In the past decade, YouTube has grown from being home to random online videos to becoming one of the biggest marketing and advertising tools on the internet. It’s no wonder many users want to know how to make money on YouTube.
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YouTube is still primarily a video-sharing platform, with 500 hours of video being uploaded every minute (Source).
But YouTube definitely opens up plenty of opportunities to earn passive income, if you know how.
Today, let’s look at some of the ways you can earn money on YouTube.
What You Need to Make Money on YouTube
Before we even begin to talk about earning from YouTube, you’ll need to think about the video content you’re going to upload.
And before you plan your content, you need to know who you’re creating this content for.
The more focused your target audience is, the better position you’ll be in to monetize your YouTube videos.
Defining your target audience means knowing their demographics: gender, age group, location, marital or family status, income level, education level, occupation, and other relevant details.
More importantly, you need to understand how they think, what makes them tick, their values, and their frustrations and problems.
Knowing all of these helps you produce the type of content that interests them and would likely persuade them to take an action that you want them to take.
You want to make valuable video content; that is, it should be educational, entertaining, inspirational, or all of the above.
Relevant, useful, and consistent content is what will hook your target audience to your YouTube videos.
When you’ve built an audience that consistently watches your videos, the next step is to enroll in the YouTube Partner Program.
What is the YouTube Partner Program (YPP)?
The YouTube Partner Program is YouTube’s in-house program that allows creators to make money from their YouTube videos through several ways, all within YouTube terms and conditions.
This program also allows creators greater access to YouTube resources, a support team, and their copyright match tool.
The minimum eligibility requirements to join are:
- Reside in a country where the YPP is available
- Have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months
- Have more than 1,000 subscribers
- Have exactly one linked AdSense account
- Follow YouTube’s monetization policies, including YouTube’s Community Guidelines, Terms of Service, Copyright, and Google AdSense program policies
Once you meet these eligibility requirements, you can apply to be part of the YPP, which then places your YouTube channel under review by both humans and their software to check if your channel meets all their guidelines.
Finally, once you’re approved, you can now enable monetization on your uploads.
Make Money on YouTube through the YouTube Partner Program
Once your application to enroll in YPP is approved, the following monetization methods are available to you.
1. Become an AdSense Publisher
The easiest and most common way people earn money on YouTube is through AdSense.
AdSense is Google’s in-house program that allows publishers to serve advertisements on their content and earn on a per-click or per-impression basis.
How to Get Started
Once you’ve been accepted to YouTube Partner Program and AdSense, and mastered the do’s and don’ts of YouTube, here’s how you can begin earning money through ads:
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- Go to YouTube Studio.
- Go to Menu > Content.
- Select the videos you want to turn ads on for and click Edit and then Monetization.
- Select On in the dropdown.
- Click Update Videos, check “I understand the consequences of this action,” and click Update Videos.
How much can you earn?
The amount you can make from YouTube AdSense will depend on several things, including the popularity of the channel, number of viewers, watch time/viewer retention, CPM/CPC, and so on.
The numbers vary, but YouTubers earn about $1 to $4 per 1000 video views from AdSense. Note that this is just an estimation; YouTube pays based on the advertiser’s chosen ad type (either on a Cost Per Click/CPC or Cost Per View/CPV model).
You make money based on your viewers’ engagement with the ads. Engagement means if the viewer clicks on the ad, or watches the ad for over 30 seconds.
In addition, YouTube AdSense takes a percentage of your ad revenue, which varies depending on the publisher or ad network.
AdSense members are paid on a monthly basis (payments are sent between 21st to 26th of each month). They can choose from check, wire transfer, electronic fund transfer, or Western Union Quick Cash as methods of payment.
2. Super Chats & Super Stickers
When you do a live stream on YouTube, the Live Chat feature is turned on by default, in which viewers currently watching your live stream can pipe in with messages.
Your loyal fans can purchase Super Chat and Super Stickers so that when they participate in live chats, they can post chat messages that stand out. They can even pin these supercharged messages to the top of the chat feed.
Chatting with your audience during a live stream is already a great way to engage with your audience, but enabling super chats takes this engagement to the next level because these messages are highlighted and thus easy for you to acknowledge them, all while other viewers are watching.
Not only that but other viewers seeing these messages are now inspired to use them, too. This increases your engagement even more.
The revenue you earn from this is almost just a bonus.
3. YouTube Premium
Your ad-supported content is automatically made available to YouTube Premium subscribers, who can watch your video without ads but doesn’t take away from your revenue.
In fact, even if they download your videos and watch them online, this adds to your watch time, which affects your ranking and thus increases your YouTube revenue.
