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In this Article: A step-by-step tutorial about how to make money on YouTube.
YouTube is now the most visited website in the world. Its monthly traffic exceeds 8.5 million, and it has a market reach of about 90% — that means that 9 out of 10 internet users in the United States watch YouTube.
Consider that Facebook, the number 2 most visited site on the web, has a market reach of 60% and the potency of an influential YouTube channel becomes apparent.
Making money on YouTube is not a hustle designed only for musicians and already popular entertainers. YouTube offers a platform for users to gather around any niche interest, follow content creators, and make money online.
What’s the most popular YouTube channel based on monthly views? Cocomelon — A channel for Nursery Rhymes that got 4.03 billion channel views in June 2020.
So, whether your prospective YouTube channel is about business ideas or a highlight reel of you singing, you will find an audience. The important question is how to monetize your content.
How to Make Money on YouTube
There are many ways to make money on YouTube, which we will cover in this article. But the primary way to monetize your channel is advertising.
The payout you receive from Google (YouTube’s parent company) is primarily determined by the following three factors:
CPM (Cost Per Mille)
Mille is Latin for “thousand”, therefore CPM represents a YouTuber’s revenue per thousand views. Companies that advertise on your video pay YouTube, who takes 45%, leaving you with the remaining 55% of CPM. While the average CPM varies across time and location, in the United States it hovers between $6 and $8, meaning that your RPM (Revenue Per Mille) would be 45% of that average.
CPV (Cost Per View)
If you are familiar with PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, then you already have an idea of how CPV works. A marketer bids on a targeted keyword (max of $0.25) and their ad is then shown on appropriate videos. If a viewer watches 30 seconds of the video ad or interacts with the CTA overlay, the marketer is charged for the bid. If your content has a more competitive, high-bid keyword, then your content will be targeted with more expensive ads, resulting in higher revenue.
CPC (Cost Per Click)
This relates to ads that are not directly placed in your YouTube video, but in clickable links or advertisements associated with your content. It is the cost a marketer pays every time their ad is clicked on. Like CPV, the more lucrative the keyword, the more revenue it will potentially generate.
CPC and CPV work as revenue indicators for YouTubers seeking ads to monetize their content, and they also are potential costs for those YouTubers who want to advertise their channel or business through CPV and CPC advertising.
So, if your YouTube channel produces content around topics with high ranking keywords like “credit”, “personal finance”, “insurance”, etc. your revenue for ads will be higher than a YouTube channel ranking for cheaper keywords.
Keep in mind that higher-ranking keywords have a high bidding price because they are incredibly competitive.
Don’t jump into producing content on a subject you are not interested in or know nothing about just because of its potential ad revenue.
If you create content in any niche, and that content attracts a broad audience and tons of views, the ad money will come (see nursery rhymes).
YouTube Monetization Guidelines
While most YouTube content can be monetized, there are some guidelines. Here is a breakdown of those guidelines:
Follow the YouTube Community Guidelines
The guidelines cover spam, scams, nudity and sexual content, child safety, content that is harmful or dangerous, hate speech, harassment and cyberbullying, and deceptive practices. To get a more accurate idea of what each of these violations entails, check out YouTube’s official guide.
Follow AdSense Program Policies
This refers to monetized content. YouTube will demonetize content, or even an entire channel, if the content is ‘repetitious’, meaning that “the content is so similar, viewers may have trouble spotting the difference between videos on the same channel”.
You also cannot re-purpose another person’s content without adding “significant original commentary or educational value”. For more details on these policies, check out Google’s guide.
Creator Influence on YouTube
This guideline is a bit vaguer and is basically YouTube’s way of saying that if you are a jerk, then they won’t monetize you… “This policy means you should be respectful of your viewers, your fellow creators, and our advertisers – both on and off YouTube”. Here is Google’s detailed guide.
Unless you are considering making purposely edgy content, you should be alright as long you stick to the guidelines.
If you are planning on making edgy content, consider waiting until you’ve gained some clout and respect before you venture into any gray areas.
YouTube is an excellent way to find creative ways to make extra income, start a business, or market your current business.
While advertising is a simple and relatively passive way to monetize your content, there are other effective ways of making money on YouTube that may cater to your situation.
New Ways to Make Money on YouTube
- How to Create a YouTube Channel and Become a Verified YouTube Partner
- Make Money on YouTube by Promoting Affiliate Links
- Create Engaging Sponsored Content and Product Placement
- Leverage Google AdSense
- Create and Sell Digital Products
- Tap into Crowdfunding
- License Your Content
1. How to Create a YouTube Channel and Become a Verified YouTube Partner
The first step to making money on YouTube is, of course, creating a YouTube Channel. It is a pretty simple process.
