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YouTube is a source of entertainment for billions of people. But believe it or not, you can make money on YouTube without making videos.
Since you’re reading this, there’s a strong chance that you aren’t excited about being on camera. The good news is that just about anyone can make money from YouTube — even the camera-shy.
If you don’t want to be filmed or lack the time or expertise to make high-quality videos, you can still rake in profits from this social media platform. Editing content, posting other people’s content, and selling merchandise are just a few ways you can earn.
Keep reading to learn the best ways to make money on YouTube without making videos.
How to Set up a YouTube Channel
Ready to make money on YouTube without making videos? Here’s how to start.
Setting up a YouTube channel is super easy, and you don’t have to submit an application. No doubt, this is one of the reasons why YouTube is so popular — it’s free for most users and content creators.
All you need to do is register for a YouTube account (which will link to your Google account) and begin setting up your channel.
1. Plan your channel
Before you do anything, spend some time thinking about what you want your channel to offer.
Pick your area of focus
To do this, start by determining the type of content you want to promote. To make sure your channel stands out, think about tackling a niche category to start. After all, you can always expand or pivot down the road.
For example, rather than posting general cooking tutorials, consider making a most shocking mukbang compilation. You may even want to drill down further and focus on the most shocking pizza mukbang moments. Yup, I just went there.
Choose a name
Your channel’s name plays a huge role in its overall success. For the best results, pick a name that’s short, simple, catchy, and related to the topic that you’re focusing on.
The name you choose shouldn’t be vulgar. It should also be easy to spell and pronounce.
Remember that the name you select is part of your brand. It’s one of the first things that your audience will see when searching for content. As such, it has a significant impact on how your channel is received.
2. Create a YouTube account
Once you square away the basic details, head over to YouTube and open an account.
YouTube brand vs. personal accounts
At this point, you have to determine whether you want to open a personal or brand account.
When you open a personal account, the channel appears as your Google account name. A personal account is generally for non-business use.
Opening a brand account gives you greater control and flexibility. You can choose a different name, mask your email address, and manage multiple channels from a single location.
If you aim to use YouTube as an income stream, you’ll almost certainly want a brand account. It doesn’t cost anything, and it offers lots of upside.
3. Upload videos
Now that you have a channel in place, you’re ready to start aggregating videos and publishing content.
Publishing on YouTube is pretty straightforward. First, you need to make sure YouTube supports your file type. To do this, click “create a video” and either upload the file directly or drag and drop it from a source location.
Videos can be either public or private. For your purposes, you will almost certainly want to set all videos to public. Additionally, you need to set captions for SEO, add tags, and write succinct video descriptions so people can find your content on the search engine.
Don’t forget about video thumbnails when you’re uploading content. Think about the images that you want potential viewers to see when they’re browsing YouTube. When you use an eye-catching thumbnail image, you increase the likelihood of attracting new viewers.
Think of it this way. Suppose you have the option to pick one of two different sandwiches. One sandwich looks fresh and well put together. The other looks so-so.
The vast majority of the time, people will go for the better-looking option. The same concept holds true with all things online marketing.
Out-of-the-Box Ways to Make Money on YouTube (Without Making Videos)
As you can see, it’s possible to make money on YouTube by leveraging other content.
It takes a bit of work, but it’s still a lot easier than going through the process of getting on camera, editing, and producing content.
With that in mind, there are many other ways to generate profits from YouTube without making videos. Here are some of the top approaches.
Posting Work From Other Content Creators
The easiest and most common way to make money on YouTube without making videos is to publish third-party content. For example, YouTube allows you to post video content from other video creators through a strategy known as aggregation.
In other words, you curate content instead of publishing original clips.
As such, it’s no surprise that aggregating or curating content saves you a lot of time. It also helps to attract viewers that are interested in what you’re sharing.
For example, the Movie Coverage YouTube channel aggregates movie trailers for viewers. At the time of writing, it has upwards of 1.03 million subscribers.
Types of third-party content you can post on YouTube
Interested in aggregating content on YouTube? Here’s how you do it.
YouTube allows you to post full, original clips from third-party providers on your own channel. However, you have to obtain explicit permission from that party and properly attribute the video to avoid copyright violations.
Failure to do this could result in a Matched Third-Party notification from YouTube. The app sends this when it picks up on the fact that something in your video belongs to another person.
How to deal with a Matched Third-Party notification
When sending a Matched Third-Party notification, YouTube typically explains what it intends to do about the situation.
In some cases, the company might show ads on the video and send revenue to the publisher. The company might also choose to block the video — or even deactivate your account if you seriously abuse the terms of service.
Sometimes, YouTube sends Matched Third-Party notifications by mistake. If you follow the rules and think there may be a mistake, you could try to dispute the warning.
Whatever you do, you can’t afford to ignore this type of notification. Otherwise, it could harm your account and immediately stop your money-making ability.
