7 Ways to Make Money on YouTube

How to Make Money on YouTube

If you told me three years ago that I would be making a full time living creating content on YouTube, I would have thought you were crazy. But, believe it or not, that is the exact position I find myself in.

But let me tell you, it is very different running a YouTube channel as a business rather than a hobby. When you are depending on this income to pay your mortgage it’s much harder to withstand the wild fluctuations that can come when relying only on ad revenue. 

Luckily, I figured out the solution to this problem–income diversification.

The most common way to make money on YouTube is through ad revenue. But you can also make affiliate sales, sell your own digital products, and get off YouTube through blogging or in-person events. 

By having many different sources of income, they have the potential to offset each other. Maybe the YouTube ad revenue is down, but the affiliate revenue surges. You get the idea. When making money online, (a topic I break down in my guide, 30 Best Ways to Make Money Online) you want to have many different income avenues and ventures. If one dries up, you have others in place to sustain you.

1. Ad Revenue

I recently spoke on a panel at Fincon about the business of YouTube. I was really glad to hear how much myself and the other panelists restated the point that you cannot simply rely on ad revenue if YouTube is your business.

That being said, it is still a means of making money with your channel. Once you are monetized on YouTube, you have the ability to run ads on your channel. If people view the ads for a long enough duration or even click on them, you cash in. YouTube, of course, takes a cut of the dough. This is only fair since they are hosting your content for free.

The amount of money you are paid per click or view of the ad is different for every channel. For example, a gaming channel might make $2,000 for 1,000,000 views while I have seen some business channels earn 5 to 7x that figure. Yes, that’s $10,000 to $14,000 and not a mathematical error on my part.

So, based on the niche you are in, ad revenue could be a small portion or a large portion of your earnings. Regardless of what the case may be, you still should not rely on ad revenue as your sole means for making money! What I recommend is treating this ad revenue like the gravy or bonus income from your business.

Ideally, you would want all of the other income streams from your YouTube channel paying for your living expenses with the ad revenue being the slush. Ad revenue is the low hanging fruit, but if you go deeper, there are even better methods for making money on YouTube!

2. Affiliate Marketing

I remember the first time I stumbled upon this business model of affiliate marketing. I was in San Diego visiting a few friends, who also do YouTube, and I was asking them about their businesses. One of the guys named Odi told me about something called affiliate marketing, where you earn a commission when selling someone else’s product.

For example, if you referred a sale to Amazon, you could earn about 1% to 5% of that sale. This type of affiliate marketing was not very interesting to me. However, the way Odi was doing affiliate marketing was totally different. He was affiliated with different companies and influencers that offered him significantly higher commissions.

In fact, there were some products that he was earning a 50% commission on that sold for $1,000 or more! I remember when he logged me on to his PayPal and showed me dozens of monthly affiliate payments of $10,000 or more. I was hooked.

Affiliate marketing definitely works better for some niches, but it should still not be overlooked when monetizing your YouTube channel. The simplest way to leverage affiliate marketing is to link up to your favorite books and camera equipment in the description of your videos. By doing this, I was able to consistently make $100 to $500 a month just from these links!

However, now I focus on products that have significantly higher commissions. The idea here is to reach out to companies in your niche and ask them if they have an affiliate program. If they do, you simply send them traffic and earn a commission on each sale! Companies love affiliate marketing because they only pay you when you bring them a customer. If you don’t, they don’t pay! It’s as simple as that.

3. Blogging

One of the best decisions in terms of making money on YouTube was to diversify outside of YouTube. I didn’t like having everything riding on this one channel. If my channel was demonetized, or suddenly disappeared overnight, I would lose my entire audience.

A little over a year ago, I made the decision to diversify into blogging. I started the Investing Simple personal finance blog with a business partner named Ed. It’s actually surprisingly easy to go from YouTube to blogging. The secret here is repurposing content.

You know that video outline that you just spent three hours working on? Well, you can easily turn that into a blog! A vast majority of the successful YouTubers out there have a blog as well. It is also easy to cross-promote your content.

For example, you could embed your YouTube videos in your blog or link to your blog from your YouTube videos! What I have found is that it is significantly easier to build another online platform when you already have one. In terms of money, because that’s what you are here for, this blog is now doing about $3,000 to $4,500 a month in revenue.

On top of that, it is completely separate from my YouTube channel. If you-know-what hit the fan and I lost my channel, I have this entirely different platform to fall back on. I personally view my blog as the lifeboat on my much larger boat known as my YouTube channel.

Related: How I Make Money Blogging [8 Important Questions Answered]

4. Sponsorships & Brand Deals

While this isn’t my favorite method for making money on YouTube, it is still popular among creators.

The same advertisers who run ads on your videos are often willing to pay you for in video mentions and sponsorships. Have you ever seen one of your favorite YouTubers recommending subscription razors or loot boxes? More often than not, these are paid sponsorships or endorsements.

Now, the amount of money you can make doing this varies based on the niche you are in and the size of your audience. Using myself as an example, I usually get around 10,000 to 15,000 views on an average video. I will frequently receive paid sponsorship offers in the neighborhood of $500 to $1,000 per video.

