The convenience and far reach of the internet has given millions of people the ability to make a living by monetizing just about any skill, talent or opportunity. But, as is the case with any moneymaking venture, a lot of misconceptions surround certain strategies. Think: YouTube.
Specifically, you'll consistently see that platform's name rise to the top in articles about making money from home. Yet, while you can certainly make money with YouTube, that objective is not usually achieved in the traditional manner everyone wants you to believe.
In fact, to make money from YouTube, you have to dig a little deeper and establish a more sustainable strategy.
The challenges of making money from YouTube
The YouTube myth goes like this: Post some videos, attract viewers and then cash in on revenue generated from ads. It sounds simple and effortless, so that’s the story everyone regurgitates and uses to sell get-rich-quick schemes. However, the reality is that you cannot make a healthy income based on YouTube ad revenue alone.
“Even if advertisers are paying a decent amount to promote their products through video ads, only a portion of their expenditures ever make it into content creators’ pockets,” says entrepreneur Michael Johnston. “For example, if advertisers are paying an average of $20 per 1,000 ad impressions, the videos where those ads are being shown may only generate $2 or $3 per 1,000 views.”
In other words, you’re only going to make a couple of thousand dollars for every million views. And, make no mistake about it, getting millions of views is very challenging. The good news is that YouTube ads aren’t the only revenue-generating opportunities for creative individuals willing to work hard and develop actual business plans.
Alternative solutions for generating YouTube revenue
In order to earn a healthy income from YouTube, stop viewing that platform as a monetize-able medium in and of itself. Instead, think of YouTube as the catalyst. The real way to make money from YouTube is to leverage its massive network. Here's how:
1. Sell your own goods with Shopify.
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google? From a marketing point of view, it doesn’t make sense to ignore this massive resource. One of the best money-making opportunities is to use YouTube to sell your own physical products.
Let's assume that you already have a product to sell. You can set up an ecommerce storefront using a resource like Shopify, then produce videos that fit into your product’s niche. At the end of the videos, you can produce calculated CTAs that funnel traffic to your product landing pages.
There’s obviously a lot more to it than this, but for all intents and purposes, that’s what the conversion funnel looks like. If you have a good product and your videos are simple and engaging, this funnel will work almost every time.
2. Sell premium videos with Yondo.
If your end goal is to actually make money from videos, there’s a far better option than simply relying on your measly allocation of ad revenue. Instead, create a YouTube channel and build an audience. The primary goal is to engage this audience and build a brand name. Then, once you've established a reputation, begin driving traffic to your own landing pages where you can up-sell viewers with premium video content.
One of the best ways to do this is by using a solution like Yondo, which lets you create your own store that sells on-demand video content with your own domain. You can sell pay-per-view rentals, monthly subscriptions or anything in between. Best of all, you get to set your price and you don’t have to split revenue down the middle with YouTube.
3. Direct traffic to affiliate links.
Affiliate marketing is obviously a hugely popular online money-making opportunity. The issue is that so many affiliate marketers don’t put forth the effort it takes to actually generate a sizable income.
Instead of relying on static blogs to drive people to affiliate links, try creating a lively YouTube channel and using it as the primary catalyst. As the internet continues to move toward video as the primary form of content, you can get ahead of the curve and begin to benefit now.
4. Attract sponsorships.
If you study the most successful YouTubers, you’ll notice the sponsorships and advertisements they have in their video recordings. These deals are opportunities the video-makers have discovered on their own.
The great thing about sponsorships is that you don’t have to give YouTube a cut. Plus, you can negotiate whatever contracts you want based on impressions and the size of your audience. In most cases, the amount of revenue you generate from sponsorships is substantially more than YouTube ad revenue. (Meanwhile, you can still generate ad revenue. So it’s like having two sources of income from the same video.)
5. Transition Into live speaking engagements.
Finally, leverage your YouTube reputation and attract live speaking engagements. If the YouTube channel you produce is focused on a specific niche or audience, do some research about annual conferences or other industry events that have keynote speakers. Then, utilize your YouTube statistics and some of your best clips, to put together a package and pitch to the directors of these events.
Live speaking engagements can be very lucrative. It’s possible to generate thousands of dollars from just an hourlong presentation. So, make sure you’re seeking out these opportunities. and never disregard a chance to grow your audience.
