I think that 99% of people trying to get started on YouTube put WAY too much stock into being monetized on the platform. There are WAY more ways to drive income with a YouTube channel than just being monetized. Let’s chat about 4 income streams every YouTuber needs to have, whether you’re brand new or advanced.
4 Income Streams Every YouTuber Needs to Have
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A quick sidebar here – this is the FIRST piece of content on Hey Jessica in the new year! Yaaay, 2021! This is also the last piece of content I’m creating from my home office. The next time you see me, I’ll be in my brand new studio!
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Let’s talk about YouTube Mindsets
I did a presentation at an online conference recently, and I talked about how I think there are two different mindsets to being on YouTube. And I don’t think either one on its own is entirely correct!
Some people join YouTube and see themselves ONLY as a creator. They’re just a YouTuber – and that really narrows their field of vision for opportunities they could have on YouTube. On the flip side of that, there are people who join YouTube to use it as an asset for their business. Those people narrow their field of vision on the amount of creativity or awesomeness they could create on the platform. They never see themselves as a creator – just as a business owner who creates videos.
And I don’t think either one is correct! I think we need a solid mix of both of those mindsets to see the most success.
Regardless of how we’re using the platform, our brain needs to be right in the middle of those two mindsets. If you’re a YouTube creator and only think of yourself as a creator, I want you to start thinking of yourself as a business owner! It will open up a whole new world of opportunity for you. And, if you’re a business owner, then I want you to cross the line toward creator a little bit and have some fun!
A lot of people get into their own heads about this question and get stuck figuring out how to start thinking about themselves the other way. I’m here with the 4 income streams that EVERY YouTuber needs to have. And I mean EVERYONE. Not just people with 100,000 subscribers or vloggers – everybody. Spoiler: it does NOT include Google AdSense!
Let’s jump into the income streams you need as a YouTuber!
These are 4 income streams that every YouTuber should have – either before you’re monetized, or in addition to monetization. We get so hung up in needing to monetize that we tend to lose sight of other opportunities to create income on the platform.
1. Affiliate Marketing
You should be doing affiliate marketing if you’re creating content on YouTube. Full stop. I’ve done 42,000 videos on affiliate marketing (you can watch them here).
Essentially, affiliate marketing is when you get paid a commission for sharing someone else’s product or service. You can get started with this today! In the description of my YouTube videos, you’ll see links to my camera equipment and things I mention in the video. All of those links are affiliate links.
So, if you decide that you want to buy the camera I use for my videos and buy it through the link I put in my description, I make a commission. The really cool thing about affiliates is that it doesn’t cost the customer ANYTHING to purchase using your link.
There can be a bit of a stigma about affiliate links – which I completely disagree with. If you are putting out free content and people are consuming it for free, the least someone can do is purchase a product they found through you using your link.
Here's an example…
Depending on what brand you are an affiliate for, this can rack up income pretty quickly. I recently came across Tom Buck’s channel while I was looking for a new podcast microphone. He’s a great technology reviewer. Tom has less than 50,000 subscribers, but the tech items he’s reviewing on his channel are probably making him good money thanks to affiliate links. I intentionally clicked through Tom’s link to purchase my microphone because his video was the one that helped me make my decision.
So, using Tom’s link, I purchased the Shure MV7 mic, and it costs about $250. Depending on the commission rate for that particular item on Amazon, he could have made anywhere between $5-$25 from my purchase of that mic. But I’m not the only one who purchased it from that video!
I have absolutely no clue how much money Tom Buck has made from affiliates. However, that video alone has 34,000 views, and I can’t be the only one who has clicked his link to purchase it. Even though he doesn’t have a ginormous channel, the fact that he’s reviewing things that cost a little bit more money means that he gets more money for every affiliate purchase than someone who sells $10 items.
Depending on the types of affiliate links you share on your YouTube channel, you could create a full-time income with affiliates very quickly.
Sponsorships, guys! You do NOT have to have a massive channel to start reaching out to sponsors. It doesn’t require a certain amount of views, watchtime hours, or anything to ask brands to sponsor your content.
I’m not saying that you can expect an advertiser to pay thousands of dollars for a sponsorship on a small channel. However, you can start with sponsorships whether you’re small or large. They can help fund your ability to create free, quality content on YouTube.
3. Merch/Your Own Physical Products
This third one is something I am going to make SURE I do this year that I haven’t done before. When you have a community, it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t create merch or a physical product of some sort.
You can create t-shirts, hats, mugs, notebooks, camera bags, literally anything! The possibilities are endless, and the ability to create and sell merchandise is so much easier than it used to be with services like Shopify and Oberlo.
Let’s talk about Shopify and Oberlo!
Thank you to Shopify and Oberlo for sponsoring my video on this topic!
With Shopify and Oberlo, you don’t have to worry about managing inventory when it comes to physical products you want to sell. Shopify has LONG been one of my favorite e-commerce platforms. They make it super easy, super SEO-friendly, and super user-friendly for the customer. Not only that – now, they have created Oberlo, which is multi-layered awesome!
Oberlo helps you learn how to level up your game in this merch and entrepreneurship world. They have courses that allow you to learn how to design your dream life, dropship, build your brand on Instagram, and toooons more.
Not only that – they have dropshipping that integrates NATIVELY with your Shopify account. You can pick products, add them to your store, and they are dropshipped for you. If selling physical products scares the bejeezus out of you, don’t let it! Services like Shopify make it so much easier for you.
4. Digital Products
The last income stream every YouTuber needs to have is selling digital products. With digital products, there’s absolutely no overhead. You can create anything your audience is asking for!
I have courses on everything from ClickUp to Instagram. But you can create other types of digital products! You could create PDFs, templates, courses, and everything in between. If you’re a photographer who uses Lightroom, you could sell Lightroom presets.
If you have a following on YouTube, give the people what they want and create those digital products! I have had a TON of success selling digital products. If you can give your audience the content that they’re already asking you for and make a little money along the way, why wouldn’t you?
And to circle back to today’s sponsors, you can actually sell digital products on Shopify as well!