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how to make money on Youtube without a large number of subscribers

Are you a YouTube creator that wants to learn how to make money on YouTube? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

YouTube has been around for 15 years and is still growing, especially when people are starved for content during the Covid Era. YouTube is an incredible opportunity for influencers and creators to find an audience that wants to be entertained and educated.

Personally, I am a YouTube addict. I’ve been sucked into the “watch the next video” wormhole too many times to count. With hundreds of hours of watch time over the last decade, I developed a keen eye for what types of strategies make YouTube creators (YouTubers) successful. 

Coupled with my personal infatuation, over the last 10 years I have professionally partnered up with hundreds of YouTubers to create content that drives traffic to my clients. I have seen success and failure alike, but I have always done my best to help my partners maximize their efforts financially. 

Whether you are a YouTuber just starting out, or a seasoned veteran, read on to discover the MANY ways of how to make money on YouTube.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links that I may receive a small commission for at no cost to you if you purchase a plan. However, these are the tools I have vetted and fully recommend for YouTubers. You can read my full affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy.

How to Make Money on Youtube

There are many creative ways to make money on YouTube. Since YouTube’s birth in 2005, they have been the go-to choice for many online creators that want their videos to be seen by the world. 

With its growth through the years, they have changed the rules on how to make money on YouTube, probably thousands of times. But every time they change their algorithm and the rules on how to monetize the channel, creators are always coming up with new ideas and workarounds.

Learning how to make money on YouTube is a sweet science that is a lot like a river: they are all different and always evolving into something new. It really boils down to two ways:

  1. The way YouTube WANTS you to make money.
  2. The ways creators are ACTUALLY making money outside YouTube.

Believe it or not, Google (who owns YouTube) likes to make money.

how to make money on youtube mind blown

#Iknowright?!

To stay on Google’s good side, many YouTubers follow the rules and rely on revenue that YouTube actually tracks. Here is how YouTube WANTS you to make money as a creator:

how to make money on youtube via google

I’ll be diving into more specifics on each of these down below, but before I do, here is a list of creative ways YouTubers are making money outside the guidelines of YouTube:

  • Sponsorships.
  • Affiliate marketing.
  • Fan-funding. 
  • Driving traffic to a website for purchase or email capture.
  • Developing line of merchandise.
  • Building email lists.
  • Incentivizing subscribers.
  • Site memberships.
  • And more.

If you want to keep YouTube happy, they will want to see you making money from one of their monetization methods. 

However, many YouTubers figure out how to make money on YouTube with alternate methods… And sometimes YouTube shuts those channels down. So YouTubers have to walk a fine line of following rules, building an audience, and laying low if they use alternative methods.

Ad Revenue – YouTube Partner Program.

If you are like me and spend lots of time on YouTube, you will consistently see ads pop up promoting products and services. This is a product of the YouTube Partner Program that allows YouTubers to generate micro commissions from ads that are played on their channel. 

Not just anyone can run ads though. YouTube requires that your channel has:

  • More than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
  • Over 1,000 subscribers.
  • A linked AdSense account.

If you meet these requirements, apply to the YouTube Partner Program here, and follow the next steps.

How to enable monetization on YouTube:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube account.
  2. Click your icon in the top right corner.
  3. Click YouTube Studio.
  4. In the left menu, click Monetization.
  5. Read & agree to the YouTuber Partner Program terms.
  6. Connect an Adsense account, or create a new one if you don’t have one yet. Adsense is your key to getting paid through ads.
  7. Set your monetization preferences.
  8. Go to your YouTube dashboard and click the Analytics tab on the left side. From there, you’ll need to choose Revenue from the tabs at the top, then scroll down to the chart Monthly Estimated Revenue to get an idea of your predicted revenue.

Here is what it looks like before you have the necessary requirements:

grow with youtube how to make money with youtube

and here is after:

how to make money on youtube screenshot

Types of Adverts.

These adverts come in various shapes and sizes. YouTubers have to walk a fine line of providing the content, not ruining the flow of the video, and not annoying the audience who could drop off at any time. 

