Viral vacations: make your trip pay for itself - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Viral vacations: make your trip pay for itself

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SPOKANE, WA - Last year, Americans spent $457 billion on vacations. One Index reports the average vacation costs about $1,600, but wouldn't it be great if that vacation paid for itself?

Well, for at least one family, it did...thanks to their viral video.

What started as a regular trip to Yellowstone National Park ended as a viral vacation for Valerie Peters, and it's all thanks to a video.

"There's a bear on my car."

"It was just really neat to see him so close."

"It was incredible to watch his paws touching the glass. The nails were huge."

After posting the video online for family and friends to see, Peters was flooded with calls of people requesting to use her video. It was too much to keep up with so she licensed it to a video service company out of Bozeman, Montana.

Now when someone uses Peters's video, she gets paid.

"We get a surprise check every so often and it's like, 'oh...hey...that's nice.'"

Wendy Sly with ViralHog says on average people can expect 500-1000 dollars if their video goes viral. But some have made as much as 50 to 60 thousand.

"So it's difficult to guarantee what a video will make money, but an average video can make a couple hundred dollars and a big video can make up to a few thousand," Sly said.

Peters's video paid for her trip...and then some. So what's the secret to getting a viral video?

"Our best advise don't try to make a viral video, but if you do capture anything amazing or interesting to always reach out to us," said Sly.

And if you do see something out of the ordinary, make sure you hold your phone horizontally or in landscape mode, and record for more than 20 seconds. That's key for copywriting.

While Peters cherishes the souveiner scratches the bear left on her car, she says the extra cash is an even better momento.

The most popular videos are likely things you've already seen: ViralHog licensed the video of Todd Orr, the Montana man who survived two bear attacks last fall and lived to tell the story. 

They also have the rights to the video shot at the Cincinnati Zoo when a young boy fell into the gorilla enclosure.

If you do choose to license your video, expect to sign an exclusivity agreement with the group that markets your video.