Creative Commons video content
Many content producers have success using Creative Commons licenses when posting videos.
When a content creator posts a video with a Creative Commons license, the original producer retains ownership of the content. However, the license gives you the ability to use their work in your videos or on your channel.
If you’re interested in this approach, search for the video term you want to find. When the results pop up, click on the filter button, and select Creative Commons under the Features list. You’ll then be looking at a targeted list of free videos that you should be able to republish.
Just make sure to look at each specific license and make sure to follow its conditions. Some licenses have strict requirements explaining how you can use the material, so it’s in your best interest to pay attention.
In many cases, you can post videos exactly as they appear. You may also be able to use videos as part of larger compilations (e.g., a one-hour montage of kittens playing with babies).
Start a blog
Blogging is a solid way to make money from YouTube. Any time you’re scrolling through a popular blog and see a YouTube video embedded in it, that website owner is probably making money from it.
If you’ve got what it takes, consider starting a free blog on WordPress and posing videos to supplement your content. You can use most third-party videos as long as you attribute them to the owner.
Post alternative content
You don’t have to post traditional videos on YouTube where you’re in front of the camera. For example, you can also post audio files, album compilations, or even pictures of slide decks and presentations.
To illustrate, suppose you publish a weekly audio podcast. You could post a recording of the podcast to your YouTube channel, along with a compelling background image (or series of images), and get paid for views,
Happen to own a business? You can also post audio presentations with PowerPoint slides, using YouTube to provide educational content for current and potential customers. If your content is highly valuable, you can attract subscribers and create advertising opportunities.
Invest in Google shares
As most of you know, I’m an investor at my core.
From an investor’s angle, purchasing Alphabet Inc Class A shares (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is an indirect way to make money from YouTube.
At the time of writing, Google is hovering around $2,841.58 per share, and the stock has a market cap of $1.90 trillion. The only major downside is that Alphabet doesn’t offer a dividend yield. However, the stock is performing very well this year, up from just $2,030.69 in March.
If you don’t have enough cash for full shares, look into buying fractional shares through brokers like Robinhood or Webull. With this strategy, you might buy as little as $1 worth of stock at a time.
Advertise with YouTube Ads
When running a business, it’s critical to get your name out to as many people as possible, and advertising on YouTube is a great way to do that.
YouTube has a video advertising service you can use to set up campaigns and measure your results. You can also advertise through Google Ads and expand your reach into other channels.
Become a YouTube consultant
The vast majority of YouTubers aren’t going to become rich. Many people start channels only to give up after realizing how hard the process is and how long it takes to earn income.
For this reason, there’s a growing opportunity to work as a YouTube consultant.
If you’re proficient with YouTube, you can make money by helping other YouTubers and companies plan, execute, and optimize their content. You can coach people on camera, help with content strategy, write voiceover scripts, and dive into the weeds with analytics and SEO keyword research.
Get started by advertising your services on sites like Fiverr and Upwork. You can reach out to business owners in your network and offer to manage their YouTube pages for a set monthly fee. How much you can charge depends on the complexity of the tasks. For starters, a ballpark rate of $50 per hour is reasonable if you know what you’re doing and the client has a marketing budget.
Sign up for Nielsen
Nielsen is a leading market research company that pays participants $50 each year just for sharing data about how they use the internet.
In other words, if you sign up for Nielsen, you can make money just by watching YouTube and giving Nielsen access to your viewing history and habits.
This approach is safe, non-invasive, and doesn’t require anything other than browsing the internet and watching content.
Work for YouTube
Being passionate about YouTube and social media could potentially lead to an exciting and rewarding career in online media.
If you’re a huge fan of YouTube, it might be worth considering working for the Google subsidiary either online or at one of its eight office locations.
The average annual salary for YouTube employees is $52,806 per year, or about $25 per hour. Plus, you’ll have a brand name on your resume, which should accelerate future job searches.
Buy a YouTube channel
When it boils down to it, there’s no rule that says you need to start a YouTube channel from scratch.
If you’ve got some cash laying around, you can jump-start your YouTube ambitions by purchasing an existing channel from another subscriber. By going this route, you can start with an existing subscriber base and content library.
To find YouTube channels for sale, check out sites like Fameswap and Flippa.
Market your channel
Unfortunately, just posting content on YouTube won’t get you very far. It takes a fair amount of marketing and optimizing to stand out from the pack.
Optimize your channel
YouTube Studio offers many helpful reporting features and analytics tools that you can use to optimize and enhance your channel.
Here are some of the KPIs (key performance indicators) that YouTube marketers spend their most time improving.
- Total watch time: A measure of how much time viewers spend watching your videos.
- Viewer retention: Helps determine if your content is captivating viewers and keeping them coming back for more.
- Traffic source: Dig into where traffic is coming from using YouTube’s analytics tools. When you determine how users are getting to your content, you can get a sense of what they’re interested in — and identify ways to keep them on your channel instead of browsing elsewhere.
