In a nutshell

  • YouTube creators who want to lose money on YouTube shouldn’t diversify their revenue streams beyond AdSense.
  • To lose money, YouTubers should never try to raise their audience engagement.
  • YouTubers can also lose money by creating content that’s not easily searchable.

YouTube creators have the potential to earn anywhere from $0.01 to $0.03 per ad view using AdSense, which translates to $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views. Furthermore, Business Insider highlights that successful creators can bring in a substantial $3,400 to $30,000 per million views. However, these numbers, while certainly attractive, don’t depict the full story. Achieving a million views per video is not a milestone that every creator can reach. Additionally, certain pitfalls and practices can swiftly erode a creator’s YouTube income, turning an opportunity into a loss. This reality brings us to a pressing question: How does one actually end up losing money on YouTube? What are the behaviors, strategies and practices that can lead to a decline in revenue for a YouTube creator? As we delve into this issue, we’ll identify the most common traps creators fall into, equipping you with the knowledge to avoid these missteps and maintain a profitable channel.

Practices that lead to losing money on YouTube

Investing in unnecessarily expensive equipment

If you’re one of the few creators who want to lose money on YouTube, a surefire method is to pour all your revenue into unnecessary equipment right away. That way, you won’t be able to invest in more important things for beginning channels, like interesting things to make content off of.

Now, if you want to make money, while expensive equipment can be a valuable investment, you don’t need to spend all your savings on it all at once. You can create high-quality content with less pricey gear. It’s actually better to slowly build your setup as you learn what gear you really need to accomplish the type of content you want to make. Many successful YouTube creators began their journey using laptop cameras or phones. For example, top-tech review Marques Brownlee’s first camera was the Sanyo Xacti CG10. Though not a professional camera, Brownlee says that it has a good minimum focus distance for shooting product buttons. While not the greatest camera, it allowed him to finetune his craft before investing a ton of money in equipment he didn’t need at that moment. Ultimately, start with what you have. Then, as your budget permits, you can consider upgrading your equipment.

Making low-quality videos

If your goal is to lose money on YouTube, always prioritize quantity over quality. Given that viewers seek content that adds value to their time, serving them low-quality videos can effectively waste their time, thus driving them away and your revenue.

For those looking to make money, prioritize quality over quantity when creating content. If you’re publishing low-quality videos hoping to generate more revenue, you’re mistaken. Your audience wants to consume content that’s intriguing, educational or entertaining. Simply churning out low-quality videos will not guarantee increased revenue. In fact, it may cause the opposite. 

Veering away from your niche

Losing money is easy when you don’t follow or know your niche. Consistency helps grow your audience, leading to additional revenue — so you want to avoid that at all costs.

To make money, know that not sticking to your niche can result in fewer views because your channel may seem inconsistent. Fewer views or engagements can dissuade advertisers from placing ads on your videos. Adhering to your chosen niche can lead to a boost in views, as consistency in content helps to build a dedicated audience base. Higher views and engagements can attract advertisers to place ads on your videos, thus providing an additional revenue stream.

Only relying on AdSense revenue

YouTube’s AdSense should be your only revenue stream. Considering how inconsistent YouTube’s monetization system is, if one of your videos ends up unfairly demonetized, you will lose most of your revenue on that video before YouTube can address the issue.

Now, if you’re a YouTuber wanting to ensure you always are making money, you need to diversify where you make your money. If you don’t, your YouTube earnings may be limited. While AdSense revenue is beneficial, it might not sustain your account, especially if your videos average a few thousand views. Diversify your revenue streams by landing sponsorships, selling merch and starting a Patreon account.

Not reaching out to sponsors or brands

Always expect brands to come to you with offers. Don’t reach out to potential partners you think would be a good fit for your audience; that way, you will rely solely on AdSense while you wait for other brands to notice you.

Now, to make money, reach out to sponsors or brands. Otherwise, you might miss numerous sponsorships. Sponsorships, whether affiliate, product or paid, can diversify your revenue. Many brands, both big and small, might be willing to collaborate once they recognize a shared vision. Seek them out, make contact, present your portfolio and negotiate a deal.

If your goal isn’t to make money, then you shouldn’t consider what’s popular on YouTube. You don’t want to attract new viewers because that leads to higher engagement. You should avoid that when losing money.

To earn money on YouTube, think about how leveraging trends can enhance channel visibility. Stay current with what’s trending on YouTube. Studying trends can guide you in creating new, relevant and popular content for your audience. Regularly check the “Trending” page and keep tabs on what’s popular in your community or country.

Overlooking SEO

Trends and SEO are closely linked. So, you want to dismiss SEO as well. That again leads to higher engagement and reach — all bad things when trying to lose money on YouTube.

For YouTubers wanting to grow their audience, search for the optimal SEO term to boost your ranking when examining trends. Neglecting SEO can result in missed opportunities to rank high in highly searched video categories. SEO tools such as AHREFS or Google Trends can aid in identifying trending topics and key phrases.

For example, if you have a beauty channel and want to explore trending topics in the “skincare” community, you can input the term into Google Trends. As shown in the image below, you can see the months when the term peaked the most over the past 12 months.

Scrolling down, you’ll find the top related topics and queries for the term you looked up, such as “skincare routines,” “Korean skincare,” etc. You can also identify the rising topics and queries for the keyword “skincare,” including “preppy TikTok,” “Megan Moon skincare,” “skincare for men” and so forth.

Top related topics and queries
Rising related topics and queries

Not managing your budget

Budgets don’t matter when you’re trying to lose money. Spend however you see fit and never check if you can actually afford what you’re buying.

However, for most YouTubers, excessively spending your money does more harm than good, not just on YouTube, but across all content creation. Just because MrBeast spends over a million dollars on his videos doesn’t mean you have to. If one of your video ideas is out of your budget, it may be best to shelve the idea and come back to it when you can afford it.

Neglecting financial planning and forecasting

Just like with managing your budget, don’t forecast the financial future of your channel. Everything will work out — right?

In truth, proper financial planning can prevent many future headaches. Incorporate all factors, including production costs and personal bills. Keep in mind that income may not remain consistent as trends and audience demands shift.

How to not lose your money on YouTube

Building a successful YouTube channel requires time, consistency, research and effort. While there’s always the looming threat of a revenue dip, numerous opportunities such as sponsorships, merchandise and more can help you diversify your revenue streams. By steering clear of the negative practices mentioned above, you can maximize profits rather than lose them.