Being a YouTuber seems like the perfect mix of creativity and freedom. Fame and fortune may be calling your name, but is the YouTuber lifestyle actually financially viable? Read on to find out how much YouTubers really make and if it’s the right choice for you.

How to make money on YouTube

Being a YouTuber isn’t like working a nine to five job as an employee. You won’t be getting a direct deposit every few weeks. Instead of one stream of income, you’ll have many. The most successful YouTubers combine revenue from a variety of sources. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways YouTubers make a living.

Affiliate links

Affiliate links are a form of sponsorship where a YouTuber refers their audience to specific products or websites. In exchange, the company selling the product or service gives a percentage of the revenue to the YouTuber. You could link to an up-and-coming fashion brand, yoga studio, or even an individual product on Amazon using the Amazon Affiliates program.

When using affiliate links, make sure to only promote products you believe in—don’t do it just for the money. If you start sending out affiliate links to low-quality products that don’t align with your brand, you might begin to lose your audience’s trust.

Check out the example from Matthew Vandeputte’s timelapse photography channel below. All his recommendations are relevant and useful to his audience. Keep it real!

example of how youtubers use affiliate links to make money on youtube

AdSense

YouTubers have the option to include advertisements before or during their videos. How much money do you make per view on YouTube with AdSense? According to influencermarketinghub.com, advertisers can pay anywhere from around $0.10 to $0.30 per view, with the average being roughly $0.18.

However, YouTube takes a cut for letting you host your video on their platform. In exchange for using YouTube, Google (YouTube’s parent company) keeps 32% of the revenue. To find out more about generating revenue through ads, visit YouTube’s page on AdSense.

Remember, if you use copyrighted music on your channel, your AdSense revenue will be sent to rightsholders. If you want to use your favorite music and keep your AdSense revenue, consider using the Lickd music licensing platform. You get 25% off your first track and there’s over 85,000 top tracks to choose from.

Lickd platform

Branded merchandise

If you make it to the big leagues (or even the medium leagues), fans might want to buy your merchandise so they can look cool in front of their friends. You can sell through third-party distributors or create your own online shop on your website. Merchandise could include your channel name, an inside joke, or anything else your audience might enjoy.

Don’t feel limited to traditional items like mugs, wristbands, and t-shirts. Once you grow your platform, you might want to expand into other art forms. For example, you could sell a book or an album.

YouTuber merchandise - a timelapse guide book

Patreon

Back before online photo sharing, recorded music, and Hollywood, classical artists had to find other ways of getting paid. One of the most common methods of making a living was to find a patron—a wealthy benefactor who would pay the artist to create.

Fast forward to the digital era, and we have Patreon. A platform for crowdsourcing patronage, your audience can sign up to donate to your cause. Your most faithful fans can even choose to contribute monthly, giving you a steady stream of income. In exchange, consider offering your Patreon subscribers something special like a unique piece of merchandise or exclusive access to bonus videos. It’s all about strengthening the relationship with your most devoted fans.

Co-branded videos

One of the best ways to make money as a YouTuber is to create a co-branded video, where you invite a company into your studio. Brands are willing to pay large sums of money to have their products feature in videos with well-known YouTubers.

In addition to the obvious benefit of getting a healthy payday, co-branded videos can help you in other ways. For example, the company may have access to high-quality video equipment, a post-production studio, or fresh ideas to give your video a new and exciting angle.

How much do YouTubers make?

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Is being a YouTuber a sustainable way to pay your bills? As with many other artistic careers, the first dollar is often the most difficult to earn. Once you start gaining momentum, making money will get easier.

While you can make your YouTube channel about whatever you want, some popular niches for successful YouTubers include:

  • Gaming
  • Lifehacking
  • Fails, spoofs, and satires
  • How-to demonstration
  • Unwrapping and unboxing
  • “Top X” lists
  • News and gossip

If your audience is engaged and committed, you don’t need a ton of fans to make YouTubing a viable career. For example, if you have 5,000 fans, each of whom donates $1 per month on Patreon, you’re looking at an income of $60,000 per year. Once you add in revenues from advertisements or merchandise, you can make a decent living.

However, every channel is different. Some Creators have channels with hundreds of thousands of viewers and are still scraping by.

How much do YouTubers make per video with AdSense?

Once you start getting a bigger following, AdSense revenue can start stacking up. Roughly 15% of people, on average, watch advertisements long enough for them to count for payment.

So, let’s say your audience is 100,000 people. That means 15,000 fans will count for your ad payout. Let’s also assume you are uploading one video per week, for a total of 52 over the course of the year—that’s 780,000 annual views. With an average advertiser payment of $0.18 per view, that works out to $140,400 in ad revenue per year. But wait! Remember, YouTube takes 32% of the ad revenue for themselves. After taking their cut ($44,928), you’re left with $95,472. Not bad at all!

How much money you ultimately make will depend on many factors, including the size and engagement of your audience, your industry, and your appeal to advertisers.

Success stories: how much money do you get from YouTube when you’re at the top?  

Let’s take a look at some of the YouTubers who are making the most money. Perhaps a little inspiration will jumpstart you into action!

Ryan ToysReview – 2019 earnings: $26 million

ryan of ryan toys review

Not even ten years old, Ryan Kaji has built a YouTube empire by opening toys online. Ryan has partnered with toy companies to release co-branded merchandise, earning him the big bucks.

Dude Perfect – 2019 earnings: $20 million

The Dude Perfect guys

Five college friends who make sports-related videos, Dude Perfect now stars in their own Nickelodeon show, adding to their earnings.

Jeffree Star – 2019 earnings: $17 million

jeffree star

After making his name doing makeup tutorials, Jeffree Star has developed his own makeup line, earning him at least eight figures yearly.

You’ll notice that the very best YouTubers are not just clued up on the money making channels that work best for them. They also know how important it is to create quality content that will keep their audience coming back for more. If you’re going to make it big you’re going to have to consistently deliver too. Smart content planning, top notch editing skills and exciting music choices can really tighten up your content.

If you’re looking for a song that totally bangs, Lickd offers a wide range of high-quality, attention-grabbing music that can help take your videos to the next level. Lickd’s music is 100% legal, so you’ll never have to worry about running into problems with copyright law or YouTube’s copyright strikes. Plus, if you sign up now, you get 25% off your first track!

Lickd music

Start your YouTube career today

Feeling inspired? To get started, check out our article on how to jumpstart your YouTube channel.