How to make money on YouTube in 2020 (enough to quit your day job)

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Making money on YouTube doesn’t happen by amassing a large following and relying on YouTube to pay you for views. While you can earn some money that way, it won’t lead to an income big enough to quit your day job.

Influencer Marketing Hub’s YouTube earnings calculator reveals the truth about how much you can earn from subscribers and views alone: With an average of 50,000 views per day and a 7% engagement rate (a generous few points above the average), you’ll earn up to…$8,000/year.

So, how do some YouTubers rake in tens of millions of dollars every year?

They monetize their channel and brand in smarter, more lucrative ways. In this article, we’re sharing some of the best strategies for earning more on YouTube.

How to make money on YouTube
How to make money on YouTube

How to earn money on YouTube

How do you make money on YouTube? As you’ll see, you might have to get creative and go beyond the platform itself.

Use the Memberships feature

In 2018, YouTube rolled out its Memberships feature for channels with more than 30,000 subscribers. Creators can offer a membership tier of their content for $4.99/month. This would include providing members with special members-only content, as well as other perks like merchandise.

For example, comedy YouTuber Mike Falzone offers his members loyalty badges, a digital copy of his book, original song tracks, an evergreen coupon code for merchandise, and a full-length video available only to members. YouTube reports that Falzone tripled his revenue just through Memberships.

Using the Memberships feature on YouTube is a key way to increase your earnings on the platform. Image via Mike Falzone’s YouTube Channel.
Using the Memberships feature on YouTube is a key way to increase your earnings on the platform. Image via Mike Falzone’s YouTube Channel.

Join Patreon

Patreon is an online platform where artists and creators share their work with a paying audience of “Patrons.” Creators can choose to ask for a fixed payment every month in exchange for giving access to exclusive content or they can charge Patrons per post.

Many YouTubers have monetized their work by making an account on Patreon and releasing exclusive content or perks for their Patrons. Patreon functions almost like the YouTube Memberships feature, except you get to set your own prices and decide how you want to charge.

For instance, The East Fam, a YouTube channel featuring former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, has a Patreon account where she offers tiers of Patron memberships, ranging from $2/month for ad-free videos to $100/month for personalized merchandise and a credit as a producer.

Patreon is similar to the YouTube Memberships feature, but you get to set your prices. Image via The East Fam Patreon.
Patreon is similar to the YouTube Memberships feature, but you get to set your prices. Image via The East Fam Patreon.

Promote your own products or offers

If you have a business outside of YouTube, you can use your YouTube channel to drive leads to your paid offers or products.

This strategy is most often used by digital course creators or online service providers, but it would also work for product makers. Your YouTube videos become a content marketing machine by providing helpful, free content to viewers and promoting a paid offer or product at the end of your video and in the description.

One YouTuber who found success with this monetization strategy is Parker Walbeck, a filmmaker and course creator who links several of his courses in the notes of his videos.

Linking to your paid offers, services, and courses in the description of your videos is one way to earn money on YouTube. Image via Parker Walbeck’s YouTube Channel.
Linking to your paid offers, services, and courses in the description of your videos is one way to earn money on YouTube. Image via Parker Walbeck’s YouTube Channel.

Sell merchandise

YouTubers who successfully brand themselves and gain lots of loyal fans should explore creating and selling merchandise. Similar to how music fans buy merchandise from bands they like, subscribers to your channel will purchase the merchandise because they’re fans of your work.

You can either sell merchandise directly to fans or you can sell it wholesale by placing your merchandise in retailers. The highest-earning YouTube stars are thought to get most of their revenue from merchandise sales.

This includes Ryan's World, a YouTube channel for kids with over 20 million subscribers. He has merchandise (like t-shirts) in massive retailers like Walmart. Most of the channel’s $26 million/year revenue is reported to come from these merchandise and toy sales, not directly from the videos themselves.

Similar to how bands sell merchandise related to their music, YouTubers can earn more by producing merchandise for their fans to buy. Image via Unsplash.
Similar to how bands sell merchandise related to their music, YouTubers can earn more by producing merchandise for their fans to buy. Image via Unsplash.

Become an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is when you market someone else’s product to your own audience and receive a percentage of the sales you generate.

Since you likely already have an audience on YouTube, affiliate marketing is an easy and fast way to start earning more money through your channel. YouTubers can start affiliate marketing in a few different ways:

  • Become an Amazon Associate for any Amazon product you like
  • Apply to be an affiliate with any company that has an affiliate program
  • Reach out directly to a company to see if they would be interested in giving you a percentage of sales in exchange for a product review or tutorial you create for your channel

Product reviews and tutorials are popular affiliate marketing techniques because they are honest and genuinely helpful for your followers.

