In this guide, we'll take a deep dive into the different ways of making money from your YouTube channel, both on and off YouTube. We'll also offer plenty of actionable tips to create a high-earning YouTube channel and the best ways to get more eyeballs to your video.
These tips apply if you’re a seasoned YouTube pro or just starting your YouTube channel for your business.
Why YouTube should be on your radar
YouTube is the second most visited site on the web after Google. The stats are mind-boggling: people watch more than a billion hours of YouTube video every day!
All those eyeballs mean moolah for YouTube creators. In 2020, the highest paid YouTube stars raked in between $15 million and $29.5 million.
It's no secret your YouTube channel is worth a lot. But it's worth remembering YouTube is still rented land.
To build a more sustainable business from YouTube, you'll need to diversify your income streams. Think creating online course paid speaking gigs, professional services. The possibilities are endless.
How to monetize your YouTube channel in 2021
There are two main ways to make money from YouTube: through YouTube's Partner Program and through the personal brand you build on YouTube.
In this section, we'll look at three ways to directly earn money from your YouTube channel, namely, YouTube Partner Program, affiliate marketing, and brand sponsorships.
YouTube Partner Program: Make money from your YouTube channel
YouTube offers several ways for partners to directly make money from its platform.
The first step to making money from YouTube is applying to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Members get revenue-sharing from ads, as well as partner resources from YouTube.
Monetizing your channel
To monetize your YouTube channel, you need to focus on views, subscribers, and content guidelines.
Once accepted, YouTube allows partners to earn revenue in different ways such as:
- Ad revenue: This allows creators to earn ad revenue from display, overlay, and video ads.
- Channel memberships: Channel owners can earn recurring monthly payments in exchange for special perks.
- Merch shelf: This allows viewers to buy official branded merchandise from a channel owner.
- Super Chat & Super Stickers: Through this, fans pay to get their messages highlighted in chat streams
- YouTube Premium revenue: This allows creators to earn a sum when YouTube Premium subscribers watch their video.
Each of these has its own set of eligibility requirements. Most of them require partners to be at least 18 years of age, have 10K–30K subscribers (depending on the revenue option), and reside in eligible countries.
How do you run ads on your YouTube videos?
To run ads on a particular video, it must meet YouTube's advertiser-friendly content guidelines.
YouTube generated a whopping $15.15 billion in ad revenue in 2019, but it's not the only party that benefits from ads.
As a YouTube partner, you earn a fixed percentage of the income YouTube makes from ads on your video. According to OneHourProfessor.com, YouTube typically pays 55% of the ad revenue to the publisher and keeps the other 45%.
To turn on ads for videos, all you have to do is:
- Go to YouTube Studio from your YouTube account.
- Pick a video you want to run an ad for.
- Choose the Monetization option from the menu on the left.
- Choose the type of ads you want to run on.
- Click Save.
Before ads appear on your video, they’ll go through human or automated reviews to see if your video meets the required guidelines. Please also note that when you turn on ads, you must confirm you have the rights to the audio and visual elements of your videos.
What are the types of YouTube ads you can run?
According to one survey of global marketing professionals, 29% of respondents said pre-roll skippable ads were most effective, while 7% considered non-skippable ads effective.
As for earning potential, the estimated costs of YouTube ads range from $0.30 cost per view for in-display ads to $1–$4 per 1,000 views for bumper ads.
Let's take a look at the different types of ads on YouTube.
Display ads: These ads appear on the right of the video. They only appear on desktops.
Overlay ads: These appear on the lower 20% portion of the video.
Skippable video ads: These ads appear before, after, or in between videos and can be skipped after 5 seconds. They appear on desktop, TV, game consoles, and mobile devices.
Non-skippable video ads: Viewers cannot skip these ads. They may appear during, before, or after the video. They appear on both desktops and mobile devices.
Bumper ads: These desktop and mobile ads (up to 6 seconds) appear before the video. Viewers cannot skip these too.
Sponsored cards: These are clickable cards that appear on the top right corner of a video. They usually display content that may be relevant to the video.
Make money from affiliate marketing on YouTube
Another lucrative option to make money through YouTube is affiliate marketing.
According to Statista, “The U.S. affiliate marketing spend is due to reach 8.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.”
Affiliate marketing involves including links to products (that you review and use) in your videos and guide viewers to purchase them.
If a viewer makes a purchase using your affiliate link, you receive a small commission for the sale. You can put the affiliate links in the Description section of your video.