Display ads, overlay ads, and sponsorship cards are the least invasive and will not really ruin the flow of the video. Most of the major players in the industry do this. When you are getting thousands of views on your videos, you should be taking the easy money. 

how to make money on youtube via wordpress

On the other hand, Bumper ads, Skippable ads, and Non-skippable ads are holding the viewer hostage from the content that they are trying to watch. In order to use this though, you need a very well established fan base that is going to suffer through these ads. And, you need a really great hook right before you time these types of ads.

To ensure you keep a good balance, refrain from adding anymore than one aggressive advert per five minutes. One of the best I’ve seen at this is Mark Rober in any video he has produced over the last few years.

Channel Memberships.

Channel memberships allow viewers to join your channel through monthly payments and get members-only perks like badges, emoji, and other goods. 

You have to eclipse 30,000 subscribers to add this function. If you’re eligible, these are the policies and guidelines that will help steer you out of trouble.

how to make money on youtube prince charming

How Much Do YouTube Memberships Cost?

YouTube Memberships start at $2.99. Each channel can choose to upgrade a membership to higher tiers for additional perks. Payments are automatically taken every 30 days to continue membership.

YouTube takes their cut on each membership sold. Channel owners earn 70 percent of the funds while YouTube takes 30 percent. 

Prince Charming is pushing membership to his 800k+ subscribers and has made it his top revenue generator. He is offering his audience lots of loyalty items to keep them engaged and happy members.

how to make money on youtube prince charming

Merchandise Shelf.

Have you reached 10k subscribers yet? If so, they might be interested in buying things you come up with, so consider opening up a merchandise store. Setup is pretty easy, taking just 15 minutes to get live. 

Use this support doc to learn how to create your first merch.

how to make money on youtube brad owen merch

Poker vlogger Brad Owens is doing this with his audience. He is a very dry comedian that happens to play poker pretty well. Every joke that lands, his comment section blows up and suggests he create new merch, which is a request he gladly fulfills. 

Then, he highlights people wearing the new merch in a future video. This is an incredible engagement technique that builds more loyalty with the audience.

If you want to get started on creating your own merch you can check out Bonfire, a company that specializes in merchandise for Youtubers.

It doesn’t need to be complicated. All it takes is 5 steps:

  1. Find a Youtube approved merchandise store
  2. Open your account on that platform (we recommend Bonfire)
  3. Upload your designs
  4. Link your Youtube channel with your shop
  5. Share your designs with your fans!

With a smaller audience, you can create personalized designs that truly appeal to your subscribers. 

Sponsorships.

Taking on sponsorship is one of those first signs that you have made it as a YouTuber. Once you hit 5,000+ subs, companies will start reaching out to partner up with you. Once you hit 100,000k, companies will throw money your way like it’s cool.

Although sponsorship money might seem like a good idea, YouTubers have to be picky with brands they partner up with. Ask these questions first:

  • Will my audience be interested in this product?
  • Do I believe in this product?
  • Will I lose street cred for promoting it?

No one wants to be a sell out. Make sure you answer yes to at least two of those questions. If you are going to take money, make sure you can properly promote the brand so they are satisfied with the results.

Brands that offer sponsorship deals are oftentimes looking for two big things: sales and brand awareness. Brand awareness is great, but sales will make any brand come back to sponsor more videos. With that in mind, it is vital that influencers make their best sales pitch in each sponsored video.

Mr. Beast is one of the best I have seen at spinning a product that might not make sense for his channel.

how to make money on youtube mrbeast

Mark Rober has one of the most genuine takes on sponsorships that I have ever seen. He will not just take any company's money that throws it at him. 

Instead, he chooses the brands he really believes in, like KiwiCo at the end of his squirrel course video:

how to make money on youtube mark rober

As a result, the message is well received by the audience and his conversion rates are sky-high.

To become a Youtuber like MrBeast or Mark Rober we recommend an all-in-one editing software like Final Cut Pro which will help you make crisp, appealing videos.

Another tool the best Youtubers in the game use is TubeBuddy.

