How To
13 min read

Can You Make A Living As A YouTube Creator?

Reem Abouemera

June 8, 2022

If you're curious about how much money you can make on YouTube, you're not alone. With over 2.6 billion active users worldwide, YouTube offers creators a unique opportunity to build an audience and make money doing what they love.

As more and more people turn to YouTube for their entertainment needs, content creators everywhere are wondering how they can get in on the action and start earning an income from their videos.

It’s important to recognize that YouTube isn’t a foolproof get-rich-quick scheme. YouTube content creators make money based on the number of views their videos receive, which means the amount of money you make is directly proportional to the number of views you get.

A few other factors can influence your earnings, such as affiliate marketing and sponsorships, but ultimately, it all comes down to how many people are watching your videos.

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So if you're thinking about starting a YouTube channel, don't expect to cash in overnight. It takes time, effort, and dedication to build an audience and start earning an income from your Youtube videos. But if you're willing to put in the work, you can make a decent living doing what you love.

Success on Youtube is based on many factors. There are skills and principles you must follow, plus experience learned over time. Here’s a quick glimpse into what it takes to make it as a professional YouTuber.


You must be proficient with:

  • Creating concepts and ideas
  • Scripting the videos
  • Staging
  • Lighting
  • Camera equipment
  • Editing software and how to edit
  • Demographics
  • Keyword research
  • Writing YouTube titles, descriptions, tags, and more.

When you start looking at what’s possible on YouTube, the money may be enticing, but the price is becoming competent in everything YouTube.

Here's everything you need to know!

YouTube’s demographics

For starters, let's take a look at YouTube's demographics. According to Omnicore Agency, YouTube is most popular with people ages 25-34, with the gender split being almost 50/50. This means there's a good chance you'll be able to find an audience for your content regardless of your gender, particularly if you’re catering to a young adult demographic.

The average viewer watches YouTube for 40 minutes a day, meaning if you can get just a fraction of those viewers to watch your videos, you're already off to a great start — after all, the average video is only around 11.7 minutes long.

When it comes to location, most viewers are from the United States, India, and China. But YouTube is available in 76 different languages, so don't worry if your content isn't in English. You can still reach a global audience!

How do YouTubers make money?

Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of how YouTubers make money. First of all, you need to apply to be a YouTube Partner, which is a fairly easy process. Once you're accepted, you'll be able to start monetizing your videos. 

You can also become part of the YouTube Shorts Fund, a new initiative that provides bonuses to creators who make short, engaging videos on YouTube. For this one, you don't need to be part of the YouTube Partner Program.

How to make money on YouTube

Now that you’ve gotten started, how exactly do you monetize your videos? There are a few different ways, but here are the most common ones. We’ll break down each one in more detail later on.

Advertising revenue

The vast majority of YouTubers make their money from advertising revenue. This is the money that YouTube pays to display ads on your videos, such as display, overlay, and video ads. The amount you make per ad varies depending on a number of factors, including your location, the type of ad, and the length of the video.

Channel memberships

Another way to make money on YouTube is through channel memberships. This new feature allows viewers to support their favorite creators by paying a monthly fee. In return, they get access to exclusive content and special offers, such as behind-the-scenes footage, ad-free videos, and shoutouts.

Merch shelf

If you have your own merchandise, such as T-shirts, mugs, or stickers, you can sell it through YouTube's Merch Shelf feature. This allows you to list your products on your channel page and make money whenever someone buys one of your items. Even if you don't necessarily list your products, you can at least post links to where people can buy them.

Super Chat & Super Stickers

The next way to make money on YouTube is through Super Chat & Super Stickers. This feature lets viewers pay to have their chat messages highlighted in live streams. The amount you make depends on how much the viewer pays and how long their message stays up.

Why do people pay to have their message highlighted? Fans like this feature because it's a way to show support for the creator while also getting their attention. This is especially useful if you're trying to ask a question or make a comment during a live stream, and it's likely the creator won't see it otherwise.

