12 ways to monetize on youtube

12 Ways to Monetize on YouTube (Ranked and Compared) [2023]

Instead of focusing on big or huge YouTubers, let’s talk about what’s more feasible for micro and small-size channels to monetize on YouTube (generally under 10K subscribers). This article is written based on a lot of my experience as a YouTuber and YouTube strategist for other brands since 2019.

Yes, there are more than one way to make money on YouTube. Most people start with the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP) which requires you to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. That’s a tall order for many creators, and I will argue how YPP is actually a more difficult, less predictable, and lucrative option.

Based on my experience plus a dozen or so clients who are actively leveraging YouTube as a platform for their product and service businesses, our consensus for YouTube monetization based on difficulties and earnings is as follows, from MOST difficult to the LEAST difficult. I’ll also include earnings potential by using the universal $ signs:

Please note: the exact growth opportunities including monetization on and off of YouTube as a platform will vary depending on the creator and content niche.

Legend for earning potential

  • $: Limited earnings
  • $$: Moderate earnings
  • $$$: More earnings
  • $$$$: Significant/most earnings

Top 12 Ways To Monetize On YouTube (2023)

12. YouTube Partnership Program (YPP)

The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) gives creators greater access to YouTube resources and monetization features, and access to our Creator Support teams. It also allows revenue sharing from ads being served on your content. Learn more about the features, eligibility criteria, and application details in this article.


1. Get 1,000 subscribers with 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months, or
2. Get 1,000 subscribers with 10 million valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days.

How to monetize on YouTube. YouTube Partner Program

YPP is no stranger to most creators on YouTube. It’s a big hurdle for a lot of us when facing the 1,000 subscriber count and 4,000 watch hours. It’s no small ask for anyone who’s just starting out with content creation, without a big following.

You should not give up on monetization through YPP, but it takes effort and patience to get there. It’s not easy, despite knowing much bigger YouTubers exist who make the eligibility requirements seem trivial. They are not. Take a look at tubics distribution graphics below, and notice creators with over 1K subscribers in the lighter green section, and those above 10K subscribers is a very small percentage of the YouTube creator landscape.

To put things in perspective, creators who are monetized on YouTube are a fraction of all YouTube channels. If you compare monetized channels on YouTube, the success rate is much less than those who pass LSAT (Law School Admission Test), which is around 50%.

Check out my previous earnings with YPP

Our take on YouTube Partnership Program (YPP)

  • Difficulty: High (part of YPP)
  • Earning potential: $$ (Moderate for small creators) – and it changes frequently based on CPM and RPM, much of it is out of the creator’s control.

11. Super Chats and Super Stickers

Super Chat and Super Stickers let you tap into a new revenue stream and connect with your fans during live streams and Premieres. These features let your viewers stand out within live chat by letting them purchase highlighted chats and animated images.


Note: Super Chat and Super Stickers aren’t available on age-restricted, unlisted, or private videos. Super Chat and Super Stickers are also not available if live chat is turned off.

Super Chat and Super Stickers not only require an already-monetized YouTube channel, and only works if it’s a live stream or premier video. This limits earning potential on ALL videos.

Will anyone just pay for you to go live on YouTube, or release a new video as premier content? Of course not. You need Super Fans to pay for Super Chat and award you with income when you produce video content. They have to feel loyal to your channel, your content – not just any content, but live content they are so eager to watch in real time.

If someone is willing to pay for live content instead of waiting to watch it at a later time, AND award the creator, we are talking about a very small percentage of the subscribers (aka super fans). Hmmm, not the easiest way to monetize on YouTube. Though some YouTubers with consistent live content have made it work, you cannot assume that this will be reliable source of income for your channel.

YouTube Live is sometimes used Super Chat to host fundraisers. Super Chat provides an additional way to earn income. For example, StreamGeeks held a YouTube Live fundraiser for a local crime victims center, and they raised over $2,000 on their live show. On this occasion, they wanted to tie in a YouTube live Stream with Super Chat. Ultimately, the Super Chat event earned the fundraiser $776.

