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Making money online is a brilliant way to secure financial freedom and location independence, and this post – the latest in the Year of the Side Hustle series – explores how to make money on Youtube in 2021.
Ask kids nowadays what they want to be when they’re older, and chances are, it’ll be ‘A Youtuber’.
But, ask many people making an income online how they’re doing it, and a fair amount will mention Youtube as one of their many income streams.
Whether it’s beauty, gaming, budgeting, fashion or general vlogging, there really is an audience out there for every niche, and a way to make money from it.
However, it’s not easy – and it certainly isn’t quick.
Instead, you need to work on creating quality content that either informs, engages or entertains – and you need to keep doing it. You want to target a specific niche so that a very specific audience becomes a loyal following – and that is when you are able to truly maximise your revenue potential.
One of the great things about Youtube is that there are so many different ways to make money, that you just might be able to replace your 9-5 income one day with your channel.
So, without further delay, let’s explore how to make money on Youtube in 2021:
Become a Youtube Partner
Once you’ve achieved 1000 subscribers and racked up 4,000 hours of watched time within the last year (that is, viewers have spent a collective 4000 hours watching your content), you’re eligible to become a Youtube Partner.
This then means you can earn money with ads, which you can intersperse throughout your content – typically at the beginning, and scattered throughout the video. This said, don’t go too overboard with ads as there’s a fine line between generating revenue, and ruining the user experience, so bear this in mind.
You also need to be aware that you don’t make money from a viewer hitting ‘Skip Ads’ as soon as they can. Instead, you need the viewer to either click the ad, or watch a certain amount of the ad, to be eligible to make any money from it. Just because your video has 10,000 views, doesn’t mean your ad earnings will correlate with this.
You also need to be aware that your content must comply with Youtube monetisation policies in order to receive any payouts – so if your content doesn’t fall in line with these guidelines, you won’t be able to make money from ads.
It’s important to note here that you shouldn’t focus solely on ad income, as Youtube can change the goalposts where monetising is concerned.
Instead, you want to explore the other multiple revenue streams listed below in addition to ads, to really maximise your returns.
Work with brands as an affiliate
The great thing about becoming an affiliate for various different brands is that you can start making money from your content long before you reach 1000 subscribers or 4000 watched hours.
This is why it’s so important to find your niche and your tribe – you could have 100 subscribers, but providing your content is relevant to them, you’ll be able to monetise through affiliate sales.
Affiliate marketing works by promoting a product or software to your audience, that you earn commission on everytime viewers click through links you insert within your content.
The best ways to include affiliate links within your Youtube content are to include your personalised links within your description box, displayed under your video. The general school of thought is to use a link shortener such as bit.ly to keep your affiliate links looking less spammy.
Another great way to work with brands would be to take sponsored posts. This involves brands paying you to do a video on their product – or feature it in a larger video – and can be a great earner (especially if you are able to negotiate an affiliate commission on any purchases your viewers make as a result of watching your content.
With this in mind, it’s incredibly important that you know who your audience is so that you can pitch and target particular brands you feel will most want to engage with your audience – and the larger amount of subscribers you have, and the higher the rate of engagement, the better.
The big hitters such as David Dobrik, Mr Beast and Markiplier all make in excess of $10 million each year, through various different Youtube related revenue streams.
A particularly-popular stream is through creating merchandise to sell to loyal subscribers – and when you’ve got over 20 million subscribers, even a 0.1% sell-through rate is a considerable amount of sales!
Whether it’s mugs, tshirts, prints, tote bags or something more niche and relevant to your content, it’s well worth considering merchandise as another income stream.
Explore fan funding options and channel memberships
It’s possible to create channel memberships or other memberships such as Patreon channels, where fans who pay a set amount each month can get access to exclusive content and benefits.
Alternatively, you can even go live on your channel and launch a ‘tipping jar’, where fans can contribute during your stream.
Very occasionally, you just might have a piece of your content go viral, and be inundated with requests from broadcasters looking to buy the rights to your content to use it on their show.
