It’s no secret that YouTube is one of the best ways to make money online. Take it from me – I earn over $20,000 a month from my YouTube channel.
But where does this money come from? Is it from ad revenue, sponsors paying big bucks to feature their product or service, or selling merch?
“How to make money with YouTube” is a question I get asked a lot.
So, here is a comprehensive list detailing how YouTube content creators like me earn money from their channels.
How to make money on YouTube
- YouTube Partner Program
- Affiliate Marketing
- Sponsorships & brand deals
- License video content
- Live streams and super chat
- Channel memberships and Patreon
- Faceless YouTube channel
- Selling courses
- Combine with a blog
- Fan funding
- Market your services
- Sell merchandise
- Become a YouTube consultant
1. Join the YouTube Partner Program and earn from video ads.
YouTube’s Partner Program is the most well-known way to make money on YouTube.
Have you noticed how on some videos, YouTube ads will appear? Those ads are from advertisers paying YouTube to advertise their service or product.
These advertisements appear in various forms – including display, overlay, sponsored cards, and skippable and non-skippable ads.
Advertisers will pay YouTube every time a viewer sees an ad. YouTube will then take a 45% cut and pay the rest to the content creator via their Google Adsense account.
However, not everyone is eligible to join the YouTube Partner Program. There are some requirements you need to satisfy first.
Aside from adhering to YouTube’s ad rules, you must also have a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 video watch hours on your channel in the last 12 months (or 10M valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days).
If you want to see the monetization status of your channel, you can check using YouTube Studio.
Your YouTube channel will also need a linked Adsense account in order to be paid.
Unfortunately, this revenue stream is typically not lucrative for most YouTube channels – depending on a few factors.
For example, if most of their viewers are located in a third-world country, or the topic of their videos is low-paying (e.g. gaming), advertisers won’t pay a lot.
This results in a low CPM, or cost-per-mille. CPM is what advertisers will pay YouTube per 1000 ad views. This ranges from $1-5$ on the lower end (like gaming and vlogs), to $50+ (topics like finance and cryptocurrency).
I’m lucky enough to be in the technology niche, which usually pays decently, as shown in my yearly earnings below.
If you’re wondering about YouTube Premium revenue – it only consists of a small percentage of your overall earnings. YouTube premium members do not see ads, so instead a tiny percentage of their monthly premium fee (usually around $10) is paid towards each video they watch.
Overall I believe the YouTube partner program is the most effective way to maximise YouTube earnings.
And once you can get your videos monetized, they will continue making money passively in the background for years!
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing on YouTube is one of the most lucrative revenue streams on the platform.
Depending on how much traffic your channel receives and the quality of your video content, you can make anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars each month.
It’s also one of the easiest ways to start making money on YouTube. The process is simple:
- Find a company or website with an affiliate program (e.g., Amazon Associates) and apply to join.
- Once accepted, use their tools to create affiliate links to the products or services you plan to feature in your videos.
- Include these links in your YouTube video descriptions or even in a pinned comment.
- When viewers click on these links and make a purchase, you receive affiliate revenue – either a percentage of the sale or a flat fee.
- Keep uploading videos or creating videos that you can add additional affiliate links to – increasing your affiliate revenue streams over time.
I’ve been implementing affiliate links on my YouTube channel from the beginning, and I make over $5000 each month from Amazon Affiliates alone.
These links never expire – so the more videos you upload and add affiliate links to, the more your affiliate revenue grows each month.
3. Sponsorships and brand deals
Brands are investing heavily into YouTube influencers in terms of marketing and sponsorships – and these brands can have huge budgets.
You can negotiate highly profitable deals by leveraging your successful YouTube channel and loyal audience.
This is because your audience has typically built a lot of trust in you – the video creator. Brands can take advantage of this to help sell their product.
I regularly get emails from companies willing to pay me anywhere from $500 to $2000+ to feature their product in my YouTube video.
I’m a small fish in a big pond though. There are many YouTube channels out there making $20,000+ per video from sponsors.
That’s right… Pretty crazy stuff. I often chart monthly estimated revenue for some of the biggest channels in my niche, and I’m regularly blown away by how much sponsor money is being thrown around out there.
The amount of money brands are willing to pay can vary. It depends on several factors – including audience demographics, your channel niche, length and quality of the video, and the type of product they want to advertise.
These sponsorships or brand deals can take many forms. For example:
- Paying a flat fee to dedicate a small section of your video to feature a product
- Sponsoring a whole video or your entire channel
- Create sponsored content for the brand’s channel or website
- Sending you free products in return for a review
- Even paying you to NOT advertise or feature a competitor’s product
However, sponsorships and brand deals can be a double-edged sword. It’s essential to keep in mind how your audience might react to specific brands or products you endorse in your videos.
If you think something might negatively impact the trust your viewers place in you, it probably will, and you should decline that sponsorship.
It’s deceptively easy to appear like a “sell-out,” causing your audience to quickly lose trust in you – which is the source of all your sponsorship and brand deals.
