Notice how the title of this article is How to Make Money on YouTube. By now, everyone knows you can make money on the platform—you just want to know how you can do it.
You’ve come to the right place.
At Foundr, we love YouTube. Our own channel has close to 200K subscribers, and we consistently pump out startup-focused content every week.
It’s an investment—believe us. But we’ve seen the return, and it’s worth the work.
Below, we outline 7 strategies you can use to make money on YouTube. Some, like sponsorship and ads, are a bit more traditional. Others, like affiliate marketing and Super Chat payments, are a tad more alternative.
Before we get into the tactics, let’s cover a few frequently asked questions that’ll give you a solid foundation and more realistic expectations.
How Much Money Can You Make on YouTube?
A lot. Or a little.
Some top-notch YouTube content creators make millions every year, while other hard-working producers make next to nothing.
Remember, just because you build it does not mean they will come.
If you want to make decent money off of YouTube ads, then you’ll need to regularly publish videos that get thousands of views. Creators make an average of $3 to $5 per 1,000 video reviews, so do the math on how much you’d like to make and work backward.
Want to make $5,000 per month with YouTube ads? You’ll need to receive anywhere from 1.0 million to 1.6 million views.
Yes, that’s a lot of views, but it’s not unreasonable if you can find a niche that’s demanding content.
How Many Viewers Do You Need to Monetize Your YouTube Channel?
Again, it depends.
If you rely on YouTube ads, you’ll mostly be looking at video reviews and doing the math mentioned above.
However, YouTube ads aren’t the only way to monetize your channel. Technically, you could start making money on YouTube at any point—regardless of how many subscribers or viewers you have. That’s because there are so many ways to make money on the platform.
You could have sponsorships and endorsements or merchandise and channel memberships. You might rely on affiliate partnerships or crowdfunding. Better yet, you could use all these tactics to make money on YouTube.
How to Make Money on YouTube
Below, we’ll break down 7 sure-fire ways you can use YouTube to make money. Don’t just focus on a single money-making method—try all of them:
- YouTube Ads
- Super Chat Payment
- Products and Services
- Sponsored Content
- Affiliate Marketing
Diversifying your YouTube income will ensure no policy changes or algorithm mixups tank your monthly earnings.
For instance, YouTube ads might make you a boatload of cash for a time, but your results could tank overnight if the algorithm makes an unfavorable change. However, if you’re also merchandising and offering memberships, you’ll keep making money even if your viewership takes time to recover.
1. YouTube Ads
As we briefly discussed earlier, you can make an average of $3 to $5 per 1,000 video reviews using YouTube ads.
Remember, this is an average. You’re mostly paid based on the number of impressions (clicks and watches) your videos earn. However, YouTube doesn’t display an ad every time someone clicks your video.
While you’re not actually paid per video view, it helps to know what counts as a view on YouTube.
Your channel can also make money off of YouTube Premium members. Premium members don’t have to watch ads, but that doesn’t mean their viewership is ignored when calculating your income.
You earn money when a YouTube Premium member watches your videos. This even includes time members spend watching download videos. It also includes videos played in the background on mobile phones—for example, if a member is playing music through YouTube videos.
Your content must be “advertiser-friendly” to qualify for YouTube’s ad program. This ensures advertisers get to market to your customers on suitable videos.
YouTube lists main topics deemed “not advertiser-friendly” here. A few topics include:
- Inappropriate language
- Adult content
- Firearms-related content
- Drug-related content
- Controversial issues
- Sensitive events
You only get paid once your Google AdSense account earns $100, so you’ll need to be patient in your channel’s early days. However, don’t fixate on this number just yet.
From the get-go, focus on developing high-quality content, finding a niche, addressing needs, and getting your name out there. Do that, and the revenue will follow.
Take viewers and subscribers to the next level with memberships. You have a couple of options when it comes to this strategy:
- YouTube Channel Memberships: Viewers pay a monthly subscription for member-only perks like custom emojis, exclusive badges, and member-only live streams.