The benefits of licensing your content to them is two-fold: first of all, it’s another income stream for your content, and second of all, it provides you with additional coverage to a wider, more mainstream audience.
This isn’t something you need to get in place until you go viral – but if you do, and broadcasters come calling, you should absolutely be asking for a rights fee.
Sell digital products
Digital products are a great way to grow a passive income stream, as once you’ve created them, aside from promoting them, you’ll rarely need to do anything else – aside from sit back and watch the sales come in.
Whether it’s selling eBooks, printables, or courses, providing it’s related to your content and it’s of interest to your audience, there’s no reason why this couldn’t be a nice little consistent earner for you.
On a similar note, if you are somewhat of an expert in your field, you could sell a coaching course off the back of your content.
Once you’ve built an audience that trusts your knowledge within your industry, start thinking of courses you could potentially create that will benefit your viewers, and answer the questions you are most commonly asked.
Sure, this will take time to build your audience’s trust, but once you become a leading authority within your niche, this can be one of the most profitable income streams of all.
What kind of Youtube videos work best for monetisation?
There really is a way to monetise every single one of your videos.
Regardless of whether you create reviews, DIY videos, vlogs, tutorials, workouts, ASMR videos, or content within any other field, using one, some or all of the revenue generators listed above, you can make money from them.
Something to be aware of before you start monetising:
This post has been all about diversifying income streams – but you also need to diversify your presence, and protect all your hard work.
Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and other social media platforms could shut-down overnight, and with it, you’d lose all of your subscribers that you’ve worked so hard to amass.
On any social platform, you don’t own your subscribers, or the rights to contact them.
Instead, alongside any Youtube or social media channel that you launch, you should seriously be considering launching a newsletter and blog to ensure that, even if everything closes down tomorrow, you can still contact your audience.
You own the rights to contact your newsletter subscribers once they opt in – meaning that, for as long as they are subscribed to you, you can communicate with them.
You can still make affiliate sales through them, you can still release sponsored newsletters in conjunction with your favourite brands to them, and you can still sell courses through them.
In other words, a newsletter can be a fantastic way to make money through an engaged audience that is going to benefit you both – long after social media channels will be able to.
Is it easy to make money on Youtube?
No. There’s are millions of creators, with thousands launching new channels every day.
You need to treat your Youtube channel as a business, because that is what it is. It will take some time to grow a strong following, and will involve focusing on gaining their trust long before you can begin making serious money.
But it is possible to make money from the off, providing you’re releasing great content, content that educates, inspires or entertains, and that is maximised for Youtube SEO.
What is Youtube SEO?
In order to maximise your chances of being exposed to the right audiences and grow your follower numbers (and subsequently maximise your chances of replacing your 9-5 income with your Youtube income), you need to nail your Youtube SEO.
This includes ensuring you’re including the right keywords (that is, ideally low-competition keywords) in your Youtube video title, description, and tags, whilst also encouraging your viewers to engage with your content by leaving comments, sharing or subscribing to your channel, or following links to other videos that are embedded into the current video they’re watching.
You also want to create a standout thumbnail image to accompany your video, to ensure yours is the video viewers click on when searching for a particular keyword – the more yours is clicked on, the higher up the page Youtube will list you.
It’s also important for the Youtube algorithm that viewers are clicking on your video, and staying on it. You want them to stay watching your content for as long as possible, so keep this in mind when finalising any scripting – don’t go giving away any big lessons at the very beginning!
For both the algorithm, and your viewers, you also want to set up a schedule so that your audience know when to expect new content from you. Consistency is key here, so decide which days you’ll be releasing new content – and stick to it.
If you’re looking to seriously level-up your Youtube SEO, I’d personally recommend starting here – this blog post from Backlinko gives a perfect overview of everything you need to be doing, to ensure you rank well.
Whilst competition is rising, and more and more people are becoming content creators, you need to remember that you aren’t creating content for all 2 billion viewers.
Sure, let the competition push you to be your best – but really, it’s all about finding your very-select audience with who your content will most resonate and creating useful, engaging and entertaining content for them – and them only.
That’s how you make money from Youtube.