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For many people, the opportunity to earn money by making video content and sharing it with an online audience might sound like a dream come true. Platforms such as YouTube can make those dreams a reality, launching creative vloggers into online stardom. Some content creators even manage to build a fortune off of their videos. So, much so that “How much do YouTubers make” is one of the most-searched queries.

How Much Do YouTubers Make?

So, how much do YouTubers make? In 2020, the list of highest-paid YouTubers included some of the following social media personalities:

Stevin John goes by the name Blippi on YouTube, and his kid-friendly content has earned him over 24 million subscribers. Thanks to his colorful, educational content, Blippi made $17 million in 2020.

Preston Arsement is a YouTuber who uses his channel, TBNRFrags, to focus on gaming content. In 2020, he made $19 million.

Mark Fischbach, who goes by Markiplier on YouTube, rose to fame by sharing video game content. He’s expanded his focus to include all sorts of entertaining stunts. In 2020, he made $19.5 million.

Rhett and Link are two YouTubers who have built a reputation on fun, nerdy content. They got their start in 2012 with a YouTube-based talk show, and in 2020 they made $20 million.

Ryan Kaji, who runs the Ryan’s World channel, was the highest-paid YouTuber of 2020. His toy review videos and licensing deals helped him earn more than $29 million as a kid influencer.

For most of these mega influencers, video creation was just a start. After they built a following, they began to sell their own products and collaborate with major brands.

While the average YouTuber shouldn’t expect to pull in millions of dollars, it is possible to monetize your video content. Here’s how to get started.

Joining the YouTube Partner Program

Before you can start making money on YouTube, you’ll need to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program. The program gives you an opportunity to monetize your work, and it also gives you access to the platform’s support team. Only accounts that have more than 1,000 subscribers and more than 4,000 public watch hours in the past year are eligible. You’ll also need to have a Google AdSense account and enable two-step verification on your Google account.

After you apply for the program, YouTube will review your current content to make sure you’re meeting all of the platform’s policies. The review of your application alone can take about a month or more, so don’t expect to start making money overnight. And if your application is rejected, you’ll need to wait a month before you reapply for another review.

Even if you do get accepted, expect YouTube to routinely conduct content reviews. Stick to the guidelines and stay active to maintain your partnership status.

Once you’re in the program, you have a number of ways to make money, which we’ll cover next. Note that not all content can be monetized. Limitations exist when it comes to using material that is copyrighted by another source.


Anyone who’s ever watched YouTube content is probably familiar with ads. As a member of the YouTube Partner Program, you can set the placement of ads and their format. Some of your format options include non-skippable ads, skippable ads and overlay ads, which appear along the bottom of the video.

If your video is at least eight minutes long, you also have the option of enabling mid-roll ads. These appear in the middle of your content, rather than at the beginning or end. These ads can be inserted automatically by the platform, or you can select their specific placement.

How much should you expect to earn from ad revenue? Your revenue will be 55 percent of whatever the advertiser paid for the ad. The rest goes to Google. With that in mind, the more ad formats you enable, the more revenue you can potentially earn.

Selling Products on Merch Shelf

Selling products is a smart way to further build on your earnings from YouTube. If you have your own branded goods to sell, you can do so through the merch shelf. This feature is the result of Teespring integrating with YouTube, and it allows you to offer a maximum of 12 different products to your audience.

Adding merch will enable the Store tab on your channel’s page, making it easy for people to find your goods. You also choose to show your merchandise at the end of a video or pin it to a live stream.

The popular gaming channel Videogamedunkey is one example of a channel that uses the merch store to sell fans items such as keychains and shirts.

video game dunkey Youtube channel

Super Chat and Super Stickers

Plan on live streaming video content on YouTube? If so, you can also make money through Super Chat and Super Stickers. These features allow viewers to buy and post attention-grabbing messages that stand out in the live chat. If you’re running a livestream, you’ll certainly notice these messages, and you can give a shout-out to the sender.

YouTube will take 30 percent of the purchase. You’ll keep the remaining 70 percent.

Membership Revenue

Offer your viewers special perks, such as badges and emojis, through a membership option. In exchange for the perks, the viewer will make a monthly payment. As with the other monetization options, you’ll split the profits with the platform. You’ll keep 70 percent of this membership revenue. The rest goes to YouTube.

While membership revenue can earn you plenty of money, you’ll need to inspire loyalty among your followers. It’s also up to you to set a reasonable fee for the membership perks. Although you can offer audiences plenty of perks, certain benefits, such as content downloads and in-person meetings, will violate the platform’s policies.

Rhett and Link, the highly successful YouTubers we mentioned earlier, are examples of content creators who offer membership perks to their followers. Their exclusive club is called the Mythical Society.

mythical society youtube channel

Sponsored Content From Brands

If you form an influencer partnership with a brand, that brand will pay you in exchange for product placement or video endorsement. This kind of partnership can be extremely lucrative. In 2019, brands paid influencers an average of $6,700 per video on YouTube.

Why so much? In short, audiences trust their favorite content creators to give them honest recommendations. If you run a fitness channel, you’re well qualified to direct your viewers to sports apparel that you rely on. If you’re a PC gaming expert, audiences will react to your endorsements of keyboards and monitors.

When you enter into one of these partnerships, you’ll have to inform YouTube. This allows the platform to take steps such as removing ads that may conflict with your endorsement. Also, legally you’re required to disclose this information to audiences.

When promoting brands, it’s important to be honest with your audiences. Expect your followers to be able to recognize an authentic endorsement.