I feel like some people have finally accepted that blogging is an actual way to make money. I’m now getting fewer and fewer eye rolls and laughs when I tell people that I blog for a living. What is still pretty widely seen as an off-the-wall way to make money is being a YouTuber. Despite that, there are tons of people who want to learn how to start a YouTube channel because the people making it on YouTube are really making it, like millions and millions of dollars a year…
YouTube has, in some ways, becoming the new blogging. I’m not saying that blogging is dead – it’s still very much a viable online business option in my opinion. YouTube has just gotten really popular with more than just teenagers who want to watch epic fail videos or with kids who want to watch people play with slime.
YouTube is where many people, maybe even your parents, look for advice, DIYs, tutorials, vlogs, how-to videos, etc. Want to learn how to change your oil, play guitar, or rewire a light switch? YouTube has it.
It’s a fully functioning search engine, and it’s relatively easy to start a YouTube channel. But… is it the best place to earn a living online? How do you even start your own YouTube channel? And, how much do YouTubers make?
Seriously, how much do YouTubers make?
I’m going to start here because it’s the title of the article and a sexy place to start.
The big name YouTubers are banking some serious dough every year, and because many of them are millennials like us, it’s easy to feel a twinge of jealousy combined with “hey, I could do that!”
The top paid YouTubers of 2018 are:
1. Ryan Toys Review $22 million
This isn’t a millennial channel – this is a 7-year-old kid who makes videos about toys with his parents and twin sisters. 7 YEARS OLD!? I am shooketh.
2. Jake Paul $21.5 million
Nevermind about the “many of them are millennials” thing, Paul is only 22 and got his start on Vine when he was 16.
3. Dude Perfect $20 million
This group has over 7 billion total views and has been on YouTube since 2009.
4. DanTDM $18.5 million
Dan is a professional gamer based in the UK, and he’s still younger than me at 27.
5. Jeffree Star $18 million
Star goes back to MySpace days and now does makeup tutorials on YouTube. He has his own line of cosmetics, was in a Kesha video, and has over 1.2 billion views on YouTube.
6. Markiplier $17.5 million
This video game commentary YouTube channel (think lots of yelling) has over 10.7 billion total views and has been on YouTube since 2012.
7. VanossGaming $17 million
Evan Fong is 26 and has over 24 million subscribers to his gaming channel.
8. Jacksepticeye $16 million
This is another video game focused channel and has over 10.7 billion views.
9. PewDiePie $15.5 million
With around 91 million subscribers (as of March 2019), PewDiePie is one of the most subscribed YouTube channels. He also has the longest Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen for a YouTuber.
10. Logan Paul $14.5 million
Paul is 23 years old, is one of the most infamous YouTubers and has over 25.9 million subscribers to his three channels combined, and he’s the brother of Jake Paul.
How much money can you actually make on YouTube?
Those above amounts are staggering, like nearly enough to make me want to shut down M$M to make gaming videos (just kidding), but the reality is that most people who start a YouTube channel will make only a tiny fraction of what those guys make.
What you make on YouTube is based on the number of views you get – more views equal more money. I’ll get into how to make money on YouTube in a minute, but the average YouTuber will make $3-$5 per 1,000 video views.
Growing your channel to make any real amount of money takes a considerable amount of work. Last year, Bloomberg reported that the reality of earning money on YouTube is incredibly low, with 97% of YouTubers not even making it across the U.S. poverty line.
How do YouTubers make money
Making money on YouTube is kind of similar to how you make money blogging. We aren’t paid by the number of page views or video views, but those numbers do affect the potential to earn money.
There are also a couple of metrics you’ll need to meet to be eligible for earning money on YouTube, and you must meet both of them in the same 12 month period:
- At least 1,000 subscribers
- At least 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year
Once you meet those metrics, here is how to make money on YouTube:
1. Ad Revenue
This is where it starts for most bloggers, and it’s the same with making money on YouTube. Google places ads on your videos, and they keep 45% of the ad revenue. The more viewers or subscribers you have, the higher your chances are that someone will click on an ad.
