Making YouTube a Full-Time Job

For many, watching and/or making videos for YouTube is a hobby. Now, one year after YouTube invited members to become “partners” and add advertising to their videos, some successful users are earning six-figure incomes and quitting their day jobs.

One user, Michael Buckley, who hosts a celebrity chatter show, says he is making over $100,000 from YouTube advertisements. Buckley’s three-times-a-week YouTube show started out of a weekly show on a Connecticut public access channel. After Buckley’s cousin started posting snippets of the show on YouTube in 2006 and gained a following, Buckley began to tailor his segments for the Web. His segments, called “What the Buck?” have attracted 100 million views.

Of course, Buckley’s success didn’t happen overnight, either. He claims that he was spending 40 hours a week on YouTube for over a year before making a dime. Now, it’s paying off: Buckley recently quit his job after his online profits greatly surpassed his salary as an administrative assistant for a music promotion company.

Perhaps best of all for those of you who are intrigued enough to try it, the initial investment doesn’t have to be outrageous: All Buckley needed was a $2,000 camera, a $6 piece of fabric for a backdrop, and a pair of work lights from a local hardware store.


Not all users will experience Buckley’s success, either. While YouTube wouldn’t state how much money partners earned on average, Aaron Zamost, a spokesman, said “hundreds of YouTube partners are making thousands of dollars a month.” The amount also fluctuates in part because advertiser demand varies for different kinds of videos.

For users who are making videos in their spare time, Chad Hurley, a co-founder of YouTube, hopes the revenue potential will also encourage better content: “We felt that if we were able to provide them a true revenue source, they’d be able to hone their skills and create better content.”

Some users, like Cory Williams, are also taking advantage of cross-promotion in their YouTube videos. Williams counts about 180,000 subscribers to his videos, and says he has earned $17,000 to $20,000 a month via YouTube. A portion of those profits have come from YouTube’s advertisements, while the other half come from sponsorships and product placements within his videos.

We wouldn’t recommend quitting your day job just yet, but if you’re the creative type, who knows? There’s always a chance YouTube could serve as your jackpot.