July 10, 2020 10 min read

How To Make Money On YouTube Profitably and Sustainably

Do you want to make money on YouTube and wonder where to start? 


When you are just starting out on YouTube, you might want to focus on followers, likes, comments, and shares. That’s how you make money, right?


Actually, likes and subscribers are only part of your success on YouTube. While these metrics are important, you actually want to focus on something different. Especially when you are starting out or your channel is still small.


The thing is, to make money on YouTube with likes and followers, you need 1,000 followers and 4,000 hours of watch time. These huge numbers make it almost impossible to start monetizing your channel in under one year.


But then how do people make money on YouTube? First of all, YouTube wasn’t always this strict with monetization. In fact, YouTube was forced to have stricter guidelines for its ads after several scandals. 


Simply put, advertisers on YouTube complained because their ads were shown in front of silly videos. So while these guidelines make it harder for you to earn money, they are necessary to keep the quality on the platform high.


Below, we’ll share 8 profitable and sustainable ways to make money on YouTube.


Is Sustainable Income Through YouTube Possible?


If your YouTube channel is small or medium-sized, sustainable income is a problem. You can’t really control which of your videos will be a huge success. You also can’t control how many people watch the ads that get shown before your videos. 


So to make money sustainably and profitably, you need to focus on other things. One of the easiest ways is to sell products or services to your followers. There are ways to do this even if you don’t have your own products.


You can also leverage 3rd-party platforms or leverage your followers for your own marketing funnel. We’ll go in-depth on these strategies below. 


1. Use Google Adsense


There are essentially two ways to make money on YouTube with your videos: Google Adsense and the YouTube Partnership Program.


Unfortunately, both are inconvenient for smaller channels and make it hard to earn a sustainable income. Here’s why:


You can connect your YouTube channel to Google Adsense right away. This means you’ll start to earn money with the ads that are shown in front of your videos. However, with Adsense, you earn approximately $2-$3 per 1,000 clicks. 


What’s more, YouTube only pays out the money once you have reached $100. Even if your channel has great size, it’s hard to make a sustainable income with Adsense alone. 


That’s why YouTube initiated the YouTube Partnership Program. It gives you additional features and the potential to make more money. YouTube keeps part of the money, so you get only a share. 


And you can only use the program after having both 1,000 followers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last 12 months. 


Adsense and the Partnership Program work well when you use both as they compound. But it’s really not the most profitable or sustainable way to make money. 


That’s why we said you don’t need to focus on likes and followers only. There are better ways to make more money on YouTube faster. 

2. Affiliate Marketing


Affiliate marketing is probably the easiest way to make money on YouTube. What you need for this to succeed is a loyal fanbase and an affiliate product you want to sell. 


Now, your fanbase doesn’t have to be huge. Even if you only have 100 fans - as long as they are loyal and trust you, they’ll still buy from you. 


What’s important is to sell products that you actually like and use yourself. They have to be congruent with your message and your channel. 


Selling something just to make money can do you more harm than good. Your followers will realize you are being inauthentic. They won’t buy, and it hurts your reputation.


So carefully choose your affiliate products. If you enjoy the product yourself, you can tell your fans why you like it and create a much better sales message. 


Most affiliate marketers will provide you with an affiliate training that explains how to best sell the product. There are different commission structures from 4% to sometimes even 50% of the price of the product. 


Watch Out: Affiliate Marketing Isn’t Multi-Level-Marketing


When you look into affiliate marketing, be mindful of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM). MLM is a form of marketing where you usually have to invest money before you can get started.


They pressure you to get a certain amount of customers in a certain timeframe. Most MLM marketers annoy their friends and family, asking them to buy from them. It has a bad reputation. 


MLM marketers might promise you huge results, but it’s usually very hard to actually obtain them. It’s definitely not the best way to make money on YouTube profitably. 


Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, pressures you less. You simply get paid for your results. 


3. Digital Products or Services

Another way to make money on YouTube is selling digital products or services. Specifically, selling your own products or services.


Depending on what your channel is about, you can sell coachings or training. Other digital products could be ebooks, art prints, your own music, and much more.


You want it to be digital because the production cost of digital products is very low. Why is selling an ebook easier than selling a physical book? You don’t have to worry about publishing, printing, shipping, or anything like that.


If you run a YouTube channel where you are giving advice on a topic, you can sell individual coachings. This means you get paid for your expertise. You can also record your best advice and sell it as a pre-recorded training.


Create your own products based on questions people already ask you or information you already give out. Your paid product has to be very valuable though. It has to offer more than your free content. So keep that in mind when selling your own product or service.


The big advantage of having your own product or service is that you get to earn 100% of the commission. You don’t have to split it with anyone as it’s your product. The downside is you have to create the product first... and it has to be good. 


Doing this is a very profitable way to make money on YouTube. Your fans already know you for your content, so they will likely want more. They already trust you which makes buying from you more interesting for them.


What’s more, you could even start your own affiliate program for your own products. That means other people sell your products for you, and you pay them a commission. It’s more income with very little extra work on your side. 

4. Physical Products and Merchandise

Has your channel grown and have you made some money with affiliate marketing? Then, you can add physical products to your repertoire. Many YouTubers release their own merch and sell it to their fans.


Usually merchandise includes items like T-shirts, caps, mugs, or posters with your logo on it. Some YouTubers put jokes on their merchandise that only their followers understand. That’s a great way to form a deeper bond with your audience. 


