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3 tips for making money on YouTube


YouTuber Brandon van der Kolk gives us the lowdown on how starting and building a YouTube channel actually works.

Three years ago, I made a life changing decision. As a 22-year-old physiotherapist from Canberra, I decided to go against the grain and do something different: I started a YouTube channel. Now, I work on it full-time, and I'm fortunate to be able to produce videos every week to an audience of approximately 50,000 people.

I know for a lot of people, the whole idea of starting and growing a YouTube channel seems both confusing and difficult. Add in the notion of trying to make money on the platform? Sounds impossible.

However this is not the case. Because you really don't have to be the next Casey Neistat, Pewdiepie or Jenna Marbles. In fact, all you need to be successful on YouTube is two things: something to talk about and a way to express it – whether it's your voice box, sign language, music or something else.

And if you think there's no way you could "make it", just remember that the highest paid YouTuber in 2019 was only 8 years old. What did he do on his channel? He unboxed toys… and earned a cool $26 million in the process.

Although, with that said I will admit that the whole process of starting and growing a YouTube channel is tricky. So, based on my experiences with the platform, here are my suggestions for getting started.

Create a YouTube channel

Once you have a Google/YouTube account, you can instantly start uploading content on YouTube, as long as the content meets YouTube's community guidelines.

In my experience, uploading that first video is always the biggest hurdle. What if I don't get any views? What if people don't like me? Should I finish planning out my channel first? Should I get a better camera?

There are so many psychological barriers to overcome that most people will give up before they even begin. But my biggest piece of advice here is this; just do it.

Personally, looking back on my first few videos, they really weren't very good, and in the long run, they had little significance to my long term growth. The critical thing here is to simply overcome that psychological barrier of getting your first video released. After that, the ball is rolling.

Grow your channel from zero

Once you've overcome the hurdle of video 001, the next step is to think about establishing the growth of your channel. When it comes to growing a channel from zero, there are three key factors to pay attention to: the video title, the thumbnail and the content.

When you first start your channel, you won't have an audience (yet). So, the main way your videos will be seen is through them being recommended to people who watch similar videos to yours. With video recommendations, all the viewer sees is the video's title and thumbnail. Therefore, to initially get viewers to your videos, you must have intriguing titles and thumbnails. That's key.

And no, clickbait is not the answer. You should never lie to your viewers in the title or thumbnail to generate views. Instead, try to make them as intriguing as possible based on what's in your video.

A great example of this strategy can be seen by looking at videos from Jimmy Donaldson (AKA MrBeast). One of his most viewed videos is titled "Do water repellent shoes actually work?" and the thumbnail shows him trying to walk on water. Now personally, I have no need for water-repelling shoes, but I still clicked on the video because the title was intriguing. That video currently has 51 million views.

So hopefully, having intriguing video titles and thumbnails will attract some people to click on your videos. The next step is to make those viewers want to stay. This means we need them to subscribe to your channel. Ultimately, you want these people to watch your videos regularly and you want them to engage with your content. If you can hit those points, you will start to build your community. So how do you get people to stick around? The answer is simple. Make great content, consistently.

Above everything else, the quality of your content is key to building your audience. So take the time to plan your videos, do research as needed and make sure you cut out the boring bits when you're editing.

You also need consistency. So how often should you make a video? There's no right or wrong answer here, but the rule I follow is: as frequently as you can, as long as the video is still of high quality. I find that for most people, initially, one video per week works well. And if possible, try to release the video on the same day each week, so your subscribers know when to expect your latest video.

Making money from YouTube videos

When a creator is generating regular views and starting to build an audience, they can begin to consider monetising their YouTube channel. The current requirements for channel monetisation are as follows:

  1. The channel must have accumulated 4,000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months.
  2. The channel must have over 1,000 subscribers.
  3. The channel must be in good standing with YouTube (regarding their community guidelines).

When you meet these conditions, you can apply to the YouTube Partner Program. At this stage, YouTube will review your channel to ensure it's suitable for monetisation (i.e. you aren't breaking the community guidelines). With any luck, your channel should be approved for monetisation within a month of applying.

Now, how much can you expect to be paid? This varies too much to predict with good accuracy, but two main points that influence your income are:

  1. How many monetised views you're getting each month, and
  2. What niche your content falls into.

For example, YouTubers in the finance niche will generate much more revenue per monetised playback than creators in the gaming niche. This is because advertisers related to finance will fork out more for appropriate ad space than, say, companies trying to sell toys or video games.

Through my research I've seen people earning as little as $3, and as much as $30 per 1,000 views. Ultimately though, in the first year or two it is unlikely that monetisation will be something you need to stress over. It'll just be nice to earn something from all the hours of work you put in.

A little bit extra

Starting a YouTube channel does have its challenges, but it can also be a fun and rewarding process. And there's still a plethora of "best practices" that I haven't even touched on. So, I've put together my top 10 extra tips for getting your channel up off the ground.

Tips to succeed on YouTube

  1. Respond to as many comments as you can. Remember the initial goal is to build a community, so make sure you talk to your subscribers.
  2. In the early days, structure your videos around answering highly searchable questions. This helps the video gain more views over time.
  3. Don't be put off by negative comments. Brace yourself, because these are inevitable.
  4. You're only one video away from blowing up. Get this, approximately 23% of my subscribers have come from just one video. Keep working hard and eventually you'll hit that killer video too.
  5. Keep an eye on your analytics. Let view counts and "likes" help guide your future content. It's what your audience wants to see.
  6. Okay – don't follow your analytics too closely. There are so many stats you can follow that if you look too closely, the odd "poor performing" video can really weigh on your mind.
  7. Be you. That's who your audience wants to see. Copycats never make it in the long run.
  8. Only make videos on topics you're passionate about. Otherwise, I guarantee you'll give up on YouTube before it gets good!
  9. Don't be afraid to invest some money to achieve better video/audio quality. One of the best things you can do to make your videos better at the start of your journey is to invest in a simple lapel microphone to make your voice clearer.
  10. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You do you. Who cares if someone has just hit 1,000 subscribers when you only have 50? Be focused on what you're doing, not what "they" are doing.

Good luck with your channel, and hopefully I'll see your videos recommended to me one day.

Brandon van der Kolk runs the successful YouTube channel Aussie Wealth Creation, which has over 50,000 subscribers. He is also co-host of The Young Investors podcast and co-founder of Profitful – an online platform that offers tutorials for people who want to learn more about investing and wealth creation.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article (which may be subject to change without notice) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finder and its employees. The information contained in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort. Neither the author nor Finder has taken into account your personal circumstances. You should seek professional advice before making any further decisions based on this information.

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