The Ugly Truth About Making Money On YouTube

It's hard not to believe you can make a ton of money off of YouTube. In this day and age, more and more people are becoming YouTubers and YouTube famous. You see people like PewDiePie, Belinda Selene, Studyng, Paris & Roxy, etc. and based on their content it seems like they make thousands every single month. In PewDiePie's case a few hundred thousand or millions. The stigma around how much money YouTubers really make seems to only get worse and more confusing as time goes on.

Take it from someone who JUST made their first $100 on YouTube.

I've been doing YouTube for my planning hobby (and hopefully soon for this blog too! Stay tuned for that.) Since 2015, but it wasn't until 2016 that I really started to take it seriously. 2016 is when I really consider me starting out, so really it's only been about a year. However, it took me that entire year to finally make my first $100.

I do; however, give myself some credit for doing it UNDER 1,000 subs, but the main point is that it was challenging work. I'm here to tell you the ugly truth about making money on YouTube.


Of course, I haven't been around nearly as long as some of these other YouTubers, but the fact of the matter is people like PewDiePie are a very rare case when it comes to making money on YouTube. He's seriously the upper 1% of YouTube, and in fact I think he was just named the number one highest paid YouTuber not too long ago. Unfortunately, people like him have set the bar for other YouTubers, and it has become this expectancy that all YouTubers or at least most of them make a crap ton of money.

Even more unfortunately, that isn’t the case most often.

We are going to use Roxy and Paris as an example. These girls are my favorite and I’ve been watching them for a while. I follow Roxy on basically everything. Since YouTube pay is an estimated public record, I went ahead and looked up their average annual pay for the sake of this post. As of 2017 their estimated annual pay is anywhere from $760- $12,000. That’s a pretty large gap, but it goes off of previous years income and the lowest and highest possibility of pay. On this day, they have 186,657 subscribers and have been on YouTube since 2012. Assuming they made their highest pay amount of 12,000, that’s only about $1,000 a month. Which is good for just doing YouTube, but won’t really allow you to survive on your own.

Belinda Selene which is a more well known YouTuber has about 477,000 subscribers on this day. The average annual income of Belinda Selene’s channel is anywhere from $1.3k- $20.6k. When breaking it down 20k a year is the equivalent to the income of a full time minimum wage job.

To set the record straight, this is by no means meant to scare anyone or bash anyone’s income. Heck I just recently made my first $100. Instead these are examples to show you how tough it is! I looked up my stats and my estimated yearly earnings is $15-$246 at the rate at which I’m currently going. If I were to gain more views, subs, etc. This number could change.

How Does YouTube Pay Work?

When starting off YouTube has something called Google AdSense. Basically, Google AdSense is the way you monetize your videos. Companies will place an Ad in front of your video, and whenever someone watches or interacts with the ad it means money for you. However, that amount can vary. Sometimes it’s 3 cents, sometimes its 10 cents. I’m sure for other people it can be higher than that too.

The average ratio for AdSense pay is for every 1,000 views, you make $1. A whooping 4 quarters. Enough to do a load of laundry. If you are getting paid via check, you must make $100 before YouTube even sends you a check. This means you could be stuck at $99 for 5 months and they won’t send you a check until you hit $100.

If you are lucky enough to be partnered, then they will usually send you your monthly earnings no matter what it is every month. This could vary based on different partnerships, but I can’t be 100% for sure since that would be in the contract.

In other words, if you got 1,000 views on every single video you have, then in theory you would be able to make $100 in about 4 months if you uploaded every single day and always got 1,000 views. Since an uploading schedule like that isn’t very likely, you would either have to bring in more views, or wait a longer period of time.

So how exactly can I bring in more views?

It’s simple and not so simple. However some of the more general pieces of advice I can give you is:

1.        Get on social media.

People are always looking for your other social channels if they really like your work. You should make sure you are on places like Instagram, Pinterest, and maybe even Facebook. Not only will it give your audience a second place to go, but you can find your audience on these platforms as well. Social media is the easiest free way to advertise and market your videos to the world. So, take advantage of it.


2.        Work on your keywords and titles

This is what is going to get you found organically through YouTube. Having a strong title that people are searching is step one. When you are making your title, think about what you would be searching for. You also want to make sure you put key words from your title into the tags. If your video is called “Pinterest tips for bloggers”, then you’ll want to put “pinterest” “tips” and “bloggers” into the tags. You’ll also want to mention these words in your description for extra SEO points.


3.        Capture their attention with the thumbnail

Your thumbnail is the first thing they are going to see besides the title. You want it to be something eye catching. Create a collage or an intriguing image related to your topic. Don’t do what I do sometimes and just totally ignore the thumbnail. It’s a really important part of the process most people leave out.


I hope this post put YouTube into perspective for you. Like I said this isn’t to deter you from starting your channel or from trying to make money on YouTube. I’m just here to let you know how hard it actually is and to tell you that you’ll need to work hard.