Depending on how fast your internet connection is, it could take 20 minutes or 12 hours to upload a video to YouTube. Depending on your own skills, it could take any amount of time to actually produce that video. With all this effort going into sustaining a YouTube channel, it’s no wonder that creators want stable revenue sources as compensation and motivation.
A few years ago, it would have been laughable if someone quit their job or left school to become a “full-time YouTuber,” but that’s actually one of the most popular aspirational professions for teenagers now. In a changing world, here are some alternate revenue sources to consider before turning that second bedroom into a functional studio.
Advertising without Adsense
First, advertisers outside of Adsense should be considered. Sponsored content has made production easier for many YouTubers, but it requires a level of brand awareness and stability that not everyone has when they are just starting out. Sponsored content is when a company will reach out to a creator and pay for specific content to be created, usually with product placement, in exchange for a fee. Depending on how intensive the work is, and how large of a following the creator has, this fee could be anywhere from 100 bucks to thousands of dollars to….oodles.
Lower on the scale would be affiliate links, commonly used by creators in the tech and beauty genres. The creator will mention a product in the video, with a link to buy the product in the description box; every time someone clicks this link, a third-party website generates about .01 cents, to share between them and the creator, even if the viewer does not actually buy the product. This has a much lower risk than sponsored content and is generally more accessible to creators with smaller audiences.
Support from Viewers
On the other side of the coin lies the products that the creator makes themselves! YouTubers have always had a certain affinity for music, since the platform is so welcoming to upcoming musicians. It might be time to take the next step and make those songs available for paid download. YouTubers like Tyler Oakley have made waves in the publishing industry recently by putting out books detailing their experiences. Self-publishing is its own bag of worms, but putting out little pamphlets of your personal writing could be a fun way to involve your audience. These are more artsy revenue sources, with respective trials and tribulations, so these methods work best if you had an interest in those areas before you wanted to settle finances!
The most common merchandise for YouTubers is, of course, the ubiquitous t-shirt. Personally speaking, I have at least six old, neon articles of clothing with a digital brand plastered across the front that I bought when I was in middle school and now use for apartment-cleaning. When crafting her merchandise, the musician Mitski only creates things that she could see herself wearing, which is a great rule of thumb for any artist. Be more creative than just putting your face or an inside joke on a shirt!
For the sake of the audience, you should also consider what’s fashionable and what will last longer than the want to purchase it. It’s also easier to begin with a poster; you can reuse the designs for later products. In any case, the creator must ask themselves what products best fit their channel and personal brand.
The final revenue method is just asking people for money. And there’s nothing wrong with that! If you are creating things that people enjoy, then you should be supported as you try to make better videos. For specific projects like short films or albums, websites like Kickstarter or Go Fund Me can be very useful.
With a certain budget in mind, you can reach out to people and involve the audience in the creation of the project; it is worth noting that some websites take a larger percentage of the donations than others, so be sure to account for that.
Best of all, there’s Patreon, which was actually started by YouTube creators! Viewers can pledge a certain dollar amount for each video you upload and receive secret content and special perks in return. This website is similar to the Renaissance-method of funding, whereby wealthy patrons gave money to their favorite artists in exchange for personalized pieces.
These different sources of revenue work for people in many stages of their career. Find a method that fits your channel best!