- Third-Party Memberships: Followers join your membership program on another site like Patreon or Tribe to unlock member-only content, private communities, and discounts.
First, let’s look at YouTube channel memberships.
YouTube Channel Memberships
Your channel needs at least 1,000 subscribers to qualify for channel memberships on YouTube. Once you have that, you can turn on memberships in your YouTube Studio.
When approaching membership options, start with the right mindset. Programs that start from the mindset “how can I make money from my community” versus “how can I provide extra value to my biggest fans” almost always fail.
Find a membership cost that’s appropriate to the perks. If you’re only offering badges and emojis, it’s probably not worth $10 per month. However, if you unlock exclusive content and access to weekly member-only live streams, that’s a whole lot of value.
Third-party memberships let you get a bit more creative with your options. You aren’t restricted to YouTube’s channel membership policies and guidelines.
You can host your memberships on popular community sites like Patreon and Tribe. Fans of creator content are already familiar with these platforms, and they’ll likely already have an account and preferred payment ready to go.
Consider ways you can provide bonus perks without demanding too much extra time and energy on your part.
For example, Nate Hills is a mountain biking influencer on YouTube. He publishes polished edits of him and his buddies bombing down crazy trails all over the western states in short 7 to 10-minute clips. Fans can join his Patreon membership to unlock extended cuts, early releases, ad-free videos, and stickers.
3. Super Chat Payment
YouTube Super Chat helps streamers monetize their channel when they go live. Viewers can pay to have their comments read and pinned during a live stream.
When viewers pay more money, their comments will stay pinned for longer. More dollars also lets them write longer messages.
When your live streams are small, most viewers won’t bother with Super Chat—they know they’ll get your eyeballs with normal chat messages. However, when thousands of people are tuning into a live video and the chat is flooded with ongoing messages, Super Chat is a great way for your super fans to engage with your content and ensure you see their comments.
Some creators use Super Chat as a donation platform. Streamers might ask for support to keep producing live content, and viewers can simply donate straight from the chatbox.
Encourage engagement. Ask for questions. Provide answers. If someone pays money to use Super Chat, ensure you call them out, thank them for their support, and make them feel validated.
Find creative ways to get donations. You might sing a song if someone donates beyond a certain threshold, or you could do a truth or dare.
You don’t need all your viewers paying and using Super Chat—you just need a handful of loyalists who’ll watch all your streams and continue to provide support.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t keep all the money earned from your Super Chat contributions. YouTube takes their slice first (which is usually around 30%).
4. Products and Services
YouTube is a great platform to sell your own products and services. If all of these other brands are willing to pay thousands of dollars to reach your audience in the form of ads, imagine what you could do with organic content.
Imagine what you can offer. It could be as simple as t-shirts or as complex as online courses. You could also offer your services. If people are watching your content, they likely trust you as a thought leader in your given industry—they may be willing to pay you to get a job done like writing articles, building an app, filing taxes, or providing strategic marketing advice.
YouTube’s merch shelf lets you showcase your official merchandise on your YouTube channel and video pages. Your shelf will display up to 12 products to your viewers, and you can decide which items get featured on which videos.
You can decide whether you want to hard-sell or soft-sell on YouTube. You could be direct and showcase your goods in dedicated videos, or you might prefer to be more subtle by wearing your swag or using your app in a demonstration.
Link items on your merch shelf to your listings on an ecommerce platform (like Amazon or eBay) or even your own website. Sometimes, a landing page may be the better option (for bigger purchases, software, or courses).
If you want to sell on YouTube, don’t just expect people to randomly stumble upon your merch shelf—point them to it. Use your description, comments, and video content to direct viewers to where they can make a purchase.
5. Sponsored Content
Sponsored content takes out the YouTube middle person and lets you negotiate directly with brands you want to work with. If you have a large or engaged audience (preferably both, but either will do), brands may want to work with you to get in front of their target market.
