You keep hearing about YouTube sensations making millions from their channels.
The top YouTubers make it seem so easy.
You think to yourself: How in the world did they get all their subscribers?
After all, their content isn’t complex.
Yet, while you spend ages curating content for your YouTube subscribers, you’re not making money at all.
Hmm, there’s got to be a better way.
It’s not you, it’s YouTube.
Earning money from your video content isn’t as difficult as it seems, and you don’t need an outrageous number of subscribers to do it, either.
Today, we’ll explain how YouTube makes it nigh-impossible to monetize as a partner and, better yet, we’ll share six creative options for monetizing without YouTube.
But first, let’s cover what video monetization is so we’re all on the same page.
What is video monetization?
Video monetization is when you earn income through the videos you create, publish, and share online on any platform.
That shouldn’t be misconstrued as getting paid to create videos, however. Instead, when you monetize your videos, you get paid to grant access either to your individual content, your viewers, or your platform (platform, in this case, being your content portal or library).
In other words, people either pay you to watch your videos and/or they pay to send a message to your video audience.
Typically, you generate revenue through advertising, subscriptions, or direct transactions and get paid when people watch, like, or subscribe to your video channels.
Let’s run through some actionable examples of the most common forms of video monetization.
#1. Access to your videos
Just as people pay to watch Hollywood movies at the local cinema, they can pay to watch your videos.
The environmental documentary, A Plastic Ocean, is a prime example of how you can sell viewing access directly from your site.
You can do the same by charging a fee to watch or download your individual videos.
The process is simple, too, especially if you use an all-in-one platform to sell your digital downloads from your own site. Once your content is live on your storefront, your videos are ready for customers to enjoy for a price.
Accessing your individual content isn’t your only option, either.
#2. Access to your audience
Similar to blog monetization methods, people can pay you to mention their products and services, either in your video or where your video is displayed. By paying you -- the creator -- for the mention, the sponsor gains exposure to a whole new audience.
For example, Blue Apron paid AsapSCIENCE to sponsor one of their channel episodes in exchange for a product mention in an episode and promo link in the description text.
As a result, AsapSCIENCE subscribers were exposed to Blue Apron’s service and promo offer as they watched, and since videos don’t have an expiration date, the exposure continues paying for itself over the long-term, even after the offer itself has expired.
A win-win all around.
In addition to selling access to your individual videos and audience, a third option is to sell access to your video portal or library.
#3. Access to your platform
You know how Netflix and Hulu charge you a monthly subscription to access their shows? You can do the same and charge a fee for access to your video content library.
For instance, House of Yoga charges users a monthly subscription fee for unlimited access to their database of video content, which includes instructional videos from qualified yoga teachers.
You can follow in House of Yoga’s footsteps by grouping related videos as helpful programs for your audience.
As far as revenue goes -- the larger your video audience, the larger your earning potential.
This proportional relationship is part of the unfortunate reason the eligibility requirements for YouTube’s Partner Program -- the flagship for monetizing your YouTube channel -- now require a minimum of 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months and at least 1,000 channel subscribers.
Though, with video expected to account for 82% of online traffic by 2020, it’s no wonder that YouTube isn’t interested in smaller-scale fish.
It’s also little surprise that YouTube sensations rake in so much profit.
Check out some of these numbers. Two of the highest-paid YouTubers of last year are:
- Ryan ToysReview - He’s made $22 million with over 25 billion views and 17 million subscribers
- Dude Perfect - With over 36 million subscribers, this five-team channel has generated over $20 million
If these numbers and requirements sound intimidating to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
We aren’t recommending YouTube monetization strategies today. In fact, quite the opposite.
There are numerous monetization models. Among the top three are advertising, selling your own products, and consulting.
So as you can see, you’re not bound to the ways of YouTube.
Which brings us to our next point -- here’s how to monetize your videos without YouTube.
6 creative ways to monetize videos without YouTube
#1. Use affiliate marketing to make money promoting outside links
A great way to generate revenue from your YouTube channel is to include affiliate links in and around your videos.
Affiliate marketing has become a widely-used monetization method, and it’s dead simple to join the fray. All you need to do is link to outside products and services in exchange for a commission on each sale.
How popular is this strategy?
According to a survey of 500 publishers and 100 merchants, it’s the second highest-ranked revenue generator -- second only to Google AdSense.
76% claim affiliate marketing makes monetizing their storefront and content easy, and 45% say affiliate marketing doesn’t interrupt their user experience.