If you “sell-out” and your subscribers choose not to watch your videos, this may also negatively impact your advertising revenue.
Personally, I don’t want to advertise something that I wouldn’t want to use myself, or that I know is not a good product.
Shorts are an effective way to make money on YouTube, and utilizing Shorts is a great way to quickly grow the average YouTube channel. It might even result in a viral video or two.
In the past, short-form content on YouTube wasn’t very profitable despite it’s popularity. Shorts creators had access to the “YouTube Shorts Fund”, but eligibility and revenue potential was limited.
This has since changed.
From 2023, current and future YouTube partner program members are eligible for revenue sharing on shorts.
What does this mean exactly? Well, ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed, and every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators.
YouTube will of course still keep their 45% and only give you the usual 65% cut. However this is still much better than competing platforms like Facebook or TikTok.
5. License video content
Media outlets like The Dodo are always on the lookout for high-quality, trending, or viral content published by YouTube content creators.
If you’ve got a video they want, licensing the rights to that video is an easy way to make money on YouTube.
The prices for video licensing can vary a lot. The most common types of licensing usually involve news sites, TV shows, or other creators offering relatively low sums of money in exchange for the rights to use your content on their platform.
However – sometimes the demand for your content is so high that you’ll have offers flooding in.
For example, if you filmed a celebrity doing something controversial and uploaded it to your YouTube channel. Brands like TMZ might offer upwards of $10,000 for the rights to that video.
6. Live streams and Super Chat
Live streams, Super Thanks, Super Chat, and Super Stickers are another way to make money from your YouTube channel.
Super Chat and Super Stickers replaced YouTube’s “Fan Funding” in 2017.
Super Chat makes your viewers’ messages highlighted during a live stream. This depends on the amount paid – and is highlighted and pinned at the top of the live chat stream window for a specific period of time.
Viewers also have the option to become members of your YouTube channel by paying a monthly fee. In exchange, they receive custom badges and emojis, and access to members-only exclusive content – such as private posts or Live Chats.
However, these options are only available to YouTube partners via the YouTube partner program. In addition, YouTube takes the same 45% cut of your Super Chat and membership earnings as it does with your Adsense.
Regardless, these sources are still an additional revenue stream, so you should encourage your audience to sign up.
Here are some ways to maximize your Live streams and Super Chat revenue
- Encourage your viewers to become paying members of your YouTube channel
- Offer incentives to them, like exclusive content, private chat sessions with you, or unique badges
- Create multiple channel membership tiers of varying prices, so your viewers have a few options to choose from
Although at the end of the day, the most important thing is that your videos are high-quality and you develop a strong community. It’s the simple stuff that matters most!
7. Channel memberships and Patreon
Another way to make money and diversify your YouTube income streams is to offer some kind of paid membership to your channel.
These come in two main forms – channel memberships via YouTube or Patreon.
Both options let your viewers pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to exclusive content (or to simply further support your YouTube videos).
This exclusive content can take the form of behind-the-scenes or bonus videos that aren’t available anywhere else, or access to your private YouTube community posts for channel members only (or the Patreon equivalent).
The only real difference between channel memberships and Patreon is that channel memberships are built-in to YouTube.
The advantage of this over Patreon is that your audience does not have to leave YouTube and go to the Patreon website to purchase a membership and access any exclusive content.
YouTube channel members will also have the option of displaying a “loyalty” badge next to their name when commenting on your videos. They shows they are a paid supporter of your channel.
A good example of this is Jake Tran. His most loyal subscribers have the option to pay a monthly fee and access his more controversial documentaries that are not released publicly.
Jake is able to sell channel memberships by implementing compelling calls to action during the video or in the video description.
However, there’s no magic strategy when it comes to convincing your YouTube audience to become members. All you need to do is focus on making videos that your viewers will love.
If you consistently upload good content, it’s inevitable that your audience will grow, and some of them will support you via a membership.
8. Earn money using a faceless YouTube channel
YouTube videos don’t have to feature the content creator to be successful. There are thousands of channels with nameless and faceless creators who create videos behind the scenes.
Some of these channels don’t even produce the content themselves. The videos are taken from other sources (abiding by legal and copyright laws) and either re-uploaded directly or edited together to create compilation or explainer-type videos.
Alternatively, you can outsource the production of videos to contractors or freelancers from Fiverr or Upwork.
This can work extraordinarily well for tutorial or explainer videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet, so people are constantly searching for all types of topics.
Want to hear something crazy? You won’t even need to do the voiceover yourself or hire someone to do it. There are AI tools out there, like murf.ai that can generate a lifelike voice from a script.
Some examples of a faceless YouTube channel include:
- Gaming content (e.g. Let’s Play, montages, compilations)
- Software tutorials via recording the computer screen
- Funny video compilations
- News sites uploading clips from other sources
9. Selling courses
Many YouTube stars sell their own course, and it’s without a doubt one of the most profitable YouTube monetization strategies out there.
