For the last few months I’ve made $3,000 – $5,000 per month from being a YouTuber. This allowed me to pay off my debt, build an emergency fund, and pay for a car in cash. Making money from YouTube changed my life and I want to share what I’ve learned to help others do the same.
How do you make money on YouTube? How do you grow a channel so that it’s sustainable and able to earn you enough money to pay for bills or even support you full time?
In this post I’m going over how to make money on YouTube, from how you can make money with ads to how you can multiple your efforts with affiliate marketing. I’m giving you insight into what it takes to actually make money on YouTube after three years of learning how to do it on my own. I hope these tips on how to grow your channel so it is large enough to make a difference in your life financially.
How do YouTube channels make money?
If you are a YouTuber or want to make videos on YouTube then you probably want to know how you can make money from doing.
There are people who make a full time income from just YouTube – but how do they manage it?
There are 5 main ways most YouTubers make money:
- Ad revenue
- Affiliate marketing
- Brand deals: Sponsored videos / Partnerships
- Community: Memberships / Patreon
- Sales: Product sales / merch
I’m will focus a lot on ad revenue and affiliate marketing because that is how I make the majority of my money from Youtube! They are my favorite ways to earn money because they can be very passive and they are great for new YouTubers.
A new YouTube channel can’t make much money doing brand deals and sponsored videos, but they can promote products and make money through affiliate marketing.
How to Make Money On YouTube
I’m a small YouTuber but this is my favorite side hustle to earn money because even though it has taken a ton of work upfront, I can do it while being around my baby and family.
I started YouTube just to share videos of my family’s Alaska vacation with friends but it sparked a creative passion that I never expected to find.
One reason why I love YouTube is because I don’t have to leave to sell more of my time for money. I can make a video once and then it continues to earn and grow as time goes on and new people find it. There are millions and billions of people out there potentially waiting to see my videos. It’s an endless opportunity!
Another reason why I like YouTube is because I can keep side hustling and earning money online to get to freedom while also supporting others! It’s another platform to share my message of financial encouragement and motivation. There is a huge community on YouTube encouraging and supporting each other as we pay off debt, build businesses, and change our lives financially.
Luckily I have been earning money from both of my Youtube channels for a while now. While I’m not YouTube rich or quitting my job any time soon, I do make enough money that it is helping us pay off debt and improve our lives financially.
If you’ve been curious about how people make money off YouTube, keep reading as I share all my income sources!
The income sources for my channel include (affiliate links to each):
- Adsense (YouTube Ads)
- Sponsored Posts
- Capital One
- Erin Condren
- Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing Course
- Product sales
Other creators also do more intricate brand deals, channel sponsorships, create membership sites or sell merchandise. There are a lot of different ways to make money surrounding a YouTube channel.
Make Money With Ad Revenue
YouTube ad revenue can be very lucrative in certain niches and there are many YouTube creators out there currently living on the ad revenue from their channels.
I’ve had a lot of my YouTube subscribers ask questions about how YouTube ads work and hopefully this sheds a little bit of light on how YouTubers generate income with ads on their videos.
I’m sharing how much YouTube paid me for two million video views and how exactly YouTube advertising works.This is a video about a lower paying niche but it shows what can be possible with ad revenue. In some of my recent online income updates I’ve shared that I’m making over $3,000 most months from just YouTube ad revenue.
I also want you to know that it is possible to earn money on this platform through ad revenue even if you aren’t a big channel. Neither of my channels is over 20k subs but I’m still earning a good amount of money via ads because I’ve focused on getting views over getting subscribers.
It is 100% possible to make money on YouTube. It is not easy to do, but it is possible.
How YouTube Ads Work
I wanted to clear up some things about ad rates and how ads on Youtube work. There are many different factors that go into different ad rates for channels and this determines how much YouTube creators make for each video on their channel.
YouTube pays creators a split of the ad revenue on each video. YouTube take a chunk for supplying the platform and tools for creators and channel creators take a chunk for supplying their content to YouTube’s hungry audience.
Ad revenue on videos is determined by factors like:
- audience location
- audience interaction with the ad
- audience demographics
- number of ads in a video
Clearly there are a lot of factors you can’t control and depend entirely on your audience. You have even less control when a video goes viral and hits different audiences. YouTube makes sure ads are served up that benefit both the viewer. As a creator the main things that you can control is making good content and making sure you turn on a couple ads per video.
