Trying to figure out how to make money on YouTube?
Because there’s a big window of opportunity for monetizing videos.
YouTube’s audience is massive. Viewers are logging in daily on the platform, watching hours upon hours of content each week.
Not to mention YouTube’s ad revenue is predicted to reach a staggering $30.4 billion in 2023.
Thing is, translating views into cash doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not just about uploading videos or promoting your YouTube channel. You need a strategy.
That’s why we wrote this breakdown of how to make money on YouTube and what to expect along the way. Along with the classic monetization techniques, we’ve included fresh, innovative ways to earn money on the platform in 2023.
10 ways to make money on YouTube (that actually work)
Recent YouTube stats show the platform is a goldmine for creators. But monetizing content on YouTube can be tricky.
Creators shouldn’t sacrifice entertainment value or authenticity for dollars and cents.
The good news? There is no “right” or “single” way to monetize your videos. You have multiple options based on your content, audience and promotional strategy.
Let’s dive into 10 opportunities to make money on YouTube and how they work.
1. Join the YouTube Partner Program
No surprises here! The YouTube Partner Program allows creators to earn revenue with ads run on their videos.
Let’s look at a quick snapshot of YouTube’s Partner criteria. Assuming you’re in line with the platform’s monetization policies, you need:
- 4,000+ authentic public watch hours within the past year or 10 million valid public Shorts views within the past 90 days
- 1,000+ subscribers
- An active and linked Google AdSense account
Chances are you’ve seen your fair share of YouTube ads. From in-video to pre-roll, ads are a relatively hands-off way to make money on YouTube.
In terms of how much money you can make from ads, there are too many variables for a straight answer. These variables include:
- Your viewers’ demographics such as location and age
- Whether there are relevant advertisers for your videos
- Your content and industry
According to YouTube themselves, there are “no guarantees” for payouts or revenue share. Most information floating around is totally anecdotal.
While “$1 per 1,000 views” used to be the norm, times have changed. As the YouTube algorithm has evolved, so have the Partner Program and ad policies. For example, the platform has explicit restrictions for advertising on YouTube Kids. Many major ad categories and targeting features are removed from videos intended for children.
You’re essentially looking at a numbers game regardless. You need to be earning thousands (or millions) of views per video to see any meaningful revenue.
Not sure about running ads on your channel? Totally understandable. Again, monetizing videos shouldn’t hold back your channel’s growth.
Stuffing your videos with unskippable ads makes them borderline unwatchable. That said, a few ads here and there is totally fair game.
2. Earn support from subscribers with a channel membership
YouTube’s channel memberships are specifically designed to support creators looking to make money.
Think of memberships like a Patreon or Twitch subscription. Subscribers pay a monthly fee in exchange for channel-specific perks. This might include exclusive content, chat badges and more. These benefits vary based on your membership tier.
This feature is most relevant to creators that primarily post content to YouTube rather than treat it as a secondary channel. If you’re doing regular live streams or posting daily, memberships make perfect sense. Currently, the eligibility for channel memberships is almost identical to the Partner Program.
3. Put promotional links in your video descriptions
Promo links are a low-hanging way to make money on YouTube without running ads.
Your video descriptions are valuable real estate and YouTube gives you 5,000 characters to work with. Funneling your YouTube viewers to relevant links is a no-brainer. For example, a creator might link to:
- A lead magnet (such as a free course or downloadable resource)
- Their website
- Their merchandise or ecommerce shop
Below is an example of how creators can promote their own products in a video description. If nothing else, links can turn YouTube traffic into on-site traffic.
4. Feature sponsors in your videos
Sponsored YouTube videos are popular among big and up-and-coming creators alike.
Through sponsored content, you’re specifically promoting a brand within your video. These call-outs are typically done at the beginning and end of a video. Since these forms of ads are literally part of your content, they can’t be skipped.
In the example above, Binging with Babish’s Andrew Rea bookends his sponsorship from Cash App at his video’s beginning and end. He also highlights the sponsorship in the video description.
Audiences are sometimes critical of sponsored videos when the sponsorship is totally irrelevant to the creator, their content or viewership. The best sponsored videos represent some sort of creative tie-in that doesn’t distract from the creator’s style. This sponsored video from Beauty Within featuring skincare brand Whind is a good example.
These sorts of promotions are a win-win for creators and advertisers alike.
5. Publish product-focused promotional videos
Branded videos are created with the specific intent to promote a product or service. These videos can fall into a few categories where:
- A brand compensates the creator in exchange for their content or a review
- The brand has provided talking points and instructions to the creator (think: influencer or brand ambassador content)
- The creator is making a video to highlight a brand and earn affiliate revenue
These types of videos are common among beauty and skincare brands where creators unbox PR packages on camera.
Below is another example from a creator going into detail about Liquid IV and how it works.
In the video’s description, the creator’s promotional link is front-and-center.
These types of videos aren’t as common because they can feel a bit direct when it comes to promotion. That said, they’re relevant to industries like beauty, health and fitness where audiences like to hunt for products via YouTube.
6. Leverage affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is all about leveraging your influence to drive sales for other brands. As a creator, you can partner with brands to promote their products or services within your content.
