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How to make money on YouTube

YouTube, the biggest video sharing and viewing platform out there, has a huge audience. More people watch YouTube now than watch TV. And like any social platform, YouTube offers a lot of ways for enterprising businesspeople to make money

Why is knowing how to make money on YouTube important? The platform can be incredibly profitable, with famous YouTubers netting millions for their efforts. 

So what are the different ways you can make money with YouTube? First, you’ll need an audience, and to build an audience, you should do the following. 

  • Identify your target market. That way, you know your niche and your content will be more focused. 

  • Invest in some equipment. They don’t have to be Hollywood-level productions, but your videos should look nice and sound clear. 

  • Create content regularly and purposefully. Think about the types of content your market is interested in, and make sure you’re using keywords so your videos are as visible as possible. 

With that said, here are a few of the most-used methods for making money on YouTube. 

YouTube Ads

You’ve no doubt seen ads before your videos start, which shows how much brands care about leveraging the platform. But can you do the same? 

Yes, partnering with advertisers is a common way to earn money on YouTube. You’ll need over 1,000 subscribers to start making money with ads, and viewers will need to have watched at least 4,000 hours of your content in the last year. 

Once those criteria are met, you’ll be paid per 1,000 views on a given video. Forbes Magazine estimates that YouTubers will make around £3.50 per 1,000 views, meaning individual videos can make massive amounts. 

You only get your money if someone clicks on or watches the ad in your video in full. Otherwise, it’s not counted as a view. 

YouTube partner program

To include ads on your videos, you’ll need to join the YouTube Partner Program. Once you meet the subscriber and view count requirements, you can join the program by: 

  1. Signing in to your account

  2. Clicking the account icon

  3. Navigating to ‘YouTube Studio’

  4. Selecting ‘Other Features’ and then ‘Monetisation’ 

  5. Agreeing to the YouTube Partner Program requirements

  6. Creating a Google AdSense account (required to get paid) 

You can control which videos display ads from the Monetisation screen, but your videos won’t start showing those ads until they’re found to adhere to YouTube’s content guidelines, which prohibit things like violence, nudity, or promotion of harmful behaviours.

Once approved, you can also see your projected monthly revenue from each video. Participants in the YouTube Partner Program keep around 55% of their videos’ ad revenue. 

Sponsorship and brand deals

Many YouTubers turn their channel into profit by partnering with or agreeing to sponsor existing brands. To secure a good sponsorship deal, the most important thing is that you have a large audience. 

Sponsors don’t necessarily come to you out of the blue. One way to get your channel discovered is to list it on an influencer marketplace like Crowdtap or Upfluence. Brands use these platforms to search for potential business partners. 

Another thing to remember is that you should never sponsor something you don’t believe in yourself. You want to be transparent with your audience about the reasons you’re sponsoring something, which is easier to do when you believe in what you’re selling. 

Finally, there’s the question of how much to charge your partners. Your fee will depend on the number of views your videos usually get. YouTube marketing expert Brendan Gahan recommends charging around £.010 per view, which is the rate many brands pay for YouTube ad views. 

That rate goes up the more specific your niche is. Making money on YouTube is easier if you’ve tapped into a population of viewers that not many others have, since there are fewer other channels to compete with. Whereas the more competition there is over your base, the less bargaining power you have. 

Affiliate marketing

Similarly to brand sponsorship, affiliate marketing is a popular way to make money on YouTube. Affiliate marketing means promoting someone else’s products or services in your videos. That could mean doing unboxing videos, comparisons with similar products, reviews, or product demos. 

If you’re promoting a service, you can make videos that show yourself using that service. Maybe you’re working with a meal prep service and you make a video of yourself cooking one of their dinners. 

One advantage of affiliate marketing is that because of the pay structure, there isn’t a lot of risk to brands. Since they only have to pay you when a customer completes a sale, it’s pretty easy to partner with a company. 

One of the most common affiliate partnerships is Amazon’s Affiliate Network, because they have one of the biggest product ranges. That means you can almost always find something that fits with your niche. 

But since most brands are happy to have affiliates, feel free to reach out to anyone in a related niche to see what’s out there. The only thing you must remember (legally) is to always disclose that you are an affiliate and are receiving a cut of the sales whenever you promote a product or include a purchase link. 

Selling branded merch

Lots of YouTubers sell merchandise once their channel is well-known enough. If you have a following that enjoys what you do, offering them something tangible helps them feel like part of your work. 

Selling merchandise has another important benefit besides money. It raises awareness of your brand (or your channel) and can bring more traffic to your channel. But what exactly should you sell? 

Even something as simple as a hat or a t-shirt can be a moneymaker. As long as it makes your audience feel connected to or reminds them of your brand, it’s fair game. One way you could do this is by utilising a slogan or catchphrase from your videos in your designs. 

Alternatively, many creators use their channel to promote existing products that they have, rather than the other way around. If you have a business idea, you can use your channel as a springboard to launch your product. 

For example, if you’re developing haircare and beauty products, you could start posting makeup tutorials, before and after videos, skincare routines, and other instructive content that promotes your product while also offering helpful advice. 

Launching a business as an established YouTuber gives you a couple of important advantages. First, you’ll already have a way of putting out content, and second, you’ll have an audience that already trusts you. 

No matter the types of products you sell, you’ll need a place to sell them. In just a few steps, you can build your own SumUp Online Store, completely free. Customers can see everything you offer and checkout easily. Plus, you can add and customise pages to give your store a more personal feel. 

A SumUp Online Store costs nothing to use until you make a sale, and once you’re up and running you’ll only pay a small fixed fee per transaction. 

Open your online store


There are many ways to make money on YouTube, and even if ad revenue is the most common one, you don’t have to use ads to turn a profit. How many views make money on YouTube? Even though a large audience is a necessary part of making money on YouTube, more views don’t always mean more money. 

That said, there’s a 1,000 subscriber threshold to cross if you’re looking to monetise. Although this is technically only a Partner Program requirement, it’s a good way to know if your channel can be successful. After all, opportunities like brand sponsorship deals depend on the size of your audience. 

Was this article helpful? Keep browsing our Business Guide for more tips on growing and running your business.  

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Max Elias