Top YouTube Earners Share Their Strategies

While the average person spends about 15 minutes a day on YouTube, thousands of people spend hours and hours producing and posting videos, hoping to cash in big when their work goes viral. spoke with three of the top YouTube earners to find out how they turned their pastime into profit. Two lessons: It requires hard work. And it helps to be funny.

"You need to continue to upload a great deal of content on a regular basis," Mediocre Films' Greg Benson told "The work is fun, but it is surprisingly hard work to continuously set up shoots and manage pre- and post-production on multiple projects each week."

In 2006 Greg Benson, 42, began posting his work on YouTube after his wife, Kim, suggested the idea. Benson owns a production company, Mediocre Films, and was looking for a way to share his comedic work.

Within a few weeks of his first upload, Benson noticed "Greg Hits Hollywood" was getting quite a bit of attention. The video features Benson posing as a reporter who repeatedly hits his interviewees with a microphone. YouTube caught wind of Benson's video and featured it on the website's homepage.

"I think it was picked because it's funny and different," said Benson. "Also, my viewers really like that my videos took 'balls' to shoot. Hitting people in the face with a microphone does take a little bit of courage!"

After the website featured two of his videos, Benson noticed more traffic to his YouTube page, about roughly two million views and 20,000 new subscribers.

"I honestly never imagined this type of success from YouTube," said Benson. "In fact, I initially didn't think my style of videos would do well there."

Top 100 Channels

By early 2007, Benson's YouTube page was one of the Top 100 subscribed channels, and he soon realized he could profit from producing YouTube videos.

"It was at that point that networks, studios and production companies began to call to request pitch meetings," said Benson. "It happened very quickly, and with the addition of product placements and branded videos, it became possible to pursue video production full time."

In addition to outside revenue, Benson also receives compensation from YouTube's partner program. Established in 2007, the program allows original YouTube content creators to evenly split advertising revenue with the site. Partners are not allowed to disclose their contracts with YouTube; however, a recent study from Tube Mogul estimated that Benson earned around $116,000 from advertising revenue in the past year.

Going Viral

Every minute, 24 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube. That's 34,560 hours of new video a day. Clearly, the odds are against getting your video to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

"Forget about being successful," said Benson. "Only do it for the love of it. Create videos that you want to see and if success comes, consider it a bonus."

For Jodie Rivera, 26, one of YouTube's most successful female users, becoming an online sensation was more than she could have initially imagined.

"I didn't think anyone would watch them," said Rivera, one of the first users invited to YouTube's partner program. "I remember getting three views and being surprised."

Rivera, also known as Venetian Princess, found fame online through her music parodies of artists such as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Now Rivera devotes herself to working fulltime making videos.

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