Many YouTube fans wonder how to become a YouTuber, get popular, and most importantly, make a living.
While it may seem complicated, the early struggles are the same for everyone. Even famous YouTubers like PewDiePie and MrBeast’s channels had zero subscribers and zero views at one point. So if you’re looking to build a YouTube career but don’t know where to start, this is the article to save the day.
So let’s get started.
What does it mean to do YouTube as a career?
There are several types of YouTubers: side hustlers and full timers. Choosing YouTube as a career means that your job is to create content on the platform full time and that it’s your main source of income.
So what skills do you need to be a professional YouTuber? Being a professional YouTuber requires being skilled in several areas and wearing multiple hats.
For example, you need to know about graphic design, script and screenwriting, production direction, video editing, marketing, community management, and more.
Interestingly, some creators even strive to turn their channel into a full-fledged business. They set strict work schedules, work from offices, and strive to meet their deadlines to remain consistent in their creations and maintain audience interest.
Take MKBHD, for example, the professional technology product reviewer with over 15 million subscribers.
He has managed to turn what started in a room with blurry shots into a business with over eight employees, a billiard table, Mac the office dog, and more.
The perks of being a YouTuber
Getting on YouTube has never been easier. Nearly anyone can record and upload a YouTube video, so if you’ve been considering it, it’s worth trying. Plus, there are many advantages to being a professional YouTuber. Let’s look at a few.
You’re your own boss
When you run a YouTube channel, you can organize and work as you see fit. You have creative and executive authority over everything done on your channel.
You define your schedule, how often to produce videos, your ideation and content creation strategy, who you partner with, which products you promote, etc. You get to decide whether you’ll work with a video production company or not, whether you’ll hire help or do everything yourself. All decisions related to the work lie with you.
You can just start
The second thing you’ll love about the idea of becoming a professional YouTuber is that you don’t need much to start. The YouTube platform is accessible to almost anyone with a camera. You will not be interviewed, there is no age limit, and literally, you can start it anywhere, anytime without any specific capital or partners.
- No initial investment needed: YouTube does not require creators to pay any fee before they can start producing content on the platform. But admittedly, you’ll need some equipment and maybe a video editing tool.
- No prior experience needed: All you need is hard work, dedication, and the necessary skill to create your videos and keep your audience engaged. No prior experience is mandatory for this and you can learn as you go..
- No degrees needed: There is no required training to become a professional YouTuber.
It lets you follow your passion
As a YouTuber, you can also talk about the subjects you enjoy. Got an idea? Just write the script, scribble the storyboard, roll out the camera, shoot it and post it. YouTube allows you to follow your passion, be creative and do what you love.
Take Mr Beast, for example, he makes a living making fun YouTube videos.
Mr. Beast makes videos about extreme stunts and challenges. He obviously loves this niche he has chosen and he makes a living out of it.
The disadvantages of being a YouTuber
Before you start creating a YouTube account, keep in mind that choosing YouTuber as a career is not all roses. While it had upsides, there are also a few things you might resent about the job.
It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme
If you think that all you have to do is create an account, shoot a video or two, generate tons of views immediately, and start cashing in, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s always hard to rank or get found on the platform since nobody knows you in your early days. This is also why you’ll need to distribute your content on platforms outside of YouTube.
Success happens when you’re finally able to get hundreds of thousands or millions of viewers organically, and it takes time. It usually comes after several months or even years of consistent hard work.
It takes a thick skin
Even the most brilliant minds get spit on sometimes. On YouTube, it’s even a daily routine. While it may be meant as constructive criticism, some feedback may strike you differently.
Unfortunately, you cannot always stop people from criticizing your work or leaving mean comments. Check this example showing people posting bad YouTube comments about Dan Lok.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What matters is your ability to deal with negative criticism, and this demands resilience. Also, you might find your ideas copied or, worse, your account canceled for a reason you can’t necessarily grasp.
These challenges are common to YouTubers and can test your determination to continue a career as a YouTuber The best thing you can do is prepare for issues and know how to respond or act accordingly.
If you do become successful on YouTube, being a micro YouTube celebrity also comes with unique privacy issues.
Many YouTubers have described dealing with the privacy violations such asof fans finding their homes asking for photos. Others are harassed in their buildings after their floor and apartment numbers are leaked.
You can prepare yourself and make sure your privacy is protected from the start. But there is still a chance that fans will recognize you on the street. Ideally, you should consider this part of the experience and always be prepared for it.
