Founded in 2005 and bought by Google in 2006 for $1.6 billion, YouTube is the world’s most popular video-sharing platform.
The volume of videos and viewing number for YouTube are staggering and almost impossible to comprehend: it’s been estimated that 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute, which looks something like this:
That’s a lot of content.
With YouTube videos using Google’s AdSense network to show display and video ads, many content creators can get a slice of the ad revenue and make money from their videos if they are approved to join the YouTube Partner Program.
But how much money are people really making on YouTube? What about small channels with a few thousand subscribers? Is there any point to starting a YouTube channel in 2019, and how hard is it to make money on YouTube?
I’m diving into the available data to try to answer these questions as best I can.
4 Real YouTuber Incomes
Estimated YouTube revenue is easy to find from sites like SocialBlade, but I prefer to look at real data where possible. Thankfully, there are a number of YouTubers who have chosen to be transparent about their income and share their stats.
1. Mike aka Atomic Shrimp $1.60/1,000 views (July 2020)
Mike’s YouTube channel, Atomic Shrimp, has almost 500,000 subscribers and covers a bunch of different topics, from food to inventions. Mike doesn’t heavily monetize his channel, and does not use mid-roll ads (which can increase income quite a bit).
In a recent video, Mike shared how much money some of his videos had made. In one video that got 1.1 million views, he had earned $1,844. That’s around $1.60 per thousand views.
From another video that had 50,000 views, Mike earned $41.21, which is $0.82 per thousand views.
It’s worth noting that the first video is 26 minutes long, while the second one is only 2 minutes long. Video length and watch time affects how much money you make on YouTube – the longer you keep people watching, the more money you can make.
2. Lester Diaz – $509/month (May 2019)
Lester Diaz’s YouTube channel, which focuses on affiliate marketing techniques, earned him $509.50 in May 2019. Based on the 70,000 views he got in 1 month, Lester is making a very healthy income of around $7.28 per 1000 views, or 0.73 cents per view.
Based on estimates I’ve heard about before ($1 to $4 per 1000 views), it appears Lester’s channel is doing very well. It’s possible that his success is due to the niche that he’s in being quite targeted and therefore likely to command higher-paying advertisers (when I was browsing videos on his channel, I saw a bunch of ads for “get rich quick” type companies).
Overall, Lester’s channel is doing very well considering he earned over $500 in a month with fewers than 7,500 subscribers at the time.
3. Income School – $4,539/month (June 2019)
Income School is another YouTube channel that focuses on the “how to make money” niche. Funnily enough, it’s these type of channels that are most likely to be transparent with their ad revenue figures.
The Income School YouTube channel earned $4,539.67 in 1 month (between May 23 and June 18 2019). That’s based on around 275,000 views, meaning their income is approximately $16.50 per 1000 views, or 1.65 cents per view.
It’s worth noting that these figures are estimates at the time Income School made the video explaining their YouTube income. They also experienced somewhat of a boost in views in mid-June, which has helped increase their revenue.
However, you can see from the screenshot that May 2019’s income was $2871, and, using SocialBlade data, I can see that the channel got 233,850 views in the same period. That’s an average of $12.28 per 1000 views, or 1.2 cents per view.
Even by taking the more conservative figure as a benchmark, it’s clear that, as YouTubers, Income School make a good return based on their subscriber numbers (just short of 61,000 subscribers by the end of May 2019).
Again, I believe the “make money online” niche is helping the channel get a good income for each advert they serve. During my time researching the channel, I saw advertisements for Wix, an online MBA course and, funnily enough, YouTube Ads themselves!
4. Jordan Cheyenne – $3,752/month (June 2019)
Jordan Cheyenne’s YouTube channel, which covers topics like travel, weight loss, money making and vlogs, made $3,757 in 1 month (between mid-May and mid-June 2019).
Based on 412,200 views, that’s an average income of $9.12 per 1000 views, or 0.9 cents per view.
What’s interesting to me is that Jordan gets around the same YouTube income as Income School each month, but she has around 9x more subscribers (over 515,000 subscribers in June 2019) and a higher view count.
