How to Make Money and Get Paid by YouTube

Authentic content plus ads and product placements can mean big bucks

Image by Emily Roberts © The Balance 2019

With over one billion users, one billion hours watched daily, and more than 400 hours of video uploaded every minute, YouTube is an excellent way for everyday people to make money through their videos. You don’t need professional-level equipment or experience to make it happen (many of the most popular videos are actually shot on cell phones with poor audio quality). You just have to know how to get YouTube to pay you—and the rewards can be significant.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of the easiest ways you can make money with YouTube videos and how to get started with YouTube marketing.

Getting Paid Through Ad Revenue

Every time you upload a video to YouTube, you have the potential to make money. Remember that Google owns YouTube, and Google is the king of online ads.

YouTube will pay you every time someone clicks on one of the advertisements that appear before your video begins or clicks on one of the banner-type advertisements that pop on videos while they're playing. These types of ads are referred to as CPC, or cost-per-click meaning the advertiser gets charged and YouTube and you get paid when a visitor clicks on the ad. The other way you can get paid is if someone simply watches the ads on your videos. These are referred to as CPM, or cost-per-mille, meaning you get paid a certain amount for every 1,000 views of an ad.

But for any of that to happen, you have to set yourself up on the back end of the YouTube and Google Adsense platform. Of course, you have to have a regular YouTube account first. Then you enable the monetization feature and connect your YouTube account to a Google AdSense account. A Google Adsense is the account you will need to be able to display ads and get paid when they are viewed or clicked on.

Now you’re ready to start making money with YouTube videos. That’s how to get paid by YouTube.

You get paid more from “rollout ads,” which are those that appear before a video, than “banner ads,” which pop up during the video. You also get a much smaller amount based on the number of views. If somebody watches an ad for at least five or 30 seconds you get paid more.

You could potentially make several thousand dollars monthly, which could replace a full-time job income. For that to happen, you'll need to get a million views on videos with rollout ads. Of course, as a first-time YouTuber, you’ll need multiple videos to reach those viewership numbers.

But it’s doable even if it’s a part-time job. If you don’t want to make it full-time on YouTube, you could use it as a way to make some extra cash on the weekends.

Getting paid by with ads is the most passive way to make money with your YouTube videos. All you have to do is set up the Google Adsense account and everything else is completely automated.

Making Money Through Product Placement

Another way to make money on YouTube is through product placement. If you have a channel about how to style hair, for instance, a company that makes curling irons or brushes may be interested in having you use their products and recommend them to your viewers.

Depending on how you organize the agreement with the company, you may get paid per sale or on a commission basis, such as 15 percent of all products sold via your channel. Or you could get paid a set amount just for simply showing the product in your video or featuring it. There are many different types of agreements you can make with sponsors when it comes to making money with product placements in your YouTube videos.

Just be advised that per Federal Trade Commission rules, if you're endorsing a product, you have to be transparent about it. YouTube requires you to click the "paid promotion" box in the settings of your video manager dashboard.

YouTube Red Subscription Channels

YouTube's ad-free subscription platform, YouTube Red, is another way to bring in income. If your channel has more than 1,000 active subscribers, YouTube Red offers a feature where you can charge viewers to see your content, and even pay for special access during live-stream chats.

These premium features are only available to YouTubers 18 years of age and older.

What Should Be on Your Channel

The top YouTube channels have dozens if not hundreds of videos online right now. The more videos, the more views, the more clicks, the more money. You need to follow that model if you hope to have anywhere near the same level of success.

The world’s top YouTubers cover all sorts of different niche markets, so there’s a good chance one of your interests can be the path to how you get paid by YouTube.

Pick a Profitable Niche

Profitable niches are where the serious money is made on YouTube. Some examples that work well include video games, “unboxing,” how-to and tutorials, vlogs (video blogs), product reviews, weight loss, challenges, "haul" shopping videos, and comedy. There's no shortage of profitable niche markets for you to choose from.

Ideally, you'll want to pick a niche that's not only profitable but one where you're either an expert or have some interest. Authenticity is generally rewarded on YouTube; viewers who think a YouTuber is phony or insincere are not likely to stick around very long, much less click on any ads.

Start Making Videos

Your videos don’t have to be big-budget, slick productions for YouTube. They do need to look decent. Focus on good lighting and good audio. Use basic video editing software like iMovie on Apple products (including iPhone, iPads, and laptops or desktops) to add titles, music tracks, and more. There are several free and paid options for PC users to choose from. Mostly you’re editing to make the video more dynamic and interesting to watch.

Build Your Audience

There are a few ways to go about this. One of the major elements is providing entertaining and useful content. Give people a reason to watch your videos...all the way until the end.

What this means is different for each niche. For example, in the video-game-oriented niche, you need to show a screen capture of yourself playing popular games and narrate it in a funny way or in a way that helps people master the game themselves.

For how-to videos, show what you are doing in each step, with close-ups as needed. Study what others are doing to get a model for your videos.

In your YouTube account, include keywords about your channel and make sure all your videos are tagged with relevant keywords. You should also have a detailed description of each video. All of this helps people searching for your type of content find you.

A major benefit is that YouTube videos appear high in Google search results. So you can get a lot of traffic to your videos from that source.

Of course, it will also help if you spread the word about your video on Facebook, on your blog, in forums, on Twitter, or wherever you hang out online. If it’s an audience that would appreciate your video, let them know.

Once you start getting some views, go to your “back office” on your YouTube channel to check the analytics. There you can see numbers of views for videos, the earnings, and the demographics of the audience. This will help you create videos in the future that will make more money because they target what your audience likes.

Add New YouTube Videos on a Consistent Basis

Put out new videos on a regular basis. Always provide useful and entertaining content, making sure that you follow the same format and stick to your niche. If you become known as the guy or gal who shows people how to do scrapbooking, don't put out a video about rebuilding race car engines.

Remember also to ask people who watch your channel to subscribe. This way they are notified when you put up a new video, which is like getting views virtually automatically.

Next, get involved in the YouTube community. When people comment on your videos or ask questions, respond. Keep the conversation going. Stay consistent here, and you can gain thousands of views in each of your videos—and as we stated, you should always be adding more videos.

Getting Big Views

Getting millions of views is difficult but possible. You have to go viral. It’s a rare thing, but it's doable if you can provide very entertaining content that also, usually, imparts a message. You have to be unique. Make it work by pushing it to other social media too. You'll also need a bit of luck.

Make your first video and make it live on YouTube. That experience in uploading your first video will be invaluable, your first step to future success, and the best way to learn how to get paid by YouTube.

Promotion Beyond YouTube

If you're planning to try to make YouTubing your full-time gig, invest time and energy into it like you would with any other job. If you develop a devoted following, you may be able to sell merchandise with your logo or brand name on it.

And keeping the connection to fans is crucial; consider doing live chats or in-person meetups for super fans who will help attract more fans to your YouTube channel.