YouTube has grown to the point that being a YouTuber is now a legitimate career path that one could aspire to, rather than an obscure Internet hobby, or something that only a select few lucky souls could ever succeed at.
Unlike a traditional job, however, there is no corporate ladder to climb when you become a YouTuber, no starting salary. That means that anyone starting out on the path of becoming a professional YouTuber has to lay their groundwork for success without the financial help that that eventual success might bring.
Not earning any money from your channel, in the beginning, isn’t always a problem. Many YouTubers start young, for example, when they are still living at home with their parents and have no bills to worry about. But YouTubers who have more financial responsibility when they get started, on the other hand, will need to cover those responsibilities somehow, and that means finding money elsewhere until YouTube can take over.
In this post, we’re going to be asking the question “do YouTubers have other jobs,” as well as covering a range of related topics.
Do YouTubers Have Other Jobs
Naturally, every YouTuber’s story is different. Some people come to YouTube after an incredibly successful career doing something else and do not need to worry about money in the immediate future. Some are not yet financially independent, like those YouTubers who start while they are still living with their parents that we mentioned above. Some might even take the risk of relying on their savings to tide them over until YouTube takes off.
Side note: YouTube is not the most predictable or reliable source of income, and we would strongly advise against relying on your savings to pay the bills in the hope that your YouTube channel will achieve success before you run out of money.
For some, there may even be an incredibly understanding and supportive partner who is willing to carry those financial burdens for a while while you get your channel up and running.
For many, however, the reality is that they will have to find a way to cover their bills themselves, and YouTube simply cannot do that in the beginning. Unless you come in with a huge following from somewhere else that can be translated to brand deals and sponsored content, you will probably be looking at at least a year before you could even consider quitting your day job. For many YouTubers, it is more like multiple years.
So, yes, YouTubers certainly do have other jobs a lot of the time, but things are not as clear cut as you might expect. Let’s explore a little further.
What Do We Mean by “Other Jobs”?
The lines between occupations have blurred considerably over the past couple of decades. In days gone by, it would often be the case that any given person could answer the question “what do you do for a living” clearly and unambiguously. For some who were particularly ambitious or who needed extra income, they may have a second job that would make the answer to that question a little more complicated, but these days it is becoming increasingly common for people to earn their living through a mish-mash of different ventures.
For example, if a YouTuber makes half of their income directly through their YouTube videos—the YouTube Partner Programme, sponsored content, brand deals, etc.—and the other half of their income from streaming on Twitch, would you consider them a streamer who YouTubes, or a YouTuber who streams? These days a person like that would refer to themselves as a “content creator,” but that kind of removes YouTube from the equation.
When we talk about YouTubers having “other jobs,” we typically mean more conventional jobs. A YouTuber might have a regular nine-to-five office job and make YouTube videos on an evening, or before work in the morning. In this respect, many YouTubers certainly do have other jobs.
So, the next question on your lips probably regards what is involved in going from a YouTuber who has other jobs to a YouTuber who doesn’t need other jobs to pay the bills.
When Does YouTube Start Paying the Bills?
This is where things start to get a little messy. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much success you need on YouTube to start earning enough money to live off of. Let’s tackle these different aspects individually.
The Value of Your Audience
For this section, we are referring specifically to money earned through the YouTube Partner Programme. We will get to things like brand deals in the next section. Not every video is worth the same in terms of monetary value, and because of this, you can’t be sure that a million views on your channel will earn the same as a million views on another channel.
The driving force between these differences is the value of your content to advertisers. The more advertisers are willing to pay to target their ads at your content; the more your videos will be worth.
Now, we emphasise “worth” because what your videos are worth and what they earn are two different things. The value of the ads being shown determines what your videos are worth, but the amount of engagement of your audience with those ads is what determines what you actually earn. You could make videos in the most expensive niche on YouTube, but if none of your viewers engages with those ads, your earnings will be severely limited. Similarly, if you could have one of the highest engagement rates on YouTube, but if your niche is saturated, you may that engagement won’t be worth much.
Now, you shouldn’t use this information as a reason to make significant changes to your content. Most YouTuber’s are guilty of at least the occasional video that is “for the views,” but you should not build an entire channel concept around what has the most earning potential.
