On average in 2018, 500 views on YouTube would earn you about $3.80. Comparatively, an insanely popular video like Gangnam Style earned around $7.8 million with over a billion views. Making money on YouTube isn’t as straightforward as most people think

Your earnings on YouTube might be somewhere in the low hundreds. Do you want to boost those numbers? Well, that’s what this article is all about. We’re going to show you some of the best ways to gain more followers and increase your level of profitability.

How To Boost Followers

If you want to earn more money through YouTube, you should start by increasing followers. How can you do this and why are you missing out on those higher numbers? Well, you could be:

  • In a competitive niche
  • Not optimizing videos 
  • Failing to ask 

Finding Your Niche

The rule of thumb is that the first thousand followers are the hardest. Once you have a thousand you’ll find it a lot easier to gain more. But you could even be struggling to reach that level. If that’s the case, then you might be in the wrong niche. 

Some niches are highly competitive like celebrity gossip, couple vlogs, self-improvement, and parodies. You might have a killer idea for a funny video but when there are already thousands of success stories, you will be facing an uphill battle. 

The trick then is to find the right niche for you. To do this, you can use YouTube analytics or SocialBlade. Use these tools to find gaps in the market and potentially fill them. This is a balancing act because you have to make sure there’s a target audience who want to watch as well. You can’t pick a topic that has little to no interest.

Optimizing YouTube Videos

The best way to make sure that your videos are optimized is to create searchable titles. You can do this, by exploring SEO-focused titles and possibilities. Your YouTube video should have relevant search terms included in the title.

The easiest way to find the right title is to search the words that you were going to use. Check what results come up and then try other words separately. YouTube will fill the search with the most popular terms which you should use for your video. 

You should make sure that you are optimizing your video description as well. You get 1000 characters for the video description, but you don’t want to use all of them. Viewers aren’t interested in reading an essay. 

You can also think about adding in a transcript of the video. This could have a minimum impact on optimization but at the very least will help those watching without volume. Be aware only the first 100 characters will be immediately viewable. You want to include all the key info here including a potential CTA. 

The right level of optimization is also going to help ensure that you show up in the suggested videos sidebar. That’s a great way to make sure that you are boosting your number of views.

Tag It

Another aspect of optimization is tagging videos. This does let users know what your videos are about. But that’s not the only reason to utilize this option. You can also make sure that you are telling YouTube what your video is too. This helps them associate it with the right videos and will once again, boost views. 

Ask 

You might have noticed a lot of YouTubers are now asking for likes. Likes help ensure that your videos appear during searches on YouTube and is seen by the network as quality content. It’s easy to get likes simply by making a reference in the video. This doesn’t need to be particularly subtle either and is great if you have a high number of views but a low level of likes. 

Longer Is Better

You might have heard the opposite but surveys and studies show that longer videos actually rank better. So, a 14-minute video is going to be higher than one that is 2 minutes. Why is this?

Well, it’s probably that as long as the content is high quality, YouTuber determines longer videos to be of more value to users. Therefore, they are more likely to promote them. As such, it will pay to spend a little more time on content creation and we mean that literally. 

Use Other Social Networks

Remember, different networks have more active users than YouTube. Facebook has 2.4 billion active users monthly. As such, you should make sure that you are accessing this potential

To do this, use a tool like Hootsuite. You can then make sure that the videos that you schedule on YouTube are published on different social networks at the same time

Making Money On YouTube Without A High Following 

Even with the tips provided, it’s possible that you’re still not hitting the magic million followers mark. Don’t worry, there are still some great ways to hit the jackpot with your video content.

YouTube Ads 

You will need 1,000 subscribers to monetize your channel and gain revenue from YouTube ads. But that’s not all. As of 2018, you will also need 4000 watch hours in the past 12 months

Once you hit the 1000 mark, you’ll need to monetize your account. To do this: 

  1. Sign in to the account 
  2. Click your account icon
  3. Head to the creator studio
  4. Select Channel and then Status and Features
  5. Click Enable in the monetization area
  6. Finish by choosing to accept all YouTube Terms and conditions. 

Pros and Cons Of YouTube Ads

About Youtube Ads

Are YouTube Ads going to be the right choice for you? There are a few details that you need to consider here. First, is it actually worth it? If your videos get an average of fewer than 5000 views, then the answer might be no.

On the other hand, once you hit sixty thousand, you could start to see a significant level of income here.

You also need to think about providing the best experience to users. Remember, at an early stage, you will be asking users to trust your channel and you as a new content provider. They might not be willing to do this if there’s an ad before the video plays. 

