How To Make Money On Youtube: A Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever dreamed of becoming the next YouTube star or taking up a freelance job that feeds your passion and your bank account? Maybe you are already enjoying life as a freelancer, free from the daily grind and a boss looking over your shoulder, and looking for a new source of income? As a self-employed person, there are no limits to your income – or your limits. 

And with all the opportunities to make money online, you are here because you are curious about what YouTube has to offer you. Here is my answer: money and free marketing. 

You can make money on YouTube by monetizing your own channel, driving traffic to your existing blog, or by becoming a YouTube marketing specialist. I am here to show you how to harness the power of YouTube as a free marketing tool for your business, your client’s business, 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:

  1. Create Your YouTube Plan
  2. Set Up Your YouTube Account
  3. Record Your First Three Videos
  4. Launch Your Channel
  5. Gain Your First 100 Subscribers
  6. Monetize Your Channel

I know it is tempting to jump around and even read several chapters at once. However, I have laid out the material in this order – and with these specific action steps – for a reason. Trust the process and follow-through.

A successful entrepreneur makes learning a lifelong goal. However, do not get stuck in the learning loop. This is the point where you take in so much information that you do not know where to start. This feeling of paralysis is normal when you start a new business.

So take it upon yourself to work through the book at a steady pace, completing the steps in order. You can do this! I promise you that.

How To Make Money On Youtube

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 follow the on-screen instructions. When you create a new Google account on YouTube, you’ll be asked if you are using a personal account or a branded account. A personal account is an account that is managed only by you and includes your name and photo in your Google Account.

A brand account can be managed by multiple owners or managers. Branded accounts can have a different name and photo than your Google Account. If you are not yet sure which name and photo to choose, start with a branded account.

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 in to 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

First, fill out your About page, which you can find on the right tab of your YouTube channel’s homepage.

Your About page should contain all the details about your brand. In the “Description” section of the About page, write a few short paragraphs about who you are, what you do on YouTube, and why people should follow you.

Keep it short – you do not need to write a novel. Some people also include links in this section, although these links must be written in full, starting with “https://www….”.

Below the description is another place where you can include links to your professional website, social media profiles, and other pages you want to promote. These embedded links are a neat way to showcase external branding that represents you and your relevant projects.

Among the embedded links, you can also include a link to your PayPal page. This way, customers can pay you directly for products or services you sell on YouTube.

At the bottom of the About page, you can add your email address so your viewers can get in touch with you. If you set your email address to “public” you will definitely get mail, so be prepared! People want to connect with you on a human level after watching your videos. And that can even lead to business contacts later on.

Lastly, double-check your channel homepage for any errors or image size accidents. You can edit this page an unlimited number of times, so keep all 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.

Intro 

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.

Meat 

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.”

End Screen

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 recording your video footage, your next step is editing. I recommend using a free third-party editing software app, such as iMovie. 

Don’t waste your money and time buying any fancy software until you’re established on YouTube. You’re keeping the editing simple for these first three videos. Don’t get bogged down here. Consider your overall video length. 

Aim for 3-5 minutes. If any part of your video feels like it’s getting offtrack or going too long, then cut it. If you sneezed or broke out into giggles, you can cut those moments too. Always keep the purpose of your video in mind. While editing, think about your background audio. Would music lighten things up and fill empty space? 

You can add music during editing. Or you can add music after you upload using YouTube’s library of copyright-free music. If you add music, take care not to cover up your voice if the video features you talking. And remember to keep those final 20-25 seconds of “filler” footage I mentioned. 

You need that time for your end screen, which you add using YouTube Studio after uploading the video file. I explain more on that below. Finally, watch your video through one last time to check you haven’t missed something.

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

Start by announcing the launch of your channel and link to your first video. Encourage people to subscribe. Then, announce each successive video you publish as soon as it goes live on YouTube. If you can, upload a short teaser of the video, for example, upload a portion of the video to Facebook or Instagram.

At present, Facebook accepts both horizontally and vertically oriented videos. Instagram is in the same ballpark as Facebook, with the addition of square videos. Pinterest, on the other hand, uses square and vertical videos. LinkedIn and Twitter also have specific requirements. 

The long and short of it is (geometry pun intended), you can repost your YouTube videos on all these social media sites, but you must work with the aspect ratios of each platform. To do this, you can resize 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

Monetization is the primary way people make money on YouTube. It 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 does YouTube make this a requirement for monetization? Watch hours are important because they show the total amount of time people have spent viewing your videos. 

Watch time is the best indicator to see if your content is engaging viewers. If there are any “empty promises” on your channel (like misleading titles or tags, or low-quality content), viewers find that out very quickly. Potential subscribers who’ve been burned won’t come back. You must attract viewers who are passionate about the type of content you provide. 

These are the people who support you on a personal level and not because you’ve swapped subscribers, i.e., “I’ll subscribe to your channel if you subscribe to mine.” Organic engagement from people who love your videos is key to your success on YouTube. 

This is why watch time is a key metric. All your statistics, including subscribers and watch hours, can be found in your channel’s Analytics page. Your analytics are an essential part of your YouTube process. You can use them to set future goals for your channel based on your current numbers. 

When you apply for the YouTube Partner Program, you must wait for the approval. YouTube approves channels that meet their community guidelines and the watch time and subscriber requirements. 

YouTube holds regular channel reviews to verify that their Partners continue to follow the community guidelines. If you’re making family-friendly content, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. 

After you get approved, you set up a Google AdSense account (to receive payment from ad revenue) and a direct deposit so you can get paid in a timely fashion. Once you’re approved for monetization, here are four opportunities to make money on YouTube. Note that YouTube has specific eligibility requirements for each method, although there’s some overlap between them.

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.

4. Merchandising

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.

Learn more about the best ways to monetize your YouTube channel.

How Much Money You Can Make On YouTube

You may be wondering how much money you can make on YouTube. 

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.

Final Words

When you achieve monetization, you can’t sit back and rest on your laurels. Monetization is just the first stage in growing your following — and income — on YouTube. 

While breaks are sometimes necessary, I recommend maintaining a consistent presence at least until you are well established and have a reliable monthly income. If you’re inactive on your channel for six months, you could fall below the watch time threshold of 4,000 hours in 12 months. 

If you drop below this threshold, YouTube may remove you from the Partner Program. If you are demonetized, you can appeal the decision. YouTube gives you specific information on why it happened and how to fix the issue. You can then make the necessary adjustments to your channel and reapply for monetization status.

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