If you have an idea for your very own physical product, you can also do that. But it will likely take longer, and there is a lot to consider. Creating a product involves lots of testing and adjusting until it’s perfect. 


Physical products that are a bit easier to sell are artworks, books, and CDs. Although with books and CDs, it’s maybe easier to sell them as ebooks and audio downloads. 


There is a downside to merchandise and physical products. You’ll likely face higher costs. You need to find a way to produce your merch, create the products, and ship them out. 


There is also a higher risk of products being damaged or getting lost in the mail. That’s why you don’t want to start out with selling physical products right away. Only do this later, to add another stream of income to your YouTube channel.


5. (Virtual) Events

Selling tickets to events is another great idea when your fanbase is a bit bigger and very loyal. You can sell tickets to your own events or events where you are invited.


Since the lockdowns, virtual events are increasingly popular. You could host online workshops via Zoom and simply sell tickets for that. 


Some YouTubers host fan events where they meet their subscribers and give autographs. For this to succeed, you need a big fan base, however. 


In the beginning, focus on value-driven events like workshops, speeches, or other forms of education and entertainment. 

6. Brand Deals And Sponsorships

A lot of people make money on YouTube by getting sponsored. There are many different kinds of sponsorships. The sponsor might send you their product and ask you for a review. Or they might pay you to mention your membership for their service.


It could be a one-time deal or a recurring sponsor. If you want sustainable income, you want to aim for a recurring sponsor. 


When it comes to sponsors, make sure they don’t undersell you. Even if they send you items for free, they should still pay you.


For sponsors to reach out to you, it’s best if you already use their products. Mention your dream sponsors in your videos even before they sponsor you. That makes it easier for them to approach you as they already know you like their products.


Have your business contacts publicly listed on your channel for a bigger chance of sponsors to reach out to you.

7. Get Them On Your List

If your marketing and business are already a bit more developed, you can also use YouTube to generate leads and grow your list.


What is a list and why do you need it? Your list is usually a list of email contacts -  your email subscribers. Emails are a powerful marketing tool because you can track it much better than your YouTube subscribers.


YouTube has a certain algorithm that controls who sees your video. Sometimes, even your followers could miss a video from you if they don’t activate the bell notification.


So even if YouTube proves to be a great source of money, you’ll always have to depend on their algorithm to some degree. 


When you have an email list, however, you don’t have that problem. You control which part of your email subscribers receive which email. That’s why email contacts are sometimes called Traffic You Control.


How does an email list help you to make money? There are many ways to leverage your list. But it all boils down to forming a relationship with your contacts and sending them follow up emails to buy your products.


You have to achieve this in a non-spammy way, though. If you spam your list with offers and sales, they will likely unsubscribe. Communicate with your list as you would communicate with a friend.


Possible disadvantages of this method are that you need deeper marketing knowledge and actual products you can offer to your list. But when you have both, it’s one of the best ways to make money on YouTube.


8. Patreon

On Patreon, you can create memberships for your YouTube fans. The big advantage of Patreon is that you keep 100% ownership over your creative work. They only take a 5% commission from you. 


The way you get paid on Patreon is purely from your fans. You can offer them certain benefits for signing up for your membership.


Many creators have memberships of 3 tiers. A very low tier is sometimes as low as $1. They assume many of their followers aren’t big spenders, but if enough people sign up for it, it’s a nice monthly income.


Then, they have more expensive memberships for $25, $50, or more. What they give their followers in exchange depends completely on them.


Some artists make “Patreon only” sketches, which only their Patreons get. Some send out a monthly letter to their Patreons. The sky's the limit to your creativity. 


Are You Ready To Generate Income By Magnetizing Your Audience?

As you can see, most of these strategies to make money on YouTube depend on your followers and fans buying from you. No matter if you sell your own products or other people’s products, you need to be selling.


The thing is, if you just sell all the time, you run the risk of annoying your audience. Don’t give off the impression that you are using YouTube just for money.


So how can you make money and avoid being sales-y at the same time? The best way is to focus on genuine relationships and to offer lots of value.


If your videos are valuable to your audience, they will want to come back for more. Value can mean different things. You could be teaching your expertise. But even entertainment is a form of value. 


The easiest way to be of value is by listening to and caring about your audience. Understand where they are at and what they need.


Famous YouTuber Pewdiepie, for example, isn’t a coach. He doesn’t teach anything. Yet his viewers enjoy what he does on his channel and come back for more. They love to buy his merchandise and other products.


Dan Lok, on the other hand, offers a completely different form of value. He offers business advice and insights on life and business as a multi-millionaire. His subscribers also buy from him. They see the effect of his free content and know his paid programs must be amazing.


It all comes down to knowing what you have to offer and what your audience needs. With valuable, entertaining, and exciting content from the start, you prepare them to buy from you later.



Do You Want To Make Money On YouTube With More Proven Strategies?


There is a lot to say about making money on YouTube. Even with the methods we laid out for you, you still have to focus on producing good quality videos. What’s more, you need to know how to properly title your video, how to get found on the platform, and so much more.


It can be quite overwhelming. At the beginning of his YouTube career, Dan Lok had to shoot videos 7-10 times because they never came out the way he wanted them. It was a struggle.


But now, he is the biggest business influencer on YouTube worldwide. He currently has 2,86 million subscribers, and his channel keeps growing.


Dan and his team put together a 7-week training, which tells you step-by-step how to set up, run, and make money from your YouTube channel.


If you want to learn about the path Dan successfully followed to quickly grow his channel and make money on YouTube, check out theTube Your Own Horn Program here.