With no ad, your content could be seen as a breath of fresh air compared to other larger channels that are monetized. 

That said, this is a free solution. You don’t pay anything by signing up so if you ignore the opinion of users, you might feel like there’s no harm. After all, every little helps when you’re just getting started. 

Be aware that by monetizing your videos, you are essentially becoming a YouTube partner. That includes a number of advantages too. For instance, once you start monetizing your videos, YouTube, will provide you with a greater level of promotion. You could even find that your videos are featured. This power is provided on a global scale so there is huge potential for views here. 

You gain complete copyright and distribution rights to your content and you can distribute it wherever you want as well. You’re not just confined to YouTube, you can share it across different networks. 

YouTube will even provide you with more development tools and ensure that you can get the support you need to take your channel to the next level. This includes full customization options. 

One of the most important aspects is definitely the level of exposure. With YouTube Ads, your videos are more likely to be seen because YouTube will promote them more. It’s in their best interest to do this. 

As such, you might agree that the benefits of YouTube ads do make it worth it, as long as you have the right level of views. 

If you don’t have the number of views, then, you probably want to focus on providing the best, ad-free experience to users you are hoping will subscribe. You still can turn on monetization on select videos that are getting a high number of views. 

This is probably the best strategy for a small to mid-tier YouTuber. That way, you make money and you don’t have to worry about ads stopping users from giving your channel a chance. 

Pros And Cons Summarised

Pros:

  • More Exposure
  • Great development tools
  • Free to use
  • Easy to set up
  • Customization options
  • Complete rights over the content

Cons:

  • Targets must be met before accessible
  • Dependent on high views for even medium profitability
  • Ads could deter new users 
  • Limited control over the ads that appear

Affiliate Programs 

Affiliate marketing is another way to earn an income through YouTube. Here videos are created that include affiliate links. These can be in the actual video or potentially, the description of the video below. 

These can be subtle or completely in your face to the point where they take up half the screen. So, who uses this type of tactic?

Virtually every major player on YouTube has some form of an affiliate on at least one video. For the major content creators, this is just another way to make money. But what about for a niche YouTuber such as yourself? How should you handle this?

Well, the first step is finding an affiliate program. Almost every new YouTuber will start with Amazon. There are a couple reasons for this. First, it provides a massive database where you can choose products. 

Ideally, you want to select products that are connected with your niche. You could earn as much as 10% in advertising. 

One of the classic examples is the camera systems you’re using. You can put an affiliate link for the camera and other devices that you use for your YouTube channel and it’s as simple as that. 

Makeup, clothing and gadgets that are used throughout the video are another natural way to include affiliate links. The best thing about Amazon is that they have very little approval. So, anyone can sign up regardless of followers or views or any other stat. 

Do be aware though the amount you earn is largely based on how many people buy a product after clicking the affiliate link.  

There are other similar affiliate programs to consider including:

  • Sigma Beauty
  • PointsPrizes 
  • Nintendo Creators 
  • Movavi
  • Target

Each provides unique benefits and some disadvantages. PointsPrizes is another one to focus on. This will pay you based on the traffic rather than sales or CTR. As such, you can gain a greater chance of earning more with this program. 

Platforms For Monetizing YouTube 

You might have been watching a YouTuber and heard them mention supporting their channel through a donation or a contribution

It’s likely that the YouTuber is utilizing a platform like:

  • Patreon
  • Liberapay
  • Open Collective 
  • YouNow

These platforms provide different ways for users to pay YouTubers and other content creators for their content. There are a number of ways to go about this. 

Content creators can promote that they are using a platform like Patreon and suggest that followers can donate if desired.

They can also block certain content behind a Patreon payment wall. In this case, only patrons will be able to see certain types of content. 

Some platforms also have unique donation options too like YouNow. With YouNow, users watch videos on the platform and earn digital coins. They can then use these coins to pay their favorite content creators. Be aware though, YouNow takes 30% of any donation. 

As with the first example mentioned, donations can be used in live chats too. One of the ways to do this is by providing those that donate with the option to engage. For instance, they could pay to get questions answered or responses on topics. 

You often see this on Hollywood news videos with ‘insiders’ and ‘scoopers.’ Scoopers are also likely to lock certain stories that they have uncovered behind Patreon payments as well. 

While we have used entertainment news as an example here, locking content behind a payment or donation walls can work within any niche. You just need to make sure that the content is noteworthy enough to warrant paying for and that there’s a demand for it. 

