If you are considering starting a YouTube channel, it’s prudent to wonder, can you still make money on YouTube? So, can you?
Yes, you can still make money on YouTube. Many people are starting new YouTube channels every month, and every month, creators pass the 10,000 subscriber mark and earn thousands of dollars from their YouTube channels alone.
In this article, we’ll look at why you can still make money on YouTube, how much YouTubers make, the different ways to monetize your channel, how to become a money-making YouTuber, and more.
Table of Contents:
4 Reasons Why You Can Still Make Money On YouTube
YouTube is a great way to make money online and connect with an audience.
Here are some of the best reasons you can still make money on YouTube.
YouTube Is Still Growing
As strange as that may seem, considering it’s the second-largest social network and search engine in the world. YouTube is still growing and still has plenty of room to grow as more regions worldwide are introduced to faster internet connections and lower barriers to entry to consuming YouTube content.
The platform is a great place to learn as well as to consume entertainment; these two factors help it stay one of the most popular websites in the world and help it to reach new people every day.
YouTube has grown to over 2.6 billion monthly active users with no sign of growth slowing down anytime soon.
Video Builds Trust
You can still make money on YouTube because video content is the best way to build trust with viewers. Unlike written content or imagery, video is a unique way to show authenticity to viewers, which builds trust.
The only way to build more trust would be to meet people individually, which isn’t possible to scale.
Still, YouTube makes this sort of interaction with thousands of people possible (sometimes even millions) through live streaming.
Video is a great way to build trust, but there is nothing more authentic than seeing a creator interact live with their audience when things aren’t entirely planned out, and you can see the real personality.
You don’t need to live stream on YouTube, but it is generally an effective way to build trust and authenticity with your audience faster than you would through just your videos.
YouTube Is a Search Engine And Social Network
Unlike almost all of its competitors, YouTube is not just a social network or a search engine. It’s both, and with some channels, you could consider it a community, group, or forum.
As people come to YouTube for multiple reasons, whether to consume entertaining videos, to learn something they hadn’t known about, or to search for a solution to their problem, YouTube has multiple ways of expanding and continuing to grow.
This means that you, as a YouTuber, have multiple opportunities to reach new audiences, be it through live streaming, search engine optimization, being suggested on YouTube, or building a loyal following.
No Barriers To Entry
You only need a smartphone and an internet connection to get started on YouTube.
If you have more, great, but you can create high-quality videos that provide value to an audience simply with the smartphone in your pocket.
As there are little to no barriers to entry to get started on YouTube, new creators sharing their experiences, their knowledge, and their humor all have an opportunity to earn an income with the platform and reach people around the world.
You do not need to pay a cent to start a YouTube channel.
How Much Money YouTubers Really Make
If you’re looking to start a YouTube channel, then it’s essential to know how much YouTubers really earn to make an educated decision.
Most YouTubers don’t earn anything; in fact, over 84% of all YouTube channels have less than 1,000 subscribers, which is a minimum threshold to monetize your channel with YouTube ads.
There are a number of reasons why YouTubers do not succeed, but the most common is YouTubers give up too soon, expecting near-immediate results.
Growing a YouTube channel takes time, and most who start want to get rich or famous overnight.
For the YouTubers that do put in the work and stick it through, let’s take a look at how much they make.
How Much Do YouTubers Earn Per 1000 Views?
On average, YouTubers earn around $5 per 1000 views from YouTube ads.
This number can go up or down depending on the niche you’re in, where your audience is based, the length of your videos, what type of ads you have selected for your channel, etc.
Most YouTubers have other sources of income from their videos, but the most common is affiliate links.
On average, YouTubers that optimize their videos well for affiliate marketing can earn at least an additional $5 per 1000 views.
Again though, this can go up or down depending on the video niche, audience, types of affiliate products, etc.
YouTubers generally earn, on average, $10 per 1000 views from their various monetization methods.
But I’m sure you want to see some examples.
Here’s a comprehensive guide on how many views it takes to make money on YouTube and how much YouTubers really made.
