The numbers surrounding making money on YouTube are not always particularly transparent to those on the outside.
Indeed, even the methods of making that money can sometimes be a little opaque to the uninitiated. If you are one such person, fear not; we’re going to run the whole gamut in this post, from how many views do you need to make money on YouTube to how you can go about making that money.
But for those of you who are a little impatient, the short answer is – assuming your content is advertiser friendly, you need around 30,000 views per day to make money on YouTube. This could make you around $60-90 per day based on a fairly average $2-3 RPM. This can change with seasonal ad prices with winter being more profitable compared to New Year and early spring.
But before you run off to start making videos, you should be aware that there are caveats to that number. For one thing, there is no set-in-stone amount that you earn per view. Some people will be able to make a killing on 30,000 views a day, whereas others might get twice as many views but struggle to get by on their YouTube money alone.
It is also worth knowing how we reached this number. After all, it is possible to make money with far fewer views than 30,000, but, generally speaking, fewer views means less money, so what metric are we working from?
Keep reading, and all will be revealed.
How Much Money is Enough?
In order to make a judgement on how many views it takes to make money on YouTube, we first have to establish our standard for making money.
Technically speaking, if you earn a single cent from your YouTube channel, you are making money.
Granted one cent a month is not exactly cause for celebration, but it is technically money. On the other side of the spectrum, PewDiePie—by far the most popular individual YouTuber in the platform’s history—potentially makes as much as half a million dollars a month from YouTube ads alone! Most people can agree that, while they might like to be making that kind of money, they don’t need that much money.
We should clarify that we don’t know how much money PewDiePie makes, but based on the average YouTube CPM and PewDiePies average monthly views, we can make an educated guess. It’s also worth remembering that we’re just talking about YouTube earnings here—PewDiePie may have sponsorships and brand deals that further increase his earnings.
So, with all that in mind, what numbers are we looking at? Well, we’ll be honest, we’ve picked a relatively arbitrary figure that should represent an amount of money somewhere between the United States’ poverty line and the average salary earned by Americans. We’ve gone with this because we feel confident that no one wants to be on or below the poverty line if they can help it, but you might be prepared to earn a below-average income if it means you get to live the YouTube dream. So what are those numbers?
How we Calculate Our Numbers
According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), a person in the United States is considered to be in poverty if they are earning less than $12,760 a year.
Meanwhile, the average annual salary for an American is a little over thirty thousand dollars a year. As mentioned above, we have picked a spot roughly in the middle of these figures on the basis that most aspiring YouTubers would be happy to earn a little less than average to chase their YouTube dream, but not perhaps so much less that they are officially in poverty. But how do YouTube views translate to these amounts of money?
And, just to be clear, we are only talking about YouTube Partner Programme money here—money earned directly through ads being served on your videos by Google.
The metric used for measuring the views to earnings ratio is CPM or cost per mille. CPM is a measure of how much you earn per one thousand views, and is used all over the Internet for a variety of audience-related statistics. The actual CPM your channel has will be entirely determined by the type of content you make, how engaged your audience is, how advertiser-friendly your content is, and so on. That being said, the average CPM on YouTube is around $2. That means that, on average, a YouTuber earns two dollars for every thousand views they get.
Using our 30,000 views a day average figure, you would theoretically make somewhere in the region of $22,000, which is almost right in the middle of our poverty and average salaries.
Why It’s Not That Simple
Unfortunately, YouTube CPMs are not nearly that simple. As we stated earlier, some YouTubers will be able to make enough money from far fewer views, while others will struggle with more views.
A great deal of factors come into play when talking about how much your views are worth. Firstly, you have to be part of the YouTube Partner Programme, which has certain eligibility requirements (more on that shortly).
Secondly, your individual videos have to be eligible for monetisation—if you get 50,000 views in one day, but 40,000 of them are on videos that are not eligible to be monetised, you are can only count 10,000 views towards your CPM.
The next factor is the kind of content you are making. CPM is not a static, universal figure that applies to every YouTuber—the actual number is determined by the ads that are shown on those videos, and the ads are targeted based on the audience.
Though it doesn’t necessarily translate directly to YouTube, it can help to think of a salesperson who earns a commission. If a salesperson going door to door selling small items that cost tens of dollars will make a very small amount of money per sale. On the other hand, a salesperson in a flashy showroom selling luxury cars will make a considerable sum of money per sale.
Granted, in this scenario, the door to door salesperson will probably make a lot more sales than the car salesperson, but on YouTube, we are comparing an equal number of views.
So, if you are getting an average of 20,000 views in a niche with a high going rate for ads, you stand to earn a much higher CPM than someone in a niche with low ad rates.
