How to Make Money on YouTube – My Journey to Over $100,000 in a Year
Hey, my name is Theodore and I started a Youtube channel called PracticalPsychology over 2 years ago. I was broke in college and wanted to make some extra money. Since I absolutely loved reading books and sharing what I learned in them, I decided to make my first videos animated book summaries. Since then, I’ve created videos on psychological tricks, ways to make money online, and a whole mini-course on habits and posted them on my channel.
Along the way, I’ve slowly been learning about the correct and best ways to monetize the audience I’ve grown. In this article, I’m going to teach you how I monetize my channel and some secret tips I’ve utilized to grow my channel to over 1,500,000 subscribers in under 2 years.
Oh, and I’ve also earned over $100,000 in under 8 months, which is probably why you’re interested!
When I was starting to grow my channel, ad revenue was the only possible way I dreamed up to earn money. You create videos, and Youtube pays you. Well, technically advertisers pay Youtube to put their ads on your videos. Youtube is just a middle man, but you get paid and the advertiser hopefully gets paying customers.
The issue with ad revenue is that you’re not building a business… you’re growing your hobby and Youtube is paying for it. If at any point in time Youtube decides you’re not “kid-friendly” or that you violate their guidelines, they can shut your channel down and *poof*... there goes your income.
For most Youtube channels, you can estimate around $2 per 1000 views for an estimate of how much a video has earned. This does not account for demonetized videos or outlier niches. For example, the finance and investing niche have been known to pay over $10 per 1000 views, while music has been known to pay pennies per 1000 views.
In my best month with Youtube ad revenue, I earned just over 5 figures, and on an average month, I earn $3000.
As you may already know, affiliate marketing is when you sell someone else’s product or service and since you found a paying customer, you get a share of the revenue. For example, Bluehost has an affiliate program and I know Alex and Lauren absolutely love their company, so they recommend it to new bloggers. By doing this, Alex and Lauren get paid!
After a few months of earning a few thousand from ad revenue on Youtube, I quickly realized I needed to expand my revenue sources and start to diversity.
After some searching for something that my audience might enjoy, I stumbled upon Blinkist. At the time, I was posting a ton of book summaries on my channel, and Blinkist is a service that offers TONS of book reviews and even mp3 versions so you can listen to them. I reached out to Blinkist, got an affiliate link… and that’s how I earned my first $1000 from affiliate marketing on Youtube!
It was as easy as recommending them in my animated book summaries.
There are literally thousands of products that you can become an affiliate for, it’s all about finding a product or service that matches your niche and audience’s needs. I knew my audience would like Blinkist because they were basically offering the same stuff I was.... But for a price.
After a few months of selling affiliate things, I wanted to move on. I craved my own product to sell, because that’s how you really earn money, right?
After realizing how easy it was to write a small eBook and how low I could price my digital product, I quickly wrote an eBook on how I made some passive income from my Youtube channel (and how other people had even more success). This included explaining ad revenue, affiliate marketing, selling your own products, and eventually selling courses.
Now, I didn’t know a thing about selling courses when I wrote this, but the thing I loved about creating this eBook was it forced me to research other ways to make money with my channel.
If you own a Youtube channel, and want to earn a few hundred bucks a month, I highly recommend writing a small eBook. It gets your toes in the water to start selling digital products and teaches you how to sell them properly.
A few months later I wrote another eBook that was meant to become my first online course. This was before I found CreateAndGo. I created the course and felt weird about selling it. “Is this good enough to charge money for it?”
Instead, I turned the whole course into an eBook, put it up on Amazon and used all the videos I created for it as free videos to drive traffic from Youtube.
All of the videos I used to promote the book were just videos of the chapters of each book. I’ve earned over $1000 from that eBook and over $5000 from the videos that promoted it, so not bad for the few weeks I spent creating it. Plus I learned a TON about both.
As my channel grew over 500,000 subscribers, I started to get companies emailing me about sponsorships.
The thing I love about sponsorships is that if done correctly, they don’t feel like an advertisement. I’m just promoting my favorite brand and getting paid for it!
For example, I’ve used Skillshare in the past and actually really loved it. It’s my go-to when I’m learning a new skill because it’s super cheap and I can learn the basics-intermediate stuff from the creators on there. One day they reached out to me and we set up a sponsorship.
Now I’m getting paid to drive traffic to one of my favorite services.
The tricky thing about sponsorships is you usually have to reach out to the companies you want to sponsor you or hire a manager to do it for you. Rarely do companies reach out to you first.
Although I can’t tell you the price of each sponsorship, I can tell you it’s more than my income from affiliate marketing and selling eBooks combined.
In an effort to really skyrocket my income, along with create less work for me in the future to earn it… I started doing research on creating an online course. After tons of research, I found CreateAndGo.co and reached out to them. Alex was super helpful and guided me along my process of creating my first online course (other than the first Habit Harvester, which was a fail).
Alex explained that since a lot of my top videos were about dating, that I should make a course on that topic - because I would already have a ton of eyeballs (traffic). So, I started designing the Psychology of Attraction.
Around this time, since Alex was personally helping me so much, I went ahead and bought his course 6-Figure Blogger. I went through it in about 2 days and absorbed everything he taught about designing, presenting, and selling an online course.
Creating an online course is a great way to earn money through your platform if you’re knowledgeable about your niche and can organize information in a way that helps people. Honestly, you don’t even have to be an expert to teach someone… I got most of the information from my course from other blogs, books and textbooks, and just shared some stories that I went though.
