Making Money On YouTube

With nearly two billion users monthly, YouTube is increasingly becoming a viable option for many looking to make money online by uploading video content in the hopes of acquiring a healthy following. That said, many aspiring YouTuber approach their YouTube dreams with an unrealistic perspective. Their thought process runs something along the lines of all I have to do is post a video, attract an audience, and then voila, advertisers will be clamoring to pay me for exposure to my subscribers. This post offers practical tips on how to make money on YouTube.

Polish Your YouTube Channel

The long and the short of it: if you want to make money on YouTube, you have to first do your due diligence and understand that there is more than one way to make your YouTube channel profitable. In fact, if you’re solely relying upon advertising dollars, odds are you’re not going to realize any sort of lucrative future. For every million views, on average, the content creator only receives maybe a couple thousand dollars—if they’re lucky. And that assumes that you can muster up a million views. As most seasoned YouTubers will tell you, this is far from an easy task. 

We put together a brief overview, outlining a few of the ways in which you can in fact monetize your YouTube efforts. Some you may have heard of and some may be new to you. All of them though might just help you to actually make some decent YouTube money.

How to Make Money on YouTube: Think Outside the Box

Hopefully by now you understand that there is no one single magic formula that is going to instantly net you millions on YouTube. It takes some time, a little patience and a healthy dose of know-how and creativity in order to build a presence and benefit from it in a monetary sense. 

Sell Your Own Merchandise

YouTube is one of the most widely searched platforms on the planet (second after Google). It really is nothing but pure opportunity. Because of how pervasive it is, many a YouTuber actually takes to the proverbial airwaves to create content that in essence serves as a tool to sell their “stuff.” Whether you’re selling t-shirts, cosmetics, handcrafted items, you name it, YouTube is a terrific platform to use in order to attract customers and ultimately funnel them to your landing page or Shopify store. 

Conceptualize and Create Your Product

This is key. In order to sell something on YouTube, well, of course you have to have something to sell. Maybe you already have a product and a corresponding website. Great! Then you’re ahead of the game and you can probably just skip this section. If however, you don’t necessarily have an item per se, but rather an idea brewing, now’s the time to sit down and really flesh it out. 

Start with the concept and once you’ve solidified that then actually move to the prototype creation phase. You may go through several versions of an item—that’s perfectly fine. Henry Ford failed numerous times before he got that engine right. See, you’re in good company! You might also elicit feedback from potential customers. After all, you want your product to fulfill their needs and wants. 

Surveys and polls are a terrific way to gauge potential interest in products and/or merch. Questions can be focused and direct and thereby give you real insight into what works and what subsequently doesn’t.

Once you’ve nailed down the prototype, now you need to locate a manufacturer and/or supplier to facilitate production and distribution. Handling this sort of thing on your own can become overwhelming, quickly!

Not sure how to find a manufacturer or wholesaler who can get you your finished product at a reasonable rate…There are a number of online resources that can point you in the right direction. For instance, you might check out Shopify’s guide to locating the ideal manufacturer

Create that Landing Page

Every good product needs an even better website or landing page to highlight it. Remember, the YouTube video is going to serve as your promotional tool, this in turn will have a CTA which is meant to drive shoppers to that landing page so that they can better understand the product and its origins. And hopefully, this is where they will click to buy.

Need help…There are numerous freelance specialists out there, from web designers to content writers and graphic artists. And generally, outsourcing this type of project can be quite cost efficient. 

DIY Websites. If you don’t want to hire out website/landing page development, there are a number of very effective and easy to use platforms available that enable you to create your own websites usually within a fairly short amount of time. 

Shoot and Upload a Killer Video

This is your chance to shine! If you’re selling t-shirts or hats, by all means, wear those in the video. You might enlist the help of friends or others who have tried your product and are willing to attest to their satisfaction on camera. Get creative here. There are literally millions of YouTube videos in the universe; how will you make yours standout so that potential customers actually heed that call to action and follow the link to your website or online store? 