YouTube Premium revenue

Finally, if your members subscribe to YouTube Premium, you'll get a cut of their subscription fee when they watch your videos. YouTube Premium is a new subscription service that allows viewers to watch ad-free videos, download videos offline, and access exclusive content from their favorite creators.

black iPhone X

How to monetize YouTube

All set to start making money on YouTube? Here's a quick overview of how to monetize your channel after you've signed up for YouTube's Partner Program and created your Adsense account.

Ads

For ads, the first step is to link your channel to your Adsense account. Once that's done, you can start monetizing your videos by following these steps:

  • Sign in to YouTube
  • Open the YouTube Studio
  • In the left menu, select "Content"
  • Choose a video
  • In the left menu, select "Monetization"
  • Under "Monetization," choose the type of ads you want to show
  • Click "Save"

Your video is now monetized, and you'll start earning money from the ads displayed on it. Remember, you can always come back and adjust your monetization settings at any time.

If you want, you can do this for multiple videos on your channel simultaneously. All you need to do is:

  • Sign in to YouTube
  • Open the YouTube Studio
  • In the left menu, select "Content"
  • Choose the gray checkbox next to the videos you want to monetize
  • In the "Edit" dropdown menu in the black bar on top of your video list, select "Monetization"
  • Click "On" in the dropdown that appears
  • Confirm your selection by ticking the checkbox “I understand the consequences of this action” and clicking "Update Videos"

Channel memberships

With channel memberships, the process is quite different — you’ll start by signing in to your Google account, navigating to the Memberships page, and clicking on the "Get Started" button.

From there, you'll be taken to a page where you can set up your channel membership. You'll need to choose a price for your membership, as well as what benefits members will get. Once you've done that, click on the "Create Membership" button.

After that, you'll be taken to a page where you can customize your channel membership with a profile photo, cover photo, and description for your channel. You can also choose to offer exclusive content to members, such as videos, live chats, or forums. When you're finished, click on the "Save" button.

Merchandise shelf

If you're interested in selling your branded merchandise on YouTube, you'll follow a similar process to that of ads, but instead of monetizing your videos, you'll be setting up a merchandise shelf.

The first steps are the same. Sign in to the YouTube Studio and click Monetization on the left-hand side. Then, click the link that says "Merchandise" — that you'll only see this link if your channel is eligible.

Next, you'll follow some on-screen instructions to set up your Merchandise shelf. In the end, you'll receive a Teespring Store ID, which you'll be able to use to link your YouTube channel to your Teespring store. Now you're ready to start selling your merchandise!

Super Chat & Super Stickers

If you want to give your fans a way to support you during live streams, you can do so by setting up Super Chat & Super Stickers. To do this, sign in to YouTube and open the YouTube Studio.

Then, click on the "Monetization" tab on the left-hand side, choose "Live Chat," and then click "Get Started." You'll follow the on-screen instructions from there. Once the feature is set up, you should see “Super Chat status is on” or "Super Sticker status is on" next to a blue toggle switch.

From there, your fans will be able to purchase messages that appear highlighted in your live chat. Depending on how much your fans pay, these messages will stay pinned to the top of the chat for a certain amount of time.

P.S.: Super Stickers are animated stickers that viewers can buy and use during live chats to support and interact with you.

YouTube Premium revenue

In order to make money with YouTube Premium revenue, you literally don't have to lift a finger. That's because this type of revenue is generated automatically when someone with a YouTube Premium subscription watches your videos (if they meet YouTube's Community Guidelines).

black and white laptop computer

​​How to get paid on YouTube

So you've figured out how to make money on YouTube — but how do you actually get paid?

The primary payment method for YouTube is through AdSense, a program that allows you to place ads on your website or blog and get paid whenever someone clicks on one of the ads. To sign up for AdSense, you need to have a Google account. Once you've signed up, you can link your YouTube channel to your AdSense account and start earning money.

Finalized earnings for the past month will be sent to your AdSense account between the 7th and the 12th of every month. From there, you can transfer the money to your bank account or use it to purchase Google products.