That being said, I did mention earlier that this is not my favorite method for making money on YouTube. The reason for this is because I have found these sponsorships are often more work than anticipated.

For example, let’s say you record an entire video, edit it, render it and send it to the company sponsoring it for approval. Then, they turn around and ask you to change the phrasing during the intro of the video when you mentioned their product. Guess what? Back to recording, editing, and rendering.

Almost every time I have done a sponsored deal like this, the company or brand wants a revision after the final cut. For me, it is too much of a nuisance. However, your experience could be totally different!

5. Patreon

I have never used this method, but I know a number of creators who are successful with Patreon.

This is a way for you to create a members-only content library where your most loyal fans chip in a few bucks a month in exchange for this content. Take Matt D’Avella for example. He has a channel that talks about minimalism and other lifestyle topics. Instead of relying on ads to monetize his channel, he uses Patreon instead. His videos are all ad-free, so in return, he asks his most loyal fans to support him on Patreon.

Over on Matt’s Patreon, he has a few different offers ranging from $4 to $12 per month. The higher-priced tiers come with even more exclusive content like a private ask me anything podcast session. As of writing this blog, Matt has 1,917 “patreons” or loyal fans sending him a couple of bucks a month. Even at $4 a month, which is his lowest offer, that is $7,668 a month!

In order to be successful with Patreon, you will want to have a consistent stream of content for your audience. This exclusive content is what will keep people around month after month. This method works better for personality channels, where the audience grows a personal attachment to you.

6. Digital Products

Another popular way of making money with a YouTube channel or audience online is by selling digital products.

Now, I know what you are thinking…who the heck is going to buy a digital product that exists on the internet? The answer; a lot of people. I remember the first time I ever sold a digital product. I wrote up a short 15-page guide to investing in the stock market and listed it for sale for $14 (BTW, you can now read this investing guide for free). 

I was skeptical at first, but I tossed the link in the description of my videos and waited.

A few days later, sure enough, I got my first sale! I could not believe that you could simply package up information and sell it online. Now, this method of selling an ebook probably won’t make you a millionaire. In total, I made about $700 selling this investing guide over the next few months.

The real money I made was in selling a digital course. Essentially, you package up your best information into an easy to understand video series and sell it to your audience. These days, most of these courses sell in the range of $500 to $2,500. I’m not kidding!

This may sound like a lot of money, but when you compare it to spending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands on a college education, these courses are a bargain. I have sold a few different courses on investing in the stock market, online business, and affiliate marketing.

With very little advertising, I have done over $100,000 in revenue over a period of about two years selling these courses. I simply linked to these courses in the description of my videos and watched the sales come in.

The beauty of a digital product is that you make it once and then you can perpetually sell it for weeks, months or even years to follow. There is no inventory. No shipping. No product. Just a digital product that lives on the internet earning you passive income each month. Imagine waking up to an email that you just sold a course for $997! That is passive income at its best.

Related: How to Make Money on Etsy

7. Live Events and Consultation

A final option for making money with your channel is hosting a live event or speaking at a live event.

You would be surprised how many of your viewers may be interested in purchasing a ticket to come see you at a live event. Last year, I hosted a small event with a friend of mine talking about YouTube and passive income. We charged $197 per seat and ended up selling out of the 25 tickets we offered.

On top of that, we included an upsell for $297 where people could sit down with us the following day for an hour for a one on one consultation. Of the 25 who purchased tickets, 6 went for the upsell. The event itself was a blast! It was great to be able to meet members of my audience in real life and to answer questions in a one on one environment.

As far as the earnings go, our total revenue from the ticket sales and consultations was $6,707. Between travel costs and renting the venue, as well as donuts and coffee for the attendees, we ended up earning around $3,500 total. Since we split the profit 50/50, we each took home about $1,750 for two days of work.

For me, this was one of my favorite experiences with my YouTube channel so far because I was able to shake hands with some of my fans and help them with their problems in real life. I know countless people who run full time consulting businesses that simply gather clients from free content they post on YouTube. A consultation could mean anything from a 1-hour session for $150 to $300 or a 12-month mastermind for $10,000 or more.

Related: 7 Things We Did To Grow Our Business From $89,000 to $524,000 in 5 Years

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, diversification is the name of the game with YouTube.

I can tell you from my own experience that simply relying on ad revenue is not a winning strategy. There are countless ways to make money with an audience, even above and beyond the ones mentioned here on this list.

What I have always found with my channel is that I get paid in direct proportion to the value I provide. If I can increase the number of people I provide value to, or even provide more value to my existing audience, my income will increase as well. If money is your focus with a channel or online business, start by focusing on value and the money will follow.

Your next step from here is to get started with your channel. If you are already an established channel, consider what other methods for making money are a good fit for you. It is important to build one income stream at a time. If you do everything at once, like trying to build out a blog and a Patreon site at the same time, you will overwhelm yourself and burn out. Baby steps!

What method for making money on YouTube interests you the most?

How to Make Money on YouTube
About Ryan Scribner

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