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You need to consistently upload quality videos with content people find interesting, relatable and engaging. You need to market the hell out of that video on your personal website, blog, social media, and other video sites. You need to create a brand for yourself, know how to get verified on Youtube, and grow your subscriber base in order to be taken seriously. You’ll need to get lucky if you want to have one of the most viewed YouTube videos.

All in all, it’s not easy. More than 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute on YouTube, so the competition is fierce.

But don’t let that dissuade you. Everyone starts from the bottom, and some YouTubers have successfully risen to stardom – and millionaire-dom.

If you’re curious what kind of content these YouTubers cover that enables them to make so much money, check out the top-earning YouTubers section below.

With people spending a collective billion hours a day (that’s 1,000,000,000 hours) watching YouTube videos, YouTube has risen to the second largest search engine in the world and the third most visited site. This opens it up to be a fantastic platform for people to express themselves — and for advertisers to market their wares.

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There are a variety of different ways YouTubers can make money, from ads to Youtube merchandising. Let’s dive into each and how much YouTubers earn through each method.

How much do YouTubers make?

I never really got into YouTube until college, when I was exposed to Jenna Mourey, better known as Jenna Marbles. I can remember watching it in my dorm room, three friends and I squished onto a twin bed and roaring with laughter.


Jenna Marbles’ YouTube channel has 17 million subscribers, over 2 billion total views and is the 23rd most subscribed channel. Her net worth is approximately $2.9 million.

How did she go viral and become so successful? She published relatable AF content combined with a hilarious personality. She created spoofs based on the everyday activities and struggles of young women.

YouTube earnings by channel type

There are certain niches in YouTube that make it easy to gain subscribers and thus eventually make money. If you are entering the YouTube realm and wondering how to create a YouTube channel that gets views, it’s highly recommended you consider covering content that lives in one of these successful niches.

  • Gaming
  • Lifehacks
  • Celebrity gossip
  • News
  • Top [X] lists
  • Compilations of people’s fails (think: Jackass)
  • Food reviews and kitchen hacks
  • Product unwrapping and opening (kids who do product reviews are especially fun to watch)
  • How-to demonstrations
  • Animal activities (the hilariously weird things your dogs do)
  • Spoofs

If you’re seriously considering getting into YouTube to make money (or you’re dying to know how people can successfully make so much money off of videos), here are the different routes you can take.

YouTube Partner Program

The first step a YouTuber can make toward monetizing their videos is by joining the YouTube Partner Program. This allows YouTubers to be paid through views and through advertisements served on their page.

There are qualifications you have to meet before being approved by the YouTube Partner Program. In January of 2018, YouTube announced your channel must have reached 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. That’s only to be eligible for the program. YouTube will then let you know if you’ve been approved after a review process.

Once approved, you can start making money.

The money is made through advertisements. There are two types: CPM (cost per thousand views) and CPC (cost per click).

If the advertisement is CPM, that means the viewer of your YouTube video must watch the ad for longer than 30 seconds (or if it’s a short video, for at least half the advertisement). Think about your YouTube watching habits and you’ll know this is more unlikely than it sounds.

If it’s a CPC advertisement, then you get paid based on how many viewers click on the ads surrounding your video.

Per view, advertisers on average pay $.18. If your channel receives 1,000 views, it’s worth $18. Google keeps 45 percent of what is made, so a YouTuber would make (on average) $9.90 per 1,000 views.

As you begin making money, you create an account through AdSense so the advertisers can pay you as views or clicks come in. You can only direct deposit your earnings when your AdSense account reaches more than $100.

In this case, success breeds success. That first dollar you make is going to be the hardest. But as you release more quality content and gather subscribers, you’ll have more people watching your content. More people watching means more of a chance people will watch the ads or click on them.

TIP: If you’ve heard of the Adpocalypse, you’re not alone. Check out this article on YouTube demonetization and what it could mean for your YouTube account.

YouTube affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a marketing arrangement in which an online retailer pays commission to YouTubers for traffic or sales generated from the YouTubers’ referrals.

This can take many different forms, but typically it falls into these three categories:

  • A video unboxing the product you’re trying to sell
  • A video in which you recommend the product or service
  • A video reviewing the product

I’m sure you’ve all seen these before. There is then a link (or several) in the video description that leads directly to the product you’re trying to sell.

Advertisers will pay YouTubers based on CTR (click-through rate, or how many people click that link you included), conversation rate (how many people actually buy the product through your link) and then commission on the product itself.

So, let’s say a video has a CTR of 2 percent and a conversion rate of 3 percent after 1 million views. The YouTuber is making $5 per sale and 600 people buy the product. That means the YouTuber makes $3,000 for every 1 million views from affiliate marketing

YouTube Sponsorships

The holy grail for YouTubers, sponsorships are when you’ve made it. A brand typically doesn’t want to risk investing in a YouTuber unless they’ve proven themselves successful and reliable — with a meaningful following.

What does a sponsorship look like? It can be that the brand pays the YouTuber to create a one-off video specifically about a product launch, a company event, a site opening, or something similar. Or, the brand sponsors the entire YouTube channel and then the YouTuber has to recommend (or use when appropriate) the product in every video.

YouTubers charge brands anywhere from $10 to $50 per 1,000 views, depending on the estimated amount of total views for the pending video. If the video hits 1 million views, then the YouTuber makes anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.

So you can see why sponsorships are what everyone hopes for. Typically, only the ultra-popular and successful YouTubers can land these.

But luckily another option has come forward for those YouTube channels that brands think are currently too small to sponsor.

Patreon is a crowdfunding source. Playing off the idea of patronage, Patreon makes it possible for fans of YouTube channels to subscribe to extras. For example, they could choose to pay $5 a month to get early access to videos, $10 a month for behind-the-scenes footage or $15 a month for access to extra videos or bloopers.

This allows fans to become patrons of their favorite YouTubers, and then YouTubers can continue producing great content without worrying about funds. And hopefully, through hard work and the belief of their fans, YouTubers can one day reach a sponsorship deal with a big brand.

Next steps for you(tubers)

Does this all sound daunting? Sure it does. But nothing worth doing is easy. If you want to show off your company brand on YouTube or become a YouTube sensation yourself, then put in the effort, time and work. It might just pay off — literally.

If you’d like an inspirational story of someone who started at the bottom, without even the intention of going viral, look no further than Michelle Poler.

Michelle created her YouTube channel “Hello Fears” as part of a college class. For 100 days, she documents herself overcoming a fear such as dancing like no one’s watching in Times Square, beekeeping and quitting her job. Hello Fears now has 31,000 subscribers. Michelle has given a TedTalk, appeared on prominent news outlets, and she now travels the world for speaking engagements about the experience and how everyone should do things that scare them.