UPDATED: August 29, 2021

​​If you’re old enough to remember, YouTube was the site that sparked an online craze of videos and new internet stars. With 1.3 billion people using the application, it’s no surprise that it is gaining traction as a potential business platform for many. 

While it is hard to put an exact date on when YouTube became the giant we know today, the platform started to gain real traction around 2007. At this time, the application was still very basic and was reaching new countries for the first time ever. With this expanded outreach, many creators realized the potential for YouTube as a platform to reach people and make money.

The first true YouTube sensation has to be credited to Fred Figglehorn and his online persona simply known as “Fred.” This channel was the first to break a million subscribers and paved the road for all influencers and video creators to come. Fred blew up in popularity and even received brand deals and a movie. While this type of fame was never seen before from an online application, this was only the beginning.

So, how do you make money as a YouTube content creator? In this guide, we’ll give you ideas on how to make money on YouTube.

Ways to Earn Money on YouTube

You can make money on YouTube in a lot of ways. Let’s talk about them:

1. Sign up for the YouTube Partner Program

When you join the YouTube Partner Program, you get to access different income streams. Monetization features include subscription fees that premium users pay, loyal fans’ wallets, Super Chat, channel memberships, and merchandise shelves.

To start, you need to create a YouTube channel and meet the minimum subscribers and watch hours requirements in 12 months. You need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours to join the program and become a YouTube partner.

2. Find Sponsors And Promote Their Products

If you ever see a YouTuber recommending a product in depth in the middle of a video, they are likely being paid to promote that product for some benefit from the company that provides the promotion.

You can usually find sponsors through influencer platforms that connect companies and influencers. If you have a following that’s big enough for a company to notice, they may even reach out to you directly.

Then there’s the hustle – you can try cold emailing/calling companies to see if they’re interested in sponsoring you!

3. Sell Your Own Merchandise

If you’re feeling creative and have a large enough following, you can usually see YouTubers creating some form of clothing or other merchandise that can yield a nice bonus income. You can sell merchandise too. Merchandise usually carries some identifying feature of your channel, like your logo, face, or a catchphrase.

And merchandise is just one type of product you can sell. You could always create a video course or even physical products that help your YouTube viewers.

This is where your earnings can really take off because you’re not being given a small cut of merchandise sales anymore. Instead, you keep the full profits of whatever products you sell and create.

4. Become an affiliate partner

Look for brands that have affiliate marketing programs and become a partner. Your job is to promote the brand and their products or services and encourage your viewers to visit their website by promoting affiliate links. Every time someone buys through your affiliate link, you earn a sales commission. If you’ve built your following, there is potential to earn good affiliate income.

5. Host Live Chats

Get your fans to show their appreciation by paying you directly. You can host live chats where fans can use Super Chat. They can comment while you’re doing a Livestream and have their comments pinned for a fee. This fan funding feature is available to YouTube partners.

6. Set Up a Crowdfunding Campaign

You can solicit donations from the viewers of your videos. Your crowdfunding campaign can be anything from funding a new laptop to big projects like a short film. Check out YouTube’s approved crowdfunding sites to get started.

7. Sell License of your content

When you’ve created content that has gone viral, the media will be interested to get a copy and show to their audience. Sell them the license of your content, which gives them the right to use it.

You can also license other types of content, not necessarily a viral video, such as newsworthy footage. Media outlets will be willing to pay for whatever they use.

8. Setup Google AdSense account

You can monetize your videos by using Google AdSense. YouTube displays ads on your videos, and advertisers pay for clicks and impressions. You get 55% of the ad revenue.

Make sure that you follow the advertising guidelines. Videos that have violence, adult content, and foul language don’t get video ads placement.

How Much Money Can You Make On YouTube?

Once you’re in the hallowed halls of the YouTube Partner Program, the next question you’ll have is, how much money can you really make on YouTube? Well, it all comes down to three things:


Views are easy to understand. The more people that watch your YouTube videos, the more you can make money. How much money exactly? The consensus is that you can expect at least $1 per 1,000 views. And your earnings can go up to even 5X if you’re in the right niche.


What’s a niche? That’s the subject matter you’re talking about. For example, YouTube channels like PewDiePie and Jenna Marbles are in the entertainment niche. Their topics are often fun, but random. 

Their videos attract people who aren’t looking to buy things. So advertisers pay less for their views. Even so, they’ve become top YouTube stars.

On the other hand, channels like MKBHD review electronic gadgets like the latest iPhone and Android phones. People watching these phone reviews are likely thinking about buying a phone and are making a buying decision. So advertisers are willing to pay way more for videos in his niche.

Video Engagement

So what about engagement? It’s not enough that your viewers see the ad and then skip it as soon as they can. The more your viewers click on the ads (because they’re actually interested in it), the more you’ll earn.

Long story short, it can be really hard to make a living on YouTube at the start. Even if you’re in a profitable niche making $5 per 1,000 views, you’d need to get over half a million views per month to even make the median American income of $31,000 a year.

What Kind Of Videos Should You Make To Increase Your Earnings Per View?

So you know that advertisers will pay more for videos that have viewers who want to buy products and services. But did you know that Google will tell you exactly which topics advertisers are willing to pay top dollar for?

Yup, this is a process called keyword research. This means that you’re looking on Google Adwords, which is a service Google offers to advertisers to bid on topics containing certain keywords.

