As YouTube continues to grow and new people join the network, the opportunities to make money, earn a side income, or even a good living, off of YouTube are also on the rise.
To take advantage of this growth, in this article we’re covering how to make money on YouTube, the 9 best ways so that you can get to your goals faster.
There are no minimum subscriber requirements (apart from YouTube Ads of course) and some of these methods can bring in thousands of dollars without having millions of views.
And yes, even today, you can still make money on YouTube.
First off, you’re probably still wondering, how do YouTubers make their money? Before we get to that, you need to know this:
The best way to monetize a YouTube channel is to diversify your income sources.
This means utilizing more than just one of these ways to earn money on YouTube. This provides you with security if one channel stops generating revenue as you’ll still have the remaining income streams to fall back on while you grow your channel (this is also why #7 is so important).
If you can, utilize as many of these channels as possible to maximize your YouTube income while at the same time providing you the security of different revenue sources.
Now let’s get to the good stuff, this is how to make money on YouTube.
How to make money on YouTube
1. Earn on YouTube by joining the YPP
YouTube’s Partner Program is still one of the most common ways to earn money on YouTube. In recent years, however, YouTube has introduced changes that mean you need to have a minimum number of subscribers (1000) and watch time (4000hours/year) in order to activate ads on your channel.
Whilst these numbers are hardly insurmountable, it can be demotivating working towards something without seeing any reward in the process. This has caused many creators to give up on their YouTube channels prematurely.
I consider this a mistake, however, as YouTube Ads is one of the least effective monetization methods available. The return for many channels is generally between $4-15 per 1000 views, whereas most of the other options I mention here can exceed that greatly.
Why include this then? Well, it’s the most common method that people assume when considering YouTube monetization for their channel, and often they can be fooled into thinking it’s the only method. It isn’t.
I did mention diversifying your revenue streams though, and every buck counts, so how can you maximize your revenue with the YouTube Partner Program? (assuming your account has passed the thresholds mentioned earlier)
- Make your content more family-friendly, I.e. less swearing, less provocation, etc.
- Target high-value keywords for better ads (Use Google AdWords for free).
- Avoid copyrighted music.
- Add mid-roll ads, but don’t overdo it.
2. Sell Merchandise through YouTube
It seems like every YouTuber and their dog has merch. And this is no accident, with the emergence of affordable custom merchandising sites like Teespring, it’s never been easier to create and sell a T-Shirt.
It’s as simple as typing out your channel name, adding your price, and then copying the web address into your YouTube video description.
Some more time and design can go a long way, however, but even the simplest of designs can resonate well with your audience and prove a hit.
There are a number of different merchandising/clothing platforms you can use and they all largely function the same.
You design and post an article of clothing, share it with your audience (or it can be viewed on the merch platform itself), an interested viewer clicks over and purchases an article, and every couple of days the merchandising company will do bulk manufacturing of all of your orders and then ship them directly to your new customers (they usually ship once or twice a week).
Once you reach 10,000 subscribers on YouTube, you can activate the merchandise shelf in your video description.
This will showcase your Teespring merch directly on YouTube (if you’re using Spring as your merch provider).
3. Earn on YouTube by selling your own products
Merch falls under products as well, but it’s such a popular topic that it deserved its own category.
Selling your own products on YouTube is something that people often get overwhelmed by the idea alone. You are merely an online presence and now you’re potentially going to have to ship products all over the world.
Relax, as showcased by selling merch, you can easily sell a wide variety of products to your viewers through the internet.
These are called digital products and can be something as simple as an eBook to something a lot more complicated like any software you’ve programmed yourself to solve a problem within your community.
A good example of a popular digital product often showcased on YouTube (and Instagram) is Photo presets and video LUTs.
These products allow viewers to get similar color and tone effects on their photos and videos as showcased by the sellers. Once the creator has uploaded the presets to an online marketplace and advertised the products on their channel, their work is done (they could also create a video showcasing how to use the presets, but this usually doubles as a way to advertise the presets on YouTube for free).
Now digital products can range vastly and depend on your audience, they can be remarkably simple for you to create. Share value your audience is looking for and you’ll find a successful product.
That’s digital products, in a nutshell, they’re great as once you’re done with the work upfront, everything is taken over by file-sharing/marketplace services.
This is where we can get to physical products. These can also be a great way to make money on YouTube.
A simple example would be photographers on YouTube. Often photographers will have physical limited-edition prints that they sell via an online store to viewers. Once printed, they’ll sign, package and ship the prints off to their eagerly awaiting customers.
Another could be the merch platforms that fulfill the orders for you. I.e. once you’ve got a viewer to make a purchase, the manufacturer will ship directly to your customer without you having to handle the goods.
4. Advertise your services through your YouTube Channel
Services present a great upside that you can often charge a premium fee for your time. The downside is that you’re trading your hours for income and you only have so many hours in a day.
This can be great to increase your income to a full-time salary, however, scaling up will plateau as you cannot increase your max working hours and the fee you charge will eventually have to reach a limit.
This is not to say you shouldn’t offer services, they can be a great source of income, but it’s just some things for you to take into consideration. Another benefit of services is that they can often be the fastest way of earning a full-time income as you’re trading your skills and time for near immediate remuneration.
Some examples of services that YouTubers charge can be teaching; like consultations, one-on-one classes, workshops, etc. Others can be more practical, like wedding photography, video editing, etc.
5. Make money on YouTube with Affiliate marketing
One of the most popular (yet most often misunderstood) methods of earning an income with a YouTube channel is affiliate marketing.
