How to Make YouTube Your Full-Time Job (Practical Advice & Steps from a Full-Time Creator)
So you want to become a YouTuber? But maybe you aren't sure exactly how to turn your channel into a success, start making money on YouTube, and go full-time?
Being a YouTuber is an amazing, creative, and fun job. I've been full-time with it for 4 years now, and I absolutely love it — but that doesn't mean it doesn't require some real, hard work. That hard work is exactly what we're going to be talking about today.
Specifically in this post I cover:
- How to create a foundation for a channel that will succeed
- How to build your audience
- How to monetize your channel
So, if you do truly believe you can be successful on YouTube by following the right strategy then keep on reading.
1. Create The Foundation
First things first: what is the main topic you're going to cover on your channel?
If you're wondering if you have to have just one topic, my answer is yes. Now, this doesn't mean you can't talk about other things too but you do need to have one central topic that your channel will be focused on. This will make it a lot easier for you to grow your subscriber count quickly because it means that when people find one of your videos then they will look at your channel and see a whole bunch of videos about that same topic and they will choose to subscribe.
Now, to bust a few myths… #1 You don't have to choose something that's super niche or that no one is talking about. And #2 it's okay to choose a topic that's fairly competitive! (I explain why + how to compete for popular topics on YouTube in this free workshop.) Just make sure it's something that you're excited to talk about.
It's totally okay if you don't know everything right now, if you don't already know how to make amazing videos, or if you don't already know what your channel should be about. All you have to do is commit to becoming a video creator. Commit to growing your channel long-term. Go all in — this means you will be consistent in making videos over and over again to get the practice you need to improve. Your videos will get better and better and your growth and success will become virtually inevitable.
2. Grow Your Audience
To make a living as a full-time YouTuber, you need people to watch your videos. Honestly, subscribers are not all that important. Having a good subscriber base means that you'll consistently get views on your videos but… it's actually the views that matter. It's important you understand this so you can spend time attracting viewers to your channel and give them a reason to keep on watching your videos in the future.
How do you specifically do this? Well, the first thing is something I've already mentioned: you need to stick to a consistent topic. If someone likes one of your videos on a certain topic then they will be more likely to watch more of your videos in the future. (And those views translate to dollar bills for you.)
Next, you need to choose an upload schedule. Make sure to choose something that's realistic for your life and schedule. However, I think it's also important to understand that more videos = more growth. The more you post the faster your channel will grow.
I experienced this myself with my own channel about 4 years ago. At first, I was uploading once a week and getting about 1,000 subscribers per video. So I decided to test out posting twice a week. Sure enough, my channel started growing twice as quickly.
Now there is an important caveat here, you don't want to make too many videos. If you are making too many videos then your quality will go down. What will happen is people won't enjoy your videos as much so therefore they won't click on them as much.
So, basically, you want to make as many videos as you can without sacrificing quality. So my question for you is what would that number be for you?
It is pretty easy to commit to uploading regularly but it is a lot harder to actually follow through. My best tip for following through is to create a content calendar and a routine that goes along with it.
A content calendar is basically a list of video ideas with dates for when you will be publishing those videos. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. It can be a simple spreadsheet or document. That alone will go a long way because you will have specific videos that go with specific days and that removes the uncertainty that could cause you to procrastinate.
This will work a lot better if you also have a routine for your video production that goes along with the content calendar. For example, you could film a video every Friday, edit it over the weekend, and publish every Tuesday. Creating a simple routine and sticking to it is going to be huge because once you have that routine established then you won't have to wait until you feel inspired or until you “have the time.” (We all know we never feel like we have the time!)
Another huge part of gaining viewers is learning how the algorithm works for your niche. Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea because the algorithm does work the same across YouTube for all niches. But what I mean is finding out what topics are popular in your niche.
How are the best-performing titles in your niche formulated?
What are the thumbnail trends?
You need to learn what's popular and what's working and how the algorithm works. Before I made the jump to becoming a full-time YouTuber, I spent 18 months just studying the YouTube algorithm for 10-20 or more hours per week (and by the way… yes, I had a full-time job then too!).
