Do you want to learn how to make money on YouTube?


It’s a good idea to understand that different ways that you can make money on YouTube: from ads, affiliate, and products or services. Let’s break it down a bit further…

YouTube Ad Revenue

YouTube Ad revenue is generated by people watching the ads that are placed before your videos, on your videos, or around your videos on the YouTube watch page. Sometimes you’ll make money if someone watches the ad. Sometimes you’ll make money if people click on the ad.

As a YouTuber, you have control which videos you want ads to appear on. You also have some control as to how the ads appear (such as if you want it to be a pre-roll ad – one of the ones that plays before your video, or if you just want ads to appear as pop ups inside the video player).

You cannot advertise on certain types of videos including videos that have copyrighted material in them like music or other films. Nowadays it is common for YouTubers to use other musicians music in their videos. But if they didn’t get the rights to use that song, the ad revenue is likely going to the musician and not the video creator.

How to Make Money with YouTube Ad Revenue

The name of the game for making money with YouTube ads is to get a lot of views. This can be done with a small amount of videos that go viral and get a lot of views. Or it can be by posting lots of videos that don’t get as many views. Or really, it could be any combination of videos and views.

For us at Video School Online, we’ve had more success by putting out a ton of video content, without going viral. By posting weekly videos for 5 years, we’ve built up a library of YouTube content that are very keyword specific. While a few of our videos have been quite popular with high 6-figure and low 7-figure views, most end up with far fewer views than that.

Basically, the more views you get, the more ad revenue you’ll get. So do all of the traditional things to get more views like:

  • Making keyword-friendly evergreen content
  • Posting often and consistently
  • Encouraging people to subscribe
  • Creating videos on trending topics
  • Collaborating with other YouTubers
  • Sharing your YouTube videos on social media and to your own existing audience

Important Note: Not all topics are created equal. Some YouTube channels will make more money than others, simply by topic choice. A video about silly kittens isn’t as valuable for advertisers as one about cybersecurity. So it’s important to understand that if you want to make money via YouTube Ad Revenue, it’ll depend on your channel’s video topics.

YouTube Ad Revenue for Video School Online

As we’ve grown our channel, YouTube ad revenue has also grown. While it’s against policy to share specifics, we can say that we’ve been consistently making 4-figures in ad revenue for the past few years. It’s gone up and down, but mostly stayed consistent as long as we were putting out new YouTube videos.

There was a month or so when we stopped doing this, and ad revenue dropped below $1,000. So we decided that this was an important stream of income that we didn’t want to lose, and re-committed ourselves to putting out weekly videos. That being said, we haven’t focused on YouTube ad revenue as a main source of income. We could have really focused on building our YouTube channel to grow our income. Instead, we’ve focused on creating our own products and services that we can promote on and off YouTube to create a larger and more reliable source of income (more on that below).

Affiliate Income

Affiliate income is the second easiest source of income that can be made as a YouTuber, in the sense that you don’t need to do much work on top of creating your YouTube videos.

Affiliate income is money that you earn by referring people to purchase another company’s product or service. Most companies have an affiliate program, and by signing up you can create unique web URLs. When clicked on by your audience, you’ll get rewarded and make a certain percentage of any sale. If you want to be an affiliate for a specific company, go to their website and scroll to the very bottom. Usually there is an affiliate page in the site menu at the bottom of most websites.

Even Amazon has an affiliate program that is easy to sign up for and use. That way, you can link to any product on Amazon and make money not only if someone clicks on your link and buys that products, but also if they go on to purchase other items after clicking through your link.

How to Make Money on YouTube as an Affiliate

While views are important to make affiliate income, what’s more important is promoting products that your audience would generally be interested in. For example, if you’re a photographer that creates photo vlogs, you’d do well sharing the gear you recommend and use to your audience. This makes much more sense that being an affiliate for the web hosting company that you use. Vica versa, if you teach WordPress tutorials on YouTube, being an affiliate for your web host is a great idea!

It’s important to be clear with your audience that you have shared affiliate links (explicitly letting them know that if they click on the link, you are an affiliate for that product). You can put these links in the description, but it’s also important to let them know in the video itself that you’ve linked to your recommendations. Just putting them in the description and hoping for people to click on them is not usually enough. You can also send people back to your website to related articles or resource pages that contain affiliate links.

Affiliate Revenue for Video School Online

Affiliate revenue is a small portion of our monthly income. Our most popular links are on our resources page. Most of them are Amazon links. And we have some to other web tools and applications we use. In total, we make a few hundred dollars from affiliate sales each month. We think of this as extra income that we can’t depend on every month, but is nice to have. This adds up over time to be a decent amount each year.

Sponsorships and Partners

Similar to advertising and affiliate income, sponsorship revenue would come from a partner who pays you to make your videos. This could mean putting an advertisement within your video (not a YouTube ad, but a separate plug for a company). Or it could just be you mentioning that this video is sponsored by x,y,z company.

The amount you can make per video will depend on your channel size, engagement with the audience, and subject matter.

