The first thing any YouTuber thinks about when starting an online career is how long it will take to earn their first buck.
Depending on various factors, it can take two to three years for your YouTube career to start getting profitable. The good news is, if you’re focused and strategic enough, you can make money from YouTube in less than a year (or less). Let’s get into it!
The standard timeline for successful creators is about two to three years. During this time, creators fine-tune content creation based on trends and the YouTube algorithm.
A good example of this is the fitness YouTuber Greg Doucette. He joined YouTube in 2006 and regularly uploaded for 14 years.
It wasn’t until the past two years that his channel bloated in size. The reason for this? Coach Greg adopted an online persona – a goofy caricature of your average bodybuilder with a high-pitched voice.
It was an experiment that got more eyeballs and generated more attention. Greg’s recent videos are all examples of content ‘hero content’. They are based on surveys, research, and trends.
Greg’s videos also seem to ‘ride the wave’ by discussing the latest trends. The result? He never runs out of things to say and manages to skirt around YouTube community guidelines.
The same formula can be replicated across genres. Look at trends around you, talk about them until they become obsolete, and move on to the next trend.
Create an online persona. An exaggerated version of your personality that viewers can get behind. It takes a bit of experimentation and a lot of back and forth.
You should also prepare to leverage controversy by creating content known as “YouTube Drama”.
Take a look at top YouTubers and look for flaws in their content. Discuss those flaws in your YouTube videos. Free speech laws give you the right to criticize public figures.
However, you must never accuse them of criminal activity unless a court has convicted the person. Even then, you should proceed with caution.
Falsely accusing someone of criminal activity for ‘clout’ is not protected under free speech laws.
The key metric to figure out here is ‘cost per impression’. This is the metric that YouTube uses to decide how much to pay you.
Whenever someone sees an ad on your video, it helps you get paid. You won’t start making real money ads on your videos to get 10,000 views. Your numbers go up after every 10,000 clicks.
Note that all these numbers are purely speculation. The key is to find the CPI of your videos or niche to figure out how long you can get paid.
Once you have that figured out, you’ll have a rough estimate of when you’ll get paid.
Note that the YouTube algorithm assigns a dollar amount to your CPI. The average CPI is $2. Some channels have a CPI dollar of just a few cents.
High-earning channels have a CPI of $10 or above. It is unclear what factors YouTube analyzes before assigning a dollar amount to your CPI.
A big factor is the price of the ad itself. Your audience also has to watch the whole video. The target audience and demographic also play a role.
Channels that target audiences across North America and Europe usually have a higher dollar amount for the CPI. This isn’t always true.
Once your channel gets enough traction, YouTube will pay you through your AdSense account. Most YouTubers are paid by direct deposit every month. Payments are usually made on the 21st of every month.
Note that your payments are subject to complying with AdSense requirements. Not all YouTubers in California will qualify for AdSense payments simply because their content violates community guidelines.
YouTubers in California who say that success is all about traffic are not wrong. The more popular your channel gets, the more revenue you will earn.
The popularity of a channel doesn’t necessarily provide the complete picture. Various factors can affect CPI, such as:
- What is the niche of your YouTube channel
- What is the country of origin
- How competitive are the bids from advertisers in that niche and demographic
- Is the traffic organic, or is it being generated from other sources (such as PPC and social media)
Check out, YouTube vs Vimeo
The raw data shows that some demographics are more profitable than others. The most valuable traffic is based in the following parts of the world:
- United States
- United Kingdom
This should not come as a surprise to YouTube creators or anyone who has worked with PPC campaigns.
High-paying niches usually have a CPI dollar value of $2 to $10. This is a very broad range. Some channels may have a CPI dollar value of just a few cents.
In most cases, $2 to $3 is considered low-end, while $9 to $10 is high-end. Anything higher than $10 is above average.
A niche with a high-paying CPI will require far less traffic to generate $1000 a day compared to a low-paying niche.
In general, the more expensive a product or service is, the more valuable your consumer is. So if your target audience is mostly executives in their 30s with lots of disposable income, your CPI dollar value will be high.
This is why niches such as legal services, SaaS services, B2B marketing, B2B products, and insurance have high ad rates. On the other hand, products and services that cost a few dollars will have a low CPI on YouTube.
This is one reason why a YouTube channel with a million views may receive less income than a channel with only 100,0000 views.
The top CPI topics depend on where you live and the origin of the traffic. A primary reason for this is the different regulations that exist around legal services, medicinal products, insurance, and financial products.
Some countries allow businesses to openly advertise, while others regulate the market. In California, and by extension, the United States, the top PPC niches are insurance marketing, advertising, and legal.
