You may have heard about YouTube’s “adpocalypse” a while back.
Suddenly, out of the blue, content creators — including some of the website’s most popular channels — saw a massive reduction in their ad revenue.
It was pretty drastic.
It’s become harder and harder over the years to monetize a YouTube channel — or any online content, for that matter — through ad revenue alone.
Unless you’ve got Buzzfeed or Epic Mealtime levels of traffic or views, you’re going to need another way to generate revenue if you want to make a substantial profit.
Because ad revenue has been dwindling, a lot of YouTubers are looking into other ways to go about monetizing their channels.
You might have noticed an uptick in YouTube personalities asking for donations on Patron. There’s also been a trend toward more frequent and prominent shout-outs for brands that the person is promoting.
Still others are looking into selling their own merch to their fan base.
Print on demand services, along with website platforms like Shopify, make it pretty simple to sell custom t-shirts, coffee mugs, and more.
In a recent blog post, Shopify offers up some helpful ideas for making more money from your YouTube channel.
1. Make Money On YouTube By Selling Products or Merchandise
Selling merchandise—t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, snapbacks, you name it—has a benefit beyond revenue.
It increases your exposure by putting your online brand and personality out there into the offline world, and deepens the relationship between you and your fans as they literally “buy into” what you’re doing.
Roman Atwood sells a variety of merchandise in his own store under his Smile More brand.
Selling branded swag is easier than it might seem at first.
You can order affordable designs tailored for specific products, like t-shirts, using freelance sites such as Fiverr.
And when it comes to handling orders and customers, you can integrate your store with services such as Oberlo or one of the many print-on-demand providers that take care of all the shipping, fulfillment and customer support, letting you reap all of the benefits of a dropshipping business that demands less effort on your part.
Alternatively, you can partner with an existing merchandising network for creators such as DFTBA (Don’t Forget to Be Awesome). However, you’ll be competing with other YouTubers in a marketplace and have less control over adding products, offering discounts, integrating your content, and all the advantages that come with owning your own ecommerce site.
You can even go a step further by manufacturing and selling your own unique products, powering your business with your YouTube channel like Luxy Hair did to sell their hair extensions with hair-related how-to video tutorials.
As a YouTuber who’s already earned an audience, you’ll have two advantages from the start that other store owners would be jealous of:
1. A content engine that consistently drives traffic to your store.
2. Your audience’s trust, which you’ve already earned by regularly serving them your own brand of content for free.
2. License Your Content to the Media
If you happen to create a viral video with mass appeal—say, a funny clip featuring your dog—you can license your content in exchange for money.
TV news outlets, morning shows, online news sites, and other creators might reach out about the rights to use your videos if they happen to go viral.
However you can also list your videos in a marketplace such as Juken Media where your content will be easier for the right people to find and purchase.
3. Work With Brands as an Influencer or Affiliate
Brands are investing more and more in influencer marketing, spending their typically large advertising budgets on influencers who’ve already won the loyalty of their audiences.
This creates a massive opportunity for you as a creator if you can negotiate the right deals.
Brendan Gahan, a YouTube marketing expert and influencer, recommends you establish your baseline flat fee by looking at the number of views your videos typically get and multiplying it by 5 to 15 cents per view (which is around what many brands are willing to pay for views via YouTube ads).
Depending on your leverage—your audience demographics, content quality and how unique and profitable your niche is—you might be able to negotiate a better deal if the brand is a good fit.
To give you another idea of what you can potentially charge, a mid-level influencer charges a brand on average $200 to $500 per post, according to one study.
The same study also shows that around 69% of YouTubers surveyed don’t think that partnering with brands detracts from their authenticity.
The key when partnering on brand sponsored content is to be transparent about it—not endorsing anything you don’t actually like or believe in, and being upfront with your audience about why you’re doing it.
Here are jus a handful of the many influencer marketplaces you can add your channel to and get discovered by brands both big and small:
* Grapevine Logic: One of the more popular influencer marketplaces, you only need 1000 followers to join.
* Famebit: With a wide range of brands to work with, you might find a sponsorship opportunity you’ll be proud to be a part of. You need 5000 followers to join.
* Channel Pages: Partner with other YouTubers as well as brands.
* Crowdtap: Complete small content creation “tasks” in exchange for money and other rewards. There’s no restriction on how many followers you need to join.
Some influencer marketplaces offer you free products, while others are known for having big brands who are willing to pay more. Capitalize on the opportunities that best suit your needs, but list yourself in as many places as you can to ensure maximum visibility for your channel.
For more on how to work sponsored content or product placement into your videos, check out YouTube’s Guide to Paid Product Placement.
Alternatively, you can also become an affiliate for brands and make residual passive income through commissions from every sale you generate through your channel. This works especially well if you review products as part of your YouTube channel. Since there’s no risk involved on the brand’s end (they only pay when they make sales), there’s usually a low bar to getting started.
Popular affiliate programs include Click Bank (1% to 75% commission depending on what the vendor sets) and Amazon’s Affiliate network (earn up to 10% per sale). You can also reach out to brands in your niche that are running their own affiliate programs, which isn’t uncommon in the ecommerce space.
You can check out some more great options for turning a Youtube channel into a thriving source of income in the full blog post from Shopify.