If you want to make a decent income on the video hosting platform, make a mindset shift. Treat your YouTube channel as a brand and build a business on top of it with multiple income streams.
You can share products from brands you love, sell your merchandise and products, or license the creative assets on your channel.
With that in mind, below is the first way to make money on YouTube without AdSense. I’ve organized each monetization strategy based on their difficulty and relevance for different kinds of creators — mix and match the ones that make sense for you and your YouTube channel.
1. Offer Video Editing Services
Who’s it For: All kinds of video creators
Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
As a YouTube creator, the first lucrative skill with market demand is video editing — given you’ve been doing it for your own videos.
Numerous brands continue debuting their new channels, so offering them a concierge YouTube video editing service could make you a decent amount of money. I’ve personally paid over $500 hiring professionals to put together my raw footage into polished YouTube videos because editing seems tedious to learn.
But video editing requires specialized expertise, consumes time, and requires creativity to ensure the information flows well and keeps the viewer engaged. If you create video sketches regularly for your channel, they will improve your skills — while also elevating your portfolio.
To find clients, your network is a great place to start because they might already be aware of your YouTube channel and the quality of your videos.
Pitching to local businesses where you live is also a great bet. You can tell them how YouTube aids discoverability and can help them get more business — besides building their brand.
Lastly, you can try freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer to get your first few clients.
So you’re thinking of taking the plunge into YouTube for your business, are you? It’s a smart move, given that 300 hours of video are uploaded every single minute to the platform, making it a great way to strengthen and grow your business. YouTube channels enable you to gain exposure online and share your content with the world. An important complement to a YouTube channel is a website, which can act as a hub for your content as well as provide more information about you and your business.
To help you along this process, we’ve provided a breakdown of some basics to get your YouTube business channel up and running, as well as how you can create a website to accompany your channel.
It’s time to put on your director’s hat. Here are the steps you need to start a YouTube channel:
The first thing you’ll need to do is actually create your business channel, and YouTube makes it incredibly easy to do. With just a couple of clicks, you’ll be ready to dive into setting up your new channel. Here’s how to start a YouTube channel:
Sign into YouTube and click on the user icon at the top right of the screen
Click on the gear icon to get to your account’s YouTube Settings
Click on Create a new channel
Then choose “Use a business or other name”
Add your Brand name and click create. If you don’t yet have a name, you can craft a new one with a YouTube name generator.
02. Solidify your web presence
Once you have the basic setup of your YouTube channel, you’ll want to make sure that you have a complete web presence to accompany it. When viewers find your channel, they’ll likely want to know more about you and might search for your website as well as your presence on other social media platforms.
To ensure these viewers find what they are looking for, you should make sure you have an up and running website. You can either create one with the help of designer-made templates, or if you already have one, you can consider redoing it to make sure it matches the style of your new YouTube channel. You can then move on to a similar creation or revamp of your page on various social media platforms.
03. Fill in the about section
Once you’ve built up your complementary web presence, you may be wondering how to make sure you’ve started a YouTube channel that draws attention to your brand and brings in new viewers. To do so, fill out your profile and channel description. This is the first option you see after you have created a channel. Here, you should describe your brand and what viewers can expect to see on your channel. This is also a great place to add links to your website and other social media networks that you use. This description will appear in more than one place on your channel, so be sure to put your best foot forward when filling it out.
Sophie Bishop is a PhD Candidate, Arts Technology and Innovation, University of East London
Following several high profile scandals, YouTube is tightening the rules around its partner programme – raising the requirements vloggers have to meet to be able to monetise their videos.
This means that for creators to make money from YouTube – and have ads attached to videos – they must have clocked up over 4,000 hours of watch time on their channel within the past 12 months.
Channels must also have at least 1,000 subscribers. Channels that don’t have these numbers will simply no longer be able to make income from ads. This change will effectively make it harder for new, smaller channels and hobbyists to be able to make money on YouTube.
It’s not surprising then that these tighter ad rules have been met with dismay by many YouTubers – who feel the changes are an unfair reaction to a small number of high profile events.
The main reasons for the changes are the widespread concerns about YouTube’s ability to regulate its content. And more specifically, monitor what content is inappropriate for adverts to appear on.
Brands such as Lidl and Mars left the platform in 2017, due to their ads appearing next to videos with predatory comments. Earlier in the year, Pepsi and Walmart left because of concerns about hate speech.
Take the popular gaming vlogger PewDiePie, for example, who sparked outrage after he was caught uttering racist slurs back in 2017. Then there was prank vlogger Logan Paul’s video showing the body of a suicide victim in Aokigahara, Japan’s “suicide forest”, while he laughed uncomfortably. The video has since been removed.
A lot of the outrage around these types of videos is the fact that they court a young viewership. This has led commentators to question what types of media are acceptable and where the boundaries of this acceptability lie.
