Getting Rich from YouTube, but How?

The Internet provides new ways to make money and market, but how easy is it to actually succeed?

There are people, ordinary people, who make money from websites like YouTube and music. Lots and lots of money — like six, seven figures.

But how?

It doesn’t take a feature film or studio deal to be a director these days. With only an iPhone and an Internet connection, people around the world have found the kind of success other artists only dream about through short videos posted to YouTube.

Posting a video to YouTube is almost second nature to the growing generations of social media obsessed youths. It’s even easier to become a monetary partner through YouTube, enabling video-makers to earn a portion of ad revenue through ad activity that occurs before their video plays.

Some make money reviewing movies, some play video games with a camera on and others simply unbox toys. There’s an unlimited amount of potential through the Internet’s video watching wunderkid, especially in an age where people are cutting cable cords and seeking new and unique ways to consume entertaining content for free.

Paul Kousky should be a junior in college right now. Instead, he’s living on his own in San Diego, California, enjoying the sun and making short action movies for YouTube.

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I made YouTube videos from 2008 to 2010, all for fun and didn’t make any money. In 2010, I joined the YouTube partner program and started receiving ad revenue from my videos,” said Kousky, who adds that the monetary success allowed him to purchase a new vehicle in high school and explore college options he never would have been open to otherwise.

Kousky continues to make his videos, short action movies typically containing small bits of gun action performed by him and his friends, under his Wolf Pack Films banner. They are watched by millions and have turned Kousky into a successful filmmaker, despite never making a feature film or taking the typical Hollywood routes.

It’s not always short films that push people toward success through Youtube. DisneyCollectorBR is arguably the biggest sensation on the video hosting platform. She is an anonymous poster who is famous for simply unboxing Disney related toys. Some of her videos have as many as 90 million views, and she is estimated to make up to $13 million a year from ad revenue. That’s more than many S&P 500 CEOs.

The short-form video communicating platform has become not just a place for individuals to find success, but for powerful brand names and companies to make their mark. Shane Dawson, an early maker of short comedy videos, recently received his first feature-length film deal from veteran “American Pie” producer Chris Moore. Similarly, Rooster Teeth, a comedy group who started out making YouTube videos, made their way to the feature film landscape with their recently released “Lazor Team.” The movie set records when it was initially crowdfunded through Indiegogo.

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It’s not a job that even requires full-time attention. The family behind the viral video “Charlie Bit My Finger,” which shows two English children sitting at a table with one of them exclaiming the title of the video in comedic horror and now has more than 834 million views, reportedly earned the family more than $100,000 in ad revenue.

However, like any wild west market discovered through the Internet, Youtube has become a difficult and competitive place to make a name for yourself. Garrin Bufo, who sports a knife-making YouTube channel going by his own name, has posted blacksmithing videos that have earned close to a million views at times. Still, he says the grind of sticking out on the video channel is difficult today.

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“Consistently producing high-quality and copyright-kosher content is my particular challenge,” said Bufo, who sports impressive page views and well liked videos, but hasn’t cracked the nut of full-time pay. “Driving those page views is the difficult part, which you do by self-promotion, producing good content, and just plain getting lucky. You’ll never make a thing if you don’t try, though.”

Consistency seems to be key, and the rat race for making a name for yourself and finding success through short, unique videos is in full effect, even more so than when YouTube first popped up on the scene 11 years ago.

“At this point in the game, unless you have a really great and unique idea, it’ll be hard to find success on YouTube,” said Kousky, “YouTube is so saturated for content and the people that are coming out on top are the ones who started making videos years ago. That doesn’t mean one can’t find success on YouTube anymore. They can, it’ll just take a lot more time and effort, but it is possible.”