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A lot of people are interested in making money online these days. Maybe you have a 9 to 5 that keeps you busy during the day, but on nights and weekends you have free time that you want to dedicate towards increasing your income. I found myself in the exact same position back in 2016 when I was working for my local power utility company. Oddly enough though, I did not start my YouTube channel with any intention of making money. I started this channel because I was passionate about investing and personal finance, and this was a way for me to help others.
Well, as it turns out you can make money with a YouTube channel. After making videos on nights and weekends for a number of months, I began making a few hundred dollars a month. I will explain exactly how I was doing this later on. By the time I started making $1,000 a month, I was at a crossroads. I believed that I could scale this YouTube channel and create a full time income for myself, but that would mean leaving the security of my job. I ultimately decided to leave my job and go full time on YouTube.
I have been a full time YouTuber since June of 2017. Now, I run a few different investing related mediums. Besides my YouTube channel, I own one of the largest Instagram pages related to investing and a blog known as Investing Simple. Between the YouTube channel, the Instagram page and the blog I am consistently making $25,000 to $50,000 every single month.
Now, these are not results that you can expect from day one. In fact, I can’t guarantee that you will experience results like this at all. But what I will tell you is that patience is rewarded when it comes to building a following and making money online. Before I get into the money making strategies I follow on YouTube, I want to give you the best advice I possibly can.
My Advice: Don’t try to make money.
I know that probably comes off as strange advice, especially in an article telling you about how to make money on YouTube. But hear me out… The reason why I was successful was because I was making content in a niche that I was passionate about and I had a desire to help people. I added value expecting nothing in return, and my audience was able to pick up on this. If you start a channel with the goal of making a quick buck, your audience will be able to pick up on this self interest and they will not like it. Ever have lunch with an old friend, then halfway through the lunch they try to pitch you on a new business opportunity? That is exactly how your audience will feel if you go at this whole YouTube thing with the goal of making money. It also takes months if not years to build an audience, so you should 100% be creating content in a niche that you are passionate about.
Add value, expecting nothing in return. Then, the money follows.
Alright, rant over. Assuming you have already built an audience and added value, here are some of the best ways to make money on YouTube.
1. Create a viral video.
Ahh… the “low hanging fruit” of a YouTube channel. The reason why I have that in quotes is because this is one of the biggest misconceptions out there about YouTube. People often think the easiest way to make money on YouTube is to create a viral video that gets millions of views and collect an ad revenue check.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have had numerous videos on my channel surpass 1 million views and this did earn me tens of thousands of dollars. The only problem is there is no set in stone way for creating a viral video! At the end of the day, it is totally random. Creating a video and hoping that it will go viral is like banking on winning the lottery, well with slightly better odds.
Still, the odds are just not in your favor. Back in 2015, YouTube revealed that there are 300 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute. I would imagine that number has doubled or tripled now. Trying to get millions of eyeballs on your video with all of that content being uploaded each minute is a daunting task. While you can make money in this way, it is not the best strategy.
I see ad revenue as the gravy. I make money by leveraging affiliate marketing, which I will explain later, and selling a course. These are much better strategies in my opinion. While the ad revenue can be a lot of money, it is not an income source that I rely on because it is totally unpredictable.
2. Leverage the Amazon Associates platform.
This is the second way that I started making money with my YouTube channel. In my opinion, this is a much better strategy than simply going after ad revenue and it is taking advantage of something called affiliate marketing. If you aren’t familiar, affiliate marketing is making product recommendations and getting paid for it. We all make recommendations every single day, the difference is some of us are getting paid for it and some of us aren’t.
Amazon has one of the best affiliate programs out there, and it is very easy to get accepted. As an Amazon affiliate, you can recommend just about anything on the site and earn a commission in the process by referring a sale.
Here’s how I would do it. I would mention books I was reading frequently in my videos. I would simply hold up the book and explain why I would recommend reading it, then I would link to it in the description and tell people the link was there. When someone clicked on the link and made a purchase, I earned a commission!
One of the best parts about the Amazon Associates (affiliate) program is that they don’t actually have to buy what you sent them there for in the first place. Yes, you read that correctly. You could send them there for a book, and if they purchase a vacuum cleaner within the next 24 hours, you earn a commission! I use that example because that exact scenario happened to me last year. I sold a $1,500 vacuum after someone clicked on one of my links and earned a commission of over $100.
3. Align with brands for affiliate/sponsor relationships.
As much as I like the Amazon Associates program, this is not where I make the most money. The reason is because this is a low commission environment. Since you can recommend just about anything that is for sale on Amazon, the commissions are low. You are better off in most cases establishing relationships directly with brands.
Since I am in the investing and finance niche, I have reached out to different investing platforms and money saving apps to establish affiliate relationships. For each referral or funded account, I earn a commission in the process.
Once you figure out what niche you are in and build an audience around that topic, it is as simple as reaching out to the big brands in that niche. Actually, a better strategy is to reach out to the small ones! They are often backed by venture capital and have the money to invest in growth as they are trying to gain market share. This can be an affiliate relationship, where you earn a commission for referrals, or just a sponsorship. A sponsorship is when an advertiser pays you for a mention or link to them. It is typically a flat rate.
Personally, I am a fan of the affiliate route over the sponsorship route. If you do your homework and work with brands that align well with your audience, you should be seeing a decent amount of conversions. I have always earned more money from affiliate relationships than sponsorships.
4. Sell a course or digital product.
The final way that I have made money on YouTube is by selling digital products. The first course I launched was a stock market educational course. Over the course of one year, I sold $40,000 worth of that course with almost no advertising. Shortly after that, I created a stock market membership site where users paid me $19 a month for stock tips. At the peak, this was earning me over $6,000 a month.
While this is not my focus now, selling a digital product based around the content you are producing online can be very profitable. You might be wondering why people would bother buying a course or a membership site in the first place. If you can learn for free from YouTube videos, why pay for a course?
The reason people buy courses is because of the convenience. They don’t need to scour the internet or read 10 different books to accumulate all of this information. You have done the leg work for them, which of course comes at a cost!
If you are looking to learn more about creating and selling online courses or membership sites, I actually have a completely free course called Course Creation Companion. And no, it is not a free course that leads you into a paid course. It is a completely free resource I have put together
You may have heard of other ways of making money on YouTube including selling merchandise or having people back you on Patreon. I have never had success with these options, so I did not want to include them. I have implemented and made money with all of the above strategies. When it comes down to making money on YouTube, a lot of it is niche dependent. It is a lot easier for a comedy or gaming channel to sell shirts than a finance channel! Your best bet is to try different options over time and see what works for you.