As you explore this video monetization option, it’s worth checking out these top affiliate networks:
If you’re wondering how lucrative affiliate marketing can be, Wordpress SEO instructor and entrepreneur, Tom Dupuis, makes $1,000 a month by including annotations and descriptions with affiliate links.
Here’s a screenshot from one of his videos, so you can see where he includes his affiliate links:
Seems simple enough, right?
Like with any mention of an outside product, service, or business, it’s important to keep legal requirements for endorsements in mind and align your values with your affiliates.
In other words, be sure to agree with what your affiliates stand for, personally support their offering, and most importantly, ensure they match your audience’s needs.
Your audience should always come first.
Fortunately, serving your audience is a little easier with our next strategy by keeping the control and product squarely in your hands.
#2. Create a paid membership site for access to your video content
Another effective way to monetize your video content is to create a membership site for like-minded people who can benefit from an online community as well as your valuable material.
This method is an impactful way to feature you as an expert on your topic and to build an online community of fans who pay to access your videos.
Plus, a big benefit of running membership sites is they allow you to maintain your customer retention and revenue over time.
Which means you can charge a recurring membership fee for regularly publishing updated video content that engages your online community.
In creator Michael Yadchuk‘s The Productive Writer Mastermind membership, you can see he charges a recurring $20 monthly fee for access to his members-only content.
Jason earned $172,000 with his membership sites, pulling in over 29,000 monthly visitors and 6,000 unique monthly visitors.
Here’s a screenshot of his traffic stats.
Again, don’t worry about your traffic volume, especially if you’re starting out. Your audience will grow as you continue to produce, publish, and distribute your video content.
The main takeaway is to commit to creating and publishing content regularly. If you do this, you have an opportunity to earn income by selling exclusive video content in the form of a membership site.
However, if you don’t want to maintain a membership site and regularly update your content, our next option may be better suited for you.
#3. Sell an online course to earn passive income
Another profitable way to monetize your video content is to scale your business and sell an online course.
If you have a growing video channel audience, it means your viewers are acclimated to watching you deliver valuable or entertaining content. Leverage this by turning their attention toward educational tutorials in an online course covering the same topic of interest.
Do online courses take more effort than a 3-to-4 minute video? Definitely. Is it worth it? Also definitely. Here’s why.
You can earn a significant income selling online courses, as proven by successful creators like Justin Jackson, who made $190,000 within a year selling his online courses and other profitable info products.
And, creating an online course doesn’t have to mean lecturing for hours at a time. You can turn your bite-sized video content into an online course for sale, similar to Molly Hahn’s Character Design and Story Development for Children’s Books.
Her online course delivers 25 short video tutorials, accompanying documents, and live coaching calls. It’s a great way to engage her audience members who are interested in learning about the basics of creating children’s books.
Plus, her video content isn’t just a smart way to engage -- it’s also an excellent way to deliver a result for her customers. If you can deliver a result relevant to your audience in your video content like Molly, you’re well-primed for selling courses.
As another example, check out Dave Hickman’s Plan & Write a Novel in 90 Days course. His content delivers specific results, including:
- Development of likable characters
- Engaging, authentic writing style
- Mapped out story structure
- Completed novel in 90 days
That said, if you’d prefer a less-intensive option for monetizing your video than an online course, selling digital downloads is another proven productization model to consider.
#4. Offer digital downloads to your audience to increase your revenue
From ebooks to cheat sheets, selling digital downloads gives you limitless options for generating additional income.
Your topic range can cover the gamut, too.
For instance, take a look at Paul Gero’s Mastering Digital Wedding Photography ebook.
To help you brainstorm offers like Paul’s ebook, check out this list of popular digital download formats:
- Written - ebooks, guides, templates, and other digital documents
- Visual - photography, graphic designs, illustrations, fonts, icons, logos, design templates, and printable products
- Video - short films, stock videos, documentaries, and animations
- Audio - songs, beats, jingles, samples, tracks, and sound effects
Whichever format you decide to use, be sure to deliver something of value, which again, leads your audience to a specific result.
Why? It keeps them coming back for more, which is a vital momentum to take advantage of.
Here’s what I mean.
The likelihood of someone purchasing another product from you increases after their first, second, and third purchases with 27% likelihood after their first, 45% after their second, and 54% after their third purchase.
So, offer educational, valuable digital downloads to your video audience members. People are primed for purchasing online products -- all you need to do is get them in the door.
By selling digital downloads to your audience, you have an endless opportunity to drive revenue in the short and long term.