How do you make money from YouTube? Is it possible to make a full-time income from YouTube?
Before I can answer the first question, I need to address the first. Making money from YouTube – and I’m talking about making money that Google sends you, not making money because you put up videos with affiliate links or that promote you e-bay store or whatever – requires two things to start: a Google mail account, and an Adsense account.
What is Adsense?
Adsense is the money a publisher (website owner or YouTube video uploader) makes by allowing Google ads to appear on their content. If you want to make money from Adsense on your blog, for example, after creating the kind of ad block you want, you copy and paste the code that Google gives you wherever you want an ad to appear on your blog. When someone clicks on that ad, you make 70% of whatever the advertiser paid for the click (usually between ten cents and a couple of dollars).
On YouTube, there are two kinds of ads, clickable text ads that show up at the bottom of the video (there’s an X in the corner if you want to close them), and video streaming ads. If a viewer clicks on a text ad, or watches at least thirty seconds (or all, if the ad is less than thirty seconds) of an ad, YouTube makes money from the advertiser.
I thought that the publisher made 70%, as with website Adsense, but I recently read that YouTube works a bit differently. Since I’m not certain the article I read was current, I’ll not repeat the information here. Suffice to say that a YouTube publisher does not make as much money from text ad clicks as a website publisher, but because so many people view YouTube that doesn’t really matter.
More money is made from the streaming video ads, because more people will let the ad play than will click on a text link.
Benefits of starting and growing a YouTube channel
- More content is now consumed via videos and social media sites, especially Facebook and Pinterest, than is being consumed on websites. So you will reach more people with your message on YouTube than by simply sticking to a website or blog.
- People who would never otherwise find your blog, find and watch your videos. This means…
- Your videos will likely be shared more than will your website content, which means more viewers, which means more money.
- YouTube is not particularly finicky about what kind of content you put up.
- You grow your skills as a videographer and/or public speaker and/or teacher.
- It’s a lot easier to get viewers to your videos than listeners to your podcast.
- You can make money without having to write content.
- You can make money without having to grow, maintain, or pay for an e-mail marketing list.
Getting a channel started
Once you have a Google and Adsense account, you go to YouTube and follow the instructions to start a channel. Select a handle that will be easy for people to remember, and, if you’re planning on uploading videos mostly around a certain niche, is related to that niche.
For example, if you’re going to upload videos about fixing things, “joeplumber” is more appropriate than “js1982dude.”
My handle is “crunchyemily” because I am a health nut. If you like, of course, your handle can be simply your first and last name.
As soon as you have your channel set up, you can start uploading videos. They can be your own, or other videos that don’t require special permission. Many videos – and I’m guessing, a few channels – have been deleted or shut down because the publishers uploaded movies, music videos, and T.V. programs that were copyrighted, and the copyright owners found out about it and told YouTube.
Here’s how strict YouTube is about it: two Decembers ago, I uploaded a video about how stressful the holiday season has become, and how to make it simpler. In the background is a repeated audio clip of me humming “Silent Night.”
This song is in the public domain, but YouTube would not let me monetize it because it sounded like music that had been uploaded by symphonies or other groups. I finally decided to fight it a few months ago (with a nice and respectful explanation – you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, remember), and a few days later my video was monetized.
Might be best not to use music at all, unless you are uploading videos of music you have written and performed yourself.
But once you start uploading videos, when do you get to start making money?
When do you get the invitation to become a YouTube partner?
For the sake of this post, I wish I’d written down exactly how many videos I had published and how many views I’d had before YouTube sent me an e-mail, inviting me to be a partner. But alas, I did not.
I can tell, for certain, that I had few to no subscribers by that time, and not more than ten to twenty videos uploaded. I wasn’t setting the pond on fire with number of views, either.
So you don’t have to wait until you have a thousand subscribers or a million total views or anything horrendous. Still, it will probably feel like you’re waiting a long time to get the e-mail. Sit tight, and keep making and uploading videos. Your day will come – as long as you are not plagiarizing other people’s content.
What kind of equipment do I need to make videos?
Some people use professional video cameras to make videos. If you’re either a videographer hobbyist or pro, and already have such a camera lying around, go ahead and use it.
But the rest of us can use a Flipcam (that’s what I have), an iPhone, a digital camera with video functionality, or even the webcam on the computer, if all you’re going to do is a “talking head” video.
If you want to invest in some kind of external microphone to improve audio for times when you or someone else is going to be talking several feet away from the camera, you won’t break the bank with that purchase. So far, I do without, and it works.
A tripod isn’t absolutely necessary, but recommended because it can adjust to a wide variety of heights. This expands your video-making flexibility.
Of course, you can make videos without any sort of camera at all. You can either create CGI animations, or simply paste photos together in a video editor (we use AVS – you get a bunch of different software in that package). Then you can record audio to paste on top of that, or just add text. Both are done in a video editor.
If you want to make videos about how to do certain things online, you need software that will enable you to video the computer screen you are looking at (AVS does not have that capability, as far as I know at this moment).
