Over the last few years, YouTube influencers have become part of a new wave of advertising that exists alongside traditional print and television media. YouTube, like other social media sites (including Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest), is a hotbed for targeted, brief content that markets brands in all verticals from beauty to food.
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However, being a YouTube influencer is by no means a get-rich-quick scheme. Many of the most popular YouTube influencers today say it took years to develop a massive following and catch the eye of big brands. But with consistency, a clear message and a unique twist, the job can be interesting and quite lucrative over time.
Why Start a YouTube Channel
Some people begin YouTube channels as a hobby and others start them for more practical reasons, like class assignments or professional development. Whatever your reason, the information shared on your YouTube channel should be in an area you’re passionate about and have expertise.
It’s probably not a good idea to start a YouTube channel with the sole objective of making money. While YouTube can become a reliable source of passive income over time, massive numbers are rarely seen immediately. This is because of the competitiveness of the YouTube creator space, the lack of attention most videos receive, the overall rarity of success and the small portion of ad dollars monetized channels receive.
How Much Does YouTube Pay?
On average, the income from an ad on a monetized YouTube video comes in at nearly $8.00 per 1,000 ad views, which would amount to (on the high end) $2,000 per million views before YouTube takes its share.
Some of the most well-known YouTube creators, despite their publicized revenue, don’t pocket as much money as you might think. This is because advertisers, YouTube itself and the IRS all have to get their cut first. YouTube alone takes nearly 45 percent of all ad revenue. However, if you’re really committed to making top dollar as an influencer, it isn’t impossible. Notable YouTuber PewDiePie reportedly brought in $15 million in 2016.
It probably won’t surprise you that many successful YouTubers don’t rely on ad revenue for income. Sources of money can include the following:
- Sponsorships/brand ambassadorships: Influencers and content creators work with brands to create sponsored content to promote products and brands. This can include product placements in videos or appearances on behalf of brands.
- Crowdfunding: Influencers sometimes request donations from fans via crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Patreon. These donations are often given in exchange for access to exclusive content or giveaways.
- Merchandise: T-shirts, water bottles and other items are all viable options for selling merchandise via a YouTube channel. Currently, YouTube requires these sales to be made through
- Other endeavors: YouTube influencers have secured hosting gigs, speaking engagements and even television and movie roles through their following (just look at YouTube/Nickelodeon star Freddie). Some have even started successful businesses. For example, Connor Franta parlayed his YouTube interests into a record label, Heard Well, for new musicians.
While YouTube started as a way for people across the globe to share videos, it’s grown into a multibillion dollar empire and a sea of opportunity for budding entertainers, educators and lifestyle gurus. Like any job, building a successful and profitable YouTube channel requires patience, professionalism and consistency.
However, getting started isn’t difficult at all. All you need is a camera, an idea and a computer, and your dreams of becoming the next top-tier influencer can become a reality. The best thing about creating a business on YouTube is that, unlike having to report to a regular nine-to-five, your YouTube channel can be whatever you want it to be, and you can connect with hundreds, thousands or even millions of people while (hopefully) having fun.