If you have a loyal subscriber base on YouTube but have struggled to earn money through advertising revenue, it may feel like you have no other options.
That’s simply not true.
There are other ways to make money on YouTube, and in this article, we interviewed 8 YouTubers who are making a living from their channel beyond just ad revenue.
The techniques we saw involved using video sponsorships, courses, 1-on-1 instruction, products, guides, and more.
But overall, the pattern we saw with these (and other YouTubers making money outside of advertising) was this: They found out what their most loyal subscribers want, dream, crave and need, and they offered them premium content in exchange for paid subscriptions or one time fees.
This gave the creators even more engagement and loyalty from their subscribers, and helped them earn income and make a living beyond just with advertising — a win-win.
This can sound simple but the behind-the-scenes details of how to actually implement these money making strategies are important. In this post, you will find the strategies each of these 8 Youtubers has used to become successful
The goal is to have you learn from them and begin to make money from your own YouTube channel.
Run a Mastermind Call
10k on the Bay is channel run by Chris to document his journey to listing 10,000 products on eBay. The goal of the channel is to help people build their eBay businesses. The channel currently has 200 videos posted with a viewership of 14,000 subscribers.
To monetize his channel, Chris offers weekly, 55-minute “mastermind” calls where paid subscribers can ask him specific questions about running an eBay business and making money on the popular marketplace website.
For $100/month, paid subscribers receive four calls (one/week). Participants are organized into groups of 5 or 6 to ensure everyone has a chance to ask their questions without the groups being too large. It also gives paid subscribers the chance to connect with others who are in a similar situation as them.
In addition to the mastermind calls, Chris also gives paid subscribers access to his private Patreon feed and access to his Trello board full with the next steps for his eBay business and ideas to increase sales.
Take action on this idea: Think through what your fans would want to learn from you. You can create a mastermind group so that fans can ask you questions and learn directly from you.
Let Viewers Choose Your Content
Strange Rebel Gaming is YouTube channel run by Briana White to share video game walkthroughs and tutorials. The channel has over 250 videos posted with a viewership of 69,000 subscribers.
To monetize her channel, Briana allows paid subscribers (that pay $100/month) to choose a video game that she will cover in one of her videos. While the subscription price isn’t cheap, since many of her video game walkthroughs are a few hours long, it can still be a good value for some of her viewers.
Briana notes that this option is her most popular paid subscription. Strange Rebel Gaming currently has 50 paid subscribers.
Offer Exclusive Content for Subscribers
Swift Lessons is a YouTube channel run by Rob Swift to help people learn to play guitar. The channel has over 400 videos posted and has 220,000 plus subscribers.
In order to monetize his channel, Rob has created a paid subscription based model where subscribers gain access to exclusive content and weekly offers.
For example, Rob offers paid subscribers exclusive videos, guitar chord sheets, and guitar tabs for just $1/month.
At $5/month, he gives paid subscribers a beginner guitar manual, a PDF of beginner-friendly guitar chords, interactive practice schedules, and 20% off group classes and seminars that Rob teaches. Rob offers packages from $1/month up to $15/month.
In order to attract people to signup, Rob uses the following strategy:
- First, he offers a weekly freebie (as a limited-time offer that only paid subscribers can access)
- He then promotes that offer regularly through the week
- From there, he boosts the post on Facebook to target people that match a similar demographic to his current YouTube subscriber base
- In the post, he links to a relevant paid subscribers only post
Rob uses Patreon to manage and sell his monthly paid subscription packages. On his Patreon page, he currently has over 2,500 paid subscribers committed to $1 to up $15/month. Even if all of those Patrons only committed to $1/month (which we know that many have committed more), that’s still $2,500/month.
Take action on this idea: If you’re looking to monetize your Youtube channel, think to yourself, what sort of premium content could you give away that your fans would want to subscribe to?
Note: Want to make it easy to give away premium content in exchange for subscriptions like Rob did? Sign up for Patreon here.
Use Brand Sponsorships and Partner with Related Brands
Flight Chops is run by Stephen Thorne. He started the channel to share his journey of learning to fly and to document his flights for others to enjoy and learn from.
The channel has just over 120 videos posted with a subscriber count of 136,000.
None of Stephen’s videos are monetized through YouTube advertising. Stephen did this because he did not want any popups blocking the video frame or any random video pre-roll ads playing before his videos.
Therefore, outside of just making an income for himself, Stephen needed to find a way to help fund the increasingly more expensive videos (due to production costs such as hiring a film crew).