Or, you can check out a shorter version in the table below.
YouTuber Salaries For Channels Of Differing Sizes
|Vanessa Lau||670k Subscribers||$2,818,439.02|
|Roberto Blake||575k Subscribers||$200,000.00|
|Shop Nation||224k Subscribers||$115,960|
|Catherine Manning||488k Subscribers||$222,967.77|
Different Ways To Make Money On YouTube
There are several different ways to make money on YouTube, and you’re generally only restricted to your imagination, but these are some of the best ways to make money on YouTube.
Ads on your YouTube channel are the most common way to monetize your channel and also the easiest.
All you need to do is grow your channel to a point where you can apply for the YouTube Partner Program.
You need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months to apply.
Alternatively, you can apply for monetization with 1,000 subscribers and 10 million public shorts views in the last 90 days.
You don’t need both!
This is fairly easy to achieve if you have the determination and patience to see it through.
YouTube Ads are the easiest way to monetize your channel as once you’ve been accepted and linked to your Google Adsense account, all you need to do is turn ads on, and YouTube will take care of the rest.
You can then tweak settings manually for your videos to maximize your revenue, but even if you do not, you will still start earning an income from your YouTube channel.
With YouTube Ads, generally, the more views you receive, the more you will earn, but some videos can generate more revenue than others based on the specific videos, how long people watch, what type of ads are played, who watches the video, etc.
If you have a largely American audience and your videos are longer than 8 minutes, you’ll generally earn more per view than someone with an audience based in Asia that has videos 5 minutes in length.
This is because US audiences are the most valuable to advertisers, so they pay more for ads to those demographics, and videos longer than 8 minutes can have mid-roll ads that play during the video, which can increase your revenue per view (more ads, more engaging, etc.).
Sponsors are a great way to monetize your videos, as you know exactly how much you are getting for a video unless you agree on a payment structure that is tied to the number of views your video receives.
Some of the pros of a fixed fee for a video are that you get that amount even if the video doesn’t perform as well as you had hoped, and you can plan with that money in your account. This is very useful if you are doing YouTube full-time.
The pros of agreeing on a fee based on how a video performs are that you can earn a lot more for that video if it does well and performs better than most videos you have on your channel. You can also build a positive relationship with a sponsor more quickly if that video performs well.
Regardless of which method you prefer, or your sponsors prefer, sponsorships (or brand deals) are a great way to make money on YouTube while introducing your audience to products or services you use and enjoy.
If you cover a specific topic on your channel, you can look for brands within that niche, ones you probably use, and approach them with an offer.
Even if you have a small channel, as a micro-influencer, that brand may still want to partner with you because your viewers will probably be more engaged with your content than with larger channels, and you won’t cost as much.
Basically, they can get more bang for their buck, so you shouldn’t shy away from sponsorships just because your channel only has 3,000 subscribers.
The second most accessible way to make money with your YouTube channel is through affiliate marketing.
This is where you recommend products you use and trust your viewers through links in a video card, the description, or a pinned comment.
The most common affiliate program used is Amazon, as there is such a wide variety of products available, and most people are aware of and already trust buying a product through Amazon (which increases your conversion rates).
You can also earn commissions on other products people buy, even if they don’t buy the product you recommended in your video.
There are millions of other affiliate programs, and many of your favorite brands probably have one; the easiest way to find one is to look for “affiliates” in the website’s footer or just type in the brand name along with “affiliate program” into Google.
This method of monetizing your channel is excellent because you can start doing it immediately by linking to products you use in your video description, even if you have 0 subscribers.
And it’s completely free, although some programs may require you to have a small following or viewers already.
An important thing to know about Amazon’s associate’s program (their affiliate program) is that you need to make at least three sales from your links within the first six months after signing up.
If you don’t, then you will have to sign up again and change all of your links, so instead, first start creating videos and getting some views to your channel before you sign up to make sure you can get those sales within that time frame.
If you offer a service that’s closely related to your channel niche, you can do very well by mentioning your related services in your video and linking to a page where people can contact or book you.
