How to make money on YouTube: 7 steps to a profitable channel

how to make money on YouTube

Every month, nearly 2 billion people login to YouTube to watch videos. This makes it one of the best places to start making money online, and absolutely anybody can do it!

I made my first source of passive income from YouTube way back in 2012, and since then I've been hooked. Things have changed a lot since then, but it's still fairly easy to create a full time income from YouTube.

So how do you get started? What equipment and software do you need to make videos? And how exactly do you make money on YouTube?

In this post we'll look at everything you need to know, and in a couple of hours you could be racking up your first video views on YouTube!

5 Steps to make money on YouTube

  1. Choose a niche
  2. Create your channel
  3. Upload your first video
  4. SEO your videos
  5. Monetize your videos
  6. Create a brand
  7. Start a website

It's really quite easy to make money on YouTube, but if you get it wrong, or miss certain steps, nobody will ever see your videos.

By following these steps you will be able to maximize the amount of money you make from your videos. Steps 6 and 7 aren't essential, but you will make a lot more money if you create a brand and a website to accompany your channel.

1. Choose a Niche

Choosing a niche is important to give your channel a clear focus, and to help you build a following. If your channel doesn't follow a specific niche, you'll also find it much harder to build a brand later on.

There are channels that just upload random videos, and some of them do quite well, but these channels have been running for many years, and the owners have managed to build a loyal following.

Even these channels were started with a clear topic in mind to begin with. Just take a look at the worlds most popular channels, and you'll see that they all follow a specific niche, even if some of them do upload the odd random video.

So how do you choose a niche?

You can create a YouTube channel about absolutely anything, but make sure you're interested in the subject, or you'll find it difficult to create good content.

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Start by brainstorming, and writing down all of the things that interest you. This could be hobbies that you enjoy, or a subject you have extensive knowledge in.


You'll be uploading a lot of videos, and if you want to make money on YouTube, you'll be doing so for many years. If you don't have a passion for your chosen niche you will soon get bored, and you'll probably run out of ideas.

People can also sense your passion. If you come across as uninterested in what you're talking about then people will simply stop watching.

Approximately 20% of the people who start watching a YouTube video will click away after the first 10 seconds, this number will be much higher if you have no passion, and people find your content boring.


Obviously, some niches will attract more viewers than others. If you were just starting a YouTube channel for a bit of fun then demand wouldn't really matter; but as you want to make money on YouTube, you'll need to choose a popular subject.

The most popular money making niches online are:

  • Weight loss
  • Fitness 
  • Building wealth
  • Gaming
  • Making money online
  • Self-improvement
  • Pets and animals
  • Story time Videos
  • Gadgets and tech
  • Beauty treatments
  • Product reviews

You can take any of the above and cover them as a whole, or even find a niche inside a niche, or sub-niche.

What is a sub-niche?

Let's take building wealth as an example. You could obviously cover this whole subject, or you could narrow it down and cover subjects inside that niche like:

  • Investing in the stock market
  • Investing in real estate
  • Saving money
  • Frugal living
  • Making more money
  • Starting a business

These are all huge niches with keywords that are getting thousands of searches every month. This means that it would be very easy to find hundreds of subjects to make videos about.

2. Create your channel

start a youtube channel

Choose a channel name

Your channel name isn't the first thing people will see, but it's still worth spending some time choosing a catchy name that relates to your genre.

This way people will instantly know that your channel relates to the genre they're interested in, and they're more likely to subscribe to you.

A good catchy name will also make it easier to create a brand further down the line.

Create a new account

The next step is to create your channel. This is very simple, and can be done in around 5 minutes. Simply go to YouTube, click the sign in button > create a channel, and then follow the steps.

Bare in mind that you will not be able to start a YouTube channel if you are under the age of 13. If you're younger than 13 you'll have to use somebody else's channel until you reach the minimum age.

3. Upload your first video

Shoot it

Although you don't need any fancy equipment to get started on YouTube, as your channel grows I suggest you get some decent lighting, a quality camera. You'll want a good microphone from day one, as people can't stand poor audio.

Cheap lighting kits like THIS ONE on Amazon work great.

And although an iPhone will suffice to start with, a video camera like the Canon EOS 80D (Link to Amazon) is a popular choice with budding filmmakers.

The last important thing you'll need is a microphone. There's nothing worse than watching a quiet video with poor sound quality. So get yourself a quality mic, my favourite is the lavalier type that you can clip to your clothing like THIS ONE on Amazon. You can also plug these into your smartphone.