You should also make sure that you are still providing content that is accessible without payments. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating subscribers and potentially turning them off your channel. 

You don’t need a set number of followers to get started on a platform like this either. It’s possible that you have a large following elsewhere on another network. If that’s the case, you can still reach out to them to make donations and perhaps encourage them to subscribe to your YouTube channel as well. 

What’s The Best Platform?

Generally speaking, Patreon is considered best for YouTubers. It is based entirely around helping creators fund their projects and this does include YouTube channels. As mentioned, it works on a subscription model so you get monthly payments. This is a lot better than something like Kickstarter. Patreon has also changed its cost model. Now, creators don’t pay a 5% fee for usage of the platform. Instead, this is covered in 2.9% of an individual pledge by a donor. As such, it’s completely free to use for content creators. 

Selling Merch 

Another option is to combine content creation with an e-commerce business. Basically, you can sell merchandise through your YouTube channel that may be connected to your personal brand. For instance, a YouTuber might sell a t-shirt with their slogan or catchphrase on. But the merchandise could be anything. 

You might be wondering whether this is going to be right for you. To figure this out, you’re going to need to:

  1. Check the strength of your brand – you can do this by exploring the search activity associated with your channel. A high level of search activity is a great sign.
  2. Consider how engaged your audience is – It doesn’t really matter how many subscribers you have. You can sell merch with a low level of subscribers as long as they are engaged. Engaged audiences will like, comment and become an active member of your community. You’ll notice this in live feeds too. 
  3. Think about the goals – you do need to consider what you want to achieve with your brand. While making money will be a priority, merch can indirectly help with this too. If people start to wear your merch, it can promote your brand further leading to more interest in your channel. This, in turn, could increase the level of monetization. 

If your brand is strong, engagement is high and you have goals in mind, you then need to think about the type of merch you want to create. You have a few options here. Ideally, you want to make sure that you are keeping it connected to your content. This is going to mean an engaged audience is going to be more interested in making purchases.

To sell merch, you then need to consider what shop you want to use. There are various third party shops online you can use for selling merchandise, such as: 

Spreadshop

How to make money off YouTube - Spreadshop example

This shop is focusing on selling print on demand merchandise and it’s incredibly easy to open your own merch shop here. It’s not just content creators on YouTube that use this service, anyone can. All you need to do is upload designs and then link YouTube to your shop. This is going to help you build traffic to your channel too. 

Threadless

Threadless is another great option and provides a high range of customization for the products that you want to create and sell. You can easily use this option to strengthen the power behind your brand and ensure that it is getting the attention you want on YouTube. Don’t forget unique offerings are going to be more attractive to users. 

Bonfire

How to make money off YouTube - Bonfire example

Bonfire is largely focused on providing creators with the option of designing a custom shirt. This is one of the most popular merch options on YouTube because it’s simple and budget friendly for your followers and viewers. Bonfire is brilliant because it provides an easy set up to sell your t-shirts anywhere online and it is completely free. 

Teespring

Teespring is a website that is used by millions of people to create and sell their own designs. If site ou thinks that includes YouTube content creators, then you’re absolutely right. You can create anything you want, link it your YouTube channel and when purchases are made, you’ll get all the profits. 

Printsome

How to make money off YouTube - Printsome example

This company claims they provide the best value for t-shirt printing and offer a dedicated printing expert. They also guarantee a fast turnaround of about 2 to 7 days. The company is different from the others as you will need to pay for their services. You’ll also need to distribute the t-shirts yourself and as such it’s not as practical as some of the other possibilities. 

Aside from Printsome one of the big benefits of these stores is that you can create the products, promote the products, and sell the products without a lot of the typical work of an ecommerce seller. 

All the hard work is handled for you and that includes shipping and deliveries. All you need to do is link the store to your YouTube channel and you can start making money on merch. 

You can also gain additional levels of traffic. These stores aren’t as niche as you think. So, if you are selling merch through the store and it’s linked to your channel on YouTube, users could find you this way too. Essentially, it’s a two way straight and both ways bring benefits to your new brand. 

When you select a third party store, do make sure that you compare rates. While many of the services are free they may differ on the level of profit you can see from each purchase. That’s why it’s worth exploring all the options before you commit. 

Of course, you can always switch vendors if you’re not happy with the solution that they are currently providing. You should also consider the type of merch you can create and sell through a third party site. It’s in your best interest to deliver original products that users can’t find anywhere else. So, make sure you spend some time on the design work too. 

