1. Make video.
2. Build a following.
A few thousand will get you noticed.
3. Become a YouTube partner.
Anyone can sign up; millions have. YouTube takes approximately a 45 percent cut of any ad revenue. In turn, partners get access to analytics, online tutorials, and a network of creators.
4. Get a thousand eyeballs.
YouTube pre-roll ads currently cost advertisers $10.38 per 1,000 impressions (eyeballs). Top stars Tyler Oakley and Michelle Phan can command even higher rates.
5. Get an agent.
Many internet stars sign with dedicated digital-stardom management companies like Fullscreen and ViralSpiral. They are at once A&R guys, ad men, branding consultants, digital strategists, and studio executives. They generally take a 30 percent fee.
6. Go mainstream.
Payouts, negotiated by those agents for appearance fees and single videos, vary (for companies like Coca-Cola, Sony, and Ford, anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000). Internet celebs can command as much as $25,000 a tweet.
7. Really, really sell out.
Big-brand tie-ups can go for as much as $750,000 to $1 million for top talent with a loyal, engaged following. “There are YouTubers out there that make a million dollars annually from YouTube dollars, brand deals, merchandising,” says Daniel Fisher of ViralSpiral. “And there is quite a big bracket who make a hundred thousand dollars a year plus.”
8. Prepare for Hollywood to own you.
Established media companies are rapidly buying smaller online-talent agencies, along with access to their talent. AwesomenessTV, the digital-media arm of Dreamworks Animation, bought one for $15 million, and Disney is trying to buy the biggest name in the space, Maker Studios, with an offer of more than $500 million.