Last updated on February 6, 2020
Both new and OG YouTube creators are always interested in answers to this question- “How do we get money from YouTube?”.
In 2007, YouTube made its first attempt at providing a solution; it started a Partner Program for creators.
With this partnership, the platform could place ads on creators’ videos, and pay them a percentage of the revenue.
Creators use this program and also work independently with brands on sponsorship and promotional deals.
Over the last few years, earning from YouTube has become a profitable business strategy. Forbes’ YouTube top earners category features people like Ryan, an eight-year-old making $22 million, and the Dude Perfect team at $20 million.
However, these figures represent the top 1% of YouTube.
A lot of the people earning from this platform make an average income.
And most creators make nothing from video marketing.
Just like any other business, earning from YouTube requires a strategic approach.
Yes, you will have to regard your work as a business to get in the right mindset for making money.
The first step is to explore your income options for the most viable ones you can pursue.
Different Options to Get Money from YouTube
- 1 Different Options to Get Money from YouTube
- 1.1 YouTube’s Partner Program
- 1.2 Pros
- 1.3 Cons
- 1.4 2. Affiliate Marketing
- 1.5 Pros
- 1.6 Cons
- 1.7 3. Sell merchandise
- 1.8 Pros
- 1.9 Cons
- 1.10 4. Convert viewers into leads for your business
- 1.11 As part of their video marketing strategy, business owners and marketers can use YouTube to generate leads.
- 1.12 In 2015, Casey Neistat, a video content creator, started daily vlogging on his YouTube channel.
- 1.13 His primary goal with these vlogs was to create awareness about his new video-sharing app, Beme.
- 1.14 Within the first week of its launch, Beme recorded 1.1 million video shares.
- 1.15 Even though the company would not last long, it enjoyed high engagement (and sold for $25 million) because of the influence that Neistat built on YouTube.
- 1.16 Pros
- 1.17 Cons
- 2 Conclusion
There are several ways to get started with earning from YouTube.
If you are new to the platform, you may not yet qualify for YouTube’s partnership program.
However, you can still earn through other means.
Even after you are qualified for YouTube’s program, you should diversify your income portfolio to minimize risk.
For example, in 2017, YouTube suddenly demonetized videos that contained what they classified as inappropriate content.
Creators who relied on the platform for their paycheck saw up to an 80% drop in income.
It is helpful to spread out your income sources to avoid such unknowns.
Here are several ways in which YouTube creators get money.
YouTube’s Partner Program
This is the most popular method to earn on YouTube.
Creators join this program because it is easy to enable.
YouTube handles the job of finding advertisers.
The advertisers are solely responsible for creating good ad content.
All you have to do as a creator is to enable your channel for monetization.
However, not every creator is eligible for the Partner Program. Here are the YPP requirements to join.
Live in a country or region where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
- Have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
- Have more than 1,000 subscribers.
- Have a linked AdSense account.
After fulfilling these requirements, the monetization process is not automatic.
You have to submit an application which will be reviewed.
This review can take up to a month as YouTube claims that human reviewers manually go through each channel’s content.
YouTube can choose to accept or reject your application.
However, creators are allowed to make the requested changes and reapply as many times as they may need.
There are two significant reasons why some creators may get a rejection email.
The first is their possible use of inappropriate content.
YouTube is concerned about placing advertisements next to sexual content, harmful content, hate speech, violent content, and cyberbullying.
These rules are taken seriously, and even YouTube’s biggest creators are held to them.
For example, PewdiePie, one of YouTube’s top 10 earners, was found posting anti-semitic content in 2017.
YouTube’s response was to cancel his upcoming YouTube Red series and take his channel off their Premium advertising program.
As long as your channel depends on YouTube for advertising-income, expect that they will always scrutinize your content.
The second reason why some creators get a rejection letter is copyright infringement.
Many people are not even aware of the countless ways they could be breaking copyright laws.
Using other people’s content without express consent in your video is frowned upon on YouTube.
Even if you make statements like “No copyright infringement intended”, you have not legally cleared your actions.
Overall, YPP is a recommended method for creators to get money from YouTube.
Before you send in your application, here are the pros and cons to consider.
- No effort required from you
YouTube is responsible for finding advertisers, collecting payment, customer support, and other tasks that are needed from an advertising channel.
You don’t have to do anything more than create and upload videos.
- Guaranteed income
Brands launch new ad campaigns on YouTube every minute.
As long as your channel is monetized, YouTube will bring advertisers to you.
This means that an active channel with substantial viewing rates is guaranteed an income every month.
- YouTube heavily regulates your content
Creators in the YPP are aware that the smallest slip-up could get their video demonetized.
You will have to familiarize yourself with copyright laws and YouTube’s extensive list of violations.
- Fraudulent copyright claims
YouTube has a Content ID program that helps companies claim revenue when a creator uses their music, movies, games, and more illegally.
They have the option to divert any revenue made by that creator, using their content, towards their own company.
So far, Content ID has paid out billions of dollars to the owners of these claims. Sounds like a good program, right?
Except that creators have reported that scammers use this program to steal from them.