You’ll see that commercial keywords like best android phone or best e-commerce platform carry high bid amounts compared to keywords like my most random day at school. 

So you should target to make videos that cover these profitable keywords if you want to make more money with fewer views.

However, you could go the other route, which is to make videos that get lots of views but don’t target profitable keywords. So you’re getting paid less per view, but because you’re getting so many views, it will make up for the lower pay.

What Are the Most Profitable YouTube Video Niches?

Okay, so what niches are the best for getting into? We’ve compiled a short list below. These niches may not have the highest earnings per view, but they certainly make the most money.

1. Gaming

From live streams to compilations, gaming has taken over YouTube and makes up one of the largest sectors of the platforms. The gaming niche is very diverse and allows almost anyone interested in video games to show off their talents or help others hone their craft. 

The world-famous YouTuber PewDiePie with over 100 million followers had his humble beginnings doing video game gameplay and walkthroughs before he became a YouTube star.

2. Cosmetics And Fashion

Names like James Charles and Huda Kattan both launched their careers and brands from YouTube. Doing things like makeup tutorials, product reviews, and fashion videos all reach millions of viewers with ease. 

Many cosmetic and fashion YouTube channels also use their brand to do collaborations and work with famous celebrities to further increase their reach. Fashion videos that put together styles and outfits are great for those people who love to share how they dress for different occasions.

3. Fitness

If you are in good shape and love to work out, the fitness niche may be what you are looking for. While this sector seems to be fairly hard to break into, you can do so effectively if you provide information and advice that is genuine and realistic. 

Famous fitness YouTubers include Jeff Cavaliere with Athleanx and Jeff Nippard who are praised for being honest and helpful to those who want solid workout advice from people who use facts and evidence to back up their claims. If you have the right mindset and willingness to teach, the fitness niche could be for you.

4. Travel And Lifestyle

Last but not least, the travel and lifestyle YouTube niche is always a fun one to get into. If you like to vlog and share your stories with the world, this could be your niche. People like Casey Neistat and Jake Paul have both made millions by simply going through their daily lives with cameras and recording adventures. 

While it certainly takes a level of flair and excitement to get people interested, these videos are the ones that go viral when someone explores an exotic location or does a crazy challenge.

Do Your Research

The niches above are a good guide, but perhaps you want to do your own research on your favorite YouTuber channels and success stories that you want to emulate.

What if you could see exactly how many views a channel got, what their engagement rate is, and then estimate the channel’s income?

Thankfully there’s a tool that will allow you to do just that – vidIQ. It’s a chrome extension that gives you stats such as views, subscribers, new videos uploaded, and more for every channel on YouTube!

Based on the channel’s views and niche, you can then work backward to estimate how much they’re earning.

Steps To Start Your Own Channel For Profit

Now that we know the basics of how many views you need to make money on YouTube, it will take some serious time for you to have your $0.20 per view payment for paying the bills. 

To make it easier to get there, we have laid out a general guideline that will show you how to go from a channel idea to an engaged audience.

1. Find Your Audience

Before even signing up for the platform, you need to sit down and seriously consider what video content you want to make and who you want to reach. 

Whether you want to start a cooking channel or review birdhouses, finding something you are passionate about and can talk about will be very important. Your channel will likely evolve and change in the future but find your baseline and build around that idea.

2. Make Your Channel

Now that you have your general channel idea, it’s time to actually make the channel. Pick a name and email for the account to begin filling out the necessary details. Pick a name that reflects what your channel is about and is catchy for people to remember. 

You should definitely create a logo and banner for your page so people can see that you care and put effort into your channel.

3. Optimize For Monetization

With the very basics set up for your channel, it is now time to look at money-making. When looking to see how much YouTube pays, they have a preference for some videos that we will discuss later. 

If you want your videos to be easily monetized and earn money from every video, you will need to enable monetization for your videos through the settings. However, every video you post will be screened to make sure it fits the community guidelines for video content that is appropriate enough to be monetized.

4. Gather Equipment

To make great videos, you need the right tools. You can make video content using just a phone camera and good lighting, but that’s not what brings in the big bucks. 

Go beyond mobile devices and invest in a decent camera, lights, a nice microphone, and anything else you think will add to the value of your content. It might also be worth investing in some editing software to make your content look better.

5. Create Desirable Content

Looking at how much do YouTubers make can seem intimidating by their channel size, but they all started right where you are. What separates the best from the rest is their content. 

If you are creating content that is informative, funny, and provides value, then the viewers will come flocking. It will take time but making consistent content that is made with high standards will pay off.

6. Look For Other Monetization Options

If your ad revenue just isn’t cutting it, you can look to other options to help increase your revenue stream. Options like sponsors and creating merchandise as we mentioned above can be great options.

Is it free to make a YouTube channel?

Yes, it’s free to create a YouTube channel. However, if you’re serious about making money on YouTube and making it big, you need to invest in video equipment and production.

Can I start a YouTube channel with my phone?

Yes, you can create a YouTube channel using your phone. You can also use your phone to film videos. However, it’s a lot easier to edit your videos on a computer with a bigger screen, memory, and storage.

Final Thoughts on How to Make Money on YouTube

No matter how you look at it, YouTube is a giant in the industry and will continue to grow as long as YouTube video content creators push the platform to make money.

If you have a desire to create and think you have a passion that the world should see and hear about, then start that channel. We hope you now see the value YouTube can hold for the content creator willing to create the best content possible.