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125 Tips to Easily Create, Promote and Monetize Videos in Your Niche
In just the past few years Web-based videos have gone from a brand new concept to a part of our daily lives. Thanks in large part to sites such as YouTube, Americans now watch billions of hours of videos each month. It’s hard to believe that just nine years ago, YouTube didn’t exist.
But Web videos aren’t simply an entertaining hobby. They’re big business, generating billions of dollars in revenue each year and making new millionaires of video stars each year. The following list of 125 tips and resources will give you the tools you need to start creating and monetizing Web videos in your niche.
Jump to Section
- Intro to YouTube: How Videos Make Money, Basic Web Video Recording Tools, Screen Recording Tools, Advanced Video and Audio Equipment, Editing Within YouTube
- How To Make Money: Ways To Make Money On YouTube, Other Ways To Make Money Off Your Videos
- Resources: YouTube Success Stories, Tools, Inspiration, & Research
- Further Reading: YouTube Economics, Insights From YouTube Stars & Experts, Research & Resources, YouTube Alternatives, YouTube SEO, Making A Viral Video, Building an Audience, YouTube Myths, Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration, Video Production Tips
- Premium Resources: Paid YouTube Tools, Courses, and Consultants
How Web Videos Make Money
It’s important to first understand how publishers make money from YouTube or other video-sharing websites. Although there are many potential monetization methods (discussed below), the most common involves getting paid from advertising revenue generated on your videos.
|History of YouTube
||First Video Uploaded
||Purchased by Google
||Alexa names 3rd most visited site
||Monthly users reaches 1 billion
A background of YouTube may be helpful at this point. The video sharing site was founded in early 2005 and acquired by Google in October 2006 for about $1.65 billion. Google has continued to operate YouTube since then, gradually integrating it with other products. That parent-child relationship helps when understanding how money is made on YouTube. Just as Google serves ads next to search results and on pieces of content within its network, it also serves ads during videos (much more on this below). As one of the largest ad networks in the world, Google brings to the table relationships with thousands of advertisers all over the world. In the case of YouTube, it relies on users to create the content where those ads can be hosted.
Since it takes both parties to generate the ad revenue, it follows that the earnings should be split between Google (which brings the technical components as well as relationships with advertisers) and the publisher (who creates and uploads the video content). Here’s the simplified illustration of how an ad network (such as YouTube) works with advertisers and publishers (i.e., video uploaders):
The arrows above could be reversed to show the flow of money; the advertisers pay the network, who passes on a portion of the total to its publishers (while keeping a portion for itself of course). YouTube takes about 45% of ad revenue for itself, and passes on the remainder to its publisher partners.
Other video sharing sites maintain generally similar arrangements: they split revenue generated from advertisements with the creators of the content that host the ads.
These ads may take multiple forms:
- “Pre-Roll” Video Ads. If you’ve ever been on YouTube, you’ve probably seen a video advertisement before the video you want to watch begins playing. This is known as a “pre-roll” ad, and it doesn’t magically appear. Rather, an advertiser pays for that content to be served to you:
- Image and Text Ads. Interestingly enough, ads shown during Web videos aren’t necessarily video ads. The site hosting the video may include more traditional banner ads, either next to the screen or within it (this example has both):
- In-Video Text Ads. Many video sites show ads that take up a part of the screen while the video is playing:
Regardless of the form that the ad takes, money changes hands in order for it to be shown. A big chunk of that check goes to the site that hosts the video (e.g., YouTube). But in many cases, the creator of the video gets a cut of the action as well.
Web videos are just a version of Web pages, and they generate revenue for their hosts and content creators in much the same way that text-heavy Web pages do: advertising.
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Basic Web Video Recording Tools
Some of the best, most popular videos on YouTube were recorded with extremely low-tech equipment–often just a shaky hand-help recorder or the webcam that comes pre-installed on a computer. That type of quality may work just fine for the more spontaneous, humorous types of videos (in fact, it may make a significant contribution to their appeal!). This video isn’t exactly the pinnacle of film making:
But for most aspiring YouTube producers, there’s a slightly higher standard that you’ll be held to: the better your videos look, the more seriously people will take you and the more views and followers you’ll get.
If you’re looking to make a video that you’re planning to eventually monetize, there’s an extremely broad spectrum of sophistication and quality. If you’re looking to make the video production process quick and easy, there are a number of tools that you can use with just a webcam. Note: several of the following tools are taken from this great article by Med Kharbach.
- YouTube Video Recorder. The most basic recording tool comes already included in YouTube, meaning that you can start recording your videos with just a webcam and a browser.
- WeVideo. There is no download required for this recording service; it will work in any Web browser. The basic tier is free, with additional levels of service available at $50 per year and $100 per year. Check out the WeVideo demo to get a better feel for the capabilities here.
