Six Rising Stars on the New Web

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Post Videos, Earn $$$

Meta Cafe
A year ago, Kip Kay of St. Petersburg, Florida, began posting short clips on Metacafe, a video site that shares revenues with its content producers. Kay has made over $57,000 from his short how-to videos for techies, making him one of the site's top earners.

Kipkay videos
Kay's topics include how to build a laser flashlight, how to make a pair of infrared goggles for under $10, and how to chill a soda can in 2 minutes. The clips are informative, interesting, and perfect for short attention spans.

Kip Kay's Infrared goggle hack.
Where do his ideas come from? "There's no big magic book, and a lot of stuff I've known over the years," says Kay. "I do find some ideas on the Internet too." Since he retains the rights to his videos, Kay is free to post his clips elsewhere. He has gotten offers from competing sites, but so far nearly all of his profits have come from Metacafe. Kay plans to make videos "as long as I continue to be successful at it."

Author, Publish Thyself

When Kamilla Reid, a first-time author in Edmonton, Alberta, wanted to publish her children's fantasy novel The Questory of Root Karbunkulus, she bypassed traditional booksellers and instead chose BookSurge, Amazon's self-publishing division. While thousands of writers self-publish each year, what makes Reid's story unique is her ambitious use of the Web to market her work, a campaign featuring a professional-caliber promotional site with eye-catching graphics, moody background music, and even a video trailer for the book.

Root Karbunkulus is about a 14-year-old girl who is invited to participate in a treasure hunt in a magical world. Envisioning a six-part series, Reid is currently writing the second book while she markets the first. For her promotional site, she used local talent to fulfill her vision: A composer from the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra orchestrated the music, and an enthusiastic group of young Web designers created the magical look and feel that Reid wanted for her preteen target audience. As for the video trailer, Reid, who has a background in theater and film, shot it herself using a Canon video camera. Her ex-husband--they're still friends, she says--edited the clip. "I still had to pay him," she laughs.

Reid estimates she has spent about $10,000 on the entire project, a significant outlay that required her to take out a home equity loan. The good news is, she's selling books--650, in fact--after only a few weeks of marketing, which includes tours of local schools. "From what I've heard, traditional houses are impressed if [first-time fiction authors] can sell 1000 books in a year," she says.

Ultimately, though, Reid would like to sign with a major publisher. When and if that day comes, she believes her promotional efforts will enable her to negotiate a better deal.

'You're Going Out in That?'

When William Sledd of Paducah, Kentucky, began posting fashion-advice videos on YouTube in September 2006, stardom was the last thing on his mind. "I was bored, I live in a very small town," says Sledd, whose day job was selling clothes at the local Gap. Using his new iMac, Sledd taught himself basic video editing skills and soon became a YouTube regular, dispensing cheery-yet-caustic fashion tips and starting each video with an upbeat "Hey, bitches!" His big break came only a month after he started, when his "Denim Edition" clip was featured on YouTube's front page.

"That's what blew everything out of perspective," says Sledd. "Once I did that video, things changed." His YouTube channel, "Ask a Gay Man," has since become the site's sixth-most-subscribed series of all time, and Sledd has traveled to New York and Los Angeles to meet icons of the fashion industry. He has also signed a TV development deal with NBC Universal, with show plans in the nascent stage. "It's still too early to say what it's going to be," says Sledd. "It may be a reality-based show. Whatever it's going to be, it's going to be amazing."

Sledd, a member of YouTube's revenue-sharing program, declined to say what he makes off his video posts. He hints, though, that his YouTube income is fairly modest. "Could you quit your job? No. But some of these people posting are kids. They may quite possibly make more money [posting videos] versus working at some retail store or fast-food place."

Despite his newfound fame, Sledd hasn't quit his day job either: "I still work at the Gap, but very, very little. It's like family to me."

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