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How to Make Money on YouTube: Ultimate Guide

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How much time do you spend watching YouTube every day? Wouldn’t it be great if you could be a creator, making money from uploading videos to the platform?

YouTubes first ever upload was on April 23rd, 2005, titled “Me at the zoo.” Some 13-years later, and YouTube has over 1.9-billion viewers. Every day, the global audience watches more than 5-billion videos, with the average user session on YouTube lasting for 40-minutes.

That’s a significant audience. Any internet marketer would love to get involved with capturing a viewership for their clients. YouTube has almost as many monthly users as Facebook, making it the second-largest social platform online. Many users watch videos without registering for an official Google account, making the unofficial viewership numbers for the platform even higher.

According to a 2018 study by Weareflint, almost 90% of American internet users aged between 18 to 44, access YouTube at least once a month. In a shocking revelation, the same study also notes that 51% of senior internet users over 75-years old, use YouTube.

With such a large audience on the platform, you could make it as a creator if you have top-quality content that people want to view.

So, what does it take to make money on YouTube?

In this guide, we’ll give you everything you need to know to start earning an income through the platform.

Ditch Your Day Job for YouTube

Can you imagine creating content and uploading videos to YouTube for a living? There are millions of creators receiving checks from YouTube every month for advertising revenue. You can get a piece of that pie if you want it badly enough.

Before you march into your boss’s office and announce that you’re resigning to start a YouTube channel, it might be a wise idea to research more about the requirements and benefits of being a full-time YouTube creator.

Sure, it’s possible to make an outstanding living by being a content creator, but it takes time to build an audience and get a healthy viewership on every video you upload. Some YouTubers struggle for years before they experience an inflection point where users start to subscribe en-masse.

So, before you decide to quit your day job, start a channel, and work at it part-time. When your monthly income from your channel exceeds 75% of your monthly salary, you can think about resigning.

YouTube Success Stories

An excellent example of the persistence necessary to make it on YouTube, is podcast king, Joe Rogan with a Net worth of $40 million +. Joe started his podcast back in 2010. At the time, Joe’s idea was to have in-depth conversations with his friends in a relaxed setting.

Over the years, Joe invited hundreds of guests onto his show, from MMA fighters to scientists. However, before 2016, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the name of his channel, only managed a few thousand views per podcast.

In 2016, Joe reached an inflection point with his show, where subscriber counts started to grow exponentially. Today, The Joe Rogan Experience” has more than 5.5-million subscribers, with over 1-million views on most of his podcasts.

The Joe Rogan Experience
The Joe Rogan Experience

His recent show with the controversial conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, currently has more than 16-million views on YouTube, making it the most popular podcast of all-time. Joe now earns an estimated average of $30,000 per podcast, doing around 5-podcasts a week.

Other successful YouTubers include “PewDiePie,” a channel run by a Swedish gamer than currently has over 100-million subscribers. Logan Paul is another excellent example of a YouTube superstar, with his channel earning him an estimated $13-million per year.

Joe Rogan Net Worth
Joe Rogan Net Worth: Comedian, Broadcaster & Top Podcaster

You Could Be the Next YouTube Superstar

Even Joe Rogan, PewDiePie, and Logan Paul had to start somewhere on the platform. Sure, they may have already had some media presence that made their channels more appealing to a broader audience., However, they put in the time and the effort to make a success of their respective channels.

As a newbie creator, you should model these successful YouTubers, and stay persistent when striving toward your goal of making money from the platform.

How Much do YouTubers Make?

Read: How Much do YouTubers Make? Top Earners Revealed

The Characteristics of Successful YouTubers

All of the best YouTubers have one thing in common – they take their channel seriously and keep producing top-quality content.

Another excellent example of a recent success story that comes from hard work is the surfer, Ben Gravy. Ben started his channel a little over 4-years ago.

  • This East Coast surfer lives in New Jersey. Ben started his channel as a way to live a sober lifestyle, away from drugs and alcohol, by doing something he loves – surfing waves.
  • Three years later, and Ben has experienced quite a ride. He met the best surfer in the world, Kelly Slater – who invited him to his surf ranch in California, a privilege that only a handful of pro surfers get to experience.
  • Ben also recently got a 2020 Subaru Outback car sponsored to him by Delaware Subaru. This sponsorship deal shows that you can even get a free car by making videos on YouTube.
  • However, Ben released a video every day for the last three years, steadily building an audience. So, it’s safe to say that his dedication to growing his channel is starting to pay off for him.

Whether it’s Ben Gravy, Joe Rogan, or Logan Paul, all these YouTubers have one thing in common – A dedication to building their channel that borders on an obsession.

How Do You Make Money on YouTube?

There are two models for making money on YouTube, as an ad platform, or as an advertiser. Advertisers pay YouTube for Bumpers, preroll, or TrueView adverts, and YouTube places these adverts in front of viewers before or during the video.

Advertisers promote their products through other people’s content. They make money from selling products or services bought by the viewers that convert on the ad.

As an ad platform, your YouTube channel hosts other brands or channels content as either a paid affiliate or as a YouTube Partner.

