How To Make Money On YouTube: The Platform Where Dreams Come True

by Anish Sah April 19, 2018
Make Money on YouTube

Another platform full of possibilities: YouTube! From letting people try their hand at making and sharing videos to making regular content creators celebrities, YouTube truly feels like the land where dreams come true.

Successful YouTubers have worked hard for months and years continuously creating content aimed to entertain and enlighten the viewers. The reason I am mentioning this is before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to make money on YouTube, you need to realize that 15-minute internet fame is not what you should be chasing if you want to be successful on this platform, or on any platform for that matter.

Like I have stressed time and again when it comes to making money on YouTube, or via whatever digital platform, it takes commitment and patience. If you are not motivated enough to make tens of videos before you even get noticed, you might want to leave this page now.

If you are, however, ready to begin a long journey on the YouTube path, let’s get started.

This guide on ‘how to make money on YouTube’ is going to be comprehensive, and I have divided into 3 subtopics for your ease:

  • FAQs about how to make money on YouTube
  • Step-by-step process of running and monetizing a YouTube Channel
  • The variety of income streams

Let us get you ready for the journey you are headed on by answering some questions that I have found aspiring YouTubers asking frequently.

Is it easy to make money on YouTube?

Not really, it isn’t. According to the new YouTube monetization rule, you need to have to have a minimum of 10k views to make the first dollar. That’s how many views you need to make money on YouTube. It’s tough, yes.

But if you are passionate about creating good content for your viewers, it’s definitely possible. YouTube monetization is getting stricter, that’s true. But even with YouTube, there are multiple income streams such as Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, Sponsorships, Selling physical or digital products, and so on. That means you won’t have to, and you shouldn’t, rely on just YouTube Monetization and AdSense.

While it’s disheartening to know that many YouTubers quit before earning their first dollar, I want to make sure you know that if you keep at it, producing good content and use the right marketing strategies, you will definitely be able to make money on YouTube.

How much does YouTube pay per subscriber?

Nothing.

There’s a misconception among people that YouTube pays for the number of subscribers a channel’s got. That’s probably because YouTubers’ success is measured on the basis of how many subscribers they have got.

However, YouTube doesn’t pay for the number of subscribers you have. YouTubers earn revenue based on the number of monetized views.

What is a monetized view? Well, simply put, it’s when a viewer watches an ad placed on your video. Depending on how many of those monetized views you got, your revenue is determined, among other factors.

That’s not to say the number of subscribers doesn’t factor into it at all. Needless to say, the more subscribers you have, the more monetized views you are likely to get.

How does YouTube pay you?

If you are eligible for monetization and if you activate it on your account, YouTube places ads on your video. Your revenue depends on how many viewers have viewed those ads and for how long.

What’s important to understand here is that it’s not YouTube that pays you; you are paid by the advertisers that display their ads on your video.

Remember: You don’t get paid based on how many times your videos has been viewed but based on how many times the ad has been played. That’s a completely different number because the ad doesn’t appear each and every time on your video.

Also, another important question: What about ads that can be skipped? Well, they make you little to no money (no money, in most cases).

How much does YouTube pay you?                       

You need to understand basic terminologies to gauge how much you might stand to earn off YouTube.

The potential for you to get paid by YouTube only truly begins once the views on your videos hit 1000. If you were wondering how many views to get paid on YouTube, well that’s your answer. I mean that’s just how many you need to get started.

After that the payment increases for every 1000 clicks. YouTube, based on the aforementioned factors, determines the CPI (Cost Per Impression) on your video; CPI for videos can be as little as a few cents and go up as high as 10 dollars.

You need to remember that it’s not just about the views. Engagement, meaning how long a viewer watches an ad on your video, is an important criterion that determines your monetization potential.

What are the factors that will determine how much money I make on YouTube?

The amount of revenue you earn off YouTube depends on these critical factors:

  • The popularity of your channel
  • Your channel’s target audience
  • Content
  • Countries your viewers belong to: If your viewers belong to developed countries like the UK or the US, you will get paid more than if your audience is from developing countries.
  • Price of ads on your video
  • Number of views

I will answer more questions about the how’s and what’s of YouTube as they arise in this guide. As we have covered some basics for now, let’s get into the steps to make money on YouTube.

