Let’s start this guide with some YouTube facts by Omnicore:
Founded: February 2005
CEO: Susan Wojcicki
Headquarters: San Bruno, CA
Employees: 10,000+ (Source)
|Monthly Active YouTube Users||> 2,000,000,000|
|Daily Active YouTube Users||> 122,000,000|
|Average Time Spent on YouTube (daily)||18 minutes|
|Daily Hours Watched on YouTube||1,000,000,000 hours|
|Total YouTube Revenue in 2020||$19.7 billion|
|YouTube Premium Subscribers||30,000,000|
|Number of Videos Watched per Day||> 1,000,000,000|
|Daily YouTube Shorts Views||6,500,000|
COVID-19 and lockdowns have made these numbers skyrocket, as the world is still going fully digital and virtual. Naturally, the question everyone raises is how to make money on YouTube. After all, all you need to become a YouTube content creator is video recording hardware and video recording software.
Even a smartphone can be enough as it is very easy to turn smartphones into 4k webcams.
The stage is set then and everyone can try to make money on YouTube. This is pretty much where the easy part ends. Marking money on YouTube is a big challenge.
First of all, think about the competition. Since everyone can give it a shot, you have to offer something unique and employ smart strategies to stand out. Even then, the amount of money you can make varies.
The great news though is that you don’t have to be a musician or an influencer to get into the battle and try to make a difference in the online video industry.
In this article, I’ll go over the many different ways to earn money on YouTube this year. It won’t be easy, but it is crucial to have a guided approach to producing YouTube videos.
Let's get started then.
Who Makes the Most Money on YouTube?
According to Forbes, these 10 accounts were the top earners on YouTube in 2020:
- Ryan Kaji, $29.5 million (41.7 million subscribers)
- Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson), $24 million (47.8 million subscribers)
- Dude Perfect, $23 million (57.5 million subscribers)
- Rhett & Link, $20 million (41.8 million subscribers)
- Markiplier (Mark Fischbach), $19.5 million (27.8 million subscribers)
- Preston Arsement, $19 million (33.4 million subscribers)
- Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya) $18.5 million (190.6 million subscribers)
- Blippi (Stevin John), $17 million (27.4 million subscribers)
- David Dobrik, $15.5 million (18 million subscribers)
- Jeffree Star, $15 million (16.9 million subscribers)
Notice that these accounts have an insane amount of subscribers. Making money on YouTube revolves around gathering a large consistent audience that will help boost your videos.
Contrary to traditional SEO, YouTube’s algorithm evaluates videos based on user engagement and consistent viewership, as it cannot directly evaluate the content.
Regardless, content remains the king, as it will drive subscribers to your channel and start making it stand out among others. Essentially, subscribers are your source of direct traffic.
How to Make Money on YouTube in 2021
This guide will not revolve around content creation on YouTube. We have already established that the competition is stiff. As a matter of fact, 500 hours of YouTube video content are uploaded per minute.
What I will explain instead is how to maximize revenue from YouTube video content in many different ways.
Before we get to the strategies themselves, I would like to explain a key aspect of online revenue generation.
The foundation of the online content creation business relies on recursive traffic funnels.
In simple words:
- Your blog – yes, ideally you should start one – should get readers to your YouTube channel and social media accounts.
- Your YouTube channel and social media should get your audience to your blog.
Now let’s see how you can monetize all this traffic.
1. YouTube Monetization: Use Affiliate Links on YouTube Videos
Just like bloggers, YouTubers that create educational content, including how-tos, tutorials, and high-quality product reviews can monetize their videos with affiliate links. You have probably noticed that a lot of product reviewers on YouTube provide affiliate links from Amazon, Banggood, and other online retailers.
Gamers can produce video game guides for games that offer affiliate programs. Genshin Impact is one of the most popular games that have affiliate programs. Meanwhile, RAID: Shadow Legends is notorious due to Plarium’s strategy to employ YouTubers and streamers to promote the game.
It is crucial that your delivery when reviewing products or services is insightful. That’s why it is ideal to choose products you are knowledgeable about.
At this point, just like all affiliate marketers that run a blog, I will have to suggest that you start a blog yourself.
The idea here is that you want your YouTube channel through your blog and your blog through your YouTube channel. If you are like me, a person who started from nothing, you can not do both at the same time.
Play to your strengths. Divide and conquer. Are you a great video creator? Focus on that first!
