August 7, 2023

How to make money on YouTube: 16 expert tips

Whether you're just starting or you've been at it for a while, this guide will break down the various ways you can monetize your YouTube channel.
August 7, 2023

How to make money on YouTube: 16 expert tips

Whether you're just starting or you've been at it for a while, this guide will break down the various ways you can monetize your YouTube channel.
August 7, 2023
Renee Teeley
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If you have a passion for creating videos and a dream to turn that passion into a full-time career, YouTube is one of the most powerful platforms that you can use. But navigating the world of YouTube monetization can feel like trying to find your way through a maze blindfolded.

This guide is here to simplify the process and show you how to make money on YouTube, even without having millions of subscribers. Whether you're just starting or you've been at it for a while, this guide will break down the various ways you can monetize your YouTube channel. We'll explore everything from the YouTube Partner Program to affiliate marketing, brand deals, channel memberships, and more. Plus, I'll share inspiring stories and actionable tips to get you started.

But let's be clear: This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time, effort, and a hefty dose of creativity to make money on YouTube. But if you're willing to put in the work, the rewards can be incredible — both financially and from the satisfaction of doing what you love.

Table of contents:

YouTube Partner Program: How to make money on YouTube

6 ways to monetize with the YouTube Partner Program

  1. Ad revenue
  2. YouTube Premium revenue
  3. Channel memberships
  4. Super Chat and Super Stickers
  5. Super Thanks
  6. Shopping features

10 ways to monetize without 1,000 subscribers

  1. Affiliate marketing
  2. Brand sponsorships
  3. Creator merch and apparel
  4. Creating and selling online courses
  5. Paid memberships
  6. Templates and digital goods
  7. Physical products
  8. Coaching and consulting
  9. Paid speaking engagements
  10. Writing and selling books

YouTube Partner Program: How to make money on YouTube

We’ll start with one of the most popular ways to make money on YouTube — the YouTube Partner Program. 

YouTube Partner Program overview

The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) is an official program to help creators make money directly on the platform. Once you're part of the program, you can start earning income from ads on your videos, channel memberships, YouTube Premium revenue, and more.

Here's a quick overview of the money-making opportunities:

  1. Ad revenue: Earn money from ads on your content. This is the most common way to make money on YouTube.
  2. YouTube Premium revenue: Receive a portion of a YouTube Premium subscriber's fee when they watch your content.
  3. Channel memberships: Offer special perks for recurring monthly payments.
  4. Super Chat & Super Stickers: Fans can pay to highlight messages or stickers during live streams.
  5. Super Thanks: Fans can purchase an animated comment to show appreciation.
  6. Shopping: Sell products from your channel store or tag products from other brands.

Eligibility for the YouTube Partner Program: The checklist

To qualify, you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours (within 12 months) or 10 million Shorts views (within 90 days). Plus:

  • Accept the YPP terms and conditions.
  • Live in a country or region where the YPP is available.
  • Have no active community strikes on your channel.
  • Enable 2-Step Verification on your account.
  • Verify your account for access to advanced features.
  • Link an active Google AdSense account to your YouTube channel.

Source: YouTube Help Center

Meeting this criteria doesn't guarantee acceptance, but it's the first step. Once you've checked all the boxes, you can apply for the program, and YouTube will review your application.

Good news for smaller channels: YPP early access

Smaller channels can now get early access to limited monetization options like fan funding and select shopping features. For early access, you’ll need 500 subscribers and three video uploads, plus 3,000 watch hours (within 12 months) or 3 million Shorts views (within 90 days). To unlock the full benefits, including ad revenue sharing, you'll still need to meet the standard requirements.

Source: YouTube Help Center

6 ways to monetize with the YouTube Partner Program

The first two ways to make money from the YouTube Partner Program are probably the most widely known: ad revenue and kickbacks from YouTube Premium membership fees. 

1. Ad Revenue

YouTube runs ads on your content and shares the revenue with creators who are part of the YouTube Partner Program. Ads come in several formats, including display ads, overlay ads, skippable and non-skippable video ads, bumper ads, and sponsored cards. YouTube has two ad revenue sharing models:

  • Watch Page: YouTube pays creators 55% of ad revenue from long-form videos and live streams.
  • Shorts Feed: YouTube pays creators 45% of ad revenue from a “Creator Pool” for Shorts.

Here’s how they work:

Watch Page ads

Long-form videos and live streams are viewed through the Watch Page, and YouTube runs ads before, during, after, or around your videos. You receive 55% of the profit from these ads, and YouTube keeps the remaining 45%.

Advertisers pay YouTube a certain amount for every 1,000 ad views, called a CPM (Cost Per Mille, “mille” being Latin for “thousand”). The actual CPM rate can fluctuate due to factors like the type of ad, the country where the ad is shown, and the specific industry the ad is targeting. Advertising rates can change over time, so the CPM is not a fixed price.

For instance, if your video gets 10,000 views and the CPM (cost per 1,000 ad views) is $10, the total advertising cost would be $100. You'd keep 55% of that, so you'd earn $55. If your video has multiple ads, you get a share of the revenue for each ad.

Shorts Feed Ads

YouTube runs ads between YouTube Shorts instead of linking them to specific videos. A portion of the revenue is used to pay for music licensing, and the rest gets put into a “Creator Pool.” YouTube pays creators 45% of the profits from the pool and keeps the remaining 55%.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • Generating revenue: YouTube gathers the money earned from ads between Shorts every month. This money is used to cover music licensing costs and pay creators according to a share that’s calculated in the next step.
  • The Creator Pool: YouTube divides the ad revenue reserved for creators into a “Creator Pool.” The division is based on the views and music usage from your Shorts. If your Short doesn't use music, the money it earns from views goes straight into the pool. If it has music, YouTube shares the money from its views between the pool and the music partners, depending on the number of songs used.
  • Distributing the Pool: The money in the Creator Pool goes out to creators based on the total views their Shorts receive in each country. So, if your Shorts account for 5% of all views, you'd receive 5% of the pool money.
  • Your share: After your share of the pool money is determined, you keep 45% of it, whether you used music in your Shorts or not.

2. YouTube Premium revenue

With YouTube Premium, viewers watch without ads, but creators still get paid in this ad-free model. YouTube gives creators 55% of the revenue from Premium subscriptions. They divide the watch time from Premium viewers across all channels and pay creators based on their individual channel's watch time.

Source: Created with Midjourney

Monetizing with YouTube fan funding features

YouTube provides a variety of fan funding features for monetization: Channel memberships, Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks. Unlike ad revenue, the income generated from these features comes directly from your fans.

You'll earn 70% of the revenue from fan funding features after deducting applicable taxes and app store fees. YouTube takes care of all the transaction costs, including credit card fees.

Let's dive into each of these options and discuss the best practices.

3. Channel memberships

Channel memberships are like having your very own fan club right on YouTube. It's a way to connect with your fans, offer them exclusive goodies, and earn some extra revenue. Fans support you by paying a monthly fee to become a member and get access to exclusive perks that you offer. It’s a great way to make your loyal audience feel special and part of your community.

Here are the essentials of channel memberships:

  • Membership levels: You can create up to five different levels, each with unique perks and prices. From special badges and emojis to exclusive videos, you can tailor the rewards to your fans’ interests. Higher levels include all the perks from the lower ones, so the rewards stack up.
  • Prices: You have the flexibility to set different prices for each level, and these can vary by country. It's a great way to cater to all budgets and make it easy for more people to join.
  • Members: Your fans can join your channel membership by clicking the “Join” button on your channel. They'll pick the level that's right for them, enter their payment information, and they're in!

Here's an example to help you see how it works in real life:

Philip DeFranco, a well-known news YouTuber, offers a membership for $4.99 per month. Members get a special badge next to their name, custom emojis, and access to exclusive community updates. It's a simple yet effective way to build a community and encourage fans to join.

The secret sauce to making channel memberships work for you is to offer perks that make your fans feel like they're part of something special. Think of it as a way to say thank you to your fans while getting the support you need to keep creating.

4. Super Chat and Super Stickers

Super Chat and Super Stickers are like virtual shoutouts that your viewers can send during live streams or premieres on your channel. They're a great way to make money and let your viewers have some fun in the live chat.

