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This Creator Showed That Getting Millions Of Views Doesn't Necessarily Mean You're Going To Make Money

Kevin Parry opened up about how going viral doesn't always mean getting paid.

Posted on July 21, 2021, at 10:31 a.m. ET

Kevin Parry

There's an old meme that, common sense might dictate, applies to making viral content. It goes something like this.

1. Make cool video.
2. It goes viral.
3. ????
4. PROFIT!!!

Getting from step two to step four, as the question marks imply, can be a real mystery.

Take Kevin Parry, for example. The 34-year-old content creator and stop-motion animator from Toronto recently had a hit video that you may have seen.

A collection of me turning into random objects.

Twitter: @kevinbparry

In the video, Parry uses his editing expertise to make himself turn into a bunch of random objects. It's actually a compilation of older clips, but it made a big impact.

So far, the video has 16 million views on Parry's Twitter, 31 million on his TikTok, and another 30 million on an Instagram meme page.

That's more than 75 million total views, but as Parry tweeted, he hasn't made a dime directly from it.

For those curious about the internet economy – this vid got 15M views here, 28M on TikTok, 30M on an IG meme account. But I didn’t make a penny from any of it! Luckily I can back it up with production skills when brands come knocking. But lots of views basically means nothing. https://t.co/YavFKUqI9V

Twitter: @kevinbparry

Some replies to the tweet seemed confused, but this isn't surprising to Parry, who's been creating content online full-time for several years.

There's no TikTok Creator program in Canada, for example, and content doesn't just monetize itself.

"I should clarify that I'm not complaining," he told BuzzFeed News. "You're happy to see your stuff being shared."

So how do creators make money? Parry said there are viral video curators who license videos to distribute, which is one avenue.

"Typically, if you're just someone who doesn't make videos and you randomly get a viral video, there are a lot of companies that contact you quickly to monetize your video. They jump in, and you sign away the rights to it," he said. "You can make a kind of a small amount of money off that."

He's also licensed videos himself to news sites, for example.

The other issue is that it's common for Instagram or Twitter meme accounts to upload his work without permission. In this case, the page that got him another 30 million views did have permission from him. He said most meme pages are good about tagging, so he doesn't personally pursue copyright notices.

He said people tend to equate fame or views with income, but for him, it's actually showcasing his talents that can bring in money down the line. His success on social media combined with the skills he is able to show off has secured sponsorship deals as well as video creation work.

Point is – tell your teenage child that going ‘viral’ is useless 😂 I’m successful in this industry because I can bring a decade’s worth of experience to the table. I know how to storyboard an ad, pitch it to a client, I can deliver on time, etc, etc Get those skills first 👍

Twitter: @kevinbparry

"It's basically just me running a commercial or an advertisement for myself," he said. "It definitely shows my ability to deliberately make viral videos, which is a valuable skill."

It can also boost his follower account, which means bigger deals when sponsored content work comes in.

He also said what it means to be "viral" has changed over the years. Getting millions of views on a platform like TikTok isn't the novelty it once was.

"I wouldn't even say my videos are viral," he said. "It got a lot of views. But I think viral these days means becoming some kind of meme or having some kind of cultural relevancy. I've never had that kind of viral thing where people could recognize me."

For Parry, this is a career. But if you're one of those people who has a single hit, his advice is to make a quick buck however you can.

"Say you film a video of your dog, and it gets a million views. Just try to cash in on that. Because you're not going to do it again."


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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