Edit it

Editing your video may take time, but it's worth doing to keep your viewers happy.

Add an intro and titles, snip out any long pauses or mistakes, and if there's anything you aren't happy with, go back and shoot it again.

You can use a basic editing program on your phone to get started, but for the best results do it on your desktop computer with a program like Corel Video Studio Ultimate 2019, or Final cut pro.

Upload it

When you're video is edited, be sure to render it in high quality, and no less than 1080P. This will take a long time, but nobody likes watching a poor quality video, so it's worth the wait.

4. SEO your videos

YouTube is essentially a search engine, and without optimization, your video simply won't be discovered by people searching for certain keywords.

So how do you search optimize your videos?


Start by choosing a keyword that you wish to make a video about, and type this into the YouTube search bar.

When you've finished typing you'll find a bunch of suggestions that people have been searching for. If you get the keywords everywhere plugin, you'll also see the monthly search volume displayed next to each suggestion as below.

make money on youtube easily

These are the keywords and terms that people actually type into YouTube, so they are perfect. Click on each term, and look for those with the lowest competition, or lowest amount of videos matching your chosen keyword.

If you choose high competition keywords, you'll struggle to rank, especially as a new channel. That's not to say you can't go after the bigger keywords at a later date, but wait until your channel has a few thousand subscribers before trying.

Now, you'll want to install an extension called VidIQ Vision for YouTube.

The next stage is to click on the term you want to use, and take a look at the highest ranking video. Click on the video, and the VidIQ extension will show you details about the video, including the tags that the video author has used.

money on youtube

The YouTube search engine has ranked this video at the top, so you'll want to use a similar title to this video, and also similar tags.


Your video needs to provide value to the viewer, or they'll simply stop watching. This is bad for your ranking, as YouTube will see that viewers are clicking away from your videos, and not watching all of the way through.

If your viewers click to another video with the same keyword, and then watch that one all of the way through, that video will start to rank higher than yours.

"Your goal is to keep audience retention as close to 100% as you can (because this means viewers are watching all of the way through your videos). And videos with consistently high audience retention and watch time have the potential to show up more frequently in Search and Suggested locations on YouTube."


Tips to increase viewer retention:

  • Immediately let the viewer know what the video is about.
  • Don't mess around, jump straight into the content and skip the long introduction.
  • Use open loops by teasing the viewer, and letting them know what is coming up later in the video. Do this throughout the video.


Make sure you encourage your viewers to leave a comment, and to smash the like button. This shows YouTube that your viewers probably enjoyed your video, or at least engaged with it.

You'll also want to ask them to subscribe, again this shows YouTube that the viewer found value in your video, and that they want to see more.

Lastly, ask people to share your video if they found it interesting. This shows that people want to spread the word, and that they think more people need to see your video. When YouTube sees this, it will also attempt to let more people see your video by boosting its rankings.


YouTube pays very close attention to user click through rate, or CTR. If the CTR is low, and people are simply scrolling past your video, and clicking on another one, YouTube will drop its rankings.

The way to get more clicks and to boost your CTR, is to use awesome thumbnails and catchy titles.

You can create your own thumbnail with a basic vector graphics program. Make it stand out from the rest by adding bright colours, large fonts, and images that draw attention to it.


The length of your videos will also affect your rankings, and research suggests that longer videos will always outrank shorter videos.

So add as much information to each of your videos as possible, and be sure to cover each subject in full. This will also help to prevent people going back to the search, and looking for other videos covering the same subject, which will negatively affect your rankings.


YouTube is listening to the content of your video, and the more you say your target keyword, the better you'll rank.

Make the keyword flow into sentences throughout the video, and be sure to say it right at the beginning.


Your YouTube video description is another super important ranking factor. You'll want to include the keyword at least 3 times, and make the length of the description no shorter than 300 words.

Treat it like a mini blog post, and add links to other videos, and to external websites, or social media pages.


Finally, you'll want to maximize your videos views by promoting it on various platforms. You can add links to your social media pages, platforms like Reddit, and Quora, and you can link to your videos in your own blog posts. More on blog posts later.

5. Monetize your videos

There are various way to monetize your videos so that you can start to make money on YouTube, and we'll look at the best techniques you can use below.

make money with youtube


The most popular way to make money on YouTube, is to let YouTube run ads on your videos.

