YouTube was started in 2005 by chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. They would sell it to Google 11 years later for US$1.65 billion. YouTube is the worlds number one streaming service and one of the most popular websites in the internet outright. According to Forbes the top earning YouTuber of 2018 Ryan ToysReview raked in US$22 million. The 7 year old toy reviewer made this mostly through ad revenue. Let’s discuss the ways in which Youtubers make money.

Ad revenue

This is the big one and the most obvious. YouTube has a strong advertising program that places adverts based on geographic location and other demographics before and during video content. The creators of such videos get paid per click or if the advert is viewed without skipping. Our very own Bus Stop TV is on record as having earned decent amounts through YouTube monetization.

Endorsement and product placement

This is another big income stream for Youtubers but data on how much can be earned through it is not easily available. However it stands to reason that product placement, endorsement and in video advertising as is practiced by Acie Lumumba and Point of View are great ways to attract money. These agreements are between brand owners and Youtubers. The opportunities are vast as much depends on the niche.


This is great resource to add to YouTube and earn money. Patreon connects content creators with users who are willing to pay for specific content. A hypothetical example that people may relate to is my desire to know which players make up the all time Zimbabwe men’s football XI. I would find a Youtuber who covers Zimbabwean football content and pay them directly to create a video on that. The applications are wide but if you are creating in demand content with a unique twist and there are people willing to pay the content patreon is a resource that can make Youtubers good money.

Merchandise sales

You’re online and have the privilege of being seen by thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of viewers on a regular basis, there’s a good opportunity to merchandise right there. I mentioned product placement before and this is an extension by placing your own merchandise for sale. Some of my favourite youtube channels are focused on technology and they sell T-shirt’s. There’s a lot more you could sell of course, tastes vary widely.

Referral commissions

Referrals are a great way to make money via YouTube as well. This involves selling someone else’s merchandise and getting a commission on sales. Ryan ToyReviews is a good example of a channel that can sell merchandise on referrals for those who are not parents or have been lucky enough to have dodged the phenomenon that is slime you’d be surprised to know that channels like Ryan’s have been responsible for the sales of a lot of the substance which is the new play dough or clay. Using referral links or coupon codes to identify your sales and get your commissions. Audible has a large program that offers referral commissions to Youtubers.

Classes and literature

A YouTube channel based around a skill presents great opportunities for providing classes and courses in your area and selling them. This is a very lucrative way to further monetize YouTube channels. A Youtuber with an art centered channel can create courses and teach people art. A person with a YouTube baking channel can create cooks books and sell them.

There are clearly many ways to earn money on YouTube and some of them just involve a more dynamic approach to monetizing. I’ve had many conversations with people who sought to monetize through advertising when there are other more reachable ways. Of course the local community and economy have a bearing on this. Your ability to connect with your audience plays a part. As for the ad revenue platforms there are qualifying thresholds to be observed. US$22 million is a lot of money though. It’s estimated that Ryan earned a further US$2 million through referrals.