- Subscribers’ demographics: By drilling into subscriber demographics, you can get a better sense of who your viewers are and where they come from. Once again, this can help you figure out what types of content to create (and what types to avoid).
- Video engagement: Crucial for success on YouTube. As time goes on, you’ll want to see which videos generate the most likes, dislikes, shares, and comments. Your goal should be to create engaging content that people can interact with and share with others.
Live streaming your own videos isn’t like posting regular content because you don’t need to spend time editing. To live stream on YouTube, all you need is a camera and a microphone. This is a great way to become an influencer and supplement the videos you’re already posting.
For example, suppose you post five mukbang videos throughout the week. On Friday, you can jump on a live stream and offer commentary on your videos. This gives your viewers a bit of facetime with the creative force behind the channel.
Live streaming is a great way to encourage dialogue on your channel and excite viewers about your brand.
If the reason you want to make money on YouTube without making videos is because you don’t want to edit those videos, live streaming is a great option.
Consider setting up an eCommerce site on a platform like Shopify and align your YouTube videos with merchandise like T-shirts and mugs.
Creating supplementary merchandise is a proven way to make more money and draw attention to your channel. For example, you could post a viral video of a large group of golden retrievers playing and then sell T-shirts with images from the videos to your audience.
Pro tip: Put your YouTube channel’s name on the shirt for additional exposure.
Use social media platforms
When managing a YouTube account, socializing content is key to success.
For the best results, get active on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, and post content that sends users to your YouTube channel every day.
The more you post, the more people will see your material and visit your channel.
Use affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing involves making money by sending customers to third-party advertisers.
YouTubers often do this by including content and promotions in videos. For example, suppose you have a channel about electronic music equipment. You might include a video reviewing headphones and link to certain brands in your content.
To be clear, it helps to have a steady stream of viewers to make real money from affiliate programs.
If you’re interested in taking this route, some of the largest affiliate programs to check out are Amazon Associates, CJ, and Impact.
Monetize Your YouTube Channel
If you go through all the above steps and commit yourself to growth, your channel will eventually gain traction. This is where the fun starts.
Join the YouTube Partner Program
At this point, you need to join the YouTube Partner Program, which provides expanded access to YouTube resources and enables you to earn passive income through your channel.
To qualify, you need at least 1,000 subscribers and more than 4,000 valid public watch hours within twelve months.
When you hit these targets, it’s time to apply. Your account then goes into a review queue to ensure your viewership meets the mark. If you’re accepted, you can set up ad preferences and enable YouTube-powered monetization tools on your channel uploads.
If your application isn’t accepted, you have to wait thirty days to reapply. Focus on building up your viewership during that time.
YouTube monetization opportunities
Here are the various ways you can profit from the YouTube Partner Program.
- Ad revenue: As a member of the YouTube Partner Program, you can generate revenue from overlay, display, and video sponsorships, all of which is powered by Google AdSense. AdSense is Google’s online advertising platform, which automatically places targeted advertisements on websites and YouTube videos.
- Channel membership: You can also charge for channel memberships and receive monthly recurring payments from subscribers.
- Merch shelf: You can give fans the opportunity to browse your merch shelf and buy stuff.
- Super chat and super stickers: Additionally, you can use super chats and super stickers to charge fans to highlight messages and stand out in chat streams.
- Premium revenue: You can also receive income when Premium subscribers watch your content. If you’re interested in this route, make sure to follow YouTube’s monetization policies and link your Google AdSense account.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about making money on YouTube without making videos.
Can you make money on YouTube without making videos?
Absolutely. There are many ways to make money from YouTube without creating original videos. For example, you can post third-party content, buy shares of Google, or start an online business that helps other YouTubers grow.
Is YouTube a good way to make money online?
For those with the right skill set, YouTube is a potential gold mine. You just need to draw up a plan to generate revenue on the DIY platform and put it into motion.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you won’t experience success overnight. But if you stick with it, you can potentially create a steady stream of passive income from anywhere in the world.
What are the perks to making money from YouTube?
The main perk is that you can make unlimited income from YouTube. The best YouTubers can make as much as $5 per 1,000 views, according to some estimates.
If you set up a passive income stream, you could also keep a full-time work-at-home job while managing your YouTube channel. This could be an excellent way to reach financial freedom and start living life on your terms.
The Bottom Line
YouTube could be a great side hustle and perhaps even a massive revenue stream for those with the right balance of skills and determination. Due to its global reach and massive popularity, it’s an excellent platform for making money remotely.
The best part is that you don’t even need to be a YouTube creator.
Since you’ve made it this far, my advice is to head over to YouTube, open a channel, and figure it out as you go along. At the end of the day, setting up a YouTube channel doesn’t cost anything — and, with the right approach, it could be your ticket to financial freedom.