How to Make Money on YouTube: 7 Effective Strategies
This post was last updated on April 21, 2021.
Every day, the world watches 1 billion hours of YouTube videos. The platform’s immense popularity has transformed it from an entertainment channel to a powerful monetization tool for businesses and personal brands.
So, if you’re interested in making money on YouTube, now is a great time to get started. We suggest beginning by creating a website to host your videos and to have a home for your brand, and then sharing your content on YouTube. Not only will this expand your reach, but it will also help you make money from your fans. In this article, we’ll take a look at the seven most effective ways to monetize your YouTube videos.
YouTube monetization basics
Before we dive into the best ways to make money on YouTube, we wanted to cover some information about how YouTube works and some overarching tactics that will be relevant no matter which monetization method you choose.
To get started on YouTube you’ll need to create a channel to host your videos. Uploading video content will not automatically make you money, however. So, be sure that you enable monetization in your settings as you’re configuring your account. This will give you the possibility of making money from your YouTube videos down the line. At that point you can decide which monetization tactics to work with.
Another important item to note is that you can make money from your YouTube channel even without millions of subscribers. One of the best ways to do that is by understanding your audience and then targeting them with relevant content. Try to step into the shoes of your subscribers, or who you want to follow you in the future.
Once you have a strong understanding of your audience, your next goal should be engagement. Think deeply about what type of content they would be interested in, what would be most useful to them, and how you can prompt viewers to click, comment or subscribe. Only then can you create videos that are sure to succeed with one of the following monetization methods.
How to make money on YouTube:
01. Become a YouTube Partner
Once you start a YouTube channel, you can join the YouTube Partner Program to get access to special monetization features, including the ability to serve ads, display merchandise and more.
While joining is completely optional, it does give you access to a variety of channels for making money, including Premium subscription fees and a merchandise shelf. Here’s how to become a YouTube Partner:
Step 1: Stay compliant with the guidelines
When you first apply to the Partner Program, YouTube will review your channel for compliance. For this reason, you should get acquainted with the platform’s monetization policies, and make sure your content abides by the rules every time you upload a YouTube video.
Your content will be under continual review, even as you grow your channel and start to make money from it. If you do get accepted as a Partner, keep tabs on the latest compliance policies to make sure you’re up-to-date.
Step 2: Meet the YouTube Partner Program requirements
In order to join the program, you’ll need to become a successful YouTuber. The criteria for joining, as of 2020, are that your channel has reached 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers within the past 12 months. Only once you’ve met or surpassed these numbers can you apply to become a YouTube Partner.
Step 3: Apply to join the program
Provided you meet the necessary requirements, you can submit an application to join the program following these steps:
Go to the top right of the YouTube homepage. Click your account icon and select Creator Studio.
On the left-hand side, click Channel. Then, select Status and Features.
Under the box that says Monetization, click Enable.
Agree to the YouTube Partner Program Terms.
Step 4: Set up AdSense
As part of the application process, you’ll need to set up an AdSense account associated with your profile to ensure you’ll earn money from your videos and get paid. Keep in mind that you can only have one such account, and that multiple channels can be linked to the same account.
Step 5: Get reviewed
Once you’ve applied to be a YouTube Partner and set up an AdSense account, your channel will be put in a queue for review. At this point, both automated systems and humans will check your channel for full compliance with the guidelines.
Step 6: Explore your monetization options
If you’re accepted by YPP, congratulations! It’s time to set up your ad preferences and enable monetization.
You can choose from a wide range of YouTube monetization options, but keep in mind that they each have different eligibility requirements:
Advertising revenue: Earn money by including display, overlay or video ads next to your content. To do this, you must be at least 18 years old or have a legal guardian who agrees to handle your payments. Your content must also meet the advertiser-friendly content guidelines.
Channel memberships: Offer special perks to Channel members who make recurring monthly payments. This requires that you’re at least 18 years old and have more than 30,000 subscribers.
Merchandise shelf: Showcase official branded merchandise on your watch pages for your fans to browse and buy. For this option, you must be at least 18 years old and have more than 10,000 subscribers.
Super Chat and Super Stickers: Make money from fans who pay to get their messages highlighted in chat streams. You must be at least 18 years old and live in a country where Super Chat is available.
YouTube Premium revenue: Get part of a YouTube Premium subscriber’s membership fee when they watch your videos.