This can be a great way to earn more when your channel is still small, but you will be trading your time for money, which is one of the negatives for services against some of the other monetization methods mentioned here.
If you’re one more of the creative side, creating merchandise (T-shirts, cups, etc.) and selling it through your YouTube channel can also be a great way to monetize your channel.
A cool thing about selling merchandise is that you can basically create the designs and then forget about it when you use on-demand services like Spring, Printful, Spreadshop, Teemill, etc.
These services generally don’t charge you to list your merchandise or set up a shop, but instead, they take a cut of the sale. For this, they manufacture the products, send them to the customer and host your online merchandise store. You generally keep around 50% of the sale price, but these prices can also be set. The more product you sell can often also land you a large cut.
If you’re not the most creative, you can still find graphic designers on Fiverr, UpWork, 99Designs, etc., that can create great designs that you can then sell on your merchandise.
Selling Your YouTube channel
Another way you can make money on YouTube that is hardly ever spoken about is to sell your YouTube channel.
This is quite drastic, and to get the most money for your YouTube channel, you do generally need to be generating some income from it in the first place.
But if you can get your channel to a point where it makes some money, even if it is only $50, you can sell it for approximately 36x what it generates monthly revenue.
So that $50/month channel could bring you $1,800 if you decide to sell it and move on to other things.
Now there are many different things that affect a YouTube channel’s valuation and how you can get the most out of selling your channel, but if you really want to, you can sell your channel.
And these are just a few ways for you to monetize your YouTube channel, there are other ways to make money on YouTube, but these are the best.
How To Make Money on YouTube
To make money on YouTube, there are some things you need to do to escalate your income.
There are no quick tricks or hacks to make money on YouTube; you only need to implement these five things.
1. Create Videos For a Specific Audience
Creating videos for a specific audience is about getting a better idea of who is watching your videos. This makes it easier for you to create videos that speak specifically to their needs. When you create videos for a specific audience, you are also making yourself more valuable to brands and sponsors who may want to work with you if your audience fits their target market.
In marketing, this is called creating personas. To create a persona for your YouTube channel, you should consider who is watching your videos.
If you have an established channel, you can look at your analytics and demographics and use that to get started. If you are starting a new YouTube channel, who are the people interested in your specific niche, and what set of people within that niche do you want to talk to?
For example, if I were starting a YouTube channel on cooking, my interests would probably lead me into making quick recipes that can be made in under 30 minutes. Possibly flamboyantly.
The specific audience I would be speaking to is those interested in that type of content, most likely, single parents. But that is not yet a persona; we need to be specific to speak directly to their needs.
So for my example, One persona could be Mary, a 25-35-year-old mother of 2 in the United States, earning around $3k per month as an assistant manager at an eco-friendly clothing store. We can build this out even more, but this is fine.
What I can gather from this example is that;
- Mary does not have much time in the evening, so 30 min or less should be good.
- She has a limited budget, so that means I might stay away from lobster recipes.
- She has kids, so kid-friendly meals would be ideal.
- She is probably health-conscious considering the workplace, which should be reflected in the food.
- She’s based in the USA, so I should refer to specific brands, stores, etc., that she can visit, but we can also build ideas out based on events and occasions that may be happening in the country.
Now you can build this out as far as you need to, but I recommend making at least two personas for your channel, preferably 3 or 4, and then giving them at least five attributes so you can fully understand what they need and want.
Start by looking for the general makeup of the sub-niche you’re targeting; some actual data should always back personas.
2. Show Products You Review In Action
To maximize your affiliate commissions, generally, showing always beats telling. If people can see you using products in your videos, they will be far more inclined to click your link and check them out.
If it is a popular product, you can also test products from different angles than what everyone else is doing. This can help set you apart as viewers get something different than just a repeat of what a much larger YouTuber said.
Use products and show them in use; when people can see the results for themselves, they will be far more inclined to buy the product if the result you showed matches their expectations.
Whenever I make a large purchase, I look for information about various options.
