This article was first posted on Medium.
In 2011 my full-time job was doing audience development for a company’s web series on YouTube, but when that series ended in 2013, I knew I’d need a new source of income for my family. So I started a new channel called Video Creators to train other YouTubers how to grow their YouTube audience.
Within 6 months that channel was my full-time income. In fact, I was earning $10,000/month on it with only a few thousand subscribers when my “real job” ended. Today I have a small staff of people who work for me on my channel, too.
How did I do that? Well, it really comes down to the fact that I developed a business model around my channel from the very beginning.
On a very basic level, a business model answers these questions: What value do I intend to deliver? Who needs that value? How can I sell that value?
Here are the revenue streams I currently have in place for my Video Creators channel, as well as a few that I intend to setup this year and next. Maybe some of these ideas will be helpful for you as you look to make money from your own YouTube channel.
As YouTube’s built-in system for sharing ad generated revenue with creators, this is the default way for earning money on YouTube. A channel can very roughly expect to earn around $2 per 1,000 views. While I personally don’t make a full-time income from Adsense alone, it’s not an insignificant amount of money for us with over a million views per month.
2. Product Sales
Selling something directly to your audience is a great way to make money from your efforts. The key to making this work on YouTube is that the value you sell has to be directly tied to the value that caused your audience to subscribe to your channel in the first place.
For example, at Video Creators the value I provide is training people how to master YouTube as a place to grow your audience and spread your message. So, I have an ebook called, “30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel,” that ties directly into that value by giving creators a proven system for how to get views and convert those viewers into subscribers on their channel.
Sometimes people want to take the training from my ebook to the next level by working with me personally to develop their YouTube channel. In that case,booking a channel review with me is another way I earn an income from my YouTube audience. Again, that value ties in directly to the value my channel provides and just extends it in a new way.
4. Brand Deals
Since I have a targeted audience of YouTube creators, brands who want to reach that audience will pay me to talk about them in my videos. For example, perhaps you’ve seen me talk about FameBit lately. Those videos are sponsored by that company.
If you’ve set yourself up to be an expert of some kind in a specific industry, your YouTube channel can often give you extra credibility and lead to speaking engagements. For me, those engagements are typically at conferences and trainings revolving around YouTube and new media and can often be a great source of income.
This is an unexpected revenue stream for me. I didn’t go out looking for it. I just happen to have videos of my kids doing cute things on my family’s vlogging channel and brands and agencies find it when researching clips to use in their commercials and promotions. They then reach out to me personally to acquire licensing for the clip. So far these deals average around $5,000 per clip.
Often I’ll talk about a product or service that I find valuable and will recommend it in a video. When possible, I’ll use an affiliate link for viewers to find the product on Amazon or another site. If a viewer clicks my link and buys the product, I get a certain percentage of that sale. Almost any creator who talks about products that are available for purchase online can take advantage of this revenue stream.
I started a Video Creators Patreon page a while back as a place for viewers to help support my channel financially in exchange for some bonus perks, like a live monthly hangout and news updates that don’t make it into my Tuesday YouTube news videos. In all honesty, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really allow me to offer the kind of value I want to offer to people who are paying a monthly fee, so I’ll be transitioning it to my next idea soon.
9. Membership Website
This is in the works right now. It will be a site that will offer a lot of ongoing, personalized YouTube training and community support about your channel for a monthly fee. More details coming on this later, but starting a paid membership site may be something that makes sense for your YouTube channel’s community, too, depending on the value you provide and the audience you’re targeting.
10. Live Events
I haven’t done one of these yet, and honestly, the idea of doing one freaks me out a bit, but I would absolutely love to have the opportunity to do personalized YouTube training face-to-face with a group of creators over the course of a weekend. I don’t know if I’ll launch this during 2015 or 2016 yet, but it’s a revenue stream I have stirring in the back of my mind.
Of course, there’s many other ways to make money on YouTube, too. These are 10 that make sense for me, but your creativity is the limit for what you can do to support your family and YouTube efforts in reaching people with your message and changing their lives.