- Google Story Builder. This Google app can be used to record and create videos with a Google Docs feel. Check out some of the examples for some inspiration (you may have seen some of them on TV already), and play around with the easy-to-use interface. Story Builder is completely free.
- Pixorial. This program lets users record and edit video, and then upload to YouTube or other social platforms. Up to 7 GB of cloud storage is free; after that you’ll have to pay (starts at $2.99/month for 15 GB of storage). Videos created with Pixorial can be shared from any device in just about any format.
- Powtoon. This presentation software probably wasn’t designed with YouTube videos in mind, but it can definitely be used to create animated videos for the Web. With almost 300,000 Powtoons created, this one is worth checking out. (Also take a look at their blog).
- Intervue. This completely free-to-use program is designed to capture short video responses from the Web, but can certainly be used to create videos for YouTube as well. Check out the publicly listed “Intervues” to get a feel for how it works. If you’re looking for a quick solution, this one may be worth a look.
- Flixtime. This program lets users mix videos, photos, and music to come up with a polished Web-friendly video. It’s free to sign up, and free to create videos with this program. Then there’s a fee ($3 for a HD video or about $7 for a FullHD video) to download it to your computer.
- GoAnimate. This Web app allows users to create animated videos. Basic accounts are free, but they offer more features to paid users, starting at $58 per year. Our Benefits of Joining MonetizePros.com video was produced using GoAnimate, if you want to watch an example of their service.
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Screen Recording Tools
Some popular YouTube videos are created not with a webcam, but by capturing the images that appear on a computer screen. (Pewdiepie, who has almost 8 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, produces screencasts almost exclusively.) There are several tools that can be used to create a “screencast” for various operating systems (* indicates free tool):
|Screen Recording Tools
||Free (donations accepted)
||$99 to $175
- Camtasia. This popular program is available for both Windows and Mac, and lets users capture their screen activity and then edit it into a professional Web-ready video. Camtasia Studio costs $299 to buy, but there is a free trial for those who want to give it a spin first.
- * CamStudio. This program is open source, 100% free, and allows you to record all screen and audio activity on your computer. CamStudio outputs files as AVIs, and has a built-in tool that can convert them to Flash files if desired. CamStudio also has a support forum that can help in creating professional quality videos.
- * Microsoft Expression Encoder. Though designed for encoding to the Silverlight format, this download includes a separate screen capture tool. Here’s an overview of the benefits of using this program to create screencasts. There’s a free standard version of Expression Encoder and paid premium versions.
- * EZVid. This program is also completely free; EZVid includes speech synthesis features, screen drawing tools, and a speed control function in addition to basic screen capture. Check out their home page for tutorials and suggestions. There’s also an extensive Help section if you run into any issues using this tool.
- * Jing. This free tool allows users to create screencasts that record their on-screen actions and accompanying audio. Jing videos are limited to five minutes in length, so this tool will be best for those making relatively brief productions, though many of the best YouTube videos are well under five minutes in length.
- ScreenFlow. This tool allows Mac users to record their screens while also capturing microphone inputs and computer audio. ScreenFlow includes editing software, and can output the video in various YouTube and Vimeo-friendly formats. ScreenFlow costs $99, with an option for a free trial to give it a test drive.
- * Screencast-o-Matic. This one-click screencasting program will let you be up and running in a matter of seconds. With the free version users are able to record up to 15 minutes of video and publish to YouTubeHD or various other formats. There’s also a Pro version ($15/year) that gives some additional benefits.
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Advanced Video / Audio Equipment
If you’re looking to get slightly higher production quality for your Web videos, the sky is the limit as far as potential budget. Though the options are unlimited, here are a couple articles that might help you get started in your hunt for the appropriate equipment:
- Best Camera for YouTube Video Recording in 2013 at Squidoo. This article profiles dozens of cameras, including categories of cost efficient, easy-to-transfer, HD, compact / flip, and even camcorders.
- Basic Setup Ideas For Video at HarmlessWise.com. This article goes in depth on various pieces of equipment an aspiring YouTuber might want, from camera and tripod to lights and microphone.
Here’s a summary of some of the equipment you may want to have, as well as a ballpark figure for what a cheap but workable solution may cost:
|Video Production Wish List
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Editing Within YouTube
Once you’ve recorded the segments you want to use for your video, you’ll probably want to begin editing the rough cuts into a polished final product. In addition to the countless editing programs out there (many of which are included in the recording tools highlighted above), YouTube also has some built-in editing features that will do the job for most video creators. The editor has basic but easy-to-use functionality (such as several video filters, brightness and contrast settings, etc.) and a creative commons library that gives you a feel for the process even if you don’t have a video ready to edit:
Here’s some reading on the editing process:
- How to Edit Video on YouTube by Fran Berkman. This overview of YouTube’s editing function tells you just about everything you need to know, including preferred settings and some step-by-step instructions.
- Official YouTube Blog Post on Editing by John Gregg. This post from the Official YouTube Blog gives an introduction to the capabilities of the internal editor.
