YouTube Shorts have come a long way in the 11 months since the format launched.
Some content creators have jumped on the bandwagon and are now well-positioned to benefit from new monetization opportunities.
Who are they? Well, they aren’t the usual suspects.
In this column, you’ll learn who is making good use of YouTube Shorts, see what’s working well, and find tips to help improve your own short-form video strategy.
What are YouTube Shorts?
On Sept. 14, 2020, YouTube launched the beta version of Shorts in India. A couple of weeks later, I wrote “YouTube Shorts: An Introductory Guide.” Back then, I said there are actually three target audiences for YouTube Shorts:
- Creators and artists.
- Viewers and subscribers.
- Advertisers and brands.
In other words, if creators and artists didn’t see a spike in the number and types of viewers and subscribers who most advertisers and brands want to reach, then the three-legged stool would fall over faster than you can say “Vine.”
Then, on March 18, 2021, YouTube rolled out the beta version of Shorts in the U.S.
A couple of weeks later, I wrote “Can YouTube Shorts Be Monetized? Spoiler Alert: Some Already Are!” And shared examples of three of the 60-second-long version of Shorts that were already being monetized with ads.
What about the 15-second-long version of Shorts?
Well, my thought at the time was that YouTube was “working on what monetization for this format might look like in the future, so stay tuned for further developments.”
Then, on May 11, 2021, YouTube introduced the $100 million Shorts Fund, which will be distributed over the course of 2021-2022.
Now, the Shorts Fund isn’t limited to creators in the YouTube Partner Program, who can monetize their longer Shorts with ads.
Any content creator is eligible for support from the Shorts Fund as long as he or she creates original content that adheres to YouTube’s Community Guidelines. This provides a sturdy alternative to the third leg of the metaphorical stool that I mentioned above.
Finally, on July 12, 2021, YouTube rolled out Shorts in more than 100 countries around the world. So even though it is still early days, now seems like a good time to see which creator types or content genres are getting the most views and engagements with Shorts – which positions them to earn the most money in the foreseeable future with or without support from advertisers and brands.
Who Uses YouTube Shorts?
According to Tubular Labs data, more than 152,000 accounts have uploaded 1.1 million Shorts to YouTube in the past couple of weeks.
These Shorts have received a combined total of 46.3 billion views and 2 billion engagements, which include likes, shares, and comments.
Even though it is early days, we have a large enough sample to see if the bandwagon effect is very likely to encourage even more content creators to start making Shorts.
So, who are the early adopters of YouTube Shorts?
Well, I’m not shocked to find that Tubular Labs categorizes virtually all of them as influencers.
In fact, 1.1 million out of the 1.1 million Shorts uploaded in the last three weeks were uploaded by influencers, which Tubular Labs defines as “a personality, celebrity, or public figure with significant social presence.”
By comparison, only 8,285 were uploaded by Media & Entertainment companies and just 4,082 were uploaded by brands – which makes both of these creator types round-off error.
In other words, the “early adopters” are overwhelmingly made up of the smaller content creators who are trying to earn a living by making videos on YouTube, not the big names that everyone already knows.
Where do they come from?
Well, according to Tubular Labs data, 282,000 of the 1.1 million Shorts, or 25.6%, were uploaded in India.
Another 257,000 Shorts, or 23.4%, were uploaded in the U.S.
These countries are YouTube’s two largest markets and where the beta versions were launched, so perhaps this isn’t surprising.
But just a few weeks after going global, the next eight countries where Shorts are being uploaded are:
- Brazil (57,800 Shorts).
- Russia (45,500 Shorts).
- Japan (32,800 Shorts).
- South Korea (30,400 Shorts).
- Indonesia (30,000 Shorts).
- Vietnam (20,900 Shorts).
- United Kingdom (20,900 Shorts)
- Pakistan (20,200 Shorts).
And right behind these countries are Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Ukraine, Egypt, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.
It appears that the Shorts bandwagon is already gathering speed around the globe, with content creators from at least 50 countries already aboard.
It’s worth noting that only 460,000 out of the 1.1 million Shorts uploaded in the last couple of weeks (41.8%) are in English.
What type of content are they creating? Tubular Labs has identified 21 different content genres. The top 10 are:
- General Interest (881,000 Shorts).
- People & Blogs (32,100 Shorts).
- Gaming (29,500 Shorts).
- Entertainment (27,800 Shorts).
- Music & Dance (25,900 Shorts).
- Food & Drink (9,400 Shorts).
- Science & Tech (8,500 Shorts).
- Sports (8,200 Shorts).
- Kids Entertainment & Animation (7,500 Shorts).
- Education (5,300 Shorts).
It’s pretty hard to stereotype Shorts when more than 80% of the videos fall into the “General Interest” category.
