Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

Canadian Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 (£17,800) to $250,000 (£149,000) for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube

Gillian Orr
Thursday 24 April 2014 02:05

Unless you're a big-time celebrity indulging in a spot of product placement, it's unlikely you'll ever make any money from a selfie. Not so for Canadian Jared Frank, whose selfie-gone-wrong looks set to earn the 22-year-old a small fortune.

When Frank posed in front of a passing passenger train while on holiday in Peru, he took a video that captured him being kicked in the head by the foot of the train's driver. Since the 11-second video made its way on to YouTube just over a week ago, it has been viewed more than 24 million times. "Train Kick Selfie Guy" (as Frank can expect to be called for the foreseeable future) has gone viral.

And forget the pitiful £250 pay out that television shows such as You've Been Framed! offer for calamities caught on camera, Frank is predicted to receive anything between $30,000 (£17,800) to $250,000 (£149,000) for his misfortune.

And that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube; he could make even more from licensing agreements. On Monday, he signed with a California-based company called Jukin Media, which could broker additional deals for Frank, who hopes to use the money raised to go to film school.

But how exactly does a silly video filmed on an iPhone turn into hard cash? Whether it's a baby biting his brother's finger, a cat playing the piano, or a teenage boy hysterically defending Britney, if people are watching, there's money to be made.

Two years ago, YouTube launched a new revenue-sharing program that allows users to click a "monetise" button when they upload a new clip.

Should the user have enough of a following – their videos will each rack up more than a few thousand views – and they upload regularly, the site will consider making them a partner and begin to include ads prior to, and within, their clips. Creators will take home about half the advertising revenue. YouTube will be responsible for finding advertisers, but users can also approach sponsors themselves.

"If they can generate an audience, they can start making money," Tom Pickett, YouTube's vice president of global operations, told Business Week.

There are now more than one million channels from more than 30 countries earning revenue through the YouTube Partner Program, and partner revenue increased by 60 per cent in the past year.

Video creators can then make further sums when they are licensed to television shows to be played out (organised by companies such as Jukin). Today, viral videos are shown in news broadcasts and chat shows all over the world.

However, the real big bucks are to be made if third parties come calling (the stars of "Charlie Bit My Finger" have appeared in a Ragu advert and even sell their own range of merchandise, including mugs and T-shirts).

The highest earning YouTube star is Felix Kjellberg (aka Pewdiepie), a Swede whose clips commenting on video games reportedly earn him around $7m (£4.1m) a year (he boasts a total of 3.7 billion views).

Others who make up the top 10 include a Los Angeles-based comedian called Jenna Marbles (JennaMarbles) and yet another gamer, James Wilson Jr (UberHaxorNova).

Despite the rough-around-the-edges style of production, their videos look positively sophisticated next to one of some kid getting hit in the side of the head by a boot. But that's not to say that Frank can't turn his mishap into a media empire. Jukin itself has been quick to point out that "online monetisation and media licensing are highly variable, and nobody can predict what this video will earn over time".

Whatever Frank makes, it's sure to be better than a kick in the teeth.

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