For the UK, the top markets are marketing, advertising, cryptocurrency, insurance, the internet, and others.
The same niches can be found in Canada and Australia. Most of these ads have a value of $5, $10, or even more.
Other ads are much lower, but this is why they are the top CPI ads. It may be tempting to build a YouTube channel targeting these topics, but that’s not a good strategy.
Most of these topics require domain expertise to win over the target audience. Moreover, these topics tend to be extremely competitive.
Niches with a low barrier to entry are even more difficult to rank for. We recommend targeting a niche that you are familiar with and have access to specialized knowledge that can benefit the end-user.
So we’ve discussed how long it takes for YouTube to pay you. You Can start making money in less than a year if you’re focused and determined enough.
Some of the most successful YouTubers take over 10 years to reach a point where they can earn a passive income.
In this section, we will take a look at how you can speed up the process of earning money through YouTube.
As a YouTuber, it should be your top priority to focus on your audience. Try to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
Think of problems from their perspective and try to solve them from your videos. In other words, give your audience what they want as opposed to what you want.
Keeping an audience-centric approach will help you make videos that they love and trust. And once you have a loyal audience, you may even convince them to click on your affiliate links to buy your endorsed products.
But first things first – you have to dial down exactly what your audience wants. Create a buyer persona that targets your audience at various stages of the buyer journey.
Create videos around each stage of the buyer journey. To find out what your audience is interested in, you can do some research online.
For example, if your YouTube channel is about fashion, then check out other channels where your target audience hangs out.
Learn from these channels to get a good idea of what your target audience wants, the topics that interest them, and how your channel can help their pain points.
The best way to lose an audience is to make videos around anything and everything. What you need is a specific niche.
Let’s say you love fitness. So you start a fitness channel to appeal to fitness enthusiasts. Since you’ve already selected a niche, it will be easier to attract a loyal audience and get more ads on your videos.
But if you decide to stray from the niche and start making videos about fashion, your content won’t resonate with your original fitness audience.
Instead, you’ll have to start from scratch to attract a new audience that prefers fitness content. Moreover, your original audience will begin to lose trust in you for fitness tips.
This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about other topics from time to time. Just make sure to space them out between videos.
For example, you may discuss fashion tips on your fitness channel after making about 30 videos or so. Or you could make a ‘day in the life’ video that shows how you spend your day.
Pro tip: Don’t choose a niche just because you think it will make you more money. Make sure that you have passion for your chosen niche.
More often than not, YouTubers struggle to make videos for something that they don’t have any interest in.
Sure, the niche may be profitable, but if you don’t have passion for it or knowledge, you will burn yourself out. Your audience will also notice the lackluster performance and may not hang around for long.
Making videos on YouTube can be overwhelming. YouTubers often exhaust themselves because they’re all over the place trying to do a hundred things!
Instead, you should stay focused so you can reach your goal of making money from YouTube. Create micro goals that serve as stepping stones to your bigger goal.
If you love fashion, then put all your focus on that niche and make you put together the best video possible.
It is also important to upload videos on YouTube Shorts. A good idea is to upload small snippets from a larger video on YouTube Shorts.
This may even help you qualify for the YouTube Shorts fund. YouTube has allocated a whopping $100 million for creators who make YouTube Shorts.
A video calendar is your best way of staying focused and being on track. It will help you treat your YouTube channel like a business from the get-go.
The video calendar provides you with a written plan of action to stay focused. The biggest downfall of most YouTubers is that they don’t post regularly enough.
A video calendar will help you stick to a schedule so that you can invest the necessary time in yourself and your channel.
The more effort you put into your channel. The faster it will yield results.
Note that seasonal changes will also affect your earnings from YouTube. For example, most companies pull back on advertising during certain months.
This means that the CPI dollar value during those days will plummet. Holiday seasons usually have a higher CPI dollar value.
Numbers during November and December are much higher. The earnings during these times are very high compared to the rest of the year.
Make sure to account for the ebbs and flows of CPI dollar value when making estimates about your YouTube earnings.
You can expect to attract a big fan following in about a year. This is attainable for most YouTube creators.
The key is to focus on a niche you’re passionate about and create content that your audience likes. Give them what they want and revenue will come to you faster. Once you get enough traffic, you’ll get paid more quicker by YouTube.
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I am Hannah, an online entrepreneur based in New York, United States. As the founder of several successful niche websites, I got the expertise in areas such as making money online, blogging, YouTube, affiliate marketing, and more. Through this website and blog posts, I am trying to provide insightful and actionable tips to help aspiring entrepreneurs, find ways to make money online. Read more.