Make Money Off Of Viral Videos? Yes You Can!
(This post is courtesy of DigitalPros.org)
If you were a young filmmaker in the 1990’s, you dreamed about making feature films or having your TV pilot get picked up. If you’re a young filmmaker or videographer in the 2010’s, the dream is a little more accessible: to create a smash hit viral video.
The great thing about YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and other video sharing channels is that we all have a shot at making some real money behind the camera as long as our content is good enough. But what does that mean exactly? Does that mean that it’s so funny that it makes you laugh until it hurts? Is that all there is to great content? And beyond that, how do you turn a good video into real income?
It’s wise to open your mind up to all possible revenue streams from the start. The most obvious path for earning income through a video is with ad revenue. This may not net you much. A very popular video with over a million hits might reach the four figure mark for ad revenue, but the vast majority of videos, even popular ones reaching more than 100,000 views, are lucky to earn more than a few dollars in their lifetime, and if you’re using licensed music, then you can forget earning any ad revenue at all.
“David After Dentist” has earned $100,000 after more than 100,000,000 views, but not many videos earn one hundred million views. It’s one thing to get lucky with caught footage that earns you that much revenue, but when you’re investing time, energy and professional production values into a video, you need more reliable revenue streams. You don’t buy a $2,000 HD video camera and study videography in order to play the lottery and shoot for nothing but million-to-one shots.
Licensing is another obvious path for revenue. These videos tend to launch catch phrases and mini-celebrities. They’re sort of like the sitcoms or television commercials of our time, with “Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband” and “Don’t tase me, bro!” standing in for “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and “Wheres the Beef?”
Not every viral video is ripe for this treatment, however. Studio 8 staged a “caught on camera” lightsaber battle at a birthday party. The concept launched the video into the six-figure view range, but it’s a difficult idea to capture on a t-shirt.
Creating the right content, then, is a big part of earning ad revenue through a viral video. Some may beg to differ, but it seems as if we can define strong, sharable, monetizable content as follows:
- It resonates immediately: Videos that take all day to get to the point or that you have to really sit there and think about simply don’t have the immediate impact that gets people thinking “I have to share this with a friend right now.”
- It’s easy to discuss: You might not need a catch phrase, but your video needs to be easy to talk about around the water cooler. What makes it appealing and why should I watch it? If you can’t answer that in ten words or less, then it might be a little too complex for viral fame.
- You own everything: You don’t want any licensing issues regarding music and stock footage that you used. All-original content is your best bet to avoid these issues.
- It fits on a t-shirt: Not every great video fits on a t-shirt, but just about anything that’s going to earn you any real money as a viral hit probably will.
What people are looking for when they’re browsing YouTube isn’t just something to make them laugh, it’s not just an insightful commentary or a mind blowing scientific fact. What they’re looking for is a cultural touchstone. Something to share, to talk about with their friends, and to watch again and again. Create with this in mind and you’ll have a much better shot at a viral hit that can earn you real income.
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