4. Enable Channel Memberships
Channel Memberships is a program that allows viewers to support a channel on a monthly basis and in return, receive exclusive perks.
For instance, you can implement a members-only community, create members-only videos and live streams, and host members-only live chats.
You can also include perks such as custom badges, emojis, and free digital and physical goods.
5. Sell Exclusive Merch Through Merch Shelf
When you get to 10,000 subscribers, you can turn on your Merch Shelf, which enables creators to showcase and sell their official branded merchandise.
You can display up to 12 items below your channel description, which your viewers can click individually to be redirected to the merch retailer you work with and order the merch from there.
Monetizing with merch not only allows you to earn money from the sales but also enlists your viewers to promote your channel when they wear or use the merch.
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The top three products sold include t-shirts, hoodies, and caps. Other popular items are sweaters, phone cases, pins, mugs, stickers, and many more.
You can design it yourself with your quotable quotes, logos, the link to your YouTube channel, or any other unique design.
YouTube supports selected platforms and retailers, so make sure you work with someone on their list so you can take advantage of this feature.
Other Ways to Make Money on YouTube
Although being enrolled in YPP is highly recommended, you can still earn without it. Here are other ways to make money on YouTube if you aren’t eligible yet to enroll in YPP or you want to supplement your earnings from it.
6. Promote Products via Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a tried-and-tested method of earning money online. It can be used in your own blog, on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and most other platforms online.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that you can use affiliate marketing to make money on YouTube as well.
If you’re new to this, affiliate marketing is simply about directing other people (in this case, your YouTube viewers) to a store (like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and others), then earning a commission from any product that YouTube viewer bought since they clicked your affiliate link.
The best thing about affiliate marketing is that each link you use has a corresponding cookie, which is placed on the viewer’s PC or phone to track what they purchase. The product you recommend (or link to) doesn’t even have to be the item they buy. You still earn commissions even if they decide to skip your recommendation and buy something else.
How do you start?
Any video that reviews or recommends products can easily be used for affiliate marketing.
Affiliate programs are not exclusive to specific stores like Amazon. Smaller brands and companies may also offer their affiliate marketing program to CJ.com, LinkShare.com, ShareASale.com, and other similar websites.
To make money on YouTube with affiliate marketing, your only choice is to include links on the video description, or in the actual videos (via annotations or overlays). The goal, whichever method you choose, is to redirect traffic to an affiliate landing page.
How much can you earn?
Commissions vary between affiliate marketing programs, niches, amount of YouTube viewers, the YouTuber’s popularity, and a bunch of other factors.
Just like earnings in AdSense, the key is to produce a lot of engaging videos consistently. The more videos you upload on YouTube, the more opportunities you’ll have to add affiliate links.
Note that YouTube has no specific rules about affiliate marketing, but many marketers believe that YouTube probably isn’t too happy if you keep on redirecting viewers away from YouTube. So balance out your videos with and without affiliate links.
7. Seek Third-Party Sponsorships
Getting sponsors from brands and companies is the real deal. It happens every day on YouTube, but only the top-tier creators are even considered.
This is the dream of many YouTubers, since having a sponsor can definitely turn their hobby into a full-blown career.
Getting third-party sponsors used to be hard, but with websites like YouTube BrandConnect, GrapevineLogic, ChamBoost, and other similar services that bridged the gap between YouTube creators and sponsors, getting paid extra money has become much easier.
Your popularity, viewer engagement, and other stats would play a huge role in determining your fees.
How much can you earn?
The sky is the limit to how much you can earn from third-party sponsorships. Some YouTubers even become long-term brand ambassadors for international companies.
Of course, brands and companies tend to look for YouTube creators who can carry their products well. So if your YouTube channel is all about beauty, fashion, and cosmetics, it’s harder to get sponsors in the tech niche.
8. Sell Products
Selling products of other people/companies (also known as affiliate marketing) is good and effective, but why just get a cut of the sales, when you can sell your own products and take home 100% of the sales?
Depending on the amount you wish to invest, your product could range from online courses/ebooks, to actual products (like shirts, plushies) that you have to ship.
A great example of this is the debut graphic novel of Minecraft YouTuber DanTDM (real name Dan Middleton).
His book “DanTDM: Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal” was promoted on YouTube and actually landed on the #1 spot of The New York Times Best Seller list and spent 3 weeks in the UK’s best-selling books list.
How-to’s and tutorials are some of the most popular YouTube channel themes.
It has created many of today’s six-figure-earning YouTubers and it’s never too late to join them.
If you have a very specific skill, such as drawing, dancing, cooking, or any other skill that can be taught through videos, there’s no limit to what topics you can teach.
10. Offer Services and Consulting
If you’re going with the teaching route, the next step is to offer your professional services.