Don’t forget the end screen. This is simply a card that provides information and of course features that essential CTA. 

Earning YouTube Money: It’s A Promotional Effort. In other words, always be promoting, period. Your video is your ultimate sales tool for your merchandise. Be sure you’re using it in an optimal way. 

Become a YouTube Partner

What exactly is a YouTube Partner? Great question! Essentially YouTube Partners have access to exclusives and other such opportunities that non partners don’t get. Some of the benefits of partnership—you can utilize features that allow you to get paid directly such as Super Chats and channel memberships. This also pairs nicely with selling your own merch, as YouTube partnership allows you to set up a YouTube merchandise shelf, thereby gaining your products even more exposure. So what’s involved with becoming a YouTube Partner…

Set Up a Channel and Meet the YouTube Partner Criteria. Most people we assume understand how to set up a YouTube channel. If you are new to all of this, there are plenty of guides available. You might check out this Google-provided step-by-step:

It’s not just a matter of establishing your channel!

As far as becoming a YouTube Partner and in general as far as how to make money on YouTube, you have to meet certain criteria, meaning you have to build an audience, meaning you may have to do a little legwork. The requirements to become a partner: 4000 watch hours and 1000 subscribers within a twelve month period. Some ways to achieve this: 

First off, know your YouTube audience. The more focused your video, the more tailored it is to a specific niche, the likelier you are to start acquiring the needed subscribers. You don’t want just broad, ill-defined content, rather a more pointed approach will win the day every single time. 

Just like Google, YouTube’s a search engine. So, for aspiring Youtubers this means optimizing your content accordingly. What keywords are most relevant? Which are going to get you ranked? Ranking after all is huge here. 

Create organized playlists

Research has found that viewers are more likely to stick with your channel if there is a playlist in place. Basically, this is you steering them toward your next video once they’ve completed the first. If they like what they see, of course they are going to want to watch more! 

Become Familiar with All Avenues of Monetizing. Being a YouTube Partner certainly has its perks. This is your chance to take advantage of them—all of them! You worked hard to get here, now it’s time to partake of the many benefits of partnership. 

Super Chats. This enables your viewers’ comments to be highlighted during your live chats. They of course pay for this, and you of course reap the rewards. 

Channel Memberships. Your subscribers can actually pay you for a membership—you first have to have at least 30k subscribers to enable this feature. 

YouTube Premium Revenue. Whenever a YouTube Premium member watches one of your videos, you get a piece of their subscription revenue. 

Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

Traditionally, when you think about affiliate marketing, you tend to associate this with lengthy review type articles and / or strategically placed blog posts. And certainly, this is a tried and true way of handling affiliate marketing, but with a YouTube channel dedicated to such marketing efforts, you get the chance to present added depth and dimension to any sort of affiliate campaign.

For those who may not be all that familiar with the concept, affiliate marketing is basically you promoting other people’s products, and in return, if your marketing efforts seal the deal, you get a cut of the profit—so it’s a wholly commission based endeavor. Many people have made quite a bit of money with affiliate marketing. With more and more turning to video over just a flat page of writing, this could be a tremendous opportunity for some. It makes sense.

People’s attention spans, relatively speaking, are fairly short—in the brief window of time you have, you need to dazzle them, do something different, get them to actually take a second or even third look. The edgier and more creative you make your YouTube video, the more apt you are to get those subscribers to follow the link to whatever product you’re trying to push—and that means more YouTube money for you. 

If you are an active and inspiring YouTuber and content creator, you can benefit from platforms such as stylink. With stylink you have the possibility to pass on product recommendations to your followers and subscribers. You can share the affiliate links generated with their Linkmaker in your YouTube description box or on Instagram. For every click on your affiliate links, you will be compensated by stylink.

Sponsored YouTube Content

This is perhaps one of the more popular methods of making money on YouTube. You are entering into a deal with a specific brand and in return, they pay you for exposure to your audience. Keep in mind, the bigger your audience, the more relevant to the brand in questions, the greater your negotiating power will be here.

