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YouTube sensations turning their channels into profit-making brands

Rock Center

From families with Flip Cams to a makeup artist posting tutorials online, an increasing number of people are turning their YouTube stardom into profit-making brands.  

Shay and Colette Butler, along with their four children, created a daily YouTube video series in 2007, The "Shaytards," that’s now watched by nearly a million people regularly. The series’ popularity has earned the Butlers a significant amount of money.

“The first check that we got, that was like that’s the biggest paycheck we’ve ever gotten before,” Shay Butler told NBC News’ Josh Mankiewicz.

YouTube sells the ads that appear on Shay Butler’s page and then splits the money with them every month. Shay Butler wouldn’t tell NBC News what he earns, but estimates put it at $15,000 to $20,000 a month.  Butler has also made deals directly with companies like General Electric.

The Butlers aren't alone. An entire industry is sprouting up to help people create profitable YouTube Channels. Shay, himself, co-founded Maker Studio in Los Angeles, Calif.  The studio produces more than 160 hours of online TV watched by more than 5 million regular viewers. They help produce the content on more than 400 YouTube channels.

“I feel like we’re creating the future of entertainment. I feel like we’re creating something new and that’s exciting to me,” said Lisa Donovan, a co-founder of Maker.

Michelle Phan hasn’t had to utilize the help of a studio like Maker. Her makeup tutorials uploaded to her YouTube channel took off and she’s garnered half a billion views in 2012 alone. The 25-year-old’s YouTube stardom has led to a deal with Lancome and a contract with one of Hollywood’s most  powerful talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency.

“I make enough where I can support my entire family, retire my mom, she never has to work a day in her life ever again,” Phan said.