- How to use YouTube’s video editor by Josh Lowensohn. This article gives a short but informative summary of the editing capabilities, including the audio editing functionality.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of creating and editing Web videos, let’s move on to the ways to start making money from those videos. If you have additional questions about the process of creating and uploading videos, try the YouTube Help Center.
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Ways To Make Money On YouTube
Each year countless ambitious entrepreneurs set out to make a fortune through YouTube, with visions of massive followings, big paychecks, and a generally glorious career. Most of them, of course, fail to make millions monetizing their original video content–for a number of different of reasons. But there are countless YouTube success stories as well. If we had to write a formula for YouTube success, it would look something like this:
|Original Concept + Creativity + Perseverance + Hard Work + Luck = YouTube Success
Those are a lot of stars that need to align to make a career or even a supplemental revenue stream out of producing video content for a living, which is why it’s such a hard dream to achieve. But for those willing to try, here are another 101 tips, tricks, inspirations, resources, and reading items to make a living (or at least some additional spending money) through YouTube or other online video sites.
We’ll start with YouTube, the largest of the online video platforms and still one of the best opportunities to make money from your video content. Even within the YouTube platform, there are several ways to make money:
- Become a YouTube Partner. The simplest and most common way to make money through YouTube involves partnering directly with YouTube and effectively splitting the money that is made off of ads. This includes both the ads that play during and before your videos, as well as the banner ads that are shown to the right of your video on YouTube.com. For a detailed breakdown of the various ad units, as well as where earnings for each are displayed, check out this recent article from Chris Atkinson at ReelSEO. The biggest advantage of the YouTube Partner program is the convenience: it’s easy to get up and running and start earning some revenue. However, it’s going to be tough to get rich this way; only a very small portion of YouTube partners make the big bucks. A good alternative might be CPA Marketing With YouTube.
- Sign up your own sponsors. There is, of course, another way to make money off of YouTube: cut out the middle man and sign up your own sponsors. If you’re able to build a substantial audience, you’ll have the ability to sign up sponsors for your programming who want to advertise their products and services to your target audience. There’s no simple formula for signing up sponsors for your program; it all depends on your audience, the number of potential sponsors, and their budgets. But if done correctly, this can be a very lucrative source of revenue for YouTube channels.
- Promote your own merchandise. While many YouTubers focus on the “direct” monetization routs available, perhaps the biggest potential in video is in the opportunity to promote other products and services that are moneymakers for you. Giving away free video content can be a great way to make money–if you’re effectively promoting merchandise or services that your free users will pay for. If you have products or services to sell and a YouTube audience that would be interested in purchasing them, this might be your best monetization opportunity.
- Go freemium style. YouTube can be a great way to generate leads for your paid services, and a “freemium” business model can be a great way to turn on the masses to your paid product. This concept is pretty simple; give away a bunch of content for free on YouTube, but hold back some of your best stuff behind a paywall on your own site. If you can get a big crowd to enjoy your free content, odds are that you’ll be able to get a portion of them to pay for your exclusive video as well. The Young Turks have implemented this model well; check out their channel for a good example of freemium.
- Get an affiliate deal in place. If you don’t have a great premium product to sell, find someone who does–and cut yourself into their revenue stream. If you have a large and/or targeted audience, find a partner whose products you can promote in your videos and hash out a way that you can get credit for sending clients their way! Affiliate deals can be tough to monetize if there are no obvious partners for your channel, but there’s a huge opportunity here if you can effectively become a spokesman for another company in your videos.
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Other Ways To Make Money Off Your Videos
Of course, YouTube isn’t the only source out there for monetizing your quality video content. Though it’s the most commonly used system (and for most people the best way to make money), there are some alternatives that may be better fits for some. Here’s a look at the largest video networks, according to measurement company ccomScore:
|Largest Video Properties
|Google (incl. YouTube)
Not all of these video networks offer publishers an opportunity to make money by showing ads, of course. Facebook, for example, doesn’t currently make money from ads hosted on its site (and if they did, it’s unlikely they’d share it with users). But there are some competitors to YouTube that offer a way for creators of original content to make money from the ads shown there:
- Become a “Motionmaker” at Dailymotion. DailyMotion has become a popular alternative you YouTube in recent years, and represents a way for video producers to cash in on popular submissions. The process is pretty simple; “Motionmakers” have the ability to upload their videos to Dailymotion and earn a portion of any advertising revenue generated.
- Open up your Vimeo Tip Jar. (Now replaced with Vimeo on Demand) Vimeo takes a different approach to monetizing videos. Instead of relying on ads, this site uses a “Tip Jar” model. That’s pretty much what is sounds like; viewers of Vimeo videos have the option to “Tip This Video,” which involves giving a tip of about $1 up to $500. Video producers get about 85% of all tips generated.