Come up with a list of brands you’d like to work with. While you can entertain offers from anyone who wants to partner with your business, it’s best if you start with a list of brands you like. For example, if you already use Bluehost web hosting and Hootsuite for your social media management, you might look to partner with those brands first.
How you work out these sponsorship deals is completely up to you and the brand. Here are a few ideas:
- Include a short 30-second feature at the beginning or end of your video.
- Use or wear the brand in your videos
- Publish a sponsored content video
Regardless of how you sponsor a brand, always be transparent with your audience—don’t try to trick them into anything. This is not only good for your relationship with your followers, but it’s necessary to comply with FTC, ASA, and other regulations.
When you’re uploading your video, check the paid promotion box and YouTube will add “Includes paid promotion” text to your videos to let viewers know. Don’t worry—it’s not an ugly or blatantly in-your-face callout, but it does make it clear to viewers when there is sponsored content.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is similar to sponsored content. You drive traffic to a brand’s site or ecommerce store. When they make a purchase, you receive a percentage of the sale.
You can use all the sponsored content tactics above to feature products and services on your channel. However, you’re not just looking for impressions or views—you need people to click and purchase. This different type of end goal will shape your content strategy.
Like with sponsorships, you only want to promote products you trust (and preferably use). If you influence your audience to purchase mediocre products and services, they’ll lose confidence in you (and may even resent you).
You can usually get started with affiliate marketing early in your channel’s life. Brands are a bit more stingy with sponsorships, though.
Remember, always provide value first. Start with the content. Once you’ve finished, think of ways you can add affiliate links. If affiliate marketing doesn’t seem to fit with the content, don’t try to force it.
You don’t get paid for how many YouTube subscribers you have, but this is an important metric that channels sometimes ignore. While views bring in the ads (which bring in the income), subscribers bring in consistent views.
Inevitably, you’ll create a video that gets more views than any of your other content. It’ll make you some money, but it’ll eventually begin to lose traction. That video will put money into your bank account for a week (or maybe a month), but it’ll stop making you cash unless you can turn those one-time views into loyal subscribers.
Create a strategy for getting viewers to subscribe and stick around. This goes beyond creating click-bait titles that get viewers in the front door. You want viewers to create a relationship with your brand. You don’t want people to just click, view, and leave—you want them to click, view, stay, and repeat the process.
Here are a few ways you can grow your YouTube subscribers:
- Ask Viewers to Subscribe: Remind your viewers to subscribe. People may stumble upon your video, enjoy the content, and bounce on down the list to the next video—that’s the way most people use YouTube. Before people click on the next video, ask them to subscribe so that they can enjoy more of your great content.
- Convert Followers on Other Channels: If you’ve already grown a following on Instagram, Twitter, or email list, convert them to YouTube. Ask your followers to subscribe to your YouTube channel so they don’t miss your video content.
- Reply to Comments: Engage with your community. If someone leaves a comment, take time to provide a thoughtful response. As your audience scales, you won’t be able to do this for everyone—however, in the early days, ensure everyone gets an answer.
- Tease Other Content: Sometimes, it takes viewers watching multiple videos before they subscribe to a channel. Tease other videos to keep your audience consuming your content. The longer they stick around, the more likely they are to convert.
Learn How to Master YouTube Ads
Content creators aren’t the only ones making money on YouTube. There’s a reason businesses spend thousands of dollars running ads on the video platform: it works.
Want to capitalize on the millions of eyeballs that visit YouTube every month? Enroll in our free YouTube ads course.
We’ll show you step-by-step ad strategies that have helped the world’s smartest brands make millions. We provide you with exact scripts and templates to make the ad-creating process as turnkey as possible.
Tommie “Traffic” Powers is your instructor, and with a name like that you know you’re going to get something special. Sign up now to learn how to start using YouTube ads the right way.