You will notice, however, that you don’t get to keep all the revenue earned by Super Chat. YouTube/Google keeps about 30% of the money earned by YouTube Super Chat.

Our take on Super Chat and Super Stickers

  • Difficulty: High (part of YPP)
  • Earning potential: $ (Limited for small creators)

10. Super Thanks

Super Thanks lets you monetize on YouTube and connect with your viewers in a new way. Super Thanks lets your viewers buy a one-time animation on your videos, and lets them send a personalized, colorful comment to help them stand out in your video’s comment section. Super Thanks is available for eligible creators in the YouTube Partner Program, and viewers in eligible locations can buy a Super Thanks on a video’s watch page with the “Thanks” button.


Your channel must meet the following criteria to be eligible for Super Thanks:

If your channel is eligible you can turn on Super Thanks.

Just because there’s a “Thanks” button underneath your video, it doesn’t mean viewers will automatically click on it and give you money. According to YouTube, you have to talk to viewers, show them gratitude, and build genuine relationships.

Specifically, you want to mention and put down to let viewers know that the button exists, and encourage them to contribute to your creative journey. vidIQ wrote a great article about some of the best practices, in which they also mentioned tips such as:

  • Replying to all Super Thanks comments
  • Pin a comment to acknowledge the buyer
  • Do an in-video shoutout
  • Tell viewers how you’ll spend the money

And yes, that’s a lot of work. Having Super Thanks built into the YouTube platform and immediately accessible is a plus, there’s no question about it. But once again, YouTube will take 30% of your Super Thanks earnings the same way as Super Chat and Super Stickers.

What are other alternatives for creators? You can consider platforms such as Patreon or BuyMeCofee. These platforms are free to sign up for, and you can include their links in the video description and encourage your viewers to contribute that way.

Now we’ve talked about various monetization methods as part of the YouTube Partnership Program, it’s time to go over off-platform opportunities where you are not restricted by having a monetized channel in order to make money.

Our take on Super Thanks

  • Difficulty: High (part of YPP)
  • Earning potential: $-$$ (Limited to moderate for small creators)

9. YouTube Channel Memberships

The feature is a way for fans to support their favorite creator with a small recurring monthly payment for a paid subscription, in exchange for exclusive content not available to regular, free subscribers. Memberships are available at different price points. The minimum starting price for a channel membership is $4.99USD per month, with a maximum of $49.99 per month. YouTube will deduct a 30% share of your overall revenue.


Once again you are required to have a monetized YouTube channel.

Similar to Super Chat, Channel Memberships is requesting payments from viewers, except that memberships are subscription-based and therefore require recurring payments. This is in some ways a taller order compared to Super Chat, yet it’s more open to all types of content (not just live stream and premiers).

In order to provide value, some successful creators have tried providing behind-the-scenes, exclusive content to paid members, or offering previews of content prior to their public releases. There is some creativity involved but can be manageable if it’s planned. You can include members-only perks and benefits such as:

  • Custom emojis
  • Badges
  • Merch
  • Members-only community posts
  • Exclusive live streams
  • Live chat access
  • Bonus live stream and on-demand content

Our take on Channel Memberships

  • Difficulty: High (part of YPP)
  • Earning potential: $$ (Moderate for small creators)

8. Online Courses

Most creators and entrepreneurs are familiar with online courses. Whether it’s a basic course for $20 or a signature course for $200 or more, you can begin making an income through online courses without YouTube Partnership Program.

Along with other call-to-actions and offerings we will be discussing below, online courses can be more difficult to create at first compared to a simple digital product, or selling merch. This is because selling online courses require sufficient and strategic pre-planning. Courses often take somewhat significant time and money to create for those who are less experienced with online learning.

