7 Ways You Can Make Money with YouTube

I don't have to tell you that YouTube is a phenomenal platform. 

On one hand, you have an amazing creative outlet, and on the other you have a one-stop resource to learn almost anything.

I believe in it so much that I've built a brand around telling others how they can benefit from it like I have.

One of the best things about YouTube is the potential anyone has to make a lot of money with it.

YouTube has made millionaires of people who otherwise probably would have languished in obscurity forever. 

YouTube has discovered talent. Usher discovered Justin Bieber through YouTube.

The thing that may surprise you most is that you don't have to have 100,000 subscribers to make a full-time income on YouTube.

I know a ton of creators with smaller audiences, myself included, who do quite well on the platform.

Once you've created the video, all the revenue becomes passive and you can earn from a video for years.

So, in this post I'm going to talk about 7 ways you can make passive income on YouTube.

What is Passive Income?

Passive income is when you do the work once, but get paid for it consistently over time. 

The more assets you create, the more revenue potential there is. It's a great way to scale your income without expanding your business.

Why would you work for every dollar you earn when you don't have to?

7 Ways to Earn Passive Income with YouTube

Let's jump right in!

1. YouTube Partner Program - Adsense

This is one of the most common ways to generate income with your YouTube channel. 

The grind to being eligible for monetization is rough, I won't lie. You must have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours, but once you get there, everything is gravy after that.

The way it works is YouTube plays ads from their advertisers on your video content and pays you a portion of the proceeds each time someone views that content.

A lot of wannabe YouTubers make the mistake of thinking they can only make money on YouTube by getting monetized through the YouTube Partner Program, but I'm going to show you 6 more ways to generate income without it!

Another way to make income via YPP is with channel memberships. you'd be surprised how many people will join up just to support the content you're already creating.

You don't even have to produce a bunch of exclusive content for your members.

You want to be up front about what channel members are going to get, but it's perfectly acceptable to create a membership level that is simply an opportunity for your fans and viewers to support your channel.

In that case, there's no reason to provide extra content or dedicated live streams to that member tier.

2. Create a Course

If you've spent any amount of time on YouTube as a content consumer, then you've probably seen a lot of creators offering courses. 

A course is a great way to sell your expertise on a topic. It's also a means to monetize your YouTube channel outside of YPP completely passively.

It's a way to supplement your YouTube content and create a comprehensive place where people can learn what you're passionate about. This will save them a ton of time in the long run of trying to piecemeal together knowledge they could get from one place.

You can promote your course with a link in every video and piece of content you create!

3. Affiliate Marketing

In my world, there are two types of affiliate marketing: 

  1. General affiliate marketing - The idea here is if you're using a product or service in your content creation process, you can share affiliate links in your video descriptions promoting that product or service.

    For example, you may share links to what equipment you use to create your videos or services like TubeBuddy that help you with YouTube SEO.

  2. Niche affiliate marketing/sponsorships - With this type of affiliate, you're looking for a relationship or even a partnership with a particular company serving your exact audience.

    This is a great opportunity to create lasting income and develop a win-win situation for you and the company you're working with.

    This can be done through channel sponsorships. This one isn't for the faint of heart. You're going to have to put in the work. 

    However, these types of affiliate relationships tend to pay a lot more than general ones because you're actually being paid to create content about the product or service.

    One of the best ways you can do this is to structure your sponsorship over a period of time and provide a repetitive message to your audience.

    You can see how I've done this with Restream in the video linked above.

    Sponsorships are a great way to make as much money as possible from your affiliate relationships.

If creating a course sounds completely overwhelming, then promote someone else's course and get paid! 

The idea here is if you're using a product or service in your content creation process, you can share affiliate links in your video descriptions promoting that product or service.

For example, you may share links to what equipment you use to create your videos or services like TubeBuddy that help you with YouTube SEO.

You can see examples of this in my own video descriptions.

One of the easiest affiliate programs to get into is also the oldest: Amazon.

While their commissions have taken a hit in recent years, the Amazon Associate Program is still a viable means of monetizing pretty much anything with Amazon products.

Including Amazon links to your equipment or other products visible in your videos is one of the most passive forms of income out there. You don't even have to actively sell anything. Just drop the links for the interested parties to find.

4. Digital Downloads

This is one of my favorite ways to earn passive income.

These are products in digital form you can offer for sale. Once you create them, there's literally no overhead going forward.

You don't have to hold an inventory or restock when you sell out because you can't sell out! There's no limit to how many copies of a digital product you can sell.

So what kind of digital download can you create? 

You can make a guide that teaches someone how to do something step by step. You can create custom graphics like I've done on this website. You can create reference materials. The possibilities are endless!

Don't let imposter syndrome stop you from sharing your knowledge. There will always be someone who knows more than you, but there are also a ton of people trying to get to the level of knowledge you have!

Focus on taking the value you can offer and packaging it to help people and make a product or service available for sale.

Ignore the haters.

5. Merch/Print on Demand

If you've built a hungry fanbase, merch can be a wonderful way to generate passive income. You can use many merch services like Teespring, Spreadshirt, or even Merch by Amazon to create products you can sell to your fans.

You can create hundreds of products with zero cost that you can offer for sale. You don't pay printing costs until an item sells. It's super low risk.

6. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is unique. Basically, you are selling products you don't own or have in your possession. It sounds illegal, but I assure you, it's not.

With dropshipping, you are a middleman of sorts. You are basically finding and curating great products through various sales platforms, buying them for your customer, and then having them shipped directly to that customer.

Sometimes, you don't even have to handle customer service. It can be really easy and lucrative.

7. Third Party Services

We talked about channel memberships earlier. There are also third-party services that allow you to develop relationships with your audience members. 

I'm talking about Patreon. Patreon actually allows you to create member tiers just like channel memberships. People who want to support what you're doing can choose a tier and become a patron.

One of the good things about using a third-party service like Patreon versus channel memberships is that it's outside of the YouTube ecosystem.

We all know things can happen on YouTube where they change the rules overnight and you have to adapt. 

If you lost access to your channel, you would still have access to your audience (and revenue) via Patreon.

Likewise, if something happens with Patreon, you can back up your audience access through channel memberships.

It's always good to have that diversity. That way, you can protect yourself and your income because you don't have all your eggs in one basket.

At the End of the Day

We are marketers and YouTube is simply a robust traffic source that's easy for almost anyone to use.

We can align ourselves with a myriad of services and products and become an ambassador for them all through our YouTube channels. 

The income is lucrative and passive! That's why so many people give YouTube a shot. Will you?