YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and the most popular video sharing site. I’m not going to bore you with the stats, as we all know YouTube is big. There are several ways to make money off the product as well.
Become A YouTube Publisher
YouTube is highly integrated with the Google AdSense display ad network. This is why you always see those ads on YouTube videos. YouTube allows publishers to partner with them and gives them ad revenue via AdSense. You can apply for monetization here (Link good as of 8/28/2014, Google does change things).
Please note that you can only display ads on videos in which you own 100% of the rights to the content. This means all the images, audio and everything. YouTube has algorithms in place to detect copyrighted work upon uploading, and repeat offenders will not be able to monetize their content.
Affiliate Links In Descriptions
YouTube allows for affiliate links to be placed in as URLs in the descriptions of YouTube videos. Be sure to add a call-to-action in the YouTube video itself, letting the watchers know about the link and what value they’ll find on the other side of it. Without doing this, they might just Google the brand you mentioned in the video and you get screwed out of a commission. For that reason, it might also be worth placing the link “above the fold” (the “click to read more” in description of videos).
Public Domain YouTube Videos
YouTube allows the monetization of public domain videos. A note from personal experience; Many public domain videos will still get flagged for copyright violation. It is up to the publisher to prove the content is in the public domain. This means referencing as many locations as possible that give proof to the public domain status. From my experience, Google takes a long time responding to these requests.
Drive Traffic To Websites
You don’t necessarily have to monetize the traffic on YouTube itself. It’s possible to leverage YouTube’s massive volume of surfers and use it to drive traffic back to your website. There are several places you can link to your website. In the channel and in the video subscriptions. It’s also possible to add call-to-actions in the video itself to drive direct traffic as well.
Make Money Off Other Peoples Videos
You don’t even need to be a publisher to make money off YouTube. Every YouTube video can be embedded into a website or blog. If you create your own website, you’re able to build it as you please, as long as it abides by the law and the hosting provider’s TOS. This means you’re able to monetize it with any method that you see fit. If you use a free hosted bog service (Blogspot, WordPress.com) you might be limited by how the content can be monetized. It is free, however.
Blogspot would be the hosted blog network of choice if you were going the free route. Blogspot integrates with Google AdSense for easy monetization. They also seem more laxed than WordPress about affiliate programs.
Tumblr is another great option, as they are incredibly liberal about content and monetization. Tumblr blogs can be optimized for SEO, although I’ve always felt that Blogger or WordPress.com was more optimal for that.
Of course, building your own website (or placing it on a sub-domain of an existing) is more optimal as you’ve got direct control of the content and site itself. TOS sucks. Be sure to make sure the content is SEO-optimized for organic traffic and promote it through social media and other channels.
Easily Create YouTube Videos (Free!)
You don’t need production-grade and post-editing software to create great content that can be easily monetized on YouTube. There are many methods of creating eligible video content easily and free.
Webcam Narrative – Simply turn on your laptops webcam and hit record. Bitch about what’s going on in the world, your views on aliens or create some new conspiracy theory. The possibilities are limitless.
Cell Phone Footage – You got a clip of your friends eating shit on a skateboard? What about recordings of your pet animals doing something cute or funny? This footage can easily be uploaded to YouTube and monetized.
Prezi Screencapture – Create a slideshow using Prezi and use a free screen-recording tool to record the slideshow while you shuffle through the slides. This converts it to a video. Either give a narration as you go through the slides or play some music that you definitely have the rights to! in the background. There’s free tools around the internet for creating your own music and sound effects.
Screencapture Demonstrations – Note, that these might not be able to be monetized by display ads. This might vary on what brands are mentioned and what’s demonstrated. For example, video game walkthroughs can not be monetized. This content can be monetized in different ways, however. Affiliate links in descriptions and embedding the YouTube videos into a website or blog, for example.
Convert Podcasts Into Videos – Podcasts are great ways of curating content, building a following and making money. BlogTalkRadio shows can be recorded with a screencapture and published to YouTube. The slideshow function gives some great visual content on-top of the audio podcast. Ustream productions can be downloaded and directly uploaded to YouTube.
Hope these ideas help. Now good luck, and start earning!
Like most internet monetization tactics, it takes time to build up substantial YouTube profits. The more content, the more views and thus more profit. Also, make sure that all the YouTube video content is optimized for internal search. This means good title, description and keywords.