Steps to make money on YouTube

Step 1: Set up your YouTube Channel

The Fundamentals

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, that’s definitely the first thing you want to do. You need a Google account to set up a YouTube channel. But having a Google Account doesn’t mean you automatically have a YouTube channel. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to YouTube.com and click ‘sign in’.Make Money on YouTube
  2. Go to your YouTube settings by click on your profile icon. You will see a Settings icon; click that.Make Money on YouTube
  3. There, you’ll find an option to ‘Create a channel.’ Once you click on that, it’ll give you an option to set up a business or a personal channel. Choose the option that suits you best.
  4. There are various channel options you can pick from depending on the type of channel you are setting up. The options include:
  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution or Organization
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other
  1. How useful is the username? The answer is very. Keep it short and simple. You can just use your name as your username; that’s what many YouTubers do. If not, keep it relevant to what your channel covers. Your YouTube username is how people recognize and find you, and it is also your brand that you’ll be promoting.
  2. Create a Custom URL rather than using the clunky default one provided when you set up the channel. If your channel name is ‘XYZWORLD,’ your custom URL will be YouTube.com/user/xyzworld
  3. Link your channel to your social media accounts. You use those platforms to promote your channel, so this is an important step. You can do that using the button the left hand side of the screen under ‘Account Settings.’
  4. Click on the ‘Privacy’ button to adjust your privacy settings. If there are things you want to keep private (not your content, remember), you can do that here.

Enhance your YouTube Channel

Disregard the steps to setting up a channel if you have already got one. But even with your existing channel you need to bear in mind a few strategies to make your channel more appealing to viewers and advertisers. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Channel art that’ll wow: You know how much space channel art covers on your  YouTube profile, right? So make sure you make good use of that space and design the perfect channel art. This is an opportunity for you to use personalized art that speaks volumes about your and your brand’s personality.
    Make Money on YouTube

    Adobe Creative Cloud’s YouTube Art

  2. Describe your channel in 1000 characters. These are valuable characters; don’t waste them. Use keywords in the description, as search engines index these descriptions.
  3. Create a trailer for your channel: This is a short video visitors see as soon as they land on your channel. It’s a first impression that can make or break you. Make it count by creating an outstanding YouTube channel trailer.

Step 2: Upload high quality content, consistently

Make Money on YouTube

Produce quality content consistently to build a good subscriber base.

After all, this is what your channel is meant for. Good content is what it all boils down to, both in terms of viewers and advertisers.

For that you’ll have to understand and perfect the foundations of creating high quality content that are useful and entertaining. Until you can prove that you are a diligent, talented creator, no matter how much you think about how to make money on YouTube, it’s not going to materialize into anything.

Find your niche

Like other digital platforms, YouTube too has profitable niches that see more subscribers and advertisers. Especially, in regards to advertisers, these are niches that they flock to to place their ads on and reach their target audience.

These are the best YouTube niches for 2018:

  • Beauty
  • Gaming
  • Food
  • Yoga and Exercise
  • Tech—Reviews, Unboxing and more
  • Travel
  • Fashion
  • Digital Marketing
  • Humor
  • Photography
  • Haircare

Now it’s okay to mix and match these niches as per your liking as long as they are related (remember, only as long as they are related). For example, you can combine food and yoga content in your YouTube channel to cover the larger health or fitness niche.

But you can’t have videos on HairCare and Gaming in one channel. I mean, you can, for sure. There’s no one stopping you. But you might just end up confusing your viewers and advertisers making it much harder for yourself to make money on YouTube. 

Perfect your craft

There is only one way to do it: Practice. Good equipment is expensive, but that shouldn’t stop you from producing content if that’s what you truly love to do. And you can always buy better equipment over time as you start to make money on YouTube.

Make Money on YouTube

Don’t let a lack of equipment stop you from doing what you love.

Successful YouTube creators started small, super small. They didn’t just think about how to make money on YouTube; it was their passion that drove them. Some of them even recorded videos on their webcam when they first started out. Use your smartphone if you don’t have expensive cameras. Use natural lighting if you can’t afford expensive lights.

Even with that quality is important. I mean… would you watch shaky videos where you can’t really tell what’s going on? Of course not! So, get a tripod. If you make vlogs— where tripods aren’t really useful and most of it is handheld footage—you might want to use a wide lens or a lens with optical image stabilization to avoid recording blurry videos. Be sure to never use content owned by other creators, and avoid copyright issues that might make YouTube demonetize your videos.

