10 ways for designers to earn money on YouTube

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YouTube turned 10 this year and its earning potential is one of the best kept secrets in online business

Two years ago, I started a YouTube channel to promote my online shop. I was a graphic designer with zero experience in video editing, but managed to put together some tutorials using iMovie and an old camcorder. This led me to the fascinating world of professional YouTubers, an incredible number of whom are hobbyists earning the equivalent monthly salaries of doctors or lawyers.

Unlike sensationalist headlines about ‘YouTube Stars’, many successful creators don’t rely on video games, make-up or vlogging. Instead, they quietly work on the tips mentioned below to build channels that become a source of joy and income.

01. Treat your channel concept like a business idea

My channel concept combines three popular YouTube genres: crafting, unboxing and ASMR

This is the first and most important stage. You need to find a niche that you love creating videos about and do a lot of research on similar, successful channels to see what techniques they use. Try to see your channel as a business offering a product to your future viewers.

Do you want your videos to be entertaining, relaxing, useful or inspiring? What’s the unique selling point? Who is the target audience and what competing channels are already in that genre?

02. Keep the branding tight and professional

Once you have your channel name, it’s time to register any domains, social media accounts and develop a good branding. This should come naturally for most designers! Many YouTubers like to create a supporting blog or you can treat your channel as content marketing and have it link to your portfolio page or online shop.

The recommended upload schedule is four videos a month. Engage nicely with your viewers on every platform and delete any rude comments without responding to them.

03. What kind of equipment is needed for filming?

You don’t need any fancy equipment to get started. Many successful YouTubers film everything at home using daylight or single studio lamp

YouTube viewers are very forgiving on video quality if the content is good so don’t worry about investing in expensive equipment upfront. A basic HD camera, iMovie/Premiere/After Effects, and a soft-box or ring light would cover most needs.

Some channels, particularly in the Top 10 Countdown genre, replace live-action footage for scripted slides created entirely in Photoshop. Quicktime also contains the function to make good screen recordings. A YouTube search will also turn up many “How I Film My Video” tutorials with useful advice.

04. Understand how Youtube monetisation works

Monetised videos contain adverts that will generate money if watched until a certain point or if they are clicked on. Ad-revenue is directly linked to views, with the average channel earning $1 per 1000 monetised views. So in order to create a high-revenue channel, think about what sort of content maximises view count.

Shorter videos, useful content, tutorials or shareable content all lead to higher views. Subscriber count does not contribute to revenue, however that’s still the best way of building a loyal fanbase who will spread the word and help your channel grow.

05. How and when to monetise your videos?

Enabling all types of ads leads to higher earnings but pre-roll or unskippable ads may lose potential viewers

You can monetise your videos anytime through your channel settings. Payments are made through Google Adsense and deposited straight into your bank account or rerouted through a multi-channel network (MCN) if you’re partnered with one.

Some creators initially choose not to monetise their channel in order to create a better viewing experience which attracts more subscribers. Use the $1 per 1000 views as a very rough estimate of the threshold after which monetisation becomes worthwhile.

Next page: five more top YouTube tips for designers

06. Should you join a Multi-Channel Network?

MCNs are third-party companies that manage YouTube channels in exchange for a percentage (usually 20-40 per cent) of ad revenue. They normally offer creators advice, video production tools, royalty-free music and potential sponsorships or collaborations.

Contrary to popular belief, joining an MCN will not automatically generate vast amounts of subscribers or boost your earnings. It’s best to view an MCN as a good resource for creator tools and community spirit rather than an easy shortcut to channel growth.

07. How to pick the right MCN

Multi-channel networks only manage ad-revenue and you still retain full creative freedom and copyright over your content

MCNs will start contacting you through the YouTube message inbox once your channel starts gaining traction. Be cautious as many of them tend be scams or from networks who do not specialise in your genre. I found it useful to research each network on Socialblade.com and email some existing creators asking about their experience with the network. This method led me to becoming partnered with Tastemade Studios which I’m very happy with.

08. How to grow your channel

Every YouTube channel will start out slow so take those early months to focus on creating at least ten great videos, which is the number that most people need to see before they subscribe. Use SEO keywords, encourage people to like, share & subscribe and have beautifully designed thumbnails to maximise traffic through search or related videos.

Another foolproof way to grow channels is through collaborations with channels of a similar size and topic. This doesn’t require a physical meeting; both sides simply create a video on an agreed-upon theme and then encourage their respective viewers to follow the other channel as well.

09. The importance of Socialblade

The account name for each channel can be found in the url from their YouTube home/profile page. Run as many channels as you can through Socialblade to see how they grow and how their numbers compare to each other

Once a YouTube channel starts gaining traction, everything becomes a numbers game. New subscribers will often watch your older videos and the more videos you have in total, the more cumulative views you will receive. The website www.socialblade.com indexes every single channel, country and network on YouTube so you can keep an eye on your own statistics and those of your competitors.

If you are serious about growing a channel commercially, then Socialblade is the best asset available. You can analyse patterns, check your own targets, compare other channels’ growth and much more.

10. Staying motivated for the long run

Some YouTube channels take off within months and others require many years of unwavering dedication. Just like starting a business, keep a growth mindset and focus on improving small aspects of the channel with each new video.

I definitely recommend getting to know other creators, for instance through collaborations, so that you feel like you’re part of a community rather than an ‘outsider’ struggling to build a channel alone. A YouTube journey is not easy but the final reward of complete financial and creative freedom is worth every hour of work along the way!

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