Because of click-through rates on ads, you can expect to earn around $0.01 per click or less. And, it’s not like you start getting a penny here and there deposited into your bank account once you start earning money on YouTube – YouTube pays out when you reach a balance of $100.
2. Affiliate Income
Just like bloggers, YouTubers earn money through affiliate links by reviewing a product or service and promoting it to their audience. YouTubers receive a special link that tells a company which channel customers are coming from, and if a sale is made, the YouTuber will earn a percentage of that sale.
YouTubers use affiliate networks to apply for and find affiliates that work for their audience. Just like affiliate marketing for bloggers, it’s important to promote products and services that are relevant and actually helpful to your audience.
The number of subscribers you’ll need to qualify for affiliate programs varies, but it’s safe to say that you’ll several thousand.
Patreon has become a popular option for making money on YouTube once you have thousands of loyal viewers who want to help you keep your channel running. The average Patreon contributor gives $7, and Patreon keeps 5% of that as a commission.
Remember, you’ll need loyal viewers, and to get that, you will need to be uploading quality videos on a regular basis.
With higher levels of subscribers, YouTubers can start earning money with brand partnerships and sponsorship deals. Depending on your success, you can either reach out to brands, starting with smaller ones, or have brands reach out to you.
Just like with affiliate income, you’ll need to focus on only working with companies who are a good fit with your audience. It’s all about trust, and if you break it, you’ll lose viewers. The same thing goes for sponsored posts in blogging.
Reaching the point where you’re making money on YouTube with merchandise means you have built a successful brand with thousands of loyal and adoring fans. You could sell shirts, stickers, bags, hats, etc. featuring your unique logo or slogan.
The reality of starting a successful YouTube channel
I’ve said this already, but profiting from and learning how to start a YouTube channel is really similar to learning how to make money blogging. It’s a pretty slow business model overall, and the vast majority of people aren’t going to be earning millions of dollars in their first few years.
To find success on YouTube, you’ll need to:
- Create engaging content
- Offer high-quality videos
- Post on a regular schedule
- Grow your audience
- Engage with people on social media, like on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook
- Get to know SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- And, work at it like it’s a real job
My wife recently started her own YouTube channel, Coral Hoyt - Practical Tips for a Home You’ll Love. She’s done an amazing job at turning our house into the swankiest place I’ve ever seen and I know she’s done it on the cheap. She’s using her channel to share her knowledge and experience.
To start a successful YouTube channel, you’ll need to do focus on a subject or topic you know and are passionate about.
And despite knowing a thing or two about making money online, Coral is still getting to know the ins and outs of growing a YouTube channel. She’s worked really freaking hard, and it’s still slow going in the beginning.
Here’s what Coral has to say about learning how to start a YouTube Channel:
“The hardest part for me was getting in front of the camera for the first time and knowing what to say. It got easier as the time when on, but the first couple of videos were hard to film and took a long time to complete.
Another thing that was harder than I expected it to be was learning the camera. I am a pretty tech savvy person, but the first time I used the camera I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what to do.”
What you need to start a YouTube channel
You can start a YouTube channel with just the video function on your phone, but for high-quality videos, you’re going to need to drop some cash on quality equipment. Here’s what we got for Coral’s channel:
- Camera - Canon M50 with kit lens
- Additional lens - Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM
- SD card - 64GB
- Tripod - 72”
- Microphone - Rode VideoMic Rycote Lyre
- Lighting - Halo Ring 18”
- White balance card
- Extra battery
- SD Card Reader
This type of high end equipment isn’t necessary, but it will show your readers that you’re taking your channel seriously.
Should you start a YouTube channel?
If you are passionate about something and want to share it with the world, then heck yeah, start a YouTube channel! Or, start a blog if you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.
YouTube really is a cool place to connect with a larger audience. It takes work and time, and more time, and more work to grow it into something that’s earning you a decent amount of side income, but it is possible.
If you’re interested in following Coral along as she works on her channel, I know she’d love a subscribe from you. Plugging her channel is the least I can do for all the times I’ve made fun of her in my emails.