And if you look at Video Categories, which are more niche than genres, then Tubular Labs has identified 51 of them. Let’s just say there are a plethora of pigeonholes to put Shorts in – which makes the whole process of pigeonholing them pretty pathetic.
What we can say without equivocation is that 309,000 out of the 1.1 million Shorts, or 28%, are 15 seconds long or shorter.
This means that 72% of YouTube Shorts are between 16 seconds and 60 seconds long.
Now, this ratio may change as more content creators find out about the Shorts Fund. But there’s nothing in the Shorts Fund that says it’s limited to only creators of short Shorts.
Maybe content creators are waiting to discover if they can monetize their Shorts with ads and/or the Shorts Fund before we see a swing one way or the other.
Examples of Successful YouTube Shorts in Action
Now, which content creators are likely to figure out the winning formula for monetizing their Shorts first?
Well, it could be Satisfying Mix of Canada, which uploaded Diy #youtubshorts #short #diy #shorts.
This 13-second long video has 99.1 million views and 885,000 engagements and belongs in the Entertainment category.
Or, it could be MingWeiRocks of Singapore, which uploaded Using CHOPSTICKS Be Like… #shorts.
This 33-second long video has 96.9 million views and 2.2 million engagements.
It belongs in the Comedy category – and is already being monetized with ads.
Or, it could be HeGil of the U.S., which uploaded Run Healthy – NEW UPDATE All levels gameplay android, ios H002.
This 44-second long Gaming category video has 77.9 million views and 2.8 million engagements.
On the other hand, the content creators who figure out the winning formula first may be the ones who upload the most Shorts – and then analyze which ones generated the most money.
For example, you should watch the Shorts uploaded by The Pet Channel like a hawk.
Why? Well, they’ve uploaded 2,132 Shorts in the last couple of weeks.
The one with the most views is Cute Pet Dog #shorts. This 10-second-long video has 500,000 views and 11,500 engagements. It belongs in the General Interest category.
You should also keep your eye on the Shorts uploaded by the Magic channel. They’ve uploaded 2,098 Shorts over the same period of time.
The one with the most views is PRANKING MCDONALD’S DRIVE THRU WORKER | PROBLEMS WITH MCDONALD’S ORDER | MAGIC. This 30-second-long video has 30.3 million views and 589,000 engagements.
It also belongs in the General Interest category.
In addition, you might want to watch Shorts uploaded by The Walt Disney Company, Disney Media Networks, ESPN, 21st Century Fox, FX; Disney International, Direct to Consumer + International, ABC News, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products; as well as Disney Parks & Resorts.
In the past couple of weeks, 10 Disney channels on YouTube have uploaded 162 Shorts.
The one with the most views is Stephen A. Smith reacts to Carmelo Anthony joining the Lakers and LeBron James | #shorts.
This 56-second long video, which is monetized with ads, has 324,000 views and 9,200 engagements. And, yes, it belongs in the Sports category.
But wait, there’s more!
It turns out that 38 accounts have uploaded 89 Shorts that are sponsored by Brands, which represents a third way to monetize content creation.
If you would like to see a couple of examples of Sponsored Shorts from the past few weeks, then check out You ask for a sign, and he gives you a SIGN… #shorts, which has 1.1 million views and 72,000 engagements.
This 24-second-long video belongs in the People & Blogs category.
Or, watch Forging a flower for the RMS group project – #shorts, which has 233,000 views and 7,500 engagements.
This 53-second-long video, which is sponsored by Combat Abrasives, belongs in the General Interest category.
Nevertheless, a large number of content creators and influencers aren’t even looking at the monetization opportunities on YouTube.
They’re creating more video content for Instagram, which recently declared it is no longer a photo-sharing app, or jumping on the TikTok bandwagon.
How Does the Potential YouTube Shorts Payday Compare to TikTok?
Jim Louderback, the GM of VidCon, recently shared this item with his newsletter subscribers. It turns out that the Karat Black Card gives credit to content creators. What caught Louderback’s eye, however, was how Karat decides if influencers are credit-worthy.
According to Karat co-CEO Eric Wei, they only approve your application if you have a baseline of 100,000 YouTube subscribers, 125,000 Instagram followers, or 2.5 million TikTok followers.
In other words, a TikTok follower is worth just 4% of a YouTube subscriber. Or, to flip this on its head, 1 YouTube subscriber is worth 25 TikTok followers.
According to Louderback:
“It’s a dramatic devaluation of TikTok’s subscriber base and is likely more predicated on what you can EARN on TikTok versus the value of each community member (on YouTube).”
There are no favorites in financial factoring. Bottom line: Content creators and influencers who are ignoring YouTube Shorts risk missing out on a bigger payday.
That may be the most significant trend that you can bank on.