- Work on hitting the Break.com home page. Break.com is a video sharing site that offers producers another unique way to make money. If your original video is featured on their homepage, they will pay you $400 to sell the video to them (or you can take $200 to license the video).
- Sell access to your channel on Viddler. Viddler essentially allows video producers to sell access to their channels, either on a monthly or weekly basis. So if you have a product that you’re not interested in giving away for free, Viddler can be a useful solution to set up a paid content model.
- Become a Blip.tv partner. Blip.tv is another video sharing site that allows video producers to monetize their content through advertisements. There are a number of ad options available, including preroll, overlay, postroll and even commerical breaks for series that qualify.
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YouTube Success Stories
There are now countless examples of regular folks who have parlayed a clever or creative YouTube video into significant earnings. Below are a handful of videos that have made big bucks for their creators:
- Natalie Tran. Aussie Natalie Tran was one of the first to hit it big on YouTube, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years through her “communitychannel” page (which has received over 450 million pageviews). Some of Tran’s biggest hits are videos are Cops (4.3 million views), Bad Loser (6.6 million), and How to fake a six pack (almost 35 million views). She has continued to attract millions of views since she broke through several years ago, and is now parlaying her YouTube stardom into a blossoming film career.
- David After Dentist. Not surprisingly, cute kids can help a YouTube video tremendously. “David After Dentist,” a two minute video of a six-year old, post-teeth cleaning, has been viewed more than 100 million times. That has reportedly translated into more than $100,000 in earnings for the parents–enough to pay for a college education on top of the dentist bill. David After Dentist proves that the best and most profitable YouTube videos are often completely unscripted and capture candid moments.
- Philly D. Philip DeFranco, better known on YouTube as Philly D, has built several popular YouTube channels with millions of subscribers in total. The channel revolves around what Franco describes as “non news related things to yo face!” He also hosts the Philip DeFranco show Sunday through Thursday, where he talks about news and pop culture. By some estimates, Philly D earns close to $200,000 annually from his YouTube videos. Check out the ads running on his channel to get an idea for how this is possible.
- The Young Turks. This political talk show, which started more than a decade ago and has evolved over the years, is another of the great YouTube success stories. The Young Turks have been extremely successful on YouTube through a very devoted fan base–towering high above many mainstream media outlets in terms of popularity. The Young Turks has become the largest online news show in the world, an impressive feat considering the lack of a traditional or mainstream brand.
- Smosh. Smosh is the comedy duo of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla (both of whom were born in 1987) who began to post their videos on YouTube in 2005 and have since grown to become the most popular YouTube channel out there. Smosh was acquired by Alloy Digital in July 2011. Terms weren’t disclosed, but odds are that Ian and Anthony made themselves a bit of walking around money in that deal.
- Shaycarl. The story of how Shay Butler became a YouTube phenomenon (and made a bit of money in the process) is a strange one, complete with humble beginnings and a bit of good luck. From his birth in Utah to a Mormon mission in the West Indies to the day he discovered YouTube, Shay’s is an inspiring (and occasionally sad) story. Shay has parlayed comedy shorts into an online mini empire, in a journey that anyone looking to hit it big on YouTube can certainly admire.
- Fred Figgelhorn. Fred is actually Lucas Cruikshank, who became a YouTube sensation as a teenager broadcasting from Nebraska (he was born in 1993(. “Fred” describes himself as a “a really hyperactive, temper-throwing teenager who’s stuck in the mentality of a 6-year-old.” But that character has worked to the tune of a popular channel and thousands in earnings.
- Ryan Higa. This success story is another unlikely YouTube star: Ryan started uploading videos when he was a high schooler in Hawaii. Fast forward a few years and Ryan’s YouTube channel Nigahiga has some 7 million subscribers. When you have 30 minutes, take a listen to Ryan’s story in his own words, including a detailed discussion of his rise to YouTube stardom. Ryan has also produced a feature length film, Ryan and Sean’s Not So Excellent Adventure.
- Annoying Orange. This channel is the brainchild of former MTV production assistant Dane Boedigheimer. Dane voices an orange who lives on a kitchen counter with other fruits and objects. The series became extremely popular on YouTube, and eventually spawned merchandise that’s been sold at JCPenney and other outlets. There has also been an Annoying Orange video game, which is available on iOS and Android devices.
- Shane Dawson. Shane is a YouTuber who made his rise to celebrity after getting fired from a job at Jenny Craig for uploading a video of himself poledancing. Shane’s popular channel features a wide variety of content, including spoofs on music videos, celebrity impersonations, and comedy videos featuring recurring characters. Dawson’s first YouTube bits were videos that he and friends would turn in during high school instead of homework. He’s gone on to release several singles on iTunes.
- Ray William Johnson. Ray’s big hit is the YouTube series Equals Three, which features him providing commentary on other viral videos. His channel has accumulated over 2.2 billion views and 7 million subscribers. RayWJ, as he’s known, reportedly takes home close to $1 million annually from his YouTube videos.
