All The Ways to Make Money on YouTube: A Detailed Guide
Turn your hobby into a full-time job. See how YouTubers make money on YouTube and how you can follow their lead to start earning today.
So you want to make money on YouTube. Earn big, live in a big mansion, have a broad platform of followers following you, and turn your passion into a full-time job.
You’re not the first one to dream this dream. And the ugly truth is that it’s not that easy to make it a reality.
YouTubers who consistently make money on YouTube now have worked really hard and without any reward for long periods. And as for those who make millions on the internet’s most prominent video platform? They worked even more.
So, if you’re asking yourself, “is it hard to make money on YouTube?”, the answer is 100%, absolutely “yes.”
In general, professional YouTubers have multiple sources of income that allow them to turn their hobby into a full-time job. And it usually depends on two things: their niche and the size of their audience.
But let’s start with the basics. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you most probably know that YouTube has ads, and for every $100 Google gets from these ads, $68 goes to the creator. So, if you’re asking yourself how to make money on YouTube, Google Ads isn’t the only answer since it won’t make you rich unless you have a successful channel that gets millions of views monthly.
As Influencer Marketing Hub reports, a YouTube channel can receive from $3 to $5 per 1000 video views with an average pay of $0.18 per view. But according to Social Blade’s calculator, popular channels like Shane Dawson, PewDiePie, Jeffree Star, and Dude Perfect can earn more than a million dollars per year.
So, now that people have stopped asking “can you make money on YouTube?” they simply want to know how they can do it themselves. But the truth is that those prominent creators don’t really rely on YouTube pre-roll ads that Google serves to viewers.
They’re businesspeople. With an entrepreneurial mindset that only allows them to grow and earn bigger and bigger.
The short answer is that to make money on YouTube, you need to become YouTube famous first. But in this post, we’re not going to talk about that. This is a whole other story covered in this blog post How to Start with YouTube: A Guide to Creating Your First Channel.
Here, we’re taking a look at how YouTubers make money and ways to make money on YouTube as a video creator.
1. Google Ads: YouTube’s ad network
There’s nothing easier than applying for YouTube’s partnership program. With at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of overall watch time on their channel, anyone can apply to become a YouTube partner and monetize their content.
But don’t get your hopes up. With the average YouTuber making around $7.60 per video, relying on this monetization strategy without a big fanbase is not enough. Build your brand, engage more viewers, gather fans and subscribers, and you might earn a full-time monthly income in the long run.
Just focus on creating top-notch content to bring more viewers in. And more. And some more — the more, the merrier.
2. Make money on YouTube without ads: Promote yourself
YouTube processes more than 3 billion searches a month. So, what brand wouldn’t want to promote itself on a search engine with such power and traffic?
In fact, this is our second piece of advice for all of you wondering how to make money on YouTube: promote your products and/or services.
Create awesome content specifically designed for your niche. Monitor what people interested in your area of expertise are looking for, craft relevant videos, publish, promote, and slowly establish yourself as an authority. Later on, you can market your services or products.
Say you’re a plumber, for example. What would be a better video strategy than to upload videos about fixes to the most common plumbing problems? And if they’re not able to fix it by themselves, they can always reach you. You might not be making money on YouTube, but you’re making money through YouTube.
Raise awareness, get your brand out there, and bring more customers in without spending a single cent on promotion.
As weird as it sounds, this is a trend that the beauty community introduced first. Beauty influencers who posed as makeup authorities got so many regular customers that they eventually landed even multi-million dollar deals with global brands.
3. Sponsored videos: How big names make money on YouTube
You’ve definitely seen one of those, and the concept is not that hard to comprehend. Brands pay YouTubers who, by turn, must mention the brand that pays them. A simple deal that it’s ultra-effective.
You might be trying to figure out how much money you can make on YouTube, but let’s turn the tables for a while. Let’s see how much money brands make from influencer marketing — because this is what sponsored videos are.
A recent study by the influencer marketplace, Tomoson, revealed that the average business makes $6.50 for every $1 it spends on influencer marketing. What’s more, 22% of marketers described this quite newly-introduced promotion strategy as the most cost-effective.
With YouTube, things are more or less the same, with 70% of teenage subscribers saying that they related to YouTubers more than traditional celebrities.
So, yeah. Sponsored videos work, but they also need time. If you’re looking for quick ways to make money on YouTube, this is not the way to go. YouTube influencers that land such partnerships have been generating content for years, and they’ve built special bonds with their followers.
If you believe that your numbers qualify you to start promoting products and making money on YouTube without YouTube ads, don’t wait for a brand to contact you. Start pitching your channel to brands and offer a paid partnership.
Keep reading for more!
4. Affiliate marketing: Passive YouTube income
If you’re new to online marketing, affiliate marketing might sound a lot like Greek to you. But the truth is that it’s been around since the beginning of civilization.
As fancy as it sounds, affiliate marketing is nothing more than referring products or services to other people and then taking a commission after they close the deal. When it comes to online affiliate marketing, though, and making money on YouTube and other platforms through it, things get a little more complicated.
