How to Make Money and Get Paid by YouTube

Authentic content plus ads and product placements can mean big bucks

Youtuber making money through video stream
•••

Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

Starting your own YouTube channel can offer a variety of ways to generate an income. With strategic consistency and dedication, you’ll likely find that you can continue to grow your revenue. 

Some of the more popular opportunities to earn money this way include monetizing ad views, featuring paid promotions, and joining the YouTube Partner Program. However, before you learn more about these common ways to earn money and how to get started with them, it’s important to first understand the financial potential of being a YouTuber. 

How Much Money Can YouTubers Earn?

According to Forbes, the highest-earning YouTuber last year was 9-year-old Ryan Kaji, who took in an estimated $29.5 million between June 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020. His channel, which includes videos of DIY science experiments and toy reviews, reportedly had 41.7 million subscribers, and his videos received 12.2 billion views. Meanwhile, Jimmy Donaldson, known online as MrBeast, was ranked as the second-highest earner, bringing in $24 million and garnering 47.8 million subscribers and 3 billion views thanks to his high-quality productions of humorous stunts.

While the aforementioned YouTube superstars represent a slim minority, there are many more moderately successful channels in which you can earn extra income through this Google platform.

Estimate potential earnings based on video views and engagement, and see how much other YouTubers are likely making with this calculator tool.

If you’re looking to monetize your channel, you’ll want to take into consideration that some niches are more profitable than others. Gaming, for example, has been one of the most lucrative YouTube topics. Other profitable genres include life hacks, humor or pranks, fail compilations, product unboxing (specifically kids’ toys), how-to and tutorials, kitchen tips and food reviews, lists of top things, animal videos, news, and celebrity gossip. 

Earn Money Through Ad Views

One of the most passive ways to make an income through your YouTube channel is to earn money through ad views. 

Ad payment depends on either CPM (cost per thousand views), where a viewer must watch at least 30 seconds of the ad or half of the ad on a particularly short video, or CPC (cost per click), where the viewer must click on the ad. Skipped ads don’t receive any payment.

Videos that include inappropriate language, violence, adult content, or controversial issues are not suitable for advertisements. Check out guidelines for advertiser-friendly content here.

You can open an AdSense account as soon as you start your channel, but you won’t get a payout until your balance reaches $100—which could take a while if you’re just beginning. 

Google pays out 68% of ad sale revenue, so for every $100 an advertiser pays to Google, the latter will pay the YouTuber $68.An advertiser typically pays between 10 cents and 30 cents per ad view, which averages to around 18 cents a view. 

If you consider that about 15% of viewers will watch enough of the ad for you to receive payment, then a video with 1,000 views will likely get about 150 ad views. Using these estimates, you can expect to make about $18 every 1,000 ad views, which amounts to approximately $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views.

Taking advantage of paid promotions such as product placements, sponsorships, and endorsements also can be an effective way to generate extra income.

Certain niches, such as review-type channels or how-to tutorials, lend themselves particularly well to paid promotions like affiliate marketing

Securing paid promotions can be accomplished in several different ways—you can reach out to brands with a proposal, or if you become recognized enough in your field, you may find yourself being approached by companies. 

If your video includes paid promotions, you must inform YouTube by checking the paid promotion box in the video’s details. Paid promotions must follow YouTube’s Ad Policies as well as its Community Guidelines.

When you identify your content as including paid promotions, YouTube will display a disclosure message at the beginning of the video. 

YouTubers, along with the businesses they partner with, are responsible for following any other local and legal obligations as well. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can be a helpful resource to make sure you’re legally compliant regarding content that involves paid promotions. 

Partner Directly With YouTube

The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) gives channels access to additional money-making opportunities once they meet the qualifying criteria. 

In order to be eligible for review to join the YPP, a channel must:

  • Have more than 1,000 subscribers.
  • Exceed 4,000 valid public watch hours over the last year (private, unlisted, or deleted videos don’t count). 
  • Abide by YouTube’s monetization policies.
  • Be based in a country or region where the YPP is available.
  • Have a linked AdSense account.

Once a channel meets this threshold, it’s eligible to be reviewed for the YPP. Despite eligibility, the channel must also meet YouTube’s additional policies and guidelines in order to gain approval for the program. 

While you don’t have to continue to meet the threshold requirements every year, if your channel falls below the threshold and is inactive for six months, it may be removed from the partner program.

Being part of the YPP means you can start making money from a variety of different features—each component has its own qualification criteria as well as subscriber and view count prerequisites. The features must also be available in your country or region.

The YPP allows users to earn money from:

  • Advertising income.
  • Videos watched by YouTube Premium subscribers.
  • Channel memberships where members pay for perks.
  • Fans paying to have their messages featured with Super Chat and Super Stickers.
  • Branded item sales through the merch shelf.

Other Ways to Earn Money on YouTube

Opportunities to earn money from YouTube extend beyond the more typical methods discussed above. 

If you sell a product or service, YouTube can be an ideal location to market your business, assert your expertise, and drive traffic to your site. Helpful video content such as Q&As or tutorials can lead potential customers to your business. 

If you’re an expert in a topic, consider making an online course you can sell to followers. You can also bring in some extra cash by speaking at events and conferences. 

Once your channel has high levels of engagement, you can bolster your income by selling tickets to fans for in-person events like live recordings or tours. Offering branded merchandise is a way to increase your sales, as well as boost brand awareness. 

Channels with a dedicated fan base could have success on crowdfunding sites such as Patreon, GoFundMe, or Kickstarter. YouTubers typically offer their followers various rewards for different contribution levels. Funds can be donated on a recurring basis or one-off to support a cause. 

With continued dedication and patience, you can grow your YouTube channel by finding and taking advantage of the income growth opportunities that best fit your channel’s niche, purpose, and financial goals.