Whether you’re doing daily vlogs or makeup tutorials, creators have the potential to reach huge audiences on YouTube, as more than 2 billion people log on to the video site every month.
But while many creators now earn enough to focus on producing their YouTube videos full-time, making money on YouTube isn’t easy. It requires dedication, a targeted strategy and, of course, good content.
Here are five steps to making money on YouTube:
- Focus on your content.
- Grow your audience.
- Sign up for the YouTube Partner Program.
- Look for other sources of income.
- Be patient.
Focus on your content
Making money on YouTube requires building an audience and getting views on your videos. The best way to do this is to create quality content.
Find an area where you have unique expertise or a niche that has a dedicated fanbase and start posting content regularly.
“Consistency is key,” says Hallease Narvaez, a filmmaker with nearly 90,000 YouTube subscribers who began focusing in 2015 on monetizing her channel primarily focused on black women and natural hair. “Whatever identities you hold, lean into them and try to speak as authentically as possible. If you’re not authentic, your audience will know.
Grow your audience
An important way to grow your audience is to use other social media platforms to help you build your brand and gain new followers. Andrew Lokenauth, a personal finance influencer with nearly 3,000 YouTube subscribers, says he’s used his higher followings on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter as funnels to start growing his YouTube numbers.
“If you take the time to produce content on YouTube, you can reuse it on other platforms,” he says. “You can put the best 30-second hooks on TikTok and Instagram reels or type them on Twitter.”
Join the YouTube Partner Program
The most direct way to monetize your money through YouTube is to join its partner program. To be eligible, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers and have logged at least 4,000 hours of valid public viewing in the past year.
Once approved, YouTube will begin sending you a share of the advertising revenue generated by your page. Plus, you’ll have access to other monetization opportunities through YouTube, including:
- Sell products to your viewers through a store on your channel.
- Sell subscriptions to your channel.
- Sell ”super stickers” that viewers can use during your live chats.
Investigate other sources of income
There are plenty of ways to make money from your content on YouTube without getting paid directly by YouTube. Here is an overview of a few:
If you do product reviews on your site, you can sign up for affiliate programs with e-commerce companies like Amazon. Then, if your viewers buy items through links you post, e-commerce companies will send you a share of the revenue.
As you grow your audience, you may be able to attract the attention of brands who will pay you as an influencer to create content featuring their products or to work with them on sponsored projects.
For example, last year Narvaez partnered with Target to create a series of videos on its channel about black-owned businesses selling their products at Target stores.
Some YouTubers are able to generate revenue by having their viewers pay for them on subscription-based crowdfunding sites like Patreon.
“My Patreon is set up on a monthly basis, or they can sign up for the year with a slight discount,” Narvaez explains. “It’s a place where they can preview my videos or get clips of my lessons on Skillshare.”
You can also fundraise on an ad hoc basis by using crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter, and promoting them on your YouTube channel.
Many successful YouTubers earn income by creating courses that teach others how to follow in their footsteps. Narvaez sells Skillshare courses on how to edit and produce videos, for example.
It takes time to build a large enough and engaged enough audience to start generating meaningful revenue. Many top YouTubers have spent years building their audience and creating content before they can successfully monetize it. Just building enough subscribers to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program can take time, although if you have a hugely engaged audience, you may be able to secure referral deals before that.
“Generally, I think you should expect it to take at least two to three years before you see some form of consistent income,” Narvaez says.