If you think of affiliate marketing and YouTube, what comes to mind?
That’s right, Amazon.
What people often don’t realize is that linking products from Amazon is not the ONLY way you can make money with affiliate marketing. (Amazon is great though, don’t get me wrong…)
I often hear that people can’t find products to link to on Amazon for their niche so they can’t do affiliate marketing. So, I ask what other affiliates have they looked into and the most popular answer is that they haven’t looked at any others.
Affiliate marketing is so broad, you can become an affiliate for almost any company these days and earn much higher commissions than you would on Amazon. Courses, services, tours, hotels, flights, etc. Some affiliates can offer up to 50% commissions, which means that if someone buys a product for $100, you get $50 just for finding them.
Most affiliates in the service and course niche offer 20-40% commissions, which is still massive compared to Amazon’s 3% average commission.
Branch out and look at services in your niche, better yet, what services do you use, and do they have an affiliate service? Only recommend products you know and would recommend even if you weren’t receiving any incentives.
Pro Tip: Type the company name you’re looking for, followed by the word ‘Affiliate’ into Google. This will bring up the page results and if the company has an affiliate program, the link should be one of the first to appear.
6. Earn on YouTube by creating a course
Is there something you excel in and talk about in a teaching manner on your YouTube channel? You could quite likely turn that into an interesting online course and advertise it directly on your YouTube channel.
Courses are a great way to monetize your channel as, apart from the occasional update, they’re very much a passive form of income once you’ve created them. All you need to do is increase the number of viewers to your channel, or increase the conversion rate of your course, to increase your income.
There are a number of ways to host an online course, but my (and many others) favorite is Teachable. You can create custom landing pages, upload videos, downloadable documents, quizzes, set your pricing and they even offer a free tier to get you started.
When it comes to courses, you can create just about anything. From beginner photography, vegan cooking, and how to create an iOS app all the way to really niche-specific things like how to raise goats and how to grow succulents.
P.s. Those are all real examples and make thousands per month for their creators.
7. Drive traffic to your website/blog and make money
When it comes to advertising, Ads on YouTube are not the only way to go about it.
Another way, which can be even better, is through advertising on your own website or blog.
This is something we may start to see a lot more of, especially as the YouTube ads become increasingly restricted. Advertising on your own website has the benefit that you own the platform where the ads are being displayed.
You can do advertising on your own website through Google AdSense or a similar ad provider. Once you reach 10,000+ page views, I do recommend switching to a premium ad network like MediaVine (50,000 sessions required) for example. With a premium ad network, you’ll be able to get a higher rate of return per 1000 views. For example, with Google AdSense, you could make between $2-5 per 1000 page visits, whereas, with Mediavine, you could make between $10-40 per 1000 page visits.
Which is a massive increase compared to standard YouTube Ads.
One thing you will need is a website, and for this, I use and recommend Bluehost. The WordPress install and setup process is one click and although normally costing $7.99 per month, you can get started with Bluehost from just $2.95/month with this link. That includes a free domain name (which normally would cost around $15), custom email addresses, and even daily backups of your site for no additional costs.
Have a look at my detailed guide to starting a blog to help you get started.
One of the best ways to get YouTube viewers to your new website is to incentivize their visits. This means that you should give them a reason to want to visit your site. This could mean that you provide half of the value on YouTube and then leave a link in the video description (and first comment) for the remaining value on your website. That additional value could be more detail, downloadable guides, walkthroughs, more videos on your website, etc.
8. Make money on YouTube with sponsored posts
Sponsored posts are another popular way to make money on YouTube. Depending on the size and specificity of your audience, brands and businesses may be willing to offer you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for you to advertise their business in one of your videos.
You’ve probably seen a video sponsored by Squarespace. That’s pretty much the template for a sponsored post.
You’ll mention that the video is sponsored somewhere towards the beginning and then somewhere in the middle you’ll talk about the company for a minute or two and explain to your audience why you recommend them. (You should never advertise businesses you are not comfortable with recommending)
One drawback here is that in order to make good money with sponsored posts, you generally need a good-sized audience first (5000+ subscribers). This may not always be the case, especially if you’re in a very specific niche with an ideal audience for a particular business, but more often than not, you’ll need at least a few thousand subscribers before you see good revenues with Sponsored posts.
Some of the most subscribed to YouTubers even receive hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single sponsored video.
9. Earn on YouTube with Donations and Patreon
Lastly, we have Patreon and other donation services (incl. YouTube Superchat and channel memberships).
The benefit of using Patreon (or a similar service) is that you, the creator, can have a relatively steady income stream thanks to your patrons donating a monthly fee. Two other benefits are that you can hide content behind a paywall, meaning that only patrons can view your content on Patreon, and you can set up different donation tiers. This can allow you to offer premium content to higher-paying patrons and you can give back in a way that they will appreciate.
For some creators that may have difficulty monetizing in the other methods mentioned above, allowing your dedicated viewers the opportunity to support you via Patreon or another similar service is a good way to supplement your income and allow you to create more videos/projects in the future.
Final thoughts on how to make money on YouTube
As you can see, there are many different ways for you to monetize your YouTube channel.
We’ve covered 9 of the best ways to make money on YouTube, all of which are methods that creators are currently using to generate an income and monetize their channels.
The beauty of some of these methods is that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of views per month to start seeing hundreds, or even thousands of dollars coming into your bank account every month.
What you do need to do though, is diversify, if one income stream stops, you don’t want to be left out in the cold.
If you’ve found yourself asking, how can I make money on YouTube? I hope this article has answered that question for you thoroughly.