How to Make Money Vlogging: Your Ultimate Guide to Getting Started
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Blogging is still an incredible way to make money online but they're not for everyone. Let's face it: some people love putting together words on a post and slowly building up the page count. Some people remember high school English classes and get a deer in the headlights look.
Vlogging is another popular option. This can be a great idea for someone with natural charisma. Or just anyone more comfortable speaking rather than writing.
Vlogging is short for “video blogging.” While this technically refers to any type of consistent video uploading for an audience, YouTube will be the most common platform. This is why many people use YouTuber as a synonym for vlogger. It's worth keeping in mind that there are other video platforms like Vimeo that can pay – and even social media video platforms could technically count.
Vlog styles can vary greatly. Many involve an individual or small team that work the same niche together, talking to the camera like their audience are right there.
However, some vloggers use whiteboards, animation software, or even screenshots & PowerPoint presentations to share information about their niche consistently (and one of the best laptops for YouTubers will help you a lot).
While there are many ways to make good money vlogging, it's important to learn as much as you can early on to pick a smart video creation strategy. Read on to learn basic and detailed plans for how to make money vlogging.
- Why Aimless Vlogging Doesn't Work
- Traditional Means of Vlogging Income
- How YouTube Ads Work
- The Technical Side of Making Money with YouTube
- How to Avoid YouTube Penalties & Demonetization
- Getting More Income from Vlogging
- More Ways Your Vlog Channel Can Make Money
- Promote Yourself Like Crazy
- In Conclusion
Why Aimless Vlogging Doesn't Work
One of the most important first steps is to make sure you have the right idea of vlogging in mind. When it comes to how to make money vlogging, it's important to understand that some styles work and some don't. At least when it comes to getting enough interest and attention to get paid.
The old idea of vlogging where you just sit down and talk about whatever you want in a YouTube video doesn't work. To be blunt: unless you're already a celebrity, nobody cares.
Vlogging in a way that will make you money means finding a niche, creating great content, and preparing for long, steady, grinding work.
This can become passive income if you build it up enough. But every successful vlog requires tons of upfront work to get to that point (check out blog vs vlog).
Picking a Niche & Creating a Brand
What topic are you going to be creating video blogs about? You need to approach this the same way you would be doing keyword research for a written blog. Think carefully about this step. While having a good following on a video channel can sometimes allow you to branch out later, even then it's best to stay in a related niche.
Any YouTube vlogger you find with a following will love what they're doing. That passion is crucial to creating a successful video blog that will make money.
You might be tempted to look at what niches pay the highest amounts in display ads or for affiliate products (or the highest paying affiliate programs for all sorts of niches). That's a good part of research. But that should not be the main factor you look at! A major part of doing well as a vlogger is the ability to connect with the audience and come across as trustworthy & passionate.
This is why vloggers should look at subjects or topics that they love. What is something you could talk about for hours? What type of subjects or topics are you already an expert in? Or willing to put in the time and work to become an expert in?
This should be the biggest factor in picking a niche. This needs to be something you're willing to put the long game into when considering the subject of your vlog channel.
If you've never spent any time outdoors, you should do that before trying a fishing, hiking, or camping niche. If you have no experience with making money or side hustles, you should avoid trying to compete in that particular subject.
Many successful vloggers making good money started as relative beginners. But they already had some experience and passion before starting.
How many subscribers will take you seriously as a potential source of information or entertainment? Passion is key to success on YouTube. You must be passionate about your topics and genuinely interested in what you're talking about to make it work.
If there's a niche where you can provide an interesting angle, that's even better. Bringing a new angle to a popular category is a great way to get attention as a YouTube creator. In some niches, like travel blogging, it's an absolute necessity.
While you begin with creating great content, think about your brand. Are you naturally funny? Have a gift for making complicated things seem simple? Going to go deep into the facts and comparisons? Use natural charisma?
What are your strengths? Where can you make a mark?
You don't need to know who you are going to be on camera right away when you start. Your vlogger style will develop over time. As you become more comfortable in front of the camera and see what your target audience responds well to, you'll naturally evolve.
This is still something you want to keep in mind early. Be flexible, but remember that even if a lot of your pull as a vlogger ends up being personality based, you still need to see yourself as a brand.
Because as a video blogger that is exactly what you are. Whether a beauty vlogger, famous YouTuber, travel blogger, or some other niche completely – you are a brand. Your personality, your style, that has to be a part of you and your YouTube channel.
Creating Quality Content
No one wants to waste their time with crappy content. Making really great content needs to be the absolute backbone of any plan if you want to make money on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other video platform.
There is an amazing amount of good to great content out there. If you want your share of video views, then you had better be able to provide good quality video content, as well. Because if you don't, viewers will just go visit other YouTube channels.
