There is a fairly pervasive stereotype regarding YouTubers, and it evokes images of fresh-faced young people eagerly greeting the camera with an over the top introduction that would, eventually, be bookended with a gleeful plea to like and subscribe at the end of the video.
There is, of course, a reason that this has become a stereotype—YouTubers certainly did seem to be made up mostly of this breed for a long time—but that is far from all there is on the platform these days. Indeed, many YouTubers have found success on the platform without even showing their faces in their videos.
In this post, we are going to look at some of the ways you can succeed financially on YouTube without showing your face.
In the interests of balance, we’ll also talk about why showing your face is often considered a good thing when making YouTube videos – and if you prefer NOT to show your face I have a list of channel ideas for faceless channels on my blog.
How to Make Money on YouTube Without Showing Your Face
We’re going to split this topic into two main sections—how to make videos without showing your face and how to make money on YouTube.
The reason for this is there is nothing significantly different about how you go about making money on YouTube with faceless videos than with videos featuring your face.
So, that information is relevant regardless of which style of video you are making.
Content is Key
It sounds corny and cliche at this point, but it is a cliche for a reason. Regardless of how you dress your videos up—face or no face, effects or not—the content you produce is what will determine your success as a YouTuber.
There are many different ideas of what successful content looks like, but as long as you are delivering what your audience wants to see, you are on the right path. It is important to find the core of what that is and ensure that it is always there. For example, if the root of your content lies in videos about retro technology, there is a lot of wiggle room for what the videos can be about and how you can format them, but you will need to make sure that that root of retro-tech is always present. Similarly, if you are running a food channel and your viewers come for recipe ideas, it would not be advisable to move away from recipe ideas. At least, not abruptly.
Even if your root content is your own personality—if your viewers come to see what you have to say or what you are doing—the rule is the same. Videos where you are not present or where you are acting differently will put your regular viewers off.
This leads us nicely onto…
Even if you aren’t putting your face on camera, you need to inject some personality into your videos. There is an audience for just about everything, but it is essential to remember that there are a lot of other YouTubers out there, and more than a few of them will be making similar content to you.
In short, the chances of you coming up with a niche that is completely unique are very slim, but that is okay because you do not need an entirely unique niche to succeed. By putting plenty of yourself into the videos—in your humour, opinions, and the way you speak—you give viewers a reason to come to you rather than someone else who is delivering the same kind of content.
Granted, you will invariably give some viewers a reason not to come to you over other people because they do not like your unique take on things, but you can’t please everybody, and you need to stand out to succeed.
YouTube Ideas That Don’t Involve Showing Your Face
Now that we’ve covered some generalised aspects of making videos without showing your face let’s look at some specific ideas for how you would go about making those videos.
- The Hands-On Approach—If your video is of a tactile nature, such as product reviews, or cooking videos, you could always opt for the hands-only approach. In this kind of video, you would have the camera directed at the subject of the video, and the only part of you that would be on camera is your hands as they do whatever it is you are doing. You might be surprised at how expressive you can be with your hands, and you can inject plenty of personality into your video purely through the way you talk, and what you talk about.
- Voice Over Content—Voice over content can cover a lot of ground. You might make a “Top 10 Sci-Fi Video Games” video where clips of the games you are talking about are on screen as you talk. It could be a pop culture video where the subject matters you are talking about is onscreen. There are even some successful YouTubers whose content is entirely audio-based, and the visuals they display has nothing to do with the actual content. If you have an existing platform, such as a popular podcast, or even a new podcast with little or no audience, you could just have a still image on your video. That being said, if you’re going to put a podcast on YouTube, it helps to give your listeners a reason to come to YouTube rather than some other audio-only platform.
- Software Tutorials—There is an almost endless supply of niches within the software world, from simple office productivity to video game development, to music production. If you have expertise in a particular kind of software, you can make tutorials on that software without having to show your face on camera. Not only do you not need your face onscreen, but the software itself will be the focus anyway, and you could find your reluctant mug obscuring parts of the screen that your viewers need to see.
How to Make Money From Your Video Ideas
Fortunately, this section of the post is more or less universal, so you should find it useful even if you are happy to put your face on camera. We’ll go over some different ways to monetise your videos, but first, let’s cover some more fundamental truths about earning an income from your YouTube channel.
One crucial point to grasp when monetising your content is that numbers are rarely the be-all and end-all of success. More often than not, the quality of your audience outweighs the quantity, which is why some YouTuber’s with relatively small audiences are able to make a comfortable living from their channel while other YouTubers with enormous followings barely get by.