Once I think one item is the best option, I look at videos of the item in action to either confirm my assumptions or to prove them wrong, in which case I will look for something else (or check out a different recommendation if the creator has a better suggestion).
Most people do this or something similar to this.
If you can get your video to appear in their search just before the buying phase, with a link to the product, or a recommendation of something genuinely better, you can make a lot more with affiliate marketing and specific products.
By the way, you don’t have to do reviews to do this.
It can work just as well by doing tutorials, testing gear, and sharing the resources you use in your videos (I.e. the mixer you use for cooking, etc.).
3. Stay Consistent
If you are serious about making money on YouTube, you should be consistent with your videos.
This does not only mean uploading regularly; it also means you should be consistent with the type and focus of your videos.
Consistency builds an audience.
Your channel can grow exponentially when you’re consistent, as most of your subscribers and viewers will be interested in each video you upload, improving CTR.
By having a good CTR and audience retention (because you create good content), your channel will also be suggested to people interested in your content.
Being consistent, especially when starting, will also help YouTube’s algorithm know what your content is about and to whom it should show.
4. Create More Content
This one may seem obvious, but it is something that so many people overlook.
By creating more content, you are:
- Creating more opportunities for viewers to find you.
- Increasing the number of videos on your channel means you have more videos that can generate income for you on YouTube.
- You’re learning and improving.
- You’re establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.
- Increasing the likelihood of your channel growing exponentially.
Generally speaking, if you have less than 100 videos on your channel, then you haven’t created enough content yet and should keep at it and keep improving.
5. Be Passionate About Your Topic
Enthusiasm is contagious; your audience can feel it when you’re passionate about the topics you cover in your videos.
Being passionate also means you are more interested in the things you cover in your videos than the average person.
So you don’t lose interest by going into more detail (maybe on the research part, in a video, going into too much detail could deter viewers, but this depends on the creator, topic, and audience).
Your enthusiasm for the topic also carries you through the hard times and the late nights you’re trying to get a video out.
Which is something you only really appreciate when you start a project without it being something you are interested in right now.
Why Become a YouTuber
- Can establish yourself as an expert/authority quickly
- Videos can generate income for months and years to come
- Build an active community
- Work from anywhere in the world
- Help solve people’s problems
- You can earn a great income
- You can work with your favorite brands and creators
How To Become a Successful YouTuber
Being a successful YouTuber and earning a good income requires a strong commitment to your craft, an understanding of the platform and its capabilities, and a willingness to put in the hard work necessary to make it happen.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to make it work.
1. Find a Niche You Have An Interest In
The first step to becoming a money-making YouTuber is deciding what you want to make your YouTube channel about.
What interests you, and can you talk about passionately to inform or entertain your future audience?
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert; even if you learn as you go, many will be interested in learning alongside you.
You can even make money playing Minecraft on YouTube.
2. Create 2-4 Personas Of Your Ideal Viewer
Once you’ve decided on a topic for your channel, it’s time to continue planning. The next stage is to map out who your audience is. Here you should make 2-4 personas of your ideal viewer.
Be as specific as possible while basing your information on actual data.
You can find data to create personas by looking for people’s interests in specific regions using Facebook Ads (you don’t need to run any ads, just get to the demographics, and you can see how many people in a region are interested in certain things).
You can also use Facebook groups, forums, census information, etc. If you have an existing channel, you can always look at your channel demographics and the demographics of specific videos that have performed above average for your channel.
3. Do Keyword And Video Research In Your Niche
Once you know your audience, you can create videos to solve their problems, provide helpful tips, or entertain them.
In the keyword and video research phase, you want to look for specific phrases, topics, and terms that do well within your niche.
Right now, you’re not worrying too much about competition, but you’re mining all available opportunities to follow up later.
There are tons of great free YouTube SEO tools that you can use to find great keywords and keyword ideas.
4. Create a YouTube Video Hit List
Step 4 to becoming a money-making YouTuber involves taking the keyword and video research you’ve already done and narrowing it down (or expanding upon) to formulate a list of videos called your hit list.