6. Think outside the box.
Can you make real money with YouTube? Absolutely. Are you going to generate a massive income by relying on impression-based ad revenue? Probably not. Instead, you need to identify ways in which you can leverage YouTube’s network to accomplish revenue streams.
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How to make money on Youtube
Ezarik’s first passion was editing, says the 33-year-old, but recalls “no one wanted to be in my videos, and so I put myself in them to give me something to edit. Then people wanted more.”
Ezarik declined to comment on how much she makes from YouTube.
Creating a successful channel
There are a few different ways to make money once your YouTube channel is successful. Here’s how to get going:
Step 1: Figure out your ‘thing’
Fancy becoming a YouTuber? You first need to figure out your passion – whether it’s gadgets, celebrity gossip, religion, politics, pets, make-up, and so on. “The most important thing is find out what you want make videos about, and have fun,” says Ezarik. “It’s also ideal if you’re doing something unique, some niche content, you can become the best at.” Create a free YouTube channel. Sign up for AdSense to monetize your videos (see below).
Step 2: Get your gear
You don’t need expensive hardware to get going. Content is far more important than having 4K or 360-degree video. Great quality helps, but today’s smartphones are more than good enough to start with. That said, good lighting is very important: natural is great, if you can be outdoors, or near a window, or pick up some lighting kits that start at a couple of hundred dollars. Clear audio is critical, too; you can buy a highly-rated clip-on lavalier (“lav”) mic starting at only $23.
Step 3: Upload a lot
Flesh out your topics and start creating fresh content on a regular basis. Just tap record on the camera, and talk. Be natural. You’ll also get better at hosting these segments as time goes on. If your videos require other people and/or editing, find some friends who can help pro bono. With videos ranging from five to 35 minutes, Ezarik says she spends more time editing than shooting, but is starting to enlist some help to free up her time.
Step 4: Manage, promote your channel
Remind your YouTube viewers to subscribe to your channel, during or after the video plays, and in the description or comments section. Tag your videos with relevant keywords, so people can find your work. Push traffic to your YouTube channel from other social platforms. “Boosting your subscribers won’t happen overnight, but keep it up. Consistency is key, and you can reach out to other creators for advice or collaboration,” adds Ezarik (YouTube says collaboration is critical, too). Interact with your viewers by responding to comments.
There are three main ways a popular YouTuber can make money:
The main revenue stream is often allowing YouTube to run ads with your content. The more traffic you get, the more you can make, says Ezarik. There are many variables that could determine how much you’ll get (and YouTube recently changed it so you need at least 10,000 lifetime views to start making money). Once you enable your channel for monetization, you’ll connect your YouTube channel to a Google AdSense account to earn money for your monetized videos.
Note: you cannot be paid if there is copyrighted material in your video.
Ezarik and many other YouTube stars are often paid as a brand “ambassador” or “influencer.” After all, if a popular YouTube personality has direct access to millions of fans — who could watch their videos anywhere, anytime, and on a multitude of devices — a sponsorship or endorsement arrangement could be smart for companies big and small. And it could be extremely lucrative for the YouTuber, too. With TV viewership on the decline, millennials are turning to YouTube in big numbers. YouTubers can be creative on how they integrate products or services into their videos. Ezarik has worked with major brands including Mattel, Microsoft, Ford, GE, Intel, Sharpie, Doritos, Taco Bell, eBay, P&G, Banana Republic, Samsung, AOL, and Carl’s Jr.
As “iJustine,” Ezarik has broadened her brand outside of YouTube. She often hosts or emcees live events around the world. She’s written a book, I, Justine: An Analog Memoir (2015), and has dabbled in merchandise, mobile apps (yes, more than one), and has starred in TV commercials. Ezarik says YouTube creators could also engage YouTube’s “Super Chats,” announced in May, where fans can pay small amounts to interact with YouTubers during live streams. “Fan funding is fairly new, but these donations are another way you can make money,” says Ezarik.
How to Make Money on YouTube : Quick and Dirty Tips ™
I’m sure you have seen a viral YouTube video. They come in all shapes and sizes—from super popular songs like “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” to a funny grumpy cat, someone falling down, or even something completely off the wall like Ylvis' “What Does the Fox Say?" video. What do they all have in common? Well, these posters all made a ton of money on YouTube when their videos went viral.
So let's find out how to make money on YouTube.