02. Sell merchandise
Another way to make money on YouTube is by selling merchandise. You can offer products you’re already selling on other platforms, or you can create a new collection based on your channel’s content. Keep in mind that you’re far more likely to make sales if your videos already have a fan following, so focus on building your popularity before you start producing such products.
Step 1: Design your products
Your merchandise should represent your brand, appeal to your target audience and build a community around your channel. As you dream up your products, think of something relevant to your niche that your viewers would be interested in. Note that you can check your YouTube analytics to get a better understanding of the kinds of people interested in your content.
For instance, if your channel is about makeup or beauty, you might want to sell branded cosmetics or makeup bags. On the other hand, if you’re a YouTube fitness instructor you might consider selling branded fitness equipment and energy bars. You can also poll your audience to ask about which kinds of products interest them the most.
Step 2: Source and build your products
Now, it’s time to make your product ideas come to life. You’ll likely need a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer to produce and deliver your products to you. You can also try dropshipping, a method by which the manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer ships the products to customers directly.
Whichever method you choose, be careful not to overstock at the beginning. Instead, start with just 1-2 products and produce them in small amounts. That way, you’ll have time to gauge their popularity and estimate how many people will buy.
Step 3: Start an online store
To handle transactions, you’ll need to create an online store. This will allow you to manage end-to-end fulfillment, accept secure online payments and more. Having your own professional eCommerce site will also boost your brand’s credibility while providing a dedicated platform for your audience to browse through your merchandise.
Step 4: Enable your merchandise shelf
If you’re a YouTube Partner, you can also take advantage of YouTube’s inbuilt merchandise shelf. This lets you display up to 12 official branded products on the video page of your channel so that you can showcase the items to your viewers.
Step 5: Promote the products in your YouTube videos
Once you’ve created your products and set up a website, spread the word by promoting them in your videos. Think of creative ways to present the merchandise to viewers, such as wearing or using it or featuring customers with your products.
Conclude your videos by reminding users to like, subscribe, and check out your website. You should also add a link to your online store in the description section so that users can navigate seamlessly to your website and make a purchase.
Crowdfunding is the practice of raising money from a large number of people, whether it’s friends, family or third parties interested in your project. This is a viable option for making money on YouTube if you’re looking for monthly revenue or a one-time donation to jumpstart your efforts.
Step 1: Join a crowdfunding site
First, you’ll need to join a crowdfunding platform. Take a look at YouTube’s list of approved crowdfunding sites for different options. Some of the most well-known ones include:
Note that some platforms are best for raising money for one-off projects, while others help you run a long-term fundraise. Whichever your preference, make sure to choose a platform that aligns with your needs.
Step 2: Promote your crowdfunding efforts
After you create an account, you’ll need to raise awareness of your campaign. This is where your YouTube channel comes into play. You can use your videos to tell the story behind your project or brand. Build interest, excitement and suspense by keeping your fans up-to-date on your fundraising progress. In addition, draw in donors by offering rewards - such as shout-outs, exclusive content or free merchandise - depending on the amount they contribute.
To raise further awareness, couple your YouTube videos with other social media marketing strategies. Post about your campaign on your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and include links to both your YouTube videos and crowdfunding page. At the same time, you can increase your content’s visibility on Google by optimizing your YouTube SEO.
04. Use fan funding
Another option for making money on YouTube is fan funding. While crowdfunding platforms target a general crowd for donations, fan funding specifically sources funds from your audience.
Step 1: Join a fan funding platform
You can get started with fan funding by joining a dedicated platform. One of the most popular is Patreon, which provides tools for content creators to get recurring, long-term support from their fans.
Another option is to fan fund through YouTube directly using YouTube’s built-in features. For this, you first need to become a YouTube Partner. As a Partner, you can raise money by offering channel memberships, which take the form of a Join button directly beneath your YouTube videos. By clicking this button, fans will get the option to provide regular support in exchange for perks like custom badges, custom emojis and exclusive content.
Step 2: Promote your fan funding efforts
In order to run a successful fan funding campaign, you’ll need to spread the word to your audience so they have the opportunity to contribute. Conclude your videos by politely inviting viewers to support your work.
05. License to the media
Most content doesn’t go viral. When it does, however, many news outlets want copies so that they can replay it to their audience. In this case, you can make money by licensing it to the media and charging them a license fee for permission to use it.
Step 1: Put your contact information front and center
There’s no real formula for creating viral content. It’s often just a matter of strong marketing strategies and chance. If you do happen to create a viral video, the first thing you should do is make your contact information easy to find. This will improve the chances that news outlets will reach out and offer payment in exchange for a licensed copy.
