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 or talent. But, as is the case with any moneymaking venture, a lot of misconceptions surround certain strategies. Think: YouTube. With 1.6B monthly active users and growing, the YouTube platform is a behemoth on the web, but how do you turn potential viewers into $$$?
The Challenges of Making Money on 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.
New Media Rockstars estimates that top YouTubers earn in the millions, some even in the tens of millions. Revenue can fluctuate greatly depending on the premise of the channel.
Here are just some of their estimates and the number of subscribers these YouTubers have:
- EpicMealTime makes around $3.1 Million (7 million subscribers)
- Ray William Johnson sits at $4.2 Million (10 million subscribers)
- FunToyzCollector weighs in at a whopping $30.4 million (8 million subscribers)
However, YouTube channels on the smaller side can still be monetized. Your earning potential isn’t determined solely by the number of subscribers and views you have, but also by the level of engagement you generate, the niche you cater to, and the revenue channels you explore.
How To Make A Lot of Money From YouTube
In order to earn an income from YouTube, stop viewing the platform as a monetizable medium in and of itself. Instead, think of YouTube as the catalyst. The real way to make money from YouTube is to leverage its massive network. Here’s how:
1. Become a YouTube Partner and Make Money from Ads
The first revenue stream you’ll likely explore is ads.
You’ll need to set yourself up as a YouTube Partner, which is easily done in the Creator Studio section of your YouTube account by going to the Channel menu to verify your account and enable Monetization (click here to go there directly).
After you become a Partner, you’ll need to have an AdSense account to opt into Google’s advertising network to actually get paid and see ad revenue reports like the one below. If you don’t have one, you can apply for one here.
Once that’s done, you’ll notice a green “$” next to your videos in the Video Manager, indicating whether it’s been enabled for monetization, which you can click on to access the monetization settings for each video.
It’s easy to set up, but advertising as a YouTube partner is far from being the most lucrative revenue stream you can create for yourself.
2. Sell Your Own Products
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 (Call to Actions) 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.
3. Sell Your Premium Videos
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.
4. 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.
5. Attract Sponsorships
If you study the most successful YouTubers, you’ll notice the sponsorships and advertisements they have in their video recordings. 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.)
6. 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.
7. 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.
How to “Sell” Without Annoying Your Audience
Many of the above strategies for monetizing involve promoting products or campaigns. You’ll still need to make your audience aware of these without sabotaging the integrity of your content.
“Selling out” to their audience is a real concern for a lot of creators. But if you never ask, you’ll never get.
There’s a number of “placements” you can choose from for promoting products or your campaigns.
Record a Call to Action in Your Videos
“If you liked this video, then hit the like button and subscribe.”
Many YouTubers include a call to action along those lines at the end of their videos to grow their viewership. By suggesting the intended action you want them to take, your audience is more likely to actually take it.
You can adapt this approach to direct your audience’s attention to a revenue-generating opportunity.
Add Well-Timed YouTube Cards to Your Videos
Whether it’s part of your deal with a brand or you’re promoting your own products, YouTube Cards offer an eye-catching way to get the attention of engaged viewers.
You can set them to pop up at just the right moment when they’re most relevant and least distracting to increase their impact.
Add Links to Your Video Descriptions
You can funnel viewers to your store, Patreon page, Kickstarter campaign, or other revenue-focused part of your online presence by adding links to your video descriptions.
Promote Your Offer on Other Platforms
Just because your content is hosted on YouTube, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking advantage of all the other channels out there for distribution.
Spread the word about new campaigns or discounts on Twitter, Facebook and any other profiles you might own.
The more places your message lives, the greater the chance that it’ll be seen. So it’s always a good idea to grow your social media following beyond YouTube.
Ready to get started on YouTube?
Start developing ideas around the content you want to produce and then get the right equipment to start recording.