How YouTubers make money

YouTube, a user-driven video streaming platform, accumulated the most average monthly users more than competitors like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video Prime. Consequently, many tried to grow their channels to benefit from this popularity. While YouTube pays users mostly from ad revenue, there are also other ways to earn. If you want to learn about it, let’s move on.

YouTube Partner Program

The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) is the system in which YouTube pays its users. According to the platform, there are five ways to generate profit: advertising, channel memberships, merch shelf, super chat and stickers, and YouTube Premium revenue.

Advertising revenue

Advertising revenue is the only way to make money on the platform for a long time in the past. Until today, it still amassed the largest share of user payments. In 2020 alone, YouTube’s ad revenue accumulated close to $13 billion in total.

Video ads come in different formats: display, overlay, bumpers ads, skippable and non-skippable video ads, and sponsored cards. Regardless, you can profit from these with the help of AdSense, Google’s advertising platform.

YouTube keeps 32% of ad revenue and pays users the remaining 68%. Also, each ad view averages at $0.18 and up to $0.30. If a channel accumulates 1,000 ad views for $18, an estimated earning would be $3-5 for 1000 video views.

Channel memberships

Channel membership is another way to earn on the platform. If you have 1,000 or more subscribers, qualified in the YouTube Partner Program, a channel not made for kids, and abides by all terms and conditions, you’re eligible for the membership feature.

If you watch an eligible channel, you’ll see a “Join” button beside the subscribe icon. Suppose a user joins, he will get perks such as custom badges and emojis on comments, behind the scenes, extra content, and many more.

Channel membership is a monthly recurring payment that starts at $4.99 and goes up to different tiers. Since YouTube takes 30%, for every new member, you’ll get around $3.49.

Merch shelf

If you want to go further, you can sell merch directly on YouTube. Similarly, to qualify, your channel should be a member of the YouTube Partner Program and has 10,000 subscribers. Also, you should only use one of YouTube’s supported merch retailers.

As it’s not a very popular feature among YouTubers, an estimate from 2018 discussed a $170 to $870 monthly merch revenue. Yes, the chances aren’t that high compared to other ways to earn on the platform; however, if you think you can deliver, then go for it.

Super Chat and Super Stickers

During live streams, viewers can purchase super chat or stickers. By doing so, YouTube will pin their comments for some time and decorate them with colors, emojis, stickers, and many more.

Viewers can also donate during live streams, and similarly, the interface will pin their name and donation details in the chat. A $500 donation will make a super chat visible for five hours. Accordingly, smaller donations make super chats stay for a shorter time; for instance, $300 for three hours, $200 for two hours, and so on.

YouTube Premium revenue

YouTube Premium is a paid model where users can watch ad-free, listen to YouTube Music, and many more. While it’s a great deal for users, it’s also another way for creators to earn.

When you garner more watch time than other creators, you’ll get a higher cut from premium subscribers’ revenue. Likewise, YouTube rakes 45% of the total subscription.

Amazon Affiliate Program

The Amazon Affiliate Program or Amazon Associates is the merchant’s way to source product links. When a user clicks your affiliate link and successfully purchases the item, you can earn up to 12% in referral fees.

You can review a product and display its Amazon affiliate link on your video description. While many viewers check the descriptions, it’s best to mention them in your video. Though, you can still put affiliate links even without personally owning the product. If you want a higher chance to earn with this method, make sure to convince your audience, be honest, and stay transparent.


Channel sponsorship is an excellent way to earn extra on the platform. Typically, tech-related companies approach tech YouTubers to review their product, services, and many more. Moreover, some companies allow applications, wherein any qualified channels can approach them for sponsorship.

The higher views a sponsored video gets, the higher the creator can charge the company. For instance, 1,000 views can amount to $10 to $50, while 1 million views could be up to $50,000. Another advantage would be that most brands typically sponsor a channel several times, even regularly, when the outcome is excellent.

Membership Platforms

If you feel too limited with YouTube’s membership feature, you can sign up for external membership platforms such as Patreon or Ko-Fi. Also, unlike YouTube that charges 30% for member fees, Patreon, for instance, only takes 5-12%. If your channel isn’t that huge, lower costs translate to more income.

On Patreon, you can charge your audience per content instead of a monthly basis. Also, there are more options for fees where you can charge for an affordable price or go all the way to premium.

Products and Services

Since you have your audience on YouTube, there’s an opportunity to sell products or offer your services. Similar to previous methods, you can also sell various products outside the streaming platform.

Currently, it’s not hard to find a service that can host your products. Besides, a simple link to your shop or mention on your video will hopefully land you a reasonable amount of cash. Even though many viewers buy items from their favorite YouTubers regardless of the value, ensuring quality is an honest and excellent way to boost your net worth.

Popular products and services include the following:

  • Merch. Again, if you’re not satisfied with YouTube’s merch selling feature, you can always opt-in for external platforms. CRM or services such as Shopify, Everpress, and Big Cartel are some of the famous places where you can focus on creating your products instead of figuring out ways to market them.
  • Courses. If you’re an educational YouTube channel or are an expert in a particular area, you can create courses and upload them to learning sites like Skillshare, Udemy, and many more. In your videos, you can promote them either by a dedicated video or occasional promotions.
  • Consultations. Viewers and anyone can reach you out for consultations in different areas. Make sure to establish your image and expertise so more people will be confident in taking advice from you.
  • Speaking gigs. If you’re a great speaker on your videos, chances are, some will have interest in hiring you as a speaker for their event. Also, you can apply for such work by showcasing your YouTube videos as a portfolio.

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