Many YouTubers have the dream of earning their living as a content creator. Even if it is not the reason we start making videos, it’s often a goal that we strive for.
Knowing what is required of us in order to make that dream a reality isn’t as clear as it probably should be. Sure, we know that the more subscribers we have, the more potential for earning we have. And those of us who dig a little deeper may know more of the specifics (and those who don’t should keep reading!), but everything is just… vague.
It is reasonable to want to know how many subscribers equates to a substantial enough revenue source that would allow a creator to go full time, but very difficult to find a clear answer to that question. It can help to pick a straightforward metric as a starting point, and views are as good a metric as any.
The most common question that gets asked is how much money does 1 million YouTube views make? – This can depend on niche. A Prank channel with a $1-2 per 1000 views (CPM) would earn $1000/2000 for 1million views. However, a finance channel could get a $10-15 CPM meaning $10,000 to $15,000 for 1million views. The more adverts available and the more valuable the content the higher the income.
One million views was once an impossible goal for most YouTubers, but these days, with improved discovery algorithms, it is entirely within reach of any YouTuber with good content.
Unfortunately, this leads to confusing figures and wild differences in income. But don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you high and dry. Let’s break this down.
The Value of a YouTube View?
For now, in the interests of keeping things simple, we’re going to stick to purely YouTube monetisation. There are other ways to generate revenue from your channel, and we’ll take a look that later in the post, but right now, we’re only going to factor in revenue generated from YouTube’s Partner Programme.
There are two ways to couch this question; individual video views, or total channel views. The simplest metric to track is individual video views, as you can clearly see how many views that video has received, and how much revenue it has generated as a result.
Total channel views are more complicated. For one thing, you don’t even qualify for the YouTube Partner Programme until you have at least a thousand subscribers.
That means that a potentially significant chunk of your views won’t count because you were not able to monetise them at the time. Another issue lies with the fact that even the most consistent YouTubers can’t guarantee the same engagement across all their videos.
Once you reach a certain level of exposure, you are almost guaranteed a good amount of views on any new videos, but if the people who watch that video don’t watch to the end, or are less engaged with the content, they are not worth as much in terms of monetary value.
Engaging Content is Worth More
All views are not created equally, unfortunately. A video can have millions of views and make considerably less than a video with hundreds of thousands of views. This is illustrated by Seth Everman, a very popular YouTuber who has had several viral hits.
In one of his videos, he shows that the near-ten million views he had received on one of his videos equated to only $682.71.
Not exactly a high return for such a popular video, is it? But why did so many views earn so little?
The first thing to note is that Seth’s video—the one that had nearly ten million views—was only 41 seconds long. Short videos are considerably more limited in earning potential. People are far less likely to stick around for an ad that is longer than the video itself, let alone watch multiple ads on that video.
The next thing to consider is that the video was hilarious, but that was all there was to it. People watching it were there for the humour and came from all walks of life and held a variety of interests. It is this disparate nature of the audience that makes it worth so little in a monetary sense.
Compare this to, for example, a video reviewing pool cleaning equipment. That video is very unlikely to get ten million views in a reasonable amount of time (with enough time, any video has the potential to accumulate a massive number of views), but the ads shown on that video will be more targeted, and the people watching the video will be more likely to click them.
If YouTube serves up an ad for pool cleaning supplies on this hypothetical video, there is a much higher chance that the people watching it will want those supplies.
In contrast, Seth Everman’s video has no real direction from a marketing standpoint—the people watching are just there to laugh. This is not to say that there is no value to this kind of video, of course. We are not highlighting Seth’s video as a bad example of a YouTube video, merely using it to help explain how this system works.
In the last section, we said that not all YouTube views are created equally—this exact principle applies to advertisements. Though it’s not strictly analogous to YouTube advertisements, it can help to understand the concept by looking at Amazon’s Affiliate Programme.
The basic premise of Amazon’s Affiliate Programme is that you share links to products on Amazon, and when someone buys one of those products via your link, you earn a percentage of the sale.
Now, it doesn’t take a marketing genius to understand that a percentage of $12 is considerably less than the same percentage of $1,200.
This is why an Amazon Affiliate marketer who is promoting a small ticket item—books, for example—can make hundreds of successful referrals a month and still earn less than a someone marketing luxury hot tubs who only makes one or two successful referrals in the same period.
YouTube ads are similar in that some ads are worth more than others; only the distinguishing factor is not the value of the item or service being advertised. Rather, it is several things, including the competition for that type of ad and the kind of advertisement that is being shown.
If affiliate marketing confuses you, you are not alone. When I first started it was like talking an alien language, but last year I earned over $5000 in affiliate income alone. I have tried to translate all that Jargon into human talk in my blog about Affiliate Marketing for Beginners – that should help you get started!
