How to Make Money on YouTube

Did you know that over 2 billion monthly active YouTube users ? People have developed an obsession with the video platform and can sit through hours upon hours watching one video after another. The average YouTube session by any one viewer is around 40 minutes.

All this makes YouTube a powerful tool that has become home to several self-made celebrities who are mega-influencers in their own right. They can raise million-dollar charity campaigns overnight by virtue of their clout alone, build multi-million dollar properties, and launch Fortune 500 companies.

It all starts with a YouTube career that gains enough traction. The videos could be geared toward online reviews, teaching, spreading awareness – or just being entertaining. Every successful YouTuber has one thing in common: they have a neat setup that involves the use of the right equipment and above-average production capabilities.

An important trait for any YouTube celebrity is to take criticism in stride without getting personally offended. These celebrities are thick-skinned and have the steel nerves to sit through an audience that can get extremely nasty for no apparent reason.

How to Make Money on YouTube by Uploading Videos?

Video creators have to first monetize their channel to get paid for their content, this setting is turned off by default. To get started, you have to manually monetize your videos by going into account settings. You can then join the YouTube Partners Program or get your videos listed on YouTube Premium.

Thanks to the insanely low barriers to entry, YouTube has become a melting pot for creators from virtually all walks of life – amateur filmmakers who document their everyday lives with vlogs, comedians who provide commentary on everyday news, news hosts, conspiracy theorists, video gamers, eating channels – the list goes on.

Join the YouTube Partner Program to Stat Making

The first step is to join the YouTube Partners Program to monetize your channel. You will need a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch ours in the past year to become eligible.

Here are 7 essential steps:

  • Sign in to the YouTube account that you want to monetize
  • Click on your icon in the top right corner
  • Click on YouTube Studio to reveal more choices
  • Select Other Features > Monetization
  • Agree to the YouTube Partner Program terms
  • You can either create a new AdSense account or connect an existing one to your channel. (An AdSense account lets you get paid)
  • Set changes for your monetization preferences

The Analytics tab on the dashboard will let you see your Monthly Estimated Revenue to give you an idea of your projected income.

How Many Views does a Video Need to Make Money

It is a common misconception that more views equal to more money. While this is true to some extent, it isn’t always this simple. Your revenue depends on how many people watch or click the ads that appear; otherwise, you won’t make any money. This is because of YouTube’s new criteria for their advertisers: a viewer must watch the ad for a certain period (10, 15, or 30 seconds) or click on an ad to get paid.

Thanks to the release of YouTube Premium, you don’t have to depend on advertisers to earn revenue. More on that later.

Using YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium is a paid subscription program that lets viewers support their favorite content creators without watching ads. Creators don’t have much to worry about because they will still get paid for videos streamed by both non-members and members alike.

In the case of YouTube Premium, creators are paid based on how many members watch their content. Think of the revenue earned from YouTube Premium as a secondary source of revenue in addition to what you’re already making through advertisements.

While’ YouTube Premium is easy to get started with, earning money through the partner program is clearly more lucrative for YouTubers who are just starting out.

The Types of Content That Could Get Demonetized

YouTube is known for periodically demonetizing videos because of its decision to create an ‘advertiser-friendly’ platform. This meant that most YouTubers who don’t fit the bill would be demonetized as a result. Even the most popular YouTubers are affected by YouTube’s advertiser-friendly policies. You either fall in line or get your channel demonetized – or worse, banned by YouTube.

As a general rule, your content could get excluded from advertisements if it includes the following:

  • Inappropriate use of language, including profanity, vulgarity, and harassment
  • Promotion of drugs and other substances that may be regulated by the government, this includes selling, use, and abuse of said items
  • Sexually suggestive content with sexual humor and/or partial nudity
  • Violence that includes displays of serious injury and events related to extremism
  • Sensitive or controversial subjects and events, including subjects related to potential conflicts, war, tragedies, and natural disasters, even if the video does not use graphic images

But you should take the above with a grain of salt because YouTube is known for demonetizing content via an automated process – which is a hit or a miss most of the time. This is understandable because YouTube doesn’t have enough moderators to realistically sit through every single video that has been published.