Your focus with every YouTube video should be the same as with a non-video blog post: to create something high quality and amazing.
Be Consistent and Be Patient
A dead channel is never going to take off, and very few channels see early success in the first few weeks or even months. Making money vlogging requires a lot of faith during the early part of the process (and of course knowing how to start vlogging helps). Faith that the work will pay off even when you're not seeing early growth.
Faith that all the work behind the scenes will pay off. Even more faith that all the stress will be worth it.
Remember that you need to be consistent. If you're vlogging to become a paid YouTuber then you will find out that YouTube's algorithm definitely rewards consistent (frequent) posting. Show that you're serious about your channel by consistently putting out great video content and they will give your videos more chances to be discovered.
As any successful YouTube account owner will tell you, being consistent is just important to succeed as in any method of making money online. You can't win after you give up.
While there are some very rare examples of YouTube vloggers who can post infrequently and still bring in some serious money, those are outliers.
Most of the time, they built up with more consistent posting, as well. It's also safe to say even those who can get away with doing that would be even more successful as vloggers if they put out more consistent content.
The second part is to be patient. Putting out videos on YouTube is a lot of work. Planning video topics, writing scripts, and editing video footage…. every video uploaded takes effort.
In the beginning, even this can seem exciting, but it will become a grind. Those who push through are the ones who win.
Also keep in mind that as much as you may want to shoot out your videos everywhere you may find you just don't have the time. Early on the grind means you may have to focus on one video platform.
For most that means the best chance to make money vlogging is with YouTube. If you can only focus on one channel that is likely where you want to go.
This is a process. No one becomes a vlogging giant overnight. That means a long-term commitment to getting to your vlogging income goals.
If you can be patient, be consistent, and stay with it while putting out great content you'll be ahead of 90% of the competition out there.
Traditional Means of Vlogging Income
There are several options when it comes to making money as a vlogger. In fact, once you grow a large devoted audience, you might be amazed by just how many options you really have.
This section dives into the more basic or traditional ways to start making money on YouTube.
YouTube ads are one of the most common ways of making money from YouTube. There are many vloggers who make serious five or six figures a month doing this, with many more making thousands a month on smaller channels.
You only have to search “how much do you make on YouTube” to get pages upon pages of video results.
Many vloggers are very open about how much they make once they start getting some traction. It's worth taking a look at a few of these if you are looking at different channels or niches.
There are several options for running YouTube ads, with some advanced strategies in the next section, to get the most out of your YouTube vlogging income.
The main thing to know is that this isn't available to everyone starting out. In order to qualify, a vlogger must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 total watch hours of time on their channel from the last 12 months.
This is why consistent video creation of high quality videos when you start vlogging is so important. Before you can begin monetizing through their basic ads, you need to prove you can get that initial following and get your watch hours up.
Once you do that, you can make money via ad revenue with YouTube from Google AdSense ads they provide!
Affiliate marketing is another popular option to make money as a vlogger. This can come from promoting products you trust in the videos themselves. There are many vloggers who make a killing focusing on individual product review videos with an affiliate link in the video description.
There are also many vloggers who focus on their niche content and use videos to push traffic to an affiliate website they own. The other option is to just focus on the niche but include some appropriate affiliate links in the video descriptions.
Many travel vloggers on YouTube do this, including affiliate links to their camera gear, travel gear, or even video editing software. There's an affiliate program for everything these days!
There are many great ways to fit affiliate marketing into almost any niche – but make sure to do it intelligently. Don't spam everything that comes along or anything unrelated. That's how you lose any following you have managed to gain as a vlogger.
Make the offers relevant and useful to your audience.
If you do that, you'll make a lot more money as an affiliate vlogger. You will also be much more trustworthy in the eyes of your audience!
Take a look at Income School's Project 24 for a great program on affiliate marketing that also has an impressive section devoted specifically to YouTube.
Sponsored Videos, Sponsored Posts, or Sponsored Content
There are many brands looking for trustworthy online spokespeople for their products. This could be a partnership that results from reviews you've already done as a vlogger. You may also find surprising success with outreach attempts, as well.
Early on, many new, small, and medium-sized brands are eager to work on sponsored content with niche bloggers and vloggers who have a dedicated audience. Many companies struggle with getting their advertising or message in front of the right potential customers who are interested.
This is where a vlogger with a strong following can be a very appealing YouTube partner.
There can be some very good money from paid content or sponsored videos. That being said, it's crucial to always be up front about any partnership or sponsored video.