This is also the reason why “cheating” by buying subscribers and views rarely pays off since those numbers do not represent engaged viewers who are interested in your content, and so do not translate to financial success. The reason it doesn’t pay off is because the advertisers who pay to promote their products and services are doing so because your audience has been marked as consisting of the kind of people who would be interested in those products and services. If you have stuffed your subscriber-base with viewers who aren’t interested, it will not translate to ad engagement.
But what about the different ways you can make money from a YouTube channel? There are a few common methods (and even more less common methods) that can be used to monetise your channel, and many of them can be used simultaneously. It should be noted that, unless you are coming to YouTube with a following in place already, none of these methods are likely to yield immediate success. You will need to be patient.
YouTube Partner Programme
The most common way to earn money from your YouTube channel is through the YouTube Partner Programme, which is the built-in system that YouTube offers for YouTubers who have met specific criteria. The bullet points of those criteria are;
- Not be in breach of any YouTube monetisation policies
- Live in a country where the YouTube Partner Programme operates
- Have at least 4,000 valid public watch hours over the last twelve months
- Have at least 1,000 subscribers
- Have a linked AdSense account.
If you meet these criteria and are accepted into the program, you will have the option to monetise eligible videos. YouTube will then show ads on those videos, and you will earn a cut of the revenue generated from those ads. You have quite a lot of control over when and what style of ads are shown on your videos, though you cannot control what ads are shown. In many cases, you can run YouTube ads alongside other means of monetising your content, though it is not always the case.
It’s worth bearing in mind that YouTube regularly changes their monetisation policies in ways that reduce—or even remove entirely—many YouTubers’ earnings.
Brand Deals and Sponsored Content
Essentially this is cutting out the YouTube middleman. Instead of relying on YouTube to serve ads, you deal with the advertiser directly and deliver the promotional content in your videos. For larger YouTubers, this type of monetisation represents a significant portion of their income. There is also a potential bonus in that brands are smart enough to know that numbers are not everything. While they will obviously want to reach a large audience, marketing reps today understand that a quality audience—one that is already interested in what you have to offer—is more valuable than a large audience. This means you may be able to strike a lucrative brand deal much sooner in your YouTube career than you would be able to make an equivalent amount of money through the YouTube Partner Programme.
Crowd Funding and Subscription Models
One of the most popular ways for YouTubers to monetise their work is through sites like Patreon, which allow viewers to opt into giving their favourite creators a regular payment in order to support them. This is popular with YouTubers because it tends to be far more reliable than ad-click-based revenue, and is not subject to the whims of YouTube policy change. It also shows real engagement from an audience, since they have gone out of their way to support you directly.
If your videos often involve products or services that are associated with affiliate programs, you could supplement your revenue—even form the bulk of your revenue—with affiliate marketing.
With affiliate marketing, you would have a link to a product or service and, should your viewers buy said product or service; you would get a cut.
A popular version of this for review channels involves using the Amazon Affiliates program to link out to products that have been reviewed in the video.
Need help in getting started with affiliate marketing? I have a deep dive article on my blog all about affiliate marketing for beginners and how to really make it work for you in the future.
Why Avoid Showing Your Face?
The concept of starting a YouTube video and not wanting to show your face may seem strange to some, but there are a few reasons someone might want to do this.
- Shyness—The most obvious reason is shyness. Someone people simply don’t want their face on camera, but that doesn’t mean they can’t succeed on YouTube.
- Safety—Though it still sometimes struggles with a certain stigma of being a weird thing people do on the Internet, YouTubers can get as famous as any conventional celebrity, and there are inherent safety risks with that fame. For some, those risks may be too much to risk putting their face on screen.
- Freedom—The world of late has been less than kind to controversial figures online, with more than a few people losing their jobs because of things they might have said on social media or in YouTube videos. If you are planning to make videos on controversial topics, you may want to keep your face out of the video to protect your livelihood, should you upset a large enough group of people.
- Aesthetic—Sometimes, there doesn’t need to be a significant underlying reason for this decision. Perhaps the YouTuber just prefers to craft their videos in a way that doesn’t involve their face being onscreen. There is no objectively right or wrong way to format a YouTube video, and any reason that makes the creator more comfortable with their work should be considered a good thing. Even if the reason they are more comfortable is just that they prefer the look of the video.