Dustin's Choice

When it comes to maximizing your efforts as a Youtuber, there is no better tool on the market than TubeBuddy. This Chrome Extention helps you optimize each video posted on Youtube with keyword research, title adjustments, and a checklist of tasks to do pre and post the video going live.

Platform Chrome Extention
Price Starting at just $9 per month
Promotion Sign up for a free download here
Check out TubeBuddy Here

Affiliate Marketing.

This category is by far and away my favorite suggested method to make money on Youtube. 

You may have heard the term affiliate marketing before, but here is a simple three-step process of the concept:

  1. An influencer (Youtuber) has an audience and promotes a product they believe in.
  2. The influencer uses a unique link to send traffic to another brand.
  3. If a sale happens, the brand sends the influencer a commission for their efforts.

If you are not familiar with it, read up more on how to make money with affiliate marketing and the Best Affiliate Marketing Courses that I suggest.

Affiliate marketing can be an incredible source of income, especially in the early stages of audience growth. Latching onto a product (or multiple products) that your audience would be interested in is the first step. But how you promote those products is the true key to successful campaigns.

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What is a product I personally like?
  • Would my audience like this product?
  • Does this product have an affiliate program?

Let's take for example my old buddy Tyler Moore, who creates videos teaching people how to create a WordPress website.

Tyler Moore is an affiliate master on Youtube

Tyler walks people through the process, step-by-step, and promotes the products he believes in during the process. He knows people need web hosting to build a website, so he includes how to purchase the hist preferred hosting solutions like Wp Engine, where he can make $200 per referral that signs up. In addition to telling people how to use his discount in the video and walking them through the process, he makes sure to include a link in the description to make it easy for folks to purchase through his affiliate link.

The results are amazing. Tyler does just a few videos a year, but since he uses tools like TubeBuddy and VidIQ, his videos consistently eclipse 1 million views. And with that many views with high buying intent, Tyler makes 6 figures in affiliate commissions every month!

Often time brands do not have a budget to pay for sponsorships, but they will gladly negotiate for higher commissions and sales-volume incentives. Tyler knows what his traffic is worth and how well it converts, so will negotiate with affiliate managers to make sure he gets the best rates. Instead of taking on $2000 for s sponsorship and using direct links, he uses affiliate marketing to make $100,000+ with every video.

Here are some major keys to maximizing your affiliate efforts and how to make money on Youtube with each video:

  • Call out the product in the video.
  • Tell the audience to click your link in the description.
  • Respond to the comments with your affiliate links (when applicable).
  • Be consistent. One video is rarely enough, so mentioning the product in 3 or 4 videos will show your subscribers how much this product means to you.

Fan Funding and now Super Chat.

Youtube has an… interesting relationship with premium models. They first introduced a paid subscription service in 2013 in response to the growth of platforms like Patreon and the use of Paypal donations to support creators.

Although a great idea, this model saw little traction and Youtube then launched “Fan Funding” in 2014 where fans could tip their favorite youtubers through one-time donations.

Since then, fan-funding was killed off in 2017 in favor of super chat donations. Super chat is still around in 2022 and it lets viewers in your live stream or in your video premiere to make a donation ranging from $1 to $500.

Your superfans are going to love it when you enable this feature. When you go live, your audience has the option to pay you so that their comments are highlighted in the live chat.

This leads us to our next idea which is…

Drive traffic to a website for purchase or email capture.

Whether you offer digital products, consulting services, or simply want to get more email subscribers, Youtube can serve as a great way to get more people on your own website.

You can use your platform on Youtube to build credibility and trust in a certain domain and then use your brand to direct traffic to your own platform.

Once you capture people’s attention on your website or as a part of your email list you retain more control over the medium. Youtube can demonetize your videos or block your channel if you violate the terms of service leading to the loss of your Youtube revenue.

It’s great to have alternative streams of revenue and to diversify. Speaking of diversifying…

Build email lists.

Similar to driving traffic to your website you can opt to create a page to capture emails. This in turn can help you build a community that you control and can market to as you build credibility.

