A typical scenario: You look online and try to find out how to make money on YouTube, but nothing seems to give you helpful answers. As a video creator or influencer, you want to get paid well for the effort you put into creating valuable content. But, truth is, it's often harder than expected... until now!
That's why I've put together a comprehensive list that goes far past the default answer of the youtube partner program (which in my opinion is rubbish these days compared to other options). I've left it for last because this is still one of the main ways people ask me about when it comes to how to make money on YouTube. So I may as well include it.
As an entrepreneur, I'm always coming up with new ideas and ways to add value to others. Many of the ways for making money on youtube that I share here are applicable on many other channels online. Let's start with the first revenue stream:
Affiliate Marketing on YouTube
One of the fastest ways to make money on youtube is by promoting other people's products through affiliate marketing. This is how I started out, and it allowed me to make money right away. You don't need a website, nor a product to make money, just a youtube video with a strong call to action, and a relevant product to send your viewers to through your unique affiliate links.
How do you get started with affiliate marketing?
- Find products to promote
- Generate your unique affiliate link(s) & mask it for tracking & aesthetics
- Create a video targeting a profitable keyword that relates to the product
- Rank your video on the first page of YouTube, get video views, clicks, and sales!
Let's go through each step briefly, so you know exactly how to implement this on your youtube channel:
1. Find Affiliate Products to Promote on YouTube
There are thousands of affiliate products and platforms online. If you're in doubt, just go on google and search "[your niche] affiliate program" and you'll find loads. If you're still struggling, well, then there's always Amazon Associates program where you can get a commission on pretty much any product or service on there.
Here are a few affiliate platforms to peruse which have hundreds of affiliate products to choose from:
There are a ton of others, which I'll leave for a more exhaustive list in another blog article soon.
Simply choose a product in your niche you'd like to promote and then sign up for an account. Approval can take a few days and some platforms or networks have quite strict requirements in taking on affiliates, so don't be discouraged if you don't hear back. Apply to a few, so you have some options.
For example, if you're in the financial or travel niche, you can join affiliate programs for credit cards, which usually pay quite well in commissions!
2. Generate Your Unique Affiliate Links
Once you've passed the eligibility requirements and your affiliate account is approved, you can generate your unique affiliate link for the product you've chosen to promote on your channel. This link is unique to you and allows the platform to track how many clicks and how much revenue you make through it.
Instead of leaving the (usually ugly and long) affiliate link bare, it's common practice to mask it using a link shortening service or vanity URL, so it's easier to remember, share, and also allows you to track how many clicks you've gotten on your affiliate links.
A common one is bitly.com which is one of many link shorteners. I've also used rebrandly.com which is quite useful if you want to use your own short domain. If you have a WordPress website, then you can use Pretty Links to mask your affiliate links.
3. Create a Targeted YouTube Video
Video keyword research is critical to make sure you earn money on youtube using affiliate marketing. Your video topic or focus keyword must have search volume (how many people per month are searching using this keyword), and also have a low competition score (a score given by keyword research tools to indicate how difficult it is to rank highly on YouTube for this keyword).
Ideally, to make money on YouTube with affiliate marketing, you look for "buyer keywords" which are keywords with a buying intent. For example, "[product] review", "[product A] vs. [product B]", "cheap [product niche]", or "best [niche name] products". These searches are made by people who close to making a buying decision.
How do you find the most profitable keywords that make money on youtube? There are several tools, but my favorite one is YT Cockpit. It allows you to quickly see which video content ideas will succeed and how easy it will be to get your videos on the first page of search results, for maximum video views.
The next step is obviously filming your video. Make sure that you actually say the main keyword phrase that you've chosen, out loud, in the first few seconds of the video, at least once in the middle, and at the end. This ensures that when YouTube transcribes the video, that it's seen as relevant to the phrase you're optimizing for.
Here are a few types of youtube videos you could create to promote an affiliate product:
- Talk about some of the most common problems that your audience may be having in your niche, and then at the end of the video, share a product that provides the best solution for them.
- Share some valuable tips in your niche and then mention a product that is related in some way to those tips, or compliments them in some way.
- Do a comparison video where you compare two or more products (pros and cons) and then rank them by criteria. Include affiliates links for each product.
- Create a “Top 10 List” of products, linking to all or some of the products covered in that list.
4. Rank Your Video On the First Page of YouTube
After you've created your video, it's now time to optimize the meta details. The easiest way, hands down, is to use a tool called Video Marketing Blaster, it makes your life so much easier when you write your youtube title, description, and tags.
There's a lot of factors that need to be considered when optimizing your video for the YouTube search algorithm, too many to list here, but the primary one is to make sure that your primary keyword is in the title, at least a few times naturally sprinkled in your description, and in the tags. If you want to learn in more depth how to optimize your videos, then my How To Make $100,000 Per Year Thanks To YouTube course will show you in-depth step-by-step from creating your YouTube channel to learning other ways how to make money on YouTube.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you drive as many views to your video as possible during the first 24 hours of publishing it, so you can build up momentum and engagement.
