Wondering what revenue streams for YouTube creators are the best? Curious about which of the many streams of revenue available for video creators on YouTube are more profitable than others?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the different revenue streams available to YouTube creators, from YouTube ads and brand deals to merchandise and affiliate marketing.
Rating my Revenue Streams as a YouTube Creator
I was shopping for cereal at my local grocery store when I got a buzz on my phone… I received an email saying: “we owe you $1,968.76!”
That was unexpected! And it came from one of my favorite revenue streams.
In this video, I want to share with you all my thoughts on my different revenue streams – from the ones that bring in a little bit of money to the ones that bring in a lot. I also want to rate them based on how much energy they require and how fun they are.
For those of you who are looking to grow your YouTube channel and make money through YouTube, this video is for you! I have created a chart in GoodNotes where I plotted my revenue streams on the X-axis (money) and on the Y-axis (energy and fun).
YouTube Ad Revenue
First up, we have YouTube ad revenue. Most people think about this when they think about making money on YouTube, and it’s a great source of income. I place it in the middle of the chart, as it requires a medium amount of energy (I have to upload videos anyway) and I like the fact that YouTube shares some of its revenue with us.
You probably already know that in order to be monetized on YouTube through the YouTube Partner Program, you have to have 1000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time.
And while there are a lot of channels that rely solely on Ad revenue, mine does not. This is a good thing because it does fluctuate and isn’t necessarily guaranteed!
Blog Ad Revenue
Next, there’s blog ad revenue which I earn through my partnership with Mediavine. I placed this revenue stream lower on the chart. Why?
Ad revenue through my blog is great because it’s passive. Similar to YouTube ad revenue, since I’m going to create the content anyway, I might as well generate revenue from ads within the content, right?
So earning revenue through blog advertising doesn’t take any extra time, but they also don’t generate a whole lot of income for me personally. They can slow down a blog and most readers find ads annoying. That’s why I try to keep mine minimal (hence why they don’t generate as much revenue as they probably could!).
Related: How to Setup Your Blog
Working with brands is another popular way of making money on YouTube. While I do enjoy using their products, services, or software, what I don’t like about this revenue stream is all the communication that’s required to make it happen.
When you work with multiple brands, you have to work on their timelines and content calendars, which can be a lot to manage. That being said, I think creators have huge potential to generate a lot of revenue and provide value to brands through brand deals.
When you find a brand that you love and love working with their team though, managing brand deals is a lot easier. It shouldn’t be a pain! It should be a partnership.
On the bottom of the chart, I place “done-for-you” services, like planning videos and doing SEO for clients. I’ve done this many times but found that often, my clients didn’t follow through and it was disheartening.
Plus, I believe that as a content creator, you are the best person to plan your own content, as it will make you a better creator and more connected to your audience and niche. I would much rather teach you how to plan and SEO your videos than do it for you!
Amazon Shoppable Videos
I want to mention Amazon shoppable videos… this is a newer revenue stream where you can earn money by creating videos for Amazon’s Influencer program. If a customer watches your video and then buys the product you reviewed, you earn a cut of Amazon’s revenue. While I love the idea, it’s just not as exciting for me as it requires making videos about everything I happen to order from Amazon every week.
Working with 1-on-1 Clients
I work with one-on-one clients either through weekly Zoom calls or chatting on Volley, where I help them get started or grow their existing YouTube channel. I enjoy working with my clients and learning about their niches, but I struggle with the context-switching of having to stop what I am doing to hop on a call.
YouTube Shorts (and TikTok and Reels)
I love creating short-form content, but it doesn’t generate much revenue. YouTube just started monetizing shorts for creators, but my revenue per thousand views is only a penny!
This means that despite the fun factor of creating short-form content, it is not generating significant revenue now.
Facebook Reels has accumulated around $7 worth of revenue, which is interesting because my Instagram Reels haven’t generated any!
I recently created a few t-shirt designs for myself, but I didn’t expect them to become a lucrative revenue stream. I did have a few sales! But not a ton. And since I wasn’t expecting a huge payout, creating merch as a revenue stream has met my expectations.
Contract and Freelance Work
I recently became aware of contract work and user-generated content. I’ve come to realize that these two concepts are essentially the same thing! However, there are different perspectives on what constitutes contract work and UGC.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to work with a brand that sponsors several videos on my channel. They approached me and asked if I could create some videos for their YouTube channel in exchange for payment. It was a unique experience for me, as I am used to talking directly to my own audience. Creating videos for someone else’s audience felt strange at first! But it also took some of the pressure off because I just had to create, edit, and send the final product. The brand took care of the rest.
I’ve started thinking about the possibilities of creating similar videos for other brands and companies!
User-Generated Content (UGC)
The concept of UGC, or user-generated content, has taken the world by storm, especially on platforms like TikTok. If you search for UGC on TikTok, you’ll find a whole rabbit hole of content. Brands are paying TikTok creators to use their products in videos… just like any other organic, natural video. The brand then takes the video and uses it on their channels or runs ads on it. It’s a smart way for brands to have authentic content and a smart way for content creators to generate revenue.
In a couple of weeks, a UGC creator will be joining us in the Thriving Creator Society to give us all a rundown of how this works, how to approach brands, how much to charge, and answer any questions we may have about this underground UGC system. Stay tuned to learn more about the exciting opportunities in the world of contract work and user-generated content.
Membership Program (My Favorite!)
My favorite revenue stream is my own membership program, Thriving Creators Society. It’s something I absolutely love doing and it’s low energy for me, despite taking some time every now and then. A couple of months back, I created a mini-course on email marketing for YouTube creators. It took some time to put together, but it was low energy because the people in my membership are exactly the kind of people I enjoy creating content for and interacting with. We have a monthly zoom call, expert masterclasses, and even a brainstorming and planning session, all of which are fun for me. This membership program is at the top of my list of revenue streams and is my all-time favorite!
Courses and Programs
If you want to take your monetization game to the next level, consider creating online courses. For example, you could create a course on “30 Days to a Thriving YouTube Channel” or “12 Affiliate Revenue Strategies.” These courses are on-demand and can be purchased by anyone at any time. They provide you with an opportunity to share your expertise with a wider audience and generate passive income while you’re at it.
Next, I want to talk about affiliate marketing. I have accumulated many streams of affiliate revenue over the years of creating content. Recently, I realized that one of my affiliate partners didn’t have my PayPal email, but they’ve been collecting my payments and will pay me out anyway.
Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite revenue streams because, much like ad revenue, I’m going to create content anyway. The difference between affiliate marketing and selling a product is that with affiliate marketing, I don’t have to send anything to the customer. If I send someone to Amazon, and they buy something, Amazon takes care of the shipping. As the creator, I get a cut, and so does the company I’m sending people to. It’s a great way to share useful resources, tools, and products with my audience while getting compensated for it.
It’s a no-brainer to start doing affiliate marketing from the beginning of starting your channel, regardless of how long you’ve been on YouTube or the size of your audience. You can start generating revenue through affiliate marketing long before you’re eligible for ad revenue on YouTube.
In conclusion, there are many ways to monetize your YouTube channel, but some models are better for you than others… you probably have your own favorites! If you’re interested in building a profitable YouTube channel (without spending forever), check out my video series here.