How to Monetize YouTube: A Beginner’s 2021 Guide

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Do you love creating and sharing video content but aren’t sure how to monetize YouTube? After all, there are 2 billion+ monthly subscribers on the social media platform.

That’s a lot of potential fans — and customers. So why wouldn’t you want to learn how to generate a steady income on the world’s second-largest search engine? Especially doing something that you love to do.

Lots of people are doing just that and you can too.

There are several ways you can monetize YouTube. We’re going to tell you about 12. You can pick one or combine them to maximize your income potential.

So, let’s dig in.

How to Monetize YouTube - Featured Image

1. Join YouTube’s Partner Program

Who it’s for: All types of video creators

Difficulty: Easy

Joining the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) is a critical step when looking to monetize your content. You get access to special features on the platform.

You don’t need to sign up for the YPP to make money on YouTube. An AdSense account and a boatload of views are enough to get you going.

But becoming a Partner means besides earning money via ads, you get membership perks such as:

  • Channel memberships
  • Channel customization
  • Retain all copyright and distribution rights on original content

However, to earn the coveted partner status, you must meet the platform’s minimum eligibility requirements:

  • Your channel must have over 1,000 subscribers
  • Own an AdSense account
  • 4,000 public watch hours over the past year
  • Abide by YouTube monetization and advertising guidelines

Once you meet these requirements, here’s how you enable YouTube monetization:

  • Click the account icon and navigate to “YouTube Studio”> “Other Features”> “Monetization”
  • Read and agree to the program terms
  • Set your preferences

If you would like to get a sense of how much you’ll make monthly, head over to the charts you’ll find at the “Analytics” tab on your dashboard.

2. Become A YouTube Influencer or Affiliate and Review Products

Who it’s for: All types of video creators

Difficulty: Medium

Affiliate programs and brand partnerships are a goldmine on YouTube.

Affiliate marketing is a great source of passive income. Once you sign up for one, you receive a discount code or unique link you can share with your audience.

Mention the discount code or link when reviewing the product and include the link/code in the video description to maximize revenues. When anyone follows the link and buys a product, you get a percentage of the sale.

On the other hand, if you’ve built up a large following, you can become an influencer on YouTube and negotiate lucrative sponsorship deals with brands.

Here are five influencer marketplaces that ensure you get discovered by brands:

Grapevine Logic

Grapevine Logic has been around since 2012. You can connect your channel for free. However, you need to have 10,000 subscribers on YouTube.

But if you are a micro-influencer with 1,000+ engaged followers, go ahead and sign up.

YouTube Brand Connect

YouTube Brand Connect is an invite-only program. To get invited, you need to meet the following qualifications:

  • Be part of the YouTube Partner Program
  • Live in the United States
  • Zero Community Guideline strikes

Channel Pages

Channel Pages is 100% free and easy to join. All you need to do is:

  • Connect your YouTube channel to Channel pages
  • Review your profile page and ensure everything looks good

Izea

Izea pioneered the modern influencer marketing industry. To get your channel set up on this platform, you need to:

  • Create a profile (100% free)
  • Connect your YouTube channel

Crowdtap

With Crowdtap, you earn hip rewards such as product samples and gift cards for sharing feedback on brands. To join, you’ll need to sign up with Facebook or email.

3. Sell An Online Course

Who it’s for: Creators who regularly teach or educate their followers

Difficulty: Medium to expert

Yet another terrific way to make money on YouTube is to create and sell an online course. If you have the expertise to share and your course can provide appreciable value to your audience, your followers will gladly invest in learning.

There are students for any topic you can think of — digital marketing, health and fitness, content writing, personal development, video marketing, and more. Some platforms even let you sell digital products such as ebooks, photography, music, and more.

The pandemic accelerated the eLearning industry, and online courses have become a lucrative income stream for content creators. Experts predict that by 2026, the online learning industry will be worth $375 billion.

One thing to note — make sure to create high-quality content that educates your followers and provides excellent value. People can quickly see through fluff and could call you out or quit following your channel altogether.

Once you create your eLearning content, you can reuse it repeatedly until the content needs updating.

4. Google AdSense

Who it’s for: All types of video creators

Difficulty: Easy

Before you get approved as a YouTube Partner, you must own a Google AdSense account. AdSense enables you to receive ad revenue (either as a function of cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-view (CPV) from your videos).

Advertisers bid for ad space on your video based on:

  • Your audience
  • Channel topic
  • Relevant keywords

You get paid for the number of “impressions” your videos generate (when a follower/viewer clicks or watches an ad).

The YouTube algorithm doesn’t display ads every time someone watches your videos, so a large number of views doesn’t mean you’ll earn boatloads of money.

The average CPV is $0.18 — this clocks once someone watches an ad for 30 seconds or halfway through (whichever happens first).

So if you average 5,000 views per video, and 10% of the viewers watch the ad, you’ll earn about $90.

YouTube takes a percentage of the ad revenue — they’ve never disclosed what that percentage is. You get paid once your cash balance hits $100.

