What do most people say they think of when they hear the word YouTube?

Yes, you are right. That place where they watch their daily dose of cat videos and sports bloopers.

Since it launched in 2006, YouTube has become one of the biggest social networking platforms out there with over 2 billion users, behind only Facebook.

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Consider also the staggeringly diverse content present on YouTube: parodies, skits, movie reviews, product unboxings, cat videos (I haven’t forgotten), music, dance…. The list is actually endless.

How easy is it then, for an up and coming YouTuber to earn money from the content they create?

Think of it this way, Instagram has become one of the most lucrative business opportunities on the social networking scene. But it is YouTube which began this trend.

With so much content, and over 50 million content creators, you have to think different, especially when it comes to making money on YouTube.

And, like any other business enterprise, you may have to consider more than one strategy to monetize your content. Luckily, there are a few at our disposal.

  1. Ask your Audience for Support

Like. Share. Subscribe.

YouTube videos are incomplete without this mantra.

The great thing about engaging with your followers is a sense of reciprocation. YouTubers provide novel content and their audience supports them by liking and sharing their videos. It isn’t unusual then, for the audience to want to help out every now and then.

It’s about having a chance to thank their favorite YouTubers.

Buy Me A Coffee, then, would be the ideal platform for such an endeavor. It’s a free, fast and friendly place for all creators to receive support from their audience.

Buy Me A Coffee
  • The Best Way For Creators to Recieve Support

Creating your own Buy Me A Coffee page is just about the easiest thing ever.

Sign up using an email, or with your Facebook/Google account, enable a payment method, and you are all set.

  • A Chance for the Audience to Appreciate Creators

Buy Me A Coffee does not compel your followers for patronage, and allows both one-time payments and monthly subscriptions.

While supporting the creators, the audience can also leave encouraging messages for them to read. Creators can also respond to these messages, which goes a long way in maintaining an appreciative following.

You can also add your Buy Me A Coffee link to your social media, including YouTube, where you can put your link in the description, as well as in your About section, as seen here on Brian Mujati’s YouTube page.

  • Change the Game with Buy Me A Coffee

Creators can publish lockable content on their Buy Me A Coffee page, for instance, YouTubers can upload exclusive behind the scenes videos which can only be accessed by supporters.

  • A User Friendly Experience

Buy Me A Coffee operates a simple and engaging UI, which makes it easy to navigate on both smartphones and desktops.

The platform utilizes a number of payment methods, including PayPal, Stripe and Google Pay. Audiences thus have a choice of paying through all major credit cards as well as Apple Pay.

  1. Monetizing through AdSense

When it comes to earning money on YouTube, the safest bet and the most conventional form of earning income, involves putting advertisements on your video.

The thing is, though, you would need to maintain a high engagement rate for the ads to be profitable. The minimum requirement for monetization, as revised by YouTube in 2018, now demands 4000 hours of watch time over a period of twelve months and 1000 subscribers.

YouTube allows monetization of ads through Google’s mammoth advertising network, AdSense. Advertisers use different forms of media like images, videos or text in order to display their wares on various places, like websites, blogs and of course, YouTube videos.

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Once you have enabled monetization, by accepting YouTube’s monetization policies, you can then link your AdSense account, or sign up from your YouTube AdSense account to enable advertising.

YouTube also allows the option for users to choose the videos they wish to monetize. There are several advertisers who would want to vie for space along your videos, thus ad space is subjected to bidding which takes place between the prospective advertisers. You can then choose the advertiser who has bid the highest price.

It can take from a week to up to 30 days for YouTube to review your application for monetization. In case your channel has flouted YouTube’s Community Guidelines, your application is liable to be rejected.

  • The AdSense Model

AdSense determines the money you make on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis, which essentially means that money earned per 1000 impressions of an ad. Which brings up my earlier point of engaging viewers.

More viewers result in more impressions, and lead to better earnings.

In other words, the amount of money that you may receive through advertising depends on the amount of traffic you have on your monetized videos and the type of content that you create.

A couple of things: try to be consistent with releasing your videos and avoid breaking AdSense’s guidelines. Regularly releasing content on your channel result in more frequent visits, which will in turn increase AdSense clicks and revenue.

  • A Word of Caution

When you are considering monetizing, it is worth considering the fact that while monetizing through AdSense seems like a very easy prospect when it comes to make money with YouTube, it is not as profitable as you may think.

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Take for instance, the fact that Google takes 45% of the ad revenue that you receive through AdSense, while you get to keep 55%.

Or the fact that if you post videos that are judged as not being “advertiser-friendly.” Thus, you can almost always have content that is violent, sexual or controversial result in being demonetized. The worst thing about this is that such an event can occur without any intimation on YouTube’s part.

Which means that YouTubers can find other, and potentially more lucrative sources of income. Let’s find out what they are.

  1. Sponsorships

Sponsorships involve brands striking deals with YouTubers that are mutually beneficial to both parties.

