Make Money from YouTube Videos

Make Money from YouTube Videos


More than one billion people visit YouTube every month, and more than a million creators from 30 countries around the world earn money from their YouTube videos.

Analysts estimate that Google, which bought YouTube in 2006, makes more than $4 billion per year from selling advertising around and on top of user-uploaded videos. There are more than a million advertisers using Google ad platforms, the majority of which are small businesses.

YouTube Statistics

  1. More than one billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  2. YouTube is localised in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  3. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  4. Over six billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube — that‘s almost an hour for every person on earth, and 50% more than last year
  5. Millions of subscriptions happen each day — the number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year

To encourage people to keep uploading high-quality content, Google operates a profit-sharing system that gives uploaders a cut of the revenue raised from ads shown next to their content, so they can make money for themselves and for Google.

There are plenty of people making a comfortable living from creating and promoting YouTube videos. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I want to do that too!” here’s some expert advice on how to get in on the action.

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Be passionate about your content

Mike Sharman, founder of online communications consultancy Retroviral and creator of awesome new media content, says it all starts with passion. “If you aren’t passionate about the content you’re creating, you won‘t be incentivised to keep on producing new material. Passion will attract viewers and make them interested in your productions.

Digital Guru, Mike Sharman

Videos need to be optimised once they are uploaded – this means adding relevant tags, and segmenting the videos according to their categories. You also have to create a call to action at the end of your videos to convert viewers to subscribers – subscribers are valuable because they receive notifications when new videos go live on the channels they follow.

“You won‘t make money overnight,” says Sharman. “This is a long-term commitment. Essentially, you need to build a combination of subscribers, and a community of hundreds of thousands – preferably millions – of viewers if you are to make a career from your content. Make sure you are creating content for the right reasons.”

Expert tips

  • Upload content regularly
  • Focus on making videos with good content that are also high-quality
  • Put time and effort into editing your videos
  • Make videos based on what‘s popular on the Internet
  • Make sure you add tags when uploading videos
  • Use key words so people see your video
  • Be sure to advertise your videos on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

YouTube and the Google advantage

You can sign up for the YouTube partner programme in more than 60 countries, including South Africa. Playing by the rules means you have to grant Google “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable licence (with right to sub-licence) to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform” the videos you upload. It may sound onerous, but the benefits of Google’s infrastructure are enormous.

The reason why YouTube works so well, Sharman says, is because the experience is consistently great between desktop and mobile environments.

“YouTube content is easily shared, embedded into blogs and it is the third or fourth largest social network in South Africa. The audience has been built for you. Google isn‘t a search engine – it‘s an advertising sales business. Brands want to spend money on platforms that have an audience. Becoming a partner and working as closely as possible with YouTube and Google is the way to go.”

Related: Simple Money-Making Ideas for Entrepreneurs

What sort of videos make money?

“There are many different genres of videos that make money across the board on YouTube,” says Sharman. “‘Advice’ and ‘how to’ videos are incredibly popular – teaching people how to drum, how to apply makeup, how to kiss girls (in Caspar‘s case) – viewers love that.”

“Animation is time-consuming, but people enjoy it because of the craft and the level of skill involved.

“Remarkable content captured by means of attaching a GoPro to your mountain bike and capturing rare footage of a buck knocking a fellow biker over, or leopard kills on safari also have a tendency of going viral. Sometimes something unconventional and awful breaks all the rules and does incredibly well. Rebecca Black’s song ‘Friday’ is a case in point.”

How much money can you expect to make?

“You can make a few rand, or potentially millions of dollars, but unless you hit on something hugely popular, don’t plan on retiring,” Sharman cautions.

Once you have ‘monetised’ your content, your videos will display ads. To earn money and receive payments from these advertisements, you must associate an AdSense account with your YouTube account.

Video uploaders receive 55% of the advertising revenue generated through their videos, via automatic payment which is paid to you when your earnings reach R1 000. Success is hard to predict and depends on how many people watch your videos. You can check on your revenues at any time by logging into your AdSense account.

Mobile and Devices

Mobile makes up almost 40% of YouTube‘s global watch time. YouTube is available on hundreds of millions of mobile devices

What makes videos go viral?

According to YouTube’s trends manager, Kevin Allocca there are four characteristics that make videos go viral: If they’re humourous, inspirational, unexpected or form a community for people to share a big inside joke.

Related: Make Money On The Internet

Step-by-step quick guide

1. Set up your YouTube channel

Each YouTube account has one channel attached to it. A YouTube account is the same as a Google account, and creating a YouTube account will grant you access to other Google products, such as Gmail and Drive.

