How to make money on YouTube

October 31, 2020
Man smile at the camera with a bundle of money in his hand

Making money on YouTube is not so hard these days. If you come with something, at least a little original or very professional, and you will publish it regularly. You should pop out. And it even doesn’t matter if you have just 5,000 subscribers.

If they are active and few of them are tribal fans, you still get funds, for example, via membership programs, crowdfunding sites, or merchandise selling.

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YouTube Advertising

The most profound way of making money on youtube is through a built in system of YouTube ads to make money on it. Your account has to reach a minimum of 1,000 subscribers with 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months. You also have to be linked to an AdSense account, be in a country where the Partner program is available and meet all other monetization policies.

If you checked everything above, all you have to do to become a YouTube Partner is to send an application letter. You should be approved within a maximum of a month. Then you make 55% of ads revenue. To maximize the profit, you have to reach as much as possible video views from users that are not using adblocking software. Like and dislike ratio is not important for YoutTube Ads. 
However, your content can be demonetized due to inappropriate scenes appearing in the video. The Monetization system is based on the program and, in many cases, inaccurate, which causes the demonetization of suitable videos. 

Pros

  • Built-in feature
  • Monthly funds for almost no work
  • Can earn you a lot if you have many views

Cons

  • You need to be an YouTube Partner
  • Demonetization is often inaccurate 
  • Earnings depend on the audience region

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Sponsors & Brands

Now we are getting to the most famous variation to YouTube Advertising, and it is ads inside the video. To outsource ads, you still have to have a pretty strong fan base because brands are choosing only the prominent YouTubers. Nonetheless, sponsorships and in-video ads are one of the best ways to monetize your creation.

First of all, you have to handle it smartly and don’t take everything because the audience can easily lose trust in you. For example, beauty brands are non-sense as sponsors for gaming channels.

After you find the right products and brands, it is a win-win-win situation. Your audience gets to know interesting products relatable to your content and, in many cases, even better prices for advertising products. You get funds from something you like and use by yourself, and sponsors get new clients that are into their products.

Also, cooperation with brands is a gateway to more interesting projects. Here are two main types of sponsorships:

Short Term

Most often picked by brands to promote some occasional events, introduce new products, or they found a new audience. For example, if a new game comes out, many gaming channels get this game free or get paid to play it. 

There are tons of reasons why brands pick short term sponsoring, either because they are testing your audience engagement or they just don’t have funds for long term sponsors. However, be careful and get your job done properly because most short term corporations grow into the long term.

Long Term

If the brand chooses you, you get the long term sponsorship. These can be very similar to short term advertisements or completely different. For example, in the Long Term, you can be sponsored monthly by a brand, and you just have to show in a few videos that you are using their product.

Pros

  • Win-win-win solution
  • You get interesting products
  • Largely customizable 
  • In many cases, better deals for your audience
  • Pre-arranged money

Cons

  • Harder to get
  • Bothersome viewers

Vector graphic of tailors and people choosing clothes

Merchandise

Third on our list is very similar to the previous section except that you are promoting your own brand and not the foreign brand. For many creators merchandising is just making shirts and hoodies with their logo on them.

Nonetheless, this can be taken completely differently, and YouTube creators can create everything that fits their content. For example, if you have a knife making channel, you can sell your knives as merch. The possibilities are limitless. 

However, with merch comes the risk because you have to make all the goods and then sell it via your shop or outsource it to markets. So, take it calmly and produce your merch only if you know that you are going to sell it.

Pros

  • Expanding your own brand
  • Completely customizable
  • Limitless options
  • Without negotiating conditions
  • Most of the fund goes straight to your pocket

Cons

  • Higher input costs
  • Risk of not selling it

Vector picture of hands donating money to box

Patreons 

The next monetization technique became popular in past years, which is probably caused by stricter monetization requirements across all platforms from YouTube to Facebook. These platforms work on one-time or recurring donations from the audience to their favorite creator and, in many cases, provides bonus authors content behind a paywall.

Patron platforms are great for all creators who have older but smaller audiences that love their work and are able to support them. Thanks to Patron websites, many artists, photographers, programmers, or also the cosplayers can keep up their craft and focus only on that. 


However, many platforms are time-consuming because the patrons expect something to return. Whatever it is behind the scenes, bonus footage, competitions, or just priority in answering questions.