There are many, many factors to determining the ad earnings for a video and I didn’t even cover some in the video like number of ads you include in your video!
Growing Your YouTube Ad Revenue
In order to make more on YouTube from ads you need to get more people to watch more ads. It’s really that simple. But there are many different tips for accomplishing this so here are a few of my favorites:
- Add more ads to your videos including before the video, after the video and mid-roll ads. More ads increases your CPM because more people watch more ads during each viewing.
- Create longer videos so you can get to the 10 minute mark which enables mid-roll ads. Of course if your content needs to be shorter, then don’t stretch it out. The important thing is to keep viewers ENGAGED for the whole video.
- Make your content binge worthy so the viewer goes from one video to the next. You can do this with series, playlists, and calling out specific videos to watch next at the end of a video. This guides the viewer to watch another video which makes your channel grow and increases your ad revenue.
- Create evergreen content that people will be able to watch again and again or find useful any time they find it in the future. This gives your video a longer earning period.
- Make videos on popular or trending topics to ride waves of interest and large viewership increases. An example of this is the many channels who made videos about the stimulus program. Some channels were able to gain millions of views within a month which made them a lot of money in ad revenue!
- Great good videos that people want to watch and share! This will definitely help your ad revenue grow because the more your videos are watched and shared the more money you can make.
Those are a few of the best tips for growing your ad revenue on YouTube!
Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is where you promote products to your audience and then earn a commission when someone makes a purchase through your unique affiliate link.
You earn money by selling other people’s products.
The commissions for those sales can range from 4% to 70% of the product sales price.
As you can see, you can earn major amounts of money when you are earning 50% or more of a product price without having to create the product.
Affiliate marketing works in the same way as many old school referral programs and allows people to earn money through their blog or social media platforms by talking about things they love. It actually works well for all parties involved because you are only paid when you make a sale, it does not increase consumer cost, and the company providing the product does not have to pay upfront in case you don’t provide sales.
There are affiliate programs for all types of products and in every industry. There are affiliate programs where you can earn money promoting clothing, makeup, crafts, credit cards, bank accounts, ebooks, online courses and more. Regardless of what you plan to talk about online there will be an affiliate marketing program that will fit into your niche.
Affiliate programs will pay commissions in three different ways:
- Pay per sale – You will earn a commission only when someone makes a purchase through your affiliate link.
- Pay per lead – You will earn a commission if someone signs up for a free trial or creates a free account or somehow otherwise gives a company their email address as a lead.
- Pay per click – This style of program is where you are paid money whenever someone clicks through one of your links.
There are many types of affiliate marketing programs but the most common one is pay per sale. That is what I will be referring to and giving tips to since it is what I use the most.
Best Affiliate Marketing Programs For Youtube Channels
There are several affiliate networks with multiple affiliate programs I’ve used very successfully that I want to share for any channels looking to monetize.
An affiliate network is simply a company that runs multiple affiliate programs for different companies. It’s a great way for YouTubers to get access to multiple companies in one place. I highly recommend joining each network listed below and then finding individual companies that match your content within each network.
ShareASale – ShareASale is an affiliate network which means it is a platform where you can sign up for multiple affiliate programs within it.
There are a couple great programs within ShareASale and this is one of the few networks that also offers the ability to earn recurring revenue through two-tier programs.
To start earning affiliate income with ShareASale, go sign up and look through the programs available. ShareASale was acquired by Awin so they actually have even more options now than before!
Awin – This is another affiliate network where you can sign up for multiple programs in one place. There are many good programs here and Awin consistently earns me hundreds of dollars monthly, but mainly from one program: Etsy.
That’s right, Etsy has an affiliate marketing program! They offer their affiliates 4% of anything someone purchases through an affiliate link. While 4% isn’t much, it can really add up if people are buying budget sets monthly and more.
I highly recommend you use the Etsy affiliate program to link to your favorite shops on Etsy. You get a small 4% kickback but it doesn’t cost the shop or the customer anything extra. It comes from Etsy’s fees and is a great way for you to earn money by promoting small businesses on Etsy.
To promote Etsy shops or any Awin affiliate partner you should go start an account with Awin.
FlexOffers is an affiliate network that is geared toward many financial affiliate programs so it’s a great option if you have a channel about budgeting or any financial topic.
