YouTube is the most popular video platform in the world. It’s also the world’s second most popular search engine! In this article I’m going to show you how to make money on YouTube – and how to build traffic organically to accelerate that income.
Anyway – let’s get started!
How to make money on YouTube
What’s so great about YouTube is that you can make money with any type of video, from explainers, to comedy, to music and education.
There are so many different ways to monetize your genre, which is what I’ll start with today.
It’s key to remember that you have to have a strategy – whether it’s picking the right niche, choosing the right ways to promote or expanding your potential for monetization.
You need to create a plan – I’m going to show you how to make yours.
1. Make money through ad revenue
This is the first and simplest way to make money. The model is easy to understand.
If a lot of people are attracted to your videos, YouTube can show ads before and during them. These ads are often targeted to people with similar interests.
But to monetize your YouTube channel in this way isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
You need a LOT of traffic.
How much? I’ve included a built-in YouTube calculator below so you can input so hypothetical figures.
As you can see, to make money on youtube through ad revenue, you’ll need to turn over a ton of traffic. This probably means having a more mainstream niche and building a loyal audience.
However, YouTube ads are often a great way to supplement your income and become a passive revenue stream.
The way to do this is to become a YouTube Partner.
How to become a YouTube Partner
To become a partner, you have to stick to YouTube’s policy. This means no illegal music tracks or suspect activity on your account.
It’s best to steer clear of shady programmes and promotions too.
You’ll also need a minimum of 4000 video hours watched in the past year, and 1,000 subscribers.
The good thing about this is that you can achieve this 4,000 hour figure in a variety of ways. You could get it all on one viral video, or simply start amassing the combined hours over multiple videos.
The screen looks like this.
Under this section, YouTube will show you how close you are to achieving that magic number.
Depending on your channel’s popularity, this may not be the way forward to start making significant money on YouTube, but don’t worry, there are youtube monetization ways with much higher potential, just like…
2. Make money through affiliate links on YouTube
This is where your tactics really start coming into play.
But first – what is an affiliate link?
Understanding affiliate links on YouTube
Affiliate links are where you recommend a product in your video, and then link to it. You will earn money from affiliate links for people clicking through this link and buying the product you recommended in your video.
Here is a brief overview of what is an affiliate link in a Google Snippet:
Affiliate links are a great way to make money, especially if you are tactical about which products you recommend.
A great niche is in tech, where you can sometimes keep up to 70% of the product sale!
Another great model is the recurring affiliate programmes, where you’ll keep a percentage of the recurring subscription fee that someone signs up to.
For example, if someone signs up to a $100 per month digital product, and you keep 30% of the recurring revenue, then you’ll get $30 each month as passive income, as long as they are a customer.
This way of making money on YouTube is particularly rewarding in the digital products and financial services industries.
Which affiliate networks can you sign up for?
A famous example in the digital product space is Bluehost, whose business model is built around affiliates.
They offer affiliates $65 per sign-up.
In simple terms this means that if you made a video about the best web hosts and included Bluehost affiliate link, you would get $65 for EVERY customer who you persuaded to sign up and clicked through from your video.
Given the lifetime value of your video, this could make you big, big money in the long term.
Now, just imagine how much tech reviewers whose YouTube videos are getting millions of hits are making.
Another great example of an affiliate programme is Amazon affiliate programme.
Look at the breakdown below:
As you can see, Amazon offers incredibly high margins for anyone who helps sell its luxury & beauty products.
Imagine a video that persuaded thousands of people to buy a certain necklace, or earrings. You can very easily see how the biggest YouTube influencers can earn millions of dollars in affiliate marketing.
3. Make money through funding from your superfans
Part of becoming a YouTube influencer is by building a loyal following.
If your fanbase loves the content that you put out, they can fund you through a scheme like Paetron or Tipee.
Patreon is a clever model that allows fans to give you money to create great content, in exchange for special perks or membership to your channel.
What exactly is Patreon?
That’s best summed up by the platform itself:
Patreon gives you flexibility and options. There are multiple membership models available, and you can either sign up for recurring revenue, or one-time fees.
You can sign up for Patreon here.
Other options also do the same thing, but the crucial thing to remember about this type of model is that it’s all about having a loyal fanbase that loves your content.
It’s very different from the ad revenue model. That is all about overall volume and numbers, whereas this is about the connection between you and your followers.
I recommend reading this amazing blog about 1,000 true fans to see how powerful that strategy can be.
As long as you are providing real value to your fans, you’d be surprised how effective this monetization strategy can be.
What’s also great about this is you can start making money almost instantly if you build a strong enough connection. You might have 5 followers, but if they LOVE your content and want to fund it, then this is the youtube Monetization strategy to get started with.
4. Make money on YouTube through products & online courses
Youtube videos are a great way to go down the standard product promotion model.
If you can teach someone something, then you have the potential to help them increase their knowledge through an online course or tutorial.
Your videos will act as good teaser content to sell your products.
Which products can you sell on YouTube?
You can choose the format and style of your own product, here are some suggestions:
Physical products you’ve created – like a piece of furniture. You will need to direct people to an online ecommerce store to make payment.
eBooks and printed materials, which you could publish and sell via amazon.