So, what should we take away from this information?
- Videos in a niche with a lot of advertising competition will attract higher-paying ads
- Videos with a clearly defined market have considerably higher earning potential
- Longer videos have higher earning potential but only when viewers are engaged enough to watch most or all of it
In the case of that last point, it should be reiterated that merely producing longer videos does not guarantee you better earnings. The benefit of a longer video comes from increased watch time. More watch time not only presents YouTube with more opportunity to show ads on your content, but it also tells YouTube that you are a safe bet for keeping viewers on their website.
This will lead YouTube’s algorithm to recommend you more since keeping people on YouTube is the primary thing they are concerned with.
Uploading a two-hour video that the majority of people only watch for a few minutes not only doesn’t gain extra ad plays, it also tells YouTube that your videos aren’t engaging. In other words, it can damage your standing in the eyes of the almighty algorithm.
Answer the Question!
Ok. How much money does 1 million YouTube views make? Well, as you’ve seen from all we’ve said above, there’s no clear answer to this question, but we can give you examples.
One of which being Seth Everman, who we talked about above. His video was at nearly ten million views, but a bit of simple maths gets us to a rough figure of $60-70 for one million views. Ouch.
But let’s look at some other examples. Popular content creator Shelby Church gives a few different examples in her Medium post on this very subject. In it, she mentions one video which earned $1,275.99 for just under four million views. Doing some rough maths, that equates to about $300 per one million views.
It’s an improvement, but it’s still not a particularly significant amount considering the number of people who have watched her video. The video in question was about how to pose in photos, and by Shelby’s own admission, didn’t have much marketing power for advertisers to latch on to.
However, later in her post, she details a second video about the top features of the Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle. This video attracted two million views and made over $11,000. That’s over $5,000 per one million views. Now we’re getting somewhere.
If you search enough, you will find some incredibly generous numbers floating around. Shelby herself states that she has had one video make approximately $40,000 from the two million views it received. Kevin David managed to top that by earning just under $50,000 for less than two million views with a video helping beginners get to grips with Shopify.
As you can see, the numbers are all over the place. If you are looking for a range of expectation, a safe bet would be $2,000 to $15,000 per one million views—anything outside of that range being considered an outlier.
You can also boost your CPM and get more income for each view. Over the last 4 years I have tweak and changed and nearly doubled my channel CPM – I wrote down all my tricks in my blog about How To Increase Adsense CPM.
Expand Your Revenue Streams
We mentioned near the top that we were going to focus on money earned through YouTube’s Partner Programme for simplicities sake. But, that is not your only option when it comes to making money from your YouTube channel.
For one thing, if you are attracting a million views in a relatively short amount of time, or consistently attracting over a million views to your videos, you can probably gain the interest of a brand.
Brand deals are by far the most lucrative option for YouTubers… when you can get them. Fortunately, if you are attracting millions of views to your channel, you have already overcome the first hurdle—having a broad enough audience.
The brand will need to be in an appropriate market, of course. There is no sense in a boutique keyboard manufacturer signing a brand deal with a YouTube channel about gardening.
Similarly, crowdfunding is a very popular method that works particularly well for smaller channels, as it allows invested subscribers to contribute to your channel directly. This system often sees smaller content creators able to earn considerably more per view than YouTuber’s who have a much larger audience.
You may also consider the affiliate marketing system we mentioned earlier, though that only suits specific channels, namely channels that can tie into a product or service, such as a review channel.
It is not as straightforward to quantify these alternative revenue sources into a “$$ per million views” kind of metric. In the case of brand deals, you’ll likely need to hit that million view mark before you can even get a brand deal (though that is not a set-in-stone) rule.
As for crowdfunding, your viewers will typically be contributing with either one-off amounts or recurring payments, which doesn’t translate well to a per-view amount.
Finally, affiliate programs, as we covered before, are primarily dependant on the kind of product that is being marketed. If you review high-end electronics on your channel, any related affiliate program you use has considerably more earning potential than if you were reviewing budget electronics.
It’s Only a Number
Whether you are making YouTube videos for fun, or YouTube is a career move for you, you should try to avoid getting too hung up on numbers like this.
YouTube’s Partner Programme is generally considered to be a poor choice for monetising your channel (by itself, at least) so you should be looking into other options regardless. But don’t feel like a million views is an essential goal if you want to make it on the platform.
Some channels, by their very nature, never make a million views on a single video. At least, not in a reasonable time. And yet those channels still thrive. Arbitrarily forcing your audience to grow can backfire, in fact, as less interested viewers mean less engagement, which in turn means less watch time, fewer ad clicks, and fewer recommendations from YouTube.
It may be the case that your channel is better suited to a smaller audience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make good money while catering to that audience.