Within FlexOffers there are a number of financial programs on multiple topics about money:
- credit repair & reporting
- debt services
- home loans
- investment services
- tax services
Clearly FlexOffers is the place to be if you are running a channel about personal finances and want to find affiliate programs to promote!
To promote these financial products you should go start an account at FlexOffers and search for any of the programs in the network.
Impact Radius is another affiliate marketing network that works very well for YouTube creators.
On this network you can find a lot of companies that you’ve probably seen other promote like Canva, Harry’s, FuboTV and more.
To make money with this network you can sign up for Impact Radius here.
Affiliate Marketing Tips For YouTubers
If you are a YouTuber with a budgeting related channel and want to start use affiliate marketing to earn money then here are some of my favorite tips:
- Mention your links in the video and direct your audience to your description box.
- Include an affiliate disclaimer link in your description box that is clear you will make a commission.
- Link to specific products you use instead of the general page. The less steps between a buyer and the purchase the better. Specific links convert better than generic ones.
- Use products in the programs that you are promoting as an affiliate. If you have a choice to use products in the program or not, use the ones you can promote as an affiliate. People always want to know where you got things.
- Leave a link to what you used in the video in a pinned comment.
- Respond to any questions where people ask where you got something and give them the affiliate link. (This is just polite practice as well that builds trust with your audience.)
Those are just a few of my best tips for how I’ve managed to share products I love like my favorite budget stickers shops and cash envelope makers while also earning income for doing it!
Make Money With Products / Merch
Another way many YouTubers make money is by creating and selling merchandise or various types of products.
Many of the most financially successful creators have created product lines and real businesses surrounding their channels. Here I’m going to focus on the more common options: print on demand merchandise and digital products.
Merch Via Print On Demand
Thanks to the concept of Print On Demand companies it is very easy for YouTubers to make money selling merchandise. Instead of creating huge amounts of inventory you instead can use these companies to make items for you only when you make sales from your audience.
All you have to do is make the designs and upload them to these sites. These print on demand companies then create the product whenever you make a sale.
Sites you can use to sell merch:
If you have a great brand and catchy phrases you can successfully create merch that your audience will buy.
Digital products are a great way to monetize your YouTube audience. Many YouTubers do this through creating and selling courses through sites like Teachable.
Creating digital products like courses is a wonderful way to monetize because you do the work upfront but then can be paid over and over again. Digital products are a great passive income source model for YouTubers.
Other digital products I’ve seen YouTube creators sell successfully include:
- Guides and workboooks
- Printable sticker kits
I’ve done this personally by creating digital products related to my channel that I sell through Etsy and other websites.
If you want to learn about earning income from selling products, check out my content about selling digital products online and 63 digital product ideas you can sell online for ideas of product you can make and sell for your channel.
Make Money With Community Support
Another way to make money on YouTube is by allowing your community to support you financially.
There are a couple ways to do this. The most popular options include:
- YouTube Memberships
- YouTube Superchats & Applause
Patreon allows you to build community support with a membership style monthly billing process. You can offer extra goodies to your patrons or just allow them to show their support.
You can also do this through YouTube for a more seamless process though you lose more of the revenue to YouTube’s cut.
Personally I’ve been experimenting with both of these revenue streams since I post a lot of content for free. Both have had signups though neither one has been a huge financial success. I’m still so grateful for the support people are giving me to create content.
How Much Small YouTubers Make
In the video above, I’m sharing what I made from YouTube ads since I’ve been monetized with my main channel and giving you a look at my analytics of my best performing videos. This video helped answer the questions I got often about what I made as a small creator.
I started my channel without any expectations of making money on YouTube. I made small amounts less than $20 a month when I started and then when my channel was demonetized for being too small, I really couldn’t imagine getting to this point of earning money. It seemed so far out of reach.
Yet with my channel’s growth and my connections to larger YouTube channel creators, I now see that I’m still just at the beginning of what is possible with YouTube income!
I’ve always loved seeing real numbers from other creators which is why I wanted to share my own experiences and numbers with making money on YouTube. I’m not a videographer or a technical person so I wanted to share what a regular person earning income from this hobby could potentially make.
Growing Your YouTube Channel
If you want to make more from your small Youtube channel then the best way to do it is to grow your channel. The more people that find you the more money you will make.
Here are the ways I’ve learned to grow on YouTube.
