Becoming a YouTuber can be an extremely lucrative career move. In some cases, it can make you a multi-millionaire.
Think Mr Beast, PewDiePie, and even Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World. Or simply check out our run-down of the richest YouTubers of 2023.
But how exactly do these YouTubers generate their income? And how can you start to cash in as well?
Here’s the full run down, with everything you have to know about on how to make money on YouTube.
Ready? Let’s jump in!
Get a Cut of Ad Revenue - Join the YouTube Partner Program
The first step most creators take to start making money on YouTube is to join the YouTube Partner Program.
Once you’ve signed up for this program, you will get a cut of the ad revenue YouTube generates on your videos. In 2023, video creators get 55% of the net revenue for ads that run on their content.
You get Partner Program payouts once every month. How much you earn, though, depends on a few factors. These include how many people actually watched ads on your videos, what type of content you create, and where you’re located, among others.
Want an in-depth look at how much you can earn from ads? Take a look at our case studies on how much 1 million views will make you on YouTube.
One thing is sure: Ad revenue is a relatively reliable income stream that can help you make the big bucks as a YouTuber. Mr Beast, for example, earned $32 million from ads alone last year.
So how do you join the YouTube Partner Program?
There are a few basic conditions you have to fulfil to join.
- 4,000 public watch hours in the last year
OR 10 million Shorts views in the last 90 days
- No community guideline strikes
- Active 2-step verification on your Google Account
One more thing: You need to live in an area where the Partner Program is available (check here!).
Once you tick all these boxes, you can apply to the Partner Program via YouTube Studio. Check out the video below to see the exact process.
YouTuber Ryan Walsh’s walkthrough of applying to the Partner Program
If you don’t have one already, you’ll be asked to create a Google AdSense account. That way, you can get your monthly payouts.
Leverage YouTube’s Fan Monetization Features
Once you’ve joined the YouTube Partner Program, you can also access YouTube’s other monetization features. These include Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers, and channel memberships.
All these options allow your viewers to pay you in return for extra perks.
Super Chat and Super Stickers come in during livestreams. Viewers can pay to highlight their comments in your live chat, or to have animated images show up in the feed.
To make money from these YouTube features, you just have to activate them prior to streaming.
Super Thanks is similar, but for regular videos. Here, viewers pay to have their comment highlighted below your video.
Channel memberships, finally, let you rake in additional cash by having your audience pay a monthly subscription for exclusive advantages, like badges and emojis.
Set Up Tipping and Subscription Platforms like Patreon or Ko-fi
So do you have to join the Partner Program to make money as a content creator on YouTube?
While getting a cut from ad revenue is the most common starting point for YouTube monetization, the thriving creator economy enables other strategies as well.
One of them is to set up tipping features and membership subscriptions using platforms like Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee or Ko-fi.
All you have to do is create an account on one of these platforms and link to it in your YouTube content, for example in your video descriptions, cards and end screens. Then, viewers who loved your content can leave you a tip to say thanks.
Similarly, you can use these platforms to offer memberships and upload exclusive content for paying subscribers.
The big upside of using these tipping platforms is that you can start monetizing your YouTube channel whenever you’re ready – no matter how many subscribers you have.
The downside? These platforms also charge subscription fees or take a cut of your revenue. Want to know how much exactly? Have a look at our comparison here.
Join Affiliate Programs
Another way to make money on YouTube is to join affiliate programs.
Simply put, this helps you make money from recommending products or services to your viewers via affiliate links.
Once you’ve got a sizeable audience on YouTube, you can apply to join affiliate programs by big-name companies such as Amazon. Typically, you need a certain subscriber count to qualify.
When you’ve been accepted, you can generate links to different products in your affiliate account. Then, you integrate these affiliate links into your video description. Every time one of your viewers buys one of the products you recommend using your link, you earn a commission.
Especially if you’re creating content like product reviews or tutorials, adding affiliate links can be a fantastic revenue stream.
Negotiate Brand Deals
“Today’s video is brought to you by …” It’s a line that most YouTube users have heard. That’s because working with brands is another fantastic way for YouTubers to generate income.
Brand partnerships can take on many different forms. One of the most common ones is sponsorship, where brands will give you free products or cash to get shoutouts or be featured in your content.
Other ways of working with brands include becoming a brand ambassador. Here, you’ll get paid a regular commission to represent a brand at a much larger scale.
Plus, getting brand deals is also a way for rookie creators to start monetizing. Even if your audience is still small, as long as they’re loyal and dedicated, you could find a brand in your particular niche to sponsor you.
Micro-influencers are a major trend when it comes to marketing for small businesses as well.
So how do you find and negotiate brand deals? Check out our cheat sheet for everything you have to know.
Brand Yourself and Launch Your Own Merchandise
Finally, another option to make money on YouTube is to turn your own channel into a brand and launch your own line of products. This could include anything from branded merchandise – think t-shirts, mugs, and buttons – to online courses and e-books.
Merchandise sales are one of the major ways to make the big bucks on YouTube. Think of kid YouTuber Ryan Kaji, whose branded toys are being sold not just online but also in brick-and-mortar stores such as Target. Or of the MrBeast Burger chain that has raked in $100 million in two years.
At first, you won’t be playing at that scale yet.
Instead, you can use YouTube’s in-built store feature to sell branded products, or harness similar features on Ko-fi and dedicated platforms like Spreadshirt.
Going further, there are even companies that let you easily build your own community app for your channel and sites on which you can create online courses and sell ebooks.
The Bottom Line
Before you can start making money on YouTube, there is one thing you absolutely need: a loyal and engaged audience. People who regularly watch your videos, follow your channel, like, comment, and subscribe.
To get there, you need to carefully select your channel niche, create quality content, and make your channel memorable. Especially your niche will have a major impact on your earning potential – not all of them are equally profitable. (Need help with your choice? Take a look at our YouTube Starter’s Guide!)
It’s never too early to start thinking about YouTube monetization. Loving what you do and creating content out of passion is fantastic. But knowing you can turn content creation into a career will give you extra motivation – and your videos that special boost they need to go viral.
As a first step, you can join the YouTube Partner Program to earn a cut of ad revenue and use monetization features like Super Thanks. You can also sign up for tipping platforms like Patreon and Ko-fi as well as affiliate programs. There’s also the option to collaborate with brands through sponsorships and to sell your own merchandise.
Once you’ve reached 1,000 subscribers as well as either 4,000 public watch hours or 10 million Shorts views, you can apply to joint the YouTube Partner Program via YouTube Studio.
No. You can also leverage external tipping platforms like Patreon or Ko-Fi to start earning an income from YouTube before you qualify for the Partner Program.
You need a loyal and engaged audience – people who regularly watch your content, subscribe to your channel, like your videos, and leave comments. To get there, you need to select a profitable niche and regularly create quality content.