Another factor is the engagement of your audience. As a general rule, pop culture videos tend to have poor CPM because their audience is much more diverse in terms of their interests. They will have come to the video to be entertained and, as a result, are not necessarily interested in any particular product or service that might be advertised at them, even when Google is serving ads targetted to that person specifically. On the other hand, a channel that is specifically about reviewing computer hardware will have an audience that is likely interested in buying computer hardware—hence why they are watching review videos. That audience will be far more likely to view a full ad or click through.
This is the main reason why a channel with a smaller audience can earn more than a larger channel. To go back to our salesperson analogy, the door-to-door salesperson has no idea if the person answering the door is going to be interested in their products, whereas the car salesman can be relatively confident that anyone walking into their showroom is at least partially interested in purchasing a car.
Another critical factor to how high your CPM can be is the length of your videos and your average watch time. Longer videos represent an opportunity for YouTube to show more advertisements, which means the potential for more money.
You can increase your CPM and improve your channel income but you might need to change your content or mindset – for more information on how to boost your channel CPM check out my deep dive blog in how to increase youtube CPM.
That being said, if your viewers regularly only watch the opening few minutes of your videos and then click away, the rest of the video—and the ads that could have been served—are not doing you any good. Though you should always prioritise the quality of your content before that video’s earning potential, it is generally recommended that a video should be at least ten minutes long, as this is the minimum length of time for YouTube to make use of mid-roll ads.
YouTube’s Partner Programme
To make money directly through YouTube, you need to become part of the YouTube Partner Programme, and in order to become part of the YouTube Partner Programme, your channel has to meet certain requirements. Those requirements include;
- Living in a region where the YouTube Partner Programme is available
- Having more than 4,000 watch-hours over the previous twelve months
- Having at least 1,000 subscribers
- Having a linked AdSense account
Now, granted, none of these requirements guarantees that you are getting a particular amount of views by the time you qualify for the partner programme, but it would be difficult to reach a point where you are getting 4,000 watch hours a year and have 1,000 subscribers without at least amassing a few hundred—if not thousand—views a day on average.
The truth is, even with these requirements in place, most YouTubers who join the partner programme as soon as they are eligible barely make any money in the beginning. Given that AdSense has a $100 minimum payout threshold, it can easily be many months from you first joining the partner programme before you see any money in your bank account.
Other Methods of Earning
So far, we have been focussing exclusively on the YouTube Partner Programme as a means of earning money from your videos. In reality, the partner programme is not the best way to translate YouTube success into revenue, as CPMs are often too low, and the necessary viewing targets too difficult to achieve to make it a viable source of income. It is also the unfortunate reality of YouTube that, for some YouTubers, the number of views they would need to turn their CPM into a viable income is forever out of their reach. This is not because of any failing on their part, but a natural limitation of the niche they are creating videos in.
The more focussed your niche is, the more value each viewer represents, but the fewer viewers there are. Going back to our salesperson example, the door-to-door salesperson might not know if they are knocking on the door of an interested customer, but they have lots of doors to knock on.
In contrast, the luxury car salesperson knows that people walking in are interested in buying a car, but won’t get many customers walking through the door.
If you assume that you need at least 30,000 views a day and you are creating videos for a niche where there are perhaps a million interested viewers, that means that each of your videos has the potential for a little over thirty days viewing before everyone who is interested has seen it. And, truthfully, you’re unlikely to get a view from everyone who is interested in that niche, regardless of how popular you are.
This is where other methods of earning money from your YouTube success come in, methods like membership platforms, merchandise, and brand deals. With membership platforms—such as Patreon, or YouTube’s in-house solution—your viewers can chip in a small monthly sum to support your content, providing you with additional earnings and a more reliable source of income. Brand deals and sponsorships are less predictable since they can range from a single video for a few hundred dollars all the way up to a multi-video sponsorship for thousands of dollars.
The important part about these alternative methods of earning money is that they are not inherently linked to your number of views. Granted, more views means a bigger audience, and a bigger audience means it is more likely that you will be able to attract members to your membership platform, or brands to offer you a deal.
But viewing figures are not the hard barrier that they are for the YouTube Partner Programme and your earnings through that programme. You are not required to have a certain amount of views before you can sign up for Patreon, nor will a brand refuse to sponsor a video if the view count isn’t high enough when there are other factors at play. Marketing is evolving all the time, and brands are increasingly about quality over quantity.
You could, in theory, convince a brand to sponsor your content before you’ve even uploaded your first video.
You probably won’t succeed… but you could.