To me, this proves that it’s more important to look at the number of views than subscriber count when determining how much money a YouTube channel makes. But ultimately, unless you see a YouTuber’s channel analytics, there’s no way of knowing exactly how much they make on the platform.
Jordan’s topic choice is not consistent and it would be interesting to know how that affects her channel’s revenue. While browsing, I saw ads for fashion websites, grammarly and an “energy-clearing session”, whatever that is.
Ultimately, Jordan’s YouTube channel ad revenue only makes up around 10% of her claimed total income. In June 2018, she stated she also made money from brand deals, affiliate links and her own e-book and course sales.
The above chart shows the number of clicks from Jordan Cheyenne’s YouTube account to her e-book sales page over a 9 month period. The click-through-rate is low, presumably because most of her videos are not targeted to these specific offers.
Why do some channels make more money than others?
As the real YouTube income stats reveal, there’s a huge variation in the amount of money a channel can make, and income can depend on multiple factors.
What topic are the videos about?
Different advertisers pay Google different amounts per advert impression (or thousand impressions – CPM). Some niches will be more lucrative than others (like the “make money” niche – see above), while channels with an unpopular demographic for advertisers will make less money.
Do viewers block or skip ads?
YouTube does not pay out if viewers skip ads. Similarly, views from people using ad blocking browser extensions like uBlock or Adblock Plus will not contribute toward any ad renevue.
Do you allow all ad types?
Not all of the 6 AdSense types you can use to monetize YouTube videos (see below for the list) pay out the same amount.
Display and overlap ads do not show on mobile, while, as the name suggests, skippable ads can be skipped! Sponsored ads will help you build a brand and send viewers to merch pages or related content, but I’d take a guess that the non-skippable and bumper ads drive the most revenue.
Which are the most lucrative YouTube ad types?
There are 6 main types of AdSense advertisements on YouTube:
- Display ads (desktop only, displayed above suggested videos)
- Overlay ads (desktop only, banner appears over video)
- Skippable video ads (before, during or after main video, “Skip Ad” button appears after 5 seconds)
- Non-skippable video ads (before, during or after main video, cannot be skipped)
- Bumper ads (before main video, up to 6 seconds long, cannot be skipped)
- Sponsored cards (static overlay ad related to video, created by the video owner)
As I mentioned above, I believe non-skippable and bumper ads drive the most revenue to channels, as display and overlay ads do not display on all devices, sponsored cards are not paid for by advertisers., and some video ads can be skipped.
Don’t forget that not all viewers will want to watch unskippable advertisements, and aggressively over-monetizing your YouTube channel could cause viewers to watch less of your content. You’ll need to experiment to find the right balance.
How much money do you make per 1000 views on YouTube?
Each channel makes a different amount per 1000 views. Based on my research, the amount of money YouTubers make can range from $0 to $20.
How can I make money on YouTube from AdSense?
While you can setup a YouTube channel for free in 2019, you won’t be able to monetize your videos until you reach a minimum of:
- 1000 subscribers
- 4000 hours of watch time
AdSense pays out on the 21st of each month, based on the revenue for the previous month.
Not all videos can be monetized. YouTube has become quite strict (and vague) on what it deems to be advertiser-friendly content. In addition, you may not be able to monetize content that uses copyrighted material (e.g. music or video). You can turn ads on and off on individual videos to avoid copyright strikes.
How else can I make money from YouTube?
AdSense revenue is only one way to make cash from YouTube videos. You also have the opportunity to earn far more money using additional methods, the main ones being:
- Brand deals (direct sponsorship)
- Affiliate links
- Creating an e-book or course
- Sending traffic to your website
Learn YouTube SEO
Another great way to increase the amount of money your YouTube channel earns is to better target the keywords that people search for, and learn how to optimize your video title, description and thumbnail to beat the competition and get more clicks to your videos.
If you’re just getting started with YouTube SEO and keyword research, you’ll get a lot out of Backlinko’s guide to video keyword research.