When you first signup to YouTube this won't be possible, as you'll need to reach YouTubes' minimum requirements to be able to join the YouTube Partner Program for monetization.

To be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, your channel must have:

  1. Have at least 4,000 watch hours in a 12 month period
  2. Have at least 1,000 subscribers

This sounds a little off-putting for beginners, but it's really no that hard to reach these minimums if you're uploading regularly, and producing high quality engaging content.

As soon as you reach these minimum requirements, you will be able to signup to the partner program, and YouTube will place various ads on your videos.

The amount of money you can make with ads will vary depending on what ads are shown, how many ads are shown, and how many people click them.

This is another good reason to create longer videos, as this will give people longer to click on your ads, and more ads will be shown throughout each video, this increasing your revenue.


To increase your earnings, make sure that you add as many affiliate links below your video as possible. And be sure to tell people that you will place links below your videos so that they know to look there for them.

You can add affiliate links to related programs, suggested resources, or even to the equipment that you use to film and edit your videos.


Create your own products that are related to your niche, and link to them below your videos. This could be anything from digital courses, to eBooks.

Learn how to make your own profitable eBook here

We'll also talk about creating a brand shortly, and when you have done so you will be able to link to your own unique products to earn even more money.


As your channel grows in popularity you will begin to receive offers from companies that want you to promote their products.

They may send you products and ask you to review them, or they may simply ask you to place a link below the video, or to mention them within the video itself.

This is easy money, and you can easily make thousand of dollars per video, depending on your popularity, and the company that made the offer.

If no companies approach you, it's definitely worth reaching out to companies that relate to your niche. Tell them that you have a large subscriber base, and let them know how many viewers your videos reach each month. Tell them that you think you could send lots of customers their way, and that it would be worth their investment to work with you.


Many YouTubers a are now turning to Patreon to increase their earnings. You can create your own terms, and decide how much your Patreons pay to watch your premium content, that isn't available on your YouTube channel.

You'll be able to give your viewers a peek behind the scenes, extras they can’t get elsewhere, and the pride of fuelling what you do.

6. Create a brand

Starting your own brand is a great way to create another source of passive income form your YouTube channel.

If people enjoy watching your videos, you can sell them all kinds of merchandise, and a good place to start is with selling t-shirts and hoodies.

Simply design a good logo, and some unique eye catching designs, and then use Merch by Amazon to print and ship your designs.

Spend a day creating a few designs, or find a designer on Fiverr to make some for you, and you can make money from this for years to come.

When you have your own brand, you'll also be able to sell your merchandise in other places, like social media pages and even your own website.

7. Start a website

All good YouTube channels will have a website to accompany them. This is where you will send your viewers to find out more information about you, or the products you're selling.


You can write simple blog posts targeting the same keywords as your videos, and add your video into them to send good signals to YouTube.

This will improve your rankings, and you'll also be getting organic traffic from Google, so you'll be able to send even more viewers to your videos.


Put a link on the top bar to send your viewers to your own online store. They'll be able to buy your t-shirts, and you can also sell your online courses and eBooks there.

You can also add affiliate links to recommended products on sites like Amazon. Only add products within your niche, as linking to a bunch of random products will risk loosing peoples interest.


Go here to learn how to start your own blog to accompany your YouTube channel.

Can you make money on YouTube without making videos?

I know a lot of people who are afraid to show their face on camera, and they refuse to start a YouTube channel, even though they know how profitable it can be.

You don't actually have to show your face, and simply talking while showing videos or pictures can make you a lot of money.

If you still don't fancy it, you can actually make money on YouTube without even making a video.

You can use the creative commons section to download videos, and then re-upload them to your own channel.

make money on youtube without making videos

Monetizing creative commons videos can be tricky, and YouTube will only allow you to make money on certain videos.

But you can still use these videos to help drive traffic to a blog or product, where you can then market to product outside of YouTube.

Go and make money on YouTube!

Now you know how to make money on YouTube, it's up to you to get the ball rolling.

Bare in mind that it will take time to build a subscriber base, and you may see very few views on your videos in the beginning.

Be persistent, and realize that every good YouTuber had to start somewhere! The biggest channels on YouTube have been years in the making, so put in the time and effort if you want the same results.

With hard work and determination, you will soon start to see your channel grow into something special.

Now you know how to make money on YouTube, check out THIS POST for even more money making ideas, that will even make you money while you sleep!