This won't be a viable option for everyone, but for some people it can be a great source of vlogging income. Selling merchandise often means custom shirts, mugs, specialty items related to your niche. This Niche Pursuits post on the best way to sell t-shirts online shows how viable merchandise (or “merch” for short) can be.
While not likely to be your biggest money maker except for a couple specific niches, it's worth keeping in mind.
The idea of supporting content creators you enjoy has really caught on. Many content creators not only make money vlogging but also have a Patreon, or some kind of Patreon alternative, where they create original videos only for monthly Patrons. Some include extra photos, shout outs, credits, or a variety of other benefits depending on the niche.
This can be a great way to get a steady monthly income of support from your biggest fans and strongest supporters. Patreon has worked as a great source of side income for many different styles of video blogging.
This is free to setup as Patreon and it is an easy thing to promote, making it a great way to build a relatively steady and easy income stream from YouTube videos.
How YouTube Ads Work
YouTube ads are basically video AdSense for videos. These only come available once a vlog channel has reached the two main traffic thresholds:
- Have 1000 subscribers on YouTube
- Have had 4,000 total cumulative hours of viewing time on all your videos over the past 12 months
Once a vlogger's YouTube channel reaches these milestones, then YouTube invites them to be part of the YouTube partner program. This allows for a wide array of video ads that can be added to YouTube videos, generally at the beginning.
Pre-roll ads can be twenty second “must play” ads or ads that allow the watcher to skip after five seconds. Longer watch times mean more payment, but it can turn many visitors off to be forced to watch the full ad before seeing a video, so that's a decision that individual vloggers will need to make.
The balance for each niche or each channel between revenue from ads and keeping the audience happy can vary.
There are also in-stream ads, bumper ads, and in-display ads. Each creates a different type of ad and pays differently based on either views or actual interactions, like clicks.
YouTube goes into more detail on each of these, although it's worth noting for vloggers who can do longer quality content, there's a reason why the length of videos matter.
Longer videos (10 minutes or more) allow for YouTubers to put ads in the middle of a video. If a viewer has invested 10 minutes of watch time into your video, chances are they will watch the entire ad to get to finish the video.
That makes these ads particularly valuable.
The Technical Side of Making Money with YouTube
While not much equipment is needed to get started, it is important to think about the technical tools that you will need as a professional vlogger over time. If you have nothing else, start with a decent smartphone camera, use some free video editing software like Open Shot, and get going with just getting started.
If you're going to be the focus of your videos, you may even be able to use your laptop's built-in webcam if it is advanced enough.
While those are acceptable solutions for beginning vloggers who aren't making a lot of money yet, better equipment is important.
The exact equipment needed will depend on the blog. A Gimble or GoPro matters much more for someone who is going to be moving or walking frequently. These aren't important if you're only filming in a home studio setting.
Lights work the other way. If you are shooting at a home office or studio you will want to check out stationary lighting options. That doesn't make sense if you're doing a livestream walking the Las Vegas Strip, for example.
However a short list of equipment worth looking at as your vlogging money grows:
- Video Camera or multiple cameras (double check that it's a good vlogging camera)
- Any portable camera or devices to help with portable filming
- Video editor software
- Computer dedicated specifically to video work
You shouldn't let this list keep you from getting started. These are all very important tools. However, it's better to start with sub-optimal equipment than not get started at all.
As you start vlogging and get used to making videos and handling the technical side of things, you'll figure out naturally what you need. Whether a better camera or more versatile software.
This is all part of the process of building your vlogging brand.
How to Avoid YouTube Penalties & Demonetization
This can be a major issue in YouTube. There are certain niches that are more prone to these issues than others. There are also some general guidelines that let video content creators know what they need to avoid to steer clear of these issues.
Keep in mind that checking YouTube's Creator Academy every so often is a good idea since these guidelines can (and do) change. This was a big issue in 2017 in what was referred to as the first “Adpocalypse” as many channels were demonetized.
Many for legitimate reasons. Others, like outdoor survival pages, were informed hatchets and survival knives were weapons instead of tools and demonetized. Some of these managed to get videos back, others never recovered.
The most important step any vlogger can take is to start with reading the YouTube rules and understanding what the easy icebergs to dodge are. Avoid displaying weapons. Avoid massive amounts of swearing (even when bleeped out).
If you have anything PG-13 or higher, let YouTube know your channel is not for kids. If you mark your channel as for kids, keep it that way. You want things squeaky clean.
Avoid copyrighted materials, don't plagiarize (you should never do this for anything anyway), and avoid the obvious red flags that are going to get you penalized.
The far majority of vlogging content creators who follow these rules are going to be okay. If you find yourself drawn to a niche that requires a lot of “fair use,” then you'll want to do your research to see if your idea is viable or if the headaches are worth the effort.
