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Sunday, 01 June 2014


I hope you'll be free, and feel like, filling us in on how it goes. I'm fascinated by the monetization approaches available these days and like to hear real stories.

The worst-case scenario is that he doesn't make $2900. In the grand scheme of life, that's chicken sh*t. Wish I had that much sense at that age.

And those arbitrary license suspension rules are beyond stupid. He should make a video about making home-made pizza. It's cheaper and better tasting than ordering delivery.

Here's a book he should read between checking his view count-

The initial blurb on Amazon is pretty bad, but if your son searches around for some interviews and discussions with Lanier, he might get curious. It sounds as if youtube is already working the micro-payment angle (I know nothing about how anyone anywhere ever makes money on the internet, including Google or a site like TOP).

Mike that seems like a great investment in the future. I have tried to get my son interested in such stuff to no avail. Good luck to him.

Just curious. What's the basis for income? I watch a lot of YouTube and don't pay anything to do it.

[Advertising--for Xander, AdSense, and now his one affiliation. --Mike]

My compliments to Xander. As a classically trained actor and sometime narrator, I am impressed with the clarity and welcoming tone of his narration. (Damn, three years at the National Theatre School of Canada, and for what………………?)

Good luck to Xander. When my son was in college, he worked for a grocery store one summer and then mooched-off his parents after that because he decided to help run the ROTC Silver Wings program, which I actually was proud of him for. I think in the end it worked out because he graduated, is an officer, and continues to help run volunteer programs in his spare time. It is funny sometimes how things turn out.

I'm obviously not the only one who didn't realize that it's so easy to monetize YouTube videos. Well, not to actually monetize them, of course, but to set it up so that you possibly, just maybe, might earn something off them.

Lately I've been complaining about how stuff that should be published as text, possibly with some pictures for illustrations, often seems to end up in videos instead. Videos I've no patience for watching and could get the needed info in a fraction of the time if it was presented as text I could skim through.

And to prevent any misunderstanding I want to say that this is in no way meant as criticism of Xander or his video. I actually found it fun and he made the video format work well.

Being young is the time to try different things; he doesn't have a family to feed or a mortgage to pay and the learning opportunities in a fast food job are limited indeed. So go for the video, not a big deal if it doesn't work since the payoff from the fast food job isn't all that great.

PS. Now I'm waiting when we will see the first TOP video journal or review ;-)

My reaction mirrors the first featured comment --- you can earn money this way? Who knew?

Keep us posted. I want to learn how.

Hey -- he's really good at this. Encourage it.

Sounds like a worthwhile experiment. Of course if Xander decides he needs something like a Panasonic GH4, well, the economics might not work out so well.

I'm impressed – the kid is good!

Sounds like the entrepreneurial fruit has fallen close to the tree in the Johnson household.

Am I the only one wondering about the sheer, utter stupidity of the two examples you posted that generated more than 150 millions views and hundreds of thousands of dollars!?

[Possibly not, but a lot of people like it and that's all you need. I think Marquese Scott is amazing. It's folk art. --Mike]

Interesting data point Mike. More and more of the people I know are making their own work -- I mean they are self-employed and self-directed. It is both liberating and terrifying if you are used to functioning in a larger organization -- and as you know, it is hard to take a day off when you are the boss and the staff.

Early this year I taught a course at a local college in renewable energy development. There was a palpable sense of anxiety among the students about where they were going to fit into the economy and who would give them a job when they graduated. My advice to them was to make their own work -- that all of their experience up until that point had been asking various gatekeepers for permission to move to the next rung of an educational ladder with no clearly defined end-point. In response to the looks of puzzlement I got, my I told them that the happiest people I knew were those for whom work and play were the same thing. Unfortunately, there is little at a liberal arts college to force that match-up between work and play. The professors are, by and large, professional academics and only a tiny percentage of their students will follow in their footsteps. As a result, while they are undeniably expert in their areas of study, their main professional qualification is getting and keeping jobs at an educational institution -- something that bears little resemblance, except in the fundamentals of hard work and integrity, to the professional problems their students will face out in the world.