The content made by vloggers like the Paul brothers works very successfully alongside YouTube’s algorithms, so they are promoted widely by the platform. They post daily, their content is meme-saturated and self-referential, and they constantly “beef” with each other and other vloggers.
YouTube rewards these kinds of videos, as they keep viewers on the platform for longer. Logan Paul and his brother (who is also a vlogger) also receive tangible support from YouTube and were the centrepiece of 2017’s YouTube Rewind – an annual star-studded music video.
Everything in moderation
Vanity Fair paints YouTube as a kind of Matryoshka doll of vlogging nightmares, threatening content creators will worsen, until they are “all there is” left in culture. Similarly, The Verge claimed these videos would “never pass muster at a traditional outlet”.
But from where I’m sitting, these videos are a lot like the TV show Jackass – which was on MTV between 2000 and 2002. The show featured self-injuring stunts including inserting a toy car into one cast member’s anus, snorting wasabi, and tattooing in a moving off-road vehicle. The show was broadcast before 10pm, prior to a campaign led by US Senator Joe Lieberman to remove it.
Jackass then moved from broadcast to a movie franchise, which allowed more outrageous stunts to be released – under an 18 rating in the UK.
For the Jackass crew, the question of suitability appeared to be solved by age restriction. Presumably, though, another factor in moving towards film were protests from advertisers – Jackass had become too hot for broadcast commercial viability.
YouTube says it will be talking to high profile creators on the platform to hear their ideas and prevent future scandals. But YouTube also maintains it should not be regulated in the same way as broadcasters, saying it’s a platform that distributes content.
In blogs published by YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki on the topic of the new regulations, it is advertisers and loss of revenue that are foregrounded. And in this way, it seems it is consistentlyadvertisers’ reactions that are invoked as the yard stick for measuring acceptability.
YouTube already offers advertisers the opportunity to withdraw from advertising on some videos – such as LGBTQ content or discussions of mental health – if it doesn’t sit well alongside a brand’s message. It was revealed last year that this can sometimes then lead to content being demonetised. In other words, the creator does not receive a share of ad revenue for that video.
Drawing the line
Of course, YouTube is funded by advertisers. So it makes sense to pay attention to their wants and desires. But under the current model, brands’ reactions are often a placeholder for third party regulation. And at the moment – as content creators are sketching the line for appropriate content – it is often advertisers who have the final say about acceptability.
So while viewers might want LGBT wedding vow videos, discussions about sexual health, and documentaries about suicide prevention, the reality is that some brands don’t want to be associated with these subjects.
This goes against what has drawn many audiences to the platform in the first place. YouTube has a history of LGBT acceptance – being the home of the “it gets better” videos, in which celebrities and public figures tell their coming out stories. Many people have also spoken about how YouTube’s videos on transitioning or mental health helped them greatly. So given this, it is hoped that going forward, YouTube also remembers to pay attention to their communities and audiences as well as the big brands and content creators.
Okay, ad revenue is the most obvious way to make money on YouTube. But it’s not the only way—or, to be honest, the best way.
(Spoiler: the best way to make money on YouTube is all the ways.)
YouTube is half the internet: that’s 1.9 billion users logging in every month. But at the same time, 500 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute.
So you already know this article is not going to be about how easy it is to buy a Swiss watch with the ad revenue from your YouTube views. (Though if you have millions of views, you could probably at least rent one. Wait, don’t.)
Read on, and we’ll lay out six ways to earn income from your YouTube channel. Namely:
Become a YouTube Partner
Sell your own merchandise
Create sponsored content
Get your fans to pay you directly
Use crowdfunding on an ongoing or one-off basis
License your content to the media
And now for some step-by-step instructions for making money on YouTube.
How to make money on YouTube
Become a YouTube Partner
The YouTube Partner Program is how regular YouTubers get access to special features on the platform.
You don’t need to be a partner to make money on YouTube (just setting up an AdSense account and getting views is enough to handle that), but being a Partner makes it a lot easier.
YouTube Partners have access to multiple income streams: not just ads, but YouTube Premium subscription fees, and features that tap your fans’ wallets directly like Super Chat, channel memberships and the merchandise shelf (more on these later.)
Step 1. Start a channel
Don’t worry, we have a handy guide for this. It’s called ‘How to create a YouTube channel.’
Step 2. Make your channel successful enough that it meets the YouTube Partner Program requirements
To join the program, you need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months.
Here are some ideas for how to get more of those precious YouTube views.
Step 3. Set up an AdSense account
This is simple. Just follow YouTube’s official guide to AdSense accounts.
Step 4. Explore your new monetization features
Each monetization channel has different eligibility requirements. For instance:
Ad revenue: to earn ad revenue, you must be at least 18 years old, and you must create content that is advertiser-friendly. Basically, the less controversial your videos, the more YouTube advertisers will be comfortable running ads on them, and the more money you make.