Designing a course without preplanning and validating the needs of ideal customers can fall flat when you first launch. However, we learn best from our own failures. I have seen clients tweaking their existing course content post-launch and were able to course-correct, and successfully launch the product for the second time.

Instead of waiting for the perfect moment to launch a course, it’s often better to experiment and test early and keep the production and launch budget low when you launch your first course. Without a big audience, creators often don’t have enough data to make an informed decision on exactly what the course will deliver. Hence I think the MVP (minimum viable product) approach for courses can work well. Start off with a basic course without too many modules and lessons, and go from there could yield positive results.

In terms of course platforms, you might find these articles helpful:

Our take on Online Courses

  • Difficulty: Medium to High (not part of YPP)
  • Earning potential: $$ (Moderate for small creators)

7. Digital Products

Digital products have many advantages over their physical counterparts.

  • No inventory issue
  • You don’t have to find a place to store your products.
  • Customers can receive the product immediately upon purchase.
  • No costs related to materials or assembly.

There are various types of digital products you can consider as part of your YouTube channel. An online course is a subset of digital products, but there are a lot more formats you can consider, such as eBooks, guides, photography, presets, music, recipe, software programs, digital printables, and templates.

Many digital products can take little time to create. Unlike a course, you can deliver just a PDF, a checklist, or a guide to your viewers for fraction of the cost.

It’s also quite easy to repurpose similar digital products based on different needs. i.e. Zoom meeting guides for teachers vs. small business owners, vs. dance instructors. You can quickly diversify your digital product income streams without building them from scratch.

There are a number of free and paid platforms on which you can sell your digital products, here are a few favorites of mine:

  • Podia – great for both digital products and online courses (they offer pre-launch and pre-sales options too). Another benefit is their all-in-one email marketing features that helps you engage with your leads and current students without having to pay for another email marketing tool.
  • Squarespace – if your website is built on Squarespace, their built-in eCommerce feature could get you pretty far in selling digital and physical products
  • WooCommerce – if you are using WordPress, WooCommerce is a standard tool to consider selling digital products first.
  • Gumroad – it’s free to use but the platform does charge a 10% fee on every sale.

Check out a few articles that might help you:

Our take on Digital Products

  • Difficulty: Low to medium
  • Earning potential: $$-$$$ (Moderate to more earnings for small creators)

6. Merch

Many YouTubers diversify their incomes by adding merch to their YouTube stores. This carousel shows up right underneath your videos (if you have a monetized channel). You can further customize which products to show per video if you want.

Sell merch on your YouTube channel (Guide to Monetize on YouTube 2023)

But you don’t want to wait for channel monetization to begin selling merch. Not at all! There are many platforms we love to design products. Our favorite options are:

  • Printful is print-on-demand, which means you never have to store a thing at home. It has steller product quality, good shipping rate, and they handle all the customer service requests for you. Printful also easily integrates with platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify among others.
  • RedBubble is another print-on-demand company with even more designs to choose from. Over 700000 creatives worldwide are making things like shirts, stickers, and phone cases on RedBubble. Especially if you are into clothing items, RedBubble offers many different brands, and cuts so you can be sure to find something you and your fans will like.

While the setup is easy with today’s on-demand merch companies, merch won’t just fly off the shelves without a merch strategy. Just like video content, viewers now have close to infinite choices when it comes to clothing and household items. They need a good reason to buy new things.

Also keep in mind that print-on-demand may have reasonable pricing options, but small batch orders for customers mean that these products will cost more to produce. They won’t be TJ Maxx or Walmart prices in other words. Your super fans are paying a premium in most cases to own your merch. So what can you do to help them make a happy and satisfying purchase?