Congratulations (as a parent) for having both the courage and the commitment to help your son understand early that he will be paid for what he knows and can do. It can be habit-forming.

[Edit] - I don't want what I have posted above to be read as saying that a liberal arts education has no value. On the contrary, I passionately believe that it does. But there is a mis-match between what it provides and any specific career path, unless you already know while you are a student that you want to do something with a fairly well-defined professional trajectory (doctor, lawyer, investment banker etc.). What I was trying to convey is that it would be valuable for a kid who _isn't_ on one of those paths to start the journey that your son will start this summer. I predict that your providing him a low-risk way to experiment in this will have a lot of upside. Well, prediction is a dangerous business; let us say I hope for it.

I worked at Burger King when I was 18 and at McDonald's at some point in my early 20's; this was in Europe, where I feel minimum wage was higher than here in the US because I made what felt like more than $2,900.

At Burger King I had a pretty bad boss. He wasn't a bad guy, he just wasn't very good at managing us or the store. Food stealing by employees was rampant. I learnt how to get by doing minimal work and not care for my superior.

At McDonald's, however, I had a great boss. He didn't f**k around and wasn't overly nice, but he ran the place like a well-oiled machine. Nobody stole food because we were allowed to eat as much as we wanted as long as a) It was during our break, and b) we wrote it all down on. The result? Happy, well-fed workers, and a happy boss who's food accounting books always added up.

This boss had many other unorthodox techniques and I learnt a lot from him (I would often chat to him after work asking him why he did this or that). I have since taken a few management courses and manage people myself, and I have to say that most of what I know about management (that actually works) I learnt from my boss at McDonald's that Summer.

Not that Xander's plan isn't a good one; just sayin' that you never know when a minimum wage job is going to be more than a job.

Go for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

With best regards.


For most instructional purposes, I choose YouTube as my last choice -- I'm mostly looking up non-trivial stuff, and videos tend towards introductory, and I have to actually watch them in real-time to find out whether they contain the information I actually want (I can scan text pretty fast, plus the search has already taken the text into account when it suggests that URL). Then, every now and then, I look on YouTube as my first choice because it's some craft skill thing I need to see happen to understand. Or because it's about video editing and most of the good people teaching about that do it in video :-).

It's interesting, as somebody who watches YouTube videos pretty much every day, that I've never heard of any of the high-end big money makers you mention.

If my videos get better and more common I'll really have to think about turning on monetization -- so I can be depressed about how little I get. Amazon Associate was like that for years, back in the good old days before they cut off everybody in Minnesota.

I wonder how many new subscribers he has after this post has been up a couple of days. He got me after I saw the WiFi trick. Haven't tried it yet but I bet it will work just fine.

Best of luck to Xander. My own kid Ben just graduated from high school and has no summer job lined up. I have just forwarded him the link to this blog. Smart dad. Good dad! Thanks Mike.

This guy


Has 27,000,000 subscribers. He makes odd videos related to video games. Among other things.

I think you get a kickback from the advertising revenues on the pages.

Fantastic! Great idea. I subscribed and have liked a few vids of his already. You're a good father Mike.

[Thanks, but I don't get any credit. It was all his idea. I'm just supporting it is all. --Mike]

How to clean a stiff focus lever on a minolta autocord would get him a solid 1 view from me.

Now that's what I call a dad. Kudos!

I never thought I would see the day when your tripod got regular use, Mike.

Xander's videos are far better than most of the instructional ones I have seen; they have good technical quality, are organised and to the point. I'm impressed. The pizza chain has lost out, here.

Subscribe and share his youtube on my facebook page with a comment as below:

"I basically read his father web site every day (theonlinephotographer) and now his son is thinking about not do a summer job of flapping mac/delivery pizza but try to do youtube video to earn some summer holiday money. I cannot be sure how he can do that but to support his move, I subscribe and like his video. Hope he can try. Cf you tube posting vs flipping pizza, I think youtube is a bit more useful. Good luck."


In so far as video is on it's way to over taking still photography, I say go for it.
If nothing else then for the educational & exposure values.
I'd be interested in having Xander share some of his knowledge on TOP.

