Adriene Mishler, host of the channel Yoga with Adriene, is the world’s most influential Yoga instructor. With 10 million+ subscribers to her channel, Adriene mastered her craft. And it’s reflected in her following. And when deciding to build a space for some of her most devoted followers, she turned to building a community called Find What Feels Good, as a place for people to go deeper in their yoga practice, to learn, and to connect with others.
If you’re thinking about how to monetize a YouTube channel, there are some great lessons in Yoga with Adriene for people getting started: master your craft, grow a devoted following, build what you can on YouTube (e.g. with ads), and then find a place to bring your audience deeper and richer connection.
Let’s be honest, monetizing a YouTube channel is something most video creators have dreamed about. But if you’re waiting to hit the necessary threshold of views and subscribers for display ads, don’t fret. That’s not the only way to do it.
In this article, we’ll walk through what you need to know about monetizing a YouTube channel. We’ll give you some truths about monetization, and walk you through some of the ways you can build a business, even off of a relatively small channel.
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In this article…
What does it mean to monetize a YouTube channel?
Monetizing a YouTube channel is, simply, making money off of your YouTube views. But often when people talk about monetizing a YouTube channel, they are actually talking about the formal monetization through Google AdSense, which we'll talk about below. But you're not limited to ads; there are also a ton of other ways to make money off of your YouTube channel.
4 truths about monetizing on Youtube
YouTube is an attention machine
Unlike most other social media, YouTube is a search engine. That means that YouTube generates traffic in the same way that a website does, people type keywords into a search bar and find your stuff. The power of this for people who are creating content is that your content keeps generating returns year after year.
This makes it a powerful attention machine, and a phenomenal social media channel. If you create a quality, keyword-optimized video today, it can potentially keep bringing in views for years to come.
YouTube has a ridiculous amount of competition
Yes. It does. With over 720,000 hours of video uploaded every day, YouTube has a lot of people vying for eyes.
But since people watch an average of 1 billion hours of content every day, there's still a place for you.
If you already have a YouTube following, you've probably realized that the secret is to have a really strong niche. Focus on creating content in that niche and you can build a following.
You don't need a ridiculous following to make money with YouTube
You don't need a million followers to make money with your YouTube channel. Well, actually, let's clarify that. You would probably need well over a million followers to earn a lot of money with YouTube display ads.
BUT, as we'll talk about below, there are other amazing ways to monetize your YouTube channel that don't require millions of followers. And even if you have millions of followers (congrats!), these methods will just put more back in your pocket and help you give them more value.
Display ads suck
Oh, did we mention this already? Monetizing with display ads has a ridiculously high threshold, which we'll talk about below. It's a much better strategy to focus on building in a niche, and using a better monetization method.
How to monetize a Youtube channel – 7 ways
Okay, we talked about this a little bit above. In order to be approved for ads, you have to hit a minimum target – 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. That doesn’t sound huge at first, especially when you’ve seen channels with millions of followers. But getting your first 1,000 subs is no small feat.
And let's be honest, even once you get monetized, it’s unlikely ads will earn you enough to put food on the table. This means that, while you might as well turn on ads if you’re eligible, most creators won’t earn a living from them.
2. Channel memberships
Channel memberships is another way to monetize a YouTube channel. Like with ads, you’ll need to have more than 1,000 subscribers and be in the YouTube partner program. You can then offer member perks like badges, emojis, live chats, and more for your paying members.
Another common way of monetizing a YouTube channel is through product placement and affiliate links. Let's say you had a channel that talked about building remote control cars. You might link to an online store, say Amazon, with sponsored links in the description section for viewers to buy parts or RC cars. (It's mandatory to indicate which of your links are sponsored).
This is a common way of making money on YouTube, and if you check the description of many of your favorite videos you'll find affiliate links in there.
If you want to monetize with affiliate links, you'll need to find some affiliates that fit your brand that you don't mind talking about. It's best when there is a natural connection between your content and your affiliate links. (We have an affiliate program too!)
Selling merch is another avenue for monetizing a YouTube channel. YouTube is moving into the social commerce space, meaning that you can now set up your own store on your YouTube channel. If you have a recognizable brand, you can sell merch.
5. Selling physical or digital products
Obviously this isn't totally different from selling merch, but let’s talk about it separately. You may be able to link your YouTube channel to a physical or digital product that you sell. In this case, we're talking about products you make yourself, and not affiliates.
Let's say you're a painter, who puts art tips up on your channel. You can use the channel to sell physical products, maybe even the paintings you created while demonstrating your techniques.
A different, more corporate example, would be a company that has built an SAAS solution for email marketing. They might use their YouTube channel to teach the ins and outs of email marketing to small businesses, all in an effort to try to increase visibility in sales of their products.
6. Selling services
In the same vein, another way to monetize a YouTube channel is through selling services. Let's say you're a financial planner, you could give personal finance tips on your YouTube channel and connect it to your financial planning business.
As more services are online, and aren't tied down to locality anymore, many service professionals are building businesses like this. From coaches to finance professionals, from consulting to speaking, YouTube is fertile ground for service experts to prove their chops and build their audience, and to sell services from them.
7. Courses + Community
Of course, courses and community might fall under the digital products category, but they deserve a mention in their own right. In the creator economy, mixing courses and community together is perhaps the single best way to monetize a YouTube channel.
For example, Adriene Mishler built a course and community for her followers. It wasn’t just about monetization either. Starting the FWFG community and app was a way to build stronger connections with the channel followers, and help devoted fans deepen their yoga practice.
And you don’t need to have 10 million followers to create a thriving course and community off-YouTube. Listen to Heather Ramirez share how she mixes course and community together:
Using a course and community to monetize a YouTube channel lets you build a place for some of your most devoted subscribers to get some facetime with you, and to work together on something important to them.
And it means you don’t need millions of followers to create a sustainable business. In fact, with the right niche, you can build a successful business with a couple hundred.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to bring your course and community together, come check out Mighty Networks. You can try it for free, and get a sense of what you could build with it. Inviting people into your Mighty Network might be as simple as adding a join link under your videos.
If you’re ready to take the steps of monetizing a YouTube channel, we hope this article has given you some ideas for how to do it. It’s still a great time to use Youtube to grow your business, and with a little work, it can be an awesome acquisition channel.
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