How To Make Money On YouTube: Setting Up Your Revenue Stream

Influencer marketing plays an important role in modern marketing strategies. Agencies and brands rely on YouTubers and other influencers to help convey their products and services to their target market. According to data from Mediakix, brands will spend $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.

Social media is no longer merely a means of communication; it’s a portal for learning new skills, finding inspiration, and connecting brands with consumers in more authentic ways. Moving forward, influencers will play an even bigger role as an intermediary between brands and buyers.

For budding influencers, this means there’s a big playground to play on. In a rapidly evolving industry, there’s ample opportunity to put yourself in a favorable position. As a growing YouTuber, there are a few ways you can stand out from a growing influencer crowd.

If you want to learn how to make money on YouTube, it’s important to have a grasp on the six primary revenue streams on YouTube: ad revenue, sponsored videos, crowdfunding, product sales, affiliate programs, and livestreams. And with that in mind, here’s how what you should know about each of those revenue streams:

Enable Monetization With Adsense

The YouTube Partner Program is a monetization program that helps users earn profits from ads that appear on their videos by connecting an approved AdSense account. Getting set up with an account is the first major step in learning how to make money on Youtube, as most YouTube monetization options require you to be a YouTube partner in order to earn money.

You can monetize multiple accounts using the same AdSense account; this is an ideal option for YouTubers with spin-off channels. Once you’ve given permission to YouTube to run ads on your video, you receive a small commission when an action is completed (entire video watched without skipping, user clicked on the ad, etc). To qualify for the YouTube Partner Program, you must:

  • Have over 1,000 subscribers
  • Have accumulated over 4,000 hours of watched videos
  • Have a Google Ads account

If you haven’t already, create a Google AdSense account. Familiarize yourself with different ad formats before you select the type of ads you want to show on your channel.

Keep in mind that new YouTubers will make little to no money from YouTube ads; the average YouTube pay for a viewed ad is between $0.01 and $0.03.

Source: Kara and Nate

However, if you plan to keep your channel for years and put effort into building your audience, it can be a highly lucrative method. Kara and Nate, YouTube travel vloggers, made just over $50,000 in ad revenue in the third quarter of 2019, according to their website’s income reports. This revenue was largely influenced by a viral video they posted called, “Our Time Home in the Swiss Alps,” which amassed more than one million views and resulted in thousands of new subscribers and subsequent reviews.

Sponsored videos are the holy grail of YouTube influencer marketing. This is when a brand comes to you and says, “We love your work; can you help promote our offering?” Of all the monetization strategies, sponsored videos have the highest earning potential for the average YouTuber.

In this video about minimalist filmmaking accessories, Jake Frew shows viewers PolarPro, a sponsored product.

The age-old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply in the world of influencer marketing. To get somewhere, you have to put the effort in. After you’ve started building your influence through consistent, quality uploads, you can start to put yourself in a favorable marketable position.

The first step is to sign up for an influencer marketing program like Scalefluence. When you sign up for Scalefluence you’ll be able to create a profile for your channel, set your price for partnerships, and make your channel easily discoverable to brands and marketing agencies. From there, securing a partnership is simple; brands searching for influencers will see your profile appear in relevant searches and reach out to you if they’re interested in working with you.

Because the Scalefluence platform allows you to set up front pricing, you avoid the back-and-forth negotiation process associated with traditional partnerships. Most influencer marketing platforms come at no cost to the influencer, so it’s best to sign up for a few programs and build out your portfolio.

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to wait for a brand to come to you. If you’re eager to get to work with brands you admire, you can reach out to them directly. Start by creating a media kit to present to brands and/or marketing agencies you’d like to work with.

Crowdfunding Donations

Crowdfunding and donations platforms like Patreon allow influencers to receive money directly from their fans. For YouTubers just starting out and learning how to make money on YouTube, this is a reliable way to secure funds from a small, reliable fan base, particularly if you don’t have a big enough following to sign up for the YouTube Partner Program.

Through platforms like Patreon, channel owners can receive ongoing donations from their viewers based on their membership tier of choice. Different membership tiers offer different benefits to the members.

For instance, Trent and Allie, popular travel vloggers, offer five membership levels on their Patreon page. The first level, called the “Support Center,” costs $1 per month and is geared towards subscribers who simply want to support the channel in a small, meaningful way. For $5 per month, members get full access to Patreon-only content and guaranteed responses to questions and messages.