- Epic Meal Time. Not all YouTube success stories are quirky teenage comics; Epic Meal Time is perhaps closer to the type of show you’d see on traditional cable television. The episodes are essentially “food porn” with each focusing on the preparation and consumption of a high calorie, meat-filled meal. This show is also unique in that it is monetized in multiple ways. In addition to traditional ads within videos, the creators sell a line of t-shirts and have also established referral programs with advertisers such as Netflix.
- Jenna Marbles. Jenna Mourey, aka Jenna Marbles, has a Masters in Education in Sport Psychology and Counseling from Boston University. She’s produced some of the most watched videos in the history of YouTube. A couple of her biggest hits have titles like “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” and “How To Avoid Talking To People You Don’t Want To Talk To.” Hear Jenna’s YouTube success story in her own words in this video, or read a unique profile of her popularity.
- PewDiePie. Swedish gamer Felix Kjellberg is something of a cult phenomenon on YouTube; videos featuring him playing video and computer games (often screaming or crying along the way) get millions of views as soon as they’re put up. He’s managed to make a nice living out of horror game playthroughs, once again proving that there can be opportunities for success in unexpected niches (see a brief interview with Felix here).
- werevertumorro. The most popular YouTube channel in Mexico, werevertumorro started as a joke but grew into a wildly popular show (a common component in many YouTube success stories). The episodes, which are generally about 10 minutes long, feature young guys talking about relationships, girls, and more.
- RoosterTeeth. This channel started out as DrunkGamers.com, which featured a group of guys reviewing video games while drunk. It’s evolved quite a bit over the years to become one of the most popular YouTube channels with nearly 2 billion views and several million followers. RoosterTeeth hit it big with their Red vs. Blue sci-fi series, and they monetize their YouTube presence partially through DVD sales. Check out the official history of this group for the full story.
For more from some of these YouTube superstars, jump down the page to see some interviews with some of the smartest and most successful people within the web video industry.
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Tools, Inspiration & Research
Before you set out on your money-making YouTube quest, there is plenty that you can do to learn from those who have gone before you and take advantage of some of the resources that communities have spent hundreds of hours developing. Basically, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; spend some time perusing the tools and sites below, and walk away with some valuable insights into what it takes to be a success.
Many of these pages are updated on a regular basis, and if you stick with the YouTube initiative you will find yourself coming back to them regularly. Stick a bookmark on the ones that you find particularly useful, and stop back for insights on a daily or weekly basis:
- Use Content ID To Protect Your Earnings. For those fortunate enough to make meaningful money from YouTube, it’s critical to protect your revenue stream by preventing others from essentially stealing your original content. Content ID is a free system that allows video owners to identify their original material, thereby capturing any earnings on such material that would otherwise be hijacked by copycats.
- Become A Regular Reader Of YouTube Insight. YouTube’s Advertising Insight page is an analytics tool that allows content creators to get detailed information about their YouTube audience. That’s valuable information for anyone looking to make money off of YouTube.
- Subscribe To YouTube Trends. If you want to make a sustainable living on YouTube (or just continue to generate some additional income), it’s important to stay current and always be coming up with new ideas. YouTube Trends is a great way to stay on top of current trends, and a great place for inspiration for that next big moneymaker.
- Check Out The YouTube Playbook. Playbook is another official, free resource provided by YouTube. This one is designed to help partners grow their audience, complete with tips and best practices to help you reach the widest possible audience and maximize your earnings.
- Get Familiar With YouTube Keyword Tool. This is another tool to help you figure out what interests the YouTube audience. Though it’s unlikely that the bulk of your viewers are coming from search volume within YouTube.com, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be aware of what current interests are.
- Check In On the Official YouTube Blog. Checking in regularly on the official YouTube blog will keep you up to date on the latest trends and tools that can make your life easier and your monthly payment a bit bigger. You can also find information on YouTube meetups in more than 300 cities around the globe here.
- Get A Free YouTube Channel Report. SimplyMeasured offers a free report on your YouTube Channel, highlighting which videos are working (and why). If you’re interested, there are also free reports for other social media platforms such as Facebook and Google+ here as well.
- Bookmark YouTube Charts. The official statkeeper for YouTube, this site has information on what videos are popular now and what’s worked historically. (Fun fact: the most viewed videos of all time are Psy’s Gangnam Style, Justin Bieber’s Baby, and Jennifer Lopez’s On The Floor.)
- Bookmark VidStatsX. This site aggregates a massive amount of data to show what’s popular on YouTube. In addition to the top channels and videos, there is significant granularity that allows users to see what’s popular now in specific categories (such as comedy and education) or various countries.
- Ask Questions At YTtalk. YTtalk.com is a massive online YouTube community, and can be a great resource for aspiring YouTubers searching for inspiration or just an answer to a quick question. The forums on this site are extremely active, and there’s a tremendous amount of great information shared by other YouTubers around the globe.
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Further Reading: YouTube Economics
The monetization of YouTube (and other video networks) will be unique for each publisher. The earnings potential depends on a number of factors, including the quality and length of partnership, number of subscribers, and multiple factors that are beyond the control of most publishers.
As a rule of thumb, most content creators can expect to make between $2 and $10 for every 1,000 views their video gets. If math isn’t your strong suit, here’s a quick guide as to what you can expect if your videos get a certain number of pageviews monthly:
||$ per 1,000
If you’re looking to learn more on the economics of YouTube and just how much can be made, take a look through some of the articles below.
- How to make money online with YouTube by Stephen Chapman at ZDNet. An attempt to answer a very common question; Chapman breaks down the economics of YouTube and attempts to estimate how much various YouTube stars (and non-stars) can earn in a year.
- How Much Money Do YouTube Partners Make? by Chris Atkinson at ReelSEO. Another attempt to number crunch and come to conclusions on what YouTubers can expect to earn with their videos.
- The Facts and Figures on YouTube in 2013 — Infographic by Jeff Bullas. More than just revenue and pageviews, this feature puts the magnitude (and opportunity) of YouTube into perspective.
- The Economics of Pussy Riot on YouTube by Peter Coy at Bloomberg Businessweek. A case study in how press (good or bad) can translate into a surge in YouTube popularity, as seen with a jailed Russian girl band.
- A Brief History of YouTube [Infographic] by Grayson. Another attempt to put the incredible growth and popularity of YouTube into perspective for those attempting to evaluate the opportunity to generate revenue through video.
- YouTube Channels: Bringing In Ad Dollars? (Video) at Bloomberg Businessweek. TubeMogul CEO Brett Wilson explains how YouTube’s ad model works (or doesn’t work), which is important to understand before you attempt to make money off your videos.
- YouTube’s Show-Me-the-Money Problem by Peter Kafka at AllThingsD. An explanation of how the dollars and cents flow behind the scenes, including specific examples of how much some YouTube partners are making.
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Further Reading: Insights From YouTube Stars & Experts
Perhaps the best source of inspiration and guidance are those who have done it already; take a read through the personal stories of some of the biggest YouTube success stories, and learn from their triumphs and failures. (You’ll note that a few of these experts were profiled above in our collection of success stories.)
- Q&A With A Professional YouTuber featuring Philip DeFranco. Philly D talks candidly about his YouTube success, offering up plenty of advice for aspiring videomakers.
- Ray William Johnson Talks Secrets to Internet Success, Pleasures of Predictability, And Staying Humble by Shante Cosme at Complex. RayWJ offers inights into his personal YouTube success story, and the challenges he faces in staying on top.
- Why Young Turks Beats ABC News On YouTube by Josh Sternberg at Digiday. A look into how creative unknowns are dominating the YouTube landscape, scoring major victories over more established traditional media outlets.
- Who Is RayWJ? by Emily Glazer at The Wall Street Journal. Another feature on RayWJ, highlighting his improbable rise to YouTube fame and fortune.
- How To Get Rich: Actual Advice From YouTube’s Cheesiest ‘Experts’ (Video). A video collection of tips and tricks from actual YouTubers–including what NOT to do.
- YouTube Tips From YouTube Experts by Liz Shannon Miller at GigaOM. Get the download from a panel of heavy hitters, including a former YouTube exec and several YouTube stars
- Four Tips For Building A YouTube Audience (From YouTube’s Head of Content Strategy) by Megan O’Neill at Social Times. Tips and suggestions from Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s Head of Content Strategy, on how to make it big. (Also check out a related Ad Age article).
- YouTube Gods And Unlikely Online Video Superstars by Troy Dreier at StreamingMedia.com. Most successful YouTubers have a great story behind their rise; this feature tells a few of them.
- The Secret Sauce Behind Epic Meal Time’s YouTube Success by Greg Voakes at Forbes. Take a look behind the scenes of Epic Meal Time, and get a feel for what makes these YouTubers tick.
- On top of YouTube: Happy Slip, Choi, KevJumba by Jeff Yang at SFGate. More profiles in YouTube stardom, including the stories of three unknowns whose videos made it big.
- Top 10 YouTube Success Stories by TerrekTwo. A feature on 10 YouTube stars who can give any aspiring videomaker hope.
- Taking over Youtube with Captainsparklez at Gamespot.com. YouTube star CaptainSparklez talks openly about what makes his videos popular and his process for creating content.
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Further Reading: Research & Resources
The good news for any aspiring YouTuber: there are tons of resources out there (many of them free) that can make your creative process a lot easier. Below are some articles outlining how best to make use of these tools.
- YouTube Video Tools Collection at QuickOnlineTips. A quick and dirty guide to the tools out there that can save you a lot of time and money researching and producing videos.
- Four Tool For Conducting Keyword Research on YouTube by Ron Jones at ClickZ. A guide to researching topics and titles for your videos, a process that is often overlooked but that can have a huge impact on success.
- YouTube Video Keyword Research by Matt Ballack at VidiSEO. Another look at the art and science of keyword research for your videos.
- How to Research Keywords for YouTube Video SEO in 5 Minutes by CJ Bruce. The finale of our trio of keyword research; check out CJ’s guide to identifying optimal keywords in five minutes or less.
- 49 YouTube Tricks and Resources by FourBlogger. A great collection of shortcuts, free resources, and general ideas for making your YouTube videos better.
- The beginner’s guide to YouTube Analytics by Niall Harbison at TNW. An easy way to make an intro to YouTube Analytics, and better understand where you’re succeeding and where you’re failing.
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Further Reading: YouTube Alternatives
For anyone out there looking to take their video elsewhere, do some research on what exists beyond YouTube:
- Five Alternatives to YouTube by Dave Parrack at MakeUseOf. As simple and straightforward as it sounds: a look at five other sites you can use to make money off your videos.
- Seven Reasons Zippcast Beats YouTube. A review of Zippcast’s features and advantages over YouTube.
- Dailymotion Publishers : earn money sharing videos on your site by Vincent Abry. DailyMotion has popped up as a viable alternative to YouTube this article looks at how you can increase your odds of becoming a profitable “Motion Maker.”
- Vimeo Creators Can Now Make Money Off Their Videos by Christina Warren at Mashable. A guide to making money at Vimeo, another YouTube alternative.
- How To Ditch YouTube and Host Video On Your Own Terms by Nikc Miller at Render Perfect Productions. An extremely ambitions idea–that may not be as unrealistic or challenging as it sounds.
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Further Reading: YouTube SEO
If you’re not en expert at search engine optimization (SEO), have no fear. There’s a great collection of tips and guides out there for beginners looking to give their YouTube channel every possible advantage:
- YouTube SEO Experiment & Useful Tips by David Sottimano at Distilled. An honest recap of an effort to get high quality videos to rank #1.
- The YouTube Experiment by Ben Ruedlinger at SEOmoz. A behind-the-scenes look at a failed YouTube experiment–but with plenty of lessons to learn the easy way.
- 6 Powerful YouTube SEO Tips That No One Talks About at DailyBlogTips. A list of easy-to-implement SEO improvements for your videos: the low-hanging fruit of YouTube SEO.
- YouTube SEO by Sean Si at SEO Hacker. An incredibly detailed but easy-to-follow guide to SEO best practices for your video.
- Top 3 YouTube SEO Tips : Get More Views! by Jason Coffee at SteamFeed. Three tips for improving your video’s position in just a few minutes.
- The SEOmoz YouTube Contest – Winners! by Ruth Burr at SEOmoz. The results of a contest that challenged the SEO community to highlight one tool or tactic in two minutes. There are a lot of ideas applicable to YouTube monetization among the winners.
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Further Reading: Making A Viral Video
Making a video go “viral” is the stated objective of just about anyone who has ever uploaded to YouTube. While it’s much easier said than done, it certainly isn’t impossible. For those with the lofty ambition of creating a viral video, we share some insightful ideas:
- Why videos go viral (TED Talk) by Kevin Allocca. A lengthy discussion about what makes a video take off (but definitely worth a listen when you have some time).
- Blogging With Video, Hoping to Go Viral by Kate Murphy at The New York Times. A feature on the efforts to launch a viral video.
- How To Make A Video Go Viral–Based On The Variables In This Algorithm by Laura Stampler at Business Insider. An attempt at an algorithm that allows advertisers to know whether their videos are going to blow up or flop when released.
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Further Reading: Building An Audience
For the 99.999% of us who don’t have a video go viral and attract boatloads of subscribers, there’s still hope. Building an audience over time can be broken down into something of a scientific and repetitive process–but one with major rewards. Check out some of the ideas for continually growing your subscriber count:
- Seven Hard Hitting Ways To Grow Your YouTube Audience by Neil Patel at Quick Sprout. Tips for growing your YouTube audience over time, applicable to newcomers and veterans alike.
- How to Steal Thousands of Your Competitors’ YouTube Subscribers by Sparkah Business Consulting. A step-by-step guide for figuring out where your competition is succeeding and redirecting their audiences to your channel.
- Top 6 Free Tools for Building Your Youtube Audience by Taryn Southern at Backstage. A how-to guide for making the most out of resources that will assist in growing your channel’s sub count.
- Five Tips for Building Your YouTube Audience by Alan Lastufka at YouTube Creator’s Corner Blog. Easy-to-implement suggestions for growing your audience, starting with some very simple ideas to keep ’em coming back to your channel.
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Further Reading: YouTube Myths, Tips, Tricks, And Inspiration
Below is a catch-all list of worthwhile reads highlighting tips and tricks for a better YouTubing experience, misconceptions about online videos, and of course a shared experience revolving around getting rich off cat videos:
- How To Become The Next YouTube Star Making $100,000 Plus Per Year by William Wei at Business Insider. For those who think big, some tips for getting to a six figure revenue from YouTube.
- Can you appeal a YouTube ban? by Rafe Needleman at CNET. A fascinating read about one YouTuber whose videos were banned completely and what he had to do to get back online.
- Top B2B Companies on YouTube by Lee Odden at TopRank Blog. A look at companies who make the most of YouTube.
- A New Kind Of Visual News at Journalism.org. A detailed look at the phenomenon of YouTube news programming, and what it means for journalism as a whole.
- 50 YouTube (and Online Video) Tips and Tricks by Chris Pirillo. Some pointers for anyone producing and promoting an online video.
- Google: Yes, YouTube Is Kicking Rear by Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider. A look at some common misconceptions about YouTube, and what Google has to say about them.
- YouTube Myths at Essential Video Marketing. Another take on misinformation related to YouTube.
- 15 YouTube Tips (PDF) by David Di Franco, Jr. A downloadable document outlining 15 tips for expanding your YouTube presence and growing that online video paycheck.
- YouTube Gurus Share Tips for Making How-To Videos by Megan O’Neill at SocialTimes. Inside information from several YouTube verterans you’ve probably never heard of–but whose insights and experiences are incredibly valuable.
- How To Get Rich and Famous on YouTube by John Chow. A video presentation on how to successfully navigate the online video space–and become rich without even partnering with YouTube.
- My Quest To Get Rich From Viral Cat Videos by Sarah Stodola at The Awl. A diary of a “casual cat video viewer” who set out to do what a few before her have accomplished: get rich off of cute cat videos.
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Further Reading: Video Production Tips
While much of the attention is on the content creation side of YouTube videos, there is a lot to learn in terms of actually producing and marketing the videos as well:
- How To Make YouTube Videos Than Don’t Suck by Steve Campbell at MakeUseOf. A look at best practices for coming up with a compelling concept as well as an in-the-weeds look at the tecchnical side of producing a high quality video.
- How to Make a YouTube Video, A Beginner’s Checklist for Marketers at The Internet Marketing Driver. A basic how-to guide for creating YouTube videos.
- Tips for Producing More Effective YouTube Videos by Michael Miller at Que Publishing. Tips for producing video that simply looks great, including ideas on editing and equipment.
- YouTube Webinar: How To Produce Awesome Videos on a Budget at HowCast.com. Just because you have a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to produce low quality videos; take a look at how to make your dollars go a long way toward a professional YouTube video.
- How To Make Your Videos Look More Professional – Like Apple Does! by Gideon Shalwick. Another take on how to make a video look clean and professional, without spending a fortune (like many companies do).
- How to produce, upload, tag and share a great YouTube video by Joe McDermottroe. Tips for the unsexy and often overlooked aspects of making a YouTube video.
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Paid YouTube Tools, Courses, And Consultants
While just about everything we’ve highlighted in here has been free information, there are some opportunities out there for those willing and able to shell out a few bucks to promote their videos and refine their YouTube skills. A few suggestions for those with a bit of a budget:
- Take the Subscriber Magnet course. Former YouTube consultant (now a Programming Strategist at YouTube) Matt Koval offers what is essentially a course in how to get the most out of YouTube. His “How To Be A Subscriber Magnet” shares insights gained from building a massive following online, and is a good investment for those willing to spend a bit of money in their quest to become a YouTube star.
- Consult with Kiran Voleti. For those looking for some professional guidance, getting in touch with Kiran could be a good idea. Check out his blog if you want to get a better idea for his background and skills.
- Get in touch With Mark Robertson. Mark is the founder of ReelSEO, and another expert on YouTube and video marketing.
- Try out FoundUB4. This site also offers consulting services, including ways to promote your company videos and get more eyeballs on your channel.
- Download Tube Toolbox. This software package (which includes a free download) is a slick resource for building your YouTube audience. Features include audience targeting, task automation, and general account management.
- Read An Insider’s Guide To Climbing The Charts by Alan Lastufka and Michael Dean. This book is written by two YouTube veterans, instructing on the art of creating and promoting high quality video content.
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As the Web video industry has boomed, it has created an entirely new medium for aspiring entertainers to reach audiences in a new way. In addition to huge opportunity in this space, there is fierce competition for viewers (and ad dollars). If you’re setting out to make a career for yourself in online video, you certainly have your work cut out for you. But there is no doubt a huge opportunity in this medium, as several members of the first generation of YouTube stars have proven.
A successful YouTube campaign or career begins with research on what works and what doesn’t. Above we’ve given you plenty of reading to start the education process; now it’s up to you to dive in and start coming up with your own unique strategy to attract viewers and build a following.