The idea here is simple. You discuss products in your videos and then provide a direct way for viewers to check them out.
Every time a viewer clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a commission. It’s a win-win: brands get more visibility and sales, and you get a cut of the profits.
This tactic is extremely popular among review channels and creators making “how-to” content. For example, this video from MyLifeOutDoors breaks down tips for getting better sleep while camping…
…and provides affiliate links to the products mentioned in the video.
See how that works? The key here is that the products themselves are not the sole subject of the video. Some creators call out their affiliate links within their content and others don’t. The choice is yours!
Note: Affiliate links are totally allowed and don’t violate YouTube’s TOS. However, the platform does have an explicit policy for external links. Make sure to review YouTube’s guidelines before dropping links in your videos.
7. Take advantage of crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a great way to build community while funding your content creation. It’s like having your fans chip in to support your next big project.
Platforms like Patreon allow your supporters to contribute a monthly amount in exchange for exclusive content and perks, like BTS footage, shoutouts or early access to new videos.
For example, the cooking channel Made With Lau offers three membership tiers on Patreon:
They also make sure to promote their Patreon link in the descriptions of all their videos.
You could also look into other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund your creative projects.
Just make sure to share a link with your viewers and always deliver on your promise.
8. Sell merchandise and custom products
Selling branded items on YouTube is a smart way to earn money, boost visibility and build a closer relationship with your followers.
But this type of social shopping works best if you already have a loyal fan base willing to spend money on your merch.
Depending on your niche, you could sell custom t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, caps or art. Got an inside joke? A catchphrase? A logo? Use it to create unique designs for your supporters.
There are plenty of tools you can use to design and ship merch without storing any inventory yourself. Here are a few merch sites popular with YouTubers:
You can also hire freelance designers on Fiverr or use Canva to create your own creative designs to hand over to suppliers.
9. Enable YouTube Super Chat & Super Stickers
A cool thing about YouTube is you can engage with your audience directly and get paid for it—thanks to Super Chat & Stickers.
Here’s how it works.
During a live stream, viewers can pay to have their messages highlighted in the chat. They can also send Super Stickers—paid animated images that float up in a live chat.
If you host regular live sessions, Super Chats and Stickers are a fantastic way to boost YouTube engagement, earn extra revenue and make your audience feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Turn on Super Chat by heading over to your monetization settings. Make sure you thank and appreciate viewers who support your channel and pay to get your attention.
10. License your content to external media companies
If you happen to create a viral video—or something unique or newsworthy—other platforms or media outlets might want a piece of it.
Licensing allows them to use your content, but for a fee.
It’s a way to earn from content you’ve already created and can amplify your content’s reach beyond your channel.
Proactively reach out to media agencies or wait for them to approach you. Or, list your content on Junkin Media where TV channels and news sites can find and buy it.
Making money on YouTube: Fast facts and FAQ
To wrap things up, let’s look at some common questions we get from people trying to figure out how to make money on YouTube.
How many views do you need to make money on YouTube?
There is no set amount of views you need to make money on YouTube.
Again, there are a lot of variables involved and dollar figures are anecdotal.
Data from TikTok Trends Only notes that the average YouTuber makes $18 per 1,000 views, which translates to $0.018 per view.
Creator Shelby Church shared an in-depth breakdown of a video that earned 2.2 million views and $743 from ads. This equates to about 33 cents per 1,000 views. She notes that factors like presentation, age and demographics of viewership impacted the payout.
In short, more YouTube views don’t always equal more money in your pocket.
How many subscribers do you need to make money on YouTube
There is no exact number of subscribers you need to make money on YouTube.
Creators that make careers out of YouTube are the ones uploading consistently and fostering communities.
Piggybacking on the point above, a higher subscriber count doesn’t automatically result in bigger payouts.
The inner workings of YouTube’s ad platform mean there is no “right” answer here. We can use YouTube tools like SocialBlade to give us a ballpark figure but the range of estimated earnings is massive. For example, the monthly earnings estimation for a creator with 90,000 subscribers is anywhere between $200 and $3,400.
Our advice? Don’t look at your subscribers as dollar signs. Focus on fostering a community before worrying too much about monetization.
How to make money on YouTube without posting videos
While it’s technically possible to make money on YouTube without posting videos, it’s definitely not the ideal way to approach YouTube.
Think about it. Brands don’t grow on Instagram by only posting on TikTok and vice versa. Every platform has different content types, styles and expectations. YouTube is the same way.
Sure, there are some steps you can take such as repurposing or cross-posting content to YouTube. This includes:
- Republishing Reels or TikToks as YouTube Shorts
- Taking webinars, presentations or slideshows and turning them into videos
- Taking streams from Twitch or Instagram Live and uploading them as long-form content.
Grow your presence to make money on YouTube
Making any level of income from YouTube requires conscious effort and consistency.
That said, countless creators are making it happen with their content. Whether through ads, sponsorships or crowdfunding, there are plenty of opportunities to monetize your videos. Hopefully, these tips can help you find a way that makes sense for you!
And if you haven’t already, check out our in-depth guide to YouTube marketing to take your channel to the next level.