Great idea, good luck with it.

In case Xander's not heard of him, can I suggest he take a look at Marques Brownlee as a good example of great product reviews and someone "doing it right"! (He's only 20 as well!!).

Have to say, that Miserere had a very nice story, and an example of what can happen when you're working with the right people at a young age: i.e., you learn not only what a great and efficient boss is, but how not to be a bad boss!

I don't know Xander at all, so no commenting on his skills and abilities, and I certainly wasn't working a dead end job in my teens (I was working in a studio!), and don't know if I would have survived doing it; but as a senior manager in a lot of companies, I can tell you that a lot of times, "young, self employed, go-getter", translates into "can't work with others or inside structure"...so...just saying...

I once hired a guy with a pretty good portfolio BECAUSE he worked at McDonald's all during college...

Part of the purpose of summer jobs like that is getting the work experience. The experience itself could prove to be invaluable, especially as it was his idea and an area that holds his interest.

One thing that the fast food job won't teach is having a vision and the ambition to follow it through. This opportunity might.

Plus, it shows the apple didn't fall far from the tree. He's following his dad's example of being an internet entrepreneur.

Good job guys! And best of luck!

I like the chapstick how-to.

Weird "3x" coincidence (things you've never heard or thought about suddenly appear to you, with focus, in groups of three): my mom told some story about her mom being allowed to go alone to an amusement park as a child with some "mad money" to get her back home again, a phrase I'd never known; then soon after I hear someone talk about how they had they had to dip into their "mad money" to fix their car; and now I see Xander's project for keeping a small stash of emergency money. New term to me, apparently from way back, according to some dictionary sites. I then Google it more to learn that some annoying yahoo on CNBC named his show after the term, and so I bet that old phrase will lose its original meaning.

The Net giveth, and the Net taketh away.

Hey Xf...

...my Mom had "Mad Money" too, it came from the idea that if you went out on a date with someone, and you got "mad" at them (or whatever), you weren't stranded without a ride or any way to get back home. My Mom grew up (dating age anyway) on the Chicago North Shore, so it had to be enough for the EL, or a cab, and to get your coat out of hock at a club (The Arregon Ballroom!), if you went storming out...

He seems to have found kipkay, the king of this type of video, imho. If not, it's worth a look.

Not that I want to suggest that Xander should deliver pizzas, but shouldn't he have taken tip into consideration in his budget. Or aren't pizza delivery guys/girls(?) tipped in the US? Hm, long time not been there; and never do I order pizzas either.

Back on topic: Xander's videos very good, short, snappy and to the point. No time lost watching them.

Wow, nice. You have a smart kid there. Great idea and I hope he'll make money through the summer and all year.

I say good for Xander. He will learn a lot by trying out this stuff, from making video shorts to marketing and self promotion. College will provide good formal training, and both may end up paying dividends.

Seems like he already listened to some advice from his superannuated and mentally astute paternal progenitor, including the necessity of good editing. I hate Youtube videos full of pauses, waffle and sloppy English. Xander's were precise, tight and very intelligible.

Good job, Xander. Can't fault the logic either. All you learn in Burger King is that you never want to do a day job.

Having a 7 and 3 year olds, I'm not here yet, but this is an awesome response to a problem - and yes, being young and having a support net is a great time to take a chance. As an aside - reading about you raising Xander has been great notes for me - he's an amazing son, but you're also an amazing dad.

Tell Xander that I suggest he add a "subscribe" link inside his videos. Go to YouTube and search on "how to add a subscribe link." I assume he's already found the Creators and Partners help links at the bottom of the YT page.


[Hi Laura, He says there is a Subscribe link in the videos, but it's the old style type of link. He's been meaning to switch it over to the new type. Maybe your comment will provide the impetus he needs to get it done. --Mike]

I Liked... I Subscribed!

Congratulations to Xander for his entrepreneurial spirit and to you for some damn fine parenting!

Yikes! What adds? I can't see any. Maybe it's because I'm in Japan and have the language set to UK English, or something? I was all set to click everything in sight.

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