How to Make Money on YouTube: A Realistic Guide

With a global audience of 1 billion monthly users, YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. From new talent breaking out to established celebrities and brands, everyone is on YouTube.

In fact, you probably know someone who has discovered how to make money on YouTube by monetizing their videos with ads and sponsorships. One in five millennials regularly watch content on YouTube and its popularity among young audiences has led to a surge in the number of creators uploading videos about fashion, beauty tutorials, gaming and music. And yes — many of them are making big bucks from it too.

However, breaking into the world of vlogging or video blogging isn’t as easy as you’d think. There are no shortcuts or secrets to success here — anyone can upload videos to their channel if they have decent production skills and access to high-quality video equipment (or an iPhone).

The real challenge comes from creating compelling content that appeals to your target audience without alienating them at the same time (it’s not as simple as it sounds). The sooner you understand this, the better your chances of succeeding in this cut-throat industry...

Topic Index
  1. What’s the best way to make money on YouTube?
  2. Sponsorships and ad partnerships
  3. Produce premium content and ask for donations
  4. Selling your own products

What’s the best way to make money on YouTube?

The short answer is: there isn’t a “best way”. The phrase “how to make money on YouTube” is misleading because it implies a single, direct route to success. In reality, there are a number of paths to monetization:

  • Creating a video channel and uploading original videos.
  • Hosting videos on other channels that have large followings and receiving a percentage of the profits.
  • Creating new and engaging content to promote products and services. This route takes a lot of effort and is risky because you’ll need to be very careful to avoid breaking any laws or violating YouTube’s terms of service.

Sponsorships and ad partnerships

The main way that YouTubers make money is through sponsorships and ad partnerships. Let’s start with sponsorships. If you have a large following, you may be able to reach out to brands and companies that are relevant to your viewers and ask them if they’d like to sponsor your videos.

This is common in the beauty and fashion world and is usually in the form of a free product or cash to cover the costs of production. In return, you will promote the brand in your video and ideally in your bio and social media channels too.

Ad partnerships are the easiest way to make money from your videos but only apply to select channels and genres. Let’s say you upload a video about playing guitar and your audience is mostly people who are into music.

Now, let’s say there’s a guitar company that wants to advertise their products on YouTube and they are targeting people who are into music. They would use your video to place an advertisement and pay you a set amount of money every time it gets clicked on.

Produce premium content and ask for donations

Create high-quality videos and charge money for access to your exclusive content. This is similar to creating a “pay wall” on a blog or website where you offer exclusive access to premium content (e.g. behind-the-scenes footage, unedited episodes and more).

The only difference is that you upload these videos to YouTube where your followers can watch them for free. If you have a large following, you can expect generous donations from your fans but don’t rely on this alone to make a living.

Selling your own products

If you have a product that people want, you can use YouTube videos to promote it. You’ll need to pick one or two products that are relevant to your audience, create some high-quality videos promoting them and link to your own website (where people can purchase your products).

This is a high-risk strategy because it’s possible that you’ll break the law or violate YouTube’s terms of service. For example, you can’t promote dietary supplements on YouTube because they’re classified as drugs in most countries and require a prescription. You can, however, promote your own books and courses.

The best way to make money on YouTube is to create engaging content that appeals to your audience. Once you’ve found your niche, study your competitors and learn from their mistakes. Finally, commit yourself to regular uploads and don’t be discouraged by negative feedback. Like all creative industries, your success will be determined by your perseverance and persistence.

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