If you do have a decent amount of subscribers and have considered sponsored content, then the process is pretty simple. 

Find a Relevant Brand. Again, relevancy is key. If for instance your primary content focus is skincare tips, odds are, you’re probably not going to want to partner with a company specializing in sporting equipment–unless of course you can find some ridiculously unique and clever angle that bridges the two.

Most however are going to want to stick to a brand that is closely aligned with their interests as well as those of their audience. 

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate. Again, the bigger your audience size, the more negotiating power you have. Know your worth going in. This may mean studying “competitors,” understanding market size and having a decent feel for the goals/objectives of the prospective partner brand. 

Keep it real. In other words, don’t try and fool your audience into thinking that the content is purely derived. It’s advertising plain and simple. You will only lose credibility with subscribers if you try to disguise this fact. 

Disclosures. It is a good idea when creating sponsored content to include a disclosure statement. YouTube actually offers such a feature so that you can maintain transparency with your audience. 

Line Up Speaking Engagements Via Your YouTube Efforts

Some quick stats: The median average salary for a motivational speaker is roughly 100k. This does range widely. The lower end earning just over 10k a year, but with some high earners up over 300k. Even making an extra 10k a year is not a bad thing—especially if the potential is there to grow your speaking gig and bust through that 100k ceiling. A YouTube channel is a great way to get yourself out there, acquaint audiences with your expertise and insights and then hopefully parlay that into some lucrative speaking engagements. So how might you go about establishing a presence that lends itself to you becoming that sought-after expert and speaker.

Again, Know Your Audience

As with most facets of YouTube marketing and engagement, you want to be as specific as possible. The narrower you make the target audience, the more you “speak” to them—pun intended. Seriously though, it’s about truly connecting with subscribers and thereby motivating them to want to hear more from you. 

Why You? Pretty simple question. People turn to speakers and experts who’ve “been there done that.” What qualifies you, what in your story makes it so that you have something of value to offer both on a YouTube video and during a live speaking engagement? Somethings to help establish your credibility…

Website. Every good public and/or motivational speaker has a professional website. Naturally people are going to search for you and they’re going to want to learn more about what makes you special via your site. 

Outsource it. Again, if you don’t already have a site and aren’t proficient at website building, you could outsource it for a reasonable price.

Have you written a book? Even if it’s not a bestseller, it can go a long way toward establishing you as a viable speaker. 

Without question, we live in a review driven world. Before people buy, subscribe to, or sign up for anything they will 99.9% of the time search for reviews regarding others’ experiences of the same. If you can gather testimonials from those familiar with your insights and expertise, all the better. 

You May Have to Speak for Free at First. While certainly, we all want to get paid for those pearls of wisdom we impart, the first few speaking engagements you book may have to be pro bono. Think of it this way, here’s an opportunity for you to record the speech and then utilize it on your YouTube channel. This way, you give viewers a taste of what you offer and leave them wanting more. 

Roll credits

As you can see the path to YouTube profitability…well, there is no one set path. In fact, it would seem that the more diversified your approach, the more apt you’ll be to actually make some money on YouTube. The key is to take your time and do the research.

Certainly, making videos and creating content is fun, it’s exciting and having people actually tune in and watch can be a huge adrenaline rush, but if you legitimately want to turn your YouTube channel into a money-making gig, you’re going to have to do your homework and put some effort into it, beyond just producing videos.

And if you eventually do hit on just the right combination of opportunity and engagement, you could most definitely have a winner on your hands. 

anne carson

anne carson

Anne is a former English professor turned content writer. Holding a PhD in Literature, she spent almost a decade in academia putting that degree to use, until finally realizing it wasn't exactly the best fit. A full-time writer, she's learned a great deal about the numerous subjects. She knows a lot about design trends and design templates. A mom of five (two teenagers and three dogs).