Have you ever fantasized about becoming the next YouTube sensation or starting a freelance business that feeds both your passion and your bank account? Perhaps you are already a freelancer, free from the daily grind and a boss looking over your shoulder, and you are looking for a new source of income. As a self-employed individual, there are no income or limit restrictions.
And, with so many ways to make money online, you’ve come here because you’re curious about what YouTube has to offer. Here’s my response: money and free advertising.
You can earn money on YouTube by monetizing your own channel, directing traffic to an existing blog, or becoming a YouTube marketing expert. I’m here to show you how to use YouTube as a free marketing tool for your company, a client’s company, or your own brand.
There are six steps to making money on YouTube. And you must complete all of them… in the correct order. The six steps are:
- Create Your YouTube Plan
- Set Up Your YouTube Account
- Record Your First Three Videos
- Launch Your Channel
- Gain Your First 100 Subscribers
- Monetize Your Channel
I have laid out the material in this order – and with these specific action steps – for a reason. Trust the process and follow through.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Create Your YouTube Plan
Knowing your audience and your objective on YouTube sets you up for success. Your plan provides a clear direction, and when the rubber hits the road, holding on to your goals keeps you thriving.
Here are the things you should do to create your YouTube plan:
- Choose your niche.
- Research your niche on YouTube and Google. Who is your target audience?
- Brainstorm your video marketing strategy. Make a list of what potential customers need to know about your business, and how you’ll transform that into a video.
- Brainstorm the types of YouTube videos you want to feature on your channel.
- Brainstorm your content and subcategories.
- Identify your “evergreen” content. Plan content that stays relevant long-term.
- Create your editorial calendar. Enter video ideas and publishing dates.
- Be real, be kind, and remember to follow YouTube’s community guidelines.
There is room for everyone on YouTube, so be yourself! Do not limit yourself to niches that you think are the most “marketable”. Pay attention to what you actually want to do, to your audience, to your goals on YouTube, and to the quality of your content.
Step 2: Set Up Your YouTube Account
1. Start With a Google Account
Before you can create a YouTube channel, you need a Google account. If you already have an email account with Google (e.g., Gmail), you can use it to sign up for YouTube. If you do not have one, you can create one by visiting YouTube.com and clicking Sign In.
Then, as instructed on the screen, proceed. When you create a new Google account on YouTube, you’ll be asked whether you want to use a personal or branded account. A personal account is one that only you manage and that includes your name and photo in your Google Account.
Multiple owners or managers can manage a brand account. Branded accounts can have a unique name and photo from your Google Account. Start with a branded account if you aren’t sure what name and photo to use.
2. Name Your Channel
If you’re setting up a new Google account, or if you’re setting up a brand account on YouTube, you can choose a name for your YouTube channel.
Take a minute to select a name that reflects your business. If you’re building a personal brand, you can use your own name. If your channel is promoting a project or product, incorporate that as concisely as you can.
3. Create a Round Logo
Be sure to put some thought into your round logo (aka channel icon), but don’t get stuck here. You must get this right because your round logo, along with your channel name, appears below every video you upload and every comment you make. You want to make a good impression when viewers first see you.
4. Choose Your Channel Art
Your channel image is the banner that appears at the top of your YouTube page. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your channel, even before they watch any videos. Your channel image needs to match the rest of your brand. To do this, you can simply choose one or two colors and one or two fonts for your overall branding.
5. Complete Your YouTube Profile
Fill out your About page first, which can be found on the right tab of your YouTube channel’s homepage.
Your About page should include all of the information about your company. Write a few short paragraphs about who you are, what you do on YouTube, and why people should follow you in the “Description” section of the About page.
You don’t need to write a novel, so keep it short. Some people include links in this section, but they must be written in full, beginning with “https://www….”.
You can include links to your professional website, social media profiles, and other pages you want to promote below the description. These embedded links are an excellent way to highlight external branding that represents you and your relevant projects.