Get Useful Growth Tools
I resisted using a paid tool like TubeBuddy for a while because I thought I was smart enough to do it on my own but when I finally caved and bought a subscription I kicked myself for not doing it sooner.
With TubeBuddy you can see EXACTLY what other channels are using for their tags and video data and compare their channels to yours. You can learn how to do a lot of title and tag work for SEO with TubeBuddy.
some of my other favorite tools I’ve used inside TubeBuddy while growing my channel:
- canned responses to reply to comments faster
- comment filters
- upload checklist
- card templates
- end screen templates
- video topic planner
Those are a few of my favorite tools within my account to grow. TubeBuddy has a free version with limited tools listed here and paid accounts when you really want to grow (which are amazing for the price).
Learn About SEO
There are tons of videos on Youtube about how to use SEO on the platform. Watch some. Learn about what keywords are and how to use them. For many channels, search is the key way they are found and earn money.
To shorten your journey in learning and implementing SEO, I again recommend TubeBuddy because it’s like an all in one solution for YouTubers.
Here are the SEO tools you have access to inside TubeBuddy:
- view and copy video tags from another channel
- tag rankings so you can track where you rank
- suggested tags for your videos
- keyword explorer
- search rankings
- best practices audit
And even more! All of those tools help you get your video ranked on YouTube so you get more views. It seriously has more tools than I’ve even had time to use yet but what I have used above has helped take my videos to the next level.
Since I’ve been using TubeBuddy my SEO has improved and my search traffic has doubled. Seriously, it doubled! TubeBuddy has been an incredibly helpful and the first month I used it I actually doubled the views on my channel going from 45,000 views in a month to 110,000 in a month.
Make Good Videos
Seriously, making good videos is how you grow on YouTube. There are a lot of additional factors but you won’t grow if you make bad videos.
You should be making videos that you know are good. If they make you cringe when you are rewatching to edit, how do you expect anyone else to enjoy them?
Here are a few of the best tips from successful creators I’ve followed about making good videos:
- Get to the point in your videos. Don’t ramble on for a long period at the beginning where people will fall off. Study your old videos too see where people drop off.
- Make your videos provide value. If your videos are educational then make them very educational. If they are entertainment based then they should provide value by making your viewer feel something. Think of each video and consider what value it is providing someone.
- Audio quality matters the most even over video quality. You can have top notch video but if your audio is bad people will stop watching.
- Focus on your presentation and story telling skills. When you first start making videos you probably won’t be very good at this but it’s something that makes the best YouTubers connect with their audience.
- Every video on your channel is providing some type of value. That value might be education or entertainment or just a feeling like someone belongs. You need to recognize what value you are providing and then put your own unique spin on it.
Remember that these are all things that you can work on and you can’t compare yourself to other creators. You should work hard to improve your skills and tune out the distractions of others.
Having a community around your channel and your videos is another great way to guarantee successful video launches and continued success. Building community can be done in a few ways:
- commenting on other youtube channels
- responding to all of your comments
- referencing viewers and comments in your videos
- giving shoutouts to people in your community
- giving your viewers a nickname and expected phrases
Those are just a few ways I’ve found to build my community but you can find what works for you! The most successful YouTube channels have an element of community around them.
Those are just some of the ways I’ve learned how to grow my channel and consistently doubled my channel size each year I’ve been on Youtube while still keeping consistent and engaged subscribers.
Making Money On YouTube
Making money on YouTube is not a fast process.
In fact, even after consistently making videos for two years I’m still a small YouTuber only making $400ish a month on ads. I’m nowhere near a fulltime income from YouTube even after putting in hours and hours of work.
That isn’t to discourage anyone trying to make money on YouTube (or myself), but be aware that it isn’t fast and it does involve a lot of work! The honest truth about YouTube is that it’s hard to make money.
For every channel that succeeds and earns a massive amount of money, there are thousands who toil away unnoticed and eventually give up.
If you want to be successful on YouTube you need to go one of two ways: 1) do it for the creative outlet and not for money 2) be very strategic and have a business plan from the beginning.
Either way, you have to take into consideration the types of videos you make on YouTube and the types of advertisers that might want to advertise to your audience. If you are in a niche that doesn’t have high paying advertisements then you will need a lot more views to make the same amount of money as someone in another niche.
Knowing a bit about how YouTube ads work can help you create your own plan for your channel’s success. Hopefully this look into my analytics and more information about how to make money on YouTube has been helpful for you!