In a nutshell
- To earn a sustainable income from YouTube, creators must treat it like a business and create a business plan.
- A business plan outlines the content niche, upload schedule, revenue streams and other elements necessary for a profitable YouTube channel.
- Creating a business plan involves researching the market, developing a strategy and organizing the information into an easy-to-read document.
Out of the millions of creators making content online, only a fraction earn a living from their content alone. What sets these creators apart? Luck will always be a factor in finding YouTube success, but it also helps to have a strategy. To make YouTube your full-time career, you must treat it like a business. And that means having a business plan. In this article, you’ll learn why and how to create a business plan as a YouTuber.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is exactly what it sounds like: a plan for your business. It’s a document that explains how your business will earn income and become sustainable. In this case, your business is making content for your YouTube channel. Your business plan will outline details like content niche, upload schedule and planned revenue streams. Most important, it will show how all of these elements come together to form a profitable business venture.
Why make a business plan as a YouTuber?
Writing up a business plan may sound like a stuffy exercise fit for an MBA student, but it’s an important step in the development of any business. If you consider YouTube a hobby, go ahead and stop reading now. Go have fun making content and post whatever you want. If you want to turn your YouTube channel into a sustainable source of income, it’s time to start thinking like an entrepreneur.
Creating a business plan helps you understand exactly what you need to do to meet your revenue goals. Your business plan will serve as a blueprint you can refer back to as you build your channel. With it, you’ll have an established timeline and a series of goals to help you measure your progress and growth. Your business plan will also help you identify possible stumbling blocks. Plus, it’s a handy document you can use to get buy-in from potential investors — or even just your mom and dad.
How to create a business plan, step by step
Creating a business plan is a process. To do it properly, you’ll need to put in a bit of time and research. Here’s the breakdown:
Step 1: Research the market
When making a business plan for YouTube, the first thing you’ll need to do is get a solid understanding of the platform. This means researching things like how the YouTube algorithm works and how other creators bring in revenue. This is also the time to decide on a niche and home in on your target audience. Here are some key questions you’ll need to answer:
- How does the YouTube recommendation system work?
- What is your niche and who else is already serving this niche?
- How do other creators in your niche make money?
- Who is your target viewer and how will you reach them?
This initial research will help you develop effective strategies for growing your YouTube channel and your business. If you skip this step, you’ll have to make a lot of uneducated guesses as you develop your business plan.
Step 2: Develop your strategy
Once you better understand the YouTube landscape and your target audience, you can start to consider the logistical side of running your channel. This is the time to define the style of content you will make, how often you will upload and what other social media platforms you will use to promote your content.
This is also the time to pinpoint potential revenue streams as well as your business expenses. Try to predict how much of your revenue will come from each revenue source: AdSense, sponsorship deals, Patreon, etc. Be realistic when setting your goals and use your market research as a guide. Also, look for unique opportunities related to your niche. Cooking channels will have different options than automotive channels when it comes to channel monetization strategy.
Step 3: Write it down
The final step in creating a YouTube business plan is to organize all of the information into a single, easy-to-read document. You can choose a format that makes sense for your specific goals, but every business plan should include at least these sections:
- Executive summary: Give an overview of your business, how it will function and how it will bring in revenue; this section will appear first in your business plan document, but we find it helpful to write this section at the end of the process after you’ve determined the key elements in the rest of your business plan.
- Business description: Explain, in detail, what your content is about and how and why your channel will be successful.
- Market and competitive analyses: Using the information gathered in your market research, show how your channel will be competitive in the broad content landscape.
- Organization and management: Describe the legal structure of your business and the duties and responsibilities of any team members.
- Marketing plan: Explain how you plan to reach your target audience, attract new viewers and grow your channel.
- Revenue sources: Outline the revenue strategy for your channel, including which revenue streams you will pursue and/or what products and services you will offer.
- Financial projections: Predict how much income you can reasonably expect from each revenue source and describe any funding needs or expenses.
Now that you know the basics of creating a business plan as a YouTuber, you’re one step closer to turning content creation into your full-time job. If you would like to learn more about planning and running a business, the U.S. Small Business Administration has some useful templates and resources at sba.gov.