  1. Create merch your fans will like (not just something you like)
  2. Create messages and designs that are meaningful and unique. In other words, don’t be generic! Go beyond logos if you can, and work with designers who can help you level up on merch and stand out.
  3. Don’t drop all merch at the same time. I made the mistake of designing dozens of merch and found it overwhelming to introduce to my viewers. Not to mention that it’ll make them feel decision fatigue as well. Instead, consider launching new designs throughout the year to keep those sales coming in.
  4. Use merch to give people a sense of belonging and community. Seth Godin once said, “people like us do things like this”. Merch can deliver the messages they resonate with. So that people not only want to purchase your merch but also want to wear and use the stuff they bought.

Our take on Digital Products

  • Difficulty: Low to medium
  • Earning potential: $$-$$$ (Moderate for small creators)

5. Memberships and community programs outside of YouTube (not channel memberships)

Membership and community-based business models have many benefits, one of which is that they can strengthen a business’s relationships with customers. Membership models can help customers learn more about their preferences and needs and can help you as a small business owner design more compelling offerings.

Through membership offerings, you can provide your customers with tiered offerings, exclusive products, early access, communities and much more.

While the concept of membership is no stranger to most people, setting up high-quality and effective membership is another story. Customers who are part of the membership have a different set of expectations, it’s your own as a creator and a small business owner to meet these expectations.

A membership program is rarely set in stone. Instead, it can take many trials and errors to get it right. Membership programs that include the community as their offerings often need community managers or moderators. Especially as the community begins to grow rapidly, it can feel overwhelming for the owners and managers at first. Hence it is important and essential to develop guidelines for the community from the start, and reinforce these guidelines throughout your program.

From a technology and platform standpoint, there are many tools available to set up and manage communities. While Facebook Groups are free, we have seen better success with dedicated platforms (MightyNetworks, or Podia) so members are more committed and less distracted from social media. You might like to read: Mighty Networks: How to Start Building an Online Community (2022)

Our take on membership and community programs

  • Difficulty: Low to medium
  • Earning potential: $$$ (Moderate and more revenue for small creators)

4. Start a blog based on your YouTube niche (SEO Optimized)

Building a personal around your content should be a priority. Sure, we have seen successful influencers who thrive on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok without ever building their own websites. That might seem like a good idea when you start, but quickly you will understand why owning and managing your digital property is key to your long-term success.

For one, you don’t have any control over social media platforms. Their algorithms can change overnight from favoring one type of content to another. Their CPM/RPM can change so your revenue from programs such as YouTube Partnership Program can be reduced dramatically from month to month. No notice given either!

There are numerous website tools that make launching a website easier than ever. Squarespace has beautiful drag-and-drop templates. WordPress provides more flexibility but also requires higher maintenance.

If you are just starting out and do not expect to create too much content on your website, go with Squarespace.

If you are like us who are dedicating a significant portion of our time as creators to produce long-form and affiliate content, then WordPress is a must. Check out: 14 Must Have WordPress Plugins Every Content Creator Needs to have you level up your blogging strategy.

From blogging to profiting from your niche isn’t an overnight success. However, if you find a relatively less competitive niche and commute to blogging consistently (2-4x a week), good things will happen in a combination of building quality relationships, leads, and beginning to generate revenue from your content and affiliate programs.

Our take on start a blog

  • Difficulty: Low effort and low cost to start a website
  • Earning potential: $$ (Moderate for small creators) – short term is $, but once you understand SEO and content strategy, earning potential is nearly unlimited but it takes time, work, and patience.

3. Paid YouTube Sponsorships and Brand Deals

I have written extensively about YouTube sponsorship and brand deals here on Feisworld.

To me and many creators whose content begins to take off, brand deals are one of the most exciting opportunities for a few reasons:

  1. It helps you build direct relationships with brands – not just any brand but likely brands you already know and love
  2. It adds social proof to your content (at least at the beginning), and helps you mature as a creator
  3. You learn so much beyond just content creation but also how to work brands, how to price your work, manage deliverables and more. If you are lucky, you get to be part of an influencer community set up by the brand.
  4. Getting paid! While most brand deals are one-offs or a limited series of content they will produce with you, some brands hire influencers on a retainer basis. I was part of such a program and it really helped me deepen my relationship with the brand. There’s more flexibility in what you can do as well.