You can include a link to your PayPal page among the embedded links. Customers can pay you directly for the products or services you sell on YouTube this way.
You can include your email address at the bottom of the About page so that your viewers can contact you. If you make your email address “public,” you will undoubtedly receive mail, so be prepared! After watching your videos, people want to connect with you on a human level. This can even lead to future business contacts.
Finally, double-check your channel homepage for any typos or image size errors. You have an unlimited number of edits on this page, so keep all of the information up to date.
6. The YouTube Studio
This tool helps you make high-quality content right out of the gate. So make the most of these built-in tools that YouTube offers. You can navigate to the studio by selecting your profile picture in the top right, then selecting YouTube Studio.
Step 3: Record Your First Three Videos
1. Plan Your Initial Content
Let us face it, creating videos can be intimidating. It’s a complicated process, from planning to shooting to editing and uploading. So for your first three videos, try to simplify each step. For starters, focus on the following:
- Keep each video short (3-5 minutes). It doesn’t need to be long, but it does need to be interesting.
- For your content, focus on a topic you’re familiar with in your chosen niche.
- Keep it low-risk. This video doesn’t have to be the end-all-be-all introduction to who you are. (You can tackle that when you get more comfortable with your goals.)
- Keep the production simple. The goal is to shoot, edit, and upload each video as soon as possible. It’s enough to showcase yourself talking.
- Optional: Choose something “visual” to guide your content. You can add footage (videos or still images) that tells a story or proves your point in a simple, direct way.
2. Video Template
The video template has four components: intro, meat, call to action, and end screen.
Start by introducing yourself and what the video is about. In the editing process, you can also add a simple title screen containing the title (and subtitle, if relevant) of your video. However, it’s still a good idea to introduce the topic verbally.
After the intro, get into the “meat” of your video. Ask yourself, What would the viewer want to know about me or my topic? And then answer those questions. This is the most substantial section.
Call To Action (CTA)
Include an “ask” at the end of every video you make. This is the call to action (CTA) for your viewers. You have your audience’s attention: now what do you want them to do?
Let them know. For example, ask them to like, comment, and subscribe to build engagement with your channel and increase your subscriber list. When you deliver this call to action, be sure to wait until the end of the video. Viewers want to see what you have to offer before they ”subscribe” and ” like.”
Your end screen is the final portion of your video. It’s there to reinforce that call to action and direct your viewer to other videos on your channel. You add the end screen graphics during the editing stage. But while you’re still rolling, add some “filler” footage at the end of your video. This is not supposed to be anything important. This filler acts as a background for the graphics you layer on top later. Give yourself 20-25 seconds of filler footage.
3. Edit and Upload
After you’ve captured your video footage, the next step is to edit it. I recommend using iMovie, a free third-party editing software app.
Don’t waste your money or time on expensive software until you’ve established yourself on YouTube. For the first three videos, you keep the editing simple. Don’t get hung up on this. Consider the overall length of your video.
Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. If any part of your video appears to be veering off course or running too long, cut it. If you sneezed or laughed, you can also cut those moments. Always keep your video’s purpose in mind. Consider your background audio while editing. Would music brighten the mood and fill the void?
Music can be added while editing. Alternatively, you can add music after uploading using YouTube’s library of copyright-free music. If you use music, make sure it doesn’t drown out your voice if you’re talking in the video. Remember to save the final 20-25 seconds of “filler” footage I mentioned earlier.
That time is required for your end screen, which you add after uploading the video file using YouTube Studio. I go into more detail about this below. Finally, go over your video one more time to ensure you haven’t missed anything.
Step 4: Launching Your Channel
1. Promote Yourself Everywhere
Promoting yourself is one easy method to gain subscribers, and there are added benefits as well. Posting your videos on social media platforms where you have an existing following increase your channel’s visibility on Google.
2. Share on Social Media
Begin by announcing the creation of your channel and providing a link to your first video. Encourage people to sign up. Then, as soon as each new video is published, announce it on YouTube. Upload a short teaser of the video, for example, a portion of the video, to Facebook or Instagram if possible.