Reach out to some smaller to mid-sized channels in the niche you want to get some feedback.
Many are very open to offering advice and/or help. Make a good impression and you might even get a future collaboration out of it!
Getting More Income from Vlogging
Basic ads, sponsored videos, affiliate marketing and merchandise are all great options for making cash from vlogging. If you limit yourself to that, you won't be making the most of a growing loyal audience.
A major part of getting the most out of your efforts involves the focus on being a brand.
Website Affiliate Marketing Connection
There are many online video content creators who only produce on YouTube, and that's normally a huge mistake. Having a quality website that goes hand-in-hand with your YouTube channel does some really good things.
This gives a place you can push affiliate programs harder for individuals who want more information on what you're promoting.
This also builds authority. Not all marketers think of YouTubers as being on the same level as an accomplished affiliate marketer, or many internet marketers in general.
By having both a good-looking website built for branding and affiliate marketing to go with a healthy following as a vlogger, you get the best of both worlds. This solidifies you as a savvy online business authority instead of “just” a vlogger or YouTuber.
This also creates more streams of income, as well as more places to send traffic.
The website can help with promoting the YouTube channel, while your videos, in turn, can also promote the blog once again.
In other words, it makes sense to think long-term strategy. While you may have a basic website early on, make sure it's a good-looking website while you put that energy into your vlogging videos.
Making sure to promote both will make you far more money in the long run.
This also opens up more doors and makes some of the following money-making ideas for vloggers more likely to succeed with a website to back them up.
More Ways Your Vlog Channel Can Make Money
Dropshipping is more often used by website owners, but it can work well for vlogging in the right circumstances. If you're looking at dropshipping products that you know are profitable, why not make review videos that you know can rank for those product keywords?
The Instant Ecommerce course can help you get started with this, and opens up some serious revenue when done correctly. This can even open up creating your own product brand, using dropshipping to fulfill those orders (check out our Zendrop review to learn how easy this can be).
The website-vlogging video combination here can be incredibly powerful.
Creating Paid Courses
Creating a paid course is a fantastic way to further monetizewith your own products. Whether this is showing others how to follow in your footsteps to become a successful vlogger or focusing on what you do (travel, arts, woodworking, etc.), paid courses can be a powerful way to earn more from your vlogging.
This requires some proven success. If you've built your brand well and have a loyal following, you also have a group of followers who are going to be interested in whatever you have to offer.
Creating paid courses is often a “down the line” way of monetizing for beginning video bloggers, but it isn't one that you want to ignore.
Stock Photo & Video Sales
Depending on your niche, you can sell stock photos and stock video. This is only going to apply to certain niches. But if you're looking at making nature videos or travel videos then this could be in high demand.
Stock photos can be sold through Adobe Stock Photos, while you can look at selling bits of film that others can use in the same way at places like Story Blocks.
Promote Yourself Like Crazy
This is a step that comes naturally to some people, but is much more difficult for others. Sharing a video of someone who has a million followers is one thing but sharing your work when the views are in the low double digits can be difficult for many people.
Even if you're an introvert, you need to promote yourself. If you have faith in the quality of the videos you're creating, then promote it. Push out of your shell and be a champion for your content.
That not only gets you the attention you need but also gives you motivation to make sure you keep making only the absolute best vlogging content.
Some people won't like it or won't care. That's fine. You're looking for the audience that is going to love your stuff. Even in the videos, ask for that subscription.
Those numbers matter and you will get more people to subscribe when you ask. Especially if your videos deliver the information that the viewers are looking for.
Learn the Technical Details of Video Blogging
Making money as a YouTube vlogger or even a YouTube star doesn't happen by accident. You wouldn't go to a job and decide to not pay attention after the first day of training. There's always more to learn if you want to increase your YouTube income.
Details matter a lot when it comes to creating good video content that gains attention. If you want to be a successful vlogger then learning the details over time matters. Look up advice on how to write the perfect video description.
Learn how to reach out to other content creators effectively. Learn how group projects work on the video platform you're using, whether YouTube, Vimeo, or somewhere else entirely. Dedicate yourself to learning how the details work.
Pay attention to the details.
Whenever you find a little bit of new advice on using social media to drive traffic, getting attention on your platform, or how to attract sponsors, write it down and memorize it. Mastering video blogging is a major skill. Treat it accordingly.
There are many ways to make money as a YouTuber. While the words may change (vlogger vs YouTuber) that doesn't change the fact you can still star a video blog with minimal gear and start getting paid for your videos.
Follow the information in this article, keep an eye on the long-term, and continue to consistently create new videos and you will build a vlogging career you can actually make a living off of. The journey of how to make money vlogging isn't complicated, but it requires work and dedication.
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