Here's how it works: When a viewer buys a Super Chat or Super Sticker, their messages or animated stickers get a special spotlight. They're highlighted and pinned to the top of the live chat, so everyone can see them. The more they spend, the longer their message or sticker stays pinned at the top.

Source: YouTube Help Center

  

Imagine you're a culinary YouTuber hosting a live cooking show. Your viewers might have lots of questions, and they can buy a Super Chat to make sure you see and answer their question right then and there. Viewers get their burning questions answered, and you earn some extra dough (pun intended).

5. Super Thanks

Now, let's talk about Super Thanks, another exciting way to connect with your fans and earn some revenue. It used to be called Viewer Applause, but the idea is the same: It’s a way for your audience to show their love for your channel by throwing you a few bucks.

When Viewers purchase Super Thanks, a special animation plays just for them over a regular video or a Short. It's a one-time treat that only they see. Plus, they get to post a unique, colorful comment in the comments section so it stands out.

Super Thanks comes in different price options, so viewers can choose how much they want to spend to show their appreciation.

6. Shopping features

YouTube Shopping features can be a real revenue booster for creators. These tools let you promote and sell products right on your channel.

First, you'll need to create a store with a shopping platform that works with YouTube. Right now, YouTube works with Shopify, Spreadshop, and Spring, plus over 50 other retailers that offer custom merch and print-on-demand services. This means you can create products that fit your brand style, often with minimal upfront costs.

Once your store is up and running, you can connect it to your YouTube channel. This lets you show off your products on a designated store tab on your channel page. You can also feature items on a product shelf under your videos and even tag products in your videos, Shorts, and live streams. It's like having a virtual storefront in your content.

If you have more than 20,000 subscribers, you can also tag products from other brands. This lets you offer a wider range of shopping options to your viewers.

Check out this video to learn how to connect your store and start selling through YouTube Shopping:

How to get monetized on YouTube without 1,000 subscribers: 10 strategies

Technically, the only way to get monetized on YouTube is by joining the Youtube Partner Program. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to make money on YouTube.

Say you've got your YouTube channel up and running, you're creating awesome content, but you haven't quite hit that 1,000 subscribers mark yet. No worries! You don't need a massive audience to start making money on YouTube. What matters more is the quality of your audience and how engaged they are with your content. 

Let's explore how you can start monetizing your YouTube channel right now, even if you’re not part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), and look at future options as you build your loyal audience.

1. Affiliate marketing: A powerful tool for small creators

Affiliate marketing is an accessible and effective way for small creators to start earning money on YouTube. Here's how it works: you promote a product or service and earn a commission for every purchase made through your unique affiliate link. The company gets a sale, and you get a cut of the profits.

By carefully choosing products that align with your content and creatively incorporating affiliate products into your videos — while being transparent with your audience — you can build a meaningful revenue stream. It's all about authenticity, engagement, and providing value to your audience. Even a small number of affiliate sales can add up to a good chunk of change.

Here's how to get started with affiliate marketing on YouTube:

  • Choose the right affiliate products: Make a list of products that you personally love, align with your content, and interest your audience. Check if these products or services have affiliate programs. For example, if you're a tech YouTuber, you might promote gadgets or software. If you're into fitness, workout gear or health supplements could be your go-to. The key is to choose products that you genuinely believe in and that your audience will find valuable.
  • Sign up for affiliate programs: Once you've chosen your products, sign up for their affiliate programs. This is usually a straightforward process that involves filling out an application on the company's website. Once you're accepted, the company will send you a unique affiliate link to promote the product.
  • Promote your affiliate products: Incorporate the products into your content in a way that feels genuine. Share personal stories, demonstrate how the product can be used, or answer common questions about it. Always disclose your affiliate relationships to maintain transparency and trust.
  • Earn commission: You'll earn a commission for every purchase made through your affiliate link. The amount you earn can vary depending on the product and the terms of the affiliate program.

Let's explore Graham Cochrane's approach to affiliate marketing. Graham helps people build an online business and generate passive income. He uses Kajabi to host his online courses and promotes the platform to his audience through his unique affiliate link.

Kajabi is a natural fit for Graham as an affiliate product. He personally uses it, it aligns perfectly with his content, and it offers real value to his audience. What sets Kajabi apart is its subscription-based model, along with an affiliate program that provides lifetime recurring commissions.

Graham's promotion of Kajabi on his YouTube channel is organic. He teaches his audience how he uses the platform in his own business and even includes a free course for those who purchase a Kajabi subscription through his affiliate link. This bonus is a fantastic incentive for his audience to buy through his link. And Graham's communication doesn't stop once a purchase is made. He continues to engage with his audience through email, offering other products and developing repeat customers.

So, what can we learn from Graham's approach? It boils down to authenticity, alignment with your content, and ongoing engagement. Success isn't about reaching a massive audience; it's about connecting with them in a meaningful way. By choosing products that resonate with your content and presenting them genuinely, you can foster trust with your fans.

(Disclosure: I’m a Kajabi customer and affiliate partner as well. See? Transparency!) 

Source: Created with Midjourney

2. Brand sponsorships: A primer for new YouTube creators

Another way to monetize your YouTube channel is through brand deals and sponsorships. This is when a company pays you to promote their product or service in your videos. Unlike affiliate marketing, where you earn a commission when you sell a product, brand sponsorships pay you directly for promotion. It's a fantastic way to earn money, especially if you can partner with brands that align with your content and your audience's interests.

Securing your first brand sponsorship might seem daunting, especially if you're a new creator just starting out. But don't worry! With the right approach and a bit of persistence, it's entirely possible.

  • Build a strong brand identity: Make sure you have a clear and consistent brand identity before you reach out to brands. This includes your content style, values, and target audience. Brands will want to see that you have a clear vision and a consistent brand that complements theirs.
  • Create high-quality content: This might sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to attracting brand deals. Focus on creating high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your audience. This will show brands that you're serious about your craft and that you're capable of creating content that will showcase their product in a positive light.
  • Grow an engaged audience: Brands aren't just interested in the size of your audience; they're interested in how engaged that audience is. Build a community of viewers who actively engage with your content through likes, comments, and shares. Brands value an audience that interacts and takes action on recommendations.
  • Research potential brands: Research potential brands to find ones that align with your content and your audience's interests. Look for brands that have worked with similar creators in the past — that suggests they're open to influencer partnerships.
  • Craft a compelling pitch: When you're ready to reach out to brands, craft a compelling pitch that clearly communicates who you are, what your channel is about, and why a partnership would be mutually beneficial. Be professional, but also let your personality shine through.
  • Be patient and persistent: Don't get discouraged if you don't land a brand deal right away. It can take time to find the right brand and negotiate the right deal. Be patient, be persistent, and don't be afraid to follow up if you don't hear back.
  • Consider joining an influencer network: Influencer networks connect creators with brands looking for influencer partnerships. Joining a network can be a great way to get your foot in the door and land your first brand deal.

A great example of a smaller channel succeeding with brand partnerships is DEE AND FAM

Dee focuses on helping busy families find products they love and save money at Costco, a very specific niche! She’s partnered with brands like Organika, Deebees Organics, and Blender Bites, all products she personally uses and that are available at Costco. That makes them a perfect match for her channel. 

Landing your first brand sponsorship is a big step, but it's just the beginning. As you continue to grow your channel and build relationships with brands, you'll find more opportunities to partner and add value.

Source: Created with Midjourney

3. Creator merch and apparel: Build your brand and make money

Creating and selling merch related to your content is an effective strategy for content creators of all sizes to generate income. This can include anything from t-shirts and hoodies to mugs and stickers, all branded with your channel's logo or catchphrases. Not only does this give you an additional revenue stream, but it also helps strengthen your brand and deepen your connection with your audience.

In order to connect your online store to your YouTube channel using shopping features, you need to be a part of the YouTube Partner Program. But even without being part of the YouTube Partner Program, you can still advertise your merch in your content and place a clickable URL in your description.

