Making money on YouTube has grown into a mature industry. It has over two billion users (which YouTube claims to make up almost a third of the internet) and an estimated 500 hours of content is uploaded every minute!
Professional YouTubers can make serious income from ads, sponsorship, and much more. YouTube creator earnings range from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on subscriber numbers, video views, and monetization tactics. Forbes estimates that top talent can make about $ 5 with just ads per 1,000 video views. That’s quite a significant sideline.
But what are the keys to making money on YouTube? Put simply, the more subscribers you have, the more you can earn.
When I started my YouTube channel in 2011, I knew nothing and made every mistake in the book. Fortunately, I figured out how to make money on YouTube and my followers have steadily grown.
Put simply, the more YouTube subscribers you have, the more money you can make.
My YouTube channel growth has been uneven. At the end of 2016 and after more than five years with the station, I had just 9,500 subscribers. But the numbers started taking off from there and looked like this:
- It added 48,427 subscribers in 2017, an increase of more than 600% for the year.
- 158,114 subscribers were added in 2018, an increase of more than 370% for the year.
- In 2019 there were 70,075 subscribers, an increase of almost 27%.
- In 2020, I’ve added 51,253 subscribers year to date, an increase of more than 25% in less than six months.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about how to make a living on YouTube. I wrote this guide to share everything I have learned with you and to speed up your path in your new YouTube business.
What to Know Before You Begin
First of all, don’t worry about making money
While this sounds like the worst business advice, when you start using YouTube, you can’t focus on just making money. Instead, pay attention to your subscribers, views, and video retention. Respond to comments and build a relationship with your viewers. Don’t expect real money until you reach 1,000 subscribers. Depending on the effort and strategy, this can take anywhere from a month to a few years.
You may need thicker skin
As with any endeavor that leaves you vulnerable to the world, be prepared to receive some awkward comments and responses. Unfortunately, internet trolls come with the territory. If you are serious about turning your channel into something meaningful and profitable, be sure to differentiate between the constructive feedback that you should look for and the comments that are just meant to upset you.
YouTube is a commitment
You have to love creating content to do this successfully. And if you invest money in cameras and other high-tech equipment, it will likely be a long time before you even make any profit. Take the time to figure out your personal shooting style, and be aware that creating good video content takes time and effort.
How much money can you make on YouTube?
This is probably the most common question about YouTube. Unfortunately there is no simple answer. There are a few rules of thumb that are inconclusive. A report published on Intuit Turbo in January estimated $ 3 to $ 5 per thousand video views, but there are a number of variables in this area.
The largest variable is the number of views. The more viewers you get, the higher the revenue per thousand viewers. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of YouTubers don’t make any money at all. But the top players make well in the millions.
Two successful YouTubers I know who have YouTube gold are Nate O’Brien and Graham Stephan. Both of them easily make six-digit numbers per year on their YouTube channels. Nate runs between $ 25,000 and $ 30,000 a month, and Graham could be close to joining the $ 1 million club. Both are in the personal finance area.
My own results have been more modest, but my YouTube channel is just one of several sources of income that I have.
But here is my personal breakdown:
From February 2019 to February 2020, my YouTube channel had sales of $ 55,970.31. That’s roughly the equivalent of $ 4,664 per month. And it varies a lot from one month to the next. For example, I made $ 3,839 in January.
This doesn’t come close to what others are doing on YouTube, but it’s more than a respectable extra income.
When you’re ready to take the plunge and start your own YouTube channel, check out the steps outlined below. Remember, it will take time, but a good YouTube strategy can pay off in the long run.
Step 1: Choose your channel style and name it
If you’ve spent time on YouTube, you’ll know how many types of channels there are. From home decor to personal vlogs to instructional and instructions – there are lots of buckets. The bottom line is that your channel style should match what you’re trying to create.