Because it’s YouTube, the audio quality of whatever content you produce—be it vlogs, unboxing videos or makeup tutorials—is crucial to success. Use a microphone and be attentive of noises; no one wants to hear a blaring horn in the background when you are telling your viewers how to get the perfect curls.

Shoot regularly to find out how long it takes you to produce one video—from researching, writing a script, storyboarding, shooting, editing and uploading it. There are too many things to be done and recording is just one part of it. Practice these steps constantly and find out what your limit is. You don’t want to bite more than you can chew.

Planning is Key

You should be ready with complete planning before you switch to record more. Cover all the bases:

  • If you are shooting outside, make sure you have a venue in mind and check to see if you can shoot there.
  • Storyboard your video: Just a basic outline of complex shots will make the actual process much easier.
  • Make a list of the different kinds of shots you need.

Optimize your headlines and descriptions

It won’t be enough for your videos to be engaging if your headlines are not.

Like you would be with content for search engine like Google, optimize your video description and headlines too by using keywords and tags.

Research focus keywords that you can rank on top for.

Create eye-catching, customized thumbnails that will make people want to click.

Link your content to your website and your social media accounts. Adding web links can help you drive traffic from other digital platforms to YouTube.

Stick To A Schedule

I know you have been told that you have to post many videos before you even get noticed let alone make money on YouTube. But that doesn’t mean you try to do it all at once.

Posting 10 videos in 2 days isn’t going to do anything other than litter your YouTube channel with mediocre videos produced in a rush. And trust me, your viewers can tell. That’s why it’s so important to find out your rhythm and how fast you can work. Pushing yourself is okay but don’t stretch yourself thin.

Make a commitment to post at least once a week. Any more, that’s awesome. Any less and it’s not going to work. If you don’t post regularly, your viewers will find their fill of YouTube videos on the plethora of other channels that are available.

Decide what day you are going to post. Find out when your channel sees the most traffic and that’s when you should upload. For instance, if it’s Thursday mornings, upload a video every Thursday morning, no exceptions, no excuses.

Step 3: Develop An Audience

Who do you make your content for? Develop an audience.

YouTube Analytics

YouTube covers a large demographic. To make money on YouTube have to make sure you know exactly who your ideal viewer is—their age, gender, profession, hobbies and interest—and create your videos accordingly.

You can also review the analytics provided by YouTube in your ‘Channel’ menu. That’s how you check who is watching your videos and whether your videos are reaching your target demographic or not.

If you have enabled monetization on your channel, you can see your estimated earnings and ad performance too.

If your content doesn’t speak to your target audience, it’s time to change things up and learn how to create content that your target audience would like. It’s trial and error sometimes, what you think will work may not always do. So, be flexible and patient, and that’s how you make money on YouTube.

Engage with your Audience

YouTube has always prided itself in being a community of creative, out-of-the-box thinkers that support each other.

That sense of community exists between viewers and creators too. If you post genuine content from the heart that resonates with your audience, there’s no limit to how much love and support you’ll receive from your fans.

It’s one of the reasons YouTubers do what they do: to keep their viewers happy. It’s not always about a singular vision of how to make money on YouTube; making money on YouTube, instead is just a byproduct of the connection they have built with their audience.

Their audience love and trust them and that’s how the creators get advertisers too, as the advertisers know the YouTube creator can persuade the viewers and their purchase decision.

But how do you build engagement with your audience?

Interact as much as you can with your viewers. Reply to as many comments as you can. Try to be thoughtful in the comments, or go the emoji route and keep it simple. Either way, the fact that you interact with your viewers and the way you do it speaks volumes about your character.

Ask your viewers questions through your videos. The questions can be simple, about what they want to watch and what they liked and didn’t like in your video. Show them that you value their opinion and they’ll start valuing yours. That’s how you build trust and forge a lasting relationship with your viewers.

Most successful YouTubers still stay in touch with their audience, after all, they would be nowhere without the love of their viewers. Of course, it’s not possible to reply to each and every comment, but even if you reply to a few, the rest will understand that you are busy producing content they love.

Promote your channel

Now I have already spoken about linking your YouTube Channel to your other social media accounts in Step 1. But that’s not enough.

