YouTube has more than 2 billion active users, and 500 hours of uploaded content, every month. Though it takes time, effort, and luck, there are many ways to make money on this mammoth platform. True, getting eyes on your content isn't like it was in the beginning, but the possibility to earning an income does exist. You just need to know how to strategically diversify your monetization options and, of course, have footage the people want to see!
Becoming part of the YouTube Partner Program, YPP, gives you access to monetizing advertising placed in your videos. To get to that level, there are three requirements: you have to have at least 1,000 followers and 4,000 public watch hours over the last year, and you must be on YouTube’s good side by adhering to community guidelines. Once you have those covered, you can sign up for the YPP and start earning from ads.
While many may not be familiar with the name Felix Kjellberg, they probably recognize his YouTube alter ego, PewDiePie. He started off streaming himself playing video games. In July 2012, he hit his first million subscribers, and his popularity skyrocketed. A small part of his $30 million income comes from monetizing his views. He has close to half a billion views per month, which roughly translates into at least $500,000.
Once you’ve established yourself as a brand on YouTube, you want a way to create a more significant connection with your audience. Selling merchandise through your own store is another way to make more from YouTube and puts you on the path to diversifying your income streams. To get ideas, research your competition and figure out which success story concepts best fit your brand.
Ryan Higa, NigaHiga, is known for his multibillion-view comedy videos. He’s one of YouTube's top earners and, some sources say, makes around $5 per 1,000 views, which is well above average. Ryan found a way to leverage viewer loyalty: his merchandising brand, Giant Hugs, sells fun gear, such as hoodies, phone cases, and cute plush toys.
Influencer marketing is a popular term on several social networks, but on a video search engine like YouTube, it's been a built-in feature for years. YouTubers with solid, growing brands may get offers from companies who are willing to pay hundreds or thousands to access that rapt audience. The beauty of this strategy is that while creators may have gotten to this level thanks to YouTube, the platform gets nothing from sponsored content, as influencers and the companies negotiate directly.
Aaron Marino — Alpha M to his fans — is an image consultant whose channel is all about helping men become more confident. He talks about style and grooming to his more than six million subscribers. Aaron reports that he gets no less than 10 sponsorship offers daily and rejects 90 percent of them, because they don’t fit his standards. While he doesn’t state how much he makes on YouTube, he admits that potential sponsors must have a healthy budget to be considered.
Soliciting donations is a lot easier to do on YouTube and is a viable income stream. If content creators don’t have merchandise or sponsorship opportunities but have a significant backlist of content or a calendar of great stuff coming up, ongoing crowdfunding efforts provide income in exchange for special access. Additionally, if YouTubers want to fund a project related to their channel, they can create one-off crowdfunding campaigns.
Patreon is a top crowdfunding site for YouTubers. Some of them use it to fund excursions that they document for followers. Others offer prizes, like YouTube creator Flight Chops, who partnered with a sponsor to do a special giveaway to one of his patrons. Membership can be as little as $1 per month, but must have significant value add if prices are higher. For example, Strange Rebel Gaming has an extensive backlog of videos that she posts, but a significant portion of her income comes from doing extensive walk-throughs and tutorials of video games chosen by her subscribers, who each pay about $100 a month.
Becoming a YouTube Partner opens up myriad opportunities for creators to get paid directly from viewers. Launched in 2017, Super Chat allows creators to make money during live chats. Viewers pay for their comments to be pinned by the YouTuber during the event, and the more they pay, the longer it’s pinned. Creators can also directly monetize their channels by offering tiered membership opportunities, and those in YPP even get a cut of a YouTube premium member's fee every time the member watches one of their videos.
YouTubers can also make bank from licensing timely content, whether it goes viral or not. Imagine if you have exclusive footage of some newsworthy event, or you did something incredibly funny, stupid, or adventurous. Outlets will pay for the rights to broadcast that video, but you need to sign up to a video rights marketplace to get those full benefits.
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