Facebook currently accepts both horizontal and vertically oriented videos. Instagram is comparable to Facebook, with the addition of square videos. Pinterest, on the other hand, favors square and vertical video formats. LinkedIn and Twitter have their own set of requirements.
You can repost your YouTube videos on all of these social media sites, but you must work with the aspect ratios of each platform. You can do this by resizing images on your own, in Canva, or in other apps.
3. Paid Advertising on Social Media
I don’t recommend paid advertising until your channel is established and already has an organic following. You must understand your target audience and their interests before spending money to reach new people.
The exception is if your channel is an extension of an existing business. If you’re clear on your message and have an advertising budget, you may consider running ads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
If you’re planning a big subscriber incentive, channel project announcement, or another channel-related news blast, you can use paid advertising to promote these initiatives and direct people back to your channel.
4. Share With Your Email List
If you have an email list, send some newsletters to promote your channel launch. This is another opportunity to gain new subscribers from your existing network.
Build excitement before and after you launch your new channel. Let people know why they should watch your videos and subscribe to your channel. And once your channel is live, keep sharing new videos with your subscribers.
Step 5: Gain Your First 100 Subscribers
1. Respond To Comments
If you want to build your subscriber list, you must respond to every comment on your channel. This is where the human connection comes in. Yes, there’s a lot of automation, spam, and garbage in YouTubeland. But you can be a force for good!
2. Connect With Other Channels
Commenting on other channels is another way to connect with the YouTube community and gain subscribers. When you leave a comment, show that you watched the whole video by saying something specific to their channel or video.
This makes you stand out from the crowd. It’s much more effective than generic comments, like “Great video!”, which many people post, all too often.
3. Join Live Streams
Another method to boost your subscriber list is by joining live streams on YouTube. When you join a YouTube live stream, you connect with other channels, gain community, and increase visibility. On the other side, holding a live stream helps the host channel connect with its audience on a personal level.
Step 6: Monetize Your Channel
YouTube monetization involves joining the YouTube Partner Program, then earning money through various methods. In order to apply for the YouTube Partner Program, you must meet the subscriber and watch hour requirements. They are:
- 1,000 subscribers, and
- 4,000 watch hours over the last 12 months.
Up to this point, you’ve focused on gaining subscribers. But what are “watch hours,” and why is this a requirement for monetization on YouTube? Watch hours are significant because they show how much time people have spent watching your videos.
Watch time is the best metric for determining whether your content is engaging viewers. Viewers will quickly discover any “empty promises” on your channel (such as misleading titles or tags or low-quality content). Potential subscribers who have been disappointed will not return. You must attract viewers who are enthusiastic about the content you offer.
These are the people who support you on a personal level, rather than because you’ve swapped subscribers, as in “I’ll subscribe to your channel if you subscribe to mine.” Organic engagement from people who enjoy your videos is critical to your YouTube success.
This is why watch time is such an important metric. All of your statistics, including subscribers and watch hours, can be found on the Analytics page for your channel. Analytics are an important part of the YouTube process. Based on your current numbers, you can use them to set future goals for your channel.
You must wait for approval when you apply for the YouTube Partner Program. YouTube accepts channels that follow their community guidelines, as well as the watch time and subscriber requirements.
YouTube conducts regular channel reviews to ensure that their Partners are adhering to the community guidelines. There should be no issues if you create family-friendly content.
After being approved, you set up a Google AdSense account (to receive payment from ad revenue) and a direct deposit to ensure that you are paid on time. Here are four ways to make money on YouTube once you’ve been approved for monetization. It’s worth noting that YouTube has different eligibility requirements for each method, though there is some overlap.
1. Ad Revenue
We all know what it’s like to sit through an ad while waiting for a YouTube video to start playing. While ad revenue is the most well-known way to monetize your channel, it isn’t your only option.
