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NPR: “Beyond Cute Babies: How To Make Money On YouTube”
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NPR (National Public Radio) “All Tech Considered.” In this April 2011 program, Tamara Keith from discusses ways to make money on Youtube.


YouTube is best known for viral videos of babies and kittens. But there are thousands of decidedly less cute and more practical videos racking up the views. As NPR’s Tamara Keith reports, how-to videos are extremely popular these days and at least some makers of these videos are actually making money.

Tamara Keith (

Want to know how to crochet a flowersolve a Rubik’s Cube? or make a paper airplane? Or maybe you need something more basic, like how to scramble an egg.

Even how to use clip-in hair extensions

That’s Sara White, aka SaraSweetie99, a first grade teacher in Charleston, West Virginia. White says she posted her first video about hair extensions because she couldn’t find a good instructional video on YouTube. When the clicks started adding up, she started adding new videos, and eventually joined the YouTube partner program, where Youtube shares ad revenue with people who post videos regularly.

“I thought, ‘Well, I won’t make that much money from it,'” White says. “You know, I thought I’ll make a couple dollars a month. But I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool.’ I don’t have to get a second job now.”

Making Over $100,000

This is a common experience among YouTube’s 15,000 or so partners, says the company’s Annie Baxter.

“A lot of YouTubers describe themselves as accidental entrepreneurs.”

YouTube says there are hundreds of people who make more than $100,000 a year on their videos. Baxter says instructional videos are on the rise.

Geoff Dorn knows that well. He’s the man behind a series of videos on how to tie a tie.

In the video, you can’t see Dorn’s face — just a close-up of his neck, his white dress shirt and pale blue tie.

“Yeah, that was shot in my kitchen,” Dorn says. “I think I had – I tacked a white sheet up against what was a red wall.”

That incredibly dry video has been viewed six million times. He also has videos on the full Windsor, the half Windsor, the Shelby knot and the bow tie. Dorn says he can pay his property taxes each year with the money he gets from Youtube.

“It’s nice to get paid for doing absolutely nothing, or doing something once.”

Dorn lives in Portland, Oregon, and works in finance, and does actually wear a tie to work every day. But that’s not why he decided to make videos about tying ties.

“You know, any entrepreneur gets an idea that they want to make whatever, donuts — they want to make whatever they think they’re good at,” Dorn says. “But what you really should do is figure out what the market is and make that.”

He says he made these videos because he knew there was a demand for them.

Dorn’s videos seem to lack personality by design. Sean Plott’s videos are all about personality.

Plott has a daily Web show that focuses on the computer gameStarcraft II. His mission: helping a growing community of fellow players get better at the game.

In his videos, Plott goes by his gaming handle Day[9]. He says they really took off when he started talking more about himself more.


“It wasn’t just Day[9] analytical nerd who just sat down and only talked about how to improve and how to learn. It became this edutainment show and that helped tremendously.”

So much so that when Plott finishes his master’s degree at the University of Southern California later this year, he plans to make this Web show his full-time job.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.