How to make money on YouTube without Adsense

What if you don't have an AdSense account? Is there still a way to make money on YouTube? Yes! There are a few other ways to make money even without an AdSense account.

Create digital products

One way to make money without ads is by creating digital products like e-books, courses, or software. Then, you can promote these products through your YouTube channel and make money whenever someone buys one of your products.

Let's say you offer a course on how to make money on YouTube. You can promote your course directly through your YouTube videos by providing a link to your course in the description of your video. You can also do it indirectly by creating a video related to your course and then including a link to your course in the description.

The key here is to make sure that your product is high-quality and relevant to your audience. Otherwise, you won't be able to sell it no matter how many views your videos get.

Affiliate marketing

Another way to make money without ads is through affiliate marketing. This is when you promote another company's product or service on your YouTube channel and earn a commission whenever someone buys the product or signs up for the service through a referral link or affiliate code/tag. 

However, with affiliate marketing, it's important to make sure that you're promoting products or services that are relevant to your audience. Otherwise, you run the risk of annoying your viewers and losing their support.

Similarly, you must disclose to your viewers that you're being compensated for promoting the product or service. This can be done in the video itself or by adding a disclaimer in the description box of your video.

Some of the popular affiliate networks you can use to find products or services to promote include:

  • Amazon Associates
  • ClickBank
  • ShareASale 
  • CJ Affiliate
  • Rakuten Marketing

You could also try pitching to clients in your niche who are looking for influencers to promote their products or services. Many of these already have their private affiliate programs set up, so all you’d have to do is apply to be an affiliate. 

Offer your services

You can also make money on YouTube by offering your services. Whether it’s coaching, writing, or design work, if you have a skill or talent that others need, you can use your YouTube channel to promote your services and make money whenever someone hires you.

For instance, let's say you're a graphic designer. You could create a series of videos showing viewers how to create different types of graphics in Photoshop. Then, you could promote your design services in the description box of your videos.

Or, let's say you're a web developer. You could create a series of videos showing viewers how to build different types of websites. Then, you could promote your web development services in the description box of your videos.

The possibilities are endless!

Donations and crowdfunding

You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to donate money to their favorite creators. If you don't want to run ads on your channel, you can set up a donation button and give viewers the option to support your work financially. You can use this money to cover expenses such as equipment or travel costs. 

Like with affiliate marketing, be sure to disclose that you're accepting donations on your channel. This can be done by adding a disclaimer in the description box of your videos or in the videos themselves.

Platforms like Buy Me a Coffee and Patreon are great for setting up donations and crowdfunding.

Sponsorships

Have you ever thought of becoming an influencer? In today's social media-driven world, it's easier than ever! If you have a large following on YouTube, you can likely make money by partnering with brands and promoting their products or services.

Sponsorships are usually negotiated directly with the brand, so it's a good idea to put together a media kit that outlines your demographics, average views, and engagement rate. That way, you can confidently approach brands and show them what you have to offer.

There are even influencer marketplaces, such as Crowdtap and Upfluence, where you can connect with brands and start pitching yourself for collaborations. Some of these brands will offer you free products, while others will pay you for your promotion.

It's worth mentioning that with sponsorships, you want to be careful not to jeopardize your YouTube channel's integrity. Make sure you're only partnering with brands that align with your values, and don't promote anything that you wouldn't normally use or recommend.

License your content

Finally, a great way to make money on Youtube is by licensing your content. This means you're giving companies the rights to use your videos, photos, or music in their own products or marketing materials.

If you create original content that goes viral or is widely used, you can make money by licensing your content to companies who want to use it. TV shows, news outlets, movies, and websites are all examples of places where your content could be used.

For instance, if you have a popular song on your YouTube channel, you could receive royalties every time it's used in a television show or movie. Or, if you have a popular video, you could license it to a website or news outlet.

The key is to make sure you're licensing your content to reputable companies that will actually use it. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time and not making any money.