What kinds of videos get the most views?
I’m going to assume we are both talking about amateur videos, rather than professional. In that case, people who entertain get the most views. And from what I’ve heard, some of the biggest YouTube money makers aren’t even quality. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be, I’m just saying that people seem to be willing to watch anything that will make them laugh.
Here is one video that is quality – and look how many views he has!
Even if you hate cats, you gotta love that video!
On my channel, the two generic topics that get the most views are frugal living and DIY projects. I also get a lot of views on my videos about recovering from a bunionectomy – I guess because it’s a topic that no one else was talking about, but that many women want reassurance about (recovering from this surgery is a bear!).
So finding a popular niche that you know something about, but about which others aren’t saying much, would be a great place to start.
The key is to make videos that reflect you – your talents and/or interests. Don’t just do something because you think people will watch it. That will lead to burnout pretty fast – unless your first such video goes viral and you end up making $10,000 your first month.
Six tips for making quality videos
**1. Practice, practice, practice.
If you’re just going to video animals doing funny things, and they videos will have very limited narration, then go to it! But if you’re doing “talking head” or entertainment videos, I recommend that you either rehearse several times before you record, or that you DO NOT upload the first twenty to fifty videos you make.
Okay, so you can upload your first few videos if you want. But you may not want to, and here’s why: how often your videos show up depend upon, in part, the “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” you get.
Check out one of my earliest videos:
Boring as all get out, ain’t it? (Although the number of views isn’t bad, and I don’t have any thumbs-down on it yet.)
When you sound like a robot or incoherent, your chances of getting more thumbs-downs increase. The other thing is, five years later you might be making much more quality videos, but when the first video of yours that someone sees is one of your earliest ones where you sound like you’re just coming out of a coma, they are going to click away from your video and not watch any more from your channel.
**2. Plan what you’re going to say.
For my earliest videos, I had memorized a script. If you choose to do this, at least sound more interesting than I used to! Make a rough outline that you can glance down at, or at least get into your head what you want to cover.
**3. Have some kind of introduction that whets the curiosity of the viewer.
Two common ways to do this is to quote a statistic or ask a question. For example, in a video I made about how devastating it is to your finances it is to go shopping to relieve stress, I begin by asking, “Do you need a money heart attack?”
What?! What’s a money heart attack? If that’s what you’re thinking, then you understand the power of asking a question in the right way.
**4. Keep it short.
YouTube will force this at the beginning of your career, because like the invitation to monetize, you need a certain number of views and/or videos before you are allowed to upload videos longer than fifteen minutes.
But really, fifteen minutes is often too long. Not if you’re doing a really good comedy routine that takes that long, but information-type videos. Try to keep your videos below five minutes.
My DIY and garden update videos are always longer, but that’s because they need to be. Don’t say or do more than you need to, unless it adds other value like humor. People are busy, so respect the time constraints of your viewers.
**5. Speak clearly, coherently, and with animation.
You saw my earlier video. Blah. Here’s one that I uploaded five years later (for those of you who read this blog regularly, it’s one I uploaded last week):
Notice the difference? I am myself. No holds barred. I speak brightly, and I don’t have a hundred long pauses and “ums” and “ahs”.
I strive to remain positive. Even if I get on people’s case about a wrong attitude or self-sabotaging behavior, I always provide the solution and encourage the viewer that she can do it.
Be interesting and project a likeable image, and you will get more thumbs-ups, subscribers, and people sharing your video.
**6. Wrap it up with two calls-to-action.
Invite them to “like” your video, subscribe to your channel, click the link below the video, or share the video on social network sites. Pick two of these. More than that, and you will overwhelm your viewers and they are likely to not do anything.
I also like to thank my viewers for watching, and I have developed my own personal farewell: “Take care, and be well.”
**7. Edit the video.
But don’t overdo it. You don’t have to take out every single filler word, like “ah,” “um,” or “so.” However, if there is a place with a long pause or a lot of stammering, do edit that out.
Also, avail yourself of the editing tools on YouTube. Once you have uploaded a video, you can add annotations – little notes that stick on the video for however long you set it to be thee – or enhance the video by correcting the lighting or stability.
Here’s a brief tutorial on how to do that. However, I’m going to show you how to do it after you’ve published a video and navigated away from the website.
Go to YouTube. You’ll see something like this:
On the upper left, click “My channel.” What comes up will look something like this:
Toward the top, there is a menu that tells you how many subscribers you have, then how many lifetime views you’ve had. Then it says “Video manager.” Click that. The screen that comes up will have a list of your videos, like this:
Find the video you want to edit. Click the “Edit” button. The screen that comes up will look like this:
Notice the menu at the top: Info and settings Enhancements Audio Annotations Cards Subtitles and CC
Click on “Annotations.” The screen will look something like this:
Watch the video, or slide the bar to where you want to add an annotation. I often have to add an annotation where I misspoke. I type something like, “I meant to say BAT not CAT. Sorry.” Use the mouse to increase the rectangle with the annotation as desired, and to move it where you want on the screen. Once you “Save” and “Apply changes” (in the upper right), that will be how your annotation will appear.