Note: YouTube Premium account holders pay to not see ads when watching YouTube videos. However, you still earn money from YouTube Premium users. YouTube shares their monthly membership fee with you. Best of all, the more videos they watch, the more money you make.
2. Channel Memberships
In channel memberships, subscribers pay you a monthly recurring fee to access your content and receive monthly perks. You can offer a variety of member-only perks, including badges, emojis, personalized videos, member-only live chats, and more.
3. Super Chat
When you go live on YouTube, viewers can send a Super Chat (an amount of money) to support you. Super Chats are highlighted in the chat, so they are seen by other channels who are watching. The donator supports you while gaining visibility. In order to receive this income, be sure to select “Accept Super Chats” when you’re setting up for monetization.
Larger channels can take advantage of “merch shelves” within YouTube. This is where you showcase your branded merchandise with your channel’s designs. You need an account with a merchandise retailer, such as Teespring, which you then integrate with YouTube.
You can sell coffee cups, pillows, sweatshirts, and more through YouTube, and your channel keeps the revenue. For smaller channels, you can also sell merchandise or other products without YouTube’s third-party assistance.
For example, for arts and crafts, you could link sales pages to your YouTube channel, or sell your products on live streams or in a “live auction” setting. This is another way to use YouTube’s marketing platform to gain visibility and receive direct revenue from the sale of your products.
Read more: How to Make Money Selling Merch
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing on YouTube is a way to make money online by promoting other people’s goods and services in your own videos.
In the comments or in the “Description” section under the video, you usually can find these clickable links.
For this reason, the system is not unlike traditional affiliate marketing. The only thing that changes is the medium in which the game is played.
However, you still create content such as product reviews, how-to guides, etc. that ultimately lead readers to a specific affiliate network. It’s just that you use videos instead. If a viewer makes a purchase after clicking on your referral link, you can then get a commission.
There’s a virtually infinite variety of possible video styles, formats, and lengths to choose from when creating affiliate marketing videos.
But there are a few tried-and-true formats that have shown promise. An excellent content strategy for a YouTube affiliate is to create reviews of individual products.
It’s easier to rate products when you have used them yourself, rather than just talking about them.
There’s a lot of commercial intent behind these “product” keywords.
This is probably the main reason why 62% of buyers always read online reviews before making a purchase.
What’s more, a whopping 52% of consumers are more influenced by a positive review on YouTube than any other source when making a purchase decision.
Read more: How to Do Affiliate Marketing on YouTube
How Much Money You Can Make On YouTube?
You may be wondering how much money YouTubers can make.
I’m not gonna lie: ad revenue can be disappointing. Smaller channels can expect to earn pennies at first. It’s best to view ad revenue as a secondary benefit and not the primary reason for creating a YouTube channel.
Instead, focus on using YouTube as free marketing for your business and take advantage of the other monetization methods. Having said that, even if your channel is small, it’s still worth enabling ad revenue.
Set yourself up for success in the future. As your following grows, so does your income from ads. The more time people spend watching your videos, i.e., your watch time, the greater your ad revenue. And this income is entirely passive once your videos are published.
Super Chat offers higher income potential for newer channels, especially if you have an engaged audience who wants to support you.
To give you a sense of what you can earn on Super Chat, here are some numbers from live streams about fishing. Individual payments range from $1 all the way up to $100… it can be exciting, as you never know what you might earn. Be aware that YouTube takes a 30% cut off Super Chat income.
When you achieve monetization, you cannot sit back and relax. Monetization is only the first step in increasing your YouTube following — and income.
While vacations are occasionally necessary, I recommend maintaining a consistent presence at least until you are well established and have a consistent monthly income. If you are inactive on your channel for six months, you may fall below the 4,000-hour watch time threshold in a year.
If you fall below this threshold, YouTube may terminate your participation in the Partner Program. If you are demonetized, you have the right to appeal the decision. YouTube provides detailed information on why this occurred and how to resolve the problem. After that, you can make the necessary changes to your channel and reapply for monetization status.