All you need is a Google Account. Here are the necessary steps for creating a new YouTube channel:
- Sign into YouTube or create a YouTube account.
- Create a channel by initiating any action that requires a channel. For example, try uploading a video, posting a comment, or creating a playlist. YouTube will then present a prompt to create a channel.
- Check that the information associated with your Google Account is correct and confirm.
You can find more details on how to create a personal channel or a business channel from Google support.
Once you have created a YouTube channel, your next step should be to begin creating content and aiming to join the YouTube Partner Program.
Benefits of Being a YouTube Partner
The YouTube Partner Program allows you to take full advantage of monetization and become a true YouTuber. Here are some of the most important benefits of joining the YouTube Partner Program:
- Channel memberships – Your most loyal audience members can opt-in to a monthly membership and gain exclusive bonuses.
- Super Chat – allows viewers to pay for their comment to get priority during live steam.
- Sponsored Ad Revenue – 45% cut of YouTube’s sponsored ad revenue on your content.
- Copyright match tool – This feature helps you find YouTubers who are stealing your content. It scans your video and then searches YouTube for full re-uploads of your original content.
- Creator support teams – The team isn’t just there to help solve your technical issues. They can also advise you on how to optimize your channel and help you understand YouTube copyright and policy guidelines.
- Merchandise Shelf – Showcase up to 12 of your branded products to your viewers on your video page.
- YouTube Premium – YouTube has a premium, ad-free version. When users on YouTube Premium watch your content, you will get a slice of that subscription fee instead of ad revenue.
YouTube Partner Program
Just about anyone with a computer and a camera can create content on YouTube, but there are some minimum eligibility requirements to join the YouTube Partner Program.
In addition to living in a place where the YouTube partner program is available, you must have:
- More than 1,000 subscribers
- More than 4,000 total watch hours in the past 12 months
- A linked AdSense account
- Followed the YouTube monetization guidelines
For a more detailed guide on the YouTube, partner program eligibility, check out Google’s guide.
Joining the YouTube Partnership Program is essential for any content creator aiming at making serious money.
While the eligibility requirements might seem difficult to meet for those new to YouTube, they are entirely doable if you are consistent and conscientious of what your audience wants.
2. Make Money on YouTube by Promoting Affiliate Links
You don’t need millions of followers to start making money on YouTube. Even a relatively small, but dedicated and targeted audience can be monetized with affiliate marketing.
The idea of affiliate marketing is simple — you have an audience that is interested in (x), a business has a product or service which is somehow related to (x), you give a shout out, or positive review of that business’ product or service and gain a commission on the sales generated from your promotion.
For example, let’s say you have a YouTube channel that is all about lake fishing. Obviously, the people watching your videos are going to be interested in fishing. Even if you have an audience of 10,000, you can assume that those 10,000 audience members have at least a cursory interest in fishing.
This is an excellent opportunity for businesses in the recreational fishing industry to market their products on your channel. Maybe a company wants to promote fishing poles, they might send you one of their fishing poles and have you review it, or they might just ask you to give them a positive shout out.
Then, you will get a commission from all the sales generated from that video.
Even a small audience can be monetized if they share some common interest or goal. A million-member audience will generate a lot of ad revenue, but if they share nothing in common, it might be more challenging to sell them affiliate products.
Start A Personal Blog
If you want to go the affiliate route, it is essential to have a blog alongside your YouTube channel. That way, you can promote your affiliate products on your blog while reaching a larger audience.
Starting a blog is as easy as starting a YouTube channel. Web hosting services like Bluehost provide extremely affordable hosting options for new bloggers. The great thing about Bluehost is that in addition to the low starting fee, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose.
To set up a blog, follow these steps:
- Go to bluehost.com and select “Get Started.”
- Select the “Basic” option for $2.95/month
- Choose your domain name (Bluehost offers a free domain name for the 1st year)
- Fill out the following forms (billing/account info)
Affiliate marketing is not just a way to earn extra cash. It allows you to connect your audience with great products and services that are related to your interests, something that you would probably be doing whether you got a commission or not.
Promote Strong Products
You must believe in the businesses you chose to partner with, your reputation is on the line. If you consistently promote poor products or companies that have nothing to do with the theme of your content, your audience will catch on, and you will lose credibility.
You can seek out affiliates through affiliate networks. Here are some to get you started:
If there is a product or service that you already use and love, check if they have an affiliate program. And if you are creating content in an industry, search for industry-specific affiliate networks. There are affiliate programs for nearly anything you can think of selling.
3. Create Engaging Sponsored Content and Product Placement
Like affiliate marketing, sponsored content and product placement require you to partner with a business which will benefit from exposure to your audience.
The difference is that rather than a commission, sponsored content usually involves the business paying you to create a piece of content that features or praises their product.
