Jefferson Graham reports from the floor of the huge online video gathering in Anaheim

Niajae, a travel vlogger from Florida who only uses her first name professionally, came to Anaheim this week for one reason. To find the secret to video success.

“I want to learn about…taking my vlog to the next level, and gain some followers,” she told me, on the floor of this online video fanfest known as VidCon.

She spoke to us on the trade show floor, by the Serta mattress booth, which built a giant bed out of 12 mattresses for kids to jump up and down on and take selfies. What does that have to do with video? More on that in a minute.

While she was checking out the action downstairs, the really important stuff was going on upstairs, in the VidCon “Industry Track,” sessions, where executives from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, were laying out the secrets to success in online video.

It is a dream of many, like Niajae, to chuck their day jobs and make a living creating online videos. At VidCon, YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said several video makers were making 6 figures yearly, meaning more than $100,000 with their cut of the ad revenues from the Google owned video network.

But beyond YouTube, which generously shared ad revenues with anyone making videos that has at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watched video in a year’s time, getting checks from the others is tough, but not impossible, if you have a large following.

Facebook owned Instagram launched a new video app this week, IGTV, to compete with YouTube, but it didn’t offer creators any carrots to get them to show their wares there. In other words, don’t expect any money—just post your videos for free. The app isn’t ad-supported yet, but it is expected to be down the road.

Facebook itself has been making noises about paying creators for several years, and this week came up with some concrete ways to part with some cash. But the average Joe and Jane won’t get very far with the social network.

Facebook wants people with massive followings, folks who take this very seriously, who consistently produce.

“If the show is longer, and brings people back week after week for habitual viewing,” Facebook is interested in sharing revenues with you, said Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice-president who oversees video.

The platform is Watch, where Facebook runs professionally produced content in a tab that’s at the bottom of the mobile app. Big media companies like USA TODAY, the New York Times, ABC News and others are featured there, but Simo said at VidCon she was open to non-media brands as well.

But for Watch, Facebook has two big hurdles: the video maker needs to have at least 300 people watching a live video, and 50,000 followers, which pretty much eliminates Joe and Jane.

For Andrew Rea, who does the Binging with Babish cooking show (which celebrates food popularized in TV and movies) from his Soho apartment in New York City, it was staying on top of cultural trends that enabled him to quit his day job and go full time into online video.

When the Rick and Morty animated show on Adult Swim ran a bit about being obsessed with McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, Rea saw that on a Sunday, and had a Szechuan themed episode out by Tuesday. “The beauty of the medium is, I could turn on a dime,” he says. “That was my first big hit, with 600,000 views, and my subscriber base just took off from there.” (Listen to our podcast with Rae, here:

Meanwhile, besides vloggers like Andrew and Niajae, brands like Serta, M&M/Mars, Hubert’s Lemonade, Lego and Nerf were at VidCon, with large elaborate booths for young YouTube fans to play in, and possibly subtly convince mom and dad to buy something when they got back home.

“That’s the idea,” Serta’s Greg Butz told us, as dozens of kids relaxed on his 20×25 foot display of 12 queen beds pulled together into one. “The parents are having a good time jumping up and down on the beds as well.”

So again, class, here’s the recap on what we learned at VidCon, and how to (possibly) make it as a YouTube millionaire:

Post often, consistently, be topical and active in the community by commenting on other videos. Good looks help, be witty and engaging, and most importantly, make great videos.

But again, if it was that easy, we’d all be YouTube millionaires, right?

In other tech news this week

—How does $10 a month for wireless service sound? Sprint’s $15 a month unlimited offer only lasted a week; now scrappy wireless provider FreedomPop has a new deal, $10 monthly for unlimited talk and text, and 1 gigabyte of high-speed data, under the Unrealmobile brand name.

—Amazon’s Prime Day is set for July 16th. That’s the date of the made-up holiday where many of the e-tailer’s top products go on sale. In other Amazon news, the company this week cut an alliance with the Marriott hotel chain to begin deploying Echo speakers in hotel rooms, starting this summer in Charlotte and Irvine, California.

A grass roots Facebook member campaign to raise money for stranded immigrant children has pulled in nearly $20 million.

—ICYMI, Marco della Cava and Jessica Guynn have a fascinating piece about the Scooter Wars of 2018. You know, those electric scooters that are left all over urban streets in San Francisco, Nashville and Santa Monica.

—Fresh off its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T announced its first post-merger consumer video offering called WatchTV, a “skinny bundle” with more than 30 live streaming TV channels, including former Time Warner properties such as CNN and TNT. It’s free if you sign up for one of two new AT&T unlimited plans, or $15 a month otherwise.

This week’s Talking Tech podcasts

Apple’s entertainment push: We run down what Apple has in store for Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon on #TalkingTech.

Why would anyone be a Verizon Wireless customer? The no. 1 wireless carrier charges more money than others for service. So why do so many people willingly fork over the bucks?

Google looks to double podcast audiences with new app. The new Google Podcasts app for Android is part of a major push by Google to expand the podcast audience. To which we say, Yay!

Alexa, are you really listening to me in a hotel room? Amazon cut a deal with Marriott to put connected Echo speakers into hotel rooms. Speakers that will record snippets of your conversations if you use the Alexa wake word. Are you ready for that one travelers?

Just $10 a month for wireless service – what’s the catch? FreedomPop’s new $10 monthly wireless service UnrealMobile, has the lowest price of any wireless plan we’ve found. So what’s the catch?

YouTube’s “tough” year, and the network’s more popular than ever. After Logan Paul and advertisers fleeing, more people are watching YouTube than ever. Our conversation with Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan.

Meet Binging with Babish’s Andrew Rae — The host of the YouTube series about cooking food popularized on TV and movies sits down with us.

And that’s this week’s TalkingTech newsletter. Please subscribe here,, listen to the daily TalkingTech podcast, and follow me, @jeffersongraham, on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 

Read or Share this story: