Last Updated on April 3, 2021 by Ron Stefanski

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How to Make Money on YouTube (13 Profitable Ideas)

YouTube is a great place to make a living. I personally have a channel with over 1,000,000 views that’s been able to make over $12,000, which doesn’t include any affiliate marketing income I’ve made.

I admit though, I’ve only scratched the surface, and there are content creators making more than what I’ve made in a lifetime every single month.   

So, how do other YouTuber influencers rake in seven, and even eight-figure incomes every year? 

In this post, I’ll share some of the best strategies I’ve learned and explain how to make money on YouTube.

How to Make Money on YouTube

1) Make Money Without Recording Videos

One of the ways that my wife and I discovered to make money on YouTube is to make, what I call, a “themed” channel.

When people think of having a YouTube channel, they picture themselves as a full-fledged video creator in front of a camera recording and editing videos until their eyes bleed.

But the idea here is really similar to what I do with websites, and it’s quite an interesting business model.

Basically, you create a channel full of videos around a specific topic or theme and, as those videos rank on YouTube or get recommended by the algorithm, you make passive income.

The best part is you don’t record any of the videos yourself. Instead, you incorporate content from others that you’re legally allowed to use or follow copyright laws to develop content that is high-quality and interesting to viewers.

Keep in mind, YouTube is the second largest search engine and continues to grow year after year. That’s why we got on this trend in 2020, we think it’s set to explode.

I’d love to say that I came up with this myself, but that’s not true. I found out about this whole business model through a guy named Matt Par. He hosts a webinar on this whole concept that you can attend by clicking here.

A few things to know:

  • Matt makes over $30,000/month with this method (He shows proof of income in the course he sells)
  • Matt is a young guy and looks like he could be the friend of your son or daughter. But…don’t be fooled by his age. His methods actually do work and his course is solid.
  • In my opinion, Matt is a bit pushy with his sales tactics, but I’m sure he does it for one simple reason, it works. If you can overlook the sales tactics, his course is actually very good and full of value.
  • You can join a webinar to better understand this whole thing by clicking here.

My wife and I started doing this ourselves with two channels and I can say with 100% certainty that this does work and it’s showing promising results.

Below is our first channel that we’ve created using this method.

I don’t even mind sharing this channel with you because it’s all in Portuguese (my wife speaks it fluently), and the revenue per 1,000 views (EPM) is very low because of the market (primarily serves people in Brazil, not the USA).

The channel name is Diva Makeup and the focus of the videos is makeup compilations.

This was the first channel where we decided to try his methods and they actually worked for us, so we decided to go after a more lucrative United States market. We don’t upload new videos on this channel anymore because the EPM is too low.

Our second channel is one where we converted an old YouTube account she had in the USA market.

I can’t share the name of this channel with you because I don’t want more competition. But obviously, this shows that the methods work.

This model gets really interested when you start outsourcing the whole process. While it seems daunting, it really isn’t all that complicated. To create a successful video you need to:

  • Use VidIQ or TubeBuddy to complete keyword research to find a topic
  • Research to find footage or images
  • Editing to create the content
  • A script and a voiceover
  • Someone to post the video and optimize the videos for SEO

To sum it up, this is a valid business model and one that I think isn’t very saturated as the idea hasn’t gone mainstream yet.

For anyone thinking this may be a good idea, I suggest you check out his webinar to fully understand it.

2) Use YouTube to Build a Blog

YouTube is great for building your brand if you want to create fans, drive lots of conversions, and increase your business revenue.

If you don’t have a blog yet, I urge you to check out my free course to start quickly and easily.

As the second-largest search engine, YouTube offers immense opportunities to get your brand in front of your ideal audience. In fact, through YouTube marketing, you can grow your brand far larger than by blogging alone.

How do I know this? because it’s one of the ways that I’ve used to grow my own blog that you’re reading right now.

The screenshot above shows you how many visitors I got to my blog from last month alone. As you can see, an additional 6,924 visitors in a single month is nothing to sneeze at.

That said, you can use YouTube as an additional tool to reach followers if you’re already active on other social platforms, or in conjunction with a blog that you currently run.

But what’s most important to understand is that a blog will almost always outearn a YouTube channel because it’s a platform that allows you to connect with your audience on a deeper and more personal level, such as through email, and so on. 

In fact, YouTube has helped me grow my email list and resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of revenue for my business from courses and affiliate sales alone.

Additionally, over 90% of consumers say that they discover new brands on YouTube, which is all the more reason for you to get started building a name for yourself on this platform.


How to Maximize Earnings Building a Brand With YouTube

  • Push YouTube subscribers and viewers to your website and capture emails
  • Use emails to build trust and pitch affiliate products or courses/products of your own
  • Create courses/products that your audience wants and sell to them

3) Create and Sell a Course

Yet another awesome way to earn money on YouTube is to create and sell a digital course. If you have the knowledge to share and can offer great value to your followers, they will gladly buy your course to learn more about how you can help them improve their lives. 

You can teach on a wide range of topics, including fitness and health, personal development, digital marketing, and professional or curriculum courses. 

There are lots of creators doing this successfully, including Meet Kevin, a well-known entrepreneur who runs a 7-figure business. He heavily uses his videos on YouTube to drive viewers toward his online training programs that teach people how to invest and make money in real estate. 

How does he do this? 

He adds his courses in his video descriptions with a strong call to action to help drive viewers into action so they purchase his courses.

This is a great way to make money on this platform, but in order to be successful selling courses, you have to be able to create high-quality, useful, and unique content that offers immense value to your viewers. 

After all, no one will want to purchase a course if the information contained in it is just a rehashing of what everyone else has already said. 

How to Maximize Earnings With Courses on YouTube

  • Put course links in your video descriptions
  • Refer to the course in videos once in a while (Don’t be too pushy)
  • Use YouTube cards sometimes to push people to your course (But not too much)
  • Use the best online course platform for your situation and experience level.

4) YouTube Partner Program (YPP) Google Adsense

This is among the most effective ways to earn more money on YouTube. 

All you need to do is become a YouTube partner and run ads before (or during) videos on your channel. For a lot of YouTubers, this has proven to be a very lucrative source of income. 

The minimum eligibility requirements to join the YouTube partner program are simple:

  • Your channel needs to have at least 4,000 watch hours of video in the past 12 months before you can apply to monetize your videos. 
  • You also need to have over 1,000 subscribers to your channel. 
  • You must be at least 18 years of age before you can apply to join YouTube’s partner program.

There’s no specified timeframe in which to meet these requirements, and once you successfully achieve them, you’ll be able to begin earning from the different YouTube monetization features on your channel. 

The less controversial you make your videos, the more likely it is that YouTube advertisers are going to be comfortable running their ads on them. You can find out more about how to become a certified YouTube Partner here

Youtube typically pays 55% of the ad revenue to the publisher and keeps the other 45%. On average, you can expect to make between $3-$5 per 1,000 views (EPM) on your videos.  You also can make money from people who are subscribed to YouTube premium if your video is watched, but typically you’ll make more with the ads themselves.  

Keep in mind that different industries pay different amounts, and it’s all based on advertiser demand and the Cost Per Mille (CPM) or Cost Per Click (CPC) that the advertisers will pay. That’s something you will have to consider when opting for this revenue-sharing method.

For instance, a channel focused on software tutorials would likely have a higher EPM than a channel about funny moments caught on camera.  

The reason?  A Software tutorial channel will have software companies competing against each other with ads to win over customers, while a funny moments channel will have very generalized advertising with no commercial intent.


How to Maximize Earnings With YouTube Ad Revenue

  • Manually insert ads when possible:  I do this when I have a cliffhanger of sorts.  Meaning, I start a sentence and then play the ad in the middle of the sentence because the user REALLY wants to hear the rest of it.  An example, “The thing that you absolutely must know about affiliate marketing is”….(ad)……the rest of the statement.  I’ve found this approach will keep you users engaged enough to finish through the ad instead of clicking off the video. 
  • Keep your channel advertiser-friendly:  In your videos, don’t swear or say really controversial things that advertisers don’t want to be a part of.  Remember, you make money when advertisers advertise.  Advertiser-friendly content is extremely important to achieve this goal.
  • Make as many videos as possible:  YouTube is ultimately a numbers game and the number of views is the most important factor to success.  People don’t like to hear it, but it’s 100% true.  The more videos you post, the more likely you are to succeed because of the number of video views that your channel will get.
  • For most of the big YouTubers out there, advertising revenue is the most passive way to make money.  But it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to monetizing YouTube.

5) Affiliate Marketing

You may not always be able to rely on video ads for revenue generation on YouTube. The good news is that there are other monetization methods to choose from – such as affiliate marketing. 

Affiliate marketing is an excellent idea if you have an affinity with followers. Large marketing agencies don’t depend entirely on their channels of content distribution. Often, they find it more profitable to pay YouTube channels that already have a strong fan base to promote their products. 

That’s why affiliate marketing is a great way to boost your earning potential on this platform if you’ve already built a large following. However, even with a smaller number of followers, you can still make a good living on this platform – provided you use an effective marketing strategy. 

To make use of this YouTube monetization technique, sign up with companies or affiliate programs in your niche to get affiliate links for products that your audience might want. You can then recommend these products on your channel and get paid a commission for every resulting sale. 

A straightforward way to get sales is by linking to the affiliate products in your video descriptions. The higher your conversions, the more money you’ll make.

Here is an excellent example of how Graham Stephen, a successful creator on YouTube, makes an income with Amazon affiliate links to camera and recording equipment. He has a link below his video descriptions which takes the viewer to this page:

As you can see, whenever someone clicks on one of those Amazon products and purchases something, he’ll make a small commission. But these small commissions add up.  The most recent video he did about his income indicated that he made around $2000/month from these little affiliate links under his videos. 

But it doesn’t have to stop with physical products.  If you go to a platform like ShareaSale, there are many products and software you can promote to make extra money.  

How to Maximize Earnings With YouTube Affiliate Marketing

  • Use VidIQ or TubeBuddy to complete keyword research to find a topic
  • Leave affiliate marketing links in the description of videos
  • Pin the first comment with affiliate links
  • Refer to affiliate links in videos 
  • Add YouTube cards in your video pointing to affiliate links

Note: It’s important to note that disclosure is required if you want to make money through affiliate marketing on YouTube. This is simply a formal statement explaining to your readers that you have an affiliate relationship with the manufacturers of the products that you talk about in your digital content. If you are in the U.S., you can follow the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines on how to craft a clear disclaimer. For creators in the U.K., follow the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) guidelines.

6) Review Products or Software

Affiliate marketing doesn’t just have to be for physical products. You can use it for any type of products you like. For instance, you can do software or product reviews on your channel for various companies in your niche and earn money from brands seeking exposure and sales. 

I have done this on my YouTube channel. This is a review on Instacart, a fantastic grocery delivery and pickup service that helps you save money and time.

This tactic works exceptionally well because it can be very helpful for your followers – provided, of course, that it’s a good market fit. You get paid, your viewers get useful information, and the brand gets more exposure – everyone wins.

How to Maximize Earnings With Reviews on YouTube

  • Use VidIQ or TubeBuddy to complete keyword research to find a topic
  • Include a link in the pinned comment and video description
  • Use YouTube cards when it makes sense with links pointing to the affiliate offer
  • Refer to your links and disclose how people clicking on them will help you (people want to help creators usually)

7) Work with Sponsorships

Working with sponsorships is a great way to boost your earnings on YouTube. As your audience and viewership grow, brands will approach you to create videos on their behalf with product placements. Most brands pay extremely well for quality videos that help them achieve their business objectives and influencer marketing seems to be growing in popularity.

I have done this myself and made $500 on one video with this monetization method. 

If you want to use sponsorships as a means of adding to your income on YouTube, it’s important to note that some niches have a lot more placements than others. That is, you’ll find tons more opportunities in industries like makeup and beauty than you would in many other industries. 

The trick to success in this area is to use your channel as a platform to showcase your skill and expertise for potential contractors. This indirect monetization strategy is highly effective and involves advertising yourself with the goal of eventually being hired for paid opportunities to create videos for brands. 

