How Much Money Can You REALLY Earn From YouTube… and the Results of the YouTube Challenge

I told myself that I wouldn’t get caught up with the money side of this project.

But with all of these stories of people making six figures and even millions from their YouTube channels, how could I not?

How could I not wonder about how much money YouTube paid out to people like me?

How could I not bust out my spreadsheet and calculate the various earning scenarios?

I say scenarios because YouTube doesn’t pay a flat fee based on how many views your video receives or how many subscribers your channel has.

Two videos that receive one million views each won’t make the same amount of money. YouTuber A might earn $1.85 for every 1000 video views (or $1850), while YouTuber B will make $2.50 for every 1000 views (or $2500).

Why the discrepancy?

Because Google’s algorithm is complicated and based on a bunch of different factors (like how much advertisers are willing to pay for their ad to appear on Google and YouTube or the type of ad they choose to run) that impact how content creators are paid out.

All we can do is estimate the range.

Which is exactly what I did. I made this pretty little infographic to show you how the numbers might break down.

YouTube Earnings Infographic

So, to make $1000, your video needs to generate at least half a million views. HALF A MILLION VIEWS!!

To put it in perspective, I worked my tail off this month, and here’s where I stand with my 6 day old YouTube channel:

  • videos posted: 4
  • total views: 155
  • total subscribers: 9

Not exactly swimming in dollar bills… or even pennies, now are we?

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Suppose I did manage to consistently amass 5000 or 10,000 views per video. That’s a sizable number. But what would that net me? $15 for ever video I post? $20? I’d have to churn out a lot of content and hope and pray for one of them to break out into viral territory.

I suppose that’s why so many YouTubers fizzle out. The numbers are discouraging.

If this project were about the money, I’d get out of the game immediately.

But it’s not and our show will go on. We will continue making videos because my kids’ enthusiasm and creativity for their YouTube channel has only grown. It’s turned into a fun family project. And like I mentioned in earlier posts, they’re learning to be better planners, savers and communicators.

On top of that, I’m stretching my creativity muscle while learning the ins and outs of the fascinating world of streaming video, a space that has clearly captured the attention of the younger generation and is only going to grow in popularity and reach.

And so, as I wrap up the month and prepare myself for a new challenge, I thought I’d briefly recap all of the steps I took to launch this YouTube channel and where I see it heading.

(And if this gets too into the weeds for you, feel free to skip down to the bottom section.)

The Two Minute Guide to Setting Up and Promoting a YouTube Channel

Part 1: Plan (This post provides a more detailed overview of this process)

  • Decide on a theme: Kids’ toy reviews
  • Decide on a name: Our Magical Playhouse
  • Claim the YouTube channel name: Here!
  • Create channel logo and artwork: I posted a job on Upwork.com for an “amazing graphic designer” and after sifting through a dozen or so applications, I hired Mithun from India to create a logo for me. After a few days of back and forth (and some great feedback from you all on Facebook – thank you!), I settled on this:Logo-for-websiteMithun also made some channel art for Facebook and YouTube, which I’m not jumping out of my seat over, but it works. In my book, I don’t need perfect, I need finished. Facebook channel art
  • Decide & prepare for first videos: After some extensive research (and input from my daughters) I settled on:
    • Unboxing and reviewing the characters from Disney’s Inside Out Movie
    • Unboxing and reviewing a travel set for the American Girl doll
    • Playing dress up with Disney Magiclip dolls (featuring my two year old)

Part 2: Shoot & Edit

  • Start filming: A friend loaned me some lighting equipment, and armed with our digital camera, a table, two chairs, and two very excited little girls, we shot our first video.
  • Edit footage: Using iMovie on my computer, I started cutting and chopping the 30+ minutes of footage we had recorded, watching and re-watching clips and playing around with sound volumes, transitions, subtitles, voiceovers and simple effects.
  • Create an intro jingle and animation: Since I know my way around a piano, I made a short jingle on the Garage Band music application on my computer, and then went to Fiverr.com and found a teenage girl with a sweet sounding singing voice to re-record my screechy vocals. I also hired someone to create a short animation using my logo, which I then laid the vocal track over. $25 and 36 hours later, my YouTube intro was complete.
  • Add background music: I added light background music which I also created on Garage Band using some of their pre-made loops.
  • Add a call to action: At the end of the video, I added a “subscribe below” call to action, to encourage viewers to subscribe to the YouTube channel.

You can see how it call came together here:

Part 3: Upload and Publish

  • Add titles, descriptions and tags: I included specific keywords in the video title and description, as well as tags, to help improve the video’s “findability”.
  • Add a custom thumbnail image: Instead of letting YouTube choose a default photo, I chose my own photo, added some text and put it together on Google Slides (similar to Power Point). And that’s what you see when you go to YouTube. Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 12.14.08 PM
  • Create a channel trailer: When you visit a YouTube channel, there’s a section where you can play a featured video. I decided to shoot a quick “trailer” welcoming new viewers to the new YouTube channel, and added a section at the end in Spanish because I’m toying around with the idea of shooting a few Spanish language videos. You can see the very high energy video here.

Part 4: Promote, promote, promote

Any of you who followed my “build a blog” challenge will know how much I struggle with self promotion. Asking for favors, putting myself out there, reaching out to people – it’s all very uncomfortable, and doesn’t seem to get any easier.

But no excuses from me, I’m still reaching out to family and friends, posting on social media, and networking with (and emailing and emailing) similar blogs and YouTube channels.

The Art of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags

I know that there’s an audience for the kind of videos we’re making. Unboxing, toy reviews and the toy/children’s category in general is on fire. Everyone is trying to get through the same door, vying for the attention of the same set of little eyeballs, and publishing the same the same type of videos in the same style and tone and manner. Myself included.

I can’t help but wonder if the decision to follow the herd will only leave me lost in the sea of kiddie toy land YouTubers. I wonder if I should stop chasing the pack and go in a totally different direction, buck the trend and start zigging when everyone else is zagging.

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Maybe that way I’ll stumble on something brilliant that nobody has thought of. Or, maybe I’ll just stumble.

The stumbles I can handle, so I think it’s time for a little creative experimentation.

Consider yourself warned – if you should ever chance upon a video of two little girls playing with dolls in Shakespearean English, you’ll know who’s behind it.

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