If you’re one of the few lucky people who follow this blog, you may remember when I wrote of my disgust with Christmas: “Kids should be told that Santa’s fake, and that his round belly, indicative of low testosterone and possible blood sugar issues, makes it highly unlikely that he would have the stamina to fly around the world and squeeze his big ass down a chimney.” Anyhow, after 500 words of complaining, the story ended with the kids getting an indoor bounce house after my wife’s insistence.
That post, from way back in December 2017, included an embedded YouTube video of my kids being surprised with the bounce house. The clip was creatively titled, “Surprise Bounce House For Xmas!”
Fast-forward 15 months. I began receiving hundreds of emails from YouTube notifying me of new subscribers to my channel. Most of the subscribers were Latino; I assumed they found me through clips I shared of Baja Beach Fest, a Latin trap/walk-around-half-naked-in-Mexico festival. But nope…according to YouTube, almost all of my views were from that damn bounce house video.
The video is not hilarious. It is not really interesting. It just shows my kids jumping with joy after Dad’s budget was overruled by Mom to allow them a $200 gift.
But for some reason “Surprise Bounce House For Xmas!” has gone viral. My educated guess, based on the video’s analytics, is that it’s being recommended as a “suggested video” at the end of someone else’s popular video. And maybe the keywords “surprise bounce house” have caught on as a niche.
This month alone the video has received over 2.7 million views. And my subscriber numbers—I mostly post family videos and clip of concerts (ex: “DMX Show Interrupted By Big Girl Fight!”)—have jumped from 70 to more than 8,000.
As the views piled up, I considered deleting the video and my channel. I didn’t feel too comfortable with the thought of millions of strangers seeing my kids. But I settled down and saw my initial thinking as an overreaction, sort of like how parents went crazy over the Momo controversy-turned-hoax. Man, I knew that little chicken trollop wasn’t bothering anyone’s kids.
So I said, well, let’s see if we can make some money.
Up until 2018, anyone could run ads on their YouTube videos. Now you have to meet certain popularity requirements before applying to the Creators monetization program: Accumulate 4,000 hours of watch time and have 1,000 subscribers. Once accomplished, you can run ads on your videos.
YouTube can take up to a month to review your account, but I was accepted into the program within 10 days. I should have applied earlier, but didn’t grasp how fast my viewing hours were adding up. Since running ads on my videos I’ve been earning $40 to $130 a day–way more than I paid for the actual bounce house.
My oldest is somewhat able to grasp the concept of “going viral” and seems intrigued. Well, I guess. He asked how many subscribers we have and then followed up with, “What are subscribers?”
Anyway, I figure going viral is to kids today what wearing a Michael Jackson jacket was to those of us raised in the Jheri curl generation. My only hope is that they don’t become addicted to attention. I’d rather they not grow up to be the sort of guys who post pictures of their car’s temperature gauge on a hot day in an attempt to show off the Mercedes symbol on the steering wheel.
As for the future of my YouTube side hustle, now that I have a grip of subscribers I’m going to create travel videos, largely family travel, save for the few occasions when I escape on my own. Best case, we’ll make a little money. Worst case, we’ll be Youtube one-hit wonders who earned a “free” bounce house.