Your earning potential on AdSense is directly proportional to how often ads play on your videos, how often your followers interact with them and how many people view your videos.

The first two are out of your control, while the third depends on your topic or niche’s popularity.

To increase the number of views you get, create content in a popular niche such as:

  • Health and fitness
  • Cooking
  • How-to XYZ videos
  • Gaming
  • Fashion

Creating content on any of these topics can increase your chances of success with Google AdSense on YouTube.

5. Crowdfund Creative Projects

Who it’s for: Creators raising funds for one-off projects

Difficulty: Easy

You can raise funding for your creative projects using crowdfunding through YouTube. You can either explore a project-based revenue or recurring income model.

One caveat; your idea has to be compelling enough that your followers are willing to pitch in and support you to completion. Success also depends on your niche and what your donors get in exchange.

For example, you could include a shout-out to the donors at the end of each video, host a video chat with them every month, or exclusive behind-the-scenes clips.

YouTube has a list of approved crowdfunding sites; however, the following two platforms have a proven track record of successful crowdfunding campaigns on YouTube:

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is one of the most popular crowdfunding sites. A content creator can generate funding for their creative projects such as books, films, or albums.

Kickstarter operates an all-or-nothing model; your backers aren’t charged for their pledge towards your project unless you hit your funding goals.

Veronica Mars — a little-watched (but much loved) TV show canceled after three seasons — is an excellent example of a cast and creator using Kickstarter to raise funding.

Although not a hit by ratings standards, Veronica Mars was a critical darling, and those who did tune in were obsessed with the possibility of seeing more — including the cast and the show’s creator.

After being off the air for nearly a decade, over 90,000 fans donated $5.7 million to bring a feature-length film to life. (The original goal was $2 million.)

IndieGoGo

IndieGoGo offers creators more flexible funding options, unlike Kickstarter. You can set up an all-or-nothing campaign (similar to Kickstarter) or a flexible campaign (you keep whatever funds you raised).

To boot, you aren’t required to offer rewards (referred to as “perks” by IndieGoGo) to your donors. However, you should probably still offer some perks for their donation.

6. Sell Paid Memberships to Your Fans

Who it’s for: Creators with the resources to continuously churn out exclusive premium content

Difficulty: Medium

Slightly similar to crowdfunding, you can sell paid memberships to your audience. You’ll need to have the resources to consistently create exclusive premium content to keep this income stream going.

However, one thing is for sure: selling memberships is a viable income strategy.

YouTube Partners can set up channel memberships. You need to have at least 30,000 subscribers and be over 18 years of age.

To access your channel, members pay a monthly subscription — between $0.99 and $100. In return, they get unique emojis, exclusive videos, badges, and many other members-only incentives.

There are also some other popular paid membership platforms you can explore.

Patreon

Patreon is an easy-to-use membership platform. Your fans can subscribe to your exclusive content. You can create tiered memberships, and members can pay as little as $1.

Tipeee

Tipeee is similar to Patreon. The only difference is your followers have the option of donating a one-off or paying a recurring fee to support your content.

YouTube Super Chat

YouTube Super Chat allows you to create a tipping jar for viewers to donate money as a form of support while you live stream.

It has no fixed donation amount; viewers can donate as much as they feel like contributing.

You need to be a YouTube Partner to access this feature.

7. Sell Branded Merchandise

Who it’s for: Creators and live streamers with an engaged following

Difficulty: Medium to expert

Everyone loves branded merch.

But before you head to the printers, test the waters. Ask your viewers if they are open to buying branded merchandise from you.

You can share mockups and ask which they prefer or even ask them to share the sort of products they’d like to purchase for themselves or as gifts for loved ones.

Carrying them along the journey is a terrific way to get their buy-in, increase loyalty and a sense of community.

Selling merch is a great tactic, especially if you and your viewers have inside jokes or particular catchphrases and lingo you’ll use on your channel. Once you launch your merchandise, you can add it to one of your membership tiers on Patreon or your preferred platform.

Selling branded merchandise is not only a great way to monetize YouTube, but it also generates exposure for your brand both online and offline, resulting in more subscribers for your channel.

8. License Your Original Content to the Media

Who it’s for: Creators who create a viral hit

Difficulty: Medium

If one of your videos goes viral, you can license it in exchange for money.

News outlets, online news sites, and journalists are always on the lookout for high-quality content and want to get their hands on a copy to share with their audience. Fortunately, they understand that they need to pay for the rights to use your video.

Voila, you’ve got another income stream for your YouTube channel. However, you need to make sure you’re easy to find.

Create an About Page

You never know which video will go viral, but if it happens to be yours, you’ll want to be easy to find. Set up an About page on your website with up-to-date contact details.

Set up a generic business email that potential collaborators can reach you on to discuss licensing and similar matters. It also makes you look professional.

Sign Up to a Video Rights Marketplace

Sign up to a video rights marketplace and upload your videos on there.

