If you want to know how to start a YouTube channel and make money, then you’ve come to the right place. First though, how about some context as to how quickly YouTube and video content is expanding on the internet.
As a guy that spent his teenage years on a farm in Namibia, in 2009 if you told me that regular people like you or I could actually make serious money by posting videos on the internet, I’d probably chuff in your face (if I was feeling extra abrasive that morning) or ask you what you’ve been smoking.
10 years later and I’m not only making money with digital marketing, but I’m also teaching others how to do so as well.
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Why does YouTube matter?
YouTube alone has over 1.9 billion users every month, and that’s only counting users who are logged into their Google accounts. Every day there are more than a billion hours of video watched and 96% of young adults in America use YouTube. It’s not just the youngsters though, over half of the much older generation (75+) even uses it.
It’s not just America though, YouTube has a local version in over 90 countries and can be used in 80 different languages. In fact, whilst Americans may be the largest users of YouTube, they only make up 15.8% of the total users.
What does all this mean? Well, it means you have an audience. There are thousands, hundreds of thousands, probably even millions of people out there that will have an interest in the content that you make.
So, throw those doubts out the window, they won’t help you make any money.
Speaking of money, let’s look at what you can make as a YouTuber.
How much money do YouTubers make?
Great question and thanks for asking.
Contrary to popular belief, more views on YouTube do not necessarily mean more money.
Why is this? Well, it all comes down to how a YouTube channel is monetized. If you’re only running ads on your YouTube channel and your competitor gets slightly fewer views but they’re also monetizing in different ways, like by selling merch, odds are, they’re going to be making much more than you are. It’s not just about diversifying your income though, even your income with ads can range massively, but more on all of this later.
Let’s talk about some real YouTube incomes.
According to Business Insider, these are the top 5 best-paid YouTubers of last year:
- Ryan’s Toys Review – $22 million
- Jake Paul – $21,5 million
- Dude Perfect – $20 million
- DanTDM – $18 million
- Jeffree Star – $18 million
These are of course the very top end of YouTubers and you can’t expect to be right up here right at the get-go (but one day you can, everyone needs to start somewhere). At number one is Ryan’s Toys Review, this channel is hosted by a 7-year-old and was only started in 2015 by his parents. Now he’s gathered around 30 million subscribers and is one of the most influential people in the world of children’s toys… Did I mention that he’s only 9?!
As for how much money you can make as a YouTuber with only a few thousand subscribers. Let’s say 10,000 for the sake of this example, you can earn upwards of $2000 per month, and depending on how you monetize your channel, it can even go beyond 6 figures a year.
I actually did a study of a number of different-sized YouTube channels to see how much they make, with some channels earning as little as $0.30 per 1000 views, whereas others were making over $34 per 1000 views, and that’s only from YouTube Ads! You can check out the full study and findings here.
Now that we’ve looked at why you should start a YouTube channel and how much money you can make on YouTube, let’s get into the meat of this article and look at 9 things to know to help you get started on YouTube.
How To Run a Successful YouTube Channel
1. Niche down
I’m going to get the obvious one out of the way right away, you need to niche down.
This means finding a branch or topic and creating videos for that specific audience. If you’re passionate about house plants, make videos about plant care, DIY house planters, house plant ideas, tips, lighting, etc.
There are over 1.7 million searches on YouTube for house plants, if that’s your thing, you can be the top YouTuber that people watch and come to for advice.
What niching down really gives you is a base to work from. You have related videos for YouTube to help gauge your content, you will get viewers that are interested in more of your content (than say if you made videos on everything under the sun) and your subscribers will be more interested in new videos.
All of which is important when we consider the next factor.
2. Learn YouTube SEO
YouTube is a unique platform; it’s a little bit social, very visual, and very much a search engine. Not everything is started through search, but Search Engine Optimization will help your videos get shown in just about every possible place on the platform.
By optimizing your YouTube videos for search, they’ll be seen by more people in search results, on their recommended feeds, in the next videos section, and even in Google search results.
Find out more about YouTube SEO here.
3. Find your keywords
Remember when I wrote that there are over 1.7 million YouTube searches for house plants every month? This is a keyword and if you were in the indoor plant niche, it would be quite an important keyword.
To have your videos appearing higher and to implement the good SEO techniques I touched on in the previous point, you need to find keywords that people are searching for.
When you’re starting out, longer keyphrases (longtail keywords) will be easier to rank for and can help you build momentum, and then you’ll be able to start ranking for some of the more popular terms and keywords.
This is where TubeBuddy comes in handy.
This is a free extension that you can use to see the ranking of search terms, find related search terms, see where a video ranks for keywords, and much more… And that’s only on the free plan, the very affordable paid plans offer even more powerful features to help you get your videos seen.