Online courses and webinars that sit behind a paywall. You can promote the dates and times via your channel.
The key to selling your own products is much the same as the last tip, which was about building a loyal YouTube audience.
Once you have some loyal subscribers, you can use all of the above monetization tips in tandem.
5. Making money on YouTube through sponsorships
Brand sponsorships are one of the best ways to make money on YouTube, once you have already built a base.
That base can be as little as 1,000 subscribers, as long as they are loyal.
To leverage brand sponsorships, you have to stick closely to your niche and not brand out too much into different areas. This will make you a more powerful proposition for brands.
Brand sponsorships can come from almost any channel that puts a product front-and-centre, and makes it look good.
- Skateboarding videos might land you a sponsorship with a skateboard company, or an extreme sports clothing brand.
- Gaming videos might land you sponsorships with gaming titles.
- Clothing reviewing videos might get you free clothes to review, or paid sponsorships with the brands you feature.
The format of the sponsorship depends on your negotiations with the brand. For example, it might be in the form of a shout-out in your video, or a special discount code. It could be in just using the product with its logo visible.
This way of advertising and monetization is extremely powerful and has driven the next wave of influencers on Instagram – a sector that is now worth billions of dollars around the world.
On a much bigger scale, it’s also how many films are part-financed, with the brand sponsorships offering them huge money.
One famous example is James Bond’s Casino Royale, which took $45 million in product endorsements back in 2006.
Check out this fairly unsubtle screengrab of which laptop Bond is using – sponsorship said to be worth millions.
Now, I’m not saying you can get to those levels!
However, the great thing about brand sponsorships is that products are trying to tap into your audience, so having them as part of your YouTube monetization strategy is a good idea.
How to make money on YouTube: combining monetization techniques
The biggest and best channels likely use a combination of monetization strategies – possibly even all four!
As part of your strategy you should write down how you earn so far – and then use that to aim for your magic number.
For example, if you want to earn $10,000 a month from Youtube, and you currently earn $2,000 you can break it down as follows.
What percentage of that $2,000 comes from:
- Ad revenue
- Affiliate income
- Fan contributions
If 40% comes from ad revenue, 20% from affiliate and 40% from sponsorships, then your target breakdown would be:
- 4k on ads
- 2k on affiliate
- 4k on sponsorships
That leaves you room to add money from fans and products to potentially exceed your target. You can use some of the world’s best social media tools to help you out.
The great part is that you have so many options. Focus on these five different ways to earn money through your YouTube channel and you’ll start making an income in no time.
How to build enough traffic to earn money on YouTube
It’s often criminally overlooked just how powerful YouTube is as a search engine.
Everyone is focused on Google (which is the biggest by miles), but Youtube is the world’s second biggest search engine!
Here are some eye-watering stats:
More content is uploaded to YouTube a month than in THREE DECADES of television.
YouTube searches are more than Bing, Yahoo, AOL and ask.com combined!
If YouTube’s users were a country, it would be the biggest in the world. That’s right, ahead of China!
Figuring out how to come on top of YouTube’s organic search could be worth serious money to you in the long run.
Here are some of YouTube’s SEO ranking factors.
That graph is pretty difficult to understand, but here is a breakdown of how to increase your organic YouTube traffic in 5 easy steps:
1. Research keywords using a tool
YouTube SEO isn’t a world away from Google SEO. You need to match your video content to keywords that are very widely searched.
To do this you should use a keyword tool like ahrefs to see what people are searching for in your location. Once you’ve done that, you need to make sure that you optimize for this keyword throughout your video upload.
2. Using a keyword as your video file name
Your file name is crucially important when it comes to uploading your video.
It seems obvious, but YouTube has no idea what your video is about. There is no algorithm they use to pre-watch it for content and decide where to categorise it.
Therefore, they go off all the information they can access. One of those factors is what previous videos you have uploaded, and an important one is the file name of your video.
3. Optimize your title
While you should try and match your keyword exactly if you can, it doesn’t necessarily work if that keyword isn’t a natural fit.
It also doesn’t hurt your rankings much if you change the format slightly.
For example, if your keyword was ‘easy drawing ideas’ you might choose a title of ‘Best drawing ideas – simple, creative and easy’
This enables you to fit more synonyms into the title to match different searches, and YouTube will be able to work our that your video is a good match for your target keyword.
Keep your character count below 60 to avoid any getting cut off.
4. SEO your video description
YouTube video descriptions are limited to 5,000 characters.
However, when you’re writing your description, you are aiming for two main outcomes:
- To impress YouTube’s algorithm. Therefore, you need to put your best keywords at the front, as YouTube will weight these more heavily.
- To impress real people! This is even more important. You need to tell people exactly what the video is about in the first couple of sentences, so they know it’s a good match. Then you need to excite them and compel them to click on your video. In many ways it’s the same as a blog title or description – use lots of small standard words to make it easy to read, along with a few ‘uncommon’ words to capture their attention.