Are you good at delivering engaging content with your writing? Focus on that first instead.
That’s what I did because I could not afford to invest in everything. First, I created a blog with 300,000 visitors per month. Next, I will get it to 1,000,000 visitors and ensure I have a sustainable income from it. Then, it will be time to start considering a YouTube adding a YouTube team or making videos myself (I have the language disadvantage against me though, I am far more entertaining and insightful in Greek).
Since I mentioned blogging, yes a blog is a good investment. The sooner you start it, the better because as the domain gets older, you will have a minor advantage over the competition.
However, blogging requires a lot of qualities; copywriting, SEO, competitor analysis, digital marketing qualities, and so much more. It is very rare that a single person can have all these qualities. If you start a blog, you have to be ready to outsource, on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
At the end of the day, yes, it is a good idea to combine your YouTube efforts with your blogging efforts at some point.
So as an affiliate marketer I need to talk to you about web hosting here. You will find a ton of affiliate marketers recommending Bluehost. The only reason they do it is that they earn a great commission percentage from leads and sales.
Bluehost is mediocre at best and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Personally, I prefer DreamHost. All web hosting providers offer mediocre shared hosting plans so DreamHost is no exception. The difference is that they offer a 91-day money-back guarantee.
This is bad for affiliate marketers, but great for customers. So, start with DreamHost.
If you become successful as a blogger you can move to a cloud web hosting service, like Cloudways. That’s where we are moving Borderpolar this month since our one-year Business plan with WordPress.com is coming to an end.
The top tier of web hosting is Kinsta. I hope there will come a day you will have to move to Kinsta for premium hosting services. I know we will.
Now, back to affiliate marketing. You have to be very careful with the products you pick to promote and you always have to remember that you shouldn’t overflow videos and posts with affiliate content. People notice desperation and stay away.
I have not explored all affiliate networks, but I will start the ones that are easy to get in. You can start with Awin, ShareASale (owned by Awin), Impact Radius, and CJ (Commission Junction).
It was very easy to get my blog in those just a few weeks after I started, so it will be easy for you to get your YouTube channel in. In these, you will find both products and services to review.
The challenge is getting products or services for free. My experience tells me that it’s very easy to get service subscriptions for free (VPNs, SEO tools like SEMrush, and SimilarWeb). On the other hand, it’s extremely hard to get your hands on retail products like smartphones, monitors, gaming gear, etc.
This is where Amazon Associates comes in, or similar affiliate networks from retailers. You can find very cheap products on Amazon, like gadgets and you can start reviewing those.
Of course, you can also start reviewing products you own. It is a great test drive for this business. Try to find sub-niches in your niche with lower competition, in which you can excel.
Affiliate Marketing, despite its downsides, is a great way to get started before making YouTube Partner, where you monetize your actual video content on YouTube.
2. Become a YouTube Partner and Earn from Ads.
When you start a YouTube channel, your goal is to monetize it by becoming a YouTube Partner. This is the standard revenue stream for most YouTubers, just like AdSense is for many bloggers.
As a YouTube Partner, you can make money in different ways, including:
- ads before your videos
- channel memberships
- Google AdSense banner ads
As you may know, getting your blog into AdSense has some ground rules and it requires your domain to be 6 months old. However, multiple bloggers have reported that AdSense accepted them in spite of having domains that are only a couple of months old.
This was the case with Borderpolar too. We got into AdSense after just a few weeks.
However, the YouTube Partner Program is a different beast. There are three criteria you have to fulfill to make your channel eligible for review.
Let’s start with the easy one. Your channel must not have any active community guidelines strikes. To receive a green tick mark, your channel must adhere to the YouTube content policies at the time. Past violations do not count against eligibility.
Aside from adhering to YouTube’s ad rules, you must amass a minimum of 4,000 video watch hours on your channel in the last 12 months and have 1,000 subscribers.
How to Get 1000 Subscribers on YouTube fast?
There is no clear-cut answer here, but the word “subscribe” implies consistency in thematology and delivery. Posting video content on a consistent basis and making it revolve around a specific niche will definitely attract people, as long as your content is engaging.
Avoid sudden, incoherent changes of the theme by any means.
Most importantly, visualize your audience and try to make videos for them, not for you.
How to Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube?