The result is that some videos get falsely flagged, but creators are notified when this happens. Creators can always contest this at any time if they feel the video was mistakenly demonetized by angry bots.

It is worth noting that while advertisement YouTube advertisements are an effective way to make passive income for many creators, YouTube gets to pocket a 45% share of the ad revenue. In other words, if your video made $100,000 in revenue, YouTube will get take $45,000.

But there are other ways of making money from YouTube without relying on AdSense. Your total sales income isn’t a factor of how many subscribers you have, it’s about how successfully you’re able to leverage other means of income.

Below, we’ll discuss some 5 popular methods of making money on YouTube.

i) Selling Products or Merchandise

You could leverage your popularity to sell ‘merch’ to make a lot more money. Selling merchandise includes coffee mugs, tote bags, t-shirts, sneakers, watches. As a general rule, if you can sell it through an online store, you can promote it through YouTube.

Merchandise sales rely on how big your online brand and personality is. It depends on how deep your relationship between you and your fans goes. Die-hard fans are known to buy just about anything that you put out there.

Case in point, PewDiePie’s sunglasses, microphone, headset, chair, keyboard, monitor – you name it. Top YouTubers can make millions in terms of revenue.

NigaHiga has his own official store where he sells just about everything under the sun with his brand logo on it.

Selling Products or Merchandise

Design and logos can be outsourced to freelance sites such as Fiverr. And when it comes to handling orders, you can integrate your store with free services like WooCommerce. Many companies take care of shipping, customer support, and fulfillment. All you have to do is list the product on your website and all the heavy lifting gets taken care of by your supplier – this is the benefit of dropshipping business. Less effort = more payoff. Learn more about dropshipping here.

You can also partner with a merchandising network designed for creators, such as DFTBA (Don’t Forget to Be Awesome). But you’ll be competing with other YouTubers and won’t have nearly as much control over products, discounts, content, or any of the advantages that come with setting up an online store.

And if you’re really popular, you can go a step further by manufacturing and selling your own products, funneling users through your YouTube channel, like H3H3 and Luxy Hair.

Success ultimately depends on how big your YouTube channel is, but you’ll get some big advantages that other businesses will be envious of:

  • A content machine that constantly funnels high-quality traffic to your website
  • Audience trust, which you’ve gained by regularly publishing information and content for free

ii) Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding

If you want to execute a new project but don’t have enough money for it, you can use crowdfunding to immediately raise money. Whether you need help with covering your production costs, buying advanced equipment, hiring graphic designers, you can always ask your audience to send their donations in. Chances are, they will give you their money in a heartbeat if your content is compelling enough.

Consider shooting a high-quality video explaining your project. If it entices your audience enough, they may just take you on your offer.

Popular sites where you can get the crowdfunding community to pitch in include Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These sites are ideal for funding unique and creative projects. Each site offers flexible funding options.

iii) Fan Funding

Fan funding is a lot like crowdfunding, in that, you can generate various funding streams to get a source of donations from your audience. If you’re good at what you do, your audience may be want to support you on a monthly basis.

If you decide to go down the crowdfunding route, make sure to be transparent around how the money will be spent. It’s generally not a good idea to simply admit that you’re taking all their money. You can sweeten the deal by offering rewards for better contributions. The idea is to give your donors a general feeling that they’re getting something truly exclusive for being a loyal fan.

This could be done by giving shoutouts on your video, mentioning their nickname on end-credits, and access to exclusive content. Fan funding is a great way to make money off your popularity on YouTube even if your channel got demonetized for not following YouTube’s stringent ad policies. One stellar example of a creator getting demonetized for educational content is “The Great War”.

Their videos get frequently demonetized for discussing sensitive subject matters that may be disturbing to YouTube audiences – these results in an automatic demonetization. But the channel makes up for it through their Patreon channel.

Some of the more popular fan funding options include the following 3 platforms:

Patreon: This membership platform makes it super easy for creators to get paid. Fans can subscribe for as low as $1 a month and receive exclusive rewards in return.

YouTube’s Super Chat: Super Chat is a feature that only works for live streaming content. It lets audiences send in their tips.

