Since the early days of social media, internet users have shared the details of their lives for little more than the promise of likes and follows. That may be about to change, however, thanks to a new feature recently rolled out by Snapchat. Using the app’s Spotlight feature, young social media users are making thousands of dollars with their clips — including 18-year-old Katie Feeney.
Feeney discovered Snapchat Spotlight shortly after its launch in November of 2020. According to The Guardian, Snapchat launched the feature in an attempt to compete with TikTok. The strategy? Pay users directly for creating viral clips.
The process is so simple that it hardly seems believable at first. Users need only submit their would-be viral clips to Spotlight. Snapchat then monitors the performance of each clip, “[taking] into account various engagement metrics and other factors during each day,” according to the site’s FAQ section.
The clips that perform the best are then placed in the running to earn a share of a daily $1 million prize.
“I didn’t believe it was real at first,” Feeney told People. Nevertheless, she tried submitting to Spotlight as a way of connecting to a larger audience.
“I started posting a ton of stories about my daily life, funny videos with my friends or boyfriend, unboxing new beauty or kitchen products I wanted to try,” she said.
The clips ended up earning her much more than just new followers. After just a week of posting, Feeney received a notification from the app that her videos had won her $200,000.
“I was very, very skeptical and so were my parents,” the teen said.
Across the Atlantic, 19-year-old Jack of Norfok, England had a similar experience after sharing a video of his cat, Crusha. Weeks later, Snapchat brought Jack the welcome news that his cat video had earned him nearly $20,000 dollars.
“My mum told my grandparents, her mum and dad, and they were like, ‘That’s not real, you won’t get that,'” Jack told The Guardian. “I tried to explain to them that I didn’t think Snapchat, a huge multi-billion-dollar company, is going to scam someone out of their money.”
Jack and Feeney may be two of the most impressive examples of Snapchat Spotlight success, but they aren’t alone. Since the feature’s November launch, the social media company has reportedly awarded around $42 million to over 2,000 users.
For her part, Feeney has continued to achieve wild success with the new feature. Within five weeks of discovering Spotlight, the teen said she made over $1 million from her Snapchat clips.
“It’s so surreal, it’s hard for me to process the information because I’m 18 years old and getting notifications that I’ve made $600,000,” she said. “My mom and I screamed once we realized this was actually happening, and I cried.”
Jack has also considered to use the feature, which he also likes for its options to remain anonymous.
“You can still entertain other people while not having to, you know, put yourself out there fully,” he said. “I haven’t put my face on anything — it’s not really my type of thing to get a huge following and have my face online everywhere.”
The 19-year-old is currently occupied with what to do with his first $20,000 payout.
“I’m saving it for the moment, because later this year I’m trying to get an apprenticeship in London as a software developer,” he said.
Feeney also plans to make the most of her unexpected windfall, applying to colleges that were previously too expensive for her.
“I’m so grateful that this has happened to me, and the money will definitely help me figure out what I’m doing with the rest of my life!” she said.