How to build a YouTube career or business
Awesome. We knew no cons could stop you.
Now that we’re clear on the pros and cons of choosing youtuber as a career. Let’s saddle you up for building a top-notch YouTube career.
1. Be clear about your mission and goal
Before jumping into anything, make sure you understand what success would mean for your career. Almost anybody wanting to work online associates success with money, but it’s more than that. You need to figure out what your mission is as a professional YouTuber. It’ll help you decide on the content you create and the people you share it with.
Ask yourself: what am I trying to accomplish? How do I want to be perceived as a content creator?
Answering the above questions will help you determine what your mission is.
2. Decide what kind of content you will create
Hopefully, by this time, you know why you’re creating a channel, what you want to talk about, and the target audience.
Choosing a niche means focusing on one pillar theme or topic. Niching down helps you stay relevant to a specific target audience. Let’s say you want to talk about automobiles. Now, do you want to focus on supercars? Electric cars? Luxury cars? Sport cars? Engines? Tyres? Car design?
It’s wise to choose one field and own it. Plus, it’s more likely to become famous for one thing than many things at once.
A few examples:
- PewDiePie is known for being a gaming YouTuber
- MKBHD is tech guy that breaks everything down for the average person to make sound choice
- Noah Kagan is the channel for internet entrepreneurship and how to start and run a business.
3. Create your YouTube channel
After you figure out what your mission is, you can create your YouTube channel. The process here is pretty simple.
- Create a new and dedicated Google account for your business channel on YouTube.
- Go to the YouTube Homepage and set the name of your professional channel.
- Provide the information about your business account.
- Set up your channel’s icon and graphics.
- Fill in the description of your channel.
- Set up featured channels and activities.
After you complete this, you can start producing your first video.
4. Brand yourself
Create a unique and recognizable identity for yourself through your videos. Consistency is key in this regard. Case in point, 70% of marketers say that consistent branding is key when communicating with existing customers.
Your logo, colors, message style and tone, channel banner, intros and outros, and everything else that goes into your videos and channel should be unique and reflect you. Here is how Noah Kagan does it.
Doing this makes your content recognizable at first glance. People associate the branding elements to your personality and whenever they stumble upon something you created, they know it’s you.
With branding, you also need to ensure consistency across all platforms. That means even outside of YouTube and everywhere.
4. Have a video distribution strategy
It makes no sense to create videos, upload them to YouTube, and cross your fingers, hoping people watch them. You need a video distribution strategy to ensure you drive eyeballs to your videos and build a solid viewership around your channel.
For example, after you upload a video, you can share it across your other social media accounts with the YouTube link to drive traffic to it. Case in point, Twitter sharing works amazingly great for Marques Brownlee.
You can also repurpose your YouTube content into other content materials like slides, blog articles, eBooks, etc., for other platforms and link back to your video as the original content. There are lots of ways you can distribute your videos. Run a survey or ask viewers to comment on what types of videos they enjoy the most. Then double down on that.
5. Signup for the YouTube Partner Program
This is your first step to getting paid by YouTube. The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) provides creators with more access to YouTube resources and features such as a support team, tools, and monetization features.
It also allows creators to earn revenue from ads shared on their content. Keep in mind that not every creator can access the program. We’ll expand on this as we discuss how people make money on YouTube below.
Understand how to make money on YouTube
There is a complete science behind YouTube money-making. And it’s not based on the number of subscribers or views. It’s different for every creator, but we can classify them into a few buckets for every creator on YouTube.
1. The Google AdSense program
AdSense is a free Google advertising program. When you sign up, you can link your account to your YouTube channel. It then displays ad material next to your videos on the platform, and you get paid for it. That’s YouTube’s business model and most considerable revenue stream. It’s also how they pay most content creators on the platform.
In this example, you can see how Shopify advertises their platform on a creator’s YouTube video.
Here is how it works.
First, you must be signed up on your YouTube Partner Program and then link your AdSense account to it.
Suppose a company wants to display or share its ads on YouTube. They will pay YouTube to show their ads during YouTube videos. YouTube will then split that payment with the uploaders of the videos the ad will be displayed on.
You can only subscribe to the program after you pass their verification criteria. YouTube Partners must have a minimum of 1000 subscribers, 4000 hours worth of views in the last 12 months.
2. Selling ads as a creator (aka influencer marketing)
The second way to make money as a creator on YouTube is to sell ads, promoting products for companies. This is an organic way of advertising for companies, and it’s pretty simple.
Here is an example of a YouTuber who promotes other brands at the beginning of his videos.