Here are some strategies for selling creator merch, even with a small channel:

  • Start small: If you're just starting out, it's a good idea to keep it simple. Choose one or two high-quality products to launch with, and expand your range as your audience grows. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too many options. 
  • Choose a merch provider: Platforms like Spreadshop, Printful, Spring, and Merch by Amazon make creating and selling merch easy, with no upfront costs. They handle everything from printing to shipping to customer service, so all you have to do is upload your designs and promote your products. (Disclosure: I’m a creator advisor for Spreadshop).
  • Create unique designs: Your merch should be unique and reflective of your brand. Don't just slap your logo on a t-shirt and call it a day. Instead, think about what your audience would love to wear or use, and create designs that reflect that. If you need help with designs, consider using a service like 99Designs or Upwork.
  • Involve your audience: Involve your audience in the merch creation process. This could be as simple as asking for their input on designs, or as involved as running a design contest. This not only helps build excitement for your merch, but it also makes your audience feel more invested in your brand.
  • Find creative ways to promote your merch: Don't just mention your merch in your video descriptions; find creative ways to showcase it. Weave it into your content, wear it in your videos, or create a dedicated merch promotion video. Get creative and have fun! 
  • Offer limited-time products: Offering limited-time or limited-edition products can create a sense of urgency and boost sales. This can also help to keep your designs fresh and encourage repeat customers. 
  • Make the most of social media: Don't forget to promote your merch on your other social media platforms. This can help you reach a wider audience and boost sales.

To illustrate this, let’s look at the YouTube channel "Yes Theory," which encourages embracing discomfort for personal growth. They’ve built a loyal following with their inspiring content and launched a merch line called “Seek Discomfort” that embodies their brand. 

They offer high-quality products, engage their audience in the merch process, and collaborate with artists for unique designs. This strategy has turned their merch line into a profitable part of their business.

Take note that they did more than just place their channel name or logo on their merch. They integrated the core message of their content with "Seek Discomfort." This is a powerful strategy in building a community around their central theme and value proposition. They also regularly collaborate with other creators and artists to develop collections around themes relevant to their content, like the "Breathe" and "Seek Love" series.

Source: Seek Discomfort Marketing Emails

Even if you're a small content creator, you can learn from Yes Theory's success. Align your merch with your brand, deliver quality products, engage your audience, and consider collaborations. This can help generate excitement for your products and make your audience feel more invested in your brand.

4. Creating and selling online courses: A profitable path for creators

Are you a creator who loves teaching and sharing what you know? Creating and selling online courses might be the perfect way for you to make money on YouTube. Whether you're a cooking guru who can guide others in mastering specific cuisines or a photography buff who can teach everything from camera settings to editing, there's potential for you.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Determine what course to create: Start by identifying your unique expertise that aligns with your channel's content. What do you excel at? What do your viewers frequently ask about? What problems can you solve for them? Analyzing your audience's needs and interests will guide you in creating a course that's both relevant and valuable.
  • Validate your course idea: Before diving into course creation, validate your idea by gauging your audience's willingness to pay for it. You can conduct surveys, offer a mini-course or free webinar, or even directly ask your audience through social media or YouTube comments. This step ensures that you invest time and resources into a course that your audience genuinely wants.
  • Create high-quality content: Your course should reflect the same quality and passion as your YouTube content. Break down complex topics into digestible lessons, use engaging visuals, and provide actionable steps. Include worksheets, quizzes, or interactive elements to enhance the learning experience.
  • Promote on YouTube: Use your YouTube channel to promote your course. Create teaser videos, share success stories from previous students, or offer free lessons as a sneak peek. Integrate your course promotion seamlessly into your regular content, so it feels natural and not overly salesy.
  • Offer exclusive bonuses: Encourage sign-ups by offering exclusive bonuses for your YouTube audience. This could be additional content, one-on-one consultations, or access to a private community. These unique incentives can make your course more appealing.
  • Provide testimonials and success stories: Share testimonials and success stories from students who have benefited from your course. Real-life examples build credibility and show potential students the tangible results they can achieve.

Vanessa Lau's success with her course, The Bossgram Academy, is a shining example of how to turn YouTube viewers into students. 

Source: Screenshot Bossgram Academy Website

She starts by offering free business tips on her channel, building trust with her audience. Then, she cleverly integrates testimonials from satisfied students and snippets from her course into her videos, giving viewers a taste of what they can expect. By connecting her YouTube content with her course and providing a clear path to purchase, she's turned her channel into a thriving educational platform. Her approach is simple, authentic, and something even new creators can replicate.

5. Paid memberships: Transform your audience into superfans

Are you ready to take your connection with your audience to the next level? Paid memberships aren't just a way to make money on YouTube; they're a pathway to building a community of dedicated superfans. Whether you opt for YouTube's Membership feature or explore other platforms, the essence of success lies in offering exclusive perks that resonate with your audience.

Here's how you can turn casual viewers into committed members:

  • Deliver value: Stand out by offering something special. Whether it's exclusive videos, early content access, live Q&A sessions, or unique merch discounts, make sure your audience feels they're getting something extraordinary.
  • Promote your membership: Don't be shy about showcasing what you offer. Whether through end-of-video calls to action, intriguing descriptions, or videos crafted to highlight the exclusive benefits of membership, make your pitch compelling.
  • Engage with your members: Foster a sense of community by interacting with your channel members. Respond to comments, host live chats, or send personalized messages. The more connected members feel, the more likely they'll stay subscribed.
  • Offer different membership levels: Consider offering different membership levels with varying perks and prices. This allows your audience to choose a level that fits their budget and interest level.
  • Use a reliable platform: Choose from platforms like Patreon, Memberful, or YouTube's channel memberships feature. Pick one that's reliable, user-friendly, and aligns with your needs.

An example of a successful membership program is the Mythical Society by YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning. They offer four membership tiers, from free to $20/month, with varying perks like exclusive merch, limited edition collectibles, behind-the-scenes content, event ticket pre-sales, exclusive live streams, and podcast episodes.

Source: Screenshot Mythical Society Website

I'm a member myself, courtesy of a free 1-year subscription. The quirky exclusives, like an album titled “My hair goes…” and a one-of-a-kind blanket hoodie (just as weird as it sounds), perfectly mirror their brand's unique flair.

The key to success? Crafting perks that don't just attract but resonate with your audience. It's about turning casual fans into dedicated superfans who feel a genuine connection to your brand. By offering value, engaging authentically, and promoting wisely, you can build a thriving membership community.

6. Templates and digital goods: Turn your creativity into scalable income

Selling digital goods and templates is becoming a popular option for creators looking for a sustainable way to generate passive income. The beauty of this approach is that you create a product once and sell it again and again without additional work. For instance, you might design and sell a user-friendly Excel spreadsheet for managing expenses or maybe some fun animated graphics to make videos pop. The goal is to offer something so valuable that your audience is willing to pay for it.

Here are some tips to effectively tap into this income source:

  • Understand and solve audience problems: Begin by understanding your audience's needs and challenges. Conduct surveys, read comments, or host Q&A sessions to discover what they struggle with. By creating digital products that address these specific issues, you can position yourself as an expert, build trust, and make money.
  • Start small and experiment: For your initial product, it's wise to start small. Rather than trying to create a large, complex digital product, start with something simple and manageable like a template, a brief guide, or a mini-course. As you gain more experience and feedback, you can gradually develop more complex and higher-priced products.
  • Promote your digital products: Your promotion should feel as unique as your brand. Infuse your personality into your marketing, highlight the real benefits, and make your audience feel the value of what you're offering.
  • Choose the right platform: Platforms like Gumroad, Kajabi, or maybe even your own website can support the sale of digital products. Choose one that's user-friendly for you and your potential customers. 
  • Provide after-sale support: Customer service doesn't end with the sale. Be prepared to answer questions and troubleshoot issues that your customers might have with your product. This not only makes for more satisfied customers but also boosts your reputation as a creator who cares about their audience.

Let’s take a look at Peter McKinnon who is known for his photography and video editing tutorials. His audience asked how to get their videos to look like his, so he started selling video LUTS, templates for color grading videos. These save his audience editing time and give their videos a professional look. His products align with his content and benefit his viewers.

Source: Screenshot Peter McKinnon Website

Even if you start small, offering something valuable to your current audience can foster loyalty and encourage organic growth. Concentrate on delivering quality, unique solutions that resonate with your viewers. As you refine your approach, you'll see your earnings grow.

7. Physical products: Connection you can hold in your hands

Selling physical products can be a lucrative addition to your YouTube monetization strategy. Whether you're crafting cold brew like Chamberlain Coffee or partnering with an established brand, such as the sneaker collaboration between MKBHD and Atom, selling physical products can boost your income and deepen your connection with your community. 