Tools like Convertkit make this oh so easy. You can set up a webpage (for free!) that outlines your offering and captures an email.

Their web pages look great and are simple to set up. If you would like more on this topic, check out my full tutorial on How to Migrate Youtube Subscribers.

how-to-migrate-youtube-subscribers-to-website

You can offer products for free in exchange for an email. Try sharing a…

  • Meal plan
  • Budget tracker
  • Resume template

…during your video and letting your audience know that they can download a copy via the link in your description.

By providing value you build trust and capture someone’s contact information. Alternatively…

Incentivize subscribers to join exclusive communities.

You can begin to offer perks or additional content via sites like Patreon. In doing so, your subscribers can get shoutouts on your main channel or get other perks in exchange for their support.

For gaming Youtubers this could be exclusive access to a private server. While for fitness Youtubers this might mean access to 1on1 coaching sessions. If you’re in the beauty space this may mean exclusive access to your products and advice.

As you grow your Youtube channel this is a fantastic way to connect with your audience and to support your content creation career.

Don’t sleep on value-added memberships!

Some creators on Patreon are able to make over $150K USD a month. As your audience scales, so do your earnings. Tim Dillon is a great example as an avid comedian and podcaster who monetizes his content and audience via Patreon.

As you look to build that subscriber base to provide value to your audience, you don’t have to do it alone! You can leverage tools like VidIQ which help you optimize your content for ranking on Youtube and getting more people to see your video. We will get to how to rank on Youtube soon… Hang tight.

Youtube Premium Revenue.

Think of this as your bonus payment. This is additional revenue in addition to what you are already earning through ads.

Creators are paid for YouTube Premium based on how much members watch their content. If you have 1000 premium users watch your video you will get a share of what they pay for their subscription.

Nothing extra to do here!

Instead you can spend more of your time getting your Youtube videos in front of more people. That leads us to…

How to rank your videos on YouTube.

Now that you’ve created a video, let's get as many eyes as possible on it. Everyone wants to know the secret to ranking on the top, so this section is going over seven key tactics to take on 2022. These include:

  1. Boost your click-through rate.
  2. Increase engagement signals.
  3. Embed your videos.
  4. Use the TSC tag formula.
  5. Rank as a suggested video.
  6. Increase watch time.
  7. Optimize your description.

Stay tuned for the bonus at the end! 

Boost your click-through rate.

Your click-through rate is the percentage of people that see your video in the search results and click on it. YouTube pays very close attention to this metric, and if people are clicking on your video, you get a rankings boost.

Click bait thumbnails are a proven way to get those clicks. A mix of words and a goofy pose is a popular style in 2022.

how to make money on youtube affiliate

Mmmmm I’d click that!

Using brackets and parentheses in your video title is also helpful. Text in your brackets gives folks a sneak preview into your video and makes them more likely to click.

For example, my original title for this video was “best affiliate programs to join in 2021,” but I decided to add some text in brackets “(to earn big commissions).”

how to make money on youtube thumbnail

Yeah I know my stats are embarrassing, big whoop, wanna fight about it?!

It can be hard for YouTubers to walk a fine line between cheezy and spammy, but it is something you will have to grow into while developing your own style.

Tools like screencast-o-matic make it that much easier to create your own thumbnails and videos. You can screen capture content, record your screen, and layer in stock images, music, or videos for use in your Youtube content. Making your next eye-catching thumbnail is that much easier with their platform. 

Increase engagement signals.

Engagement signals are things like comments, shares, likes, and subscribes. The more engagement signals your video gets, the higher it'll rank.

A recent industry study found that engagement signals strongly correlated with rankings in YouTube.

How do you get more people to engage with your video? Ask them a multiple choice question.

how to make money on youtube q&a

People want to share their opinion, but need a little push in the right direction. If the audience has to think too hard about a smart answer, they will fizzle out and move on. So toss a softball question up there and let them smash it.

While comments are great for THIS video, subscribers are going to boost all of your new videos. New subscribers are going to help boost your new video rank. 

