he had to revamp his cooking concept to suit YouTube viewers who were mostly reluctant to watch lengthy videos.

"I came up with idea to present recipes that could be prepared in seven minutes because I realise that people these days are busy and do not have the luxury of time to cook," he says.

Bara, who uploaded his first video in mid-October, has gathered slightly above 100 subscribers.

He said that running a YouTube channel meant he was in full control of the content.

"I don't want to be anyone else's salesman, so if any brands decide to collaborate with me, they have to agree to my terms and conditions," Bara said.

However, other YouTube content creators do not plan to base their careers on the video sharing platform owned by Google. Instead, they see the website as a launch pad to their offline professional aspirations.

"I think I will continue making videos for YouTube as a hobby, not a profession," said Larentius Rando, a YouTube content creator.

Laurentius heads JakartaBeatbox, a team of five beat box artists including himself. The team shares its talent and tutorials through its YouTube channel, which has amassed over 7,700 subscribers.

Laurentius, a graphic design student at a private university, said his team's YouTube channel was more of an online, digital portfolio through which they promoted their art and themselves as performers.

"The channel helps us gain connections since we get fans from abroad too," he said.

Jakarta Beatbox accepts performance requests at various events and has been invited to perform in Singapore.

However, Laurentius said they could not permanently rely on YouTube income. "Nothing lasts forever. YouTube simply safeguards our video assets from disappearing," he said.

YouTube data shows that an equivalent of 6 billion hours of video is viewed by users per month, with as many as 1 billion unique users congregating on the site monthly.

However, Google strategic partner manager for Southeast Asia Niken Sasmaya pointed out that many people were "still unaware that they can monetise their YouTube content".

"They do not realise they can earn money while making content based on their hobby. And they can do this by activating the feature that allows advertisements to be placed on their channel," she said.

Once the feature was activated, she said YouTube could automatically serve advertisements as long as the video was free of copyright issues.

"We give a larger percentage of the advertisement revenue to the content creators," Niken said, adding that content creators were given tools to keep track of their earnings.

"This is why content creators should keep on developing their content and thereby increase their number of viewers."

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