You might also want to check out:

Our take paid YouTube sponsorships and brand deals

  • Difficulty: Medium (more effective when brands reach out to you than the other way around)
  • Earning potential: $$ (Moderate for small creators) – how much you can earn is based on your following, view and conversion potential

2. Coaching and Consulting

By coaching and consulting, I mean you can sell coaching packages such as one-on-one consultations, and consulting services to your viewers. At least for me, this was and still is the most intuitive method. when it comes to monetizing on YouTube.

This is an “old school” option that still works really well for most creators.

How do you help viewers know that you can coach and consult them? Simple:

  1. Mention your services in your video, ideally including an on-screen message for how to get in touch
  2. Then in the video description, list your contact information (such as a contact page, or an email), and in some cases, it could be a schedule link through Calendly or AcuityScheduling.
  3. Bonus: include your “how to get in touch” details as a first message in the comments section and pin it at the top for people to see immediately.

Our take on coaching/consulting

  • Difficulty: Low to medium
  • Earning potential: $$$ (Moderate more earnings for small creators)

Coaching/consulting doesn’t work if you don’t have a product or service. This is why there are influencers are known to be “internet famous and real-life poor”. Diversifying your income as a creator and influencer is key from day one.

What if you are a creator and not a small business, and don’t have a service? It’s time to think about what you might want to do and be able to do to serve others. You will be surprised by how many transferrable skills you gain as a creator. Strategy to create and grow your channel, ability to edit and publish your videos, or perhaps your ability to hire and work with other freelancers, who can be hired as people for your small agency.

Our take paid YouTube sponsorships and brand deals

  • Difficulty: Low to medium
  • Earning potential: $$$ (Moderate more earnings for small creators)

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a great way for creators to earn additional income by promoting products or services that align with their brand and interests.

Have not tried affiliate marketing before, or are not sure about the strategy that’s right for you? Check out How You Get Started in Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing doesn’t happen overnight either, and it requires strategic research to determine the brand you want to work with, the niche of your choice, and content creation that supports your affiliate marketing effort.

One of the challenges with research is that you want to consider tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush to give you the most update-to-date information on SEO. Specifically, what’s happening in your niche, what are your competition doing and how you would approach topics and build your content. These software tools are standard, well-liked, but they also quite pricey.

It’s not just about the quality of your content, frequency matters too. Adam Enfroy once said that blogging at the frequency of 3x a week is necessary to build momentum. That alone can be intimidating to some creators.

Today with endless AI writing tool, it’s easy to assume that we can just hand off content creation to a robot. But be careful with heavily used AI content since they can be detected and penalized by Google in the future. Check out 5 Tips to Use AI Article Writer the Right Way – Avoid These Mistakes

Affiliate marketing strategies aren’t always bullet-proof, and there is no guarantee in succeeding for any blogger. However, if you commit to learning more about SEO, be consistent with content creation, we can almost guarantee you that something good will happen in a year’s time.

There are a number of very known affiliate marketing bloggers who have experienced enormous amount of success in years, not decades. Their incomes are in the millions, not just six-figures. This is why want to score the revenue potential for affiliate marketing to be moderate to high, and potentially very high if you keep moving forward.

Our take on Affiliate Marketing

  • Difficulty: medium to start (content creation and research are needed)
  • Earning potential: $-$$$ (small when you start, more earnings will grow with consistency, the right strategy and quality content

Conclusion: 12 Ways To Monetize on YouTube

With this article, though it may be quite long, we hope you have identified more than one source of revenue potential for your content. The earlier you can diversify your income streams as a creator, the better off you will be.

But first, you need to know what they are, and how to prioritize this effort for your content, small business, or both.

Good luck everyday creatives! If you have any questions, reflections, please be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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