Making a lot of money on YouTube is not as easy as you might think. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome in the process. It's definitely not a way to get rich quick. However, if you have a hobby, are really good at a particular activity and would like to help people, are funny, or even if you just want to have some fun, YouTube is a great option to cash in some extra bucks doing something you love.
The first and probably most obvious starting point is set up YouTube account. You should have an idea of the types of videos that you want to upload. Next you’ll want to Enable monetization and sign up for Google AdSense.
Enabling monetization means that you agree you will only upload video content that you have the rights for and that you will play by the rules (such as not watching your own video over and over to boost ads). Google AdSense is the way you set up your payment information for when you actually start making money. I’ve posted links in the show notes of today’s episode so that you don’t have to hunt around for these links.
Next up you’ll want to become a YouTube Partner. This isn’t as hard as it used to be. In the past, to become a YouTube partner you had to have some 15,000 hours of your video watched at any point in time. The benefit here is that you can upload more than 15 minutes of video, which may help on some video projects. You also get analytics tools and some more advanced editing tools.
Now that you have monetization setup, along with Google AdSense, and YouTube partnership, you’re ready to go.
Types of Ads
Next let’s break down the types of advertisements on YouTube. You’re probably familiar with them if you watch any amount of YouTube videos. There’s the bottom text based ad that is displayed at the bottom of your video, and then there is the clip that plays at the beginning of your video. You can select which of these ads your video can have, and it might make a difference depending on your audience or how much revenue your video brings in.
The way advertising works with YouTube is probably one of the most complicated things that comes with trying to make money off of YouTube. The real estimate comes out to about $7.50 per 1,000 impressions. The difficult part is actually defining the word ‘impressions.’ The only time you make money on YouTube is when someone interacts with your ad or when it leaves an ‘impression’ on them.
This means that if someone skips an ad, or is running an ad blocker, then you don’t get paid for that view. This makes estimating the amount of views a video has and how much a user makes off of the video very challenging. It also depends if it’s a video ad at the front of your video, or just a box at the bottom of your page; this determines how many people interact with your ad and the amount of money that can be made.
At the end of the day, though, there are a lot of variables that can affect just how much you can make on YouTube. Your audience has a lot to do with the type of ad that would work best. For example, if you are making short funny videos, it’s probably best to not include a 30-second ad at the beginning—a viewer might just skip right on by. Luckily, YouTube has an analytics page that you can use to see just about every measurable aspect of your video—from demographics to time of day watched and location.
Now let’s talk about how to actually make videos that can generate money on YouTube. The first and most important thing is that you want your videos to be about something you are passionate about. If you’re not passionate, it will show in your videos—plus you’ll have less incentive to make them as time goes on.
I recommend coming out with normally scheduled videos at whatever interval you are comfortable with, whether that’s once a month or once a week. If you come out with regular videos, viewers are much more likely to ‘subscribe’ to your channel. Subscribing means that the user has started following you; if you post a new video. he or she will see it. This is a great way to build an audience and get some regularity to your viewership.
Make sure your videos are short and high quality. Unless you are doing targeted tutorials, or have some reason to keep your video on the long side (anything over six minutes), I recommend keeping it short. Even if you have to break the video into multiple parts, it makes the content more easily digestible by the viewer, which increases the likelihood it gets shared.
For example, a funny video that's 10 minutes long will have lower odds of being shared by a user who might tell his or her friends “you have to see this!" You’re aiming for something short, with a clear message, clear audio, and decent editing. A little bit of thought in the beginning could pay large dividends down the road.
Next, you’ll want to keep the momentum of your video going. You don’t just get in a boat and paddle once and hope to get where you want to go. You have to keep paddling and marketing your video. This could be as simple as commenting back to comments people have left for your, commenting on other people’s videos, or sharing your video on Facebook or Twitter. Really any way that you can drive people to watch your video is beneficial.
Also, you can get more views, and drive more traffic to your video, by joining a YouTube Network, which is really just a group of videos. The idea is that by combining a lot of similar videos together, you’ll attract more views and make more money.
However, networks sometime have fees associated with them, or they ask to own your content or any number of other requirements. I personally don’t think that it is worth joining a network and going through all the trouble. I would first try making your own videos and revenue on your own. Once you have some experience to go shopping and to see what networks are out there, what they provide and what they ask of you. If you are curious though here’s a link to the top networks out there.
At the end of the day, the best videos you can make involve something you love. Find a unique skill or space that you occupy and make videos for niche. This is the best way to get started and try your hand at making money with YouTube!