But developing a physical product can be a significant investment, so it's essential to test the waters before diving into production. Here are some tips for those considering a physical product:

  • Identify the right product: Understand your audience's needs and interests to determine what physical products would resonate with them. Surveys or direct feedback can provide valuable insights.
  • Start with a digital product: Test your idea with a digital version first to gauge interest and gather feedback without the significant investment required for physical production.
  • Pre-sell to gauge interest: Pre-selling your physical product can assess demand and generate funds for production, helping you avoid overstocking and ensuring you create something your audience truly wants.
  • Involve your audience: Share updates and create content around your product's creation to build anticipation and foster community and ownership among your followers.
  • Create bundles and complementary products: Enhance the customer experience and boost order value by creating bundles or offering complementary items during the purchase process.

Let’s take a look at Sarah Renae Clark. Her strategy for the Color Cube is a masterclass in physical product creation for creators of all sizes. 

She started with a digital version but noticed her customers asking for something they could hold in their hands. So, she created a physical Color Cube. To minimize risk, she pre-sold the product, generating funds and gauging interest. She also turned her community into collaborators by talking about the product on her YouTube channel and weaving it into various videos to demonstrate its practical use. By offering the Color Cube individually or bundled with complementary products, she not only enhanced the customer experience but also crafted a success story that deepened her connection with her audience.

8. Coaching and consulting: Share your expertise and grow your income

For creators who have built a reputation in a particular field or niche, offering coaching and consulting services can be a lucrative way to monetize their expertise. This approach allows creators to work directly with individuals or businesses to provide personalized guidance, strategies, and solutions. You could offer one-on-one coaching sessions, group workshops, or even customized programs. Whether you're a fitness guru, a marketing whiz, or a master chef, there's likely an audience willing to pay for your knowledge and guidance.

Here's how YouTube creators can get started with coaching and consulting:

  • Identify your expertise: First and foremost, identify the specific area where you have expertise and where you can provide value. This could be anything — business strategy, content creation, personal development, fitness coaching, or even specialized technical skills like video editing or SEO optimization.
  • Define your services: Clearly define what your coaching or consulting services will include. Will you offer one-on-one sessions, group workshops, or long-term consulting projects? Outline the structure, duration, and deliverables to set clear expectations for your clients.
  • Set your pricing: Determine a pricing structure that reflects the value you provide and aligns with your target market. You may offer different packages or tiers, ranging from introductory sessions to comprehensive coaching programs.
  • Create a professional website or landing page: Build a professional website or landing page that showcases your services, credentials, testimonials, and a clear call to action. Platforms like Squarespace, Wix, or even a dedicated page on your existing website can serve this purpose.
  • Promote your services: Use your YouTube channel and other social media platforms to promote your coaching and consulting services. Create content that demonstrates your expertise, shares success stories, and invites viewers to book a discovery call or consultation.
  • Provide exceptional value: Once you engage clients, focus on giving them their money’s worth. Tailor your approach to their unique needs and challenges, and offer actionable insights and support that lead to tangible results.

Justin Moore is a prime example of how to successfully sell coaching and consulting services through a YouTube channel. 

He has carved out a unique niche by teaching creators how to work with brands and get better sponsorship deals. He doesn't just create content about it; he offers one-on-one coaching sessions to guide creators personally. But here's the cool part: if you book a public coaching call with him, you might even get featured in one of his YouTube videos! It's a fresh and fun idea that really shows off Justin's open and creative style. If you're looking to learn from someone who thinks outside the box, Justin's approach is a great example to follow.

Source: Created with Midjourney

9. Paid speaking engagements: Turning your content into conference success

YouTube creators with a strong point of view, engaging presence, and expertise in a particular field can use their content to secure paid speaking engagements at conferences, workshops, and events. Speaking engagements not only provide an additional revenue stream but also offer opportunities for networking, brand exposure, and personal growth.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Create a speaker reel: Compile clips from your YouTube videos into a speaker reel. Highlight key speaking topics, share behind-the-scenes footage from events, or even feature livestream Q&A sessions. These videos can serve as a preview of what attendees can expect and help you book speaking sessions. 
  • Build a landing page: Create a dedicated page on your website with testimonials, subjects you can speak about, and embedded videos showcasing your speaking style.
  • Direct outreach: Link to specific YouTube videos when reaching out to event organizers. Tailor your pitch and offer exclusive YouTube content for their event.
  • Engage on social media: Find event organizers on social media and engage via comments on their posts and direct messages. Create YouTube content around conferences and tag organizers to get noticed.
  • Offer virtual workshops: Host free virtual workshops on your channel. Share these with event organizers as examples of your ability to engage a live audience.
  • Collaborate with speakers: Consider collaborating with other speakers or industry experts to co-host sessions or panel discussions. Collaborations can enhance the value of your presentation, broaden your reach, and provide opportunities for cross-promotion.

Your YouTube videos can be a portfolio for speaking engagements. By leveraging your content, engaging with organizers, and showcasing your abilities, you can turn your channel into a launchpad for paid speaking opportunities.

Jessica Stansberry is a prime example of how a YouTube creator can turn their channel into a platform for paid speaking engagements. 

Her speaking style, which is down-to-earth and humorous, mirrors her approach to videos. Jessica has spoken at dozens of digital marketing conferences and appeared on hundreds of podcasts. Her YouTube channel showcases her expertise in digital marketing, combining valuable insights with a fun delivery. Jessica's approach demonstrates that staying true to your unique style and creating content that resonates with your audience can open doors to successful speaking opportunities.

10. Writing and selling books: Transforming your content into published works

For YouTube creators with a flair for storytelling, expertise in a specific field, or a unique perspective, turning video content into published books can be both rewarding and profitable. Books not only create an additional income stream but also help in reaching new audiences, solidifying your authority, and leaving a lasting impact.

Here's how you can leverage your content to write and sell books:

  • Identify your book's niche: Start by determining the specific niche or subject matter that resonates with both your existing audience and potential readers. Your book should align with your channel's theme, whether it's a how-to guide, memoir, novel, or collection of insights, and offer something no other book has.
  • Outline and plan your content: Organize your content into chapters or sections with a detailed outline. Consider building on your most popular videos, incorporating audience feedback, and adding fresh material that hasn't been covered on your channel.
  • Choose the right publishing path: Decide between traditional publishing or self-publishing. While traditional publishing offers broader distribution and professional support, self-publishing allows more control and potentially higher royalties. Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing make it easy to self-publish and sell your book without a large upfront cost.
  • Build anticipation and engage your audience: Share updates, ask for feedback, and offer exclusive previews to involve your audience in the writing process. Create excitement through countdowns, cover reveals, and behind-the-scenes content.
  • Create a book launch strategy: A comprehensive book launch strategy can include pre-orders, launch promotions, special offers, and coordinated social media campaigns. Collaborations with other authors or influencers can amplify your reach.
  • Offer bundled content: Bundling your book with related content like video courses or downloadable resources can encourage more sales.
  • Create videos and livestreams: Highlight key takeaways, share testimonials, and invite readers to join discussions or book-related events. Livestreams for virtual book readings or Q&A sessions can create a sense of community and boost sales.

Writing and selling a book as a YouTube creator requires careful planning, strategic promotion, and a clear understanding of your audience. By aligning your book with your channel's content and engaging your audience throughout the process, you can turn your YouTube expertise into a successful literary venture. Whether sharing knowledge, telling stories, or inspiring others, your book can become a lasting testament to your creativity and impact.

For example, comedian and YouTube sensation Lilly Singh leveraged her online success to write "How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life." Filled with motivational advice that mirrors her YouTube content's energetic tone, Lilly's strategic promotion made the book a bestseller. Her global book tour and engaging social media content expanded her influence beyond her YouTube channel, and she repeated this success with her latest book, “Be a Triangle.”

Source: Screenshot Lilly Singh Website

Monetizing your YouTube channel is a journey filled with opportunities, creativity, and a healthy dose of persistence. From the YouTube Partner Program to affiliate marketing, merch, coaching, and even publishing, the avenues are diverse and adaptable to your unique content and audience. Remember, success on YouTube isn't solely measured by video views or instant financial gains. It's about building a community, offering value, and growing at a pace that resonates with your passion and authenticity. Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned creator, these strategies can pave the way to a fulfilling and profitable YouTube career. Now, it's your turn to take the leap, explore these avenues, and turn your creative dreams into reality. 