YouTube will only display the first 2-3 lines of copy, but I recommend writing lots more than this, simply because most people don’t. If the copy in your description is as interesting as the video itself, you’re already ahead of the competition.
The secret to making money is to put the call to action AND the affiliate link in the first 2-3 sentences. That’s the way to optimize for clicks.
Read my article on the different styles of writing to help you to master a persuasive writing tone.
5. Tag with accuracy
We all know and understand the importance of tagging on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Well, YouTube is no different.
When you tag, bear in mind that you’re not just telling your audience what the video is about – you’re also telling YouTube!
Therefore, using tags that don’t have a strong relationship to your video can backfire. They might have a high search volume, but, if you’ve tried to trick your way to more views as soon as your audience watches the video they’ll know they’ve been misled and they’ll switch off.
That will hurt your YouTube ranking more than anything.
So, do your research and tag your videos as accurately as possible.
6. Add your video to the right category
Once you’ve uploaded, you still get the chance to tell YouTube even more about your video by placing it in the right category.
This can be with similar content creators, or in a category that answers similar questions that you’ve tried to answer.
Getting your videos in the right place can help it feature in the right playlists and get even more exposure.
7. Choose an eye-catching YouTube thumbnail
Your Youtube thumbnail is vitally important as it’s what people will see in the search results before they click through to your image.
Humans are visual creatures so your thumbnail is often make or break.
I wrote a whole article about getting your YouTube thumbnail the right size and all the best practices around optimizing it to get clicks.
I recommend a mix of photography and clear graphic subtitles, which should also feature your keyword. The more matches you create with your user’s search intention the better.
Your YouTube thumbnail image should be images 1280×720 pixels, which is a 16:9 ratio. It has to be 2MB or under and one of the following file types: .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files.
8. Add Cards to help monetize your YouTube video
You can add YouTube cards in your videos to make money or add value for your audience.
Cards appear at certain times within the video and can pop up and suggest add donations, or give them interactive features like a poll to participate in.
In your creator studio go to the following screen and head to the cards dropdown box.
As you can see below, the cards can be any number of interactive features.
Here, you get multiple options, which you can cleverly use to make more money from your content. You might want to link to a page or website that is full of affiliate links. Or you might want to promote another channel (people can collaborate to get more views).
Optimizing cards during your video gives you a real boost.
9. Promote, promote, promote!
This one goes without saying, but I’ll add it anyway.
Promote your video as much as possible, across all your channels. Failing to promote your work properly is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
This will help your SEO as the more views your video gets, and the more watch time it clocks up – the higher it’ll get ranked by YouTube’s search algorithm.
How many subscribers do you need to make money on YouTube?
This question gets asked a lot, but actually the answer is – it depends!
That’s because it’s perfectly possible to make thousands a month in affiliate links of product sales without having many subscribers.
More predictable is the ad revenue you can make, although views are a better measure than subscriber numbers.
What it’s worth remembering with subscribers are that they are your most loyal fans. One day you might like to ask them for contributions through Patreon.
Regardless, your subscribers are incredibly valuable as they’ll share your content and spread the word far and wide.
But there is no magic number to monetize your channel. The more subscribers you can get the better!
How many views on YouTube to make money?
Generally, YouTube pays out around $3 per every 1,000 views.
However, even this number is highly variable because different countries all have different rates.
If you know your country’s approximate rate per 1,000 views then you can calculate how much money you’ll make using my YouTube calculation tool.
It should be noted that this is ad revenue only. I believe the much bigger potential on YouTube comes from affiliate links and sponsorships.
How much money can you make on YouTube?
Millions of dollars!
Really, the sky is the limit as far as your YouTube earning potential goes.
But don’t let anybody tell you that it’s easy. Making money on YouTube is hard to master as building a loyal audience can be slow. Hopefully some of the tips in this article really helped you out.
If you want some fantastic role models to. inspire you – there are thousands to pick from!
Here are the YouTube top earning list of 2020:
- Ryan Kaji – $26 million. …
- Dude Perfect – $20 million. …
- Nastya – $18 million. …
- Rhett and Link – $17.5 million. …
- Jeffree Star – $17 million. …
- Preston Arsement – $14 million. …
- PewDiePie – $13 million. …
- Markiplier – $13 million.
This list originally appeared on Pocket-lint.com.
When you consider that number 1 on this list is a child unboxing toys for a living – there is plenty of niche ideas that could net you a fortune!
How much does YouTube pay you per 1 million views?
A million views is the number that a lot of people have in mind.
It seems a long away away, but over multiple videos is certainly attainable. If one goes viral then it’s more than achievable.
Working on the basis that you’ll earn around $3-4 per 1,000 views in the US (it varies from country to country), you’d get paid approximately $3,000 to $4,000 for a million views.
There are amazing possibilities to earn a living through your YouTube channel.
It’s really going to come down to getting enough people to view your videos, and building loyal followers who will engage with and share your content.
If you can start building loyalty and buzz around your video then the numbers will come eventually. In the meantime, you might want to think about the affiliate model as a way to accelerate your YouTube income.
Depending on your niche, there are a world of incredibly lucrative opportunities out there.
Good luck – let me know how you get on!