Top 8 ways to earn money as a YouTuber

There used to be a time, about a decade back, when nobody knew creating and uploading videos on a platform like YouTube could be a full time profession. But with the growth of internet and increasing consumption of videos by masses, many youngsters find themselves exploring and wanting to have a career as a “YouTuber”. But does it only mean uploading videos? I’m sure a lot of people wonder how YouTubers really make money or what are some of the ways one can do it too. These are top 8 ways for earning money as a YouTuber, to quench your curiosity on this subject:

1. YouTube Earnings from Google:

Google’s ad platform for serving advertisements in between video content is known as Google Adsense. It is the most common and well-known way of earning a revenue on YouTube. There are various types of ads that are displayed on videos created by content creators, and for each view/click there is a certain part of the ad revenue that goes to the creators. So, the ads that you see in between videos while browsing, part of that ad money basically goes to YouTube content creators. Something between $1-8 per 1000 views.

This is the first means of earning for a newbie YouTube content creator. Sounds good right? Except – Thanks to Logan Paul’s infamous Aokigahara forest incident, YouTube recently underwent some policy changes, and it has now become difficult for every new creator to get ads served on their videos. They can start monetising their videos after meeting a strict criteria. and become a YouTube Partner. The minimum requirements include – 4,000 HOURS of overall watch time on the channel in the past 12 months and at least 1,000 subscribers. Earlier the criteria was achieving 10,000 public views to be able to turn on monetization on videos. According to the new policy even when you meet the limit, there could be a month or two long wait before your channel is approved to monetize via ads while YouTube does a thorough background check. Once you meet the criteria you can start showing ads on your videos.

Logan Paul

Logan Paul

Click here for more details of the Aokigahara forest Incident involving Logan Paul (YouTuber)

If you are a new YouTuber, and have already met the criteria, you can follow these simple steps to turn on ads – HERE

From this kind of Monetization method however, the payouts per ad depend on various factors like views, playback location and channel size. The Cost per Mile (CPM) for the ads serves is usually higher in countries like US, UK etc. where advertisers spend greater money on advertising. Additionally, for a small channel, it may take several months to see a substantial growth in ad revenue depending on the number of views per month.

Apart from this, YouTubers also earn via something called YouTube Premium, which is basically an ad-free YouTube subscription which also gives you access to some YouTube original shows, kind of like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. This service is limited to certain countries, but is now also available in India.

In its earlier days, YouTube also used to pay content creators thousands of dollars to develop quality content, like a production house. It still does that with top 1% of the 1% creators with Youtube Premium Originals. In developing markets, YouTube also helps regional language content creators. That’s why you would see that odd Punjabi, Telugu video in trending section.

2. Platforms like FameBit Revfluence, Grapevine Logic

among others, are places where content creators are globally exposed to different advertisers, who are looking to spread word about their brands by leveraging the reach and voice of content creators. It’s a great way for creators to pitch for brand deals and vice versa for advertisers to find suitable content creators. Brand deals are the best way for content creators to earn money while talking about products or services that they can vouch for, for making their audience’s life easier.

On most of these platforms, especially for micro influencers, there’s a lot of challenge, so the chance of success is low but you got to keep trying and personalize your pitches, you never know what might strike with the advertisers. It mostly works well for lifestyle vloggers more than others but it could also be a good way to make money but takes a lot of time, effort and patience. Also, in India platforms like these aren’t as popular yet, but things are starting to change.

Next, we come to the sweetest one of them all.

3. Direct brand sponsorships

Sometimes, if the content of creators or their audience requirements aligns with brand requirements or brand values, the creators are paid to talk about brands, services or products. It is basically a step up from shout out in exchange for product model. It is a great way of advertisement for advertisers/brands/companies and it helps creators with stepping up their content creation game and equipment by earning better for their video efforts.

This might or might not directly involve money but also could mean, say, a sponsored trip, in case of a travel channel, like mine. Sometimes Tourism Boards of different countries, Travel agencies and travel companies, reach out to content creators (or vice versa) for creation of good content of destinations. Like in April 2018, I travelled to Taiwan, with Taiwan Tourism Bureau for a week to create and share knowledge about their country. Here is the complete playlist of videos that I created. 😀 The path to getting paid for work is sometimes long and arduous. It not only involves a scrutiny of the channel size in terms of numbers, but also the quality assessment of the work creators put forth and the value they can add to someone else’s business.

