Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How Much YouTube Paid me for 4 Million Views, Alternate Ways to Earn Money from Videos

$5,675.51 for 4,054,755 views over 6 years

I'm writing this to share my experience with others wanting to make money off YouTube, and hopefully get some advice. At least for my videos, a minimum wage job would have been a higher paid use of my time, but as people continue to watch old videos, the ROI will continue to increase, so it may eventually pay off.

My CuriousInventor youtube channel mostly has videos on electronics soldering, but also a bit of head phone wrapping and recently Bitcoin.

Some caveats
YouTube didn't used to pay people, and not all my videos are monetized (most are), and I didn't have monetization turned on for all the time. My first revenue came around June 2009, at which point I already had 1.5M views. So a rough lower bound on my total CPM ($ / 1k views) is $5,675 / 3.5 = $1.62 CPM.

If you look at the past 30 days (September 2013), I got 70k views (a typical month is 50k) and $264, or $3.77 CPM.

You're probably better off getting paid taking online surveys than making youtube vids...

I don't have any outside partnerships with sponsors, so this is all just money from YouTube's regular partner system.

CPM depends on lots of stuff, like the types of ads they can match with your content, and the time of year. I've read that others experience an increase in CPM in December, and a corresponding decrease in January, but my data is fairly flat.

Over the last year, my top soldering video earned $4.34 CPM (211k views, $919). For comparison, my headphone wrapping video earned $104 for 77k views, or $1.35 CPM.  If memory serves me correct, a friend's plumbing video earned over $7 CPM, so it depends on the supply and demand and
your content.

Other Options for Earning Money off YouTube Videos

I'm pretty sure people who have hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views per month have figured out ways to get higher CPMs.

Tube Cash Blueprints describes earning affiliate money by focusing on product launches, along with selling leads generated from your channel. (affiliate link)

Direct Selling Ads
One way is to contact advertisers directly, and mention their product during your video. In my case, with about 7k subscribers, I've found that about 500 will watch a new video that doesn't get picked up by other websites. So, it would be difficult to do this kind of direct ad selling for me. I have no way to guarantee that any future videos I make will get any views. I'm completely at the mercy of other sites embedding or linking to my videos.

Fullscreen reached out to ask if I would join their network, where if I mentioned certain products in the first 30 seconds of my videos, I could earn up to $10 CPM. In exchange, I would need to give them 30% of all my YouTube revenue. This would be horrible in my situation because I have few subscribers, and only a small percentage watch new videos. Unless I can create new viral videos, this structure would be very costly. Networks also usually require you to sign a year or more contract. Machinima, a video game network, supposedly pays $2 CPM, and isn't based on a portion of generated revenue.

(AdBlock is my Enemy)
There are some estimates that adblock is running on 10% of computers, and even higher numbers on Tech related sites (my vids!). This will surely only get higher as more people discover it. The above network and direct selling would at least be able to provide funds in a world where adblock is the norm.

Direct Charge
My ideal scheme would be to charge people to watch my videos (paywall). If there was a way for me to turn on the new "Rental" feature on YouTube on my existing videos, I'd do it right now. It's a double-edged sword, because I would never have gotten so many inbound links if my content wasn't free. (the rental feature is only available to select YouTube partners, not me).

Donations - Bitcoin!
On my most recent video about how Bitcoin works, someone asked for my Bitcoin address, and immediately sent me 0.15 Bitcoins! After about 2 months, and I've received about 0.5 Bitcoins total in donations, or $63. Most of the donations are smal $1 - $3 amounts. Over that time, the video has received about 20k views, and $107 in YouTube earnings, for a $5.35 CPM from youtube, and $3.15 from Bitcoin.

This method of collecting money is fantastic in my eyes. Adam B Levine talks about a lot of great advantages Bitcoin has for content producers at the Bitcoin 2013 conference.

  • Lower transaction fees ($10 via paypal costs me $.60 in fees), and no possibility of PayPal reversing the transfer a year later (I've had several reversals after 6 months). Bitcoin transaction fees are about $.01 to $.05 for small amounts, and until the system changes, you can get away with sending funds without any txn fees (this will likely change).
  • People can send my $.01 if they like! From anywhere in the world.
  • Incredibly easy, just scan a QR code and type the amount, no logging in, no leaving the site, no pausing the video.
  • With a new address for each video, donations are easily trackable and viewable by donators, even the total donated.
People simply donate "value for value," as Adam calls it. It avoids adblock, commissions to YouTube or Networks, annoying ads, worthless like / dislike buttons (is the content valuable, or do you ideologically agree with it?), and having to pay for something before you see it. The only catch is that it relies on people being either being nice, or wanting more content. Because most of my videos teach a skill or answer a specific question, I suspect viewers will have no incentive to give me incentive to produce more videos. What guarantee do they have that my next video will be something they're interested in?