If you want to share a family or more personal elements of your life personal vlog might be the way to go. If you have certain skills that you want to highlight or share, such as instructive Channel is a better choice for your viewers to get the most out of your content. Edutainment Channels offer a bit of both – entertainment (often a personal element) mixed with education. This is what I am trying to do with most of the content on my channel and it is common among personal finance content creators.
While naming your channel is important, it shouldn’t be too bothered to begin with. You can leave your personal name as the channel name, but always change the header graphic to represent what your channel is about.
After all, as you refine your style, you want to have a name that is memorable and strongly represents what your brand is about. You have to meet several requirements to have a custom URL. Once you’ve met these requirements, you can change your channel name so that the URL can be shared easily.
Step 2: Establish your release schedule
The truth is, it really doesn’t matter how much or how often you post. The key is to be consistent with the schedule you set so your audience knows what to expect. A YouTube consultant I hired made me view my channel as a TV show so my audience knew when the next video should go live – then they could plan it and get excited.
This also helps potential advertisers understand what they are working with in content planning. Although there are several channels that publish content on a daily basis, beware of burnout. Many developers fall into the trap of feeling like they need to publish consistent, high quality content on a regular basis, and this is not always possible.
Step 3: choose the equipment you need
You don’t need the latest and greatest camera to create quality content. What you do need, however, is good lighting and solid audio quality. Nobody wants to see a video that they cannot hear.
As more and more developers launch channels, you’ll also want to find a way to stand out. Recording in 4K is by no means required, but I’ve been doing this lately to future proof my channel in case YouTube prefers higher quality videos.
Here is a list of devices to consider:
- iPhone – Record it in 4k if possible for future proofing
- Canon EOS R for vlogging
- Panasonic Lumix GH5 for desktop recordings
- Canon RF 15-35mm f / 2.8 for vlogging
- Sigma 16mm f / 1.6 for the desktop
- Vlogging Mic – Ritt VideoMic NTG
- Desktop Mic – Rode NTG3B Shotgun Mic
- Microphone adapter / mixer – Beachtek DXA-Micro-PRO
- Main light – Neewer 200Ws dimmable LED video light
- Secondary light – Neewer LED two-tone circular studio lighting, ultra-thin Studio Edge Flapjack light
- HDMI to USB converter – CamLink 4k (currently sold out everywhere)
- Alternative option – Magewell USB Capture HDMI Plus
- Editing software – iMovie and Screenflow
Step 4: Click Publish
Optimize your videos
First, create an enticing title. You’ll need to experiment here based on your topic niche. Action-based titles work best, however. Something like “5 Easy Steps to Wipe Your Credit Card Debt” gets to the heart of it and draws viewers with high credit card debt.
You also need to add relevant tags to each video. That should start with writing a brief description of what your video is about. It should hit key points, especially those that are likely to appeal to your target audience. If unsure, see descriptions under Successful Competing Videos. Your description should include keywords that describe the main points you are addressing in your video.
Promote, promote, promote!
I don’t care how many YouTube videos you watch or how much you spend on cameras and lights. The first video you post is going to be terrible. The fact that you’re actually putting this on the internet for everyone to see will be embarrassing to you in three years. Worse, your second, third, fourth, or fifth video doesn’t get any better. There may be slight improvements, but when you look back on these videos you will definitely cringe a bit.
The learning curve is different for everyone, but I still see ways I can improve my videos and I’ve been on YouTube since 2011. In my opinion, it takes around 50 to 100 videos to finally find your groove. Sharing your videos with your close contacts and on social media is the easiest way to get constructive feedback. You can’t improve yourself if you don’t know what’s wrong. While you may be embarrassed about what you’ve published, promote it as much as you can and learn as much as you can.
Another effective advertising strategy is cross-promotion with other YouTubers or even bloggers. If you can get some of them to link your video on their videos or blog posts, they will send you additional traffic and improve your visibility on YouTube.
Do not be discouraged at this stage. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, it takes time to make money on YouTube. Publish consistently, keep improving, and keep focusing on the bigger picture.