However, if you are an established YouTube content creator, you can charge a sponsorship fee based on some of the following metrics – Media fees or video production fees, Ad fees based on your reach and buyout if your work is republished by a brand in a microsite or their own social media channels.

If you work with a talent management agency, they help you pitch your profile to brands and charge a commission on your earnings (10-20%). This has a much higher success rate than platform pitches.

4. Income via Affiliate links

So you could signup for affiliate programs with Amazon, Alibaba, SheIn,  among others, which gives you custom links to their products and services once you sign up. The custom links can be placed under YouTube videos, in blog posts or any place from where you can drive people to make a purchase. If someone purchases a product through your link, you get a commission based on the policies of different platforms. Again, lifestyle, tech vertical channels have a good potential with this. Alternately, if you are an avid viewer of a particular YouTube channel, you can make purchases through the affiliate links of creators to help support them. The purchase of products through affiliate links doesn’t cost anything extra to buyers besides the original cost of products mentioned on the website.

5. Selling content on sites like Shutterstock

If you are a Youtuber, especially a travel vlogger like me, you would be making a lot of videos on a trip, which the right people might be willing to pay for or license from you for their usage. Here’s where programs like ShutterStock Contributor ( helps a lot. Again, it’s a marketplace so there’s competition, keep honing your skill, learn about video making, how to capture the right angles and all. Begin shooting in 4K and get that stunning shot, and you could earn considerably from selling your content.

6. Freelancing Services

You could also freelance your services through your channel. Since people will discover your channel first, make sure the channel description mentions that you provide freelance services. Like, if you are a dancer, you could mention availability as a choreographer for weddings and family functions. If you do yoga wellness videos, you could offer yoga services in your city. For a Photographer like me, it could be covering a wedding, doing a photoshoot for products or people (I don’t offer my services via freelancing now). I would recommend mentioning an email or FB page link in the channel description with a brief about the services you provide. (I myself have done a Pre Wedding shoot involving photos and videos for a friend when I started my video making and photography journey)

7. Patreon

Patreon is a service which supports content creators by running a membership business for your fans, it’s like a subscription based kickstarter for content creators. Fans pay a subscription based amount of their choice in exchange for exclusive experiences and behind-the-scenes content thus supporting content creators like me in the process.

8. Lastly, merchandising, branding, and using YouTube as a Business Launchpad! 

Many YouTubers have also used YouTube to launch successful careers as Singers, like Justin Beiber and Shirley Setia. Some Actors like Kanan Gill, and even authors like Lily Singh (aka Superwoman)! There are many such examples of how someone started off from YouTube and used it as a launchpad to start and run their own successful business based around their brand.

Shirley Setia.jpg

Shirley Setia

Singer and YouTuber


“Happiness is one of the hardest things You will ever fight for, but it’s the only thing worth fighting for”

— Lily Singh (How to be a bawse)

YouTubers also sell custom merchandise for their fans on different portals, websites or e-commerce platforms. Custom merchandise (also known as “merch”) could be community T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, DIY kits, keychains etc. This step however, first involves building a large community or developing a substantial audience that can love you and relate with you (and would ultimately be moved to buy the custom merch)

how to be a bawse.jpg

Lily Singh

YouTuber (aka Superwoman) and author

Order your copy of the book here.

For any YouTuber, their source of revenue and income comes from a mixture of some or all of the above methods of earning money, depending on how established they are on YouTube and what genre of content do they create. It is definitely not all sweet as it may seem on screen, and takes a long time, and consistent effort to reach a position where YouTube is a profitable career.

That said,  if you want to be a YouTuber, start by making a video, don’t think too much about it, just take the leap, it might not be perfect from the onset, but trust me if you keep at it, you get better. Just think of it this way – that if you can enjoy making videos for the rest of your life, every single week (or at a suitable frequency), it is a potential career choice for you. Are you curious about a career in YouTube? Leave a comment below for any further questions or discussion!

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