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Can You Make YouTube Into a Legitimate Career?

By Edited Sep 29, 2016 1 1

In seeking my own YouTube success I have learned a lot about becoming a YouTube producer as a career choice and just how realistic it is to do so. In this article I want to share what I have learned.

YouTube Success Guides

I first started making YouTube videos seriously in June 2012 and within two months I realized that there was a lot of potential for making this a serious income stream. In July I made one video that made over $50 in it's first month, and the video was only about ten minutes long. I had another couple of videos later that month that each made between and $5 and $30 that month as well and pretty much every video I uploaded made at least something through Adsense. 

This was incredibly exciting and I knew that there was something special going on here and I saw the potential for success that even a novice can have when they make the right videos. Over the next few months I tried a variety of different video styles and topics whilst trying to improve my production abilities. While doing this I started to notice something else very exciting - the videos I had uploaded in the first two months had kept earning as the views continued to trickle in. As I built up a larger library of content the income stream, views and subscribers kept growing.

ZiggyD's May/June YouTube Income and Strategy Report

The above video is one of my first ever income reports where I share how I went each month in terms of views, subscribers and earnings whilst sharing some of what I did during the month. This was around the time that I decided to seriously commit to making YouTube work for me.

How Do You Earn Money On YouTube?

It would be pretty hard to have a legitimate career making videos for YouTube if you could't potentially earn a living doing so. Chances are that you have probably heard about networks and partnerships such as TGS and Machinima but YouTube has actually extended the ability to earn to just about anyone over 18 now. 

Adsense Monetization

In the past you could only earn if you were partnered with an official network but around the end of 2011 YouTube started to roll out Adsense monetization as an option to just about any YouTuber. Nowadays anyone who can make an Adsense account can monetize their YouTube content with Google Adsense advertising.

Once you are set up you start earning for ad impressions and ad clicks from the people that watch your videos. The more people that watch your videos then the more chances you have to earn. In the end less than 50% of the people that watch your video might only end up earning you something, but this can really add up when you start to get thousands of viewers a month (or day).

How to Enable Adsense Monetization on Your YouTube Account

What Type of Content Can You Monetize?

Anything that doesn't contain copyright content and is your original content can be monetized with Adsense. However, you can now also monetize gaming content if you have express permission from the game's creator or if it is an 'educational or entertaining' commentary. This means 95% of the video needs to have your audio commentary over the top of it.

You cannot monetize videos that contain someone else's music, including gameplay commentaries.

How Much Can You Earn?

Watching my YouTube income reports can give you a general idea of how much you can earn but the truth is there isn't an accurate way to predict how much your ad views will be worth or how much each video will earn. I have had videos with 10,000+ views that have earned only a few dollars and videos with only a couple of thousand views that have earned a lot more. Adsense doesn't let publishers get too specific details, so that is the best information I can give you.

However, I can say this: the more videos you make and the more views you get the more reliable the income becomes. In the first two months my earnings were very erratic but since then I can fairly accurately chart how much my channels will earn overall based on how many videos I upload - you really have to take a macromanagement approach to it.

I can also say this: compared to the time I have put into some videos I have earned a very good hourly rate. Some of my videos have equaled out to a wage of more that $25 per hour. I don't really look at this sort of work as an hourly wage thing because I spend a lot of hours doing other things like networking, but it's nice to know when videos really pay off like this.

Treating Your YouTube Career as a Legitimate Profession

What Does it Take to Have a Successful Career on YouTube?


Persistance is really the biggest thing. You need to be able to keep making videos even when you don't feel like it and even when you get really negative comments. All of the following things are important, but persistence is the one thing that all successful YouTube producers have in common. 

Time Management

This is one I struggle with but having good time management will make a huge difference. You need to be able to dedicate time to researching videos, making videos, editing audio and video footage, uploading, writing descriptions/titles/tags, promoting your work, and networking with people in your niche. It's a lot to do everyday and it takes a lot of management to get enough done each day, especially if you are still doing full time work while you get things up and running.

Passion and the Ability to Become Passionate About Things You Have to Do

Passion for what you are making videos about is absolutely necessary to be successful as it is what feeds into your persistence. You also need to be able to become passionate about the new things you have to do, including the process of making videos and networking.

Basic Recording and Editing Software and Hardware

You cannot get very far without at least a basic microphone, camera, computer and a decent internet connection. You will also need to get some basic editing software, though YouTube has a basic in built one you can use if you need to. Start simple and add things as you find you need them. $100 to $250 should be more than enough to get anyone started.

The Ability to Find Trends and Research Topics

You can get lucky just by making unique and good quality content but it's much easier to get started if you know how to figure out what people want to see. I got started by making Diablo 3 videos leading up to, and after the release of the game and these videos have been hugely successful. If you are making video game content then you should start with smaller videos and guides before taking on a large series such as a let's play (they are much more difficult then they appear).

Where to From Here?

The first thing to do is to start thinking about what you love and how you can turn that into videos that other people want to see. Then start researching as much as you can about YouTube success and strategy while you make your first few videos. You might not really get much attention in the beginning but you have to get started in order to find out what you don't know.

Feel free to contact me here or on YouTube if you have any questions about my YouTube career or if you want advice on your own. I always read things that people send me and sometimes I even respond with a video. Goodluck!



Jun 10, 2013 8:50pm
Hi there, thanks for sharing your experience with YouTube in this article. I never realized it could be such a good way of earning passive income. Thumbs up!
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