Each marketer is assigned a specific link to a product they want to promote. This unique link works as a referral, so when someone purchases a product through it, marketers get a commission. It might sound a lot like hustling, but there are plenty of reasons why even big YouTubers choose is as one of their primary sources of income to make money on YouTube.
First, affiliate links never expire, and even a 5-year-old YouTube video can keep bringing money. Second, it’s passive income. Creators publish their video, add an affiliate link to the description, and let it do its magic. Without moving a finger.
If you’re looking for the best and easiest way to make money as a beginner YouTuber, affiliate marketing is the best way to go. Start by finding an affiliate platform like CJ Affiliate, find products that you know and feel comfortable to promote, and take it from there.
5. Crowdfunding & fan-funding: Let your viewers take the reins
Crowdfunding on YouTube is a donation method that your audience can use to fund your channel. Since YouTube is a free service and viewers don’t need to pay any fee to watch your videos, you can just ask them to support your content.
If you don’t feel comfortable with it, you can post a video pitching a video project, get your viewers excited, and ask to support this project specifically. Generally, there are four popular ways to raise money from fundraising:
- YouTube Super Chat: When you live stream, you can enable live commenting, also known as super chat. Some comments, depending on each user’s donation, stay pinned for a set amount of time. And, of course, the more a user pays, the longer the comment sticks to the top. This, by the way, is a widespread technique among gamers who want to gain some extra money on YouTube.
- YouTube Channel Memberships: It might not be super hot, but YouTube also comes with a membership option. By enabling this, you allow your subscribers who want to pay a small fee to get access to exclusive content you create for your supporters.
- Kickstarter: If you have an idea for a product that you believe in, create a free Kickstarter account, set a financial goal, and share the link with your viewers. Yes, using YouTube as a medium to promote an extra passion of yours is not new.
- Patreon: Patreon is used by many creators online. Via monthly memberships, your fans can support your content, and you can draw them in by offering exclusive perks to show your appreciation.
Whatever option you go for, make sure you establish a connection with your subscribers first. Don’t ask for their money right away. You’ll only appear pushy and aggressive.
6. License your content to the media: Create the news
If you’ve identified what most YouTube viewers want, chances are you’ve produced a viral video. And this can only mean one thing: Sooner or later the media will sweep in and want to feature your video. Did you know that you can get money out of it?
It wasn’t long ago when a viral video of a mom playing with a Halloween mask went viral. Dozens of TV shows saw an opportunity and featured the video. The Chewbacca Mom had officially made it and turned a funny video into a source of income.
If you want to license a video to the media, all you need to do is submit your video URL to a video rights marketplace such as Jukin Media. Then, wait for a news outlet to ask for your permission to feature your viral video.
And this is how you make money on YouTube without having a manager to handle business inquiries.
By now, you already know YouTube ads work, so we’re not going to offer tips on an automated process. What you will get to know now is how to promote products without using Google’s network and how you can make money on YouTube without ads. Here are the dos and don'ts.
1. Create good content
YouTubers should never compromise their content's quality. When a brand or company assigns you a sponsored video, you need to make sure that it is ten times better than the rest of your content.
For some reason, people on YouTube don’t always love sponsored content because they feel like the trust between them and the creator is breaking. Deliver good content, and no one will ever haul you up on “sellout charges.”
2. Don’t overdo it
If you want to create promotional content, you need to keep it low. Many YouTubers who identify the opportunity to advertise products on their channel get carried away, and in an attempt to earn more from YouTube, they keep producing sponsored videos all the time.
Of course, this is not sustainable. Viewers eventually feel betrayed, content becomes a second priority, and views are shrinking. You’re a creator first.
3. Promote creatively
There’s a YouTuber you might have heard of with more than 2.7 million subscribers. Up until recently, every single one of her videos was sponsored by Squarespace, and even though everybody knew that at the end of a video, a sponsored message would appear, they stayed and watched it.
She’s no other than Anna Akana.
Anna Akana creates custom-made animated sponsored messages which she adjusts to each video’s topic. This does not only increase her audience’s engagement but also introduces a new way of doing business with brands that want to be featured on YouTube.
But what does Anna Akana teach us about making money on YouTube? That you need to be creative even when you’re creating promos. Both brands and viewers will love it.
4. Be honest
No one ever said that you publish videos in partnership with brands — or to promote your own products and services. But you need to be transparent. YouTubers who’ve tried to hide collaborations have received only backlash from their very own loyal fanbase.
Be open about it. Tell the truth about you working with a business to bring awareness to a product you believe in. As you would do with a friend of yours.
5. Promote organically
Last but not least, you need to be natural. Don't force ads and sponsored messages into your content because it will show. If you have a collab in the works and a sponsored video to post, you need to either adapt your ad to your content or the other way around.
Otherwise, the message will feel intrusive.
Many companies usually hand out scripts and ask YouTubers to learn them by heart. Say “no” to this. This is called overselling, and you need to avoid that.
Today, promoting products and services on YouTube and making money out of it is a solid business model. But you can’t expect this success to happen overnight.
Create a community of engaged users and build trust. Once you’ve hit those huge milestones, you’ll be ready to take the next step and start making money from your YouTube channel. For many years to come.