Jukin Media is an excellent place to start. For example, they have a catalog of newsworthy content to upload your video if you have the scoop on a significant story or unseen footage of a pop culture moment.

Their videos have appeared on BBC, CNN, National Geographic, etc. So, who knows, you might hit it big with one of your videos.

9. Offer to Edit Videos

Who it’s for: Creators who edit their videos themselves

Difficulty: Medium

Video editing is a high-income skill. Assuming you edit your videos yourself, you can offer other creators (upcoming and experienced) a YouTube video editing service and earn a reasonable amount of money.

You can also offer the same service to marketing agencies that create YouTube content for their clients.

Countless YouTube creators keep popping up daily with new channels, and not many are keen to learn video editing as it can be a somewhat sapping task.

To build awareness for your specialized skill set, you can share how-to content on video editing or videos showing your editing process and the finished work.

Your network is also a great place to find new clients, as they already view your videos and are probably aware of your editing skills. Upwork, Fiverr, and similar platforms are also great options for signing up your first few clients.

Another option is pitching your services to local businesses around you. You might need to educate them on the benefits of YouTube to their business. However, it is often worth the time and effort as you can end up with income plus referrals to other merchants.

Remember to collect testimonials and permission to use their work for your portfolio.

10. Become a Marketing Consultant

Who it’s for: All types of video creators

Difficulty: Medium

YouTube is the largest video platform on the internet and the second-largest search engine after Google.

So, if you’ve been able to grow your channel to a few thousand views or more, you can pitch your YouTube marketing services to brands or creators looking to make headway with their channels.

Video content is excellent for gaining brand awareness and driving purchases, and 88% of marketers say they are focusing more marketing dollars on video marketing.

Examples of services you can provide:

Full-Service YouTube Marketing

You can provide end-to-end services that cover every element of their video marketing strategy, from defining their target audience to developing the content strategy, video content creation, distribution, and YouTube analytics.

Video Creation

Or you can script, concept, and create video content such as vlogs, vox pops, how-to videos, training videos, whiteboard videos, and more.

Channel Management

Finally, you can also create a YouTube channel from scratch, developing the strategy to improve growth metrics such as reach, watch time, and impressions for the brand(s).

You would also need to manage the channel, respond to comments and provide weekly or monthly analytics reports.

11. Coach Viewers

Who it’s for: Creators who regularly teach or educate their followers

Difficulty: Medium to expert

Selling one-on-one coaching services, group consulting, or masterminds to your viewers is another effective way to monetize your YouTube channel. Although this method can take time to build momentum, it can be very profitable once you reach critical mass.

For example, if your YouTube channel focuses on forex trading, you could create a coaching service that teaches your followers how to trade forex.

Besides making bank from selling your coaching services, you’ll deepen the relationship with your followers by helping them become successful.

This strategy works for most niches. You can become a fitness coach, a lifestyle consultant, or even a piano instructor.

For such services, place a call to action at the end of each video, asking your followers to reach out via email if they are interested.

You can also create a “hire me” video or a “work with me” page on your website with more details and testimonials if you have any. Promote this page on your channel and in your videos.

To maximize your earnings via coaching, do the following:

  • Remind your viewers about your coaching services once in a while (don’t be pushy)
  • Price your services high
  • Limit the number of clients you accept at every given time
  • Offer group consulting and pre-packaged services

12. Build a Portfolio Worthy of the Big Screen

Who it’s for: Creators with an outstanding portfolio

Difficulty: Expert

Are you great at acting and entertaining other people? Does your vocal range remind family and friends of the music greats?

YouTube can be a great channel to build a portfolio that gives you a chance at the big screen.

Over 100 million people watched YouTube on their TV screens in 2020. So building an audience on YouTube is one way to become a household name and gain the gatekeepers’ attention — movie studios and record labels.

As a musician or actor, your music videos and YouTube sketches serve as a portfolio. This not only sets you apart from every other aspiring artist, but you also don’t need to audition and convince the studio managers or casting directors.

For instance, if you are looking to act in movies, write a short script similar to the roles you want to play. Next, record yourself using your mobile phone — or a professional cinematographer if you can afford one — and upload your sketch on YouTube.

Something to note:

  • You might experience financial losses due to the production costs of your initial videos
  • Getting a big screen contract would mean you’ll need to become a creative entrepreneur instead of a pure YouTube creator

You might not succeed immediately. But by consistently creating content, you are building an impressive body of work that showcases your talent.

Someday, you might catch the attention of a casting director or a talent scout who stumbles across your videos and thinks you might be a fit in a role they are looking to cast.

Are You Ready to Monetize Your YouTube Channel?

Now you know you can earn money uploading videos of what you enjoy doing or talking about on your YouTube channel.

You just need to choose which YouTube monetization strategy works best for your channel. Or perhaps you’ll want to use a combination of various monetization options.

Whatever you decide, find your voice, be consistent and nurture your audience.

Above all, remember that “inaction breeds doubt and fear.” The biggest step you can take towards monetizing YouTube today is to start.