Home Rise of an Internet Star – Parlaying YouTube Fame Into Big Business

Rise of an Internet Star – Parlaying YouTube Fame Into Big Business

When I was a kid, I made dumb videos that a total of 5 people actually watched — me and the 4 other kids I made them with. But today, a kid with a funny video can be seen by millions of people, whether he is swinging a golf ball retriever or lip syncing to a German pop song. There is an Internet shooting star falling to earth every day. Someone creates a video that goes viral and generates millions of views, and for some this flashes and fades, but others are parlaying these flashes into commercial success.

This is a guest post by Darius Monsef, the Creator & Executive Editor of COLOURlovers.com. He is a creative consultant, entrepreneur and Internet Astronaut.

Derrick Comedy

A small sketch comedy group from NYU, has generated almost 40 million views on YouTube alone. YouTube success turned into a gig producing exclusive videos for CollegeHumor.com as they continued to do live performances. They have recently taken a break from their online shorts to produce a feature length film.

Self Defense

Amanda Congdon

The orginal host of popular online video blog Rocketboom, Congdon turned her success as a video blog host into a gig at ABC and appearances on TV shows like Good Morning America. She is reportedly currently working on a TV show for HBO and appears in a series of American Express commercials.

Ask a Ninja

Ask a Ninja was originally supposed to be an animated show about two Ninjas living in Orange County, but improv comedians Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine evolved the questions & answer format into a hit video series. In January of 2007, the comedy team signed a deal with ad network Federated Media that was reported to be worth at least $300k/year if Ask a Ninja maintained its traffic levels.

Ask A Ninja: Question 9 “Ninja Love”

Jessica Rose

Lonelygirl15 was YouTube’s first big star. Revealed to be New Zealand actress Jessica Rose after months of speculation, she was able to parlay her YouTube fame into representation by the United Talent Agency and has now appeared in a feature film, has a recurring role in the ABC Family TV series “Greek,” and won a 2007 Webby Award.


Gary Vaynerchuk’s WineLibrary.tv draws 40,000 viewers each day to his energetic shows that bring wine knowledge to the average guy and gal. While Gary may not need to stress about monetizing his videos (he turned his father’s New Jersey liquor store in a very successful business), has has used his online exposure to help generate huge buzz around his personal brand and online business. You might have seen him on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, or the Ellen Degeneres show eating dirt and tasting sweaty socks.

Does The Color of a Wine Have a Huge Impact on Quality or Age?

(I chose this video because Gary rips up one of my posts in it – thanks for being delicate, Gary.)

Andy Samberg

A member of “The Lonely Island,” a group of LA-based independent filmmakers who made comedic short for the Internet, Samberg used the success of the group’s “The O.C.” parody (called “The ‘Bu”) to land himself a featured player role on Saturday Night Live. Samberg’s “Digital Shorts” for the show often become Internet phenomena and his “Dick in a Box” short won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

Video Sites that Pay

You might not have the time to create a regular series of videos, but if you can find the time to generate even a few great videos, here are some video sharing sites that give a little back to the creators of the videos.

  • YouTube.com – YouTube has a partner program that is based on cost-per-impression advertising, so the more your videos are viewed the more money you make. It may not be the most lucrative site to post videos on, but it is the most popular. Good for people who produce regular content or for sporadic video submitters.
  • Revver.com – A lot like YouTube, Revver shares income from advertising revenue with content creators. TechCrunch had Revver close to entering their deadpool, but a recent acquisition by LiveUniverse seems to have breathed life into the site. Revver has paid out more than $1 million to users, beating YouTube to that milestone by a few months.
  • Break.com – Break has a very simple model: If they choose to feature your video on the homepage you make a few hundred bucks, with the potential to earn up to $2,000. That video showing your roommate drop a hot iron on his crotch would probably do best with the Break audience.
  • Blip.tv – Blip works similar to other ad revenue sharing sites, but they also allow you to work on selling your own sponsorships on your videos. Blip is best for video series that draw their own traffic and have the potential to find their own sponsors.
  • AtomFilms.com – Not the easiest place to get your video picked up, but it may have the most traditional media reach. AtomFilms selectively licenses original short movies from amateur and indie creators, and pays them royalties from their ad revenues. If your film is original, entertaining, and legally distributable, you can make real money with AtomFilms.
  • Metacafe.com – Probably the most transparent of any of the video sites that pay for your content. Metacafe breaks it down to “$5 per 1,000 views.” Another good option for that iron on the crotch video of your roommate.

User Contributed Video Contests

You can play your cards in the game of finding traction on video sites like YouTube, but more and more opportunities are popping up for creative people to leap-frog from uploading content from their living rooms to watching their work on the living room TV. There have been a few user generated video contests lately and I’m sure more are coming in the future.

Doritos – Crash the Super Bowl

The ad world is heading towards some very uncharted waters. When prosumers are able to create work on par with some of the world’s top ad agencies, why not tap the creative talent of the masses? Doritos did exactly that for their Super Bowl ads last year. They had consumers create and send in their own ads, and then selected the 5 best commercials to air during Super Bowl XLI. A huge amount of exposure for the winners, and the $10,000, plus a trip to Miami for a private Super Bowl party wasn’t to shabby.


MTV is running a User Generated Video Contest right now for the 2008 MTV
Movie Awards, with one of the winners even receiving a golden popcorn award
on stage. The other winners will be in the audience with their creative work
shown to the celebrity laced gathering as well as on national television.


Current has taken the user created ad model to the next level by developing a platform and marketplace for the creation of user created adverts. New ad assignments pop up on the site and users create ads for that company. If Current airs your ad, you make $2,500. If the company decides to air it elsewhere you could earn up to $60k.

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