I plan on overlaying a Bitcoin QR donation address on all my future videos, but I doubt I'll have much luck with non-Bitcoin themed videos, since few people know about Bitcoin, and even fewer have Bitcoins.

Redirect to External Sites to Buy Stuff
You can put a link below your video in the description, and in the video, although there are restrictions to what external sites are allowed for in-video links. I've tried putting donation links in there, links to my e-commerce site selling electronics, and links to DVDs with my content. Surprisingly, no one clicks such links :) I might make one $10 sale of a soldering kit every 10k views or so. Overall, this method has never worked well for me, even for products very relevant to the videos being watched. For this to work, it would have to be a link to something free, that people would need to submit an email address for. I could then attempt to sell them something later.

Selling other people's stuff through affiliate links is also an option. You can use a site like Clickbank to find affiliate's products to sell. There are even services to help find high paying affiliates, like CBEngine (an affiliate link, of course).

Going forward
One thing I have going for me is that my videos are typically how-to oriented, so people continually find them from searching, and the view counts climb regardless of whether I do anything. I've read that other creators have to produce new content continuously to keep getting views.

If you have any advice for me on how to generate more revenue from all these views, I'm all ears!

Monthly YouTube views on How to Solder video


  1. Great article. Your compensation breakdown makes your efforts that much more admirable

    1. I heard you take it up the ass for $20.

  2. You used acronyms and industry language so it really tells most of us very little.

    1. ur a noob.

      but thats ok. Being a noob means that u haven't been on the
      computer for 'too long' (u have somewhat of a life)

      Don't worry about the acronyms and go out and play.

      Computers waste most of our's time.

    2. Dei yecha thevidiya! Nee dhaan da noob! You don't even know basic grammar. And you're calling someone else a noob? You pathetic noob!

  3. Thanks for the info. Google's terms for partners - does it mention anything about not disclosing how much partners receive from Google?

  4. Agreed, what the flup is a DVD?

  5. i believe that you have to do extra efforts and contact the advertisors as these big websites doesnt care anymore and not giving any of the cake.
    for others whos looking for extra income its better to work with the freelancing websites like , or even which created an amazing idea of how to make you a partner spliting the profit between you and them and some to charity only by you listing busnisses or stores on the website and when the advertiser pay you earn immediately and the ammount is way more of what others pay.
    you see what fits you but dont allow these websites to waste your efforts and get it all.

  6. yes let him know how to generate more fucking revenue from a bunch of teenagers and spreading more fucking adds on internet cause we need more of this shit economy pleeeaaseeee.

    1. *ads, *please

    2. You are speaking the truth!!

    3. Oh, and we need more toity-mouthed kids posting messages too.

    4. You're an idiot.

  7. Your article is extremely biased, and your title is misleading. Perhaps you should put in the title "How Much YouTube paid me for 4 million views, in 6 years. It's only common sense that you shouldn't expect to make enough money to replace a full time, or even part time job in this case with the views you were receiving. It's only realistic to think that you would be able to replace the income from those sources if you are receiving millions of views per video and putting out videos every week, just like most people making large sums of money on YouTube are doing.

    1. Nailed it right on the head sir...

    2. Your face is biased.

      Quit judging so much.

      I found this article informative.

  8. Great reallly great article

  9. Hi Scott,
    Interesting article!
    Consider making a video on Dogecoins! It's the third largest coin in market cap and should take the second spot from Litecoin soon. The community is great and extremely fun loving.

    I would suggest you to make a video, then share it on I'm sure with your videos they love it and push it up to the front page - and also mention that you take Dogecoin donations on your blog and they'll love you. Moreover, I'm sure the video content is in line with your target audience, and Dogecoin peeps are also much more likely to subscribe to your channel than regular people.

    Best of luck

  10. Realy refreshing to see an honest account of revenues on YouTube.

    thanks Scott -i'll definitely be pointing people this way.

  11. Wtf am i missing something or are you saying you just got about +6000$ for 4million views if thats the case youtube are cheapass i live in sweden 10million people and ad on tv is like 30.000€ for 30sek

    1. Ads on TV cost more than ads on the internet. You can have ads on the internet, maybe three on a site and most people won't even notice them. If you have ads on TV when there are plenty of people watching it is more likely to get noticed especially if it is both visual and aural.

