How to make money online with YouTube: a comprehensive guide

Summary:Are you interested in setting up a new residual income stream? While striking it rich with YouTube is very unlikely, it's extremely feasible to make an extra $50-$100 every month or two. Here's how I do just that!

What to upload, what to upload...

On the first page, I showed you some stats from a few videos of mine. Then, on the two pages that followed, I gave you an overview of keyword research with YouTube and all the data you can take from it. But before you actually jump into all of that, you should spend some time thinking about the kinds of videos you'd like to upload in the first place! Here are some ideas to get your brain thinking down the right path:

-How-to videos on subject matter you consider yourself good at or passionate about (guitar, home repair, baking, etc.)

-Review videos on a subject you're interested in (music, movies, plays, gadgets, etc.)

-Gameplay videos of your favorite games (I love doing these, personally)

-Personality videos (comedy, intellectual, political; do you want people to watch you for you?)

So, what do you want to upload? Read through the rest of the article if you'd like, or stick here and do some thinking. Either way, this is pretty much where you have to first make something happen if you hope to have something to upload with which to monetize.

Best practices, dos and don'ts, etc.

Now, I'm going to go over a hodgepodge of points ranging from dos and don'ts, to best practices, to personal advice based on my experiences. This list is far from the be-all and end-all, but it should certainly be enough to not only steer you in the right direction, but also help you come up with the right questions to ask yourself along the journey. With that said, in no particular order of importance:

Make it fun, first and foremost: Unless you have some serious ambition to make this venture a full-time deal, make sure you understand that nothing is guaranteed; not views, traffic, or earnings. You're going to spend some time doing all of this, like recording, editing, uploading (including writing your title, description, etc. while the video uploads), spreading the word (which I'll cover in a bit), and more. As such, try to make this a fun venture (unless you're reading this article from a business-minded perspective, in which case, you already know what this venture's going to be).

Nobody clicks ads, right?: Wrong. It's easy to talk yourself out of an ad-based model of monetization by thinking everyone is like you, if you're someone who never clicks ads (like me). So, if you have that kind of mentality, then do yourself a favor and stop projecting it onto everyone. Amazing as it may seem, plenty of people click ads. And even if they don't, you can still make money just for X number of people seeing an ad. They don't even have to click through! What you make from such revenue is typically laughable, but it's still free money and every cent counts. I mean, look at my third video example back on the first page: 2,400 views and only $0.50 earned. That's chump change, but it's also chump change that I didn't have beforehand!

Speaking of clicking on ads: Don't click ads that run on your own videos. That's called click fraud and it can get your AdSense account terminated. And unless you've figured out how to pull the con of the century, the money you stand to make from click fraud is laughable and nowhere near worth the risk of getting caught. You won't go to jail or anything for it, but having an AdSense account terminated is a real pain in the butt to deal with, should you want to use AdSense to monetize with in the future.

Don't monetize videos you don't own: Technically, you shouldn't even upload videos that belong to someone else. And it's a good idea not to do that, anyway, because before you can monetize videos on YouTube, you have to go through a proving stage where Google feels you won't be a risk to their advertisers. To do that, you need upload videos, but just don't upload content that would give Google a reason to delete it. Once you're able to start monetizing your videos, make doubly sure you don't upload content that belongs to others and especially don't monetize such content. That can get your AdSense account banned quicker than you can say "Aunt Jemima's pancakes!" For more about what you shouldn't do, click here and read the bottom of the page.

If you know what FPS and encoding are, these tips are for you: If, like me, you're an HD nut, then I'm about to save you a LOT of time and energy in seeking out how get the highest quality 1080p video you can possibly put on YouTube. First, know that YouTube encodes everything that's uploaded. This is important to know, because you can't just upload an uncompressed, 1920 x 1080 60 FPS .avi file and expect that YouTube has the finest to work with, ergo you end up with an amazing 1080p YouTube video. Unfortunately, that's not how it works.

Anything over 30 FPS is a waste, because that's the highest frame rate YouTube allows for its videos; however, YouTube WILL preserve lower frame rates. To note, YouTube encodes videos with the H.264 codec, which is a great codec in most cases, but not for the types of videos I like doing (HD game videos). As such, I have to put in a bit more effort with what I feed YouTube so that I end up with something that represents the original as much as possible. If that ends up being you, then the following links are my supreme offerings to you: link one, link two, link three, link four, and link five. Exhaust them all thoroughly, because between them, you'll find everything you want to know and then some.

Research, research, research: In addition to what I've already mentioned in this article, there's much more to delve into where researching your topic of interest, traffic, and competition are concerned. For instance, many videos have public stats beyond just views, such as showing which Web sites are sending traffic to them! Also, look through the comments and see if people are asking questions about things that weren't covered. That's a great way to gather up some actionable data for yourself in regards to what you'd like to record.

Don't wait for clicks; go get them: While the keyword research component I covered focuses specifically on YouTube, I would highly recommend that you don't just post a video and wait for clicks to roll in. More often than not, that will result in a video that flops and earns you nothing. Using our previous example of "baking cookies," why not try seeing what kind of keyword data you can gather from Google's keyword tool? Also, try searching Google for "baking cookies" using the same methods I mentioned on previous pages. That's a great way to find sites where you might be able to post a link to your video, etc.

Another idea is to leverage social media. Using Twitter, why not search for people who mention "baking cookies" in their tweets? Depending on what they said, you could tweet them a link to your video while addressing their concern. Facebook is another good one. Recently, I purchased a top-of-the-line Alienware laptop, so I've been recording videos with it to show people what it can do. For one of the videos, I posted on Alienware's Facebook page saying something to the effect of, "I wanted to showcase what the latest Alienware M18x R2 is capable of, so here's a 1080p video of a game running with maxed-out settings!" Alienware not only ended up "liking" that comment, but they then posted a new status on their wall with a link to my video. Hello, traffic!

Lastly, remember when I mentioned in the previous point about looking for YouTube commenters with questions on videos related to the topic you're interested in? Well, why not save those peoples' names when you run across them, then message them a link to your video when you post it and say something like, "Hey, I noticed you had a question about such 'n such, so I just wanted to send you a link to my video, where I answer your question and more!" If your content is useful, it will certainly spread on its own to an extent, but you will always do better to help it along. Don't take traffic for granted; it's never guaranteed.

Ask others how their videos are performing: You'd be surprised how many people will be forthcoming with how their videos perform. All you have to do is ask! Sure, people may lie about what they've made, or they may just ignore you, but you could message someone and say something like, "I want to start making some videos about this topic, so I thought I would check around a bit to see if it's worth it to get into." Most times I've done this, people are friendly and not at all threatened that you're going to get in on their action. Just a thought.

Tweak as necessary: When a video of yours has been monetized, go ahead and watch it to see what kind of ads are running on it. If they're not relevant, then maybe you should consider tweaking the title, description, and/or keywords. There's nothing wrong with testing and updating as necessary.

And now, the next and final page will conclude this guide. I'll show you exactly what you need to do to get set up (it's easy), then leave you with some parting thoughts.

Topics: E-Commerce, Google


Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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