Shop-And-Tell: 'Haul Videos' Turn Shopping Sprees Into Potential Profits

Bragging about your shopping spree online could turn into potential profits.

ByABC News
May 31, 2011, 12:51 PM

May 31, 2011— -- One of the hottest Web phenomena for fashionistas has turned shopping sprees into something that brings worldwide bragging rights.

"Haul videos," homemade online videos in which women and young girls show off their bargain-hunting triumphs, or "hauls," have gone from being an Internet sensation to a lucrative business. There are almost 300,000 haul videos currently on YouTube, with several getting millions of views.

Essentially the videos are short product reviews, and as they became popular, major retailers started to take notice. A few have actively recruited some of the haulers for their marketing campaigns.

Tennessee-born Elle and Blair Fowler, age 23 and 18, said they have made huge profits from being "shopping haulers" for the past two years.

"Everything I do, everywhere I go, everything I taste, everything, I'm thinking of videos and blog ideas and I'm taking pictures so I can put it on a blog," Blair said.

After a day of bargain hunting, the two would make homemade videos of themselves showing off their purchases and explaining why they bought the products. They would test cosmetics and say where they found good deals or what they thought would be the latest trends. Their videos eventually garnered millions of views.

"Companies would contact me and be like, 'Our site crashed, the products sold out,'" Blair Fowler said. "I was like, 'Why?' and they were like, 'Well, you talked about it in your video.'"

What started out as a simple YouTube video about their shopping obsessions has grown into an empire for the sisters. Now living in Los Angeles, the Fowlers have started a website with an active blog and are writing a book together. They also have a partnership with YouTube and companies have started asking them to critique their products.

"We're always really honest about product reviews and out of 100 products we get, we might have two make it into videos," Elle Fowler said.

Now there are thousands of shopping haulers online -- not just teenage shopaholics but moms too. Audrey McClelland has four boys under age 8 and used to be fashion icon Donna Karan's personal assistant in New York City.

"Style completely changes when you become a mom," she said. "I saw a lot of these young girls doing it, and teenagers, college students, and I wanted to bring it into the mom space."

With millions of viewers watching her hauler videos on YouTube, McClelland said she has been able to turn her blog into a source of income for her family.

And the best part is that making a haul video is easy. "You turn on the camera, you say, 'Hey everyone!'" Blair Fowler said. "And then you hold up the bag so they can see the store on the bag."

Want to learn how to make a haul video? Elle and Blair Fowler offer their tips for creating the perfect haul video below. Tune into "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT to see how it's done.