This is another excellent way to optimize a smaller YouTube channel.
Rise of YouTube Micro-Influencers
Brands have begun to leverage micro-influencers to help them target new audiences at more affordable prices. A micro-influencer is generally a content creator with an audience of around 10,000 to 100,000.
Micro-influencers are so beneficial because their audiences are usually more engaged and niche, so it easy to target them with very specific products.
Let’s return to our fishing YouTuber example. DALLMYD is a YouTuber who creates content about fishing. He has 11.2 million subscribers. If you were a fishing brand, it would be great to partner with his channel; however, it would also be very expensive.
Rather than go after DALLMYD, a brand might seek out a smaller YouTuber with 15,000 subscribers who focuses on bass fishing. It would be much more affordable, and they could target the audience with products related explicitly to bass fishing, meaning that their ROI would probably be higher than advertising to a more general audience.
So, instead of getting one massive YouTube influencer, a brand might develop a constellation of relationships with smaller influencers with niche audiences. YouTube micro-influencers can make more than $1,000 a month.
How to Find Brands to Partner With
Ideally, a brand will reach out to you with a golden opportunity. While this might happen, it’s much better to be proactive.
Before you begin looking for a brand to partner with, you must create niche content and build an engaged audience who trust your advice. Sponsored content is all about word of mouth, and if your audience trusts you, they will believe the brands you partner with.
You could always reach out directly to a brand and try to negotiate a deal, but some networks exist to help influencers and brands partner up. Here are a few of those networks:
Once you’ve found a brand that you want to partner with, it’s time to pitch. When pitching, it’s essential to focus on how the brand will benefit. Don’t shoot them an email rattling off how great your content is, they might care, but what they will definitely care about more is how many sales they will get from your audience.
That’s why it’s essential to always keep track of your data. Here are some critical points to track and mention when pitching a brand to sponsor you:
- Audience Demographics – You should know the average age, gender, location, interests, and stage of life (Just graduating? Retiring? Having kids?) of your audience. This will help brands know if your audience matches up with their target market.
- Affiliate Link Conversion Rates – Success with affiliates similar to the brand you are reaching out to is an excellent indicator that you will be able to successfully market their brand.
- Other Platforms – If you have a blog, Instagram, email list, etc. on top of your YouTube account, this means that you have greater reach. Maybe you have 10,000 YouTube subscribers, but you also have 3,000 Instagram followers. Make sure to mention that.
- Social Blade Stats – Social Blade tracks the growth and progress of your social media and packages it into user-friendly graphs that you can send to brands.
- Impression Rate – This is the rate at which your content is clicked on. So, if your video thumbnail is seen 10,000 times and gets clicked on 1,000 times, your impression rate is 10%. You can find this data on YouTube analytics.
YouTube requires that you let them know of any paid product placements, endorsements, and sponsorships. To do this, you must select the ‘paid promotion box’ when uploading your video. Here are more detailed instructions on how to make sure you follow YouTubes transparency guidelines.
Put yourself in the mind of the brand when you are pitching, how will they benefit from sponsoring your content? Make sure to choose brands that you can stand by and that are representative of and beneficial to your audience.
4. Leverage Google AdSense
When you are applying to become a YouTube Partner, you will have to sign up for a Google AdSense account.
Earlier in the article, we discussed the bidding process for ads and impressions. AdSense doesn’t pay you based on how many subscribers you have, but on how many times an ad is viewed during your video.
Your CPM will vary depending on the types of ads running on your content and its location in your content. If one of your videos is extremely popular, the CPM will be higher because advertisers pay more. The same logic goes for the theme of the content. Credit card related content ads are probably going to be more expensive than ads for bass bait.
You can also drive more views to your channel by running an ad campaign with Google Ads, which allows you to target your audience, personalize the length and scope of your campaign, and analyze your results.
5. Create and Sell Digital Products
Selling original products can net a high ROI. Unlike affiliate marketing advertising, you don’t have to split the money with YouTube or your brand partner.
Another advantage of selling your own product is that you spend the time to create it once, but then you can sell it again and again.
Here are some examples of common products that YouTubers create and sell on their channels:
- Shirts and Mugs – Have a channel about learning Japanese? Sell shirts and mugs with Japanese quotes written in Japanese.
- eBooks – If your content is centered around a topic where creating a physical product is less feasible, try creating an information product. If you have a YouTube channel about personal finance, write an eBook detailing and expanding on the most important and popular points you’ve covered in your YouTube channel.
- Online Course – Like an eBook, this is an informational product that should expand on the information you provide in your content. Platforms like Thinkific will host and help you create courses that you can sell to your audience.
- Software – Does your content help people do their taxes? Create an accounting and budgeting app.
