How to make money on YouTube

One of the most appealing ways to make money with video is through online video. Any creator of online video knows that content that is free to view but is often not free to make. So how do you, as a creator, make money on YouTube? We’re going to take a look at some of the most popular ways you can make money on YouTube. We’ll take a look at the benefits and challenges of each approach so you can decide which method best serves your channel and audience. 

YouTube Partner Program

The YouTube Partner Program was first introduced in 2007 as a means to split the revenue with creators for the views they were bringing to the platform. The program has grown and evolved over the years but the idea is the same. You upload content to YouTube, and YouTube will place ads next to, in front of or in the middle of your video. It works very similar to television advertisements but in shorter form. 

How to qualify

Currently, to be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, your channel must be more than 30 days old, have more than 1000 subscribers and have over 4000hrs of viewed content in the last 12 months. Once you meet those qualifications, you can apply. Once your channel and content have been reviewed, YouTube will share its ad revenue with you. 

The eligibility for the YouTube partner program is constantly changing, so the best place to check is YouTube’s blog and help center for the most up to date information. 

How you make money: YouTube will split earned revenue through your Google Adsense account and once your earning meets the minimum threshold of $100, you will receive payment in your account. You don’t have to do anything other than upload your video content. The ads will automatically start playing and your revenue split will start. It’s also something that pays off the larger your audience grows. 

“You get a cut of what advertisers pay when an ad serves on your video. The more an advertiser pays for that ad, the more money you make. Your CPM is a good indicator of how valuable advertisers find your videos and audience for achieving their own business goals.” – Google.

Affiliate marketing

Have you ever made a recommendation for a product or service? Affiliate marketing is essentially just that, with the added benefit of getting a commission on the sale you make. 

How it works: Affiliate marketing is one of the more accessible ways to make money on YouTube. All you need is an affiliate link from a company. From there you can paste that link into the description of your YouTube video. In your video, you can let your audience know that they can support your channel by clicking the affiliate link in the description and if a purchase is made you earn a percentage of that sale. 

How you make money: Affiliate marketing is largely facilitated by the affiliate. Payment may look different depending on the company. The commission percentage for affiliate marketing can range anywhere between 1%-10% of the sale. It’s important to review the terms of services of the affiliate program to see what compensation is offered.  


If you would rather be in the business of selling your own products, then creating merchandise around your channel would be a perfect fit. One of the most popular products to sell online are t-shirts and other apparel. These items typically have a logo, quote or design associated with your channel or brand.

How it works: Once you have designed your merchandise, you will need to find an online shop to sell your products. Below are a handful of creator specific distributors with varying levels of features and support.

  • Big Cartel: Ideal platform if you want to handle the product ordering process yourself. You can host a free shop of up to 5 products at a time or purchase a subscription for more features. You can receive orders and payments directly on their platform. Order fulfillment, shipping, and customer service are all on your hands. 
  • Bonfire: If you would prefer to design the product and want the rest of the ordering process out of your hands, this is a great solution. Bonfire’s platform is free to use, and they handle order fulfillment, shipping,  and customer service. They have several tools available for you to calculate the costs of your product and see how much you would need to charge per item. They do charge a processing fee, but all profits go to you.
  • TeeSpring: TeeSpring had several of the same features mentioned above, with the added benign of having official integration with YouTube. This will allow your merchandise to be displayed along with the bottle “MERCH SHELF” section. 

How you make money: Once you’ve set your shop up, you make your money through the orders your audience process. Because of this, it’s important to know the right item to offer for your audience and how much to charge for it.


Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that focuses to serve creators who create regular ongoing work. Where other crowdfunding platforms focus on raising funds for one big project (i.e. a new product, movie, or book) Patreon’s focus is on supporting creators who want to raise ongoing monthly support from their audience through their patronage.

How it works: When your audience supports you on Patreon, they are essentially buying a membership. This membership gives them access to premium content, exclusive community or whatever else you want to offer your audience. In exchange for their support, patrons typically want to feel closer to your content and process. Your patrons can support you on a monthly membership basis, or on a “by creation” basis. Patreon receives a percentage of your patron contributions

How you make money: Patreon recommends you offer multiple membership payment options for your community. This allows your patrons to support you at smaller and larger levels. It’s helpful to also have a variety of offerings so patrons can feel the additional value they’re getting at supporting you at higher levels.


“This video is sponsored by ________”. You have definitely seen these types of videos on YouTube, but how exactly do video sponsorships work? Sponsored videos are videos where a company “buys” dedicated ad space in your video. You can think of this as an integrated ad, whereas YouTube Ads happen before, during, or after the video begins, this ad is part of your video. 

How it Works: Sponsorships can happy by you reaching out to a company or a company reaching out to you. It helps to have a clearly established channel focus and audience demographic. This helps the brand can know what audience they’ll be put in front of. Once you establish the relationship the brand will typically have some version of deliverables in the form of the following:

1) The Sponsor Copy – What to say about the brand, and how. 

2) The Call the Action – Where you want to send the audience to

3) The Promo Code – An affiliate link that offers a discount to a product or service the company provides. 

How you get paid: Brand sponsorships have the potential to be the higher paying form of getting paid by YouTube; because it’s the most valuable. The YouTube ads will change with every viewing but the integrated ads live in the video. Sponsored videos can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per video. However, because you’re essentially negotiating this deal by yourself it can get tricky. 

Your payment will be determined by what you agree to with the sponsor. This is why it’s critical for you to know what your content is worth. Websites like Social BlueBook do a good job giving a ballpark figure of what a sponsored video would go for. These websites don’t give you an EXACT number of what you should charge. However, it’s good to have a number that reflects the value you provide through the videos you create. 


There are multiple avenues to generate money online through YouTube. From selling a product through affiliate marketing, or thought website like Patreon. All of this is possible when you build an audience that knows, trusts and supports the content that you create online. Focusing on delivering value to your audience is the first step in having your audience supporting you through any of these avenues.