YouTubers’ popularity just keeps on rising. Over the past decade, the industry has developed in such a way that many famous YouTubers have quit their job and now make a living out of creating content for YouTube. It may seem surprising that this activity pays enough to be undertaken full-time. So let’s find out how much money YouTubers actually make.
It’s important to understand that the figures vary, depending on a large number of different factors. The gap between PewDiePie’s and Just Between Us's paychecks is quite significant, but they both manage to live on their YouTube success. Let’s first take a look at the main ways a YouTuber can make real money.
What do I need to monetise my channel?
To monetise your channel through advertisement, you will need to be apart of the YouTube Partner Program. To qualify for this, your channel will need at least 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. Even after that, the channel will still go under review to check that it meets the requirements of the creator guidelines outlined by YouTube.
How does advertising on YouTube work?
The advertisers will pay YouTube to be featured before popular videos. Famous YouTubers attract millions of views and their popularity earns them advertisement money. It is estimated that they get 55% of what the advertisers originally pay. YouTube’s ads are served by AdSense, Google Ad Manager, and other YouTube-sold sources. Ads will come in one of two forms; CPM (cost per thousand views) and CPC (cost per click) - basically views and engagement.
CPM advertisements mean that viewers must watch the advert for longer than 30 seconds (or at least half the video if it's a shorter ad). Previously this method was more risky as most ads allowed the option to skip after five seconds, however this recently changed with the introduction of non-skippable ads which force viewers to watch the advert, and therefore create revenue for the creator.
CPC advertisements on the other hand mean that creators will get paid depending on how many people click on the advert. There can sometimes be extra incentives if people who click and then go through to actually purchase a product.
As it currently stands, you can expect to earn around $1.50/£1.20 per 1,000 views. So for a million views on an advert, you would receive around $1,500/£1,200. However, the flat rate will rise depending on your number of subscribers and the popularity of your video - hence why so many people try to crack the 'viral' code.
How else can I monetise my YouTube channel?
YouTube themselves offer other options to monetise your channel other than advertising. Fans of a channel can purchase Super Chat, a feature that allows someone’s comments to stand out in a live chat. This can be priced between $1 and $500, and YouTube will take a 30% cut from these purchases. Of course, this feature is only worth investing in if you plan to host a livestream or premiere on YouTube.
If you want a more entrepreneurial option for bringing in cash, selling merchandise is the way to go. YouTube can provide an integrated merch shelf on your channel, which means you can can create shirts, mugs or anything else that you desire to kit out viewers with branded items at no upfront cost. You can also alternatively sell merch from a list of approved websites through screen cards in your videos. However, this method does require the investment of purchasing the swag in the first place, and then making a profit on the sales.
Channel memberships are another way of rewarding dedicated fans. Viewers pay a set amount a month to receive extra perks like badges, emojis and other customer things decided by the channel owner. YouTubers can determine how much they want to price memberships at - which means that the channel owner must be able to determine what is the correct price that they think people will pay for exclusive things from creators.
Are there any other ways I can make money?
If you’ve managed to build up a loyal fanbase, then you should look into crowdfunding platforms like Patreon, which is like an external alternative to channel memberships. Viewers can pay a set amount and receive an incentive (such as bonus content) for doing so. Videos can link out to a crowdfunding page via screen cards.
Another popular revenue stream for creators right now is affiliate marketing, in which creators will partner with a brand and create a video/include a section that promotes a product. In turn they will be paid an agreed sum by the brand. It has to be noted however that not all affiliate marketing does pay - some companies may send products to YouTubers for free to be reviewed. The differences should be marked in the description of the video with the hashtags #ad and #sponsored.
Some forms of affiliate marketing also work on an engagement basis. For example, if their videos lead to website clicks and purchases, the YouTubers get extra money. They are also likely to be paid more if the number of views overtakes the expectations.
YouTubers can also capitalise on their success to make more money. They monetise Instagram and Facebook posts for products endorsements and market their own products. Zoella, a Lifestyle British Youtuber, used her YouTube fame to release a series of books which have gone on to become New York Times best sellers. PewDiePie also released a mobile game app based on his experience as a YouTuber.
How much do YouTubers earn at the moment?
On the top end of the scale, PewDiePie, with his 99 million subscribers, earns an average of $7.6 per 1000 views. Considering his channel now displays an astonishing 22,782,066,930 views, PewDiePie could have earned as much as 173 million since he started his videos in 2010.
Though this is impressive, we need to remind ourselves that such cases are an exception. In comparison, the Just Between Us channel - run by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn - has 724,987 subscribers. However, as written in an article by Dunn, the income that they receive from YouTube leaves them "barely scraping by" and relying on freelance gigs and extra work to make up the rest of their incomes.
As an estimate, a YouTuber with 450,000 subscribers and 38,000,000 views would expect to receive around $1.5 per 1000 views, equating to an average income of $57,000 without taxes.