Renee Teeley
Renee Teeley is the host of The Creator Feed podcast and a creator economy advisor.
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How to make money on YouTube: 16 expert tips

If you have a passion for creating videos and a dream to turn that passion into a full-time career, YouTube is one of the most powerful platforms that you can use. But navigating the world of YouTube monetization can feel like trying to find your way through a maze blindfolded.

This guide is here to simplify the process and show you how to make money on YouTube, even without having millions of subscribers. Whether you're just starting or you've been at it for a while, this guide will break down the various ways you can monetize your YouTube channel. We'll explore everything from the YouTube Partner Program to affiliate marketing, brand deals, channel memberships, and more. Plus, I'll share inspiring stories and actionable tips to get you started.

But let's be clear: This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time, effort, and a hefty dose of creativity to make money on YouTube. But if you're willing to put in the work, the rewards can be incredible — both financially and from the satisfaction of doing what you love.

Table of contents:

YouTube Partner Program: How to make money on YouTube

6 ways to monetize with the YouTube Partner Program

  1. Ad revenue
  2. YouTube Premium revenue
  3. Channel memberships
  4. Super Chat and Super Stickers
  5. Super Thanks
  6. Shopping features

10 ways to monetize without 1,000 subscribers

  1. Affiliate marketing
  2. Brand sponsorships
  3. Creator merch and apparel
  4. Creating and selling online courses
  5. Paid memberships
  6. Templates and digital goods
  7. Physical products
  8. Coaching and consulting
  9. Paid speaking engagements
  10. Writing and selling books
Our full-featured video editing tool is as powerful as it is easy to use.
Look for our all-in-one audio & video production that’s as easy as editing a doc.

YouTube Partner Program: How to make money on YouTube

We’ll start with one of the most popular ways to make money on YouTube — the YouTube Partner Program. 

YouTube Partner Program overview

The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) is an official program to help creators make money directly on the platform. Once you're part of the program, you can start earning income from ads on your videos, channel memberships, YouTube Premium revenue, and more.

Here's a quick overview of the money-making opportunities:

  1. Ad revenue: Earn money from ads on your content. This is the most common way to make money on YouTube.
  2. YouTube Premium revenue: Receive a portion of a YouTube Premium subscriber's fee when they watch your content.
  3. Channel memberships: Offer special perks for recurring monthly payments.
  4. Super Chat & Super Stickers: Fans can pay to highlight messages or stickers during live streams.
  5. Super Thanks: Fans can purchase an animated comment to show appreciation.
  6. Shopping: Sell products from your channel store or tag products from other brands.

Eligibility for the YouTube Partner Program: The checklist

To qualify, you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours (within 12 months) or 10 million Shorts views (within 90 days). Plus:

  • Accept the YPP terms and conditions.
  • Live in a country or region where the YPP is available.
  • Have no active community strikes on your channel.
  • Enable 2-Step Verification on your account.
  • Verify your account for access to advanced features.
  • Link an active Google AdSense account to your YouTube channel.

Source: YouTube Help Center

Meeting this criteria doesn't guarantee acceptance, but it's the first step. Once you've checked all the boxes, you can apply for the program, and YouTube will review your application.

Good news for smaller channels: YPP early access

Smaller channels can now get early access to limited monetization options like fan funding and select shopping features. For early access, you’ll need 500 subscribers and three video uploads, plus 3,000 watch hours (within 12 months) or 3 million Shorts views (within 90 days). To unlock the full benefits, including ad revenue sharing, you'll still need to meet the standard requirements.

Source: YouTube Help Center

6 ways to monetize with the YouTube Partner Program

The first two ways to make money from the YouTube Partner Program are probably the most widely known: ad revenue and kickbacks from YouTube Premium membership fees. 

1. Ad Revenue

YouTube runs ads on your content and shares the revenue with creators who are part of the YouTube Partner Program. Ads come in several formats, including display ads, overlay ads, skippable and non-skippable video ads, bumper ads, and sponsored cards. YouTube has two ad revenue sharing models:

  • Watch Page: YouTube pays creators 55% of ad revenue from long-form videos and live streams.
  • Shorts Feed: YouTube pays creators 45% of ad revenue from a “Creator Pool” for Shorts.

Here’s how they work:

Watch Page ads

Long-form videos and live streams are viewed through the Watch Page, and YouTube runs ads before, during, after, or around your videos. You receive 55% of the profit from these ads, and YouTube keeps the remaining 45%.

Advertisers pay YouTube a certain amount for every 1,000 ad views, called a CPM (Cost Per Mille, “mille” being Latin for “thousand”). The actual CPM rate can fluctuate due to factors like the type of ad, the country where the ad is shown, and the specific industry the ad is targeting. Advertising rates can change over time, so the CPM is not a fixed price.

For instance, if your video gets 10,000 views and the CPM (cost per 1,000 ad views) is $10, the total advertising cost would be $100. You'd keep 55% of that, so you'd earn $55. If your video has multiple ads, you get a share of the revenue for each ad.

Shorts Feed Ads

YouTube runs ads between YouTube Shorts instead of linking them to specific videos. A portion of the revenue is used to pay for music licensing, and the rest gets put into a “Creator Pool.” YouTube pays creators 45% of the profits from the pool and keeps the remaining 55%.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • Generating revenue: YouTube gathers the money earned from ads between Shorts every month. This money is used to cover music licensing costs and pay creators according to a share that’s calculated in the next step.
  • The Creator Pool: YouTube divides the ad revenue reserved for creators into a “Creator Pool.” The division is based on the views and music usage from your Shorts. If your Short doesn't use music, the money it earns from views goes straight into the pool. If it has music, YouTube shares the money from its views between the pool and the music partners, depending on the number of songs used.
  • Distributing the Pool: The money in the Creator Pool goes out to creators based on the total views their Shorts receive in each country. So, if your Shorts account for 5% of all views, you'd receive 5% of the pool money.
  • Your share: After your share of the pool money is determined, you keep 45% of it, whether you used music in your Shorts or not.

2. YouTube Premium revenue

With YouTube Premium, viewers watch without ads, but creators still get paid in this ad-free model. YouTube gives creators 55% of the revenue from Premium subscriptions. They divide the watch time from Premium viewers across all channels and pay creators based on their individual channel's watch time.

Source: Created with Midjourney

Monetizing with YouTube fan funding features

YouTube provides a variety of fan funding features for monetization: Channel memberships, Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks. Unlike ad revenue, the income generated from these features comes directly from your fans.

You'll earn 70% of the revenue from fan funding features after deducting applicable taxes and app store fees. YouTube takes care of all the transaction costs, including credit card fees.

Let's dive into each of these options and discuss the best practices.

3. Channel memberships

Channel memberships are like having your very own fan club right on YouTube. It's a way to connect with your fans, offer them exclusive goodies, and earn some extra revenue. Fans support you by paying a monthly fee to become a member and get access to exclusive perks that you offer. It’s a great way to make your loyal audience feel special and part of your community.

Here are the essentials of channel memberships:

  • Membership levels: You can create up to five different levels, each with unique perks and prices. From special badges and emojis to exclusive videos, you can tailor the rewards to your fans’ interests. Higher levels include all the perks from the lower ones, so the rewards stack up.
  • Prices: You have the flexibility to set different prices for each level, and these can vary by country. It's a great way to cater to all budgets and make it easy for more people to join.
  • Members: Your fans can join your channel membership by clicking the “Join” button on your channel. They'll pick the level that's right for them, enter their payment information, and they're in!

Here's an example to help you see how it works in real life:

Philip DeFranco, a well-known news YouTuber, offers a membership for $4.99 per month. Members get a special badge next to their name, custom emojis, and access to exclusive community updates. It's a simple yet effective way to build a community and encourage fans to join.

The secret sauce to making channel memberships work for you is to offer perks that make your fans feel like they're part of something special. Think of it as a way to say thank you to your fans while getting the support you need to keep creating.

4. Super Chat and Super Stickers

Super Chat and Super Stickers are like virtual shoutouts that your viewers can send during live streams or premieres on your channel. They're a great way to make money and let your viewers have some fun in the live chat.

Here's how it works: When a viewer buys a Super Chat or Super Sticker, their messages or animated stickers get a special spotlight. They're highlighted and pinned to the top of the live chat, so everyone can see them. The more they spend, the longer their message or sticker stays pinned at the top.