How to Make Money on YouTube with Sponsorships

You can get sponsored by reaching out to companies yourself, or you may be lucky enough to get reached out to by a company that wants to partner with you. When starting out, you’ll probably need to do the reaching out, and have a good pitch as to why the company should sponsor you.

There are several different types of sponsorships. They company may want to only sponsor you as an affiliate, meaning the revenue you earn is not guaranteed. It’s based off of how many people click or click-the-buy their product. Or, you could set up a deal that pays your a specific amount per video you create. We recommend trying to get guaranteed money from your sponsor whenever possible, unless you have a track record for being able to make affiliate income. At that point though, you might as well just be an affiliate on your own. You don’t generally need to be sponsored to become an affiliate.

There are also website that hook up YouTubers with sponsors. Famebit is one of the most popular ones that helps facilitate this process.

Sponsorship Revenue for Video School Online

  1. Zilch. Nada. Zerooooo. That’s right, we don’t get sponsored. And we do that for a good reason. We have our own products and services to promote. We don’t believe in sending people to our competitor’s if we have a related product or service.

Aside from the affiliate stuff we mentioned above, we haven’t ever been sponsored. We’ve been asked before. But we believe we can make more money from promoting our own products and services.

Fan Sponsorships & Support

Different than the traditional sponsorships (above) where a company pays you to put their name in your video, there are now several ways to make money from your fans. Patreon is probably the most well-known platform where you can basically ask your fans to pay you to create more YouTube videos.

YouTube, itself has added features like Super Chat and channel Sponsorship to let viewers pay YouTubers just simply to support them. Super Chat is a neat feature when doing a livestream. It allows viewers to pay you during a livestream, and in return their message appears big and bold – easier for you and everyone else to see.

How to Make Money on YouTube with Fan Sponsorships

The key to making money with Patreon, Super Chats, or any other kind of fan sponsorship is to create raving fans. You do this by putting out consistent and irresistable content. Look at YouTubers like Casey Neistat who built a large following by doing daily vlogs. He’s created a fan base that watches every single video he puts out.

Whatever niche you’re in, there are probably YouTubers that you know who have that similar kind of audience. Look at what they do in their videos, and use it as inspiration to grow yours.

Promoting Products & Services

Promoting your own products and services is what we consider the best way to make money on YouTube. When we say on YouTube, we mean with YouTube. You’re not selling your product or service on the YouTube site itself. You’re sending people to your own website or platform where you have a product or service that can help your viewers.

These products can be anything from trying to sell a used car to personal development coaching. We see many YouTubers selling merch (i.e. merchandise such as t-shirts and other swag) to their audience. Here at Video School Online, we sell our courses and membership program. It’s important, just like with affiliate links, to promote products/services that are related to your audience. Since we create tutorials on things like video editing and photo editing, it makes sense to sell full courses on the same topics.

How to Make Money on YouTube with Products & Services

We sell our products in a couple ways. We create specific promotional videos that we post on YouTube that act as an advertisement for our products. We make video tutorials that are related to our products, and then include links to that product in the descriptions and through YouTube Cards.

To have success with your own products, it’s important to ask your YouTube audience what they want. Create a video asking them how you can better serve them. Create a poll asking them if they’d be interested in any number of products or services. This validation is important to do before you actually spend the time creating a new t-shirt or beanie that no one is going to buy.

Digital products such as an online course, ebook, audio series, etc. are great because they are easy to process. There’s not much work that needs to be done after it is created. Nowadays there are dozens of sites that make it super easy to sell digital products such as

The key is to make it specific to your audience. While most YouTube viewers are there to get free entertainment or education, there’s a small percentage that may want to take it to the next level. If you have a product or service that fills that need, you can have a lot of success.

Product & Service Revenue for Video School Online

This is how we make most of our money at Video School Online. Our annual revenue has grown from just a few thousand dollars back in 2012, to mid-6-figures annually now. YouTube isn’t the only way we sell our courses though. We sell them through articles and other content marketing such as the Online Course Masters podcast. We have a large list of email subscribers who are our highest-converting audience. And we do some social media marketing and paid advertising as well.

That being said, we convert dozens of YouTubers to course students each month. Initially, this means hundreds of dollars in revenue each month. Down the road though, that YouTuber might eventually buy more courses from our email list. So it’s hard to put a specific number on how much we make from our YouTube channel.

In Conclusion

While some YouTubers focus on one way to make money, we’ve found that spreading out our risk and building multiple streams of income is the way to go. That has been great in months where one stream is down.

Please know that making money on YouTube is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes A LOT of work and time to grow a thriving YouTube channel. Often, you won’t be able to reap any rewards for many months, if not years.

Start out on YouTube and just focus on growing your audience – your views and your subscribers. Care about creating content they love, before you think about monetizing them. When you focus on giving, rather than taking, that’s when you’ll find success!

What do you think? How have you made money on YouTube? Post your thoughts in the comments below.


Phil + The Video School Online Team