- Physical products – Simple physical products can also be a great option. If your content revolves around beauty, you can create your own make-up product and sell it on your channel.
You can even set up a Shopify store and link to it on your channel. Creating a Shopify store will cost you a monthly subscription of $29, and you can have a store up and running in a couple of hours.
Here are the basic steps of how to get set up with Shopify:
- Visit Shopify and start a free trial. If you do not have a product yet, you can select “I’m just playing around” to get an idea of how Spotify works.
- Next, you’ll be sent to the admin page of your new online shop where you can upload products and set up payment and shipping.
- Customize your ‘storefront’ by choosing a theme.
- Add your products to the store
- Go “Live”
Selling your own products on YouTube is a gift that keeps on giving. You can create a perennial product that new audience members will continue purchasing for years to come.
6. Tap into Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is an excellent avenue for non-profits or YouTubers who believe that traditional advertising methods might compromise the integrity of their channel, but it is great for mainstream YouTubers looking to further monetize their audience as well.
Crowdfunding sites like Patreon and Tipeee allow content creators to receive recurring payments from patrons. These payments can be made per month, or per piece of content created. There are content creators on Patreon, like podcast host Sam Harris, that make over $30,000 per month from patrons donating to his account.
It’s often expected that you provide something in return, depending on the level of a patron’s donation, although it’s not required. At the low end, this could be access to gated content, and on the high-end content creators have offered an in-person meeting with their patrons.
Here is a list of all of YouTube’s approved crowdfunding sites.
7. License your Content
You can submit content, like music, to YouTube and apply for a Content ID. This enables YouTube to track and identify whether your content is being used across the platform.
If another YouTuber is using your content and YouTube recognizes it, you will receive a royalty from the revenue earned by the video which used your copyrighted content.
It’s important to note that on the flip side of this the revenue from one of your videos can be claimed if you use copyrighted content on it. Familiarize yourself with YouTube’s policy’s regarding copyright, so you don’t lose valuable revenue.
Make Money on YouTube: Frequently Asked Questions
Below I have answered some common questions regarding making money on YouTube.
Is it Hard to Make Money on YouTube?
An average YouTuber can make between $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views, which comes out to $5,000 per 1,000,000 video views. However, with affiliate marketing, sponsorships, crowdfunding, and selling original products, these numbers can be significantly increased.
Making money on YouTube is certainly not easy, it requires that you consistently create valuable content for your users. But it does not have to be hard either. If you are dedicated and have something to offer, it is doable.
Can YouTube Make You Rich?
Yes. Some YouTubers have made millions of dollars creating content on YouTube. They often have millions of subscribers and have been creating content consistently for years.
How Many Views Do You Need on YouTube to Make Money?
Once you are accepted to the YouTube Partner program, you will be paid once your account balance reaches $100. That means your content will have to be viewed about 20,000 times if you receive $5 per 1,000 views.
Who Are the Highest Paid YouTubers?
In 2019 the top 5 highest-paid YouTubers were:
- Ryan Kaji – $26 million
- Dude Perfect – $20 million
- Anastasia Radzinskaya – $18 million
- Rhett and link – $17.5 million
- Jeffree Star – $17 million
How Long Does it Take to Make Money on YouTube?
With sponsorships, crowdfunding, and affiliate marketing, you could technically begin making money on YouTube as soon as you start creating content.
However, you cannot earn money from advertising, memberships, YouTube’s merchandise shelf, and Super Chat until you become a YouTube Partner by accumulating 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of content viewed within 12 months.
Do You Need 1,000 Subscribers on YouTube to Get Paid?
You need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of content viewed within 12 months to get paid through the YouTube Partner program.
How often do YouTubers Get Paid?
YouTubers get paid by Google AdSense via direct deposit every month if they cross the $100 threshold.
Do YouTubers Get Paid Monthly?
Yes, as long as they cross the $100 threshold to get paid. Otherwise, the money in their account will be paid once they cross that threshold.
Wrapping Up: How to Make Money on YouTube
YouTube continues to grow as a platform around the world. It offers users a more personalized, passive, and easy way to consume content and information than any other medium. For some YouTubers, it is an online job that affords them financial security and happiness.
From learning how to fix a specific dishwashing machine to learning how to twerk and do your taxes, there is literally something for everyone.
It offers the opportunity to connect people who were once alone in their obscure interests or fringe ideas, bringing them together in new communities for better or worse.
Despite its ubiquity in our everyday life, it is still in its early stages of development and the time is always ripe to jump on board while the barrier to entry is low and the opportunities are vast.
Whether you want to start a side hustle, launch a new business, or just play around, then starting a YouTube channel is for you. if you are reading this article then you probably already have all the tools you need to begin.