Additional Earning Power
If you ask any successful YouTuber about earning through the platform, they will likely tell you that relying on the YouTube Partner Programme alone is a bad idea. Earnings from advertisements in this manner can be volatile, unreliable, and subject to the many different whims. Beyond that, YouTube themselves frequently make significant changes to their monetisation policies that have a tendency to drastically cut down the earning potential of many YouTubers, if not remove it entirely.
For this reason, many YouTubers rely on other means to monetise their channel. This includes brand deals and sponsored content, as well as things like affiliate programs. In the grand scheme of things, these methods are no more reliable than the YouTube Partner Programme, but they can offer a little job security in the short terms. For example, a brand deal might pay you an amount equivalent to what you would earn from the YouTube Partner Programme over the same period as the brand deal, but the Partner Programme can fluctuate and is generally inconsistent, whereas a brand deal is guaranteed income for the period it covers.
YouTube as a Promotional Tool
Many creators and entertainers have found YouTube to be an excellent platform for driving audiences to what they would consider their main work. There are many situations where this might be the case, but comedians are one of the most readily available examples of this. In this case, comedians make YouTube videos—often filmed podcasts or sketches—that may make a respectable income in their own right, but whose main purpose is to bring attention to the comedian in the hope that more people will go their shows and buy their comedy specials.
In these cases, the YouTuber has an “other job” in a very practical sense, though they will typically not be looking to make YouTube their primary source of income since their other job is what they want to do.
Advice for “Going Pro” on YouTube
This wouldn’t be much of a YouTube blog if we didn’t give you a little advice on taking your channel from that thing you do in your spare time to your main career, so let’s delve into that topic a little.
The first thing we will always say when talking about moving towards a career as a professional YouTuber is do not go all in too soon. We understand how exciting it can be the first time your YouTube earnings reach a point where you could realistically pay your way using that money, but it is important to remember that YouTube earnings can be volatile for the reasons we mentioned above.
In an ideal world, you would wait at least a year after hitting that remarkable milestone to ensure that your YouTube earnings are going to be consistent enough to rely on as your primary source of income. And, in advice that is more generally applicable outside of YouTube, it would be prudent to ensure that you have a backup plan, often in the form of savings that could cover your living expenses during times that your YouTube earnings aren’t quite enough.
This can also serve as a buffer in the event that you realise YouTube isn’t working out, giving you time to work out what your next move will be.
Advice for Building Your YouTube Channel While Employed
Whether you are working part-time or full-time, living alone or supporting a family, getting a YouTube channel off of the ground around a job can be difficult. Still, there are some bits of advice that transcend your specific situation.
Firstly, if you are not concerned with making YouTube your job, if you are making videos purely for fun, don’t let it become a chore. The only reason there would be pressure to achieve a certain level of quality or meet a particular upload schedule is if you were intending to grow your channel and succeed in the long run. If that is not your goal, don’t push yourself too hard. Just enjoy it.
For the rest of us, there is a balance to strike. On the one hand, if you don’t enjoy your YouTube venture, there is a far higher chance you will burn out and lose interest before you ever achieve success. But, on the other hand, if you don’t treat it with at least a modicum of seriousness, there is a higher chance you won’t succeed. Try to treat your YouTube channel like a job but within reason. If you find yourself neglecting essential parts of your life—work, family, etc.—you will need to reevaluate things and decide what is really important to you. But for YouTube success, consistent quality and uploads matter, and you should find ways to achieve that if you want to succeed.
On the subject of finding ways to achieve those things, you will probably have to accept that there will be some late nights and early mornings in your future—especially if you have a job and a family. There are only so many hours in the day, and you will already have quite a few of those hours spoken for. If the idea of getting up an hour or two early to get some YouTube work in before you head off to your day job is a deal-breaker, you may have to take a long, hard look at yourself and ask if you really want this as much as you thought.
But, hey, the good news is that if you manage to succeed in making your YouTube channel financially viable while also working a regular job, you will suddenly have more free time than you know what to do with when you do finally quit that job to do YouTube full-time. You will also be considerably better-placed to appreciate your new role in life.
Many successful YouTubers have tales of toiling away in the unsociable hours of the morning to get their latest video done before the kids wake up.
For the younger members of society, being a YouTuber is something they can aspire to, but there are plenty of people out there—people in their mid-twenties and up, right through to senior citizens—who never had the option when they were growing up, and now that it is an option they are already in a job and have financial responsibilities. For those people, YouTube is no less attainable than for the youngsters.
You just might have to work a little harder to get there.