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Sounds good doesn’t it? So what’s it about?

In such a partnership, a brand usually gets exposure for its product/service by placing them in videos, and the YouTuber often creates content which is centered around the brand. Creative output, in such a case, comes from the sponsor’s side as well.

Many hands do make for light work.

Influencer marketing has been on the uptick for quite a while now. Similar to Instagram influencers, there have been quite a few YouTubers who have made big bucks through sponsorship deals; PewDiePie, Liza Koshy and Logan Paul (cringe) are some of the big names.

  • Choosing the Sponsorship which suits you best

There are primarily two kinds of sponsorships that YouTubers often aim for: paid sponsorships and product sponsorships.

Paid sponsorships involve the content creator being paid directly by the sponsor for endorsing their product/service on their YouTube channel.

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Product sponsorships are a more niche variety, where the YouTuber receives free products from the sponsor, for which they can create a certain type of videos, for instance product reviews, unboxing and so on.

Brands often target niche-specific YouTubers, or in other words, the ones who also cater to the same target audience and values as the brand itself. Castrol, for instance, got YouTuber Austin Evans, who reviews tech on his channel to star in their 2014 campaign virtual reality Drift marketing campaign.

It’s a smart example of a brand being able to understand their market and delivering their goods in a way that stops just short of being a run of the mill advertisement.

  • Finding the Right Deal

You do not have to be a popular YouTuber like Evans to gain a sponsorship deal. You can approach brands/organizations through sponsorship platforms like Grapevine or through YouTube’s own service, Famebit by YouTube.

FameBit by YouTube

You can even try approaching potential sponsors on your own by creating your own pitch, and sending personalized proposals. Ensure that you lay out your ideas in such a way that you can convince the sponsors that your values and aesthetics are ideal and in sync with theirs.

Enterprising YouTubers should note that the money earned from sponsorships depends on how much reach your channel has, and what you can bring to the table in terms of increased exposure for the sponsor.

Sponsorships can be quite profitable, when you compare them to the revenue generated by ads. But there is one more means of generating income that trumps them all.

  1. Merchandising

YouTube’s rather haphazard method of moderating content meant that a lot of channels received warnings and got their videos demonetized.

Which meant that people realized that ads weren’t the safe bet that they could be and were forced to look for alternative means for earning money through their YouTube. And there was a simple answer: selling merch.

  • A more lucrative option

PewDiePie makes more money from merchandise sales than from the ad revenue he receives on his monetized videos. How much more? It is estimated he earns almost $7 million from selling his branded products, compared to his $1.1 million received from ad revenue.

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You do need to keep in mind a few general things before you venture out into the merchandising business. The first and most important thing, is to obviously figure out what kind of merch you are willing to create.

Most YouTubers play it safe, creating their own branded clothing apparel, mainly t-shirts and hoodies, which constitute the most common type of merchandise sold.

Remember that the success of your merch depends on how much you have engaged with your audience, as well as how good you are at selling stuff. If that is a done deal, then you can move forward to the process of producing your merch.

If you are selling apparel, then there are several print-on-demand sites you can use. Printify, for example, allows you to create your own custom designed t-shirts.

The last step is setting up shop. And when it comes to e-commerce, Shopify remains the last word. Create your page on Shopify, and link your product catalogue. You can then share your link in the description of your YouTube videos.

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If you have generated a little extra income, you can use some merchandise to drive up your engagement rates. For instance, you can print a limited number of t-shirts, signed by you, which would then be given to the first 50 people who buy a certain amount of your existing inventory.

  • Keep the Audience in Mind

By and large, the most important thing that you need to consider is that you need to create products that are relatable to your audience.

This isn’t something that you should take lightly. Teenage YouTube subscribers, for instance are found to relate more to YouTubers than to traditional celebrities.

In a nutshell, there should never be a disconnect between what you provide as a YouTuber, and what you are selling to your followers.

  1. Affiliate Marketing

Very similar to the concept of sponsorships is the strategy of affiliate marketing. The difference is here the YouTuber employs a more open form of advertising, in which they encourage their followers to buy a brand’s products through affiliate links. These are often found in the descriptions of videos.

These links are then tracked by the brand/organization that is sponsoring them which pays the YouTuber a commission based on the sales of the particular product on display.

Another affiliate marketing strategy would involve you identifying the brands/organisations which create products that are in your niche. This would make it easier for you to be able to advertise the product without it appearing to be blatant.

  • It's all About the Trust

Conversion rates from prospective customers to actual ones may fluctuate, but the audience makes the decision to buy the product because of the endorsement provided by their favorite YouTubers.

And the only reason is that if your engagement game is on point, then you have a following that trusts you. Consider, per exemple, the fact that millennials consider YouTubers to be better at trendsetting than celebrities.

So now, when the YouTuber says something, people actually tend to listen.

