YouTube is the largest video platform where people can upload videos and share them to the world. Since its launch in 2005, YouTube’s impact has been felt across all spectrum of life — from politics to news to commercials and to the promotion of talents.
YouTube also provides people everywhere with a venue to earn money from their videos. One of the best examples of ordinary folks making it big on YouTube is Howard Davies-Carr. He uploaded a video of his two children in 1997 on YouTube, which he titled “Charlie bit my finger – again!”. The video of the baby brother biting his older brother was intended for Davies-Carr’s immediate family and friends, but it became a viral sensation. To date, the video has received over 835 million views. In 5 years the video was uploaded, it has earned more than $500,000 for Davies-Carr!
YouTube reports that the number of channels that earn six-figure income on the site is up 50 percent year-over-year. In 2015, Forbes Magazine launched its very first list of the World’s Top-Earning YouTube Stars. The top 10 in Forbes’ list earned a whopping $54 million combined, with the top person on the list earning $12 million! That’s a lot of money from YouTube videos! These top content creators on YouTube have a combined subscriber base of about 178 million, generating a total 38 billion views.
For all these individuals, their YouTube success was the start – and they leveraged it to other income-generating activities which in turn bolstered their YouTube presence even further. Here’s a breakdown of the top earning YouTube moneymakers according to Forbes’ list:
|YouTube User||User Accounts||Type of Videos||No. of Subscribers (as of Jan 31, 2016)||Total Views (as of Jan 31, 2016)||2015 Income (million)|
|Smosh||smosh||Comedy act and live-action skits||21,800,812||5,217,130,360||$8.5|
|Fine Brothers||TheFineBros||Produces scripted and unscripted comedy live action skits||14,042,639||3,827,567,991||$8.5|
|Lindsey Stirling||lindseystomp||Music videos: playing the violin and dancing||7,619,969||1,273,989,992||$6.0|
|Rhett & Link||RhettandLink||Funny music videos, sketches and ridiculous local commercials||3,972,291||584,879,818||$4.5|
|KSI||KSIOlajidebt||Video game plays and reviews; hip hop music||1,1882,011||2,297,625,684||$4.5|
|Michelle Phan||MichellePhan||Make up tutorials||8,339,020||1,224,065,320||$3.0|
|Lilly Singh||IISuperwomanII||Stand up comedy||7,768,287||1,063,027,293||$2.5|
|RomanAtwoodVlogs||Life as a father||5,455,321||1,254,202,879|
|Rosanna Pansino||RosannaPansino||Baking tutorials||5,442,855||1,221,661,162||$2.5|
You can make money on YouTube. While it takes time, patience, and even luck, here are five ways you can earn money from YouTube:
1. Advertising revenue.
YouTube has created a program called Youtube Partner Program to allow their most popular and prolific video creators to earn from their videos. Ads are placed alongside the videos and content creators share the revenue with YouTube. To participate in the program, you must meet the following requirements:
- Your content is advertiser-friendly – which means it is appropriate for all audiences
- You created the content or have permission to use it commercially.
- You are able to provide documentation proving you own commercial rights to all audio and video content.
- Your content complies with YouTube’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.
YouTube is very strict about their rule of allowing users to monetize the video only if they own the copyright of the videos. You can only use royalty free music as background music. You will not be allowed to monetize the video is it uses copyrighted music playing in the background. For example, you have created a video of your child in a figure skating competition, but you will not be allowed to monetize the video if you cannot prove that you have commercial use rights to the music. Read carefully the types of content that you can monetize.
2. Sponsored Content.
Some YouTubers earn money through sponsored or branded content and product placements. They prominently feature the products in the videos, talk about the products or even make videos about the products itself. Some of these videos feel like extended infomercials about the products.
About half of Rhett and Link’s income comes from sponsored content. They have made videos about Honest® Tea & Wendy’s®, Toyota Camry, Gillette, among other large brands. They have also produced funny and awkward low-budget commercials for local businesses around the country that led them to their show Commercial Kings in IFC channel.
3. Ancillary products.
Many YouTubers use the fame, number of subscribers and brand that they have established in YouTube to launch other ventures and money-making projects. After successfully building a strong reputation, expertise and knowledge in their videos, they capitalize on their YouTube popularity to create products, go on tours, create make-up lines, and write books and others. Some create their own original products while others collaborate with larger brands. This approach brings them more success, money and even more fame in YouTube.
For example, Michelle Pham has successfully turned her YouTube fame into other endeavors. She launched her own make-up line Michelle Pham Em Cosmetics in partnership with the cosmetics giant L’Oreal. She has also co-founded ipsy.com, an online subscription-based beauty company that offers beauty product samples and exclusive offers to their paying members. She has also authored a successful book Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success–Online and Off.
In addition from earning directly from their videos, many successful YouTubers create and sell a variety of merchandise items such as shirts or mugs to their fan base and followers.
PewDiePie has a shop section in his website http://shop.pewdiepie.com/ where he sells backpacks, sunglasses, beach towels, posters, hoodies, shirts, sunglasses, even a “foam bro fist.”
5. Subscription Fees.
An emerging business model that is promising for content creators is the paid subscription model. This allows loyal fans to support their favorite YouTube stars.
In October 2015, YouTube introduced their paid subscription service called YouTube Red https://www.youtube.com/red. The service provides an ad-free experience while allowing for saving videos online and background play. This represents a shift from an ad-funded video hosting service to a media company that can go head to head with Netflix or Hulu. Under this program, subscribers pay $9.99 per month to watch ad-free videos as well as new, exclusive content behind a paywall.
Some of YouTube’s biggest creators will offer new, original series and videos under the YouTube Red program. PewDiePie will have a show called Scare PewDiePie as part of YouTube Red Original Series, where he will encounter terrifying situations inspired by his favorite video games. Fine Brothers will also have a scripted comedy show, as well as other top YouTube stars such as Wong Fu Productions, Toby Turner, among others.
Recommended Books on How to Make Money on YouTube:
- YouTube: Ultimate YouTube Guide To Building A Channel, Audience And To Start Mak
- YouTube Black Book: How To Create a Channel, Build an Audience and Make Money on YouTube
- YouTube: Complete Guide of Youtube to Make Big Following – Subscription, Views & Passive Income
- YouTube Channels For Dummies
- YouTube Marketing Strategies: How to get thousands of YouTube Channel subscribers and millions of video views with David Walsh