Source: YouTube Help Center

  

Imagine you're a culinary YouTuber hosting a live cooking show. Your viewers might have lots of questions, and they can buy a Super Chat to make sure you see and answer their question right then and there. Viewers get their burning questions answered, and you earn some extra dough (pun intended).

5. Super Thanks

Now, let's talk about Super Thanks, another exciting way to connect with your fans and earn some revenue. It used to be called Viewer Applause, but the idea is the same: It’s a way for your audience to show their love for your channel by throwing you a few bucks.

When Viewers purchase Super Thanks, a special animation plays just for them over a regular video or a Short. It's a one-time treat that only they see. Plus, they get to post a unique, colorful comment in the comments section so it stands out.

Super Thanks comes in different price options, so viewers can choose how much they want to spend to show their appreciation.

6. Shopping features

YouTube Shopping features can be a real revenue booster for creators. These tools let you promote and sell products right on your channel.

First, you'll need to create a store with a shopping platform that works with YouTube. Right now, YouTube works with Shopify, Spreadshop, and Spring, plus over 50 other retailers that offer custom merch and print-on-demand services. This means you can create products that fit your brand style, often with minimal upfront costs.

Once your store is up and running, you can connect it to your YouTube channel. This lets you show off your products on a designated store tab on your channel page. You can also feature items on a product shelf under your videos and even tag products in your videos, Shorts, and live streams. It's like having a virtual storefront in your content.

If you have more than 20,000 subscribers, you can also tag products from other brands. This lets you offer a wider range of shopping options to your viewers.

Check out this video to learn how to connect your store and start selling through YouTube Shopping:

How to get monetized on YouTube without 1,000 subscribers: 10 strategies

Technically, the only way to get monetized on YouTube is by joining the Youtube Partner Program. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to make money on YouTube.

Say you've got your YouTube channel up and running, you're creating awesome content, but you haven't quite hit that 1,000 subscribers mark yet. No worries! You don't need a massive audience to start making money on YouTube. What matters more is the quality of your audience and how engaged they are with your content. 

Let's explore how you can start monetizing your YouTube channel right now, even if you’re not part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), and look at future options as you build your loyal audience.

1. Affiliate marketing: A powerful tool for small creators

Affiliate marketing is an accessible and effective way for small creators to start earning money on YouTube. Here's how it works: you promote a product or service and earn a commission for every purchase made through your unique affiliate link. The company gets a sale, and you get a cut of the profits.

By carefully choosing products that align with your content and creatively incorporating affiliate products into your videos — while being transparent with your audience — you can build a meaningful revenue stream. It's all about authenticity, engagement, and providing value to your audience. Even a small number of affiliate sales can add up to a good chunk of change.

Here's how to get started with affiliate marketing on YouTube:

  • Choose the right affiliate products: Make a list of products that you personally love, align with your content, and interest your audience. Check if these products or services have affiliate programs. For example, if you're a tech YouTuber, you might promote gadgets or software. If you're into fitness, workout gear or health supplements could be your go-to. The key is to choose products that you genuinely believe in and that your audience will find valuable.
  • Sign up for affiliate programs: Once you've chosen your products, sign up for their affiliate programs. This is usually a straightforward process that involves filling out an application on the company's website. Once you're accepted, the company will send you a unique affiliate link to promote the product.
  • Promote your affiliate products: Incorporate the products into your content in a way that feels genuine. Share personal stories, demonstrate how the product can be used, or answer common questions about it. Always disclose your affiliate relationships to maintain transparency and trust.
  • Earn commission: You'll earn a commission for every purchase made through your affiliate link. The amount you earn can vary depending on the product and the terms of the affiliate program.

Let's explore Graham Cochrane's approach to affiliate marketing. Graham helps people build an online business and generate passive income. He uses Kajabi to host his online courses and promotes the platform to his audience through his unique affiliate link.

Kajabi is a natural fit for Graham as an affiliate product. He personally uses it, it aligns perfectly with his content, and it offers real value to his audience. What sets Kajabi apart is its subscription-based model, along with an affiliate program that provides lifetime recurring commissions.

Graham's promotion of Kajabi on his YouTube channel is organic. He teaches his audience how he uses the platform in his own business and even includes a free course for those who purchase a Kajabi subscription through his affiliate link. This bonus is a fantastic incentive for his audience to buy through his link. And Graham's communication doesn't stop once a purchase is made. He continues to engage with his audience through email, offering other products and developing repeat customers.

So, what can we learn from Graham's approach? It boils down to authenticity, alignment with your content, and ongoing engagement. Success isn't about reaching a massive audience; it's about connecting with them in a meaningful way. By choosing products that resonate with your content and presenting them genuinely, you can foster trust with your fans.

(Disclosure: I’m a Kajabi customer and affiliate partner as well. See? Transparency!) 

Source: Created with Midjourney

2. Brand sponsorships: A primer for new YouTube creators

Another way to monetize your YouTube channel is through brand deals and sponsorships. This is when a company pays you to promote their product or service in your videos. Unlike affiliate marketing, where you earn a commission when you sell a product, brand sponsorships pay you directly for promotion. It's a fantastic way to earn money, especially if you can partner with brands that align with your content and your audience's interests.

Securing your first brand sponsorship might seem daunting, especially if you're a new creator just starting out. But don't worry! With the right approach and a bit of persistence, it's entirely possible.

  • Build a strong brand identity: Make sure you have a clear and consistent brand identity before you reach out to brands. This includes your content style, values, and target audience. Brands will want to see that you have a clear vision and a consistent brand that complements theirs.
  • Create high-quality content: This might sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to attracting brand deals. Focus on creating high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your audience. This will show brands that you're serious about your craft and that you're capable of creating content that will showcase their product in a positive light.
  • Grow an engaged audience: Brands aren't just interested in the size of your audience; they're interested in how engaged that audience is. Build a community of viewers who actively engage with your content through likes, comments, and shares. Brands value an audience that interacts and takes action on recommendations.
  • Research potential brands: Research potential brands to find ones that align with your content and your audience's interests. Look for brands that have worked with similar creators in the past — that suggests they're open to influencer partnerships.
  • Craft a compelling pitch: When you're ready to reach out to brands, craft a compelling pitch that clearly communicates who you are, what your channel is about, and why a partnership would be mutually beneficial. Be professional, but also let your personality shine through.
  • Be patient and persistent: Don't get discouraged if you don't land a brand deal right away. It can take time to find the right brand and negotiate the right deal. Be patient, be persistent, and don't be afraid to follow up if you don't hear back.
  • Consider joining an influencer network: Influencer networks connect creators with brands looking for influencer partnerships. Joining a network can be a great way to get your foot in the door and land your first brand deal.

A great example of a smaller channel succeeding with brand partnerships is DEE AND FAM

Dee focuses on helping busy families find products they love and save money at Costco, a very specific niche! She’s partnered with brands like Organika, Deebees Organics, and Blender Bites, all products she personally uses and that are available at Costco. That makes them a perfect match for her channel. 

Landing your first brand sponsorship is a big step, but it's just the beginning. As you continue to grow your channel and build relationships with brands, you'll find more opportunities to partner and add value.

Source: Created with Midjourney

3. Creator merch and apparel: Build your brand and make money

Creating and selling merch related to your content is an effective strategy for content creators of all sizes to generate income. This can include anything from t-shirts and hoodies to mugs and stickers, all branded with your channel's logo or catchphrases. Not only does this give you an additional revenue stream, but it also helps strengthen your brand and deepen your connection with your audience.

In order to connect your online store to your YouTube channel using shopping features, you need to be a part of the YouTube Partner Program. But even without being part of the YouTube Partner Program, you can still advertise your merch in your content and place a clickable URL in your description.

