Case Study: TubeBuddy

Making money with web scraping

I like finding ways to make money with web scraping. And I like sharing those ideas with people who want to make money. As you know, I’m not a big fan of consulting. It’s limiting. I prefer finding ways to build a product using the data you scrape. Here, I’d like to show you the way one business is making money this way that might surprise you. The company is TubeBuddy, and they offer a browser extension.

Browser extensions?

Browser extensions – like Chrome extensions – are basically little apps that plug into your browser. They help you do things while you’re browsing that otherwise you’d have to do manually, or couldn’t do at all. Google Translate is a simple example, and there are a bunch of really popular ad blockers, too.

Most of these browser extensions use web scraping, to one extent or another. TubeBuddy takes it to a whole different level.

Who is TubeBuddy and what do they do?

TubeBuddy is a 13-person company, launched in 2014, and they’re all about maximizing the success of people on YouTube. Their mission, in their words, is to “build tools that help make you and the entire YouTube community a happier and more productive bunch”. And it seems like they are making people pretty happy. They claim over 3 million users, and they’ve got lots of good reviews.

If you run a YouTube channel, TubeBuddy uses analytics to help you optimize it. You can monitor YouTube for your own brand, so you can stay on top of mentions and engage with people who are talking about you. You can get statistics and analysis on any channel or video, and use those analytics to improve your own performance. You can export comments on videos, even create word clouds, to see what you’re getting people to talk about. You get search insights – tags, sub counts, like and dislikes – for videos that are ranking for a given search term. Again, giving you data to help optimize your own channel’s performance. It’ll even give you valuation data for your channel, based on transactions for channels with similar performance metrics.

To provide you with all this data, they have to get it somehow. That somehow? Web scraping.

They offer a free subscription package, with very limited functionality. Their base offering – the ‘Pro’ package – starts at less than $5 a month. Their premier package, with everything included, goes for just under $25 a month. So with 3 million users, they’re probably doing pretty well.

What can you learn from TubeBuddy?

With some pretty basic skills in Java, you can create your own browser extensions. Think about sites that have a lot of traffic, and have a lot of information. AirBnb. Amazon. Even TikTok. There are ways you can scrape that data, aggregate it, and package it in ways that are useful, ways that can help other people do what they need to do. A browser extension could be the way you make money with web scraping.
You can find my video about TubeBuddy here. While you’re there, don’t forget to like and subscribe so you can stay in the loop on more ways to make money like this one.