The Reality of Making a Full-Time Living With YouTube

If you’ve ever found yourself searching for answers to these questions online, then you’re in the right place.

  • Can you make money on YouTube?
  • How can I make a living on YouTube?
  • How much do YouTubers really make?

This article contains the information you need to know on the reality of making a full-time living with YouTube. We’ll start with the basics.

How is money made on YouTube?

To answer the most commonly asked question: Yes, you absolutely can make money on YouTube. With over 2.3 billion users worldwide, YouTube offers vast opportunities for earning an income no matter what niche you’re in. But, the journey to making money on this popular video-sharing platform is fraught with challenges, and the objective isn’t always (or even usually) achieved in a traditional manner.

Keep in mind, YouTube isn’t just about recording videos. There are a plethora of other responsibilities including filming, editing your videos (Movavi is a great option for those just starting out), publishing, placing ads and callouts, and optimizing your videos for YouTube search. That said, most YouTubers with a strong following make money on their channels through ads.

Ad revenue is made by becoming a YouTube Partner and earning money whenever ads are shown to your viewers. YouTube doesn’t pay content creators for the video content they upload. Rather, you have to enable video monetization within your account settings. You’ll then be given an option to either join YouTube’s Partner Program or list your videos on YouTube Premium.

What do YouTube channels pay on average?

On average, YouTube channels pay between $0.01 and $0.03 for an ad view. The platform keeps 45% of the ad income which means that you can make around $18 for 1,000 ad views. It’s also estimated that for every 1,000 video views, you can expect to make between $3 and $5. This figure varies depending on the target audience and their location.

Is that all it takes to find success as a creator on YouTube?

While it’s possible to start making money from YouTube ads alone, most of the really successful YouTubers build a full business off of the channel itself. They use their channel as a hub from which to focus on various other things, such as:

  • Selling merchandise
  • Online courses
  • Consulting services
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Dropshipping
  • …and so on.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these YouTube monetization methods.

1. Selling Merchandise

A lucrative way to monetize your YouTube channel is to make and sell your own merchandise, such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars, tote bags, etc. or even making an online store and promoting your products in your videos.

In addition to providing you with a source of revenue, selling merchandise has the added advantage of helping you to increase your exposure and boost your brand online and offline.

2. Offering Online Courses

Another way to monetize your YouTube channel is by creating online courses (or other information products). This is a great option because it provides a distinct advantage of being able to grow your client base via student enrollments. In addition to the financial benefits, you can also expand your network quickly and develop stronger relationships with engaged students – provided, of course, that you are offering high-quality content.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to create digital information products from scratch. For instance, you can choose some of your best-performing blog content and transform the posts into ebooks to sell on your YouTube channel.

3. Selling Consultation Services

As a YouTube Creator, you can also offer consultation services on your channel. Share your experience to help other aspiring entrepreneurs in their growth. You can provide tidbits of wisdom on how they can build their brand, scale their content, and cultivate creativity in their lifestyle and habits so they can stay successful.

Selling your consulting services on YouTube is perhaps one of the quickest ways to start bringing in revenue. The best part is that unlike YouTube ads, where you have to have a certain number of views and subscribers in order to be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, you don’t need to have a huge audience to start selling your services.

4. Fan Funding Streams

Yet another great way to monetize your YouTube channel is by letting your audience support you through fan funding. As long as you focus on creating value, your audience will be eager to support you so you can continue providing them with high-quality, helpful content. Sites like Patreon and Tipeee are great options to use. Alternatively, you can use YouTube’s Super Chat feature to let your fans show their support for your work.

5. Offer Channel Memberships

Offering a channel membership on YouTube involves providing your subscribers with access to exclusive, members-only content, as well as other perks like public badges, emojis, etc. in exchange for a monthly recurring payment.

You can offer different membership tiers at different prices, with perks stacking as the tiers rise.

6. License Your Content to the Media

As a YouTube Creator, it’s very likely that you will create a viral video at one time or another. When that happens, you can license your content to TV news outlets, online news sites, morning shows, and other creators in exchange for money.

You can list your viral videos on marketplaces like Juken Media to make it as easy as possible for the right people to find and purchase your video content.

7. Influencer Marketing

As your audience grows, so do your chances of becoming an influencer in your space. You can then reach out to brands to secure brand deals and sponsorships.

As long as you produce relevant, engaging, and value-packed videos, you will have the opportunity to work with different brands in your industry to earn revenue from sponsored content on your YouTube channel.

Once you have at least 1,000 followers, you can join influencer marketplaces like Grapevine Logic. When you reach 5,000 followers you can join a bigger and more popular network like Famebit.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn recurring revenue simply by recommending products and services on your YouTube channel. Just make sure that you only recommend high-quality products that are helpful to your target audience, otherwise, you risk losing their trust and alienating them. As you can see, there are many different ways to make money from your YouTube channel. But, if the majority of YouTubers earn revenue using ads, you may be wondering why it’s even necessary to consider other monetization methods.

Here’s why you should look beyond ads for revenue: YouTube Keeps 45%: The trade-off for focusing on advertising as your main source of revenue is that YouTube gets to keep 45% of your ad revenue. This means that you do all the work, and almost half your earnings go to the video-sharing site.

Ever-changing Rules: Another distinct disadvantage of using YouTube ads as your sole source of income is that you will be at the mercy of the platform’s constantly changing policies and monetization criteria.

Minimum Requirements: Also, for you to be able to monetize your videos, you must first be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program which has eligibility requirements such as minimum views and subscribers. In order to protect your online business and increase your chances of success, it’s a good idea to create multiple streams of income using some of the YouTube monetization methods outlined above.


Examples of YouTube Creators Making a Full-Time Living

There are a lot of misconceptions around money-making strategies on YouTube, but it’s possible to achieve the objective (i.e. a full-time income) if you use a little creativity. A lot of people are experiencing success on YouTube. My wife used to do it full-time in Brazil and I do it part-time now. But how much do YouTubers really make with their channels? Here are a few examples of other people who are earning a healthy income from YouTube.

Example #1: Markiplier


This is a gaming channel owned by Mark Edward Fischbach. He currently has over 29 million subscribers and brought in a cool $30 million last year by uploading comedy videos and blogs to his channel and monetizing his videos in a variety of ways, including ads, selling merchandise, and affiliate marketing.

Example #2: Daniel Middleton (DanTDM)


Daniel Middleton is a YouTuber, author, and gamer who’s famous for playing Minecraft, Fortnite, and other video games. His channel has over 25 million subscribers and last year he made an impressive $16.5 million through ads, merchandise sales, and various other monetization methods.

Example #3: Anastasia Radzinskaya


Anastasia Radzinskaya (Nastya) is an 8-year-old Russian girl who was born with cerebral palsy. Her channel has 74 million subscribers and she earned over $18 million in the past year alone – proving that age (or gender)…

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