5 Ways to Make Money on YouTube

  1. How much you can make on YouTube
  2. Ways to monetize your channel
  3. More smart tips

YouTube is the world’s second most popular website. Each day, people spend more than 1 bln hours watching YouTube videos. The average time spent on the platform is 40 minutes. You don’t have to have a staggering subscriber base to monetize your channel. All you have to do is build a loyal audience, create engaging content, and select the best way to drive ROI from your YouTube content. Read on to find out the best strategies for monetizing your YouTube channel.  

How much you can make on YouTube

In 2019, the number of YouTube channels generating six-digit profits grew by 40 %. For channels with five-digit earnings, the increase was 50%. Don’t expect that the money will start flowing the moment you publish your first video. The road to success is a long one. First, you’ll need to grow a strong audience and gain their trust. Second, you’ll need to publish compelling content on a regular basis.    

You earnings will depend on a bunch of factors:

  • number of subscribers;
  • user engagement (views, likes, comments);
  • themes of your channel;
  • geography (ad revenues vary across countries);
  • monetization method (read more below).

Take a look at the top 10 highest-paid YouTubers of 2019:

  1. Ryan’s World (26 mln dollars). Life of a 9-year-old boy who likes to unpack presents, play games, run science experiments, make music videos, and more. 
  2. Dude Perfect (20 mln dollars). Five friends doing funny sports tricks.  
  3. Like Nastya (18 mln dollars). Life of a 6-year-old girl who enjoys amusement parks, games, toys, and presents. 
  4. Rhett and Link (17.5 mln dollars). Adventures of two comedians.
  5. Jeffree Star (17 mln). Flamboyant singer, stylist, and makeup artist sharing makeup techniques and talking about his personal life. 
  6. Preston (14 mln dollars): Vlog about video games.
  7. PewDiePie (13 mln dollars). Video games and travel.
  8. Markiplier (13 mln dollars): Funny gaming videos, sketches, parodies, and other types of entertainment. 
  9. DanTDM (12 mln dollars). Another vlog about video games. 
  10. Mr Beast (12 mln dollars). Philanthropy, expensive stunts, and real-time entertainment.

Ways to monetize your channel

There is no one-fits-all method for making a passive income from your YouTube content. Our tip is to pick 2-3 monetization strategies and combine them for a better result. 

1. Affiliate marketing

When using this monetization method, you make money from advertisements shown to your viewers. To be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, your channel needs to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months. If you check these two boxes, go ahead and join AdSense. This is how you do it.

Log into your account on YouTube, click your profile icon in the right upper corner, and select “YouTube Creator Studio”. Then select “Monetization” in the left hand menu. Read and accept the terms of the Partner Program. Create and set up an account with AdSense.

To be able to benefit from the affiliate program, your YouTube channel must comply with the fundamental requirements of the YouTube community. Here are some of the rules: 

  • Your channel must not violate copyright law. 
  • Your channel must not contain mature content, scenes of violence, inappropriate language, etc. 
  • Your channel must not promote alcohol or drugs.

Content creators get 55% of the ad revenue they generate. The remaining 45% goes to YouTube. Your earnings will depend on the advertiser’s terms (Price per view vs. Price per click), target geography, themes of your channel, and other factors.  

To get the general idea of how much you can potentially make, go to the Analytics section in your account and click “Estimated Monthly Earnings”. Alternatively, you can roughly estimate your potential earnings using these online tools. Keep in mind that doing affiliate marketing  on YouTube pays rather poorly, and it’s best to bundle up this method with other monetization strategies.  

2. Crowdfunding

When running a crowdfunding campaign, you’re receiving one-time or recurring donations from people who support your project. 

When running a one-time crowdfunding campaign, you’re raising money for a specific purpose, e.g. buy new equipment, make a music video, launch your own line of bags, open an animal shelter, etc. As a “thank-you” for their help, donors are usually rewarded with a small gift, discount, promotion code, and other perks. 

We recommend using Kickstarter which is a major crowdfunding platform. Sign up with Kickstarter, create a page for your project, and promote it on your YouTube channel. Do an engaging intro video to draw in users. Keep your audience updated on how the fundraising is going. Do a gripping video in which you’re talking about the gifts and bonuses for your donors. Do anything to get people interested in your project and encourage them to make a donation.

Recurring crowdfunding is a way of financially sustaining the existing project which your target audience is emotionally invested in. Mostly it’s exclusive or entertaining content, e.g. educational videos, travel guides, video game reviews, music videos, etc.  

The best way to capitalize on the power of crowdfunding is by joining Patreon. It’s a dedicated platform where your sponsors – or patrons – will be able to donate you any amounts of money starting from 1 dollar. In return for their funding, your patrons will be able to enjoy your content on YouTube. 

