If you walk into an average 5th or 6th-grade classroom, you could ask a question that the students are very used to answering. That question is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Whereas 10 or 15 years ago, you may have heard answers like a doctor, teacher, astronaut, actor are all careers one would assume a child would set their sights on. You might even hear the rogue unicorn or ballerina. However, the career choice of many children today is YouTube vlogging, also known as a content creator.
You may laugh, but this answer isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. While aspiring to make money online, creating videos for an eager audience may seem to be the dreams of children, many adults are living and even thriving on this method of income generation.
Some, such as Lee Steinfeld, have even abandoned their 9-5 jobs to dedicate their lives to earning money through content creation. And it is paying off because people make money starting YouTube channels.
So, how much money do YouTubers really make?
The answer isn’t as straight forward as you would assume. Several different factors come into play and some things that are the product of pure luck.
With intentional choices, the opportunity to generate at least a moderate income is available. However, without a clear direction and a plan of action, becoming a YouTube content creator may amount to little more than a fun hobby in your spare time.
Throughout this piece, we’ll provide our perception of the most effective methods of how you can make a living as a YouTuber. Or maybe just a little extra cash as a side hustle. We’ll also include information on the range of salaries of the highest-paid YouTubers.
If you like what you read, don’t forget to hit the subscribe button, located at the end of this article (we’re kidding, just a little YouTube humor to set the mood).
How YouTubers Make Money
To give you a perspective into the world of YouTube, we’re going to break down the ways that YouTubers are making money on YouTube.
To generate an income with YouTube, content creators must qualify to apply for YouTube monetization. As of 2018, to apply for this role, Individuals must have at least 1,000 YouTube subscribers and at least 4,000 watched hours in the prior 12 month period.
This means that a YouTuber must have been creating consistent content via YouTube videos over a respectable time and have generated a supportive audience. It wouldn’t hurt their possibilities if that audience views, shares, and subscribes to their channel. Most YouTube channels earn subscribers at a negligible pace, and viewership also takes a long time.
So, achieving 18 million subscribers does not happen overnight, and this benchmark is a difficult feat.
Once a YouTuber applies and receives the approval to monetize their channel, they begin generating an income from making videos. Most of the time, the initial payment is negligible. Often during the first few months, creators will earn mere cents for their views. However, if a YouTuber’s specific content is something that rapidly gains viewership and interest, they may begin to increase their income at a quicker pace.
The way YouTube measures the amount to pay each monetized channel is by the CPM. CPM, or cost per mile (thousand), is the amount of money each content creator makes per thousand views. This number fluctuates with each channel, and one of the main factors is the content created.
Note: Put a bookmark on this concept because we’re going to circle back to it in just a minute.
YouTube Earnings F.A.Qs
- How much money do YouTubers make per view? Price per view varies based on the content of the video and how much advisors are willing to pay for an ad. Multi-sources report that between $0.10 to $0.30 per view is possible.
- How much do YouTubers make every 1000 video views? User report between 8 and 30 dollars per thousand views.
- How many views do you need to get paid on YouTube? You need to have 4,000 hours of watch time and 1000 subscribers to begin monetizing a channel
- How much does YouTube pay per subscriber? YouTube does not pay per subscriber.
- How many subscribers do you need to make money from YouTube? You Need 1000 subscribers to apply to monetize your YouTube.
- Do YouTubers get paid for likes? No, however, the more activity a video receives, such as likes, comments, and increased watch time, the more likely YouTube is to suggest the video increasing YouTube rankings and income.
How to Make Money on YouTube
Google AdSense is an online platform that assists websites or YouTubers with ad placement. The process for engaging AdSense is simple. Content creators provide information about their channels. If eligible, they choose where they want ads to appear in their videos (such as at the beginning or natural breaks in the content). From there, they pick what ads they’re open to allowing to appear, and then they let Google work their magic.
Google will award the highest paying advertiser the spots that are available on a content creator’s site. The platform also manages the billing associated with the ad revenue and any associated affiliate links. At first, the fees accrued may be similar to that of monetizing a channel, in that you are not making money at a rapid pace. However, over time, creators can begin to earn money at an increased rate from this method, as their viewership and popularity increase.
Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make money on YouTube. In fact, you can make money with affiliate links before receiving the 1000 subscribers or 4000 hour watch time necessary to be approved with Adsense.
The easiest way to do this is to recommend products or services in your video and include your affiliate link. Each time your viewers purchase with, you will receive a small commission.
One of the most popular affiliate programs is Amazon, with commissions that start at 4%. Additionaly, several popular networks offer affiliate deals for almost every imaginable service such as CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Flexoffers, and Impact Radius.
Collection donations can be an excellent way for smaller channels to make money. William “Suede” DuFresne is an excellent example of how to use a Patreon to monetize a YouTube channel. Before accepting donations, his videos were only making $100 via AdSense ads.
In an attempted to make more money from his channel, he created a Patreon account. In 2018, he earned over $3,000/month — even though at the time, he had less than 10,000 subscribers.
YouTubers can also start to generate an income through sponsorships. While this area of income generation is dependent on a variety of factors, the most direct way to earn support is a combination of a perfect “storm.” If a YouTuber’s videos generate a high viewership and the individuals who view the content are of a target audience that interests a sponsor, there is a chance that a company may propose a sponsorship agreement. As the second largest search engine online, many organizations have a vested interested in YouTube marketing.
Remember when we asked you to put a “bookmark” in the earlier section concerning the fluctuating payment? This is where we return to that bookmark. Which leads us into our next section…
How YouTubers Can Increase Profit
YouTubers can increase their profits in several ways. Some of the methods for doing so are intentional, while others are a product of repetition, trial, and error. Here are a few techniques a content creator may use to maximize their profit earned with every video they create.
Many YouTubers will try to niche down to a specific area of interest. These areas can include beauty, finance, comedy, gaming, acting, etc. Seasoned YouTube video creators encourage those aspiring to become successful YouTubers to pick a subject area that they have a passion for. The reason for doing so is to generate a following of a target audience.
The target audience will increase opportunities to form YouTube partners and create affiliate programs when the company’s desiring YouTube advertising finds your niche that may relate to their business or product. When creating videos for a YouTube channel, it’s fruitful to stick to a specific topic because it will increase views and shares.
For example, successful YouTube content creator Graham Stephens provides educational videos on personal finance matters. This enables him to target an audience of individuals who have an interest in expanding and developing their financial knowledge.
But, why does this benefit a YouTuber? Consolidating to a niche helps drive traffic to a YouTuber’s channel, in turn increasing their views and perhaps their income sources. If a creator is striving to reach the benchmarks to monetize their channel, then this is a way in which they can accomplish this goal.
The other reason for reaching a target audience is to gain sponsorship opportunities. As discussed previously, when YouTuber Graham Stephans creates content, he is targeting a financial audience. Could you imagine any other companies that may want to reach a financial audience? To name a few, banks, lenders, and credit card companies come to mind.
Finding a target audience through the creation of content is one of the savviest methods a YouTuber can increase their profit.
Creating an Abundance of Content
Another method for increasing profit is to create content consistently, with quality videos, and uploading new content regularly. A video channel that published one viral video and now only produces content on occasion will more than likely struggle to maintain loyal viewers.
If viewers never know when to expect new content, their interest in the channel and YouTuber may decline. When views drop, so do sponsorships and the ability to maintain the monetizing status. Creating consistent, scheduled content assures that viewers know when they will be able to find more videos on the subject area of their interest, and hopefully achieve the highly desired one million views.
Another reason to create regular content is that the success of YouTubers’ videos can be unpredictable. Sometimes a video that a YouTuber creates and thinks will gain traction falls flat. Likewise, some content that seems mediocre may skyrocket in popularity. Due to the unpredictability of success, it’s best to create consistent content to increase the odds of a favorable response and to cultivate a growing YouTube channel.
This is not to say creators should throw anything up on their channel and hope for the best. We are also not trying to assert that there is no way to predict the potential success of a video. YouTube stars such as Jeffree Starr, Jake Paul, and Ryan’s Toy reviews have made it their career professional development to know the best ways to earn money on this social media platform.