Companies reach out to creators based on their relevance to their business and ask them to advertise/promote a specific product or service for them. The creator, in the video, will then talk about the product/service and recommend it to the audience.
This amounts to creating sponsored content through brand deals, and you can think of it as influencer marketing. This way of advertisement works better and lets companies tailor their products to specific audiences with better marketing results. It also means that as creators, it’s up to you to set your payment standards and charge.
3. Getting affiliate partnerships with companies
As a YouTuber, you can also earn a lot through affiliate marketing. Basically, you recommend products or services to your viewers and leave the product/service link (maybe in your video description), and you get a commission each time they buy something. Here, the commission can mean money, points, or anything else that the two parties agree upon.
In this video example from MyWifeQuitHerJob Ecommerce Channel, he talks about his e-commerce tech stack and share affiliate links in the description section. Can you see how each of these links are tied to his brand? That’s proof that for each purchase you make using any of these links, he gets a commission.
4. Selling your own product
One of the ways you can also earn money on YouTube is to build your product and promote it to your YouTube channel. This is the same as influencer marketing, except you’re doing it for your own business. You can sell any product you want. You can sell digital products (eBooks, PDFs, services) and hard products. All you have to do is show your product’s value through your videos and then recommend it.
In this example from MKBHD, you can see how he directs his viewers to his shop where they can get the T-Shirt he wore for the video.
What it takes to be a professional YouTuber
There are certain things you need to get right to make it as a professional YouTuber. We break them down below.
Having a sound understanding of the platform
Knowing how the YouTube platform operates is essential to your success, especially at the beginning. You will need this to ensure your video is well optimized for the platform and that you abide by YouTube’s guidelines.
You’ll also need to understand how the YouTube algorithms work, what great content means on the platform, and how to attract the right audience to your videos. This will help you create videos that both the YouTube algorithms and your target audience can understand.
Video editing skills
Chances are, you know this was coming anyway. You can’t be a professional YouTuber without video editing skills. Hiring a professional video editor or using an a-class video editing tool is an excellent way to go about this.
But the truth is, you’ll still need the basics of video editing skills. This will help you perform better behind the camera, and you’ll be able to create professional-looking and high-quality video content.
Content research skills
This mainly has to do with your content ideation and strategy. You’ll need to build a value-driven and time-bound content agenda, and that takes content research skills.
To create content that your audience wants, you need to do research. And if you want to sound convincing, you need to do some research to back your claims with facts and statistics.
A good grasp of video SEO
YouTube SEO is also part of the successful YouTuber’s knowledge stack. It’s actually part of helping the YouTube algorithms understand what your content is about and what’s happening in your channel. Video SEO ensures your videos and channel perform well on the YouTube SERP.
You will need to categorize your channel, attach your videos with the relevant keywords, add meta descriptions, and more. If you do it right, you’ll be able to attract the right audience to your content. YouTube will present your content to users interested in your topics and video types. Here is a YouTube SEO playbook you can always use to optimize your content.
Moreover, this isn’t just beneficial for YouTube. Google also displays portions of videos on its SERP that answer specific search queries. This means that you can drive Google traffic to your videos as well. Here is an example.
Consistency means you should define a publishing frequency for your channel from the start and stick to it. Whether you publish every week or once a month, the key is to stick to this publishing frequency.
First, it gives your viewership a reason to anticipate your next video. Second, YouTube algorithms track the activity on YouTube channels. Frequent and consistent posting will indicate a routine publication pattern to the algorithms, and they will keep your channel in their good books.
Networking and building a community
Networking on YouTube is a great way to get exposure to other viewers and gain visibility. For example, you can comment on videos from other YouTubers in your field. This gives you a presence with an audience that might like your content.
You can also collaborate with other YouTubers in your field of interest to create videos together. This will allow you to share your audiences, and everyone can gain a few more fans.
Networking on YouTube is also about interacting with your audience. For example, you can respond to their comments, tell them you value their feedback, get content ideas from them, etc. This will send the message that you care about them and strive to produce valuable content for them. In return, you will always have good engagement in your videos.
Go little rockstar!
Choosing to be a YouTuber as a career is a great business idea. It’s highly doable, gratifying, and it’s never been easier to get started.
Still, it can take months or even years of constant struggle before you become a prominent and super famous creator on the platform. So, keep at it and do not despair.
Remember that everyone starts their YouTube channel with the same chance of success. It’s your content and efforts that will make you a professional Youtuber and define how fast you become one.