Can you Make a Living Reviewing Books on YouTube? We Did the Math.

 Let's say you want to make a living from a YouTube channel that features book reviews. You already know how to make good videos and draw in an audience, but you need help with monetization and have a vision of reaching $30,000.00 a year, or $2,500.00 per month.

On YouTube, ad revenue is the first way you can make money with your channel. This is calculated by using what is called CPM (cost per mille, or 1,000). In other words, YouTube’s revenue program, Google Adsense, calculates your revenue roughly based on how many thousand views you get with your videos that show ads. The CPM can vary from $1 to $20 based on the viewership your channel generates. Having millions of channel subscribers and views strengthens your chances of making a good profit, but with so many unknown variables in CPM, most successful YouTubers look to other methods to fill in the gaps. The Adsense route is murky, and it can take a long time to see any benefit. What follows are the five most effective ways to monetize your YouTube channel outside of enabling ads.

Affiliate Programs

When you sign up for a retailer’s affiliate program, that retailer gives you a percentage of the purchases made by your viewers. Once you’re enrolled, you’ll be able to include special links to products in your videos, descriptions and elsewhere. Those links direct your viewers to the retailer's website to purchase the item. Amazon’s affiliate program would be a great fit for a book reviewer since Amazon sells a wide selection of books, e-books, Kindles and even accessories for avid readers and writers. With affiliate links, your viewers have easy access to the books they want to read, and you get rewarded for providing the information.

Sponsorships & Brand Deals

YouTubers who have yet to build a community of subscribers may find difficulty closing a deal here, but it is something to work toward and with the right niche appeal, even smaller channels can negotiate deals the benefit all parties. For a YouTuber focused on books, a publisher or author might pay you to help promote a new title in a video.

These deals vary in how much they pay out and it can be difficult to know where to start, but if you’re especially fond of a certain publisher, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them directly. Look for contacts in the publisher’s marketing department. As your channel grows, you can also search deals out at is a site with a list of sponsors and brands looking for YouTube influencers for specific offers. You can also seek out partnerships with companies and brands in related industries, for instance, a company that makes high quality bookcases.

Subscriptions & Patreon

A monthly subscription is a great way to draw in revenue via your YouTube channel. New tools and platforms have made this much easier. Partly a take off of crowdfunding, Patreon allows creators to develop special content, perks and gifts as incentives for viewers to subscribe. Some of the perks a book review may showcase could be autographed copies by the author of books reviewed, gift giveaways or behind the scenes content of how the channel selects books to review.



Many YouTubers create their own branded merchandise to support and showcase their channel. This allows you to hold onto the entire profit from selling these items. For a book reviewer, this could be a book you wrote, book bags or backpacks embroidered with your channel name or handcrafted bookmarks.

Consulting & Speaking Gigs

As YouTubers develop their skill and learn how in generating income through YouTube, they can repackage that knowledge. This can be in the form of e-books, consulting opportunities helping others along their way or speaking gigs that tap into their knowledge and success.

This is the model successful YouTubers are using to create a full time income of $30,000 a year or more. At the heart of this opportunity is creating content you enjoy or have passion for. It is ideal to use this platform to push content you enjoy, as there is seriously no real determining factor to one's true success. Working YouTube takes dedication to the long game, so stay strong, and find your niche. If you’re not the book reviewing type, try applying these techniques to your favorite topics and soon enough you should start to see the seed you planted with YouTube begin to sprout.

Making It Work

Let's take a look at how a YouTube creator could possible make all of this work. For example let's say a that a YouTuber who does book reviews is able to attract a Brand / Sponsorship deal with a company willing to agree to a $100 CPM to talk about their product in a video and that video attracts 100,000 views. That would look like this 100,000 views x .10 = $10,000

Another example could be the same YouTuber creates a Patreon account that has the right set of perks to attract 20 patrons willing to donate $50 a month to keep their dream alive. That would create 20 x 600 = $12,000 a year

As we continue, lets assume the same YouTuber took to affiliate marketing with a 0.2% conversion rate on each video, so if a video gets 10,000 views, that equals 20 book sales. If the average cost of a book is $15 and Amazon pays 4% commission, we'd earn $0.60 per sale, or $12 for that video. Assuming they do 150 reviews per year that would be 1,500,000 views divide by 20 books per 10,000 views is 75,000 divide by the $15 = $5,000

Furthermore let's say this YouTube book reviewer has been sought out to teach what they have learned as a YouTuber and been hired to do some speaking gigs each quarter of the year at a minimum price of $800 x 4 times a year = $3,200

Totaling per year $30,200

In total from each of these streams you can see that although there are many variables involved one could clearly generate $30,000 plus per year working through YouTube.

While the path to earning your living on YouTube seems straightforward, success can still be elusive for the average YouTube creator. For this plan to work, your average video needs to earn around 10,000 views, and you’ll need to consistently put out around three videos a week. Depending on your channel and the engagement of your audience, this could require a subscriber base of around 500,000 — not an easy feat!

Marc Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.

Susan Schmierer
Susan Schmierer
Susan is the Art Director at Videomaker and Creator Handbook Magazines.

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