Do you know how many YouTube channels there are? Countless. Do you know how many of them are set up daily? Over 1000.

You need to make sure your audience sees you and understands your brand. So, use all the digital and social media marketing channels at your disposal and promote your channel.

If you are a YouTube creator, you want to be active on other social media platforms too. And it’s not just a personal profile I am referring to. You need to create accounts for your YouTube channel on all the digital platforms, from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google, and as many others as you can.

Just make sure you maintain a steady presence on all of these platforms and post consistently. Tell your followers what video you are posting; share the link to that video directly on these platforms. Social bookmarking sites are also effective tools to promote your video. You have to use the right social bookmarking sites and techniques to create more buzz for your videos.

Encourage your audience to join your email list. Email direct marketing is among the best and the most effective ways to reach your viewers, and needless to say, you can’t do that without an email list.

Use a webpage and provide free stuff, run giveaways especially for email subscribers. Building an email list is a great way to ensure your viewers don’t miss your video: Just send them an email every time you post a video.

Step 4: Monetize your YouTube channel 

If you have followed all the steps mentioned above, you are so close to making money on YouTube. But wait? You can’t make money on YouTube, at least not with AdSense, until you enable monetization on your YouTube channel. But first, your channel has to be eligible for monetization. According to YouTube, there are a few criteria for monetization eligibility on YouTube.

Enabling monetization simply means allowing YouTube to place ads on your videos.

It’s easy. Here’s how to enable monetization on YouTube:

  • Sign in to your YouTube account.
  • Select your account icon in the top right corner.
  • Click Creator Studio.
  • Hit Channel > Status and features
  • Click Enable in the Monetization section.
  • Follow the on-screen steps to accept YouTube’s Terms. Violating these terms might lead to your video’s demonetization so read them carefully.
  • Open your Video Manager and click the dollar sign next to the video you wish to monetize.

Once you have enabled monetization, you need to set up a Google AdSense account. You need to hit 1000 subscribers and have at least 4000 hours watch time in the past year to be able to apply for an AdSense account. It also depends on whether or not it is available in your country. 

What you need for an AdSense account? A PayPal or a bank account and a valid email address. When your AdSense account is verified, you can link it to your YouTube Channel. Enabling monetization allows you to tap in the huge advertiser tool YouTube has. Every time someone watches an ad on your video, you get paid by the advertiser.

Ad revenue is not the only way to make money on YouTube. If you were wondering how to earn money from YouTube without AdSense, you might want to keep on reading.

In fact, when you take other income streams into account, you’ll find that ads make only a small percentage of your total YouTube revenue.

That’s because there’s a lot that YouTube deems not particularly advertiser friendly. Examples include: sexually suggestive content or sexual humor, content containing profanity and/or vulgarity, videos displaying violence or accidents and injury. Even content containing controversial views and sensitive subjects such as natural disasters and political conflicts, among others.

Different Types Of Income Streams

Like I have been saying repeatedly, you shouldn’t just rely on ad revenue as your only source of income. Moreover, YouTube can also demonetize your video; though, the situation is better now as YouTube notifies you and you can contest the demonetization.

But even with the biggest YouTubers, AdSense is not how they have built an empire since YouTube retains about 45 percent of their ad revenue. And because you can’t just rely on monetization, you have to diversify your revenue sources.

Let’s find out how to earn money from YouTube without AdSense.

Make Money on YouTube as an Influencer

Make Money on YouTube

Ingrid Nilsen is among the top YouTube influencers.

Influencer marketing is a popular way for businesses to promote their brands not just on Instagram or Facebook but also on YouTube. Viewers are more likely to be persuaded to purchase a product if someone they trust endorses it. That’s why increasingly more brands are spending large portions of their advertising budget on influencer marketing.

You can negotiate a deal with advertisers based on your audience demographics, number of subscribers, the profitability of your niche, and the average number of views you get.

Advertisers also take into account other factors to decide how much they pay a YouTube Influencer:

  • Promotional goals and objectives
  • Popularity and engagement levels of influencer
  • Number of expected posts or brand mentions

Sponsored content will not reduce the credibility of your brand as long as you are careful what brands you promote. Your viewers understand that YouTube is how you make money, so as long as you endorse high-quality products that your viewers will find useful, you don’t have to worry about putting off your audience.

