Why Aren't You Making Money on YouTube?


The next time you find yourself "wasting" hours going through clips on Google's (GOOG) YouTube -- or criticizing someone for doing just that -- start thinking about the ways that you could make money through online videos.

Obviously, there's not a lot of cash to be made consuming the eye candy: There aren't too many job openings for couch potatoes who want to moonlight as viral video critics. However, there's definitely some profit to be had for the enterprising souls who actually make the videos that are uploaded to YouTube.

I'm doing it. Why can't you?

The Birth of Moonpies

How is YouTube like a law firm? It pays to become a partner.

When I began uploading YouTube videos in 2006, I certainly wasn't thinking about money. I had things that I wanted to share, and YouTube was a free and casual platform that was booming in popularity. A year later, YouTube launched YouTube Partners, a program where some of its more visible contributors could share the revenue generated from ads that appear on their videos and channel pages.

I was too small to qualify, but that didn't stop me and my Moonpies channel from trying. After a couple of initial rejections and a newfound commitment on my part to uploading regular content, Moonpies was accepted as a YouTube Partner in the spring of 2009.

The qualifications haven't changed much during the four years that the program has been available. Potential partners must create original videos that are suitable for online streaming on the family-friendly website. You have to have express permission for all of the audio and video in the clip. The final stipulation is that the applicant regularly uploads videos that are viewed by thousands of users.

These aren't easy hurdles to clear, especially right away. It takes time to cultivate a following. Moonpies now has 7,647 subscribers, amassing more than 3.3 million views along the way. After posting infrequently during my early days, I now have at least one weekly Tube Tuesday upload offering tips to increase one's visibility on YouTube itself.

YouTube has asked its partners not to reveal the exact amount of money that they're making, and I'm going to respect that. Let's just say that I am not making enough to quit my day job, but it's enough welcome revenue to bankroll a few family getaways every now and then.

Beyond the Partnership

There are limitations to the partnership program. It is not available in all countries. It is run through Google's AdSense program, so you have to be at least 18 years old to apply (or have a parent or guardian willing to take on the taxable implications of doing so).

Google is also pretty strict about the program. If you try to game the system you're out for good. If your plan is to upload The Simpsons clips and Foo Fighters videos you missed the point about posting original videos to qualify in the first place.

If you find a subject that you are passionate about -- whether it's photography, magic tricks, or cooking -- you may very well be on your way if you can generate quality videos and promote your presence without running afoul of YouTube's guidelines.

It's widely believed that there are now tens of thousands of partners on YouTube, but it's obviously not the only way to turn videos into money.

After all, realtors use YouTube to promote video walkthroughs of homes that they are trying to sell. Indie musicians post their music to draw a following, but also to lead them to third-party sites where they can buy or stream the music. There's no shortage of people in multi-level marketing programs trying to get folks to sign up under them.

However, there are a few other crafty ways to make money through YouTube.

  • There are plenty of affiliate marketing programs out there. If you find one offering a product that you can get behind, create a genuine review video and put a commission-generating link to the product in the video description.
  • If you're selling something on eBay (EBAY) or through Craigslist, making a video will help you attract new potential buyers. Take advantage of the "tags" feature in the description to make your video stand out.
  • If you're handy in arts and crafts, make a video of the creation process. Offer to sell the finished product to your viewers.

Catching Something Viral

All of this pales in comparison to landing a single hot viral video. Remember that "David After Dentist" clip where a kid in the backseat -- still feeling the effects of anesthesia -- asks if this is real life? That family generated six figures in ad revenue from that single timely upload. You just never know when your pet or nephew will do something amazing, so just keep rolling.

YouTube has also served as the launching pad for teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, comedian Bo Burnham, and the ever-grating Fred. If you're not celebrity material, maybe it's time to help a family member who may very well be.

First things first, though. You're recording this, right?

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of eBay and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have also recommended writing puts in eBay.

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Juan Barea Gonzalez

have lot of views in your videos??

Why don't turn this views into money like i do?

Take a look at this website: http://TubeLaunch5.tk

I'm sure that you'll find it really interesting ;)

August 04 2013 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry folks my previous comment seems to have duplicated it self and I am not able how to leave the original...

March 08 2013 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey Rick

Great article and just love the baby picture top right... I do agree with you that Youtube is a great platform on it's own for entertainment and information along with free how to videos - Priceless. That all said with a little education, the right tools and investment of time and effort one can turn this platform into a real income opportunity.

Only recently I came across a Free programme that teaches people to do just that. One has to put the effort in mind. Nothing new in that ... But the possibilities are limitless. Anyone interested they can check out a short video here: http://makingmoneyonyoutube.co/making-money-on-youtube/
Keep up the good work and Do enjoy your next family get away!

March 08 2013 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Josh Modica

I failed for a couple years and spent countless hours researching and trying to find out how to make it on YouTube.

I bought every eBook and guide and nothing helped.

I was about to give up, but I found a new guide that is written by someone who is actually famous on YouTube (The only guide out there that's legit).

All the other books were written by scammers who were just trying to make a buck and had no YouTube success themselves.

After I read it the 1st week I got almost 200,000 views and 300 new subscribers. You really can't find the info he has in there anywhere else on the web and it actually works.

If you are serious about doing it big on YouTube you should check it out at http://moneywithyoutube.com

It's fun getting all these new subscribers and having fans, it's an awesome feeling! I also got partnered by MakersStudio and am making good money. Once you learn the tricks you are going to have the time of your life making videos! Good Luck!

October 21 2012 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Josh Modica

After countless weeks researching and trying everything possible to have YouTube success, I came across a book that blew my mind away.
I am now making around $800 a month on one channel and on average $200 a month from my second.
The writer of the book is already a very successful YouTube star and his strategy really works.
You can search google until your eyes bleed, but you won't find the little tricks in this guide.
Anyone serious about making money or becoming famous on YouTube needs to check this out.
This is one of those books that you can't go without.
Check it out at vidriches(dot)com
Definitely worth the money and pays for itself a million times over.

October 09 2012 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the reason im not making money is because first you have to watch my video. shameless promotion, great animation.

April 24 2012 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent Amerine

Hi I have been wondering how I can make some money on the internet what I have been trying hasn't worked someone please help me.

April 15 2012 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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January 03 2012 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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