Over the last almost decade I have run a YouTube channel. I started out making videos for fun. It is funny, I hear that phrase when others say it and hear "I've never done this before", like you would hear in a low budget porn film. My first videos were really just dabbling. Back in the day people did not have the large production videos you see today. I remember hanging a flashlight above my kitchen table for lighting during my reviews! I knew I had to have better videos to compete with the big channels. Yea I said compete. Everything is a competition whether you see it that way or not. Could be friendly or not. But being competitive is a good trait. Now recently YouTube has changed around how it's operation works. If you have certain words or phrases in your videos description, keywords of subject line it will possibly bounce you. No soup for you! Which means you cannot make money off your videos. This recently happened to me with my "$35 NBC Suit for SHTF!" video. I uploaded it and then a day later it showed demonitized. I was like "WTF?". So I clicked the dispute or re-review button, they reviewed it again and monitized it. No harm no foul. But other channels, supposidly, are being greatly demonitized by YouTube. So is this a problem with YouTube or with the channel operators?
I say it is with the channel operators. They suck. Particularly they suck at running a business. If they are going to say they are a business, then they need to act like one. One of the first rules of running a business is not putting all your eggs in one basket. Simple right? Well not for almost every YouTuber on the planet. At least according to their sob story videos. What does this mean? It means do not rely on YouTube solely for your income. Creating content is time consuming. You deserve, if you have good content, to be compensated. Much like actors in Hollywood. But just like actors in Hollywood they do not only get paid due to their movies they release. They have commercials, websites, sell products they make, etc. So like them, start diversifying the entertainment and information you provide people. Here are some ideas how:
I always thought it was cool to have my own website. Maybe it is because I can remember a time when they did not exist! It is just cool to go to CaptainBerz.com and know it is mine! Now what can you do on a website? You can create articles, exclusive content, etc. I use mine as a go between for my YouTube channel, but I also create articles that are not on YouTube. You could also create YouTube videos and make them unlisted and only show them on your Website. That is one way to provide exclusive videos to your subscribers. Now on the website you can have ads, affiliate link, Adsense and more. A website is also something you cannot lose (unless you stop paying for it!). One day YouTube could go away. Then you would be left high and dry with no content. If you have a website, you still have a place for your followers to go and get your content. If you embed a video and the video goes away, you still have the article and pictures for people to find. If you do not like YouTube taking away your monitization, then no big deal as you still have your website.
You could enter into an advertisement deal with a company. Lets say you like Black Diamond outdoor gear. Then approach them in advertising on your website. You could get a few hundred dollars a month for simply adding Black Diamond (for an example) banners on your website. Some people call this selling out, I call it business. You have to this point allowed all kinds of ads run on your videos, so how can it be worse if you believe in a product? I think it is better to advertise things you believe in than ones you don't. YouTube ads you do not have control over, but with a website you do. Learn negotiation skills, who is the C-Level executives you need to reach out too and have handy your website analytics. Reach out to them and sell them on why they are missing a great opportunity in not advertising on your site. If you have a few thousand subscribers on YouTube then you better be awesome at negotiation! They want to hear huge numbers of people hitting your site. Their time is valuable, so don't waste it.
Affiliate Links (Like Amazon.com!):
What is bigger than Amazon.com? Not much, they are huge. If you are in the outdoor or firearm industry you can push your viewers to your own Amazon links. It is basically an affiliate program. For example, I do a video on YouTube about an MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent. While most would stop there, I do not. I create a link through my Amazon.com account for the tent. I then post it in the Video description and in the video at certain points for viewers to click on. This takes them to Amazon.com where they can purchase the tent. In return, if they purchase the tent through my link I get a percentage of the sale. While it is a small amount, doing this for hundreds of videos adds up over time and can provide a really stable amount of income. You can do this for many places, not just Amazon.com. Always look up and try to be an affiliate with websites, it pays off if you can link it to content your create. Since YouTube has cut down on ads it is spreading around I am seeing some months where I make more on my Amazon links than on YouTube!
If you have a large following you more than likely can reach out to a company and get free gear to review. For some people that is enough of a "payment" or "income" to make a video. If you want a $400 tent, expect to explain why they need to send it to you because of how much better your exposure is compared to others. How much you love the tent and companies values. For me this fits. I find gear and companies I like and reach out to them. Always remember you control what you show your audience. Never feel pushed into giving exposure. There are times I have received stuff and never reviewed it. Sometimes due to it sucking. You think it is going to work well and it just doesn't. Just send it back to the company, explain what happened and thank them for sending it out for your to review.
Always be courteous, respectful and thankful when interacting with people. This is really a life skill, but in getting gear to review and introducing yourself to companies this is essential. There have been many times a company says hey we cannot send anything out now or even when I was smaller they would say I just did not have enough of a following. Simply tell them "Thank you for looking into this for me. I appreciate that you probably have tons of people reaching out to you in regard to reviewing your gear. Could I reach out to you in the future and see if we could collaborate when my following is larger?". Boom! Simple, short and you showed them respect for the position they are in. Seriously, switch roles and look at their job. I guarantee hundreds of people each week reach out the these people in regard to working with them. You got to respect that. Do not take it personal if someone says no.
I can remember one instance where I really wanted to work with a company and review their tent. I had a much smaller following than I do now. Now I look back and say damn I had some balls trying! I reached out and stated my case to the company. They said at the time they were going to have to decline my request. I replied and thanked them for the their time, etc. A year later my following grew and I approached them again. They stated that their budget was mostly used up for the year. I again thanked them for getting back to me and asked them when would be a better time to check back in. They said 6 months from then would be better from a budget standpoint. Six months later I checked in with them and they agreed to send me a tent to test out and review. It took me multiple emails over multiple years to secure this tent to review. But my approach of respect, understanding their side of things and persistence is what got me to the finish line.
There are times when reaching out will not pay off. I remember clearly one sleeping bag companies reply to my request. It was simply "you can review all you want when you purchase one". Whoa! I was taken aback by that one intially. But you again cannot take it personal. Just move forward. Most people though are resonable. You have to be able to sell yourself and what them sending you something is going to benefit their business. That also goes with them advertising with you. Sell yourself.
Search Engine Optimization:
You have to work for it. No I am not a pimp and you are not a hooker. You have to get out and on social media sites. They all are intertwined. You also need to get those keywords in your videos and articles. For an example, if I release a video it goes to tons of places. First off I make sure to have the same keywords in the title, body and in the keywords area of my videos.
Then when a video is release I have it auto post to Twitter and other places. I then will post it myself on Facebook because I doctor the post up to look nicer than the auto posted one. I then can add hashtags to the post, which further gives it exposure! For most videos I make a related article on my website. I embed my videos in those articles. I go to places like Backcountry.com and write reviews. Usually I will post some of my article and then embed my videos in the review. So for one video I have it posted on many, many more places than just YouTube. But this will make it better for you when someone searches for the thing you are reviewing or talking about. You might not be able to write a review on political or current events, but you can still post and link to many sites to increase your search engine rankings. Lastly, remember to signup for every social media site. Keep track of new ones and sign up. Put some content on them, see how they work. Being on social sites first is a huge deal.
So always remember, there are tons of ways to make money. YouTube solely as an income, or anything solely as an income, is dangerous. Diversify my friends!