Be sure you put the times to indicate how long you want the annotation to stay there (on the right side toward the bottom). For corrections of words, I’ll just let the annotation be there for five to seven seconds. The longer your annotation, the longer the amount of time you should let it hang on the screen so that the viewer has time to read it all.
Now click on “Enhancements.” The screen will look something like this:
There you can see what to click in order to improve the light quality (“auto-fix”) or eliminate the shakiness of a video (“stabilize”).
I once had a commenter tell me that they got dizzy watching a video I had made walking around the garden. At the time, I didn’t know about the Enhancements feature. But I use it now. It increases my chances of getting more people taking the actions to which I call them at the end of the videos.
How to get more views on YouTube
Part of making money with YouTube is getting as many views as you can. And part of that entails something we talked about earlier – hitting on the right topic or genre.
But there are a few more things you can to do increase your views. Here are a few ideas.
1. Make your tags interesting and relevant.
By “tags” I mean the title, description, and keywords fields you fill out when you upload a video. I once watched a video entitled “How To Cure Gum Recession.” The dentist in the video then proceeded to say that there is no way to cure gum recession!
Make your titles interesting, but don’t be deceptive. That’s annoying, not to mention unethical.
In the description, including a keyword that will help the right audience to find your video. For example, when I upload a video with a frugal living tip, I usually will have the phrase “frugal living” in the description.
I also always put any URL I want people to click at the very beginning of the description. Include the “http://” to make the link clickable.
After the description field comes the keyword field. My keywords for a frugal living tip video might include “frugal living”, “simple living”, “voluntary simplicity”, and “ways to save money.” Hit the Enter key after completing each keyword or keyword phrase.
2. Be controversial.
If you are brave enough – and get ready for a whirlwind of thumbs-down, if you are – talk about something controversial about which you are passionate. Controversy has a better chance of going viral than the mundane.
But be logical and kind while you do so. Nobody is persuaded by jerkism (I made up that word J).
3. Follow the above tips for making a quality video.
The more personable and coherent you are, and the better your video looks, the more likely your videos are to get shared.
4. Share your video on other social media sites.
You can set up your channel to automatically tweet each video as it is published. If you are active on Facebook, don’t neglect posting your videos there! Facebook users love videos – and they readily share videos that they enjoy. Google+ is a growing community, and if you belong to it, don’t be shy about sharing your videos there.
Also, if you have a blog, post it to your blog, as well. Every view and every click of the “thumbs-up” icon helps.
5. Talk to other YouTube members.
Find people whose channels are in the same niche as yours, and comment and “thumbs-up” their videos. Send them an encouraging message, ending with an invitation to check out your own channel.
6. Upload more videos
The more content you upload, the more views you will get. Period. Of course, the 80-20 rule works on YouTube as it works anywhere else: 20% of your videos will get you 80% of the views.
Check out a recent screenshot from my analytics page:
You can see that the top ten videos brought me almost 80% of all the views for that snapshot.
How to make a full-time income from YouTube
Whether “full-time” means $2,000 a month, or $100,000, it is possible to make this kind of income from YouTube. Many people are; why not you?
Indeed, why not me? You may not be impressed by the income shown in the screenshot above; however, what if I told you that my YouTube income has hung around $30-$35 per month for the past couple of years – and then in a space of about three months my income almost doubled? The reason is that I have been uploading between five and seven videos per week in the past six months.
I got busy.
And now that I know what kinds of videos people want, now that I am a lot more skilled at making quality videos, I expect this income to go up exponentially in the next year.
“But that’s because you have so many subscribers!”
Right now, at the end of May 2015, I have fewer than 650 subscribers.
That’s not a lot. Especially considering that I have been uploading videos for five years.
And I actually had several people unsubscribe this past month! Yet, my income is going up. Why?
Check out this screenshot:
YouTube now allows publishers filter out their analytics. I can see how many views came from everybody, how many from subscribers only, how many from non-subscribers only.
The above screenshot shows how many views I’ve had from my subscribers for the past month. Out of all of them, I have only 262 views. (Although it’s interesting to note that the small percentage of my channel subscribers who watched my videos did not give me any thumbs-down.)
It’s not about how many subscribers you have. It’s about putting up videos that people want to watch.
And waiting. Unless your video happens to go viral overnight – and you know the chances of that – it can take weeks, even months, to start getting enough views to make an income of any size.
Someone once semi-sneered at me that I was “only” making $30 a month from YouTube after having uploaded 200 videos. Well, that person wasn’t making ANY money from YouTube – and $30 a month would change this person’s life!
The long and the short of it…
Anyone can make money on YouTube, if they are willing to spend an hour or so a week on it. The income may even one day equal or exceed their job income (and in a lot less time and a lot less effort than other work-at-home business models).
So, how about you?