Industry Insights

Can you Make YouTube a Full-Time Job?

By: Daniel Robertshaw
May 9, 2021 • 7 min read

Can you Make YouTube a Full-Time Job? Uncovering Your Inner Internet Star. 

In this digital age, it’s easier than ever to post our thoughts, stories, and beliefs online. Websites like YouTube and Vimeo have made it possible for us to share and watch content from people from all over the world. By now, YouTube is a household name and the largest video-sharing platform in the world. Some content creators have even made YouTube a full-time job. According to FortuneLords, almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. That’s a lot of views!

woman in black and white zip up jacket sitting on black office rolling chair

A popular opportunity 

Because of its immense popularity, YouTube has become an opportunity for content creators to be compensated for their work. Because of the lavish lifestyle of some popular YouTubers, this career has become a popular dream amongst younger people.

If it were easy, nobody would turn down the chance to have a full-time job creating content that they’re passionate about. And that’s the thing, it’s definitely not easy, but it is possible. This guide details everything about having YouTube as a full-time job. Should you do it? Can you do it? How do you do it? Let’s break it down.

Before you start

Before deciding you want to start YouTube as a full-time job, it’s important to consider the pros and cons. As much as you may want to, you can’t just one day say to yourself, ‘I’m going to do YouTube as a full-time job’ and then do it. Your first year or so in YouTube will most likely generate no income. You’ll first have to build an audience that regularly watches your videos, and that takes time.

Creating a YouTube channel usually starts as just a hobby or a side hustle. As you gain popularity, it might develop into a full-time position naturally. So, before you start, know that you won’t be gaining income for a considerable time when you first begin. Also, consider the following pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Earn money while doing something you love.
  2. Be your own boss and decide your own hours.
  3. No college degree or education is required.
  4. Not required to go into an office, so you have more downtime and the potential to travel.

Cons

  1. Very difficult to make it.
  2. Income can be minimal.
  3. Income isn’t guaranteed.
  4. It may become stressful to constantly have to think of video ideas.
  5. You’re in the public eye, so there is the possibility to be scrutinized for little things.

job youtube

How much can I earn?

In theory, the possibilities of how much you can earn from YouTube are endless. One of the reasons that doing YouTube for a living is so popular is the fact that there is no cap on how much you can earn. In fact, according to Forbes, the top-earning YouTuber of 2020 made $29.5 million. That’s $2,458,333 a month, or $80,821 every single day! And you would never guess who this YouTuber was. It was 9-year-old Ryan Kaji. Yes, that’s right. A 9-year-old YouTuber made almost $30 million last year.  The bulk of Ryan’s videos involve him reviewing kid’s toys. This is why it’s so important to find a niche that will attract a large following.

Now, before you get all excited about making $30 million, you must understand that Ryan Kaji is in the 0.1% of YouTubers that make it big. Chances are that, unless a miracle happens, you won’t be making anywhere near that amount. However, that doesn’t mean you cant make a considerable side hustle income.

Let’s break it down

When starting out, YouTubers primarily get income through advertisements on their videos. To put it into perspective, the average YouTube channel will receive $18 per 1000 ad views. For example, if you are getting around 1,500 views per day with 25% of people clicking on your ads, you’ll receive around $419-$699 a year. With a 25% engagement on ads, you would have to generate around 100,000 views a day to make the median full-time salary in the USA of $31,000 a year.

However, income generated from advertisements is not the only way to make money from YouTube. YouTubers with a following can also be paid to do sponsored content. We’ll talk more about sponsored content later, but the basis of it is that a company will pay you to create a video that uses their product in a way.

job youtube

Skill, luck, and success

As you can tell, it is very tough to go viral on YouTube. However, if you have the right combination of skill and luck, you’ll have unlimited potential. If you haven’t been scared away yet, read on to how you can get started on making YouTube a full-time job.

Getting started

The very first step to starting a YouTube channel takes place way before you even create the channel. This is arguably the most important phase in your future YouTube career: Brainstorming. This will take a long time. You need to think of a niche you can create your channel around. Something that isn’t already overdone but will still have a potentially large audience.

For example, starting a travel vlogging channel may not be the greatest idea because of how many there are. You would have to be incredibly special or different to stand out amongst the thousands of other travel vlogging channels. Find out how to best express yourself in the most unique and individual way possible.

You’ll need a niche

After thinking of a niche and thinking up a couple video ideas, it’s time to create your channel. Google offers an in-depth guide on creating your channel with videos and additional tips. You’ll also want to start thinking about your brand and how you want to present yourself. It’s a good idea to keep your brand consistent among your videos, so your videos all feel connected and from the same creator.

Strategies to succeed

After you’ve on your niche/brand/tone/character and created your actual channel, it’s time to start focusing on ways to become successful. As said before, your main goal in the first year is to build a consistent viewing audience. Without regular viewers, you can’t be successful. Your entire job really depends on whether you can attract people to watch your content. This will take time, research, and a lot of trial and error!

job youtube

Keep a consistent schedule

One of the most important strategies you can implement is creating and sticking to a consistent uploading schedule. This means that you post videos on a certain day or days every single week. Having an upload schedule means that your audience knows when to expect new videos.

Think of it as a TV show. During seasons, Breaking Bad would air every Sunday at 7pm on AMC. Viewers knew that was when they would get an episode and when to tune in. This is exactly the same thing for having a schedule for your YouTube videos. Consistently uploading on a schedule not only keeps regular viewers happy, but it also means your videos are more likely to reach new people.

Sponsored content

As you read early on, getting a livable income just from viewers clicking on advertisements can be tough. That’s why most successful YouTubers also do sponsored videos. These are videos that a sponsor will pay a YouTuber to make a video that is centered around their product.

For example, a smaller game company may pay a gaming YouTuber to make a video where they play their game. The smaller game company gets a good advertisement, and the YouTuber is paid for using their platform to promote something.

Advocate for yourself

The best way to start getting sponsors is to simply ask. When starting off, sponsors typically won’t approach you as you won’t have the following, so you’ll have to be the one that takes the initiative. Reach out to sponsors that you think will work with your audience. You can do this by sending a package of who you are, your demographic audience, what type of views and engagement you get, and so on. It may be a while before you get your first sponsor, but it never hurts to ask!

Sponsors will work with YouTubers that they think best represent their brands’ values. When starting off your channel, you’ll want to keep in the back of your mind any potential sponsors you may want to work with in the future. The way you portray yourself in your videos will directly affect which sponsors will want to work with you.

job youtube

Get additional income

Another strategy to succeed at making YouTube a full-time job is to take advantage of ways to get additional. The reality of it is that YouTube is now a saturated market, and sometimes advertisements and sponsors aren’t enough to make it a full-time job. Because of this, many content creators look to sites such as Patreon to get additional income to their channel.

Patreon is a crowdsourcing website that allows creators to set up different monthly tier levels that their audience can purchase and get different rewards. For example, for $5 a month, the user may get access to behind-the-scenes vlogs or additional content.  The viewer gets more content from someone they like to watch, and the content creator gets additional income.

Say “yes” to new adventures 

At the end of the day, the only person that can decide if you can make YouTube a full-time job is yourself. Like with any job, there are both risks and rewards with trying to make YouTube your full-time job. While the chances of making it big are incredibly slim, who knows? You may be in the next Forbes article on top-earning content creators!

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