Our point is that to maximize income generation, a YouTuber should create regular, intentional content with a perspective of what has worked in the past. As the old saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Success breeds success, and a solid plan of action with your YouTube channel will serve any aspiring YouTuber well.
YouTubers can wait and hope that a sponsor will find their channel and offer them sponsorship opportunities. Or, they can pursue organizations that they believe align with their content, and pitch a sponsorship spot, and create a YouTube partner relationship.
Popular and successful YouTube content creator, David Dobrik, recently exercised this tactic and came out with a fantastic deal. He approached a sponsor he felt would have a vested interest in an endorsement from him, requesting they exchange a video “shout out” for the partial payment of a Ferrari.
The sponsor agreed, and Dobrik earned half the amount for a Ferrari. This 20-second mention of the company qualified as affiliate marketing in his video earned him the equivalent of $125,000. Fantastic deal for a YouTube ad on his channel, if you ask us.
Capitalizing on Specific Times of the Year
Going hand-in-hand with seeking sponsorships, there are specific times of the year in which a YouTuber is more apt to gain opportunities for sponsorships and paid YouTube advertising. For instance, around the holiday season, YouTube analytics show that many retailers are eager to increase their presence in hopes of driving revenue.
YouTubers may have the chance to earn more money in exchange for some video marketing during this time of year, and it would benefit them to pursue these options. For at least 30 second spots, google place ads could generate 1.5 to 2 times the normal income rate during the holiday season. It may also make sense to increase their content during this time of the year, assisting with garnishing as many possibilities for sponsor ads as possible.
Rules of Engagement
While content creation may seem like the best online job and a career with limitless options, there are some rules that YouTubers must abide by. These rules establish parameters that content creators must maintain to keep their monetizing capabilities. YouTube requires their content creators to abstain from hate speech, spam, or copyright violations.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of regulations associated with monetization. Content creators must agree to these rules and abide by them. The platform works on three strikes, and you’re out policy. This means that if a creator violates a rule, they have two more chances before they receive the boot.
Another “deal-breaker” for revenue generation is the use of popular music. If a video includes any music, the video is immediately disqualified from generating revenue. Therefore, most content creators who strive to make money on their online video will avoid the use of music to prevent this misstep.
Some things are unpredictable with YouTube content creation that affects income generation. For example, YouTube can elect to demonetize a specific video for reasons that may be unexplainable to the creator. YouTube reserves the right to demonetize a video if they feel as though the content is not something they want associating with their brand.
While they won’t ban the video from their platform, they’ll send a direct message. YouTube will make it clear that they’re not a fan of the content, even if the video generated a billion total views, and they’ll do so by reducing the income generated.
How Much Money Do YouTubers Make?
Now that we’ve provided an overview of how YouTubers make money, the natural next question is, how much do YouTube content creators make? The answer is a combination of all of the factors we’ve discussed and then some.
YouTubers receive payment monthly. This means that every month, their revenue is dependent on every single factor mentioned above. Their paycheck is a combination of their YouTube views, shares, sponsorships, Google AdSense revenue, content appeal, and time of year.
Every month YouTube creators face the unpredictability of each of these facets. Like any job that is dependent on the winds “blowing in their favor,” the pay can be either feast or famine. Or, it can fall somewhere in-between.
This makes it almost impossible to identify a standard yearly salary that YouTubers generate. Instead, we’ll give you some examples of a few different YouTube content creators and an estimated income for each.
YouTube content creator David Dobrik has a YouTube channel that has over 16 million subscribers. A fair estimate of David Dobrik’s earnings is over $35,000 per day, totaling $13 million a year from ads that run on the videos he creates. That’s a fair amount for starting a YouTube channel.
Beauty blogger and YouTube content creator, Michelle Phan is one of the most popular beauty gurus to grace the internet. With 8 million subscribers, the 28-year-old makes an estimated $3 million yearly from her sponsorships and endorsements. Her competitors, other paid YouTubers, like Jeffree Starr, make up to $18 million annually. Starr, as an example, started his YouTube Channel in 2014 after earning the title of the most successful person on MySpace.