Let’s unpack each of these monetization strategies to see which one is right for you.

Strategy 1 – Becoming an Advertiser

YouTube advertisers create YouTube channels populated with their content and adverts. Advertisers pay YouTube to place these ads in front of videos with a large, targeted audience. YouTube will place your ads on channels with relevant content to your niche, and the ads could be from large brands or individuals with highly targeted audiences.

If you’re looking to apply this strategy, you need to know that you are playing the long game. It can be challenging for advertisers to get the exposure they need unless they spend huge amounts of money on the platform.

There’s also the chance that your target audience won’t see your ad, and click-through rates might be minimal compared to what you were expecting from your efforts. However, research proves that this strategy works for the majority of advertisers, and most make a healthy return on their marketing investment.

When it comes to displaying adverts on YouTube, advertisers have three options.

Preroll Ads

These ads are similar to in-stream ads that play before a video. However, the difference with a preroll ad is that the user can’t skip it after 5-seconds. These videos run from anywhere between 15 to 30-seconds, and the advertiser pays per click.

You can use preroll ads to place a call-to-action directing the viewers to a landing page, increasing your lead generation strategy. YouTube also permits advertisers to leverage the retargeting and remarketing options, which allow you to send more ads to users that engage with your YouTube channel.

TrueView Ads

These ads are excellent for storytelling. They run alongside the current video the user is watching, allowing advertisers to create longer, high-quality ads. TrueView ads come in two formats, in-stream, and discovery.

The in-stream video ad plays before the user’s video, giving users the option to skip the video after 5-seconds. Advertisers can make in-stream videos anywhere from 12-seconds to 6-minutes in length.

Discovery ads will appear on the user’s right sidebar in the video, below the “Up Next” video. These ads are excellent for building views to your videos and developing your brand.

Advertisers pay YouTube a fixed commission every time the ad receives a view for TrueView ads. Advertisers measure the success of their campaigns through Google AdWords. YouTube only counts a view when a user spends more than 30-seconds watching the ad, or clicks through to the advertisers landing page or website.


These ads have the shortest playing time on YouTube. These 6-second ad spots play before the user’s video starts, and they’re also useful for intermissions in longer videos, such as podcasts. Research shows that 90% of viewers tend to remember bumper ads, making them one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising on the platform.

YouTube charges advertisers a CPM, a cost-per-minute billing system, where advertisers pay for every 1,000-views of your advert on YouTube. Bumpers are an excellent way to bolster a TrueView ad campaign.

Strategy 2 – Starting an Advertising Platform

When most people think about using YouTube to make money, they’re thinking about the advertising platform strategy. With this method, you’re making money from hosting other brands or people’s adverts on your channels before your videos play.

The YouTube Partner Program

This program allows successful YouTube channels to monetize their videos by placing ads in their content paid for by other YouTube users, companies, and brands. You’ll need to meet qualifying criteria for your channel to be eligible for monetization, and we’ll discuss these criteria later in this article.

If your channel is eligible for monetization, you’ll have to agree to YouTubes YPP terms and conditions, and then submit your channel for review by the YouTube moderator team. The team gets back to you with the results of your review within a week of your submission.

You’ll also need to sign up for a Google AdSense account as well, allowing you to receive income through your YouTube account.

The amount of money you receive corresponds to the number of videos you create in a week. For instance, Joe Rogan produces four to five podcasts a week on average, with a total video length of around 1 to 3-hours.

Compare this to another user that only posts once a week or every two weeks, and you can start to see how posting volume contributes to your YouTube income. YouTube splits the ad revenue between the partners in the program. Google gets 45% of the advertising money, and you keep the other 55%.

Affiliate Partner Links

The YPP offers creators an excellent way to monetize their channels and earn an income online. However, it’s not the only option for YouTubers looking to profit from advertising revenue.

Affiliate links are another popular strategy employed by YouTubers to grow their revenue. If you won a successful channel, there are plenty of brands willing to work with you. One example is the Dollar Shave Club.

This company decided to take another route to advertise on YouTube, one with a more personal edge. Dollar Shave Club identified key influencer podcast channels on YouTube, offering the creators the chance to promote the brand’s products.

What are the Best Affiliate Programs for Bloggers?
Read: What are the Best Affiliate Programs?

A select group of YouTubers then pitch the company for a minute or two in the actual video before they move onto discussing the content. Think of it as similar to a radio ad. The YouTuber punts the brand or product and then tells the audience to click a link in the video or the description box.

The link pulls the viewer through to a landing page where the viewer can make their purchase through using a discount code offered by the YouTuber. Research shows that this is an incredibly effective marketing strategy, and it’s very popular among YouTubers that host podcasts and other variety shows.

Rely on Your Fans for Funding

As mentioned, it’s challenging to build a channel that’s ready for monetization. Even when you do reach eligible status for monetization, it may take 6-months to a year before you start seeing significant cash flow from your videos.

In the interim, some smart YouTubers came up with a solution to help them earn more money while they wait for ad revenue to increase. Asking your fans to fund your channel is an ingenious method of creating an income stream from your channel.