How much money do YouTubers make per view?

The issue of how much money YouTubers make per view is a complicated one. For one, it depends on the monetization method they're using. However, 15-20% of YouTube's revenue comes from ads, so let's talk about that first.

With ads, it all depends on the advertiser, the country where the views are coming from, the type of video, and a number of other factors. Apart from that, the calculation is simple.

YouTube takes 45% of the revenue generated from ads, leaving 55% for the YouTuber. If we assume that a video generates $1 per view from ads, the YouTuber would make $0.55 per view.

That said, it's important to remember that not all views are monetized. In fact, only a small portion of YouTube views are monetized because you need to have a certain number of subscribers (1,000) and watch time (4,000 hours) to start making money.

person holding black iphone 5

What does YouTube pay for 1 million views? 

If you're curious about how much a million views on YouTube are worth, it depends on the advertiser and the country where the views are coming from, among many other factors. 

Generally speaking, a video with 1 million views can generate anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000. YouTube money calculators can give you a more specific estimate, but keep in mind that these are just estimates, and your actual earnings may be different.

How much money do you make for 1,000 views on YouTube?

Okay, that was for a million views. But what if you only have a thousand? According to Influencer Marketing Hub, a video with a thousand views can generate around $18, which is the equivalent of $3-5 per 1,000 views for you. This may not seem like much, but if you have a lot of videos with a thousand views, the money can start to add up.

Do you need to be famous to make money from YouTube?

The short answer is no — you don't need to be famous, per se, to make money from YouTube. Although, this depends on what you mean by "famous." 

As we were just saying, to start earning money from YouTube, you need to have a certain number of subscribers and watch hours. It's not being famous in the traditional sense that will make you money, but rather having a large following on YouTube.

Of course, if you’re famous in the traditional sense, that’ll certainly give you a leg up. But plenty of YouTubers have made a name for themselves without being famous beforehand, so don't worry if you're not already a household name. You can still make money on YouTube with a little effort and creativity.

Don't forget that YouTube's Partner Program isn't the only way to make money on the platform. If you’re creative enough, you can also make money by licensing your content, offering your services, working with brands, and selling products. So there are plenty of ways to make money on YouTube, even if you're not a huge star.

The more subscribers and views you get, the better your chances of making good money

While it's possible to make some money with just a few hundred views, you’re more likely to make good money if you have a large subscriber base and a steady stream of views. That's because, naturally, more views should mean more engagement. The more likes, comments, and shares you get, the more valuable your content is to advertisers.

Advertisers see views and subscribers as signs that people are interested in your content and willing to engage with it, so you're more likely to get sponsorships, licensing deals, and other opportunities that can lead to big payouts. In a nutshell, the more popular your channel is, the more money you can make.

So if you want to make money on YouTube, focus on value and engagement over quantity. Quality content and a strong connection with your audience will go a lot further than a million views from bots. 

How many subscribers do you need to make money on YouTube? 

We've already established that you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours to start earning money on Youtube, but if we're talking about making serious money, you're going to need a lot more than that. In fact, you'll need at least a million subscribers to make anything close to a seven-digit income from YouTube.

There are YouTubers who make millions of dollars per year, and while this is certainly the exception, it's not impossible. Remember that subscribers are the people who have chosen to "follow" your channel and the content you upload. So think about how you can create content that people will want to follow and subscribe to.

If you can do that, then you're well on your way to making money on YouTube, and the number of subscribers you have will only continue to grow. 

Closing thoughts

So there you have it! There are multiple ways to monetize your YouTube channel, but if there's one thing you should focus on, it's creating quality content that your audience will love and building a connection with your viewers. If you can do that, the rest will fall into place, and you'll be well on your way to making money from YouTube.

So if you're feeling motivated to start your own YouTube channel, go for it! Just remember that it takes time, effort, and consistency to build a successful YouTube channel, so don't give up if you don't see results right away. Keep creating quality content and engaging with your audience, and you'll eventually start seeing the fruits of your labor.

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