  12. Thank you for letting us know. Frank from Boston

  13. This leaves me even more in the dark than before. I have a video that used to get 10,000 views a month and earned $25/month. The same video now gets 100,000 views a month and is earning $16 or $18/month. Ten times the views = less money. It's now at 706,000 views and has earned a grand total of $240 over its lifetime. And it's earning less and less the more views it gets. I have a friend with over 200 videos on her site, most with over 1 million views. And she makes <$3,000/year from YouTube.

    1. I generally get about $3 / 1k views on average, but it's all over the map. It comes down to what advertisers are paying, and possibly how many people are blocking ads. $25 / month sounds about right. I have some stuff that earns less than $1 / 1k views and some over $10, and it changes over time, too.

  14. Is it true that viewers must watch the entire commercial and not punch skip in order for YouTube to count the viewer for payment to the maker of the video?

  15. The Highest paying videos are HOW TO videos, So Google claims in it's forums. Apparently Advertisers pay more for these types of video's.

    It also depends on Ad Clicks, and if they skip the ad YouTube does not pay for it. I have three channels and trust me you DO NOT want to get partnered with networks. They apparently pay more and help you make more money.

    This is not true, they take more percentage from your Adsense then they help you make in revenue, and they can also change this whenever they like, hence if you become popular and start making a decent amount of money they can take a bigger percentage off you.

  16. Regarding partnership, I am with viral spiral and I still get my adwords commissions, they only take 30% of the revenue through the placed ads and other places my videos are put in their network. It isn't 30% of what I was already getting, the revenue they are taking money from is in addition. Basically money I wasn't getting before. Also they get me license deals I wasn't getting decent deals on. And I only have 1200 subs but my videos are highly sharable. One of the other benefits is that if others steal my videos and republish, I get that money. So no more having to take videos down, in fact the more people take them the better because they are doing the work for me.

  17. "Redirect to External Sites to Buy Stuff"

    I just skimmed through your youtube channel and one of your videos. My comment might therefore be bias however, it would relate more to a typical viewer.

    The channel info is empty. There are no links, ads or anything else. The profile picture is low in quality and uninteresting. The description of your channel is minimal and doesnt promote or sell anything.

    The videos dont have an intro nor an outro. In either one of these, there is potential to promote your code or your electronic website. "See in the Link below!!!" Its also what makes the channel look more professional.

    The description box with your link and code is not eye catching enough. In some videos there isnt even a link or a code.

    A 10% discount might not be worth. A 10 dollar sale with a 10% discount saves me 1 USD. AND, I came to this site to see "how to" as I already have the equipment.

    Conclusion: (based on my opinion and my little "analysis")
    You obviously create good content that is needed and searched on youtube. The donations you speak off confirm this. The issue is therefore not what you create but how you sell it. I believe your channel would benefit in terms of amount of viewers/subscribers and income from your ext site by making it look professional.

    what do you think?

    1. Great feedback and suggestions. Summary: Don't try to make money on ads, sell other stuff along side :)

  18. According to your experience partnership is better than all other ways to make money on YouTube. Thanks for sharing your post.

  19. You don't know anything. Start your own damn website and charge people to view tips on cleaning a soldering iron. lol.

    Misleading article - 6 years.

  20. your artical is very good i like it i just start youtube working your artical helfull me thanks sir

  21. You would set up a paywall on youtube? Are you nuts? Good luck getting exposure like that.

  22. Could you please tell, the Amount reflecting in "Total Estimated Earnings" is all ours or google will deduct 45% share from it ?? Example if $100 is reflecting in Total Estimated Earning then those $100 completely belong to the Video Uploader or only $55 is of Uploader and $45 is of Google, pls share your insights...

  23. I have a Youtube video that has around 100,000+ views

    How come I only see that I only earned $27.50? Why is it so low?

  24. That does seem low, I usually estimate at $3/1k views, but it varies by content.

    1. Your math is wrong.
      If you average 3$/1k views and say you had the same amount of views as the commenter had 100,000+
      That would be at least 300$
      300$ is a huge leap from 27.50$
      Something doesn't add up

  25. Thanks for putting this info out there. Most people don't. So it's both encouraging that some money could be made but sobering that it's not tons. So great info. Thank you for doing so.

  26. I'm curious as to whether you do any SEO for your videos, or if you just put them on Youtube and hope for the best? Do you share them in other places? Do you backlink to them? Thanks :)


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