For example, Matt D’Avella’s Slow Growth course, or Ali Abdaal’s Part-Time Youtuber Academy.
These digital courses can sell for thousands of dollars, and the best part is that almost no marketing is required.
Youtubers simply use their own channel to market and sell their course, typically to their own subscribers. All that’s required is a link in their video descriptions, and a callout during their video.
Course sales can be exponentially more profitable than ad revenue. This is because the creator often owns 100% of the course and does not need to split the proceeds, unlike adsense where YouTube takes 45%.
Although, a small fee is usually paid to the platform hosting the course.
Courses can also be about almost anything – from how to create an online business, to learning a language, or pottery. The sky is the limit.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t create a course just for the sake of an additional revenue stream.
You must be able to offer something of value, and your course must be as unique and high-quality as possible.
If you offer a basic rehashing of what everyone else has already said, or an extremely simplified course but at a premium price, it can backfire. This may result in you losing loyal subscribers while gaining a negative reputation.
10. Combine with a blog
Did you know some of your favorite YouTubers also have their own website or blog? Depending on your niche, this can be an incredibly powerful tool, because you can easily repurpose your content and reach new audiences.
Take my niche for example (technology). I spend hours testing products, writing reviews, and shooting footage to create videos for YouTube. I can simply take the script for that video, a few stills from whatever footage I’ve shot, and create a review on my website.
My blog post or review can then attract traffic from Google searches, and I can make money and create additional ad revenue from ad views via Google Adsense and affiliate links.
That’s two different ways to make money from the same piece of content!
11. Fan funding
Did you know that fans of a YouTube channel can actually help fund it’s content? You can ask your viewers to donate to a GoFundMe page or even invest directly in whatever project you’re undertaking.
For example, designing something that your viewers can benefit from, like 3D printer blueprints or even a documentary on a topic of their choice.
If you explain the project or video, how their funding will be used, and add a link in the video descriptions, you’d be surprised at how many of your subscribers would be interested.
12. Market your services
Making money on YouTube doesn’t have to be limited to Adsense and the YouTube partner program.
If you offer any type of services, you can market and advertise these services via your videos.
For example, if you make videos on fitness topics, and you also offer personal training, you can include a call to action during your videos and market your services to viewers.
The popular fitness YouTuber Mike Thurston used this strategy early in his YouTube career to earn money by offering online personal training services. Fast forward a few years, he now has such a large viewership that he’s transformed this into the THRST app instead.
Even if you don’t currently offer any services, it’s something to strongly consider. You can never have too many income streams…
13. Sell merchandise
You’ve seen it all before – popular YouTube content creators selling cheap branded t-shirts and coffee mugs. And sure, this is another way to make money on YouTube, but it’s not the best way.
Perhaps the greatest example of YouTuber merchandise I’ve ever seen is the Linus Tech Tips channel.
They’ve taken it to the next level, and have their own line of custom high-quality accessories and tools that are relevant to their audience.
Yes, it’s more expensive than simply using a service like Teespring to sell t-shirts, but it’s an incredibly effective way to make money.
If you can offer viewers a product that they can’t get anywhere else, and was also designed specifically for them, your viewers WILL buy it.
14. Become a YouTube consultant
Once you grow your channel, generate enough YouTube revenue, and become successful – consider helping others to do the same.
Many successful YouTubers join community groups or forums and offer advice and tips to others on how to grow their channels and make money. You can also offer a more comprehensive paid consulting service if you wish.
This can take the form of doing an “analysis” on someone’s channel, or even directly helping with the day-to-day operations of the channel.
Making Money on YouTube FAQ
How many YouTube views do you need to make money?
Once you join YouTube’s partner program, there is no minimum amount of video views required to make money. However, if you’re in a low-paying niche like gaming for example, you likely won’t earn a significant amount of money unless you are achieving hundreds of thousands of views per month.
How many subscribers do I need to make money on YouTube?
You only need 1000 subscribers to become a YouTube partner and earn money from your videos. To check how many subscribers you have – just click YouTube Studio in the top right drop-down menu when on the YouTube website.
How much money do YouTubers make?
YouTube influencers can make a lot of money, depending on their popularity, watch time, and video views. YouTube pays them 65% of all advertising revenue generated via placing ads on their videos. Although, this is only one of the ways that making videos on YouTube will allow them to earn money. Sponsorships, memberships, and affiliate programs are some additional monetization methods.
What’s the best way to make money on YouTube?
You can generate YouTube revenue in several ways. The most effective method in my opinion is sponsorships. If you can upload multiple videos that perform well, companies will reach out to you and offer to sponsor your videos. It won’t matter how many subscribers you have, or how old your channel is. As long as your videos are performing well.
Will I earn money from YouTube premium subscribers?
Yes you will, but it’s not a significant amount. Typically advertisers will pay more to get their advertisement in front of a relevant audience. YouTube premium subscribers do not see ads, so a tiny portion of their monthly subscription fee is paid to the creator each time a video is viewed.