Another form of affiliate marketing is giving out coupon codes that give your viewers a discount. Every time a viewer uses your code, you earn a commission.
One of the most popular affiliate programs for YouTube is the Amazon associates program. You can choose to promote affiliate links to a wide range of products through the program. Simply choose a product that works best for your channel and get started.
Make money from brand sponsorships on YouTube
Also known as influencer marketing, brand sponsorships are another lucrative way to earn money through Youtube.
As a content creator on Youtube, you have a fan base that trusts you. One study found 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. What's more, Influencer Marketing Survey by Mediakix reports that 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective.
G2.com reports, “YouTubers charge brands anywhere from $10 to $50 per 1,000 views, depending on the estimated amount of total views for the pending video. If the video hits one million views, then the YouTuber makes anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.”
To get brand sponsorships for your YouTube channel, research brands that may complement your channel and pitch yourself as an influencer.
If you're not sure how to start pitching yourself, here's a quick guide to help.
Let's say you're a fashion blogger on YouTube. You could partner with an apparel brand and hyperlink their products in your videos.
It's worth noting Youtube has strict brand sponsorships policies, such as Copyright Infringement.
YouTube also has a disclosure feature, allowing content creators to reveal any paid partnerships.
Here's an example:
Pros and cons of monetizing your YouTube channel
While YouTube is a lucrative platform, it has downsides too. Let's look at the positives first:
- Easy to get started: You don't need any high-end gadgets for getting started with a YouTube channel. A mobile phone for shooting videos works well.
- Access to an audience: With over 2 billion users visiting YouTube each month, you have access to a large audience on the platform.
- Free set up: You don't need to invest in domain names or hosting. Your channel acts as a domain and YouTube is your hosting provider. Plus, it's free to register on YouTube's Partner Program.
- Rented land: Even though it provides free hosting and domain names, YouTube is still a huge corporation. It's known for taking down users’ channels without any explanation or warning.
- Difficult to stand out: While YouTube has a sizable audience, it’s a competitive space. It’s possible that other thought leaders in your space are already publishing popular videos on YouTube. That can make it hard to stand out initially.
- Making a substantial income takes time: You need a lot of views on your videos to make a good income from YouTube. It can create a supplementary stream of income, but don’t expect it to be your primary income source right away.
Luckily, there are various ways to diversify your income from YouTube, once you have a small, loyal audience. Let's take a look at each of these below.
How to make money from your YouTube channel: 6 alternatives to running ads
A popular YouTube channel helps you capture an audience, grow your email list, and boost your credibility. Each of these in turn can be used to fuel other income streams, such as online courses, an ecommerce store, consulting opportunities, and more.
To direct your YouTube audience to another website or platform, you can use calls to action (CTAs) in your videos.
YouTube allows you to add a few different types of CTAs:
- Beginning of the video CTA
- CTA to another video
- Subscribe CTA
- Follow social media CTA
- Email lead generation CTA
- Drive to website CTA
- Click the description CTA
Now, let’s look at the different ways you can ride on the popularity of your YouTube channel.
Create online courses
This is one of the best ways to monetize your audience on YouTube.
Let's say you've built a huge following for you pilates classes on YouTube. What better way to monetize your audience than launch your own pilates online course? Since you already have a sizable following, it should be easy to drive sign ups for a paid program.
The main advantage of this approach is you have complete control over hosting, designing, and pricing your course. Since you own all rights to your course, there's no reason why it may one day be pulled off the internet.
Successful YouTube content creators are already doing this.
One example is Meet Kevin, an investor and real estate broker working daily in the construction and real estate fields. Kevin uses his Youtube videos for driving his audience toward his online training courses that teach about how to invest and how to make money in real estate.
Online course platforms such as Kajabi allow you to host your course, use customizable templates for creating course content, and also provide several tools for promoting your course.
Here's a detailed guide to creating and selling online courses to get you started.
Sell products or merchandise
YouTube content creators often sell merchandise such as t-shirts, active wear, bags, totes, coffee mugs, and more, to supplement revenue.
Merchandise helps you place your brand and personality out into the real world and strengthen your relationship with your followers.
You could use a separate store or website to sell merchandise and place the link in your video descriptions.
Alternatively, you can use the shelf feature on YouTube for selling merchandise. Take a look at these instructions to enable the feature for your channel.
An example of a popular YouTuber who sells merchandise is Cassey Ho. She sells her brand of clothing on Popflexactive.com as well as on a YouTube shelf.
As per Budget and the Bees, her net worth has risen to $2 million.
