When Devin SuperTramp (real name Devin Graham) went to Brigham Young University to study film and advertising, he never imagined he would have the ability to control the content he would produce for brands. But after developing an online following for his adventure sports-centric videos and partnering with YouTube talent managment company Fullscreen, he's been able to shoot passion projects for companies like SpeedStickGear, Mountain Dew, Ford, Intel and Ubisoft.
"I think for most people you're a filmmaker or you're a businessman, and you're nothing in between," said Graham. "Advertising allows for me to get funding, and the ad world gets cooler videos."
Graham shared advice with Adweek on how to make it as an action video online publisher.
Getting noticed by brands doesn't involve spending out of pocket to shoot in far away locations. Graham started filming locally and traveled to Hawaii to do some videos for fun with his friends. The next thing he knew, he was being asked to go to Iceland to film a cellphone commercial.
"It's all about proving yourself and not about telling people to hire you," he explained. "I just go out there and make cool content. People see it and bring me on board."
Promote yourself consistently online
Part of being both a filmmaker and a businessman involves sharing your content, Graham pointed out. Constantly plugging yourself on social media outlets helps you grow a loyal fan base, which makes your product more appealing to brands. Graham has 103,000 followers on Twitter and 187,000 likes on Facebook.
It's also important to regularly update your video content. Graham makes it a point to post a new video at least once a week, which is probably why he has more than 1.9 million subscribers on YouTube. Brands also don't mind that he posts their content on his channel since he has such a large following on the video network.
Quality is key but not more than originality
Graham shoots all his videos on a Canon 5D Mark III, and the quality of his clips is something he believes sets him apart. He notes, however, that some of the most watched videos on YouTube are mothers filming with their iPhones.
"A lot of people I have worked with, sometimes they'll go for my stuff because it feels very real with super-high production," he said. "Honestly, a lot of my highest production videos are my least watched videos. When it comes to hitting an audience, just because you connect it with money doesn't mean they are going to connect with it."
If you can combine an original concept with high production value, Graham thinks you can have a winning combo.
"It’s about finding out your niche and finding your voice," he said. "There's already a Devin SuperTramp."