Tipeee: Not as popular as Patreon but offers virtually the same amenities.

iv) You Can License Your Content to the Media 

You Can License Your Content to the Media 

If your videos happen to really go viral and mass appeal, such as a funny clip featuring your cat – you can license your content to third party media companies in exchange for money. Morning shows, online news websites, news outlets, and other YouTube creators are always searching for viral videos to use if they happen to go viral.

You can list your viral videos (or videos that have the potential to go viral) in an online place such as Juken Media. This way, your content will be easier for creators to find and purchase. These videos can get features on outlets like BBC, Fox, CNN, CBS, and The Huffington Post.

v) Use Affiliate Marketing

Brands are now leveraging the popularity and stardom of YouTube creators to sell their own products. They are usually willing to pay huge amounts to influencers who have a sizable audience. This creates a huge opportunity for you if you negotiate the right deals. In typical scenarios, all you have to do is give a ‘shoutout’ to the product in a 30-second segment of your video.

You could place the video at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. You can charge extra for providing links in the description section.

One study has shown that influencers can charge brands around $20 per 1000 subscribers or $2000 per $100,000.

Note: Make sure you’re transparent about brand-sponsored content. Try not to endorse anything you know is a scam or isn’t effective. Not being upfront with your audience could cost you, as it has done many times in the past.

Use the Right Equipment to Make Videos

In order to truly stand out from the crowd, you’ll have to create crisp, high-quality videos with reasonably good audio quality. Average run-of-the-mill gear will simply not give you the edge you need to make a difference. Some YouTubers also hire camera operators and video editors, but that may be overkill depending on your needs.

Here is a rough checklist on what you need to start your YouTube channel:

  • High-quality camera
  • Video editing software (basic editing skills will do)
  • Microphone
  • Tripod
  • Good lighting

Camera

The most important piece of gear you’ll need is a camera. You don’t have to buy the most expensive DSLR from a top-of-the-line company. In fact, you can choose pretty much any device that can record high-quality (at least 1080p) videos. A high-quality webcam will only get you so far, but it should do if you’re just starting out.

Note, your laptop’s built-in webcam is probably not going to work for this purpose. Make sure to buy mirrorless cameras and DSLRs when you feel it’s time to upgrade. The type of camera you can choose depends on the content you wish to create. You can choose from the following types of cameras:

i) Camcorder

Camcorders are perfectly suited to vide making because they are fairly affordable, lightweight, and compact. They are usually a starting point for most video makers when they’re just filming at home or doing vlogs. Something like a Sony HDR CX440 is a good pick if you want a budget-friendly HD camera that can shoot high-quality videos at a decent frame rate.

ii) Action Camera

Action cameras are extremely versatile and suited to a range of video shooting tasks. They can capture first-person views of action-oriented events that require extreme image stabilization.  Action cameras are lightweight and take up very little space, which allows you to carry them anywhere without a hitch. The most popular company that offers action cameras would be GoPro, offering crystal clear HD videos at 60 fps.

Definitely recommended if you’re going down the vlog route.

iii) Webcam

Webcams are a good choice for anyone who wants an affordable solution for their video camera. Most streamers make use of webcams to live stream content. Just make sure you buy a high-quality webcam, like the Logitech C920 HD Pro, which provides 1080p recording capabilities that are perfectly suited for anyone who wants to record while doing commentary or playing games on their PC.

External Microphone

External Microphone

Audio quality goes hand in hand with the video quality. You need high-quality audio to complement your video otherwise your viewers are going to have trouble keeping up with what’s going on. Your laptop’s built-in microphone is definitely not a good idea for picking up good audio and will not be able to eliminate ambient sounds. The last thing your viewers want to hear is the sound of birds chirping in the distance!

Tripod

Your video footage needs to be stable otherwise it can distract viewers and make them lose focus. Tripods are great tools for shooting videos. You can also choose gimbal stabilizers, but they’re usually more expensive. Make sure the tripod is lightweight and can extend to at least 6 feet in height, giving you the ability to shoot higher quality videos.

Lighting

Light equipment becomes necessary if you’re recording videos indoors or in poorly lit areas. But even if your room has naturally good lighting, you could use lighting equipment to modify the brightness and mood of your setup. Most lighting solutions are inexpensive and portable for video makers who are on a budget.