YouTube values the views in this timeframe the most and will favour videos with a high early view velocity, pushing it out to related channels and videos.
Sell Video Courses
Another highly profitable way to make money on YouTube is to sell your own video courses. Before you get overwhelmed with this idea, let me reassure you that making a video course is quite simple, and doesn't necessarily take weeks to create. In fact, you could create a mini-course in a day (or less) if you wanted to. I've done it in a matter of hours - from idea to launch.
Let's run through the step-by-step process:
Decide What Big Problem You Want To Help Solve
Since people will be paying you for this content, you've got to make sure it's valuable and solve a problem they have. A video course allows you to organize premium content into a structure that solves a more complex issue or pain point that a single or couple of videos won't be sufficient for.
A video course is akin to a book as a YouTube video is to a blog article. The former usually contains 10 times or more value than the latter.
What big problems does your audience have? Make a list of their top 10 pain points, and from those, choose one you have the solution to. Most likely you've personally had this problem in the past but found a way to solve it, and now can show others how to do the same.
Come Up With a Killer Title Hook
The next step is to come up with a title for your video course that acts as an attention hook to get your audience interested in your course. A title hook usually contains the main benefit or pain point you are helping them solve. It should ideally be very specific as to what outcome the student can expect to achieve if they take the course.
Here are a few examples of strong video course titles:
- How To Launch a Five-Figure Instagram Business In 30 Days or Less & Quit Your Day Job
- The 10-Day Back Pain Relief Formula
- Become a Raw Master Chef To Boost Your Energy In 7 Days
See how they focus on the benefit, how long they can expect to get that benefit, or what pain they're avoiding?
Structure Your Course Content Into Logical Modules and Lessons
The next and most important step is to create a course structure. This can be likened to a book table of contents, where there are modules (like chapters), and lessons (like sections within a chapter).
Each course module has multiple videos which are grouped logically based on the topic and flow of the information.
There are certain video lessons that should be included by default, such as a course introduction video where you outline what they'll be learning in the course and how to go through it effectively. Then each module should also have an intro to give an overview of what the student will learn in this module, and a recap or exercises lesson to review what they learned and apply the information.
Finally, the other recommended video should be the last one at the next which guides the student onto the next steps and what to do after the course. This is usually a call to action to either apply the information, join the next course in the sequence, or get coaching. Whatever you think the student will need to get closer to their goals.
A module should have about 3-5 video lessons, each of which should cover a main important aspect of that module topic. Then, for each video lesson, jot down at least 2-3 main points that you plan on sharing within that video.
Produce & Edit Your Video Lessons
Once you have your structure complete and refined to the point where you feel it's logical and valuable and can hold all of the necessary content for your students to solve their big problem, it's time to produce your video lessons. This is the part you already know how to do since you're a YouTube video creator right? If not, I'll leave that for another blog article, just let me know in the comments, so I know that you want me to write it!
You can use the course structure you created as a checklist to see which video content you've filmed & edited and which videos are left to film & edit. I usually colour code the text in a word document or Google doc, to highlight which videos have been filmed, which have been edited, and which are left to go through those two steps.
Publish & Promote Your Video Course
Once you've filmed and edited your video lessons, it's time to publish your video course. The question is where and how? I'll share a few different ways and platforms you can use to do that.
The first consideration is whether you want your video content on a self-hosted platform such as WordPress, or a managed platform like Thinkific, Teachable, or Udemy. The former is a lot more technical, and the latter is a lot easier with a plethora of features but costs more on a monthly basis.
A Few Recommended Self-Hosted WordPress LMS Plugins:
- LearnDash - Used by Fortune 500 companies worldwide, highly robust and feature-rich
- MemberPress - All-in-one membership plugin, considered one of the best out there
- LifterLMS - A powerful and flexible choice for most course creators
- Sensei - Created by the company behind WooCommerce, and integrates with it seamlessly
A Few Recommended Managed Course Platforms:
- Teachable - Great for creating multiple courses with solid marketing features
- Thinkific - Perfect for building a course from the ground up
- CourseCraft - Offers a great free tier for getting started
- Podia - For digital products & memberships
- Kajabi - Brilliant for marketing your course on autopilot
- Udemy - If you want your course marketed for you with an existing audience
- Skillshare - Amazing if you're sharing specific skills, earn by how many minutes students watch
- Pathwright - Ideal for action-oriented courses
- Xperiencify - The solution for gamifying your online course
Once you've uploaded and published your course, this is when you use your existing YouTube videos or create new video content, to promote your course and make money. YouTube will act as a non-stop 24/7 traffic generator to bring qualified prospects to your course landing pages, so you can start generating revenue. You can also use YouTube video ads to drive traffic to your course landing page if you want to scale your traffic and not be limited by your current organic views.
Offer Coaching or Consulting
This method for making money on YouTube is one of the fastest. If you have knowledge and skills related to your YouTube channel niche (which I'm assuming you do!), you can offer coaching or consulting sessions to guide clients to solve their problems and reach their goals, whatever those may be in your niche.