Here are some strategies for selling creator merch, even with a small channel:

  • Start small: If you're just starting out, it's a good idea to keep it simple. Choose one or two high-quality products to launch with, and expand your range as your audience grows. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too many options. 
  • Choose a merch provider: Platforms like Spreadshop, Printful, Spring, and Merch by Amazon make creating and selling merch easy, with no upfront costs. They handle everything from printing to shipping to customer service, so all you have to do is upload your designs and promote your products. (Disclosure: I’m a creator advisor for Spreadshop).
  • Create unique designs: Your merch should be unique and reflective of your brand. Don't just slap your logo on a t-shirt and call it a day. Instead, think about what your audience would love to wear or use, and create designs that reflect that. If you need help with designs, consider using a service like 99Designs or Upwork.
  • Involve your audience: Involve your audience in the merch creation process. This could be as simple as asking for their input on designs, or as involved as running a design contest. This not only helps build excitement for your merch, but it also makes your audience feel more invested in your brand.
  • Find creative ways to promote your merch: Don't just mention your merch in your video descriptions; find creative ways to showcase it. Weave it into your content, wear it in your videos, or create a dedicated merch promotion video. Get creative and have fun! 
  • Offer limited-time products: Offering limited-time or limited-edition products can create a sense of urgency and boost sales. This can also help to keep your designs fresh and encourage repeat customers. 
  • Make the most of social media: Don't forget to promote your merch on your other social media platforms. This can help you reach a wider audience and boost sales.

To illustrate this, let’s look at the YouTube channel "Yes Theory," which encourages embracing discomfort for personal growth. They’ve built a loyal following with their inspiring content and launched a merch line called “Seek Discomfort” that embodies their brand. 

They offer high-quality products, engage their audience in the merch process, and collaborate with artists for unique designs. This strategy has turned their merch line into a profitable part of their business.

Take note that they did more than just place their channel name or logo on their merch. They integrated the core message of their content with "Seek Discomfort." This is a powerful strategy in building a community around their central theme and value proposition. They also regularly collaborate with other creators and artists to develop collections around themes relevant to their content, like the "Breathe" and "Seek Love" series.

Source: Seek Discomfort Marketing Emails

Even if you're a small content creator, you can learn from Yes Theory's success. Align your merch with your brand, deliver quality products, engage your audience, and consider collaborations. This can help generate excitement for your products and make your audience feel more invested in your brand.

4. Creating and selling online courses: A profitable path for creators

Are you a creator who loves teaching and sharing what you know? Creating and selling online courses might be the perfect way for you to make money on YouTube. Whether you're a cooking guru who can guide others in mastering specific cuisines or a photography buff who can teach everything from camera settings to editing, there's potential for you.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Determine what course to create: Start by identifying your unique expertise that aligns with your channel's content. What do you excel at? What do your viewers frequently ask about? What problems can you solve for them? Analyzing your audience's needs and interests will guide you in creating a course that's both relevant and valuable.
  • Validate your course idea: Before diving into course creation, validate your idea by gauging your audience's willingness to pay for it. You can conduct surveys, offer a mini-course or free webinar, or even directly ask your audience through social media or YouTube comments. This step ensures that you invest time and resources into a course that your audience genuinely wants.
  • Create high-quality content: Your course should reflect the same quality and passion as your YouTube content. Break down complex topics into digestible lessons, use engaging visuals, and provide actionable steps. Include worksheets, quizzes, or interactive elements to enhance the learning experience.
  • Promote on YouTube: Use your YouTube channel to promote your course. Create teaser videos, share success stories from previous students, or offer free lessons as a sneak peek. Integrate your course promotion seamlessly into your regular content, so it feels natural and not overly salesy.
  • Offer exclusive bonuses: Encourage sign-ups by offering exclusive bonuses for your YouTube audience. This could be additional content, one-on-one consultations, or access to a private community. These unique incentives can make your course more appealing.
  • Provide testimonials and success stories: Share testimonials and success stories from students who have benefited from your course. Real-life examples build credibility and show potential students the tangible results they can achieve.

Vanessa Lau's success with her course, The Bossgram Academy, is a shining example of how to turn YouTube viewers into students. 

Source: Screenshot Bossgram Academy Website

She starts by offering free business tips on her channel, building trust with her audience. Then, she cleverly integrates testimonials from satisfied students and snippets from her course into her videos, giving viewers a taste of what they can expect. By connecting her YouTube content with her course and providing a clear path to purchase, she's turned her channel into a thriving educational platform. Her approach is simple, authentic, and something even new creators can replicate.

5. Paid memberships: Transform your audience into superfans

Are you ready to take your connection with your audience to the next level? Paid memberships aren't just a way to make money on YouTube; they're a pathway to building a community of dedicated superfans. Whether you opt for YouTube's Membership feature or explore other platforms, the essence of success lies in offering exclusive perks that resonate with your audience.

Here's how you can turn casual viewers into committed members:

  • Deliver value: Stand out by offering something special. Whether it's exclusive videos, early content access, live Q&A sessions, or unique merch discounts, make sure your audience feels they're getting something extraordinary.
  • Promote your membership: Don't be shy about showcasing what you offer. Whether through end-of-video calls to action, intriguing descriptions, or videos crafted to highlight the exclusive benefits of membership, make your pitch compelling.
  • Engage with your members: Foster a sense of community by interacting with your channel members. Respond to comments, host live chats, or send personalized messages. The more connected members feel, the more likely they'll stay subscribed.
  • Offer different membership levels: Consider offering different membership levels with varying perks and prices. This allows your audience to choose a level that fits their budget and interest level.
  • Use a reliable platform: Choose from platforms like Patreon, Memberful, or YouTube's channel memberships feature. Pick one that's reliable, user-friendly, and aligns with your needs.

An example of a successful membership program is the Mythical Society by YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning. They offer four membership tiers, from free to $20/month, with varying perks like exclusive merch, limited edition collectibles, behind-the-scenes content, event ticket pre-sales, exclusive live streams, and podcast episodes.

Source: Screenshot Mythical Society Website

I'm a member myself, courtesy of a free 1-year subscription. The quirky exclusives, like an album titled “My hair goes…” and a one-of-a-kind blanket hoodie (just as weird as it sounds), perfectly mirror their brand's unique flair.

The key to success? Crafting perks that don't just attract but resonate with your audience. It's about turning casual fans into dedicated superfans who feel a genuine connection to your brand. By offering value, engaging authentically, and promoting wisely, you can build a thriving membership community.

6. Templates and digital goods: Turn your creativity into scalable income

Selling digital goods and templates is becoming a popular option for creators looking for a sustainable way to generate passive income. The beauty of this approach is that you create a product once and sell it again and again without additional work. For instance, you might design and sell a user-friendly Excel spreadsheet for managing expenses or maybe some fun animated graphics to make videos pop. The goal is to offer something so valuable that your audience is willing to pay for it.

Here are some tips to effectively tap into this income source:

  • Understand and solve audience problems: Begin by understanding your audience's needs and challenges. Conduct surveys, read comments, or host Q&A sessions to discover what they struggle with. By creating digital products that address these specific issues, you can position yourself as an expert, build trust, and make money.
  • Start small and experiment: For your initial product, it's wise to start small. Rather than trying to create a large, complex digital product, start with something simple and manageable like a template, a brief guide, or a mini-course. As you gain more experience and feedback, you can gradually develop more complex and higher-priced products.
  • Promote your digital products: Your promotion should feel as unique as your brand. Infuse your personality into your marketing, highlight the real benefits, and make your audience feel the value of what you're offering.
  • Choose the right platform: Platforms like Gumroad, Kajabi, or maybe even your own website can support the sale of digital products. Choose one that's user-friendly for you and your potential customers. 
  • Provide after-sale support: Customer service doesn't end with the sale. Be prepared to answer questions and troubleshoot issues that your customers might have with your product. This not only makes for more satisfied customers but also boosts your reputation as a creator who cares about their audience.

Let’s take a look at Peter McKinnon who is known for his photography and video editing tutorials. His audience asked how to get their videos to look like his, so he started selling video LUTS, templates for color grading videos. These save his audience editing time and give their videos a professional look. His products align with his content and benefit his viewers.

Source: Screenshot Peter McKinnon Website

Even if you start small, offering something valuable to your current audience can foster loyalty and encourage organic growth. Concentrate on delivering quality, unique solutions that resonate with your viewers. As you refine your approach, you'll see your earnings grow.

7. Physical products: Connection you can hold in your hands

Selling physical products can be a lucrative addition to your YouTube monetization strategy. Whether you're crafting cold brew like Chamberlain Coffee or partnering with an established brand, such as the sneaker collaboration between MKBHD and Atom, selling physical products can boost your income and deepen your connection with your community. 