Felix Kjellberg, also known as “PewdiePie,” rose to YouTube glory as a commenter on video games. Dubbed the most successful YouTuber, he tops the charts with over 92 million followers and an estimated income of $15.5 million.
Evan Fong VanossGaming
Another successful video gaming associated video host is Evan Fong. Fong’s channel, Vanossgaming, generates almost 24 million subscribers and an estimated $18.5 million in 2018 alone.
VanossGamming is known for its series of funniest moments from games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty Black Ops.
Daniel Middleton DanTDM
Daniel Middleton of DanTDM, a third popular gamer, earned an estimated $16.5 million in 2017 through sponsorships achieved from those who subscribed to his YouTube channel.
If you’re playing video games, you can also start making money online by commenting on them. Who knew?
A group of 5 college sports enthusiasts started making money on YouTube by posting videos of their stunts and tricks. Collectively their net worth amounts to an estimated $20 million. It just goes to show that AdSense account reaches are highly valuable, especially when content focuses on things as popular as sports.
Ryan's World (previously Ryan ToysReview) is a family-friendly children's channel featuring eight-year-old Ryan Kaji.
Ryan's video “Huge Eggs Surprise Toys Challenge” has reached over 1.9 billion views, placing it as one of the 50 most viewed videos on YouTube. According to Wikipedia, the channel has over 20 million total subscribers, and his videos have garnered over 30 billion views.
Making YouTube videos is not without its challenges; recently, Ryan's World was accused of misleading advertising.
In a complaint filed to the FTC dated Aug. 28, Truth in Advertising accused Ryan's World of deceptively promoting “a multitude of products to millions of preschool-aged children.” The take away if you plan to make money blogging, vlogging, or as an online influencer, make sure you understand your audience and follow the FTC's rules regarding disclosures, labeling sponsored content, and advertising.
Other YouTube Creators
There are other YouTube creators, such as Kelly Patreon, of the channel Kelly Does Her Thing, who has 44,000 subscribers. These views assist her in generating an estimated $18,500 in 2018 from YouTube content creation. Kelly still works a full-time job and has no intention of making YouTube her full-time job anytime soon.
Other YouTubers, such as beauty content creator Nikita Dragun, began their career using the platform to generate an income (an estimated $220,000 per year). Her YouTube career catapulted her success into the world of beauty influencers. This success enabled her to start her make-up line, a secondary source of income that was due to her YouTube success.
Canadian YouTube comedian Lily Singh makes around $8 million a year creating and posting her art. Brothers Jake Paul and Logan Paul, both with their own respective YouTube channels, generate a respectable $11.5 million and $14.5 million, heavily substantiated by the sponsorships they obtain and the merchandise sales they create.
As you can see from our examples, YouTubers can make everything from $0.00 a year to $18 million a year. The income they generate is reliant on several factors, not exclusive of the work and dedication they put into their content and its creation.
The Bottom Line
For some, YouTube offers a platform to express their creative side. Others use it as a means to educate their audience. Still, some use it as a means to advance their careers and provide them with the opportunity they need to achieve said advancement. Paid or unpaid, YouTube creators offer content to those living around the world. Their videos extend the reach of the message each creator wants to convey, enabling them to create a lasting legacy (good or bad).
With the potential for financial gain that YouTube content creators have, comes the unpredictability of both changing trends and technological advancements. What is fashionable and desirable today, may become a thing of the past tomorrow. Similarly, while YouTube is one of our world’s current sources for video content, every day, we are on the cusp of new technology, app, or online platform that threatens to topple YouTube’s kingdom.
It would be an incredible risk for anyone to jump headfirst into a career as a YouTube content creator and hope to make money video blogging. The requirements to monetize a YouTube channel alone require months of dedication. However, if approached, much like those who have found their success after years of deliberate, YouTube has proven a fruitful career choice, especially when in comparison to a career launched in podcasting.
If we were to walk into an elementary classroom and ask students about their desired future career, we’d receive a guaranteed number of students who would state that they aspire to become YouTubers. While insightful concerning current day success stories, we’d offer students some sound advice concerning their future aspirations. That advice would be, “Don’t quit your day job.”
Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.