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In 2020, Ryan Kaji—a nine-year-old from Texas—earned almost $30 million in revenue from his YouTube channel, Ryan’s World, which has more than 30 million subscribers and more than 48 billion total views since it launched in 2015.
Kaji is the highest earning creator on YouTube, but there are plenty of views, and ad revenue, to go around. According to Forbes, the top 10 earners on YouTube raked in more than $200 million combined in 2020. And YouTube says that the number of content creators earning $100,000 or more annually on their platform is growing by 40% year over year.
So, how much do YouTubers make?
As a business owner, you may be wondering how you can get in on the action, especially if you’ve ever thought about starting your own YouTube channel (and maybe even make a little extra income). In this article, we’ll look at how much you can reasonably expect to earn by posting content on YouTube, along with tips on how to maximize your efforts.
To begin, it's important to have reasonable expectations before you start uploading videos to YouTube. It’s not as easy as just posting a video and waiting for the checks to start rolling in. In fact, before you can earn any revenue on the platform, you need to join the YouTube Partner Program.
To be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program you must:
Follow all the YouTube monetization policies
Live in a country/region where the YouTube Partner Program is available
Have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months
Have more than 1,000 subscribers
Have a linked AdSense account
Check out this video created by YouTube to help creators learn more about making money with a YouTube channel:
Intro to making money on YouTube (Source)
To really earn money on YouTube you have to generate A LOT of views through ad revenue. A YouTube creator can earn anywhere from a couple cents per view up to about 30 cents per view. The reason this isn’t an exact number is because the actual amount depends on several factors:
Ad impressions. The more eyes your videos attract, the more revenue you’ll earn. Longer videos can support more ad breaks, but you’ll also need to create quality content so viewers will actually stick around long enough to see multiple ads.
Ad views. When a viewer has watched an ad for at least 30 seconds (or to the end if the ad is more than 30 seconds), YouTube classifies it as a view, and views are more valuable than impressions.
Ad clicks. In the eyes of advertisers, an ad click is even more valuable than an ad view, because a click means the viewer is interested enough to interact.
These are just a few of the major factors that determine ad revenue, as the YouTube algorithm is understandably complex. There are many more variables that determine how much revenue a video generates. For example, when a YouTube Premium subscriber watches an ad on your video, it’s worth more than a standard YouTube viewer. Affiliate links, sponsored content, brand partnerships, and merchandise sales can also significantly add to your revenue stream.
This is also a good time to mention that your content must be original (you must own the rights to all of the audio and visual elements) to be eligible for monetization. If you hit a wall trying to come up with ideas for videos, here are five tips from YouTube expert and influencer Nick Nimmin, from suggested searches to magazines.
It’s clear to see that as a YouTube creator, you’re going to have to crack six digits worth of YouTube views before you start to see revenue that’s more than a few hundred dollars, which will barely cover the equipment you need to invest in to produce high quality content. With the average YouTube video garnering a few thousand views on average, you can see that the numbers aren’t on your side.
You probably shouldn’t abandon your full-time gig to become a YouTube influencer. However, if you have the time, interest, and motivation, YouTube can be a good place to start out as a content creator by sharing your expertise, promoting your business, and maybe earning a little additional income.
Here are more tips for creating great content:
Stick to what you know. If you run a landscaping business, make videos about how viewers can maintain a beautiful lawn, not about how to kick a 50-yard field goal while wearing flippers (though if you can do that, it would probably get a lot of views).
Be yourself and have fun. High-performing YouTube content isn’t just informative, it’s also entertaining. You don’t have to be intentionally edgy or artificially controversial, but you should feel free to relax and show some personality.
Invest in decent equipment. You don’t need to overspend for a cinema-quality camcorder, but upgrading over your five-year old smartphone video recorder and getting a tripod might be a good idea. Here’s a guide that covers all the basics, from cameras to audio and lighting equipment, and editing software.
Now that you have a rough idea of how much YouTube content creators make and how you can maximize your YouTube channel, it’s time to start creating content.
We hope this guide has prepared you to turn your content into a cash cow. And if you’ve found this article helpful, there’s even more resources for your YouTube channel on our site:
We also recommend taking a look at the tools in our video making and video editing software directories, where you can compare tools’ functionality and usability, as well as read reviews from real users like you.
Hey there, I’m Andrew. I’m a Senior Content Writer at GetApp. I bring you insights about retail, eCommerce, and marketing. I studied at Loyola University Maryland and have more than a decade of professional writing experience. Home base: Austin. 2 things about me: I am a lifetime Baltimore Orioles fan, and I love walks in the woods. The tech trend I think you should keep an eye on: Mixed reality in retail. Trying on clothes will never be the same.Visit Author's Page