One way Stephen has successfully done this is by partnering with related brands. For example, Stephen recently partnered with iCloth Avionics (makers of a special cloth for cleaning screens and windshields) to giveaway $1000 in flight training to one of the channel’s viewers.
For iCloth Avionics, the partnership makes sense because the Flight Chops audience would be interested in a cloth that would help them clean a plane windshield before taking flight. For Stephen, it allows his channel to make money through sponsorship.
In addition to sponsorship opportunities, Stephen also offers exclusive content such as a high-res file of the channel logo that paid monthly subscribers can use to print onto a t-shirt. Stephen currently has over 1,000 paid subscribers committing $1 or more per video.
Take action on this idea: Create a list of brands that are related to the content you offer on your channel and reach out to them directly. The more subscribers you have, the easier this will become. So focus on building up a following first. This can be a numbers game but you will likely find a few companies interested in sponsoring your channel (or a particular upcoming video).
Provide 100% Response Rate to Paid Subscribers
MJ Sailing is a channel run by Matt and Jessica Johnson where they document their sailing and boating travels. The couple has documented their journeys sailing in the Caribbean and across the Atlantic Ocean.
Their channel has just 50 videos but has a YouTube subscriber count of 32,000.
In order to help fund their excursions, Matt and Jessica have started a monthly paid subscription model where paid subscribers gain early access to videos. Also, since it can be tough to respond to every comment made on their videos, Matt and Jessica guarantee paid subscribers a response any time they post a comment.
This can be immensely helpful for sailing enthusiasts who are looking to learn and ask questions from those that sail often like Matt and Jessica.
The couple offers subscription packages starting at $2 per video up to $50 per video. The $2 option is the most popular with subscribers. They currently have 137 subscribers committing over $600 per video that the channel posts.
Add Supporters Names to Your Video Credits
Michael Cthulhu makes swords, axes, and giant hammers that he films, documents, and uploads to YouTube in 30+ minute tutorials. His channel has over 880,000 subscribers with just over 200 videos posted.
In order to monetize his YouTube channel, Michael began to offer paid subscribers the chance to be featured at the end of his videos in a credits roll. While this idea won’t work for everyone, since Michael’s videos are often over 30 to 45 minutes, Michael can afford to have a few minutes of credits at the end of his videos.
Michael also offers unique videos as a reward for supporting his channel. For example, for a $25 reward to his channel, Michael will create a video of him smashing something with one of his giant swords along with a short, personalized message.
Take action on this idea: Think about how you can make your subscribers feel special and recognize their contributions. Michael does it with credits at the end of the video but you might simply shoutout people on Twitter or make a “Credits” page on your website that lists people that contribute to your channel.
Offer Access to an Unedited Show
Wreckless Eating is a YouTube channel that does food reviews, challenges, and main shows. The channel has over 5,000 videos posted with a viewership of 600,000 subscribers.
One unique thing that Wreckless Eating has done to monetize their channel is that they offer access to their unedited shows for subscribers who pay $5 or more a month. In addition, they also give paid subscribers priority when asking and answering questions.
Lastly, Wreckless Eating offers a few other bonuses to paid subscribers such as a shootout on their main show and on Twitter and the ability to choose a food challenge for the channel to cover.
Take action on this idea: If you run a lengthy show on your YouTube channel (such as an edited “TV style” show, a long interview, etc.), consider offering unedited access or bloopers to paid subscribers.
Offer an Exclusive Piece of Art
Cindy Guentert-Baldo is a lettering artist that shares lettering tutorials on her YouTube channel. The channel has over 300 videos posted with 27,000 subscribers.
One way Cindy has monetized her channel is by offering a monthly, hand drawn letter digital download for subscribers who pay $5 or more a month. Since she does not sell any prints on her own, being a paid subscriber is the only way to gain access to her work.
Cindy also offers a weekly hangout for those that pay $15/month. This give paid subscribers a chance to chat and ask any questions they may have.
Cindy currently has 288 subscribers paying over $2,400/month.
Take action on this idea: If you’re an artist, think about a piece of work that you could give away to paid subscribers. For Cindy is was a digital download of her lettering work. If you’re a graphic designer, it might be a digital download of your artwork. If you’re a music artist, you can giveaway a free download of your latest album or an exclusive, unheard track.
Note: Want to create your own subscription membership site just like these Youtubers did? Sign up for Patreon here.