For example, Bloggers Passion creates how-to videos about the web-hosting platform BlueHost. Then they share a special link for viewers to buy BlueHost for a discount (and Bloggers Passion receives a percentage of the sales).

How-to videos are popular methods of affiliate marketing for YouTube creators. Image via Bloggers Passion YouTube Channel.
How-to videos are popular methods of affiliate marketing for YouTube creators. Image via Bloggers Passion YouTube Channel.

Leverage your channel into other paid opportunities

You don’t have to earn directly from the videos you create on YouTube. Instead, you can use YouTube as a platform to showcase your expertise and skill for potential contractors.

This strategy is a form of advertising yourself. The goal is to eventually get hired for a paid opportunity, such as keynote speaking, writing, or performing.

This strategy can be highly effective. Marketing YouTuber Shayma Hyder reports that she doesn’t do any direct advertising through YouTube but does get client leads for her media company and paid speaking opportunities from people who have seen her videos.

Ask viewers for donations

You can ask viewers to donate or “tip” you if they enjoy your videos. This strategy is similar to the Patreon method, but it’s more informal and requires less commitment from both you and your viewers.

To ask for donations, you can use websites like Buy Me a Coffee or even just include a PayPal link in your video descriptions.

One creator, Marie Poulin, uses YouTube as part of her business systems consulting work. But to earn extra income from her videos, she also includes a link to her Buy Me A Coffee page. Viewers can send her small amounts whenever they want, ranging from $3-$15.

YouTube creators can link to a small-donation website like Buy Me a Coffee to earn from appreciative viewers. Image via Marie Poulin’s Buy Me a Coffee page.
YouTube creators can link to a small-donation website like Buy Me a Coffee to earn from appreciative viewers. Image via Marie Poulin’s Buy Me a Coffee page.

How to decide how to make money on YouTube

Now, you’ve got an arsenal of strategies for earning on YouTube. But how do you decide which strategy you should try first?

Consider how much you want to earn through YouTube

Do you want YouTube to be your primary source of income? Or do you just want to make some extra money for the videos you would create anyway?

If you need to earn a lot, you should choose the strategies with the highest proven earning potential:

  • Using the Memberships feature
  • Selling merchandise

For lower earnings goals, any of the other strategies will be effective:

  • Leveraging your channel into paid opportunities
  • Promoting your own products or offers
  • Joining Patreon
  • Asking for donations
  • Becoming an affiliate marketer

Look at how many subscribers you have

One of the strategies requires that you have a certain number of subscribers: To use the Memberships feature you must have at least 30,000 subscribers to be eligible.

Others don’t technically require a minimum but won’t be worth your time unless you have a significant number of subscribers (e.g. at least over 30,000). This is most true for selling merchandise, as the cost of producing and shipping merchandise will be too high for a small number of sales.

But many of these strategies can be effective even at a small scale:

  • Leveraging your channel into paid opportunities
  • Promoting your own products or offers
  • Joining Patreon
  • Asking for donations
  • Becoming an affiliate marketer

Decide whether you can go beyond making video content

Some strategies require you to get outside of your YouTube channel to earn. You should decide whether you have interest and time to do more than create video content.

If you are willing to go beyond video, try exploring these strategies:

  • Selling merchandise
  • Leveraging your channel into paid opportunities
  • Promoting your own products or offers

If you want to stick with video content only, these strategies will work for you:

  • Using the Memberships feature
  • Joining Patreon
  • Asking for donations
  • Becoming an affiliate marketer

How to make money on YouTube? Get creative and go beyond the platform

While YouTube can be a lucrative platform for creators, the highest-earning creators have developed monetizing strategies far beyond YouTube itself.

The average earnings for those who monetize only through YouTube (via per-view payouts and advertising revenue) are modest at best, even with a large following. For example, YouTube channel Start Starting Up reports earning around $1,600/month from views and ad revenue with about 37,000 subscribers.

To monetize meaningfully, you must be strategic. Hopefully, the methods in this article have given you a great place to start.

Want to connect with (and earn from) your YouTube following outside the platform?

Make sure your YouTube followers are always up-to-date with all your new products, services, and offers by having them join your email list.

When you have an email list in addition to your YouTube channel, you can engage with and sell to your following without having to produce more content. In addition, you can use your email list to drive even more views when a new video drops!

Create a free landing page with ConvertKit today and start growing that list.

 

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer who works closely with SaaS companies and marketing teams for content creation.

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