Understanding Changing YouTube Policies 

Why should you stay on top of changes to YouTube policies? Well, new policies and decisions by the video network giant themselves can impact you in a variety of ways. It can:

  • Trigger the demonetization of your channel
  • Impact your SEO
  • Affect whether current followers are notified of videos 
  • Impact whether YouTube are promoting your content 

As you can see, these are crucial details and it’s worth exploring the variables here. The most significant policy change recently is the monetization at 1000 subs and 4000 hours. Many pro YouTubers feel this has made it easier than ever for people to start earning through the network. 

But this isn’t the only change. For instance, YouTube also began prohibiting channels that contain sensitive content for children from making money as well as anything related to gambling.

Of particular note is YouTubes new focus on quality. To make money, a channel and the videos must be focused on delivering great quality content. Videos fishing for likes or views without providing value may now be hit with demonetization. 

This is also tied to the new policies for monetization. Even if you do have 1000 subs, only high-quality content will earn the crucial 4000 hours of views per year. This has further stopped users from creating poor quality content in bulk at the beginning to build up views and subs before then focusing on improving their standards. 

Then there’s the issue with copyright. Copyright is one of the most common reasons that videos of creators are deleted by YouTube or demonetized. In some extreme cases, YouTube will delete an entire channel that has breached copyright. 

Many creators have complained about the standards of copyright being unfair. Even playing two seconds of music in the background of a video could result in a copyright ban. This is why it’s crucial to keep a close watch on policies. 

Staying Up To Date With YouTube Policies

There are plenty of different twitter feed and vloggers that will keep you up to date with YouTube changes:

  • YouTube Tips For You – You’ll find tips and Q&As here. They are fairly basic but they do stay on top of changes and ensure that creators know the key details of different policies. Discover this channel at @YouTubeTips4You
  • Casey Neistat – He posts a new video about Yoube daily and is always up to date with the latest changes. Find him @Casey
  • Tim Schmoyer – He’ll provide you with all the tricks, tips and advice you need while keeping you up to date with the latest changes. His channel is particularly useful if you need to keep up with how SEO altercations are going to affect you. Keep up to date with him @timeschmoyer
  • Vlog Nation – This is a great channel for everything that you need to know about vlogging. They cover all the details of monetization and regularly provide updates on changes that are coming soon. Look out for them on @VlogNationInc. 
  • YouTube Creators – This is the official Twitter for all things related to creators on YouTube. While this is mainly focused on building the community and promoting different channels, you will find info on updates that are going to impact creators. There are even live streams so you can be in the know immediately. Make sure you follow @YTCreators for news like this. 

Other Monetization Options

Are there are other ways to make money on YouTube? There could be although this might depend on the content that you are producing. Some creators will be rewarded because their content is indirectly promoting a business or solution. 

Get Paid To Make Content By A Particular Company

It’s a well-known fact that high profile vloggers who spend some of their week wandering around Disney World are paid by the company to create certain videos. For instance, they might provide payment so that they cover particular events, new park merchandise or a particular opening. 

This is somewhat similar to vloggers being paid for reviews. In this case, you might start a ‘how-to’ channel. If it gains a following, then it’s possible that companies will take note. They may then offer to pay you so that you can review their products. Usually, a business will contact you about this possibility. 

A few years ago, there was controversy around YouTubers being paid to review new video games and potentially give the games positive reviews. For this reason, many content creators who review video games will now specifically state whether they are being compensated by the company. 

YouTube Super Chat

Another option for making money on YouTube is the Super Chat option. Super Chats can be enabled in live streaming and here anyone in the chat can make a contribution. This will ensure that their comment remains on the screen for longer or is highlighted. The amount they donate is their choice and can determine how long the comment lingers on the screen. 

Remember for a feature like this, you do not need a massive following. You do however need for them to be engaged. Similar to merch, if they’re not engaged, they’re not going to be interested enough to make the payment to ensure that they are noticed in the chat. 

It’s also worth giving them an additional incentive to get their chat noticed. One of the ways to do this is to hold a Q&A and guarantee that users who utilize the super chat option get their questions answered. 

Getting Started

We hope this helps you understand some of the best ways to make money off YouTube. Remember, it’s not always about the number of followers that you have. You can start earning money through ads with 1000 followers and through affiliates or Patrons with far less. It’s about the content you produce. 

The trick to earning through this network is to ensure that you are delivering high-quality content to your audience. This is going to make sure that they do engage with your business and connect with your brand. It can help with everything from merch sales to likes and subscribes. It will also ensure that you get the high number of watched hours you need and that YouTube wants to see from your channel.

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