A very common myth about YouTube is that it is very easy to make money on it and get rich fast. Well, in reality, (at the risk of being copy-striked by CollegeHumor), it’s not. Sure, you can earn money on YouTube, but it is not as fast as you might hope to be. YouTube has certain criteria & rules that have to be met and abided, following which, you can begin to start thinking about earning money. A very accurate answer to the question ‘How do YouTubers get paid?’ is ‘VERY SLOWLY.’
YouTube as a Platform
When you think about making videos, the first two things that come to mind are the content & viewer, right? A few of the most popular categories with large fan bases include Gaming, Top 10 Lists, Animal (surprise, surprise; it’s not limited to cats or dogs anymore) activities, product unwrapping and unboxing, news & How-to’s. Relatable, high-quality content in any of these fields that will capture the attention of & be well-received by your specific target audience is all that you need to become successful as a YouTuber, or so you’d think.
Promoting your content is of almost equal, if not greater, importance as creating your content. Without a marketing strategy with large community outreach, be it through social media, personal websites, blogs or even other video sites, creating a strong fanbase is out of the question. And without a proper fanbase, cleaning dust off your Subscribe button just might become your primary occupation. 400 hours’ worth of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, so it’s only natural that the level of competition would be over 9000.
With a billion hours per day being collectively spent on YouTube by people globally, it is the perfect platform for creators to showcase their original content (a few examples being Meme Review, LWIAY, Pew News & Skrattar du Förlorar du) & spread their message to the world – and for advertisement companies to earn their bread. This is where the YouTube Partner Program comes in.
YouTube Partner Program
The YouTube Partner Program is YouTube’s official way of allowing you to (try and) make money off your content. If your videos have accumulated a total of 4000 watch hours over the past 12 weeks, with at least a 1000 subscribers; congratulations! You are eligible to be a part of the Program, pending approval from YouTube.
Once approved, nothing can stop you from earning off your videos to your heart’s content. However, as YouTube takes away 45% of your total earnings. That might seem like a bummer but it is still lucrative.
Setting up and linking an AdSense account to their YouTube account is the next step and is a necessity for all YouTubers joining the Partner Program, to gain access to the usage of ads for generating revenue. There’s a meticulously detailed process that they have to go through including selecting the type of ads and selecting how the ads appear to us viewers.
CPM & CPC
Now, advertisements that bring in revenue for YouTubers can be of two primary categories (a few more have popped up in recent times) which are as follows:
CPM stands for Cost per Mille or is also known as Cost per 1000 views. This basically means that the ad company will pay the YouTuber a fixed amount every 1000 times their ad appears on their video, which is aimed at increasing advertiser’s brand visibility. On average, the CPM rate varies from $2; which means that for every 1000 views, the owner of the video can get paid a maximum of $20. With 45% of that disappearing into the void that is the YouTube Partner Program, your average YouTuber earns $11 for a 1000 views on their video.
The other, less commonly used category of advertising is the CPC or Cost per Click category. As the name suggests, this type of advertising generates revenue as the viewer’s click on ads. But these ads, unlike the CPM ads, are not embedded in the video itself and are present around the video, in a chosen layout of the owner’s choice.
Eddie Woo (probably the most amiable mathematician on this planet) explains exponential growth as a type of growth that is dependent on the growth itself; after the first growth instalment, the size of it determines how big your subsequent instalment will be. Revenue generation follows a similar trend. As YouTubers continue to gain views and subscribers, their popularity skyrockets which naturally leads to way more ad revenue. Having a large audience ensures that there are enough fans out there that have the patience to sit through those annoying, unskippable ads to get to the actual content.
Affiliate marketing is another pocket marketing/advertisement technique that is used by YouTubers, especially by product reviewers (make-up, electronics etc.) and unboxers, to generate a fair amount of revenue. In the description of a video about a product (it may be a review, an unboxing or a recommendation), several links connected directly to the product mentioned in the video are often present. The number of people clicking that link and the number of people actually buying the product off the link in the video determines the revenue generated by that particular video. For example, a video with 2 million views has a CTR (Click-through-rate) of 3% and the conversion rate (people actually buying the product) is 5%; that would mean (@$5 per sale) an earning of $15,000 for 2 million views.
Finally, we arrive at the climax of the YouTube advertisement universe; Sponsorship. Sponsorship is only offered to those who have established themselves as an influential presence on the platform and are sure to have some effect or the other if they end up endorsing the sponsor’s product. These deals can either be a one-off, with a single, fully dedicated video to the product or the sponsorship can be extended to the entire channel, and the YouTuber has to keep using (appropriately, of course) or mentioning the product in their videos. Paying about $10-$50 per 1000 views (depending on the channel and the predicted view output), a video with a million views can lead to an earning of $10,000 to $50,000.
It is said that there are no shortcuts to success, and that statement couldn’t be more true. Earning on YouTube definitely starts off slowly but as you build your empire over time, the wait is worth it. To prove my point following are the net worth estimates of some of the popular YouTubers today:
- Daniel Middleton (DanTDM) — $16.5 million
- Evan Fong (VanossGaming) – $15.5 million
- Dude Perfect – $14 million
- Markiplier – $12.5 million
- Pewdiepie – $12 million
The level of influence & action that a popular YouTuber can inspire was clearly demonstrated in the last few months as the infamous Pewdiepie vs T-Series battle took the internet by storm. Climbing by a whopping 30 million subscribers in a mere 6 months, Pewdiepie has proved that if you are dedicated & patient, YouTube can be one of the most rewarding career choices of all time.
Measuring your success as a YouTuber just by the amount of revenue earned would be an insult to the platform, whatever issues it may have. YouTube provides an easily accessible platform not only for the viewers but the content owners as well, who go through great lengths to create content and share it with us. It inspires us to be a better version of ourselves, provides knowledge in a simple & enjoyable manner and most often than not, is the cause of that stupid grin on each & every one of our faces. Sure, YouTube is a good source of income if you’re up for it; but it is also a way to connect with people all over the world, at the tap of a finger.