I have been posting videos to YouTube since 2009 and now have more than 400 posted on a variety of channels. Lots of these are short things, or simple shots of concert performances. However, many are complex longer videos with production values.
One thing I've learned is that making a viral video is hard. You either need pure dumb luck (being in the right place at the right time), strong creativity or a combination of both. The wildly successful video for "Gangnam Style" is a great example of both: Not only was the song and video creative, but it was lucky enough to catch a fad wave that carried it to the pop stratosphere. Videos on YouTube can earn money, and I bet that the "Gangnam Style" video has earned more than $2 million -- just from the video on YouTube.
I know this because I have a viral video that's just about to hit the 5 million views milestone, and it has earned me a non-trivial amount of money. The video is 34 seconds of animal hi-jinx at the zoo, and I've gone back to the zoo for more of that. However, my other zoo videos do well but have not gone viral.
Some other videos that I've produced, shot and edited have done pretty well with views and earnings. "How-to" videos almost always do pretty well, so I concentrate on making a variety of how-to videos. Which brings me back to Government Video -- don't forget the basics of making good, informative videos about your agency or operation. I've learned that people like how-to videos and they serve a very useful purpose. Heck, I watch them often when I'm starting a project.
So, if you can't go viral, make a how-to video. It's the next best thing.