Step 5: make money
The easiest way to make money is with Google Ads or Adsense. This is a popular source of income for blogging and on YouTube, especially for newer channels. A great advantage of Adsense is that it is a completely passive way of generating income. Once you add it to your videos, it will serve ads that are relevant to the video content and you will get low revenue every time you click an ad. In general, that’s no more than pennies per click.
How many clicks you get depends on how engaging your video is and how much it motivates viewers to click through the ads.
Adsense is easy to set up and doesn’t require any additional effort on your part afterwards. Like YouTube, Adsense is part of the Google family and a natural fit.
The downside to Adsense is the obvious limitation that you only make as much as the views your video generates. However, the ads can also distract your viewers, especially if you are trying to make money from your videos from other sources.
Adsense is a great choice for a novice YouTuber. However, as your channel grows and your video views become more predictable, you’ll want to switch to other sources.
Note that YouTube recently updated its requirements to qualify for its ad program.
Similar to a blog, you can create product reviews as YouTube videos. Thousands of companies pay affiliate commissions to YouTubers (and bloggers) for these reviews.
For example, let’s say you’ve made a video reviewing a specific product. A link is inserted through which viewers can click if they are interested in the product. When they make a purchase, you will receive a transfer fee.
You can often work with partners directly, especially if you have a large YouTube following. However, many are also available through affiliate marketing websites such as CJ Affiliate or ClickBank. You’ll need to submit an application to affiliates on both websites that you want to review and your acceptance needs to be approved.
If you choose affiliate marketing, you will need to check the “Video contains an advertisement” box in your video manager to notify YouTube that it is a paid referral.
Affiliate marketing is the be-all and end-all for many YouTubers. This is especially true if they have a specific niche in which they have achieved expert status. This status translates into more ad click-throughs and more paid sales.
Direct sales to your viewers
If you want to sell a product or service, or either of the two, YouTube is an excellent sales channel. They create informative videos and viewers can order directly from a link that appears in the video.
This is likely a more advanced monetization method for YouTube. Not only do you need a viable product or service, you also need to be absolutely believable when presented. To do this, you need to be an expert in this field, including what your competition offers. You need to provide a compelling reason why your product meets the needs of your viewer.
In other words, you have to be a really good salesperson. Above all else, YouTube is a platform where you can automate your sales pitch. Instead of pitching for one person or a small group, you can use YouTube to reach thousands of people in a matter of days.
You can probably imagine how this will multiply your sales!
Brand sponsorship offers
For me, brand sponsorship deals were the big sales drivers on YouTube. The highest paid I’ve made was between $ 20,000 and $ 25,000.
Brands want to work with experts and influencers in almost every role. In my case it was personal finance. I was able to position myself as an expert via my blog, but also via YouTube. These channels can bring brands to you.
Brand sponsorship offers tend to be very specific and require more effort than standard YouTube videos. You may need to showcase your product or service in a blog post or even on your website in addition to a YouTube video.
When you receive one, it is usually paid for in installments for a flat fee. And of course, your YouTube presentation will be reviewed and approved by the sponsor. I get several of these offers per year, which gives me the luxury of being able to choose the ones I want to work with.
I have to warn that branded businesses may not work for a newbie to YouTuber. The brand pays you to sponsor their product based on the popularity of your channel. This is one of the best ways to make money on YouTube. However, you will have to wait until you have a bigger following.
Final thoughts on how to make money on YouTube
Once you’ve set up a money making YouTube channel, you need to move on. That means producing high quality content on a regular basis. The people who make serious money on YouTube do this all the time.
Because of my other income-generating endeavors, I was unwilling to make this commitment on an ongoing basis. But I still believe YouTube is a great way to build a steady stream of income – one that works even faster than my main blogging site.
And for me, YouTube was never primarily about income. Yes, I’m happy to be in the game and make money. But it’s more about the challenge – I want to master the YouTube algorithm because it has incredible potential.
However, if your main goal is to make money, you have to treat your YouTube channel like the business it is.