All you need to do to make money is to link to a booking form with a payment gateway to start getting your first client thanks to YouTube. You can use a tool like Calendly.com to link with your Google calendar as well as take payments before the session.
Create a Merchandise Shelf
Once your YouTube channel following and fanbase grows, you can start selling merchandise. This can be in the form of t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, stickers, and countless other types of merch. Ideally, you use a dropshipping or print-on-demand platform to make money as it saves you having to risk your own capital.
Printful and Printify are both great options to start with, but there are many others such as Zazzle, Redbubble, TeeSpring, Society6, Sunfrog, and Design by Humans. A lot of content creators use these platforms to share their brand messages through products.
Either way, test several designs to see which ones are the most popular based on how many sell from your YouTube channel. Then you can unpublish the ones that don't sell and focus on promoting the ones that do. It's all about listening to your YouTube fans needs & wants, and giving them just that.
YouTube Premium Memberships
YouTube used to have an exclusive YouTube Red program which allowed for subscribers to access premium content, but after 3 years, Google decided to rebrand it into two classes: YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium.
YouTube Premium includes YouTube Music Premium within its package but also includes access to ad-free videos, YouTube originals, background listening, as well as offline downloads.
What's in it for content creators and influencers? According to Google:
"Currently, new revenue from YouTube Premium membership fees is distributed to video creators based on how much members watch your content. As with our advertising business, most of the revenue will go to creators." Link to source.
It's similar to Medium.com where the subscription fee of subscribers are distributed to the writer based on which articles they read.
The good news is just by creating new content and building your audience, of which a percentage will be subscribed to YouTube Premium, will contribute to your earnings if you're part of the YouTube partner program.
Join the YouTube Partner Program
As I mentioned in the beginning, this is one of the most popular monetization features YouTube offers. To be eligible to join the YouTube partner program, you need to "follow all the YouTube monetization policies, live in a country or region where the YouTube Partner Program is available, have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months, have more than 1,000 subscribers, and have a linked Google AdSense account".
Wow! 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours? I know it sounds like a lot, but this was YouTube's way of filtering out low-quality content creators and rewarding those who actually prove they can add value to an audience. It makes total sense - to become a YouTube partner, you need enough viewers, subscribers, and genuine fans that engage with your content regularly to make the ad revenue that advertisers spend worthwhile to be distributed to the YouTube creator.
The more views you get, the more advertising revenue that gets distributed to you, based on the cost-per-mil (CPM) bidding rates for the keyword topics your video is relevant to.
How difficult is it and how long does it take for you to build up to 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours? It's different for everyone, but if you are consistent with publishing YouTube videos, it's not unrealistic to reach this goal in 3-6 months, or sooner. That being said, you'll need to hone your YouTube marketing skills to the point where you can leverage each video's success to the maximum. Plus create highly valuable content that your audience loves & wants more of.
A great resource to start with is my list of 7 YouTube & Video Marketing Tips that highlight what's important to make money on YouTube, based on my experience and research (e.g. get more views, likes, comments, and subscribers).
How To Model The Best To Become a Success on YouTube
To finish off, I want to share a powerful but simple principle that will allow you to quickly make money on YouTube without wasting your time and energy on content that won't get many results.
When you first start your YouTube channel, do your market research first and foremost. Look at all your channel competitors and go to their videos tab which lists all of their published videos. Then sort by most popular first.
This will allow you to see which video topics (or keywords) have been getting the most attention and the most views on their YouTube channel. Your task is to model those topics and create your own version of them, ideally by adding even more value and creating an even more attention-grabbing video title or eye-popping thumbnail.
If you've heard of the SkyScraper Technique, do the same for popular videos instead of articles.
Make a list of video ideas that you can draw from that have been proven to get results based on what your competitors have created. You can also look on Quora popular questions and get ideas where people's attention goes by looking at the number of views a question gets. Go for the questions with the most views, and create a video around it.
Just Remember This...
Making money on YouTube requires a ton of effort, patience, and learning, even when you know all of the strategies and tactics to build up your channel.
Make sure you choose a niche that you are passionate about, otherwise, when you're faced with challenges (you will!) or results aren't showing (at least yet), you'll be able to push on because you're getting enough reward out of the creation and sharing part of the journey. Then the money and the feedback from the subscribers & fans is just an added bonus.
Don't let your YouTube journey just be about finding a way to make money. Make it about being a positive influence in somebody else's life. You never know how one tiny tip you share on your YouTube channel could change someone's future for the better; or how one inspiring message can shift someone's destiny; or how your positive energy can give someone who is ready to give up, one last hope to try again, and this time succeed!
You owe it to yourself and the world to share your knowledge. After all, you can't take your possessions with you past the grave; but you can take the happiness of knowing that you've helped make someone else's journey in life even a little bit easier. All thanks to sharing your knowledge through your YouTube videos!