YouTube influencers (also known as “YouTube creators” or “YouTubers”) are making big money on the world’s largest user-generated, video-centric social network. In fact, top YouTubers earn millions of dollars per year, and many smaller creators are also making a living through the status they’ve achieved on YouTube.
Prominent YouTubers are striking it rich through a combination of ad revenue, brand partnerships, personal business ventures and more. In the post below, we’ll explore some of the direct and indirect ways YouTube creators make money on and off the platform.
Influencer marketing has changed the way YouTubers can earn money through their channel. Influencer marketing is when a social media star promotes a brand, product, or service through sponsored content on one of their social profiles. Some examples of how creators leverage influencer marketing on their YouTube channel include:
1. Branded integration – A branded integration on YouTube occurs when a brand is mentioned or featured in a video. There are three main types of content that are classified as a branded integration:
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2. Brand ambassadors – A brand ambassador (sometimes referred to as a “brand representative”) is a YouTuber (or other social media influencer) who has entered into a public, long-term partnership with a business. These influencers will often be responsible for creating a certain number of sponsored posts, are sometimes featured in other forms of advertising, and may be asked to attend trade shows and other events as a representative of the brand.
3. Affiliate marketing – Putting links in content and/or video descriptions or offering promotional codes are popular ways YouTubers make money and get paid. Many of these links send users to e-commerce sites where product or services can be purchased. Known as affiliate links, these URLs are coded with a unique tracking IDs that give influencers a portion of each sale their link or promotional code generates.
4. Other social media platforms – Many YouTubers leverage influencer marketing as a source of income across other social media platforms, too. In addition to YouTube, there are a wealth of opportunities to make money through brand partnerships on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. By expanding their online presence to more social media platforms, YouTubers can further boost their earning potential.
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Aside from influencer marketing, there are a variety of other tools and strategies YouTubers utilize for monetization. Some examples of how YouTubers are using the platform — and the fame generated by it — to make money, include:
1. Native advertising – Through Google AdSense, YouTubers can earn money from advertisements shown within their content (often in the form of pre-roll videos and/or banner ads). A YouTuber’s AdSense account can also be connected to other sites and blogs they use to produce income.
2. Super Chats – Super Chats are highlighted comments viewers can purchase during a YouTuber’s live video stream that receive special placement in the comments section. YouTube gives content creators a share of the revenue that these messages produce during their broadcast.
3. Crowdfunding – Many YouTubers make additional money through crowdfunding and donation sites like Patreon and Kickstarter. While Kickstarter is primarily used for raising large amounts of money around particular projects, Patreon is utilized by many YouTubers to earn a passive monthly income for themselves and their channel.
4. Merchandising – Many influencers sell clothes and other goods that feature their likeness, channel, and/or brand name. However, like many forms of monetization, the success of merchandise is often reflective of the YouTuber and channel’s popularity.
5. Individual business ventures – In addition to selling merchandise connected to their channel, some YouTubers leverage their popularity to start off-platform businesses:
6. Traditional advertising – Some of YouTube’s biggest influencers have garnered so much mainstream appeal that they’ve made the transition to traditional advertising, appearing in magazine and television ads — including much beloved Super Bowl commercials.
7. Public speaking – Some YouTubers also generate revenue by sharing their knowledge through speaking engagements. Prominent influencers like Casey Neistat have been asked to speak in-person at colleges and conferences, where they’re often paid a fee.
8. Consulting – Due to their social media prowess and proven ability to attract followers, YouTubers are sometimes tapped by brands to consult on things like marketing campaign strategies.