First, you want to focus on finding video ideas that a). People are looking for, and b). You can rank for. This is so that you can optimize the video for search intent, i.e. what people are looking for.
As a new YouTuber, you have little to no chance to rank for a competitive term like “Chicken curry recipe,” but you can rank for something long-tail.
This just means it’s more specific, so it may be too small for large channels, but it’s big enough to help build your channel’s momentum, and you could also rank for related terms if it does well.
Building on the previous example of chicken curry, a long-tail keyword if you’re in that niche could be “How to make a chicken curry from scratch.”
To find long-tail keywords and to help with your video optimization, you can install the free TubeBuddy browser extension.
It provides valuable information that can help you find video ideas to rank for and optimize your videos effectively, as well as tons of other valuable features (read my TubeBuddy review here).
Once you have a good number of search intent video ideas, you can look for videos that focus on what I like to call “suggestion intent.”
Whereas the search intent videos are intended to rank and appear in search results, suggestion intent videos are intended to spread through the suggested features on YouTube.
These are the two pillars of channel growth; search brings in a steady flow of viewers, while suggestion-based content doubles down on the current audience to grow exponentially.
Suggestion intent videos are designed to catch people’s attention and usually aren’t terms people would search for. Things like:
- X things you didn’t know about Y
- X Mistakes YOU are making with XYZ
- Why X is WRONG about Y
- The easiest way to make X in/at/with Y
These are just some examples, but when someone reads something like that within their niche, they are inclined to click to see if they’re making those mistakes, what they don’t know about Y, Why is X wrong about Y, etc.
These must be within your niche, and you must deliver on your promise. That doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel, though.
For example, “6 mistakes you’re making with your drone” could be six simple things.
Like charging incorrectly, transporting them incorrectly, not having the right paperwork, using the wrong memory cards, flying at the wrong time, etc.
Most of your viewers won’t be professional drone pilots; they will be people just getting into it and looking to improve, so at least one of those tips would be something they wouldn’t know.
5. Find Affiliate Programs And Research To Best Monetize Your Channel
The next step is still doing research. Here you are looking for a few affiliate programs that you can promote in your video descriptions and potentially in videos.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to affiliate programs; you can also look at other ways to monetize your channel.
The easiest way to do this is to look at how similar channels in your niche monetize their channels. This can also be an easy way to find affiliate programs within your topic of interest.
And as a fallback, you can always use Amazon’s associate program.
It’s best to apply to Amazon’s affiliate program once you’ve gotten at least ten videos on your channel. Once you apply, you have six months to generate at least three sales through your links.
If you add these before you even start uploading, you’re unnecessarily reducing your time limit.
An exception to this will be if you see a video starting to generate 200+ views and its very buyer intent. Then you can join the program, and you should be able to generate those sales in the time frame.
6. Create a YouTube Channel
Finally, it’s time actually to start creating content on YouTube.
The first step in doing that is to create your YouTube channel.
Once it’s set up, we can move on to the next step to becoming a money-making YouTuber.
7. Plan Your First Video
Once you’ve set up your channel, it’s time to work on creating your first video.
Take an idea from your hit list to get started; ideally, something with search intent.
Ideally, your first 30 or so videos would be a mix of 3:1 “search intent” and “suggestion intent” content.
Depending on the type of videos you want, planning can be anything from creating a set, location hunting, etc., to just planning a script or making bullet points of what you want to cover in a video.
You should use some form of video outline before you film; this will help you stay on topic and ensure you cover everything when you press the record button.
Recording again can be a pain because you forgot or left something out.
8. Record And Edit Your First Video
Once you have everything planned, it’s time to record your first video.
Don’t worry about making it perfect; no one has a perfect first video. It’s a part of learning, and I think it shares some authenticity with your viewers about your journey.
Once you’ve recorded/filmed your video, you can use a free tool to cut and edit it or video editing software like Premiere Pro or Final Cut.
My best tip for video editing when you’re getting started is that less is often more. You may want to throw every single transition and effect you want into every scene, but simple cuts after are often the best.