You can also let your viewers know which ones of your videos are sponsored content, and they can decide whether or not they want to watch that video or purchase that product. In any case, partner with quality brands that are relevant to your niche.

To link with brands to partner with, you need to add your channel to popular influencer marketplaces. The best thing about Influencer marketing? You won’t have to share your revenue with YouTube.

Affiliate Sales

Alternatively, you can also make money via affiliate marketing. Rather than receiving a lump-sum payment as an Influencer, you can make commission on however many products you sell through your channel.

It works especially well if your videos are mainly product reviews. With affiliate marketing, you can only make money on YouTube when you make sales, but it’s a good place to get started if you haven’t achieved influencer status just yet.

How does it work?

Let’s say you run a makeup channel. In your video you say, “This is a great moisturizer. I have been using it for a month, and I am so happy with the results. I have included a link in the description below if you want to try it out.”

That’s affiliate marketing. Like influencer marketing, there are many marketplaces/programs for affiliate marketing too. Among the most popular is Amazon Associates. There are other affiliate programs too, be sure to find one that suits you best.

Sell Physical Products

Make Money on YouTube

Sell physical products like bags and t-shirts

YouTubers also promote and sell physical products—t-shirts, makeup, bags, art—through their channel. You can set up your ecommerce platform and promote it on your channel by placing well-timed ads or links, or persuading loyal viewers to buy your products. If you don’t know how to get started with an online store, Shopify is a great ecommerce platform you can use.

Selling physical products, however, comes with added work, though, from handling orders to shipping and inventory. Print-on-demand service providers such as Oberlo provide all of these services so you can easily import and sell dropshipped products.

If you don’t want to set up your own online store, you can partner with existing merchandising networks. You’ll surely not have the same kind of freedom as you would with your own ecommerce site with offering products and discounts.

Successful YouTubers, with a large, loyal fan following, also launch their own brands and promote their products through their products. Popular examples are Jenn Im, a fashion blogger with over 2 million subscribers, who recently launched her own clothing brand Eggie; Samantha Maria and Jason Davis, who created the London based fashion label Novem & Knight Collection; and others.

These YouTubers capitalize on the large potential customer pool they already have, and they have viewers that trust them and their product. With a ready market, they don’t have to struggle promoting their products and connecting with potential customers.

Sell Digital Products

Once people start listening to what you have got to say and find it useful, you can sell your expertise in the form of online courses, dating and relationship advice, e-books, among other information products to make money on YouTube.

What you need to do is hook your viewers with your YouTube video. Make them listen to you, and once they do you can tell them that your products are also available for purchase. You can provide links to your digital products in the description box.

What YouTubers usually do is give their viewers some information through their platform, for example, How to get started in the SEO market? Then once they have given that hook, they promote their product by telling their viewers that they have a SEO training course available for purchase.

Or if you do comics on YouTube, you can promote your book of illustrations among your viewers. You can promote your e-book through your YouTube channel and use it to reach as many potential customers as you can.

Because your viewers have seen your journey on YouTube and have been with you through your ups and downs, they will trust you and will want to support you. Make sure your products are useful to your viewers and relevant to your niche or it might affect your relationship with your viewer.

Final thoughts

How to make money on YouTube, as you can see above, is a complicated question. There are many different income streams that you can use, different kinds of niches that you need to pick from, and it takes significant time and effort. But as long as you keep at it, you can definitely monetize your passion and make money on YouTube.

Follow these steps: Set up your channel and enhance it; Upload quality content; Develop an audience; Monetize your channel; and check out the different income streams. Apart from the income streams mentioned above, there are other ways such as Crowdfunding and Fan Funding. You have to be very careful not to annoy your viewers by constantly trying to sell them something.

Don’t hesitate to get creative. At the end of day, it’s your videos that your viewers will keep coming back for. Take risks and stand out from the crowd. Then there’s no stopping you from being the next YouTube success story.

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Avatar for Anish Sah
Anish Sah

I am an Internet Marketing and SEO Learner, Social Media Analyst and a young Entrepreneur. In this blog, I share proven Internet Marketing and SEO techniques that I’ve learned over the years. I hope my success stories will help anyone start making money online, or scale up if they already are making money online. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get updates on the latest techniques.

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