$5,675.51 for 4,054,755 views over 6 years
I'm writing this to share my experience with others wanting to make money off YouTube, and hopefully get some advice. At least for my videos, a minimum wage job would have been a higher paid use of my time, but as people continue to watch old videos, the ROI will continue to increase, so it may eventually pay off.
My CuriousInventor youtube channel mostly has videos on electronics soldering, but also a bit of head phone wrapping and recently Bitcoin.
YouTube didn't used to pay people, and not all my videos are monetized (most are), and I didn't have monetization turned on for all the time. My first revenue came around June 2009, at which point I already had 1.5M views. So a rough lower bound on my total CPM ($ / 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.
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 VideosI'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.
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.
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. Untested.
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|