Again though, this is something you learn through doing, and you will get better and faster as you create more content.
9. Upload And Optimize Your Video
Once your video has been edited and exported, it’s time to upload it to your YouTube channel.
When optimizing your video, here are a few things you want to make sure you have included:
- Long-tail keyword in the title.
- Long-tail keyword in the description in a natural sentence, with at least 150-300 words about what the video is about.
- The keyword is said early in the video (if it contains dialogue).
- Check the subtitles with your keyword are correct.
- Custom eye-catching thumbnail.
- Similar videos/playlists are linked in the description.
- Subscribe to the channel CTA in your description.
- CTA is in the comments, pinned to the top.
- All 500 characters of the meta tags contain relevant keywords (long-tail and similar).
- Added to 1-2 playlists
- Uploaded when your audience is most active (For your first video, upload it around 6 PM local time for whatever audience you are targeting).
10. Create And Upload Your Next Ten Videos
After uploading your first video, it’s time to keep creating content. You should have a hit list with a ton of video ideas, so this stage is just you pumping out some great content that solves a problem for your potential viewer.
Regarding search intent and suggestion intent videos, around eight should be made intentionally for search intent, with the remaining two focused on appearing in the suggested areas on YouTube.
11. Apply To Affiliate Programs And Include Them In Videos
Once you have some videos uploaded to your channel, it’s time to apply to the affiliate programs you researched and found in step 6.
You may not get accepted into all of them immediately, but for the ones that you are accepted into, you can start including links within your video descriptions.
I recommend having a maximum 1:1 ratio of external and internal links in your descriptions.
That means if you have three affiliate links, you should have at least three links in your description to other YouTube videos, playlists, etc.
Additionally, you do not need to shorten these affiliate links, as YouTube will automatically cut them off in the description (the full link is still there, it’s just not fully visible, making your descriptions more readable).
12. Create And Upload Another 20 Videos
To continue your channel growth, it’s important to keep uploading more videos.
Once you have around 30 videos on your channel, which would ideally take around 3-6 months to upload, you can take a look at your analytics and should be able to draw some meaningful data.
This is why it’s important to upload at least 30 videos (or even more if you can without your quality suffering too much).
If you only have 14 videos, one or two could do well, but the data you can draw can’t help you establish meaningful conclusions on what you should do to replicate that success.
This brings us to the last step.
13. Look At What Has Performed Well And Replicate
Now that you have a decent dataset of videos, you can see what type of videos people are interested in, narrow down your personas even more, and replicate content that has done well or expand upon a specific subtopic in your niche that is outperforming other areas.
Double down on what is working to grow your channel faster; the same can be said for your monetization methods.
If you have one particular affiliate program that is doing well, display it more prominently in your descriptions, create more suitable content, and so on.
Keep going. Reaching your goals can be just one video away.
How Many Views Do You Need On YouTube To Make Money?
Most channels earn between $4 and $15 per 1000 views, and YouTube requires you to earn at least $100 before they pay you. That means that if you have a channel that makes $10 per 1000 views, it would require 10,000 views for you to get paid by YouTube once you’re in the YouTube Partner Program.
Do Old YouTube Videos Still Make Money?
Yes, old YouTube videos can still make money. If you are in the YouTube partner program and have ads running on the video, it can generate income for you for months and years into the future.
If you aren’t in the partner program but are monetizing the video via another method, like affiliate marketing, the older YouTube video can continue to make you money into the future.
Can You Make a Living On YouTube?
Yes, you can. It’s not easy, and it will take time before you can generate enough, but you can make a living as a YouTuber. For example, if your monthly salary is $3,000, and you have an average RPM of $10, you will need 300,000 views per month to replace your regular salary.
Is It Easy To Make Money On YouTube?
It is not easy initially, but it can be once you have experience. It takes determination, patience, a willingness to learn, creativity, and planning to succeed on YouTube. You also need to have thick skin or not care about what others comment, as there will always be people that leave negative comments because they are dissatisfied with whatever they’re doing.