Once again, there is no concrete timeline, however, establishing consistency and creating a subscriber base will definitely get you there faster. Remember that, for instance, having 500 subscribers creates 500 opportunities for your videos to be watched just when you publish them.
Then it all depends on how long your subscribers stay to watch. Increasing your subscribers is directly associated with amassing the watch hours, as your subscribers will typically watch a large portion of your newly published content.
After successfully achieving the 4,000-hour threshold and getting 1,000 your channel will be reviewed. Once accepted to the partner program you can start monetizing your videos as long as they don’t violate any copyrights. A green dollar sign ($) next to your video in the Video Manager indicates that the video is monetizable.
How does YouTube Premium affect content creators?
YouTube Premium members won’t see any ads, so YouTube shares a portion of the monthly premium fee with creators. If a YouTube Premium subscriber spends more time on your videos, you will receive a larger percentage of their fee.
3. Make Money on YouTube with Funding from Your Fans.
This method requires that offers significant value to the audience to establish a loyal audience, a fanbase. As a creator, you can direct your audience to crowdsource your content creator, using platforms like Patreon, Buy me a Coffee, and Tipee.
Patreon is a great platform for this purpose, as you can create subscription tiers and share exclusive private videos such as behind the scenes that you won’t publish on YouTube. This practice will further establish a closer connection with your fans. Buy Me a Coffee is a simple Patreon alternative that may be more rewarding for some creators.
Tipee is another funding service that allows you to enjoy a combo of recurring and one-time donations.
Creating valuable and entertaining content, along with maintaining a tight bond with the audience can get you really far in the fan-funding approach.
4. YouTube SEO
Before you acquire a loyal following on YouTube you will have to rely on YouTube SEO.
The first step to this is keyword research, or what YouTube users look for. There are multiple ways to perform keyword research.
The easiest one is typing a keyword idea in YouTube’s search bar. YouTube will produce a list of the terms people look for.
Another option is to go to a popular channel in your niche, sort the videos by popularity and then check the tags for each video.
There are two great free extensions on Google Chrome for this; VidIQ and Keywords Everywhere.
VidIQ is an extension I even paid for in the past as it has some great features if you are serious about YouTube SEO and growing your channel.
There are of course multiple YouTube SEO factors to consider:
- Click-through-rate on the YouTube search results
- Number of comments and comment content (keyword match)
- Subscribes after watching a video
- Interactions such as adding the video to a playlist
- Thumbs up/thumbs down ratio
- Video length
- Channel views and views retention
- Video quality
- Video sharing to social media platforms
- Video embeddings
- Backlinks from websites and blogs to the video (just like in regular SEO)
In the video below, notice how much external sources can affect a YouTube video’s traffic. Most of my views come from my blog and my blog’s AMP pages hosted by Google. At the same time, even the video thumbnail attracts attention, increasing the click-through rate to almost 10%, which is a lot for my channel.
5. The Amazon Influencer Program
Amazon's influencer program is growing in popularity, so it is a great way to maximize your income from video creation. The Amazon Influencer Program is an extension of the Amazon Associates (affiliate) program, that brings product-related content from Influencers onto Amazon.
By being a part of this influencer program, you can make money via Amazon recommendations by maximizing your YouTube (and social media) presence.
Upon joining the program, you can review and recommend products and direct your viewers to Amazon for purchases via affiliate links. The program is not just limited to YouTube, you can also use other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Your cut is typically 8-10% of any Amazon purchases your viewers make after clicking through.
The program is not open to everyone though and you will have to provide your YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook account for review to confirm your eligibility.
6. Digital Marketing and YouTube Merch Stores
There are multiple ways to maximize your revenue through digital marketing. These include:
- Content repurposing. When you write a product review on your blog, you can also create a video review on YouTube.
- Depending on the channel you have you can sell products on Etsy or Shopify.
- You can even create your own WooCommerce store on your blog to sell fan merchandise using print-on-demand services like Printful and Printify.
- Photographers and other artists can sell their work on sites like PicsArt, Picfair, Fine Art America, and DeviantArt and use their YouTube video tutorials to promote their artistic work.
How Much Money Can You Make on YouTube?
It really depends on your channel’s niche, your audience, and your channel’s location.
While it is hard to estimate how much you can make directly from YouTube there are many ways to get the most of your video content indirectly.
Your revenue potential can be maximized using ad monetization, affiliate links, and sponsorships.