YouTube Premium revenue: if a YouTube Premium member watches your video, you get a portion of their subscription fee. (This one is automatic, which is nice.)
Channel memberships: in order to sell channel memberships to your subscribers (i.e., your fans opt in to pay you an extra amount), you need to be at least 18 and have more than 30,000 subscribers.
Merchandise shelf: in order to sell merch from YouTube’s merchandise shelf, you must be at least 18 years old, and have at least 10,000 subscribers.
Super Chat payments: if you want your fans to have the ability to pay to have their messages highlighted in your live chats during your live streams, you must be at least 18 (and live in a country where the feature is offered).
Step 5. Submit to ongoing reviews
As a YouTube Partner, your channel will be held to a higher standard, according to YouTube. You have to follow not just the YouTube Partner Program policies, but the Community Guidelines. Not to mention staying on the right side of copyright law.
Sell your own merchandise
Maybe you identify as a content creator first, and entrepreneur second. (Just remember that even Drake sells t-shirts.)
Alternately, you’re an entrepreneur first and video creator second, which means you probably already have a product, and you’re designing your YouTube marketing strategy to sell it.
Either way, merchandise is a viable way to earn money from YouTube.
Step 1. Imagine and design your product
Merchandise for your channel is meant to both represent and feed your audience’s connection with you. That means your merch should be unique.
Hawaiian YouTube star Ryan Higa launched his milk-based energy drink Ninja Melk to leverage the popularity of his viral comedy, Ninja Melk. While he also sells t-shirts and other merch from his online shop, Ninja Melk’s appeal is broad enough it has its own website.
Pro tip: You might have more ideas for merch than you can possibly stock. So start by dipping your toes in the water with one or two items. But make sure you engage your audience in the decision-making process. Poll them as to what they want. Or build buzz by offering one-off products related to big subscriber-count milestones.
Step 2. Source and/or build your product In most cases, you’ll need a manufacturer, supplier or wholesaler to make and deliver your product. Some suppliers will deliver it to you, and some will spare you the headaches of inventory, shipping and returns by handling it themselves.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out Shopify’s how-to on the topic of finding a brick-and-mortar company to make your dream a reality.
Step 3. Create your shop and landing page You’ll need a separate website to handle purchases. If you want to link it directly from your videos (and you do), refer to YouTube’s list of approved merchandise sites.
Step 4. Enable your YouTube Partner merchandise shelf YouTube Partners can also use the shelf feature to sell their channel’s merchandise. If you’re eligible, follow YouTube’s instructions to enable it.
Step 5. Promote your product in your videos This is where your charm comes in. Wear or use your merch in your videos. Feature viewers who have bought and are using it. (If we were on another platform, we might call this ‘user-generated content,’ or possibly ‘solid gold’).
And don’t forget to add your store’s link to your video descriptions, and include end screens and cards with compelling calls to action.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to say thank you. Because it’s polite. But also because it’s an excuse to remind people how great and popular your product is, one more time.
Create sponsored content You don’t have to be on Instagram to be an influencer. The advantage of the #sponcon strategy is that you don’t have to give YouTube a cut of your earnings. You negotiate directly with the brand, and they pay you directly. No wonder it’s a popular way for YouTubers to make money.
If you can offer brands a large and/or engaged audience—and your content is relevant to their target market—they probably want to hear from you.
For instance, YouTuber Aaron Marino, a.k.a. Alpha M, is big in the men’s lifestyle space. How big? So big that even his videos that explain his brand partnerships have brand partners. Step 1. Find a brand to partner with Quality is important, when it comes to the names you work with. You probably already have a wish list of dream brands. Whether you’re aiming for the stars or building yourself up grassroots-style, make sure you perfect your brand pitch before you send it.
Also consider signing up with an influencer marketing platform. These are intermediary websites that help marketing teams find appropriate influencers to work with. FameBit was one of the first to focus on YouTubers, for instance.
Step 2. Make a deal According to this recent study by influencer marketing platform Klear, YouTube videos are, on average, the most expensive type of sponsored content brands can buy from influencers. Basically, YouTube influencers are able to charge more for their videos than they would for Instagram Stories or Facebook posts, because video is just more expensive to produce.
While your rate will vary on your audience’s size, engagement and relevance to your potential partner, know your worth before you sign a contract.
Step 3. Be transparent about your #sponcon #ad Sponsored content is advertising. That means you need to make sure you’re in step with Google’s Ad policies. The FTC (U.S.) and ASA (U.K.) both have guidelines of which you should be aware, too, if you’re American or British.
Transparency is good for your legal health, but also for your relationship with your audience. YouTube has a visible disclosure feature to help you make sure your audience is aware that you’re advertising to them.