Create an email account containing the name of your YouTube channel, and place it on your website and in the description section of your YouTube channel. Explain what this email address is for with a clear and direct statement, such as: For business inquiries, please reach out at [email address].
Step 2: Join a video rights marketplace
You can also pay to have your videos listed in a video rights marketplace. This makes it easier for media professionals to find and purchase your content. Jukin Media, for example, is a video rights marketplace that saves your files in their content library and sends it to news channels, advertising agencies and other organizations. You’ll then make money if these organizations decide to use your content.
06. Create sponsored content
If your channel gains traction, you can become an influencer and make money on YouTube with sponsored content. Once you have a large and engaged following, you may be able to profit by endorsing branded products.
Step 1: Find a brand to sponsor
As you grow your number of YouTube subscribers, brands might start to reach out for a collaboration. When this happens, it’s a good idea to research the brands and their products before promoting them on your channel. Endorse products that you can sincerely recommend to fans so that you avoid compromising the quality of your content.
If you have a particular brand in mind you’d like to sponsor, you can reach out to them yourself and explain how they would benefit from working with you. For example, you might tell them why your target audience is relevant, how many people are subscribed to your channel, and how much engagement your videos receive.
You can also find brands by joining influencer marketplaces such as Grapevine Logic, Famebit, Channel Pages and CrowdTap. Some companies on these influencer marketplaces will gift free products in exchange for sponsorship, while others offer payment.
Step 2: Create branded content
Once you partner with a brand, there are several ways you can promote them on your channel in order to bring in revenue. For example, you can create entire videos focused on the brand or include the products in other video content. Many beauty influencers, for instance, sponsor beauty products as part of a broader makeup tutorial.
07. Become an affiliate marketer
Another option is to sponsor products and brands with affiliate marketing. As an affiliate marketer, you’ll get a special link to a company website that tracks back to your page. When people buy from the company using that link, you’ll get commissions from the sales.
Since the brand pays you only when you make sales - rather than paying you to simply recommend their brand - you don’t need a large fanbase to get started. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Join an affiliate program
There are several affiliate programs that you can join. A popular option is Amazon Associates, which is a good choice for those new to affiliate marketing and offers a commission of up to 10%. Other big brands, like Target and BestBuy, have affiliate programs as well.
For even more options, take a look at affiliate marketing platforms such as:
Using these platforms, you’ll be able to connect with a variety of brands and get affiliate links that you can use to make sales.
Step 2: Reach out to brands
While joining one of these platforms is the easiest way to connect with brands, you can also reach out to companies that you’re interested in promoting and that you think would be valuable for your audience. When you contact them, be sure to explain how they’ll benefit from the collaboration and why your fans would be a good audience for their brand.
Step 3: Feature the products in your content
Once you connect with a brand and obtain an affiliate link, incorporate the products into your videos. Be sure to integrate them seamlessly into your content so that you don’t come across as overly promotional, as this may put off some of your fans. Instead, recommend products in a way that offers genuine value to your audience.
An online fitness instructor, for instance, might promote a pair of good-quality athletic shoes. An outdoors enthusiast, on the other hand, might recommend a particular brand of camping gear. The more relevant the products and brands are to your fans, the more they’ll enjoy your content and the more likely they are to buy.
Step 4: Add an affiliate link
Finally, place the affiliate link in the description of the relevant videos. At the end of your video, remind users of the products you recommended, and tell them they can buy them using the link below.
How much money can you make on YouTube?
Now that you know how to make money on YouTube, you’re probably wondering whether you can earn enough for it to be a full-time job. These stats provide some insights into how much YouTubers make:
Google pays 68% of their AdSense revenue to the video creator. That means that for every $100 an advertiser pays, Google will pay you $68.
YouTube advertisers pay an average of $0.18 per view of their ads.
This means a YouTube channel can receive $3-5 per 1000 video views, on average.
The amount you make from other YouTube monetization strategies - whether it’s selling merchandise or creating affiliate content - depends on your marketing efforts and the number of fans you have. As with many things, the answer isn’t black-and-white. You might start out making some extra cash on the side - and later, with enough hard work and persistence, make a comfortable living out of it. We recommend experimenting with different monetization options to find the choice that’s best for you and will make you the most money.
By Rebecca Strehlow
Wix Blog Writer