Set up a Patreon account, and ask your fans to donate funds. Some YouTubers feel that this strategy is similar to begging, and their pride gets in the way of a successful funding model. The reality is that people will be more than willing to donate to your channel if you produce excellent content they want to watch.

Philip DeFranco's Patreon Page
Philip DeFranco’s Patreon Page

Link your Patreon account in the description, and encourage your fans to donate during your video. Recently, YouTube developed the “Join” button, allowing creators to build a community of fans. Every time a viewer clicks the “Join” button next to the “subscribe” button, they have the option of paying to join your community.

Super chats are also another popular funding model for YouTubers. Creators will launch a live stream, and allow viewers to donate during the transmission. Viewers can choose to pledge amounts from $1 to $100 or more.

Sell Merchandise

Ever heard of POD? ( Print on Demand ) It’s a way to sell merchandise like T-Shirts, Coffee cups, key rings and other items with your design on. Companies like Printful and Printify have an online platform where you can upload your design onto a wide variety of consumer products and then when a customer places an order they will ship it direct to them – you don’t even have to get involved!

This is a great way to monetize and loads of gaming channels do this.

Factors That Affect Monetization Rates

There’s a significant amount of YouTube advertising revenue on the line each year. So, how do you ensure you’re maximizing your opportunity to get as much of the advertising money as you can?

What makes a YouTube channel great? Many YouTubers don’t realize that the kind of content they produce, along with the theme of their channel, and a few other factors play a role in monetization rates on the platform.

If you want to maximize your YouTube ad revenue, then assess your channel using the following criteria.

  • Subscribers Count – Your subscriber count, plays a massive role in how much advertising revenue you get at the end of the month.
  • Video Quality – Ad companies like to work with channels that have high production value. If you’re filming videos using your cellphone, it might be a better idea to upgrade to a DSLR and produce better quality content for your viewers and the advertisers.
  • Engagement Rates – Advertisers are willing to pay channels more if they have higher engagement rates. If your vlog is getting plenty of likes and comments, then it improves your monetization rate.
  • Popularity – The amount of attention your channel receives is a critical component of establishing your monetization rate. Channels that support viral videos, such as “Your Daily Dose of Internet,” receive millions of views on each video they produce, with many of them going viral. If you consistently produce viral videos, you can expect advertisers to flock to your channel.
  • Content – What kind of content are you producing? YouTube and advertisers don’t like controversial content, and it could result in the demonetization or banning of your account.

YouTube will pay the highest monetization rates to family-friendly content with the broadest target audience. For instance, if you run an educational channel, you’ll probably receive more ad revenue than someone reviewing handguns.

How to Qualify Your YouTube Account for Monetization?

If you think you have what it takes to be the next big YouTube star, then start your channel today. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to meet some qualifying criteria if you want to monetize your account.

In the wake of “Adpocalypse 2017,” and Logan Pauls’s blunders in the Japanese “suicide forest,” YouTube decided to make it harder for YouTubers to monetize their accounts. At the end of 2017, YouTube was dealing with multiple controversies in the media.

Some creators were overstepping boundaries, publishing illicit content, such as channels that promote videos of young girls. These videos had comment sections filled with pedophiles admiring young children’s bodies.

Some advertisers were playing ISIS recruitment videos, while others were allegedly trying to sway political campaigns. It’s for these reasons, and many more, that YouTube decided to lift the bar on the monetization of channels on the platform.

As of 2019, if you want to monetize your YouTube channel, you have to meet the following criteria.

  • Watch-Time – Your channel must have a combined total watch time of no less than 4,000-hours in 12 months.
  • Subscriber Count – Your channel has to have a minimum of 1,000-subscribers.

YouTube increased the requirements to protect itself from the fallout of 2017, ensuring that they would not have to endure a costly setback or lawsuit.

However, many creators felt the new criteria were too stringent, and preventing new creators from putting in the work to establish a platform. For many aspiring YouTubers, the requirements seem too hard to meet, and their dreams of owning an online income from their YouTube channel evaporated into the air.

May creators now argue that YouTube is no longer a free space where creators rule through producing top-quality content. YouTube is now an advertising platform, ruled by the whims of the corporations and brands.

Still, this fact doesn’t mean that you can’t make it as a creator on YouTube. There are hundreds of people meeting the requirements and monetizing their channels every day, and there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them.

Wrapping Up – Persistence is Key

It’s entirely possible to make a good living from advertising on YouTube, or through owning a channel and monetizing your account. However, if there is one lesson you should have ingrained into your brain from reading this article, it’s this;

Producing, editing, and uploading content is like any other job, and it takes time to be successful.

Sure, the life of a YouTuber may sound glamorous. Staying at home and producing videos might seem way better than going to the office and spending your day in a cubicle doing something you hate.

However, if you think it won’t require tons of hard work to reach the qualifying criteria set by YouTube, then think again. You’ll need to put the same kind of effort into promoting your channel and creating content, as you would with your job.

Fortunately, as a YouTuber, you are your boss – and you set the rules for how hard you want to work. However, your results depend on your effort, so make it count.


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased