How To Cash In When Your Content Goes Viral

Want to make money with your blog? Have a viral video. Okay, that’s easier said than done, but if you can have video content go viral, it’s much easier to capitalize on the attention for revenue.

This fall I’ve had 3 pieces of content “hit.” I wrote a piece about having a favorite child for Babble that was picked up by everyone from Good Morning America, to Fox and Friends, to Maclean’s Magazine.

I wrote a piece about Charlie Brown being too much about bullying without consequence that was the topic of newspaper editorials and radio station chatter.

Now I’ve posted a video from the Calgary Hitmen’s Teddy Bear Toss that has caught the eye of ESPN, NBC Sports and more than 260 000 YouTube watchers.


I’ve noticed something very interesting about the curation of viral content. When it is a viral word document that is being spread, it’s very easy for people to paraphrase and explain what was happening in the original piece. There is little or no reason for people to move past the secondary source to read the primary source of the content.

All the blogs that wrote about my favorite kid syndrome, or belittled me for saying Charlie Brown was bullying simply piggybacked on the viral content idea I had created and kept the traffic for themselves.

The video I posted, however, is the key piece of information that needs to be shared. Even if a secondary source online is sharing the video, it’s hard to paraphrase or describe the video and leave the audience happy. They will embed the video, or link to it, thereby driving up the views of the content. I don’t need people to click back to my content, they can watch my video on Yahoo!, HuffPo, or SportsNet and I still win.


I have my blogs and video channels monetized. It’s nothing special, I have had Google Adsense since it debuted and have made a few hundred dollars a year off my content – nothing special. When I had the huge spike in virality for creating controversial content, there was no radical increase in revenue. My web traffic increased marginally, but it was nothing dramatic.

Then my video took off. People shared it. People embedded it. I gave permission to mainstream media to use my footage in their broadcasts, and it didn’t dent my traffic. It went from 15 000 in the first few hours to more than 100 000 the first day.

The click through rate on video ads is about 10%, the click through rate on banner ads next to my written content is < 1%. The rate paid for video ads is very small compared to the rate paid for banner ads in written content, but you make up for it in volume very very quickly. When my video went viral I made more in a day than I had made the entire year.


video referralsWhen you write catchy content, it’s too easy for people to rip it off, paraphrase it, and steal your eyeballs. When you produce catchy visual content, people will still rip it off, and embed it in their stream, but now you get the benefit of having your ad code follow the content. They can get the traffic to their pages, but you will get the revenue the video creates. It’s a great way to win the battle of content creation vs content curation.

With a little rough math based on my views and revenue, I figure PSY has made nearly $2M just in the ads running alongside the more than 850M plays of Gangnam Style. Not bad.


One footnote to this story: I actually posted 2 videos of the Teddy Bear Toss to YouTube. One told the story of our visit to the arena, had some highlights from the game before climaxing in the tossing bears about 1:40 in. The other video was right to the money shot – 4 seconds after the video started, bears were flying.

The videos were also headlined differently. One talked about the 2012 Teddy Bear Toss, while the other specifically told people to Watch 25 000 Teddy Bears. The money shot with the active headline has trumped in viewership by a factor of at least 100.

Twitter’s YouTube Moment

For me, the thing that makes YouTube so special and vital to the explosion of the social web is not that it became an easy and free place to publish and store video, it’s the embed code.

The ability to take YouTube with you is what makes it so valuable to the web.

You can take a video of a cat on a fan and not have to leave it within the walled garden of YouTube. You can take the embed code and put it on your blog or Facebook page. When you want someone to see something, they don’t have to leave where they are to find it. They stay on your site and just click play.

By setting videos free to float around the web, YouTube ushered in an era that demands sharing. The ability to take content from one place and syndicate somewhere else is what users demand.

Twitter has now entered the era of sharing with the introduction of Twitter lists and widgets.

Twitter lists, rolled out over the past few weeks, allow users to sort the people they follow. You can have a family list, a news list, a hollywood list, a travel list etc. As Twitter grew the number of people we followed grew with it and tracking the conversations became difficult. With lists, you can sort your conversations to make sure you can better follow what’s happening and stay engaged.

Twitter lists were a great step, but the real power of the Twitter list was unveiled this week with the ability to take your lists and embed them. You can now publish twitter to your facebook page or blog with Twitter widgets.

November is Diabetes Month, I’ve created a list of people who have diabetes, are advocates for diabetes and organizations that are diabetes related. Now that list doesnt just sit on Twitter, or amongst the followers of those people. I can take that list, cut and paste some code into this blog and publish the tweets for you to see.

It’s not a quote and a link, it’s a living, breathing embed of Twitter.

Twitter has had huge growth in 2009, but there is still a barrier to understanding. It takes a few minutes to “get” what’s going on. Twitter lists and widgets now demonstrate the fluidity of the conversation. People will see the natural conversation showing up in more places. They can become accustomed to the flow of conversation around a topic and start to understand how the world wide talk show operates.

The wall will come down. People will get it.

Twitter just had it’s YouTube moment.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

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