3. Online sales

Online sales is one of the most common money-making methods among YouTubers. Already have a lineup of products? Great! The one thing left is to come up with a clever way to showcase and promote your products in your videos. For those who don’t know yet what to sell, here are a few insights! 

  • Without beating around the bush, ask your subscriber what products they would be interested in. It can be literally anything: branded mugs, T-shirts, snacks, smoothies, cases for smartphones, scarves, etc.
  • Think about every aspect of production and shipping to make sure you can actually make it. Calculate the optimal price per unit.
  • Avoid launching multiple products in one go. Start with one or two items. If the sales take off, go ahead and expand your lineup.  
  • Think about where your customers will be purchasing your products. It can be a dedicated website, landing page, or ecommerce store like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, etc. Make sure to add a link to your product page under each video.
  • Advertise your merchandise. Do a video showing how your product works and how it can solve your users’ problem. Publish the testimonials of happy customers. If your product is apparel, make beautiful videos with fashion models demonstrating your collection. If you’re selling spices, publish video recipes and share smart storage tricks. The illusion of limited resources is a time-tested technique which never fails to deliver great results. Plus, it’s amazingly easy to use: simply tell your subscribers to hurry because the product is running out. Play around with different promotion ideas to find the ones which work best for your audience. 

4. Sponsored content

The best thing about this strategy is that you don’t have to share your earnings with YouTube. This is how this scheme works. You pick a brand and sign a deal to promote their goods or services in your YouTube videos. Plus, you’ll need to publish the referral links to the company’s site and/or social media in the description of your videos. Every time a customer clicks the link or buys the product (depending on the agreement terms), you’ll be getting a percentage of the purchase amount. 

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Find a good, reliable brand to work with. You can either contact companies directly, or join a dedicated marketing platform that brings together advertisers and content creators, e.g. FameBit. Make sure you and your selected brand have similar audiences. Also, pay attention to the size of the company’s following and their level of engagement.
  • Be honest with your audience. Avoid promoting products which you haven’t tried yourself or which you don’t like. If the truth comes out, you risk undermining your subscribers’ trust. As a result, your YouTube channel will lose its money-making potential.   
  • Tell your subscribers that the video contains sponsored content and mark it with the hashtags #sponcon or #ad. Maintaining sincere and transparent relationships with your audience is paramount to your success. 

Nano-influencers (500 to 5,000 subscribers) tend to make $315 from an ad video. For more prominent YouTubers with 30,000-500,000 subscribers, revenue per video stands at $782.

5. YouTube Premium

If you’re a part of the YouTube Partner Program (see Section 1), you can benefit from this monetization scheme. Chances are that some of your viewers are YouTube Premium subscribers who pay to be able to watch YouTube videos without ads. As a content creator, you can capitalize on their views too! 

Your earnings will depend on the number of views and their duration. (To see these and other statistical data, go to the Analytics section in your YouTube profile.) Like with the Partner Program, you can count on about 55% of a monthly subscription fee paid by your YouTube Premium viewers.  

More smart tips

Launching a YouTube channel is only half of the deal. You also need to keep boosting your subscriber engagement, track statistics, protect your content, and promote your channel. Create engaging intro videos, so they will get a taste of what is ahead!

Know your audience

Deep understanding of your audience’s needs is the essence of a successful YouTube channel. Without it, you can’t count on lucrative collabs with brands. Make the habit of analyzing your channel statistics. Keep finding out more about who watches your content. How old are they? Where do they live? How much time do they spend watching you videos? Also, run surveys asking your subscribers what type of content they’d like to see on your channel. 

Brand and protect your content

Develop a distinctive visual identity for your YouTube channel. This is a great way to enhance your channel recognition and establish an emotional bond with your subscriber base. Use your logo as your profile picture. Also, come up with catchy colors and fonts to brand your cover image and intros to your videos.

Protecting your unique content from copyright abuse is another important task which is often overlooked by budding YouTubers. Add a branded watermark to each of your videos. Don’t know where to get one? Use the ZenBusiness brand identity constructor!

Promote your channel

For the maximum outreach, be sure to promote your YouTube channel across other online platforms:

  • Share a link to your YouTube channel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
  • Add a link to your channel to your website and newsletter.
  • Do collabs with other Youtubers whose audiences overlap with yours. 

Wrapping up

In addition to creativity, monetizing your YouTube channel takes a good knowledge of marketing. Keep track of the hottest YouTube trends. Find out what content your audience is interested in. Come up with new exciting ways to present your video content. Finally, promote your channel to keep your subscriber base growing. The more valid views you get, the bigger earnings you’re looking at!

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