YouTube Shopping integration.

If there’s one story I have found repeating itself again and again over the last decade plus running a small business, it’s the value of persistence and patience. Too many times to count, someone I first spoke with years prior finds that the time is right for us to work together, or, if not them, someone else in their circle that I had never met. The chain can sometimes grow to three or four or, really, any number of links — if the connection can even be traced. A job in 2016 leads to a project in 2019 which leads to a relationship in 2023. So it goes.

The formula is so simple that it can be reduced to near underwear gnome concision, yet I find that the question marks never entirely disappear from the recipe. It’s a mundane, meandering, maddening, miraculous process that is easy to describe but hard to believe.

1. Do good work
2. Stay in business
3. People find you and want to work with you???
4. Profit

What does any of this have to do with YouTube? There’s a list of features (in my head, if nowhere else, but certainly scattered through half-a-dozen project management tools) stretching back to 2012 when Cotton Bureau was just beginning to gestate that we hope to some day implement on the site. Many can be implemented without the assistance of anyone outside the company, or, if we do need outside help, it’s something tractable and accessible like a library or API. Other improvements — particularly when it comes to physical products — depend on people. Those can take a lot longer.

Which brings us to the peculiar case of YouTube. When we first decided we wanted to support Cotton Bureau products directly on YouTube, we naively assumed all we would need to do is find the correct API and connect. Oh, no, that is not how it worked at all. Very little public information is available for how to connect an ecommerce platform to YouTube. When you do find that information, it is often outdated or dead. After, and I am not making this up, years of calling in favors and asking everyone I knew how to get into the program, we finally got a break. An introduction from someone we know was made to a very nice man at Google. This person was not connected directly with YouTube. With his help, we were able to eventually locate the double-secret door and perform the appropriate incantations to get someone to acknowledge our knocking.

We filled out the request form the minute we found it in late October 2022.

[SiX MoNthS lAtEr]

IN JUNE OF 2023 (!!) someone at YouTube acknowledges our application. From there, work proceeds straightforwardly. That is to say, burying the lede quite deeply, Cotton Bureau can now integrate with YouTube. If you have a channel and would like to display your products, please let us know. I promise we will return your email a lot faster than they returned ours.

I hope this doesn’t read as particularly bitter. Companies are dysfunctional in all sorts of ways, ours included. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken us 2–3 years to get this simple feature shipped. Maybe we got unlucky, maybe we’re stupid, maybe it was all just bad timing. Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is that everything you want to do in business or life is an iceberg. Almost all of the work is below the surface. It’s rarely appreciated, recognized, or rewarded. But, if you have patience, if you continue efforting, eventually it does pay off, so we’re here to celebrate the win.

Cotton Bureau stores can now connect to YouTube. 🙌

Thank you Bryce and Kurt for the connections, and thank you Myke and CGP for your help with testing. Go check out their channels to see the fruits of our labor this most appropriate weekend.