For many small YouTube creators, the idea of making money from content creation seems hard to grasp. While you won’t be able to make your YouTube channel into a career like some, it’s still possible to get paid for your efforts. There are more paths for monetizing YouTube content creation than one might initially believe, and the sooner you start thinking about how these monetization models fit with your channel, the better.
Below, I’m going to explore two common monetization models that YouTube creators use. This isn’t to say that these are the only two models that exist, however. If you’ve found a monetization method that you’d like to share, be sure to post about it in the comments section below.
The simplest and most “official” YouTube monetization model is through ad revenue, powered by Google AdSense. Through AdSense, YouTube places advertisements within your videos and creators take a percentage of the ad revenue. While small channels may not make a noticeable amount of revenue at first, your earnings will scale with your viewership and you will be paid after passing an initial revenue threshold.
Ad revenue, despite being Google’s official monetization model, does come with some downsides. YouTube recently blocked channels with less than 10,000 lifetime views from being able to monetize, which can slow the process down for people starting completely fresh channels. Additionally, this model puts creators at the mercy of advertisers. Recently a large number of advertisers have withdrawn ads from Google’s services, which has led to diminished ad revenue for creators.
Patreon is a service that allows fans to pay creators monthly and fund content that otherwise wouldn’t be able to exist. Initially popular in many indie art and music circles, Patreon has now become a source of income for YouTube creators such as Red Letter Media. By being funded directly by fans, you no longer have to worry about Google and its partnered advertisers making changes that affect your income beyond your own control. However, the obvious downside of this model is that you need an initial group of dedicated fans that are willing to pay out of their own pocket to fund your content, which is no easy task for a young YouTube channel.
Despite initial difficulties, Patreon may be a more sustainable way for many YouTube creators to monetize their content. Video essayist and crowdfunding consultant Ian Danskin made a compelling video on the philosophical and financial differences in being funded directly by fans vs ad revenue that I’ve embedded below.
At the end of the day, the only one who can decide how to monetize your content is you. Explore different methods and choose one that fits not only the type of videos you make, but your personality as well.