Another example of a YouTuber using this method is RomanAtwood. He uses the YouTube shelf feature to sell his merchandise under the name Smile More.
Offer professional services
Selling services such as group consulting, masterminds, and one-off freelance projects to your viewers is another way of leveraging your channel for paid opportunities.
Although this monetization method is a bit slow in the beginning, it can be effective once you hit a critical mass.
To find potential clients, start by letting your audience and network know you're available for paid consulting and freelancing. You can also pitch local businesses and use your YouTube popularity as a source of credibility.
Finally, freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr are also a good place to find your first few clients.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a good example of a YouTuber who has successfully leveraged his popularity to sell professional services. He is also a popular author, public speaker, and an entrepreneur.
Take up speaking engagements
A popular YouTube channel could also help you attract live speaking gigs.
Depending on the niche or audience your channel is focused on, research conferences and industry events that include keynote speakers. Use some of your best YouTube videos and engagement statistics to pitch these events.
If you're not sure where to start, here's a beginner's guide to becoming a public speaker.
Some examples of popular YouTubers who are also public speakers include GaryVee, Eric Thomas, Brian Tracy, and Brendon Burchard.
Create premium content
Once you develop an audience on YouTube, you could drive traffic to a landing page and sell premium content such as behind-the-scenes, detailed case studies, reports, and more.
You can also use YouTube Premium to set up a secondary revenue stream, over and above what you earn from ad commissions.
Here's how it works: YouTube sells memberships to its YouTube Premium program. Content creators earn money when Premium members watch their content.
You'll need a Google account and pay an upfront fee to start earning money with YouTube Premium.
According to Vidiq, YouTube takes a 45% cut of a creator’s Premium earnings, just as it does for ad-generated revenue.
License viral content to the media
Major networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, MTV, Vh1, and Comedy Central often replay popular YouTube content on primetime for their viewers.
If you've created a viral video or two, it may be a good idea to pitch media houses for its license.
You can also submit non-viral videos to marketplaces such as ViralHog, Jukin Media, Video Elephant, SellNews, and Newsflare.
How to Create a High Earning YouTube Channel: 5 Best Practices
While there are plenty of ways to monetize your YouTube channel, there's one important prerequisite: your channel should reach dizzying heights of popularity.
How do you do that? Take a look at 5 best practices to keep in mind.
1. Pick a niche
To build a YouTube following, you'll need a clear idea about the purpose of your channel, who your target audience is, and why they should follow your channel.
Every video you upload must have a purpose and an intent.
Some of you may know what the focus of your uploads will be. For example, an artist or a magician may start a channel revealing secrets behind their craft.
But what if you're not sure about your niche? Here are three aspects to consider:
Your channel should focus on something you're genuinely passionate about. If you don't care about the topic you choose, it's easy to lose motivation when the going gets tough.
Popularity of the topic
To gauge the level of interest in your topic, use a tool such as Google Ads Keyword Planner.
You can also use a tool like Google Trends to identify up and coming topics.
While your topic should be popular, it shouldn't be saturated with competitors. It's important to strike that balance. Otherwise, you'll be left with a topic no one is searching for or a niche that's difficult to stand out in.
2. Create high-quality videos
Your video doesn’t need to be expensive to be high quality.
A smartphone with a high quality camera and a tripod stand should work as well.
For creators focused on tutorials, webinars, interviews, and testimonials, use webcam software such as Wistia and Hippo Video to create good quality video.
If you wish to create something truly outstanding, you could also work with a YouTube production partner.
Another important aspect of good video is audio quality. Good audio quality makes your video look polished and professional. Again, you don't need something fancy. A medium range microphone works well.
Lastly, you'll need good video editing software. There are various affordable and free video editing platforms available. Some of these include Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro, Filmora, and Movavi.
3. Create engaging content
Your viewers are distracted. So, how do you create irresistible video content? A few tips to keep in mind:
Keep it simple
Whether you're teaching a complex subject or reviewing high-end gadgets, be sure to keep your content simple, clear, and understandable.
Break down processes into important tips or steps, explain jargon where needed, and recap important points at the end.
Interact with your audience
The best YouTube video creators talk with their audiences in a friendly way. They share bits and pieces of their life and invite viewers to do the same. This helps them develop a stronger relationship with their audience.
Pilates expert Cassey Ho manages to do this well with her videos. She talks to her virtual audience as if she were teaching a live class.