But this is a slow drip and rarely spikes up overnight. Don’t beg for subscribers. Don’t even ask twice in a video. Give your audience a solid reason they NEED to subscribe.

Try something like “make sure to hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss out on the next video about xxxx.”

Embed your videos.

And now it's time for strategy number three – embed your videos.

Justin Briggs analyzed 100,000 videos across 75,000 channels, and one of the most interesting things he found was that rankings on YouTube were closely tied to video embeds.

how to rank on youtube graph

In fact, top ranking videos had an average of 78% more embeds than average. And the easiest way to do this?

Just embed videos on your own website. For example, I embed my YouTube videos in almost every post.

Now sometimes I use a video as a way for people to learn more about something I'm talking about and other times I use an embedded video to explain a step or a technique.

You can also embed videos in press releases, guest posts, or anywhere else that you publish content.

Let's keep it moving with technique number four, which is the TSC tag formula. 

Use the TSC tag formula.

It's no secret that tags can help your videos rank higher in the search results. That's the good news, the bad news is that most people use tags the wrong way.

In fact, when I first got started on YouTube, I'd stuff my videos with tags like there was no tomorrow, and no matter how many tags I used, my videos wouldn't rank.

Okay, tag 867, what should I write?

And today I know why…

As you already know, YouTube uses your tags to figure out what your video covers,

and if you use 100 tags, YouTube is going to have a really hard time understanding what your video is actually about.

For example, check out the tags on this video:

how to rank on youtube video tags

Imagine that you're YouTube. Based on these tags, what would you say this video is about?

One tag says the video is about Kobe Bryant but it's also about motiversity, whatever that is.

If you're confused, YouTube is confused. And instead of tag stuffing, I recommend something called the TSC formula.

Here's how the TSC formula works…

First, make your first two to three tags your target keyword.

For example, let's say you wanted to rank your video for the keyword ‘public speaking tips’. You'd want to make your first few tags variations of that keyword.

Next, use synonyms of your target keyword. So for a keyword like ‘public speaking tips’, these would be things like ‘how to give a speech’ and ‘conference speaking’.

Finally, use two to three category tags. These tags describe your video's larger overall topic. 

For example, let's say your primary keyword is ‘how to do a push-up’.

how to rank on youtube pushups

In this case, you'd also want to use a few broad tags that describe your video's high-level topic.

In this case category tags would be things like fitness and workouts. That's all there is to it.

Which leads us to step number five…

Rank as a suggested video.

When most people think about ranking on Youtube, they think about ranking on Youtube Search.

BUT that’s not the only place where your videos show up.

For many creators, their videos get more traffic as suggested videos. The question is – how can you get your video to be suggested?

As it turns out, these suggested videos are ranked based on two things:

  1. The type of videos you normally watch
  2. The current video that you are watching

So if you are watching a video about cute cats (and tend to watch these videos) Youtube will suggest more cute animal videos in the sidebar.

And that’s where the opportunity lies. When you optimize your content with the same keywords that the popular video uses you have a much better chance of showing up next to that video.

Confused about what keywords to use or how to optimize your content? You’re not alone.

Check out TubeBuddy. It’s a free tool you can use to analyze the keywords and performance of your videos as you look to optimize and become a suggested video.

As your videos start to become suggested and rank better you will want to…

Increase watch time.

You might be wondering: why is this important?

Turns out that watch time is one of Youtube’s biggest rank factors. 

Think about it. Youtube is a business that wants to maximize revenue. How do they do that? By showing you more ads. How can they show you more ads? By keeping you on the platform longer.

That being said, there are two strategies for improving your watch time:

  1. Planning, scripting, and outlining your videos so as to provide structure
  2. Keep your content engaging with fresh music, quick cuts, and different shots

MrBeast does an outstanding job of keeping the audience hooked and watching as seen during his viral Squid Games video with over 200M views.

Within 16 seconds of the video starting, the first game has begun. Compare this to James Charles’ video which took over 4 minutes and 40 seconds for the first game to begin.