Find out more about TubeBuddy here.
4. Be consistent
Every social media currently has some weight added to users’ consistency. YouTube is no different and consistency is IMO the greatest factor to being successful on the platform (whilst implementing the rest of these tips effectively of course).
Consistency not only helps your ranking within YouTube, but it will also keep your viewers coming back for more. You’ll gain more subscribers as they know when to expect new videos and you’ve shown to have a consistent presentation or niche that they are interested in following.
Consistency also means you’ll be making more money as your reach increases.
5. Look at your analytics
There are so many useful things you can gather by paying attention to your analytics.
Two things can be of particular use when you’re starting a YouTube channel and will be useful throughout your YouTube career.
What time your viewers are most active.
This little insight is important as it lets you know what the best time would be to upload your videos (YouTube scheduling means you can even make your videos go live in the middle of the night whilst you’re fast asleep).
This feature is useful as YouTube pays particular attention to how well your video does in the first few hours and the CTR of users. The more clickthrough, the more YouTube will push your content to other users.
When users leave your video.
Now, the first tip helps you get seen by more people without you actually having to do any additional work, this next tip is a little bit more finicky, however.
By knowing when viewers are leaving your videos, you can analyze your videos to determine what the cause may be and fix it. Maybe you’re rambling, maybe they don’t like the extended B-roll (you don’t need 80% B-roll on YouTube 😉), maybe your videos are too long-winded, etc.
Use the analytics to find the problem and then fix it.
Experimentation is another important part of your YouTube growth. As I mentioned in the last point, once you’ve found a problem, you may not be certain of whether or not it is the exact culprit, so this is where experimentation comes in.
Remember to track your results or use your analytics as you won’t know whether an experiment has been successful or not without a baseline.
P.s. You can also experiment with slight niche changes, different video styles, presenting styles, etc.
7. Learn some basic video editing
As YouTube is a video platform, you may need to learn some basic editing. Especially if your budget can’t afford a dedicated editor (which is quite likely if you’re just starting out).
Luckily enough, you won’t need to develop the editing skills of an Oscar-winning blockbuster, some basic edits will do the trick nicely.
I’ve put together 7 of the most useful Premiere Pro tutorials to get you up and running right here. With some practice, these can supply you with all of the editing knowledge that you will need.
8. Recognize that thumbnails are important
What is the first thing that catches your eye when you open up the YouTube homepage?
That’s right, a thumbnail. And the next thing that you’ll do is either hover over the thumbnail to see what it’s about, you’ll read the title, or you’ll just click through immediately to watch the video.
All of the other videos on the homepage were just hit by a bombshell, you didn’t even notice them or even glance them over once.
That’s the power of a good thumbnail.
Furthermore, thumbnails need to be able to display what a video is about without click-bating, this will just bring about bad blood and negativity.
9. Promote engagement
One of the most overlooked aspects of growing your channel is to engage actively with your community. This means you should encourage your viewers to subscribe, like, and comment on your videos.
Even YouTube themselves recommend this in their creator academy.
This doesn’t mean you have to tell people to destroy your like button or to subscribe and break that bell icon. You can do this in a much less obnoxious manner. For example, viewers can subscribe to similar videos, let you know if they liked the video by using the like button, or better yet, ask a question that viewers can answer in the comments.
The next step is really important too though, be active in your comments.
This means you should reply to comments, answer questions, thank people, like their comments, etc.
By engaging like this, you’ll be doing your SEO good, but you’ll also be building a good rapport with your viewers, increasing the likelihood that they come back, engage, subscribe, share, etc.
How to make money on YouTube
When it comes to making money on YouTube there are a plethora (love that word) of ways to go about it. The most important thing to consider, however, and often overlooked by many starting out on YouTube, is to diversify your income streams.
This means you should utilize more than just one way of monetizing your YouTube channel, and (most of the time) you should monetize in as many ways as you can.
Here are some ways to monetize your YouTube channel:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sell your own products
- Create an online course
I’ve put together a more detailed post on different ways to monetize your YouTube channel, for more information on these individual monetization methods, you can find it here.
Final Thoughts on Starting a YouTube Channel And Making Money
With consistency, a willingness to learn, a bit of patience, and planning, you too can start a YouTube channel and make money. Keep experimenting, celebrate the small wins, track your progress, and keep looking for ways to improve your channel by listening to your audience and creating content they’re searching for.
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Now that you know these best practices to start a YouTube channel successfully, I’m passing the question on to you. Have you started your YouTube channel yet? What niche are you in? Do you know what specific value you’re bringing to your viewers? What time are they the most active? Etc.
These are some questions you need to ask yourself, but I’d love to hear how well you know your analytics, audience, and field below.