Peter Cilliers has earned more than bragging rights as part of YouTube's Millionaires Club.

SA’s Peter Cilliers has earned more than bragging rights as part of YouTube’s Millionaires’ Club.

Cilliers earns in excess of R600 000 a year doing what he loves – with a little help from the internet.

In 2006, Cilliers, who is from Pretoria, decided to begin his own weight loss campaign. As motivation, he created a video diary to record his journey. Now, his YouTube channel, SixPackFactory, boasts more than 48 million views.

“I thought I might do a daily video log of my weight-loss programme,” said Cilliers. “I continued for about 112 days and that was the start.”

After a three-year hiatus Cilliers returned to YouTube last year. Through weekly updates, including home workout videos and related content, he is an example of an ordinary South African who has turned his “profitable hobby” into web-based financial success.

Cilliers, 32, believes video sharing is growing throughout SA.

“There is still a lot to learn about making money on the internet. As people get to know things like YouTube they realise we have the unique opportunity to share something new and special,” Cilliers said.

He’s quick to mention the video of a mountain biker taken out by a buck during a race in KwaZulu-Natal. According to Google spokeswoman Julie Taylor, the video went “madly viral”, with more than 12 million views in 10 days.

“In Africa, we can put something on YouTube that you can’t find happening anywhere else,” Cilliers said.

“Once we go online, we’re equal to the rest of the world.”

There are now more than four billion views on YouTube each day. And the online video powerhouse has established itself globally. It is available in 43 countries and 60 languages. In SA alone, views on YouTube increased by more than 190 percent from 2010 to last year.

“My most watched video has around 5.3 million views and, funny enough, this is also one of my most unprofessionally made videos, which shows as long as your video provides people with an answer they will watch it,” said Cilliers.

“In the past 12 months my views have gone from around 15 000 per day to around 60 000 per day without any paid advertising.”

Cilliers, who is single but has a girlfriend, shoots all his videos at home with an HD camcorder – 90 percent of the material “on my own with no help at all from anyone else”.

Through the YouTube Partners Program, users like Cilliers can run adverts with their videos. Users make money based on the number of hits they get.

“Some videos go completely viral within a week. When there is something quirky, different and unusual, grabs people’s attention and gets a bit of a social media boost they go viral,” said Taylor. “In other cases, people work to build up a following.”

Either way, more viewers means more money.

From upload to loaded

Simply making videos for YouTube is a thing of the past – the website has become a way to make a living, too. With the help of YouTube’s Partner Programme (YPP), more than 30 000 users are making money.

To join YPP a user must meet key requirements before they can start making revenue. They must create original videos “suitable for online streaming” and containing appropriate material.

Previously, YPP members were required to regularly upload content to their YouTube channel and receive thousands of hits to be a YouTube partner. But starting on April 12, according to the YouTube Creators blog, the additional requirement was dropped. Now YouTube users in 20 countries, including SA, can become partners by simply enabling at least one of their videos for advertising.

Through YPP, content creators share revenue with YouTube from the advertisements that run over or next to their videos. - Cape Argus