Promote your Patreon page on your YouTube channel and other social channels. Starting a Patreon account is free, but once you start earning, Patreon takes a small fee. There are several other Patreon-alternative services worth exploring, including Buy Me a Coffee and Memberful.

Product Sales

Product sales are a great way for YouTubers to monetize their channels. Dropshipping makes it easy to be flexible with inventory and get started with minimal upfront costs. For example, third-party platforms like Printful offer custom-made, on-demand printing. Using this method, you won’t waste a dime on sitting inventory and will only pay for the product whenever an order is made.

Fortunately, there’s a low barrier to entry for YouTube merchandising; you don’t have to run a full ecommerce business to sell products to your viewers. YouTubers can leverage their fanbase to sell low-ticket items like stickers and patches. Digital products are also great options. These include e-books, photography, or online courses.

One of the biggest reasons influencers are able to sell products is because their followers want to support them and need a way to demonstrate their loyalty to influencers beyond video viewing. Purchasing an influencer’s product allows them to show support via a meaningful trade-off.

What you sell depends on your audience. Don’t just create a product for the sake of creating a product. Put together a product that your audience will enjoy and recommend.

Image Source

There are two primary ways to earn money from product sales on YouTube; through YouTube’s merchandising program or an independent shop. There are pros and cons to both options. For starters, you must be a YouTube Partner to take advantage of YouTube’s merch option, which allows you to display eligible products displayed alongside your videos. This is a great strategy because it puts your product upfront and center where your customers are already at. YouTube has also partnered with several distributors and retailers. You can also put a store tab on your homepage, pin items on your livestream, and feature merch on end screens.

The second option is to run an independent retail store through another platform like Shopify and promote your store on your channel. Although your viewers will have to leave YouTube to access your product, an off-site store has its own benefits, too. With a separate ecommerce platform, you have full creative control over how your store looks, how you cross-promote, and much more.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs allow YouTubers to earn a commission from the products or services they recommend. Take a look at some of your favorite YouTubers and you’ll find plenty of affiliate links in their video descriptions. For example, they might list affiliate links to products they mention in their video or to link to equipment they use to create their videos.

There are several benefits of participating in an affiliate program. For starters, there’s a very low barrier to entry. You can get started with an affiliate program from a major retailer like Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy. Signing up is simple and many of these platforms make it easy to become a qualified affiliate.

You can also set up affiliate agreements with brands directly. For example, if there’s a brand you vouch for that isn’t interested in an official influencer campaign, you may be able to work with them on an affiliate basis. Although they might not be interested in sponsoring you, setting up an affiliate agreement creates a can’t-lose working dynamic; they receive sales based on your influence and you earn a profit for the referral. This can also be a good way to trial your potential as an official sponsored influencer in the future.

Livestream Events

The livestream industry is expected to reach $124 billion by 2025. Content creators who have sizable audiences can leverage live events to promote their own products, affiliate products, or sponsored brands. YouTube continues to build out their live streaming capabilities, creating ample opportunity for monetization. The platform’s new Live Control Room combines some of its classic streaming features with improved features.

To monetize your live streams, you can use any of the aforementioned monetization tactics, including merchandise sales, affiliate sales, and ad revenue. For example, you can run mid-roll ads, pre-roll ads, or overlay ads during your stream. Like traditional video ads, each ad type comes with its own pros and cons and you should assess each before you set your ad preferences.

Super Chat and Super Stickers are unique Partner Program features that can also help you earn a few extra dollars. Super Stickers are animated images that allow viewers to convey responses to live content. For example, a viewer might use a sticker that expresses love, anger, or concern during a livestream.

Source: The Verge

Super Chat is a feature that allows viewers to purchase chat messages and pin them to the top of live-stream comments. This makes it easier for them to stand out from other members of the audience and is a unique way to engage with and support content creators. According to YouTube, more than 100,000 channels utilize the Super Chat feature, with some users earning roughly $400 per minute.

Lastly, you can earn money through live streams with paid subscriptions via Channel Memberships. Channel memberships allow viewers to have access to premium content from YouTubers that offer it. To earn money with Channel Memberships, you must have at least 30,000 subscribers (or 1,000 subscribers for gaming channels) and be a member of the YouTube Partner Program.


The more you learn how to make money on YouTube, the more you start to see that each revenue stream offers ample benefits. Combine several revenue streams for the highest earning potential, but keep in mind that passion for your channel should come first. Think long-term and avoid emphasizing money when you’re just getting started, as it can take a few months before your channels become profitable. Instead, focus on creating quality content and engaging with your subscribers. From here, the money follows.

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