When I finally launched the course, I sold about 100 copies at $47, which earned me $4700. Way more than my usual month’s worth of ad revenue in less than half a month. I was delighted!
Not only because I could earn more to outsource and grow my business quicker, but because I could spend even less time focusing on making money… (because the course was created and requires very little work now.)
If you’re a Youtube creator, I highly suggest creating a course once you hit the 10,000 subscriber mark.
Graham Stephen has a course on real estate investing. He reports earning between $2500 - $7000 per month after locking himself in a room for a month to create it.
Jeremy from Financial Education has a course on stock market investing. He reports earning $16,000 a month from ad revenue, so I can’t even begin to wonder what he earns from his courses and membership program.
Greg from Kinobody has courses on gaining muscle and losing fat. He has some great courses and reports earning over $1,000,000 per year.
Jeff Rose has a course on becoming a financial advisor. He reports earning over 6 figures from his course launch in one year.
Clark Kegley has a course on Youtubing. Clark reports $16,000 per month from his passive revenue channels like selling courses.
If you want to make the big bucks on Youtube, you don’t do it through ad revenue or selling eBooks… you sell high-ticket items like courses. And if you want to learn how to create and sell a course, I highly suggest checking out 6 Figure Blogger because even a Youtuber can learn about SEO and course creation from the content within.
Selling my channel
One time I even woke up to an email about someone buying my whole channel!
Well, the deal was they got the “ad rights” to the channel, which meant they owned the ad revenue it generated. The offer was so large at the time, I had to actually send an email back and basically say “You’re going to pay me this much and I just have to trade off my ad revenue?”
The price was $58,000.
A massive amount for some kid who was broke in college 8 months ago.
I refused, even though I was only earning $3000 that month, in hopes of future channel growth.
I’m still earning around $3000 each month from ad revenue, so $36,000 a year from a hypothetical investment of $58,000 would have been great for the offering party!
Just wanted to let you know that these offers are out there, and when you have an audience, the ways you can monetize your channels are only limited to your imagination.
3 Secrets to Growing your Youtube Channel
1) CTAs (Call to actions)
In your videos, the Call To Actions (or what you tell the viewer to do) are super important. In fact, I believe after offering great content, your CTAs are what will make your videos go viral.
When you create a Youtube video, you need to focus on 3 main call to actions and never deviate from them:
- Buy my product
- Subscribe to my channel
- Go watch another video
After you have a decent following, you can start asking your audience to check a link in the description for an affiliate or product link. Doing this too often can kill your channel, because it leads viewers off Youtube.com, which lowers total ad revenue. Think about it: Youtube loses money when you link people away, so they don’t promote your video that reduces total viewers (and income for them).
If you’re trying to grow a very niche audience, ask them to subscribe. Don’t ask them to do anything else, you want them to subscribe and then watch every video you post. This is how you grow a targeted audience and crazy sessions time (something I’ll talk about soon).
Finally, if you’re really trying to explode your total views, ask your viewer to watch another video. It doesn’t have to be your video, it just has a be to a video that you think the viewer will enjoy. If you link to another video, you’ll get two (maybe more!) views from one viewer.
If you link to another video on another channel and that viewer binge watches their videos… Youtube will love that! Why? Because your video led to 10+ views, which means more ad revenue for Youtube… which means they will promote your video for starting the chain process.
2) Thumbnails - Clickworthy vs Clickbait
There used to be a huge debate over the use of clickbait in thumbnails on Youtube.
The key to really growing on Youtube is to advertise your content using click-worthy titles and thumbnails. Before someone even watches your video, they have to be intrigued enough by your title and thumbnail to click on it.
Clickbait is advertising something on the thumbnail that isn’t relevant to the video to entice a click.
Clickworthy is advertising something on the thumbnail that is relevant to the video, yet entices a viewer to click.
It takes creativity and practice to create a clickworthy thumbnail. If you can’t create it, I definitely suggest hiring someone to create it professionally for you, since thumbnails are the door to your videos.
For inspiration, check out your favorite channels and analyze all of their top, most viral videos. That’s the exact method I used to create the thumbnail and title for a video that’s earned over 16,000,000 views.
3) Increasing Session-Time and Watch Time
What is watch time?
Watch time is the total amount of time that someone watches your videos. Youtube recently changed their algorithm to promote videos that have high watch-time, instead of high views or click-through rates. This promotes great content because if it is engaging, your watch-time will be high. However, if you use clickbait and really sucky content, your watch-time will be low and this is a signal to Youtube that your content is sucky.
What is session time?
Session time is the total amount of time someone spends on Youtube watching videos after they watch your video. For example, a low session time would be when someone watches your video, clicks on a related video and then leaves Youtube.
A high session watch-time would be when someone watches your video and then goes and binge watches 10-20 videos like I mentioned before. This is another signal to Youtube that you have great and valuable content.
How do I increase watch time and session time?
One of the best ways to increase watch time is to create great content. The best way to increase session time is either to make a mini-course/series or link to someone else’s great video.
Creating a mini-course or series is super easy, and you’ll find creating content is much quicker when you outline 5-7 similar videos first. I actually turned a short eBook I wrote into a video course that sold the eBook. One video did over 2M views… and I believe it was because viewers watched other videos in the series.
Linking to another channel’s videos is super easy too. For example, in one of my most popular videos I did a collab with another animator in my niche and simply linked to his channel and videos. People loved the video and so they checked out the video. That month was the first month I earned over $10,000.