We recommend the Selens 51 Inch Parabolic Reflective Umbrella, if you don’t want to sacrifice quality. The umbrella offers mostly superior quality to a lot of competitor products out there.

Video Editing Software

Video Editing Software

Once you’ve purchased all of your hardware, it’s time to find good video editing software. While YouTube has its own video editor, it’s not really fully fleshed out. It’s a good idea to learn using software like Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas, both choices are very popular among videographers in general.

They offer a wide range of video editing options including freeze frames, video trimming, animations, and much more. This way, you can turn your material into professional-quality videos that your viewers will begin to love, and possibly subscribe to your YouTube channel.

How to Sell Without Obstructing the User Experience

The main draw of YouTube is that it isn’t full of annoying ads like most media platforms. But if your video comes across as too ‘sales-y’, your viewers will make a run for the hills faster than your next ad prompt ever has a chance of appearing.

The trick is to strategically place call-to-actions in your videos without taking away from the overall experience. Something as simple as, “If you liked this video, click the like button and subscribe” could be enough to get users to follow through. Just don’t annoy your audience by repeatedly asking them to subscribe very five minutes into the video.

Adding Well-Timed Ads to Your Videos

Whether you’re promoting your own products or have a deal with a sponsor, you can set ads to pop up at just the right moment, when they’re least distracting and most relevant to maximize their impact. This is usually done with the help of YouTube cards. Here is a detailed guide on using well placed YouTube cards.

Provide Links to Ads in Your Video Descriptions

You can send viewers to your Patreon page, online store, or sponsors by adding links to your video descriptions. A good example of this would be Unbox Therapy who specializes in doing product reviews, and then uses affiliate links in his video descriptions to get a commission with sales. The channel is linked up with Amazon Affiliate.

Don’t Forget to Promote Your Channel on Other Platforms

Make sure to promote your YouTube channel among your inner circle, social media pages, and through your blog (if it’s popular enough). Consider setting up advertisements on social media and YouTube to get as many eyeballs on your profile as possible.

The more you promote your channel, the greater chance for it to be seen.

FAQ

How to Make Money on YouTube without Showing Face?

Many YouTubers who make a ton of money and never felt the need to reveal their face, prominent examples include I Hate Everything, LeafyIsHere, and Grade A Under A. These YouTubers use clever and witty voice-overs to keep their audiences engaged. To make sure their video doesn’t come across as too dry, they often include off-topic footage of video gameplay, usually CS: GO, Overwatch, and Doom.

These channels often rely on creating YouTube drama to keep their audiences coming back for more. And they make a ton of money while doing so.

Which Niche Makes the Most Money on YouTube?

YouTube channels that do reviews of children’s toys often make the most money. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You could maximize your revenue doing reviews of video games, opening up a fitness channel, binge eating – there really is no limit to what you can do.

Your goal should be to specialize in a niche and build your audience there. Niche marketing ultimately gives you the most value for your money.

How do Short Films Make Money on YouTube?

Short films can utilize several sources to make money. The creator of the video footage could sell their own merchandise, products, use affiliate marketing, use sponsorships, place advertisements, or get donations from a loyal audience.

However, it is worth noting that shorter videos have less room for ads. Longer videos, usually greater than 20 minutes can be packed with a number of product placements at the right places. But there is a tradeoff, most viewers do not have the time to watch longer videos. Try to build a loyal audience with shorter videos before experimenting with the length of your videos.

One YouTube creator, Shelby Church, found that she earned thrice as much by publishing 10 minute long videos. Most of PewDiePie’s videos are at least 10 minutes long.

It seems that the gold standard for video length is 10 minutes. Just don’t overshoot this mark by too great a margin, such as 60 minutes or 120 minutes. People want to watch longer videos, but if they wanted to watch a feature-length film, they would have gone to Netflix.

Final Thoughts

Most YouTube creators who originally started making videos had no idea about monetization. They published videos for the fun of it and wanted the world to enjoy their content.

But by doing so, they found themselves in an advantageous position to make money in a world that became increasingly obsessed with content. All that’s left for you is to leverage your creativity, explore new ideas, and achieve your entrepreneurial goals.

Did you find our YouTube guide easy to follow? Feel we missed out on important tips and suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.

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