YouTube has become an Internet phenomenon. From its humble beginnings in 2005, the platform now has nearly 2 billion active users with 50 million of them being content creators. A YouTube career salary can range from nothing to millions of dollars — $22 million annually to be exact if you're Ryan from Ryan ToysReview, YouTube's highest earner in 2018.
Looking at these numbers, it's easy to get discouraged and think that starting a YouTube career is fool's gold. However, making YouTube a career is not something to simply laugh off as an impossible dream. Just think how different the YouTube beauty community would be if James Charles or Manny MUA were laughed out of starting a YouTube career simply because the numbers didn't add up for them.
So, how do these superstar YouTubers make money from videos even reaching into the millions of dollars? There are some obvious answers like ad revenue, but actually making money on YouTube is more complex than most people know.
If you're a smaller channel and are doing some YouTube career exploration, let us tell you how the most subscribed YouTubers earn their living and then show you how you can stand on the shoulders of giants. We'll explore ways that you can achieve what the biggest YouTubers are doing, just on a smaller scale. Let's learn from the best!
Something nearly all of the most subscribed YouTubers in the world have tried is creating and selling their own merchandise. A lot of YouTubers will do this once their channels reach a certain size since it's simply not affordable for smaller channels. Take, for example, Jeffree Star's merchandise company, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, which cost him his entire life savings to start back in 2014. Now, this popular makeup guru has claimed to make $150 million annually! For a YouTube career salary, we have to say he's done wonderfully for himself. But creating an entire company to sell merchandise is unrealistic for most who are just starting a YouTube career.
A super affordable way to start your own line of products is by producing digital products, or E-products. Since these products are not physical but rather downloadable content, there are almost no upfront costs to create something, just your hard work and time.
Definitely give some thought to E-products as you start out on your YouTube career exploration. For example, if your channel deals with tutorials of any kind, you could release a digital E-booklet full of some special tutorials only available as a special download. If you have a loyal following of viewers, they'll be too curious not to buy this kind of merchandise!
E-booklets could also work for cooking channels as a way to release exclusive recipes. Photography is another super popular E-product which would work well for beauty or cosplay channels. Some crafty YouTubers can sell digital downloads on Etsy, such as patterns or unique designs. Use your imagination and you'll see the possibilities are endless! This will get you well on your way to making YouTube a career.
Have you heard of the Disney PewDiePie brand deal? In 2014, the (most subscribed YouTuber in the world), PewDiePie formed an alliance with Disney Maker Studios — it's one of the most epic brand deals in the history of YouTube. The plug has since been pulled on the alliance due to a controversial fallout between the two. However, the main point is that the most subscribed YouTubers in the world are often forming partnerships with equally popular brands.
So how do YouTubers make money off of YouTube brand deals if they're not able to buddy up with the likes of Disney? Let's look at some more realistic goals you can set for yourself to achieve brand deals.
Solution: Find your niche
According to YouTube's Creator Academy, "brand deals come in many shapes and sizes," so even smaller channels can find sponsors who will want to help them create branded content. Some of the most common types of content like this are hauls and unboxings. This is when a brand sends you items to open up on camera and review on your channel. Gaming content is also mega popular these days and some software or gaming companies will pay for game-play.
Tip: The YouTube Creator Academy recommends leaning into your niche, meaning even if you're a small channel, you can still snag valuable brand deal opportunities if you have more specific, niche content.
Did you know top 10 YouTuber Markiplier has raised over a million dollars in donations? Because he is a YouTuber with a big heart, all of this money has been donated to charities like the Cincinnati Children's Hospital or cancer research.
He is doing amazing work and we commend him for his charitable spirit! However, for smaller YouTubers donations are usually needed to keep the channel afloat and donating to charities is more of a long-term goal. If you're trying to make YouTube a career and are just starting out, then you probably won't have a large YouTube career salary to play around with. You may not be making very much at all annually, but that's to be expected!
So how do smaller YouTubers make money off of YouTube with donations? Patreon is the answer! The most subscribed YouTubers don't really need this type of subscription service to keep their channels alive, but if you're just starting a YouTube career then this is a wonderful platform to use.
Patreon works by providing a platform for content creators to make subscription services for fans. Creators make an account and set up subscription tiers, for example $5, $10, and $20 per month. Each tier receives different rewards based on the amount donated. This really helps pad out your YouTube career salary if you're not able to earn a lot from ads yet.
Selling access to a big meetup can bring in major cash. Remember that whole TanaCon thing back in 2018? 15,000 fans were left hanging when mega popular YouTuber Tana Mongeau hosted a huge meetup to celebrate content creators but, according to Newsweek, "fans waited in line for several hours… many baked in the sun for four or five hours in lines thousands strong." Ultimately the meetup was cancelled for safety concerns due to the overwhelming number of participants.
Making YouTube a career can sometimes turn you into a celebrity for better or worse. But for those of us who haven't reached star status, hosting a meetup might be impossible if you don't have enough of a fan base in a local area. Also, there's some money involved in coordinating a meetup space, not to mention potential safety concerns. All in all, meetups tend to usually be more practical for large channels who have the funds to make a well-coordinated event. So what's a small YouTuber to do if they want to reach out to viewers but their YouTube career is still in the early stages?
During your YouTube career exploration, you may have encountered an app called Callmart. Haven't heard of it? This app is working to connect influencers or people with valuable knowledge to buyers who want to purchase time with that special person.
This is a win-win scenario if you're just starting a YouTube career, because it's a way to engage with fans worldwide from home while earning money to support your YouTube career salary.
The app gives you a way to host personalized virtual meetups with loyal subscribers who crave one-on-one attention from you! Your subscribers will be thrilled that talking with you personally is an option. This new app is growing in popularity with influencers and creators who are just starting a YouTube career for this very reason.
You don't need to be the most subscribed YouTuber in the world to carve out a niche for yourself on YouTube. Sure if your goal for starting a YouTube career is to get on the front page, then you'll be looking at a longer road ahead. But if you simply want to support your YouTube career salary on a smaller scale so your channel can stay alive and well, then there are definitely multiple ways to achieve this. And just because you're getting smaller donations or hosting smaller meetups, it doesn't mean you can't offer high-quality experiences to your dedicated followers.
We hope you enjoyed this article! For similar articles, or just some more fun reads to pass the time, check out Callmart's other articles.