Bungee jumping after hours YouTube
What’s more, a partnership with YouTube means Harries earns money every time someone clicks on his channel – and it’s not an insignificant amount. He’s currently making “up to double” what he earned each month in his old retail job at Apple; enough to pay for new camera equipment, travel the world without touching his savings and fund his entire gap year.
“At first people think YouTube is just babies, cats and people falling over, ” explains Harries. “Soon you realise it’s a lot cleverer than that. The idea of connecting with an audience out of my bedroom just blew my mind – and I wanted to give it a go. I thought nobody would watch a random kid making movies, and for four months, nobody did. Then I put Finn in a video and the views suddenly shot up.”
It’s the twin factor that has made JacksGap such a money-spinner for the Harries. Both fresh-faced, tousle-haired Justin Bieber-alikes (“We’re not Justin Bieber, ” they insist, “we just share the same fans”), Jack is the outspoken one with dreams of a television presenting job; while Finn, who’s behind the branding and logo, is more reserved. Their subscribers are 88 per cent female, aged between 14 and 17, and “really avid”; so obsessed by the twins that they’ve camped outside the Harries’ family home, mobbed an airport in Bangkok and set up hundreds of unofficial fan sites.
“What’s great about YouTube is that we have total control over the content, ” explains Finn. “Instead of having a £6, 000 professionally built website, we do it ourselves – for free. Nobody is telling us what to do or when to post; we don’t have to ask the adults to help us any more.”
While the content of their videos might suggest otherwise – recent stunts include naked bungee jumping, balloon modelling and unicycling – JacksGap is an incredibly professional operation. The twins’ bedrooms serve as their offices: they have an iPad each, cameras, lights and three computer screens for shooting and editing footage (both are self-taught). There is an odd collection of props from previous videos: a megaphone, a plastic skull and a bearded dragon named Sidney. Videos are scripted in advance and can take three days to make, and they spend up to two hours a day on YouTube, researching the latest trends.
“It’s a full-time job, ” admits Jack. “We don’t have a lot of time to do other things. You’re putting your personal life out there on the web, so every day you’re working, whether you want to or not. I’ll tweet or take a photograph every time I’m out; you never switch off.”
For teenagers at a loss about what to do on their gap year, setting up a YouTube channel is a lucrative business. The website – which has 800 million unique users a month, watching more than three billion hours of video – now has 30, 000 partners in 27 countries.
The partner programme, which was set up in 2007, allows YouTubers to take a cut of the money their videos are making and display targeted adverts on their channel.
When JacksGap hit 10, 000 subscribers in April, the twins received an email from YouTube. “They gave us a username and password to log in to Google AdSense [the programme allowing users to earn money from online advertisements], and there’s an account balance where you see your money go up and up, ” explains Jack.
He won’t reveal exactly how much they have made so far, but adds: “It funded my entire travels through Thailand. I never expected that. I try to put most of it into camera equipment, but if there’s some left over to go on holiday and have fun, then why not?”