Creating YouTube videos can be a fun hobby, and a rare few even manage to make it a full time living. The most popular YouTube channels, those with hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers, generate revenue based on ads displayed alongside their content. Those channels garner millions (or even billions) of views, and can rack up some serious cash as a result.
A recent WAHM reader took to the forums to ask: So how do you make money from YouTube?
Well, the range of income that a YouTube channel can earn is wide. The International Business Times suggests that the average channel earns less than $100 a month from ad revenue. Business Insider recently ranked the richest YouTube stars, and the #1 spot went to PewDiePie, a Swedish video game commentator. His 24 million subscribers and 3+ billion video views earned him somewhere between $825,000 and $8.47 million in 2014. Not bad for talking about video games all day.
So, how do you go about becoming a YouTube success story?
While there are unusual success stories like the 23-year-old that's among the top ten channels just 18 months after uploading his Minecraft clips, building a channel successful enough to earn a living often takes years. It's difficult to find an audience for your videos when there are so many other channels out there competing for attention. Building a following takes time, so be ready to be patient (and keep your current income source in the meantime).
What type of content will you produce? Why will viewers want to subscribe to your channel? The top channels all have a common thread--the channel owners are often either experts in a topic or have a personality that works well for comedy, spoofs or parodies.
Don't try to be all things to all people. Pick a niche that suits your particular talents, and start producing videos that are of interest to those in that niche. Over time, you'll attract more like minded people to your channel.
Find out what other channels are producing content in your niche, assess their content, and see where you can stand out. You want to offer something to your audience that they can't get anywhere else. That is what brings people back again and again.
Maybe it's your expertise on a certain topic, or your one-of-a-kind sense of humor, or your amazing editing skills - pinpoint your unique value proposition, and run with it.
Views don't come without some legwork. You'll need to promote your videos with your social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Stumbleupon - anywhere you can get the word out. And when someone comments, be sure to respond. Start a dialogue with your audience. It'll make them feel more engaged with you and your content, and more apt to subscribe and share. (And when you comment on your own videos, they get displayed at the top so it shows off your interaction with your fans.)
Brainstorm creative ways to get videos on the screens of those that might not have otherwise stopped by your channel. Start a website or blog that expands upon your brand and features your videos. Partner with other YouTubers to do some cross promotional videos - sharing content also means sharing audiences. Try paying for YouTube promotion with Adwords for video. Promote, promote, promote.
Video production isn't cheap. You need cameras, lenses, lights, sound equipment, computers, editing software, props, sets, wardrobe, graphics, music - the list goes on and on. Even if you're a one woman show, it can get expensive.
Video newbies often fail to budget properly for production and end up running out of money before finishing their project. (Even seasoned Hollywood pros fall victim to this.) That's why it's vital that you come up with a budget and stick to it.
Just remember, while it is possible to make money on YouTube, potential earnings vary widely, and like any business venture, there's no guarantee time spent will equal money earned. But if you find your niche, produce compelling content, engage with your audience, use sound business principals, and stick with it, you just might be the next YouTube star.
Want more input? Join in on the YouTube conversation in our forum.