Direct promotion of this kind is basically like affiliate marketing, but with a slight difference. 

The advertising companies pay you a fixed amount to collaborate with your YouTube channel. The amount you charge varies, and it depends on the quality of your videos, as well as your popularity. 

Remember, sponsored content, or “sponcon” is advertising, so you need to be transparent about it on your YouTube channel. Make sure you adhere to all of Google’s Ad Policies in order to avoid possible issues with your account, such as suspension, or even termination.  

Follow the FTC and ASA guidelines to make sure that your audience is aware that you are advertising to them. Use YouTube’s disclosure feature to add transparency in order to not only avoid legal issues but also build a stronger relationship with your viewers.

How to Maximize Earnings With Sponsorships on YouTube

  • Focus on quality videos that are thorough and helpful
  • Create unpaid reviews first; this will attract competition
  • Negotiate when contacted and ask for 50% upfront to protect yourself
  • Request additional products along with payment

8) Sell Services

Selling services like masterminds, group consulting, etc. to your followers is another effective way to leverage your channel into paid opportunities. Although this type of monetization can be slow initially, once you hit critical mass, it can be very lucrative. 

For example, if you had a YouTube channel focused on retail arbitrage, you could create a service helping others by reviewing their accounts and helping them be successful.

In addition to making loads of money selling your services, you will also be able to develop a strong community around the services you offer. This is similar to how you can make money on Reddit as well. Simply offer or perform a service for someone, and they’ll pay you for your work.

Service promotions work great whether you’re a freelancer, small business, or e-commerce shop. All you need to do is upload video content related to your brand and use a compelling call to action to get viewers to try out your services.

How to Maximize Earnings by Selling Services on YouTube

  • Sell group consulting and calls
  • Price yourself high
  • Offer pre-packaged services and limit clients for premier pricing

9) Sell Products with Live Streams

Another way to make money from your channel is to sell products on YouTube live streams. This monetization strategy works particularly well in popular niches like beauty and fashion. The idea here is to sell products en masse to a live streaming audience. 

To make this even more profitable, you might consider creating your own products and offers that you can sell to your avid viewers. You can create a digital course, an ebook, or anything else that your audience would appreciate. Or, you can use the live streams to sell products on Etsy, a Poshmark shop you own, or even a Shopify store if you have one.

Alternatively, if you already have a business outside of YouTube, then you can use the channel to drive leads to your products. 

The key to successfully selling products with a live stream is to develop a strong sense of trust among your followers. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to pull out their credit card to purchase your products. Once you have your product ready to sell, you can use a tool like Gumroad to accept payments during your live streams. 

Here is an example of someone who is doing extremely well with this type of YouTube monetization strategy. 

Moriah uses live streams to sell her products and wears her merch in promotional content to create hype for her new collection.

How to Maximize Earnings by Selling Products on YouTube Live Streams

  • Offer exclusive products
  • Create your products for a higher profit margin
  • Have these types of streams consistently
  • Offer samples of your products as a promotional technique
  • Use limited-time promo codes

10) Sell Merch to Subscribers

One of the easiest ways to make money on YouTube is to sell merchandise, such as t-shirts, to your followers.  This is because YouTube has built a section just for it called a merchandise shelf.

As a YouTube creator, you must have a large enough following before you can expect to make any real money with this strategy, but you can start small and gradually build-up to the level where you’re making a consistent income from your merch sales. 

To give you an idea of the potential revenue you can earn from selling merch to subscribers, here are two YouTubers who are doing this successfully:

Report of the Week

This channel makes an estimated $3.1K every month just from sales of merchandise. Branded merchandise like this is a massive industry, and you can get your share of it by selling your merch to loyal fans of your channel which will gladly spend their money to support their favorite YouTube creator. 


Another YouTube Star who is successfully making an income from selling merch is PewDiePie, whose recent merchandise launch sold out in just minutes, snapped up by his dedicated base of 105 million subscribers. 

Though he mostly got big playing video games, now his merchandise sales are estimated to bring in a cool $6.83 million every year. If you have successfully branded yourself and gained a lot of loyal fans, this is a great monetization strategy because people who love your work will gladly buy your merchandise.

How to Maximize Earnings by Selling Merch on YouTube

  • Have a large number of subscribers
  • Know your subscriber demographics – do they want merch?
  • Create a tagline
  • Price it reasonably
  • Use limited edition merch

11) Live Streams and Superchat

Superchat and Super Stickers are another great way to make money with YouTube’s video platform. It’s the feature that replaced youTube’s “Fan Funding” in 2017. As a YouTube Partner, this feature is available to you while you live stream. 

Superchat makes your viewers’ comments more visible. They are highlighted and pinned in a prominent place in the live chat stream for a specific period of time, depending on how much they pay.

Subscribers to your YouTube channel can donate in Superchat on live streams, or they can pay a monthly fee and become members of your channel. In exchange, they’ll get custom badges and emojis that make them stand out during your live sessions. They also get access to your members-only exclusives, such as live chats with you. 

This video explains how it works in further detail.

This monetization method is facilitated through YouTube’s Partner Program and there are a lot of creators who are successfully using it to promote their brands and channels. To make the most of this money-making technique, you will have to build out a YouTube promotion strategy that will convince your viewers to become members. 

In a way, it’s almost as if you’re selling ads within your live chat feeds. With live streams and Superchat, you will rely on fans for income, but you will also be able to grow a strong community.

To sell channel memberships to your audience, you must be over 18 years of age, and you need to have at least 30,000 subscribers. 

Getting your fans to pay you directly is a great way to make money on YouTube if you already have a strong loyal following. Fans love to show their appreciation by whipping out their credit cards, and you will have a reliable income stream just by continuing to provide value on your channel. 

Just make sure that you make it as easy as possible for them to donate. If the process of giving you money is lengthy or hard, even your most dedicated followers are likely to give up before completing it.

How to Maximize Earnings With Live Streams and Superchat on YouTube

  • Encourage your viewers to become channel members
  • Explain how Superchat and becoming a member works (not many people understand it)
  • Promote your channel or personal brand during live chat feed

12)  License Viral Content to the Media

Another way to earn from your videos on YouTube is to license viral content to the media. Media outlets are always on the lookout for high-quality content, and whenever videos go viral, they want a copy to replay for their respective audiences. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be only viral videos that you share with them. You can also share timely footage that they deem newsworthy, and many companies will pay you for using your video. 

So, if you have any successful videos that media outlets might want to use on their websites, then make sure they are easy to find by including a business email in a prominent place on your channel profile, as well as in video descriptions. This will make it easy for companies that want your video to contact you. 

You can also submit your videos to sites like Jukin Media

Lots of popular media networks like FOX, CNN, NBC, CBS, and The Weather Channel use this site to find video content for their websites. Here you will find plenty of opportunities for licensing your content to the media so you can add to your YouTube revenue stream.

How to Maximize Earnings With Licensing on YouTube

  • Include a business email in channel profile and video descriptions for licensing purposes
  • Sign up with Jukin Media and other video sites
  • Highlight the most successful content on your channel

13)  Use Patreon with YouTube

Patreon is a popular online platform that offers artists and creators a place to easily share their work with paying audiences, or “Patrons”. As a YouTube creator, you can use Patreon to leverage the power of your audience and make more money with your YouTube videos.

You can monetize your work by creating a Patreon account and then releasing exclusive content or perks for your Patrons. Patreon works in almost the same way that YouTube Memberships does, except that you can set your own prices and decide precisely how you want to charge for your content.  It’s really a platform that has a focus on crowdfunding and so long as you have an engaged audience, it can be a very viable method to increase revenue.

You can choose to be paid either a fixed monthly payment in exchange for offering access to exclusive content on the platform, or you can charge Patrons on a per-post basis. 

One YouTube channel, The East Fam, features Shawn Johnson, a former Olympic gymnast, and offers tiers of Patreon memberships that range from just $2/month for ad-free videos, all the way to $100/month which includes personalized merchandise, as well as a credit as a producer. 

William “Suede” DuFresneis is another example of a YouTube creator who is making a healthy income from his subscribers through this platform. Although he has a relatively small audience, he manages to monetize his videos well by providing high-quality content that keeps his audience engaged. 

The secret to success on Patreon is to keep your audience motivated. The emphasis on this platform is on the community, and Suede keeps his viewers coming back for more by producing consistent quality and using his personality and good communication to persuade viewers to purchase his products.

How to Maximize Earnings With Patreon and YouTube

  • Make sure exclusive content goes on Patreon
  • Do your best to push people toward the platform
  • Regularly ask for input to keep your subscribers engaged
  • Offer tiers of Patreon memberships

Making Money on YouTube FAQ

How Much do YouTubers Make?

YouTube is a great social media platform for both businesses and individuals to make money. But while anyone can easily upload videos to the platform, not everyone will be able to make good money off of it. 

It all depends on a variety of factors, including your monetization strategies, content creation, and promotion tactics.

Because there is a lot of information around this topic specifically I recommend you read my post that explains all of the details about how much YouTubers make here.

How many views do I need on YouTube to make money?

YouTube doesn’t monetize based on the number of views you have. Rather, YouTube focuses on the number of watch hours you have to determine when you can join their partner program. Though we covered this in detail right here, you need to have 4,000 watch hours in order to turn on monetization for your channel. In addition, you also need 1,000 subscribers.

How does YouTube Send you Money?

YouTube pays through the Google AdSense program which is linked to your YouTube account. Your ad earnings need to be over a certain threshold for you to receive payments. YouTube pays you on a monthly basis, usually before the 21st of the month. 

Once you’ve earned over $100, you will start getting paid on for the ads that viewers watch on your channel. You’ll get money in your bank account via EFT, or you can opt for check payment, Western Union Quick Cash, or wire transfer. 

But before that, when you’ve earned $10 in your account, Google sends you a postcard that contains a verification code to verify your address.

How to Make Money with Music on YouTube

YouTube is undoubtedly one of the best tools you can use as a musician to engage with your fans online and market your music. As a music artist, you can make money on YouTube by joining the platform’s partner program and then using ads to generate revenue on your music videos you create. 

All you have to do is focus on creating great music that makes your viewers fall in love with you while YouTube matches relevant ads to your channel and the fans who watch your music videos. 

The exact amount of money that you can make with your music on YouTube depends on a variety of factors. But, according to, on average, you can expect to make about $1000-$2000 per million views.

How to Enable Monetization on YouTube

Step 1: To get started monetizing your YouTube channel, first, log into your account. 

Step 2: In the “Channel Settings” tab, choose “Enable Monetization”. 

Step 3: Follow the steps outlined in that section to accept the YouTube monetization agreement.

Step 4: Locate the “Upload” tab and you will see a green box that has a “$” next to the videos that are eligible to be monetized. The videos that aren’t eligible for monetization because of copyright will appear in the “Copyright Notices” tab.

Step 5: Your next step is to link your YouTube channel to an AdSense account. This is free to do and very easy to set up. To create a new AdSense account you will need to have a bank account or PayPal. 

You will also need a valid mailing address so you can verify your account. Once your account has been approved, you will get an update from AdSense through the mail.

If you already have an approved Google Adsense account, you can add that one to your channel, instead. You can check out the Google Support Page for more detailed instructions.


And that’s a wrap. You now have all the information you need about how to make money on YouTube. I’m convinced that all of these ideas are perfect for anyone interested but especially good for college students looking for an online job of some sort.

All you need to do now is to take action on everything you’ve learned so you can start building and growing your audience on this lucrative platform.

Are there any other YouTube monetization strategies that you know of? Let me know in the comments section below!

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  • Great info! I’m wondering, if you make tutorial videos on how to play popular songs on guitar, can you get in trouble for copyright infringement? It’s educational, so I’m not sure if that’s a valid loophole.

    • Hey Doug! I personally feel like you would be fine, but to be clear, this is NOT legal advice. I would advise you to speak to a lawyer directly to discuss. Or, maybe try

    • You won’t get copyright as long as you talk in the videos, you also need an intro and a logo to stand out.
      I know many channels that does it, even without showing their face.
      Example: Search for FINGERSTYLE on YouTube.
      He gets lots of views and is monetized.
      I hope this helps.

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