She also frequently addresses audience questions in YouTube videos such as these:
Open with a strong hook
Why should viewers watch your video? Why is it important for them?
Be sure to lay out the problem upfront and tell viewers how you'll help them solve it through your video. Alternatively, you could give them a quick overview of what they'll learn through your video.
You have a precious few seconds to grab viewers' attention. Use them wisely.
Analyze audience needs
Take a look at video analytics such as comments, number of new subscribers, likes, and audience retention rate (a measurement of how much of the video your audience watches). This helps you gauge if your videos are hitting the right note.
You could also ask your audience about their preferences using polls or interacting with them in the comments section.
4. Be consistent
Consistency helps you maintain audience interest. Here's how to maintain a regular publishing cadence:
This is the key to consistency. Keep specific slots of time each week to ideate, shoot, and edit content.
Batch production is a popular technique to increase productivity. The idea is simple. Produce similar parts of a product together.
For YouTube content creators, this means dividing all of your content production into batches. For instance, you might keep one specific day for filming all of your videos, another for editing, and another for promotion.
This ensures you don’t have to change gears as often and can be more productive.
Checklists help streamline the process of video creation.
Create a checklist that includes all your requirements, from equipment to the tasks you need to do before shooting, to editing, and even general information you need to remember. Be sure to make several copies of it.
5. Seek feedback and iterate
Feedback isn’t always positive, but it's necessary. Don't take feedback personally. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to produce the best possible content.
Here are some ways to garner feedback for your videos.
Measure viewer engagement
This is an indirect way of getting feedback. Subscriber count, engagement level on your videos, and number of comments indicate viewer disinterest or affinity.
You can view stats for your videos in Creator Studio.
Connect on social media
Another way to gather feedback is see what people are saying about you on social media. Twitter mentions and tagged posts on Instagram are good ways to gauge audience reaction after you upload a new video.
This is one of the most entertaining ways to connect with your audience.
You can go live on a day you don't have any uploads lined up and ask viewers directly about their thoughts regarding your content.
You can also use live streaming to share backstage stories and answer subscriber questions. Popular YouTubers such as PewDiePie, MrBeast, and LilySingh are known to connect with viewers through live streaming.
End each video with a question or encourage viewers to contribute their thoughts. If your video does strike a chord, you can be sure viewers will respond. Plus, inviting comments also makes viewers feel valued and heard.
5 Ways to Promote Your YouTube Channel
Apart from publishing quality content regularly, you'll also need to spend some time promoting your channel.
Here are the best ways to do that.
Pay-per-click YouTube ads are a good way to introduce your channel to new audiences.
As we've covered before, there are a few different types of ads to choose from, such as display ads, overlay ads, skippable and non-skippable ads, and sponsored cards.
Cross-promotion on other social media channels
Videos enjoy high click and view rates on social media. So it makes sense to include snippets of YouTube videos into your social media feeds to encourage your followers to subscribe to your channel.
When you post a new video, be sure to let your followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn know about it. This will ensure maximum reach for each video.
Cross-promotion on your blog, podcast, or newsletter
There are several ways to repurpose YouTube videos and promote them on other channels such as a blog post or newsletter.
For instance, you could embed videos in your blog posts, talk about your YouTube channel in your podcasts, and integrate snippets of video into your email newsletter.
Collaboration with other creators
Collaborations are mutually beneficial for both creators, as each gets access to a new audience.
The key to a successful collaboration is finding a channel that serves the same audience that you do.
When you use the right video tags and keywords in video descriptions, it boosts your chances of showing up when someone searches for your topics on YouTube. What's more, it could also bump you up to the top of Google search results for relevant queries.
Here's how to nail YouTube SEO:
Title and description: Insert target keywords in your titles and descriptions. You can use Google Keyword tool to help you pick the right keywords.
Engagement: YouTube looks at engagement such as likes, dislikes, and comments to decide where your video ranks in search results. Be sure to drive engagement early on for each new upload.
Tags: Add relevant and related tags to your videos, so YouTube understands what your content is about.
Using YouTube to boost your knowledge business
As we've seen, it's possible to earn a substantial income from your YouTube channel. But all it takes is an algorithm change or lock-out to destroy your business.
What’s why we look at YouTube as an outreach channel, a place where you can build an audience, a revenue stream, and an email list to augment your business.
Ultimately, you need your own real estate like a website built on Kajabi, where you can sell your online courses and offer professional services.
This gives you the best of both worlds: allowing you to bank on your YouTube channel's success while setting up a successful online business that can’t be taken away from you.