3. Monetization Strategy
One of the most important things you have to do to make a living as a YouTuber is make money. That means you need to focus on a little bit more than just getting views, branding your channel, and growing your channel. You need to have a monetization strategy.
The first and most important thing that I want you to know is that you need to not be dependent on only getting paid for the ads that run on your videos. Ads revenue is awesome. But if you want to make money sooner, if you want to make more money, and you want your income to be more stable then you'll want to diversify your income. By this I mean I want you to make sure you're creating income from at least a couple different sources.
So here's the thing, most of the other ways you can make money are going to work a lot better if you have your own website. I'm sure you want to focus on making your channel and making your videos. But really if you take a couple of hours to set up a website for your new brand and business — because that's really what your building if you want to make your living as a YouTuber. Your website will be a place where your subscribers can learn more about you or how to work with you, it can be where you sell your own products, or how sponsors can learn more about your brand.
A website will bring more stability to your new business because it means you won't be reliant on only YouTube. You'll have a home base that you own and control. My top recommendation for getting your website set up is Squarespace.
Another part of this monetization strategy that goes right along with creating a website is building your email list. When you build your email list it means you are growing your audience and establishing a second point of connection with them. This is so important because you don't want to be at the mercy of the whims of YouTube's algorithm. You want to have some sort of control over this thing you're investing so much of your time and energy to build.
Ways To Make Money
Your options for making money fall into roughly three categories. Sponsorships, of course, are the most obvious one. Then, you have affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you are selling someone else's product and you are getting paid a commission for every sale that's made. You can also make money by selling your own products (physical or digital) or services.
Let's talk about the pros and cons about these three categories:
- Sponsorships. Okay, so I know this is an unpopular opinion, but, honestly, I think sponsorships are overrated. First of all, they can be disruptive to your content because you have to add these ads into your videos which makes your videos overall less enjoyable to watch. They also tend to not pay very well unless you have a very large and engaged audience. Sometimes the perfect opportunity will fall right in your lap, which is great! I just wouldn't recommend making sponsorships your main source of income.
- Affiliate marketing. The good about affiliate marketing is that you get to decide exactly what you want to promote. There is generally a lot of flexibility so you can focus on promoting things you actually like, use, and enjoy. And you don't have to create your own product! The kickback you get from affiliate marketing can be anywhere from 4%-50% of the product price, just depending on what you're promoting. As far as the downsides of affiliate marketing, you are selling products that aren't your own so sometimes people can be scammy about this. They can promote something just because it has a high commission not because they actually like it. The only other con is you're only earning a percent (4-50%) of the revenue from the products you're promoting, rather than 100%, minus costs, like you would if you sold your own products.
- Selling your own products/services. Now this is my favorite way to monetize your channel because you have complete control and complete flexibility. You can also make the most money because you are getting 100% of the profits from selling your product. However, there is a downside too. The downside is it does take more work because you have to actually create the product.
A lot of people think “I don't have anything I can sell. I don't have any brilliant ideas.” If you're thinking that, here's a clue for you: you can sell literally anything. For example, you can sell a physical product you can make, you can sell a course you create (my personal favorite), or even a service you can provide. The options are endless and that's why I'm 100% certain you can find something your audience will love.
It starts with this…
The first question you have to answer is: Do you believe in yourself?
Your first reaction might be to think, “Of course I do.” But really take a moment to think deeply about this question.
Do you believe it's possible for you to turn your channel into a success if you have the right strategy and steps?
If you don't truly believe this dream of yours can become reality, that will hold you back from putting in the full effort that reaching this goal requires.
This is a lot of information so I don't want you to be overwhelmed. What I want you to do is think about where in this journey you're at right now. Have you created your channel and chosen your topic? If not, start there. If you have done those things, have you started increasing your views? Are you publishing regularly? Have you been studying the algorithm? If not, check out this free workshop on how to get started getting views on your videos and grow to 1,000 subscribers in just 3 months!