But, you also need to change the game a little.

Remember this infamous dialogue from The Wolf of Wall Street?

Create a demand and the customers come flocking. In other words you have to make your audience want to buy your product. Thus before you get around to the business of actually selling your product, you have to sell the idea as to why people should buy this product that you are advertising.

  • A Cost Effective Means of Income

There are several organizations which provide affiliate marketing service, one of the prominent among them being Amazon Affiliates. A YouTuber can make up to 10% commission on each sale, though this can fluctuate depending on the actual sales.

And since an online retailer like Amazon provides options for more products on sale, if the customer makes extra purchases in addition to the product that was advertised, then you have the chance to receive additional commissions.

While affiliate marketing may not net as much money as some of the other options that are shown here, it is still a pretty good way to earn some income on the side, mainly due to its cost effective nature.

If you are just taking your first steps to becoming a big shot YouTuber, then you need to remember that to fully exploit YouTube’s capacity for monetization, you need to have a large enough following.

Building such a following from scratch requires time and effort. Let’s quickly look at a few strategies that can help you do just that.

Rules of Engagement

There aren’t any rules of engagement which are set in stone, by the way. You can use any number of tactics and strategies to increase your following.

The thing to keep in mind is that you must try and keep your traffic as organic as possible.

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Paid traffic may pad your views in the short term, but the dividends pay off much better if you have been constantly making sure that your audience keeps coming back to your channel.

Bear in mind that these are but a few tips that you can use to enhance your engagement game, and that the first and the most important consideration when it comes to being a budding YouTuber is consistency and quality.

You need to have your unique voice when it comes to creating your content. And you need to make and release videos at a pretty regular rate, at least when you are starting out.

In other words, find your niche and make it your own.

Let’s crack on, then.

  1. Research Video Keywords

If you want newer viewers to watch your content, then you have to ensure that they are able to find your video. To that, one must engage in keyword research.

Keywords ensure that your potential viewers are able to find your content much more easily. Researching keyboards also helps you keep track of your competition.

The more knowledge you gain about what the audience wants, the better keywords you can add to your videos, thus serving for a higher ranking on search engines.

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Different keyword research tools help you in various ways; they can evaluate global search volume of certain keywords which can help you employ better strategies to counter your competition and a basic understanding of what your audience generally consumes. VidIQ, Ahrefs and Keyword Keg are some of the several tools which one can use for keyword research.

You also need to keep a tab on YouTube’s algorithm, as it moves towards providing content that is personalized to the users.

Thus, a good tip, as Miles Beckler says, is that before you make a video, search for keywords in both Google and YouTube, to find out which algorithms are relevant to a particular set of phrases and words.

  1. Optimise your ranking

Keyword research can help you find better words and phrases to optimize your video ranking. These are a few key areas that you need to focus your optimizing efforts on:

  • The Title

The idea behind video titles is that it should be able to catch people’s attention. And, when you are backed by keyword research, you can keep in mind what are the crucial words or phrases which can help make sure that your video gets a better search ranking.

Integrate the key phrase in such a way that it stops just short of revealing the main information.

  • The Description

As you know, this area contains more essential information regarding your content, which you have not revealed as yet in the title. A lot of users don’t focus on the description, but it can actually help in your SEO.

Try to write a slightly lengthier description than what you would normally aim for. Make sure that you have added your key phrases in the description. You can also write differing versions of the phrase in order to avoid repetition.

If you have a website, or are selling merch or are doing affiliate marketing, be sure to add the necessary links to the description.

  • Tags

Tags are a way for YouTube to easily cross reference multiple videos. As mentioned before, experiment with various forms of the key phrases in order to maintain a good ranking.

  1. Placing the Perfect Thumbnail

The thumbnail is a small preview image that gives viewers an idea of the content that they are about to see. Usually, YouTube can place a default thumbnail, by selecting a random still image from your video.

People tend to process visual information faster, and so if you want to pad your views and increase click rates, you may want to invest some time into creating a high quality and eye-catching image for your thumbnail.

  1. Involve the Audience

One of the best way to maintain a high SEO is to actively involve your audience. YouTube provides the means for audiences to like (or dislike) a video, share it to other social media and an option to subscribe to a YouTuber’s channel.

Videos which have been liked or shared more tend to be better optimized in terms of search engine rankings.

Keep your audience interested by asking them questions or requesting their feedback in the comments. It goes a long way in letting them feel as though they are an equal in the conversation.

The Road Goes On

Most YouTubers tend to stick to one or two tried and tested forms of monetization. Some experiment in order to find out what is best for them.

The same thing goes for boosting SEO. There is no hard and fast rule for improving your rankings, and new strategies are unveiled every single day.

When you set out to create your own YouTube enterprise, the key thing would be to select the proper monetization strategy by playing to your strengths. And who knows, you could just be the next big thing.

Here’s looking forward to seeing you at the top.