There are companies set up expressly to attack creators with Content ID claims and divert their ad revenue.
YouTube addressed this issue earlier this year, but creators still face this problem.
If you plan to join the YPP, you should be aware that you may have to deal with Content ID claims in the future.
Even if you follow all the copyright guidelines.
- Regulations can change at any time
YouTube just released the COPPA regulation that will change how every YouTube channel operates.
Creators who refuse could lose their advertising revenue.
Such unexpected changes have happened several times in the past.
We expect that they will still occur in the future.
If you depend on YouTube’s program for monetization, you have no choice but to comply with each new regulation.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing deal that often happens between brands and creators.
The creator promotes a brand’s product or service on their channel, and get a small commission whenever a viewer makes a purchase.
Amazon Affiliate is the most prominent program currently available.
Usually, the brands promoted are within the creator’s niche.
For example, a sportsperson would promote outdoor gear, a beauty creator will promote beauty products, and a travel vlogger will promote booking services.
These creators are not limited to their fields, though.
They can also promote unrelated services as long as they have the right audience.
To find an affiliate program, you can reach out to a brand of interest and ask if they offer partnerships.
Brands that provide this program often have a page on their website stating the terms and agreements.
You can also use a service like Commission Junction to connect with brands offering affiliate programs in your industry.
You can even kill two birds with one stone by promoting tools that allow you to create the videos to promote other tools.
- Better control over ad placement
With the YouTube Partnership Program, creators have no say in which ads can be placed on their videos.
With affiliate marketing, you can choose the brands that will be associated with your content.
- Low investment
You don’t have to worry about production, marketing, customer service, and other requirements that come with selling a product.
Convincing your audience to make a purchase is all you need to do to earn revenue.
- Small channels may be rejected
Most brands want to work with creators who have a certain level of influence.
They often have a benchmark for several subscribers or watch hours required from affiliate partners.
If your channel is still relatively small, finding a partner may become a challenge.
- Income is undetermined
There’s no assurance that your viewers will patronize a buy from after promoting their products in your videos.
Even if you’re affiliate partners with the biggest brands, you could still potentially take home nothing at the end of the day.
3. Sell merchandise
Merchandising is one of the biggest income sources for YouTube creators.
Jake Paul, the 2nd highest paid YouTuber of 2018, built his wealth mainly through selling merchandise.
There are also million dollar companies such as Fanjoy, who were created to help creators sell “merch”.
YouTube creators sell merchandise to give their audience a channel for support.
The creators who are successful with this strategy are usually those who have managed to build an online community.
Their fans buy branded items such as hoodies, cups, shirts, bags, and others to support their favorite creators.
This strategy to get money from YouTube works better for creators with a large following.
- No income limitation
There’s no cap on how much money you can earn from your own merch business.
Many YouTube creators release new products every year (or season) and continue to make high sales.
- Full creative control
Your merch embodies your brand.
As the creator, you have the final approval over all products.
This is different from YPP and affiliate marketing, where creators’ works are used to promote brands that they have no stake in.
- Poor sales
If a creator overestimates their potential sales and performs poorly, they could be left with tons of unsold inventory.
This means that their investment could be tied down, and they could lose money.
- Higher responsibilities
Once a creator starts selling branded products, they are essentially a business.
Even if they use third-party services such as Fanjoy and Crowdmade.
When buyers have a complaint, they will reach out to you publicly.
You’re also responsible for damage control and other PR needs.
Outsourcing these tasks could give the impression that you are detached from the process, which could be bad for a merch business.
4. Convert viewers into leads for your business
As part of their video marketing strategy, business owners and marketers can use YouTube to generate leads.
In 2015, Casey Neistat, a video content creator, started daily vlogging on his YouTube channel.
His primary goal with these vlogs was to create awareness about his new video-sharing app, Beme.
Even though the company would not last long, it enjoyed high engagement (and sold for $25 million) because of the influence that Neistat built on YouTube.
If you have a business that sells products and services, YouTube could serve as a great marketing tool.
The platform provides the right opportunity to build a community around your brand.
Your target with YouTube content creation could be spread across several marketing aims with the end goal of making sales.
- Authentic experience
Consumers, now more than ever, appreciate brands that are authentic and relatable.
80% of buyers say that authenticity is important to decide which brands they trust and support. This sense of authenticity cannot be faked.
It comes from real human connections.
Interacting with your target audience is one way to build these connections and get them interested in your brand.
If your primary focus is your business, then creating YouTube videos may be time-consuming.
Most brands that use YouTube as a marketing tool often work with a team or use paid ads for quicker ROI.
As a YouTube creator, you can choose to earn from one, more, or all of these channels.
I would recommend that you pick one or two options and invest your time and effort into them.
Avoid spreading your resources too thin.
It is better to have a couple of reliable income sources than several unreliable ones.
Across these sources to get money from YouTube, one thing is constant: you need to build your channel first.
Focus on building a community that supports you.
Earn their trust and share with them.
Finally, pay attention to YouTube’s ever-changing regulations to stay ahead of any developments that could affect creators like you.
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