THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Bryan Elliott Headshot

The Surprising Truth About How YouTubers Make Millions

Posted: Updated:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 9.29.34 AM

Devin Graham (aka Devin Supertramp) is one of the top video creators on YouTube. He has reached critical mass and beyond with 2 million subscribers and 30+ million views per month. Graham's videos seem to follow a simple pattern but are far from predictable.

First, they make you feel good with high energy music, fun and a sense of adventure. Next, Graham's videos often involve an activity you've done before, then he takes it to the extreme. Case in point: a giant slip and slide off a 50 foot cliff spilling into the glassy waters of Lake Powell or extreme tricycle drifting down grassy knolls in New Zealand.

Devin's home-grown ideas have a wow factor rivaled by almost no one except possibly the big budget boys at team Red Bull. Graham doesn't consider himself a marketer, in fact he's a film school drop out, but definitely understands his audience. He invites his fans and followers to show up at his shoots, sometimes on short notice, and always seems to get a big group of attractive young people willing to do "anything for the shot."

Graham has collaborated with the likes of Ford, Mountain Dew and Ubisoft producing content that lives on his YouTube channel and delivers millions of views. Brands are happy to give up some creative control for a chance at cross-pollinating with Supertramp's massive YouTube community.

They fund his videos in exchange for exposure and access and give Graham creative license to make content that is authentic and resonates with his audience. It's a no-brainer. A conservative estimate based the Supertramp Youtube channel monthly views would net Graham about $250,000 per year on Ad Sense revenue alone. Here are some more secrets about how Supertubers like Devin Supertramp are making millions:

1. Build a massive community with consistent weekly content

Assuming your videos deliver value to your audience, the correct frequency seems to be posting 1x per week. The tipping point for Graham came when he finally committed to creating weekly video content. Before that, he was only creating videos about every six months with little or zero traction.

2. Sell High Resolution Video Content as Stock Footage.

A few months ago I noticed Graham started tagging new footage as being distinctly 4k and 6k resolution. Since YouTube waters down all high res video footage for faster play-back it seemed like a waste of time and resources. But then Graham shared that TV stations, broadcasters and brands, both domestic and international, buy his video content to use as stock footage. It represents about 40-50 percent of his revenue and I can only estimate that translates into millions of dollars. Smart.

3. Brand Integration

In my humble opinion, brand integration is one of the most untapped opportunities for both content creators and brands today. Brands are always looking to reach audiences in uniqe ways outside of the traditional and will find budget. Graham's channel is huge, but you don't necessarily need to work with the biggest and best these days to accomplish your brand initiatives. Niche channels that are narrow but deep with engaged communities that take action could just as well do the trick. In the end, it's a symbiotic relationship between brand, content creator and audience. When executed properly, the potential for upside for everyone involved is limitless.

Watch the full episode here and you'll learn a lot more from Devin Supertramp as we go Behind the Brand. Tweet me @BryanElliott for questions or to join the conversation.