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Patreon

The largest and most famous creators, a crowdfunding platform. Patreon de facto started this trend of direct donations to creatives. The platform works as many familiar social media only with the difference that most of the content is behind a paywall. Patreon provides creators homepage/post page, direct messages from patrons, the possibility to add more different memberships divided by price. Also, creators on Patreon can download many supporting programs, for example, for data collecting: Google Analytics. 


Patreon follows the sentence: “We only succeed when you succeed.” That means there is no premium, and plans are divided by the percentage revenue that Patreons takes from your monthly income. Lite version offers a little, but Patreons takes only 5%, Pro has more features, and Patreon takes 8%, and Premium offers all features. However, Patreon is charging 12% of your monthly revenue. For example, if you have activated Patreon Lite and you make € 500 a month, Patreon will deduct € 25 from you at the end of the month.

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Buymeacoffee

One of the biggest competitors to Patreon. Many features on Buymeacoffee are very similar. Influencers have their own space to post; the audiences have the opportunity to text directly to creatives, and influencers also can set up whatever they want as a reward. However, Buymeacoffee is working more on one-time payments and charges only 5% for all features.

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Ko-fi

This platform is also very similar to the core. However, Ko-fi also offers a market to sell your craft, and the whole platform is more focused on beginning creators. Ko-fi has no fees in freemium, so it will charge you nothing from your earnings. The dark side is that the Ko-fi free version offers very little besides Patreon and Buymeacoffe. All features on Ko-fi can be reached only by subscribing to Ko-fi Gold, which is a monthly paid premium service.

Pros

  • Genuine source of funds
  • Premium content to your supportive fans
  • Easy to make
  • Without input costs

Cons

  • Most platforms charge fees
  • You can be limited by the platform you choose

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Crowdfunding

This option is very similar to Patron websites with the difference that you fund your project, not yourself. For example, if you are doing game development videos and you want to get funds for your new game project, you can go on sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. There you have to write everything down and give something in return like beta access, special action figures, etc.

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Kickstarter

The flagship of crowdfunding websites which has helped fund thousands of projects. Kickstarter is easy to use. Users just need to write down all information about the product, upload photos and videos about the product, set the money goal, set the rewards for donors, and then launch it. All projects have a certain period of time for which they must withdraw the required money. If it does not happen, the money is transferred back to donors.

Pros

  • Save way to fund your project
  • Open to everybody
  • You will find out if people are interested in your product

Cons

  • Platforms charge fees if your project is successful 
  • When the goal has not reached, the money is returned to donors

Vector image of men holding hands on monitor

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing contrasts with all other forms of content monetization and fits only with specific types of video. Affiliate marketing works on affiliate links, which will link your audience to the product website. These links are generated by you and contain your specific attachment, so the site finds that the customers came from your video. These websites usually pay a percentage of sales received from your audience.


This type of funding is suited mainly for products or games reviewing channels. These channels have audiences mostly interested in the reviews, not particularly into them as creators, making it harder for them to make money from Patron, Merch, or many sponsorships that do not fit into their content. For these types, Affiliate marketing is great.

Pros

  • Can make passive income from older videos
  • Suits well for reviews making channels
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • You have to sign up for many affiliate projects and become a partner in some
  • Fund depends on product sales

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Licensing & Selling content

The last monetization option on our list is Licensing and content selling. Like affiliate marketing, this type also fits only with some creators. Usually, if you want to sell content, it has to be professional and give your audience valuable information. 

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YouTube Red

Built in feature of YouTube. It is premium content on the named platform. The most famous series on YouTube Red is Mind Field by Vsauce, which is a professionally directed and shot scientific show.

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Your Own Website or any where else

The options are unlimited here. As a photographer, you can shoot videos about your gear, assets, photography, and then sell your photos on Shutterstock or your presets on your own websites. You can sell content into TVs, Radios from YouTube Music, etc. The options are really limitless.

Pros

  • Unlimited options

Cons

  • Can be hard to find what fits you

Just a few end words:

These are only rough sketches of how to make money. This article should give you an extended perspective on the big picture. Try to be creative from the marketing side and find your way to monetize content, a way that fits your content, or combine everything above together and make less money from multiple sources. Good luck!