You’ve probably seen headlines about YouTubers earning millions of dollars. Forbes, for example, just released a list of top-earning YouTubers, with staggering incomes. But, if you’re just starting or have a small subscriber base, you might wonder what a realistic income is. Here’s a look at YouTube channel earnings and a list of ways creators typically generate money on the platform.
How much can you earn as a creator on YouTube?
As you might expect, revenue depends on various factors, but here’s a look at a few statistics that can give you an idea of how much the average creator earns.
- ZipRecruiter lists the average YouTube channel salary as $60,943, about $29 an hour.
- YouTubers earn about $18 per 1,000 views if they allow ads to run on their channel. To earn $60,000 on ads alone, you’d need an audience of 1 million-plus, according to FinanceBuzz.
- YouTube’s top earner in 2022 was Mr. Beast, who does expensive stunts on his channel. He earned $54 million, according to Forbes.
- The State of Influencer Earnings found that over the past eight years in the IZEA platform, the average cost of a sponsored YouTube video was $2,102.
When you first start, earning money will take time. Influencer Gillian Perkins recently told her subscribers that it took her two years to earn $500 through YouTube. Influencer Cathrine Manning says it took her 18 months to hit YouTube’s benchmarks to become monetized. In her first month, she made $44. Over the next six months, she hit a total of $10,000.
These influencers earned money through ad revenue, but there are several different ways to earn money on YouTube.
Ways to earn money on YouTube
YouTube has a number of different ways to earn money. The most popular revenue stream is through the YouTube Partner Program, but creators often leverage several other options, too. Take a look at how you can generate money on the video platform:
YouTube Partner Program
The YouTube Partner Program gives creators a chance to monetize their content. By giving YouTube (and its owner Google) the ability to run ads on your videos, you’ll get a cut of the ad revenue. How much is a cut?
If you allow ads on your public videos, you get 55% of the profits and YouTube keeps the other 45%. If you allow ads on Shorts, you get 45%, and YouTube keeps 65%.
There are eligibility requirements though. You need to:
- Get 1,000 subscribers with 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months, or
- Get 1,000 subscribers with 10 million valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days.
You need to apply for the program, meet the thresholds above, and go through a review process.
Being a partner also unlocks other revenue-making options, so this is often a first step for anyone hoping to monetize their videos.
Sell a membership subscription
You know how people pay a monthly fee to watch Netflix content? Well, content creators can do the same thing. You can set up a monthly membership plan. For a small fee, subscribers get access to things like exclusive content or member-only live chats.
This option requires you to promote your channel, encourage subscriptions, and generate content meant for VIP subscribers.
Sell your own merch
Consider creating your own line of merchandise and sell it to your followers. Most of the time, the products are related to an influencer’s niche. A beauty influencer, for example, might create his or her own makeup line, a fitness influencer could sell workout clothes, or a recipe influencer could generate income from a cookbook or branded utensil sets.
To sell your gear on YouTube, you have to set up a store, via YouTube Shopping. Again, there are eligibility requirements. You need to have at least 1,000 subscribers, for starters, but you can learn how to set up a store and sell your merch through these steps provided by YouTube.
Collaborate with a brand
You can leverage your knowledge and curated audience through influencer marketing. Brands are eager to work with influencers who can naturally endorse their products and gently encourage sales.
Unlike the other money-generating options listed, this one is independent of YouTube. In other words, you’re responsible for finding the brand, making the connection, and setting compensation. YouTube isn’t involved.
Wondering how you find clients interested in working with YouTubers? Here are a few ideas:
- Join The Creator Marketplace®. Clients use the site to find influencers for campaigns.
- Answer Casting Calls. Clients post ads and influencers pitch the interested brand.
YouTube influencers can leverage the channel to make income, but it takes time to build an audience. The key to making any income, be it through ads or selling merch, is to hand-curate a group of loyal subscribers who enjoy your content.