2. Add keywords to help people find your channel

You can add keywords by navigating to the Advanced section of your Channel Settings. Make sure that your keywords are relevant to your content.

3. Add content

Try to upload content that is high quality, and isn‘t too long. Upload regularly and be consistent.

4. Build an audience

This is key to increasing your monetisation. You need people to watch your ads in order to make any money from them. There is no secret to getting more subscribers – make the best content that you can and they will come to you.

5. Monetise your videos

To start earning money on your videos, you’ll need to enable monetisation. This means you are allowing YouTube to place ads in your video. This also means that you acknowledge that there is no copyrighted material in your video.

6. Become a YouTube partner by going to the YouTube Partner page

Partners gain access to more content creation tools, and get access to much more community support and tips. To gain access to the most powerful partner programmes, you need to have 15 000 cumulative watch hours for your channel over the last 90 days.

7. Set up Google AdSense for free at the AdSense website

Click the Sign Up Now button to begin creating your account. You need PayPal or a bank account and a valid mailing address as well as other information so AdSense can verify who you are and who to send the money to. You only gain money per ad click and a smaller amount per view but it adds up over time as your audience grows.

8. Check your analytics

Once you have some videos online, monetised, and being viewed, you can check out the analytics on them to see how they are performing. Click the Analytics option in your Channel menu.

Here you can view estimated earnings, ad performance, video views, demographics and more. You can change your content or your marketing if you’re finding that you aren’t attracting the users that you want to.

For more information, visit the YouTube support page.

YouTube Partner Programme

Created in 2007, the partner programme now has more than a million creators from over 30 countries around the world earning money from their YouTube videos. Thousands of channels are making six figures a year

South Africans making it big on YouTube

1.Casper Lee


Baby-faced, big-haired YouTube comedian Caspar Lee is arguably South Africa‘s most famous YouTuber. The teen phenomenon from Knysna now lives between London and LA and has amassed more than one million subscribers on YouTube and another million followers on Twitter.

  • Subscribers: More than 2 million
  • Top view: Over 1,6 million for Meet my Girlfriend Gaby

2. Anne Hirsch


Anne Hirsch has an online talk show and interviews a mix of local politicians, radio hosts, and musicians.

  • Subscribers: More than 6 300
  • Top view: Over 23 000 for Helen Zille on the Anne Hirsch Show

3. Khaya Dlanga


Khaya Dlanga was a South African pioneer of YouTube content, using the self-interview style format to discuss a range of issues that he found fascinating and topical. During the Obama presidential campaign he was even given the opportunity to ask the current President of the United States a question via a live Hangout.

  • Subscribers: More than 10 000
  • Top view: Over 30 000 for African Adopts White Child (Credit Crunch)

4. Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues


Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues have garnered millions of views on their channel with their mix of parody style music video content and their animated Hippo and Croc series that references current affairs.

  • Subscribers: More than 45 000
  • Top view: Over 5,5 million for Hippo & Croc: How Humans Eat Their Food (A parody of How Animals Eat Their Food, 97 million views).

5. Cobus Potgieter


Cobus Potgieter aka Deedlebag, is a drummer from South Africa who is internationally recognised for his videos on YouTube.

He began playing drums at the age of 16 and posted his first video in August 2006, wowing a global audience with his drumming skills and getting more than 750 000 total views. He is now sponsored by a number of drum manufacturers.

  • Subscribers: More than 475 000
  • Top view: Over 1,4 million for Cobus — Foo Fighters — The Pretender ( Drum Cover)

The below infographic was supplied by YTD – Altervista:

How to Make Money on YouTube Infographic

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.
  • Mohamed Mostafa

    Thanks for article massive traffic source but untapped , i also made article about How to make money on youtube , youtube really amazing site must all use it

  • I am a YouTuber for more than 3 years – building an audience these are extremely harder, obviously it all depends on what content you create and what audience you approach.

    I do Let’s Play / Gameplay content of the latest released games. My target audience is Gamers (mostly aged between 13-25). This is a very hard audience to target, mostly because so many YouTubers are gamers.

    I highly suggest that you play a game with high population (League of Legends, DotA2 Minecraft ect.) or interest (The Walking Dead, Latest Single Player Games ect.)

    My YouTube Link:
    Current Amount of Subscribers: 850
    Current Channel Views: 435,183

    I am more than willing to answer your questions on my Channel / Videos if you have any questions.

    Thank you for this great article!