But developing a physical product can be a significant investment, so it's essential to test the waters before diving into production. Here are some tips for those considering a physical product:

  • Identify the right product: Understand your audience's needs and interests to determine what physical products would resonate with them. Surveys or direct feedback can provide valuable insights.
  • Start with a digital product: Test your idea with a digital version first to gauge interest and gather feedback without the significant investment required for physical production.
  • Pre-sell to gauge interest: Pre-selling your physical product can assess demand and generate funds for production, helping you avoid overstocking and ensuring you create something your audience truly wants.
  • Involve your audience: Share updates and create content around your product's creation to build anticipation and foster community and ownership among your followers.
  • Create bundles and complementary products: Enhance the customer experience and boost order value by creating bundles or offering complementary items during the purchase process.

Let’s take a look at Sarah Renae Clark. Her strategy for the Color Cube is a masterclass in physical product creation for creators of all sizes. 

She started with a digital version but noticed her customers asking for something they could hold in their hands. So, she created a physical Color Cube. To minimize risk, she pre-sold the product, generating funds and gauging interest. She also turned her community into collaborators by talking about the product on her YouTube channel and weaving it into various videos to demonstrate its practical use. By offering the Color Cube individually or bundled with complementary products, she not only enhanced the customer experience but also crafted a success story that deepened her connection with her audience.

8. Coaching and consulting: Share your expertise and grow your income

For creators who have built a reputation in a particular field or niche, offering coaching and consulting services can be a lucrative way to monetize their expertise. This approach allows creators to work directly with individuals or businesses to provide personalized guidance, strategies, and solutions. You could offer one-on-one coaching sessions, group workshops, or even customized programs. Whether you're a fitness guru, a marketing whiz, or a master chef, there's likely an audience willing to pay for your knowledge and guidance.

Here's how YouTube creators can get started with coaching and consulting:

  • Identify your expertise: First and foremost, identify the specific area where you have expertise and where you can provide value. This could be anything — business strategy, content creation, personal development, fitness coaching, or even specialized technical skills like video editing or SEO optimization.
  • Define your services: Clearly define what your coaching or consulting services will include. Will you offer one-on-one sessions, group workshops, or long-term consulting projects? Outline the structure, duration, and deliverables to set clear expectations for your clients.
  • Set your pricing: Determine a pricing structure that reflects the value you provide and aligns with your target market. You may offer different packages or tiers, ranging from introductory sessions to comprehensive coaching programs.
  • Create a professional website or landing page: Build a professional website or landing page that showcases your services, credentials, testimonials, and a clear call to action. Platforms like Squarespace, Wix, or even a dedicated page on your existing website can serve this purpose.
  • Promote your services: Use your YouTube channel and other social media platforms to promote your coaching and consulting services. Create content that demonstrates your expertise, shares success stories, and invites viewers to book a discovery call or consultation.
  • Provide exceptional value: Once you engage clients, focus on giving them their money’s worth. Tailor your approach to their unique needs and challenges, and offer actionable insights and support that lead to tangible results.

Justin Moore is a prime example of how to successfully sell coaching and consulting services through a YouTube channel. 

He has carved out a unique niche by teaching creators how to work with brands and get better sponsorship deals. He doesn't just create content about it; he offers one-on-one coaching sessions to guide creators personally. But here's the cool part: if you book a public coaching call with him, you might even get featured in one of his YouTube videos! It's a fresh and fun idea that really shows off Justin's open and creative style. If you're looking to learn from someone who thinks outside the box, Justin's approach is a great example to follow.

Source: Created with Midjourney

9. Paid speaking engagements: Turning your content into conference success

YouTube creators with a strong point of view, engaging presence, and expertise in a particular field can use their content to secure paid speaking engagements at conferences, workshops, and events. Speaking engagements not only provide an additional revenue stream but also offer opportunities for networking, brand exposure, and personal growth.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Create a speaker reel: Compile clips from your YouTube videos into a speaker reel. Highlight key speaking topics, share behind-the-scenes footage from events, or even feature livestream Q&A sessions. These videos can serve as a preview of what attendees can expect and help you book speaking sessions. 
  • Build a landing page: Create a dedicated page on your website with testimonials, subjects you can speak about, and embedded videos showcasing your speaking style.
  • Direct outreach: Link to specific YouTube videos when reaching out to event organizers. Tailor your pitch and offer exclusive YouTube content for their event.
  • Engage on social media: Find event organizers on social media and engage via comments on their posts and direct messages. Create YouTube content around conferences and tag organizers to get noticed.
  • Offer virtual workshops: Host free virtual workshops on your channel. Share these with event organizers as examples of your ability to engage a live audience.
  • Collaborate with speakers: Consider collaborating with other speakers or industry experts to co-host sessions or panel discussions. Collaborations can enhance the value of your presentation, broaden your reach, and provide opportunities for cross-promotion.

Your YouTube videos can be a portfolio for speaking engagements. By leveraging your content, engaging with organizers, and showcasing your abilities, you can turn your channel into a launchpad for paid speaking opportunities.

Jessica Stansberry is a prime example of how a YouTube creator can turn their channel into a platform for paid speaking engagements. 

Her speaking style, which is down-to-earth and humorous, mirrors her approach to videos. Jessica has spoken at dozens of digital marketing conferences and appeared on hundreds of podcasts. Her YouTube channel showcases her expertise in digital marketing, combining valuable insights with a fun delivery. Jessica's approach demonstrates that staying true to your unique style and creating content that resonates with your audience can open doors to successful speaking opportunities.

10. Writing and selling books: Transforming your content into published works

For YouTube creators with a flair for storytelling, expertise in a specific field, or a unique perspective, turning video content into published books can be both rewarding and profitable. Books not only create an additional income stream but also help in reaching new audiences, solidifying your authority, and leaving a lasting impact.

Here's how you can leverage your content to write and sell books:

  • Identify your book's niche: Start by determining the specific niche or subject matter that resonates with both your existing audience and potential readers. Your book should align with your channel's theme, whether it's a how-to guide, memoir, novel, or collection of insights, and offer something no other book has.
  • Outline and plan your content: Organize your content into chapters or sections with a detailed outline. Consider building on your most popular videos, incorporating audience feedback, and adding fresh material that hasn't been covered on your channel.
  • Choose the right publishing path: Decide between traditional publishing or self-publishing. While traditional publishing offers broader distribution and professional support, self-publishing allows more control and potentially higher royalties. Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing make it easy to self-publish and sell your book without a large upfront cost.
  • Build anticipation and engage your audience: Share updates, ask for feedback, and offer exclusive previews to involve your audience in the writing process. Create excitement through countdowns, cover reveals, and behind-the-scenes content.
  • Create a book launch strategy: A comprehensive book launch strategy can include pre-orders, launch promotions, special offers, and coordinated social media campaigns. Collaborations with other authors or influencers can amplify your reach.
  • Offer bundled content: Bundling your book with related content like video courses or downloadable resources can encourage more sales.
  • Create videos and livestreams: Highlight key takeaways, share testimonials, and invite readers to join discussions or book-related events. Livestreams for virtual book readings or Q&A sessions can create a sense of community and boost sales.

Writing and selling a book as a YouTube creator requires careful planning, strategic promotion, and a clear understanding of your audience. By aligning your book with your channel's content and engaging your audience throughout the process, you can turn your YouTube expertise into a successful literary venture. Whether sharing knowledge, telling stories, or inspiring others, your book can become a lasting testament to your creativity and impact.

For example, comedian and YouTube sensation Lilly Singh leveraged her online success to write "How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life." Filled with motivational advice that mirrors her YouTube content's energetic tone, Lilly's strategic promotion made the book a bestseller. Her global book tour and engaging social media content expanded her influence beyond her YouTube channel, and she repeated this success with her latest book, “Be a Triangle.”

Source: Screenshot Lilly Singh Website

Monetizing your YouTube channel is a journey filled with opportunities, creativity, and a healthy dose of persistence. From the YouTube Partner Program to affiliate marketing, merch, coaching, and even publishing, the avenues are diverse and adaptable to your unique content and audience. Remember, success on YouTube isn't solely measured by video views or instant financial gains. It's about building a community, offering value, and growing at a pace that resonates with your passion and authenticity. Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned creator, these strategies can pave the way to a fulfilling and profitable YouTube career. Now, it's your turn to take the leap, explore these avenues, and turn your creative dreams into reality. 

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