Although it’s been eight years since I met Shirley Wallace, I’ll never forgot my visit with her and her one-of-a-kind two-story Spartan trailer.
On a visit to my aunt’s home in Lindsay, California, she told me about a friend who owned the unusual trailer. Shirley Wallace’s father added the second story when she was a child — bedrooms for Shirley and her sister. Shirley lived there until she went off to college.
“Would you like to see the trailer?” my aunt asked. A couple of hours later, we were on our way.
Shirley gave me a tour, which I recorded with my iPhone. That video has now been viewed by more than 1.5 million people on our YouTube Channel! It is, in fact, the most popular video on the channel (by far). What’s interesting is that I shot the entire thing with my iPhone and edited it with my Mac’s free, easy to use video editing software, iMovie. Never could I have imagined the response it would get: Try to imagine 1.5 million people — that’s 15 Rose Bowl crowds!
Now, years after filming and posting Shirley’s story, she has become a celebrity. People recognize her from the video. “Oh, you’re the one with the two-story trailer,” they say. Some want to see it. Some want to buy it. How could Shirley or I have imagined when I stopped by that day years ago that a simple video recording on a phone could gain such widespread popularity?
EIGHT YEARS AGO, I was playing around with YouTube to see if I could earn any money there. RVtravel.com was earning me a living, but as a self-employed business person I was always looking for other sources of income to help pay the bills.
Which brings me to an idea for you: If you can figure out how to make a simple video (your smartphone is all you need) and would like to earn a few dollars to pay your gas bills or campground fees, set up your own free YouTube channel. Once it gets some traffic, YouTube will permit you to monetize it. You may only make $25 a month. Or you could make thousands (we make hundreds because producing videos isn’t a priority). You’ve likely seen monetized videos. In most cases, a commercial runs at the beginning (which you can usually skip after a few seconds if you choose).
IF ENOUGH PEOPLE WATCH the commercials, over time you can make good money. Some of the most popular videos on YouTube can earn the channel’s owner thousands of dollars a month, a few even six figures a year!
Most of our hundreds of videos are not very popular and are lucky to earn a dollar or two a month, so our earnings are unimpressive. I consider our YouTube channel my retirement fund. One day, when my mind has left me for another place and I must stop working, I’ll likely still earn a few hundred dollars a month from YouTube — a modest supplement to Social Security.
If you are handy with a video camera (or even a smartphone), and are looking for a little extra income, consider setting up a YouTube channel. Pick a subject that you are passionate about. You’ll need to do some homework first — how to edit the videos (all Macs come with iMovie and PC’s have many editing programs to choose from) and perhaps, even more important, how to generate traffic. But if you take it seriously, your channel can provide extra income for your travels today and even years to come.
And if you’re lucky enough to videotape a chipmunk yodeling on your picnic table, you’ll be set for life!
NOTE: I originally wrote about Shirley’s trailer about the same time I first posted the video to YouTube.