In a nutshell

  • Optimizing your YouTube channel involves understanding YouTube’s community guidelines, investing in quality control, building relationships, using SEO, analyzing viewer metrics and maintaining authenticity.
  • There are seven possible ways to monetize your YouTube channel without a partnership: affiliate marketing, sponsored videos, crowdfunding and Patreon, selling merchandise, offering online courses or eBooks, video licensing and paid product reviews.
  • Running a YouTube channel can be a profitable side hustle, allowing you to share your passion while generating income, even without a formal YouTube partnership.

Posting to YouTube as a side gig could be a perfect opportunity to supplement your income. However, that can be easier said than done when you’re not in YouTube’s Partner Program — YouTube’s program for channel monetization. But, even though you don’t have a YouTube partnership, you still can monetize your efforts.

Here’s how to turn your YouTube channel into a profitable side hustle.

Getting start

Before you can start making money with your channel, you first need to make sure you optimize it and figure out what kind of content you’re going to make — which will dictate how you monetize your channel. Here’s what you need to do to get started.

Guidelines and quality control

Familiarize yourself with YouTube’s community guidelines. These rules aim to protect viewers from harmful or misleading content. It’s crucial to adhere to these standards for the longevity of your channel.

Quality is paramount. Invest in a decent camera and microphone to ensure your content is clear and engaging. Edit your videos diligently to maintain professionalism. There are various editing tools available online, some for free, to enhance your content. Check out Videomaker’s best video editing software buyer’s guide for more guidance.

Background and engagement

Your video backdrop doesn’t need to be elaborate. A clean, simple background can work great. However, this will depend on the type of content you make and what your brand calls for. If you’re known as being an experimental designer, like Adam Savage, a cluttered background may suit your brand perfectly.

Image courtesy: Adam Savage’s Tested

Also, engage with other accounts within your niche, comment on their content and respond to comments on your videos. Building relationships with your viewers and fellow creators can increase your visibility.

Harnessing SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is pivotal for the success of your channel. Optimize your video description, title and hashtags to improve its visibility in YouTube’s search algorithm. More on that here.

Analytics and authenticity

Understand and incorporate YouTube analytics into your content strategy. These statistics reveal information about your viewership demographics and the popularity of different videos, which can guide your content creation.

Most importantly, maintain honesty. Avoid resorting to outlandish clickbait. Genuine content resonates with audiences and builds trust, a key ingredient for a successful side hustle on YouTube.

Monetizing your channel

Now let’s explore seven ways to monetize your YouTube channel without a YouTube partnership:

1. Affiliate marketing

One viable way to monetize your YouTube channel is through affiliate marketing. Essentially, you partner with companies to promote their products or services. The trick is to find products that align with your niche and audience’s interests. After endorsing a product, you provide an affiliate link that directs your viewers to the product’s online purchase page. You earn a commission each time a viewer purchases the product through your link. This method can generate a substantial income, especially if the products you’re promoting have high consumer demand.

2. Sponsored videos

Another monetization avenue is sponsored videos. Brands often collaborate with YouTube creators to create content that showcases their products or services. You can make a decent amount of revenue this way. However, remember to always keep your audience’s interest in mind. If a product wouldn’t benefit them, it might be worth reconsidering the sponsorship. Retaining your audience’s trust should be priority number one when it comes to sponsorships.

Image courtesy: AngryJoeShow

3. Crowdfunding and Patreon

Platforms like Patreon or other crowdfunding sites can offer another income stream for your YouTube channel. On Patreon, viewers can opt to become regular patrons of your work, offering a monthly financial contribution.

More traditional crowdfunding, on the other hand, is often project-based. For instance, you could crowdfund a unique video project or series. Both options are ways for viewers to directly support your content creation.

4. Merchandise

Once you’ve established a brand for your channel and gained a substantial following, consider selling merchandise. This can range from t-shirts, mugs and hats to more niche items like artwork or handcrafted goods. Merchandise serves a dual purpose — it provides an additional revenue stream and also helps promote your brand.

Image courtesy: Pokimane

5. Online courses and eBooks

While this one won’t be for everyone, if you’re an expert in your channel’s niche, consider creating an online course or writing an eBook. Many viewers look to YouTube to learn new skills or gain knowledge, so selling in-depth, educational content can be lucrative. For example, if you’re a beauty channel, you can sell an online course walking people through various makeup looks, offering tips and products you like to use. However, remember that the content you offer this way needs to be content that isn’t easily accessible on your channel or elsewhere. You want people to feel they are getting value out of what they’re paying for. Otherwise, it could backfire.

6. Video licensing

If your videos are unique and engaging, they may catch the interest of media outlets or licensing companies. These organizations are often willing to pay for the rights to use your footage in their own content. This can be particularly profitable if your videos capture rare events or stunning visuals.

7. Paid product reviews

Lastly, you can monetize by offering paid product reviews. Companies within your niche may pay you to review their products. However, make sure to maintain objectivity and transparency when conducting these reviews. Being honest with your audience helps to build trust and ensures they value your opinion. Your audience’s trust is worth more than a sponsorship in the long run.

Making money without a YouTube Partnership

Running a YouTube channel can be a rewarding side hustle that not only supplements your income but also allows you to share your passion with others. By following these steps and exploring these seven monetization options, you can make money on YouTube without being partnered.