YouTube offers advertising on a CPM, CPV, and CPC basis. YouTubers typically make $7.60 per 1,000 ad views with cost per impression (CPM).
As per Google policy, creators receive 55% of earnings from advertisements while Google keeps 45%.
As a channel owner, you can receive payments for affiliate marketing based on different models – typically a cost per sale or a cost per lead.
You will earn money based on the number of conversions and sales commissions you get from advertisers.
Adding sponsored product placements to your videos is another option. YouTubers make money by mentioning brands or by providing more detailed product recommendations.
Brand may pay anything between $20 and $50 per thousand views, so this strategy will work out great if your channel generates a lot of views.
How Much Money Do YouTubers Make?
The truth is that the majority of YouTubers make nothing out of it. Making money on YouTube is a big challenge, although of course, popular YouTubers can make millions.
Typically, you can make between $2000 and $40,000 from 1 million views on YouTube, and the average YouTuber with 1,000,000 subscribers makes around $5000 on ad revenue.
A typical advertiser pays $0.18 per view, although rates can vary from $0.10 to $0.30 per view.
The average YouTube channel receives $18 for 1,000 views of its advertisements, which is equivalent to $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views.
You can calculate your channel's profitability based on both your views and your niche using a YouTube revenue calculator.
These calculators help you understand how much you can make based on video views and engagement.
What is YouTube’s Payment Threshold?
The answer here comes straight from Google:
A month's worth of finalized earnings isn't transferred to AdSense until about halfway through the following month. AdSense earnings accrued in June, for example, are transferred in mid-July.
Your AdSense account balance is updated with finalized YouTube earnings between the 7th and 10th of every month. As long as your total balance reaches the payment threshold and you have no payment holds, you will receive your earnings that month.
If, for example, your balance at the end of June exceeds $100, you'll receive payment in July.
How to Make Money on YouTube – FAQ
How can I make money on YouTube without ads?
There are plenty of other ways you can generate income from your channel if you're not making a lot of money with advertisements. Influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, and sponsorships are among the best income streams.
Below are some options to consider:
1. You can add affiliate links to your video descriptions to recommend products and earn commissions on every sale. Valuetainment for example is a very popular YouTube channel and some of its massive hits are its Mafia members interviews. You will see that every video description on Mafia interviews contains an amazon affiliate link to a book.
2. A second option is to use an eCommerce platform such as Shopify to sell merchandise, t-shirts, and physical products.
3. Create and sell digital products, such as online courses, and eBooks.
4. Build your YouTube audience and get a brand to sponsor you.
5. Use crowdfunding and donation platforms to get your fans to support your content creation.
6. Selling coaching services or consulting at an hourly rate is a good idea if you are an expert in your niche.
7. Take advantage of your loyal fans. After monetizing your YouTube channel you can enable paid subscriptions. You can also make live streams to connect with your audience and increase direct engagement. Live streaming is a great strategy to combine with donation tools like “Buy me a Coffee.”
Is it Hard to Make Money on YouTube?
YouTube isn't the easiest place to earn money. In order to join the YouTube Partner Program, you must have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within the last 12 months. For most video creators this threshold is very hard to reach.
Once you've generated a significant number of views, you need to track your cost per view (CPV) in order to discover how much money you make via advertisements.
How much is 1,000 views worth on YouTube?
1,000 views are difficult to value in a definitive way. Several factors should be considered, such as your industry, the number of people that click on your ads, and your location. Each of these factors affects your average CPM.
A YouTube advertiser creates a Google AdWords account to place ads then determines whether to pay per view (CPV) or per click (CPC) based on their targeting.
For example, you may get $0 for one view and $5 for another view if the viewer clicks on high-quality advertisements. When using banner ads, it's a good rule of thumb to assume you will earn $0.75 – $1.00 per 1,000 views. If you're using preroll ads, your earnings can be around $6-7 per 1,000 views.
How many subscribers do you need to make money?
In order to be able to monetize your YouTube channel, you need 1,000 or more subscribers. A Google AdSense account and four thousand hours of watch time within the last 12 months are also required.
When you apply and are accepted into YPP, you can set your ad preferences and enable monetization for your videos.
Who is the highest-paid YouTube star?
According to June 2020 data, the most highly paid YouTuber during the measured period was nine-year-old Ryan Kaji (Ryan ToysReview). Ryan’s earnings reached $29.5 million during the measured period.