The video delivers quick cuts, interesting content, character development, and humor scattered throughout. The audience wants to know who wins and how they win MrBeast’s squid games. By telling a captivating story he is able to keep the viewer hooked until the very end of a 25 minute video.

Not everyone has the same $3M budget or professional team to make this happen but the same lessons can be applied on a smaller scale to your videos. Keep people watching by giving away small wins and hooks to keep the audience excited for what’s next.

Tools like morningfame can help you find what works and what doesn’t as you tweak your Youtube videos for improved watch time. Their analytics platform provides the data you need to make decisions to help your videos rank better and includes a guide to do so.

Finally, the last strategy…

Optimize your video description.

As you might already know, along with your title and tags, Youtube uses your description to understand your video’s content.

And when you write an optimized description you can find yourself with higher ranking videos and more views.

With that, here’s how to create a SEO-optimized video description:

  • Make it 100 words +
  • Outline the content in your video
  • Include your target keyword within the first two sentences
  • Add your target keyword two to three times within your description

Check out first we feast who does this really well with their content. 

Two to three sentences about the content, humor, and keywords all without having to click “see more”.

Bonus tip: Strategically promote your videos.

Back in the day, I would publish a video and hope that people would see it. 

Please get views, please get views, please get views. 

And need to say…

This publish and pray approach did not work. That’s why today I strategically promote every video that I publish.

To do the same thing you can organically share your video in relevant communities across facebook, reddit, your own website, etc. You’ve got to be careful to not come across as spam but if you share helpful videos in the right place, people will actually appreciate the share.

Recommended Tools.

  1. TubeBuddy – Do yourself a favor and buy the service for $9/month
  2. Canva – Freemium features get you this Youtube Thumbnail maker   
  3. Unsplash – Free stock photos to use in your thumbnails
  4. Royalty free music – Check out this video to learn how to use free music in your videos without getting a strike by Youtube.
  5. VidIQ – Similar tool to TubeBuddy, but has advanced features.

FAQ

How many views do you need on YouTube to make money?

In order to get paid by Youtube, you need to reach a balance of $100 or more. This means that you will need 33,000 views if you receive $3 per 1,000 views. 

Your cost per mille (CPM) or how much money you make per 1000 views will change how many views you need to reach the minimum threshold of $100.

This varies based on the location of your viewers, the industry to which you appeal, and where the ads are placed in your videos.

How many views on youtube to make money?

You need at least 20,000 views on a video that has a CPM of $5 per 1000 views. This is needed to reach the minimum payout threshold of $100.

How do you start making money on YouTube?

  1. Join the Youtube partnership program once you meet the requirements
  2. Sell a product or service
  3. Recommend products and earn through affiliate revenue
  4. Develop and sell merchandise
  5. Grow your email list
  6. Direct traffic to your website
  7. Super chat 

How much can you earn from YouTube?

You can earn $5 per 1000 views from Youtube through ads.

With 1,000 subs and 5,000 views a month, you can earn $25.

With 10,000 subs and 50,000 views a month, you can earn $250.

With 100,000 subs and 500,000 views a month, you can earn $2,500.

This does not include sponsorships or affiliate revenue which can earn you an additional $5 per 1,000 views, effectively doubling your revenue.

Is it hard to make money on YouTube?

Yes! At first, it is. With time and dedication, it becomes much easier as your audience grows.

In order to monetize your content, you will need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within the last 12 months to join YouTube's Partner Program.

How much money does 1 million YouTube views make?

In short, it depends! 1,000,000 views on youtube would produce an average of $5,000. This is based on a CPM of $5 per 1000 views.

Certain areas of the world will have a higher cost per mille (CPM) which translates to how much money you get for 1000 views. For example, the US has an average CPM of $13.

How much money is 100k views on YouTube?

In short, it depends! 100k views on youtube would produce an average of $500. This is based on a CPM of $5 per 1000 views.

Certain niches will have a higher cost per mille (CPM) which translates to how much money you get for 1000 views. For example, finance and real estate videos are known to be especially lucrative with CPMs over $14 per 1000 views.

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