For example, if you’ve been uploading Adobe Photoshop tutorials and you’ve got a huge following, you can offer one-on-one tutorials, promote local workshops, or even offer consulting services.
As long as you are offering something of value, and the services you’re advertising are related to your YouTube channel’s content, post away.
11. Create Your Own YouTube Series
TV viewers have already been juggling streaming sites with cable TV for years, which is why YouTube web series are rising in popularity and even getting picked up by YouTube as YouTube Originals, or even by Hulu or Netflix.
What’s interesting is that shows on YouTube are going beyond prank shows and sitcoms and expanding into shows with actual scripts and plots, talk shows, and many more. Team up with a scriptwriter, director, actor, and other creatives waiting for their chance to shine.
Note that traditional YouTube videos can only go for 15 minutes, so if you’re planning a show with longer episodes, you’ll have to request a limit increase.
12. Fan-Fund Your Channel via Patreon
If you have an interesting channel that your audience can’t get enough of, but you’re not yet eligible for YPP (or have been rejected, or you just don’t want to enroll), you can turn to Patreon and set up membership options so your audience can pay for perks.
Some of the perks you can offer include priority access, additional exclusive content, access to an exclusive community, and often an option to publish their names on your videos’ credits.
13. Promote Your Website via YouTube
If you’re already running your own business, YouTube is a great marketing tool.
Whether you run a small online store, or maintain an info site, directing traffic from YouTube to your website increases conversion rates significantly.
It’s important to note that you should always keep your viewers in mind when promoting your site.
Always consider if the site, product, or anything you’re marketing has value to your audience. Take Walmart’s YouTube channel as an example.
The people handling its YouTube channel balance product promotion with useful content like cooking tutorials, testimonials, and product reviews.
14. Crowdfund Your Project
If you have an amazing idea for a product, but you can’t turn it into reality for lack of funds, crowdfunding can be your solution.
Many crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo use YouTube videos to explain product ideas and encourage people to “invest” in their would-be product.
15. Market Research
YouTube is a goldmine for marketing professionals.
The platform has an in-depth analytics tool that enables you to look at how your videos are performing and compare specific videos.
You can use YouTube to discover what people are interested in, or what they think of a particular brand.
It’s free marketing research.
16. Become a YouTube Manager
Many companies are looking for people to manage their social media accounts.
However, the main requirement of this job is having extensive experience with the platform.
If you’re an active YouTuber waiting to hit it big, or building up the required number of views to monetize your videos with AdSense, this career path may be what you’re looking for.
17. Create or Edit YouTube Videos
Many affiliate marketers, companies, and individual YouTubers are looking for people to help in the background.
If you have the skills to create or edit videos, be on the lookout for jobs like these.
Of course, you have to know what makes a YouTube video viral, such as using keywords for meta tags and crafting share-worthy titles.
18. Become a Journalist
Anyone can be a journalist on YouTube.
And with modern technology allowing you to communicate to people around the world with just WiFi and a laptop, you can interview celebrities and experts for your own YouTube show.
Take a look at these millennials who interviewed then-U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015, and decide if you’d like to try your luck with journalism.
How to Become YouTube Famous
Making money on YouTube isn’t easy.
Like blogging and other passive-income-generating ways to earn online, it could take you months, years, or even several years to actually make bank.
There aren’t secret techniques to earn a profitable revenue on YouTube. It all boils down to how many followers you can attract and how quickly you can become “YouTube famous.”
If you want to market your YouTube channel some more, here are several things you can do:
- Learn about SEO and video marketing. Using the right keywords on descriptions is gold.
- Create a community within your channel – reply to comments and engage in other ways.
- Plan your content and try to bring something new to the table.
- Be authentic. Stick to your values, mission, and goals.
- Keep up-to-date with YouTube policies.
Once you’ve amassed a sizable and loyal following, you can be sure that they’ll be watching whenever you upload a new video, click on a link if you recommend a product or website, and engage in contests, polls, and other activities you plan to hold.
As a result of having a healthy engagement level on your YouTube channel, you can maximize the earning potential of your AdSense, affiliate links, or sponsored posts of every video you upload.
Start Making Money on YouTube!
With news of nine-year-old Ryan Kaji taking home $29.5 million in 2020 (Source), it’s not surprising that everyone dreams to get a slice of the YouTube money-making pie.
In fact, thousands of couples, parents, comedians, product reviewers, gamers, and almost every type of hobbyist are currently making vlogs about their life, careers, experiences, skills, and anything under the sun.
Some are even earning a decent amount enough to replace their day jobs’ income.
So if they can do it, so can you!
Were you inspired by today’s article? Share your YouTube channel in the comments!