Getting paid to do something you love, growing your fame, working flexible working hours, and enjoying other countless perks of being a YouTube star. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well… there is a problem.
There are currently 1,300,000,000 people who use Youtube with 30 million visits per day with an annual revenue of $4,000,000,000 from ads alone. So the market is immense and aspiring Youtubers have every right to pursue a career. The question is… what are your chances of actually making a living from your channel?
The sad reality for most Youtubers
Things have toughened up lately for aspiring Youtubers. Especially smaller channels below 1000 subscribers or even below 100,000. Why? Because they can hardly reap what they sow.
One must be aware that Youtube is EXTREMELY competitive in terms of views. It is a business after all, and its purpose is to make money.
Nowadays, nearly every Gen Z kid wouldn’t hesitate to say yes to a career on Youtube. And they are right to think so. Who wouldn’t want all that fame and fortune that you see on screen, all the positive energy and promises of fulfillment? But the reality of the situation is that 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! And most of these videos are unfortunately left ignored. As of December 2019, there are around 16,000 YouTube channels out there having over 1 million subscribers. And about 160,000 have over 100,000. That is actually very little, considering that there are 31 million Youtube channels and still growing.
But assuming that you put money and energy into the best gear and best editing software. Your chances have greatly increased. Indeed! But is it still worth it from a financial perspective?
Well, that depends entirely on your niche and what your ambitions are with your channel and audience.
How much ‘Money’ do Youtubers actually make?
If we were to make a comparison, most bloggers start making money with Google Adsense on their blogs, the same as Youtubers. The pay sucks, but it’s better than nothing, averaging between $0.006 and $0.015 per page view. But YouTube ad rates are even worse. Although if you upload regularly it’s quick and easy. But creating 10-minute videos every week with quality editing is quite demanding.
According to Investopedia, in 2013, the average income for each YouTube content creator was $7.60 per every thousand views. A video with 500 views would have earned roughly $3.80.CPM. CPM (cost per thousand) is an industry term that represents revenue per thousand views. Once you accumulate your first $100 in earnings or more, Google will issue a payment to your registered bank account. Simple as that.
Are the good old days of Youtube behind us?
YouTube shares 55% of its ad revenue with video creators and books an average of $7.60 per 1,000 ad views. That means you get about $4.18 for every 1,000 views of ads shown on your videos. This is a slight step back from your $7.60 per every thousand views.
That’s just $0.00418 per view and doesn’t even count if someone clicks off the ad before a certain time has passed. The reason for this started in 2017 when advertisers complained about ads being shown on racist and low-quality videos. For this reason, Youtube has taken measures to tighten its grip on all channels.
So looking at the math, from mere ads, you can make roughly around $4.18 per 1000 views. This is without any other paid promotions, affiliate links or paid promotions. By clicking below, you can create an estimating of the range of earnings you can actually make:
The reason it’s hard to estimate the real revenue of a single Youtuber is that most of them have different revenue sources. When watching a video, you probably get a lot of them saying “Buy my merch and get 10% off” or “Be my Patreon.” This is why it’s difficult to make real money for starters and they get pushed out of the game. The probability of someone purchasing your product, click on your affiliate link or be your Patreon is very low if you have a few thousand views a month.
For those who want to start making money on YouTube will need to reach these metrics. It is usually after these that they can start earning any income from it:
- A minimum of 1,000 subscribers
- At least 4,000 hours of watch time within the past year
- Both must be met within a single 12 month period
Can you earn some money before reaching these metrics? Technically, Youtube wants you to make money, because this way, they can also make money. But let’s be serious, the money you earn is so little it might as well be nothing. We’re talking pennies.
Even YouTube channels with 1,000 subscribers are being kicked out of the program because of the 4,000-hour requirement. This is really demanding, especially if someone has a full-time job or a family to take care of. And assuming that the average watch time per video is around three minutes, you need a constant stream of videos and new views to hit that 240,000 minutes each year to stay in the program. Otherwise, you are out of the game!
But let’s be real!
Youtube is an awesome platform by all means. But if you want to even consider being a full-time Youtuber, you need to have at least a few tens of thousands of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of monthly views. And that might not be enough. So for starters, look at Youtube as a hobby project. A side-hustle for fun. If years pass by and those views are not coming, it’s probably worth taking a different approach. Persistence is key. But also meet their own time capacity. Youtube can burn people out. Nobody can see that, because viewers can see what’s happening behind the cameras, the real struggle of scripting, editing, and marketing.