Over the past year I've produced and monetized hundreds of video game commentaries, guides and news videos on YouTube and in that time I've learned quite a bit about how much money this sort of content can earn and just how possible it is to earn a living making gaming commentaries.
It used to be quite difficult to get partnered on YouTube so that your content could start earning advertising revenue but nowadays it's becoming increasingly easy for almost anyone to get involved - even without a network partnership. This is thanks to YouTube and Google moving towards a more open system where independent YouTubers can potentially start earning a living off of their gaming hobby. In this article I'll talk about how much money you can potentially earn through monetized gaming footage and how to get started.
How Much Money do the Big YouTubers Like TotalBiscuit Earn?
Let's kick thisngs off by taking a look at a YouTube whom we already know is earning a living making video game reviews and commentaries and analyze exactly how much they earn per video - Totalbiscuit aka 'The Cynical Brit' aka John Bain.
Starting with one of his recent video game reviews "WTF is Metro: Last Light", which has 300,000 views about 2 weeks after it was posted. It's important to remember that while most videos get the majority of their views in their first few weeks they do still continue to earn for a long time after they are posted - so this is just an inital earnings figure we're going to come up with here.
Monetized Views - So roughly half of all views any video gets are 'monetized views', which are ones you can earn money on. This can range between 40% to 60% but just saying half is a good way to estimate earnings. This leaves us with 150,000 monetized view on this video.
Average CPM ($ per 1000 monetized views) - The CPM through Adsense tends to range between $2.50 and $3.50 on video game content. This can be slightly higher or lower if you are in a network and since TotalBiscuit is quite a powerful YouTuber it's fairly safe to assume he has negotiated for the full $3.50 CPM (or higher), so we'll use that as our figure.
So, 150,000 views multiplied by $3.50 CPM gives us: $525
Quite an impressive figure, isn't it? Now, not all of TB's videos get that many views, most of his videos range between 50,000 and 500,000 views but this gives you a good idea of how things can work out. Overall, it's an impressive amount of money per video, even if they take several hours each to make it still works out to be upwards of $100 an hour plus residual income to make video game content for YT.
HOWEVER! TotalBiscuit has employees and runs a company, a lot of this money is likely eaten up by expenses and running costs! It's safe to assume he only sees a fraction of the earnings per video after he pays wages, expenses and re-invests in his channel.
So with that in mind, let's take a look at how much an independant small YouTube producer can earn making video game commentaries (without being part of a network).
A Look At One of My Highest Earning YouTube Gaming Videos - $220 on a 2 Minute Long Video
A Look at ZiggyD's Earnings on His YouTube Video Game Content
After about a year of producing videos I am still only considered a small to medium-sized YouTuber (less than 10,000 subscribers) and I am also independently monetized through YouTube! So analyzing my own earnings should give you a better idea of what the average person can achieve. The above video takes an in depth look at one of my highest earning videos - a 2 minute long video game guide for Diablo 3 that has earned over $220 and is still continuing to earn. The video took roughly 30 minutes to make and another 30 minutes to upload, SEO optimize and publish. So that's over $200 for an hour's work. Not too bad! It is, obviously, a highlight, most of my videos earn a much more reasonable amount. So, let's take a look at my average weekly earnings instead!
ZiggyD's Average Weekly Earnings on YouTube
At the moment my average weekly views range from about 50,000 to 100,000 views across all of my monetized gaming content. Again, halving that figure for the rough amount of monetized views we are looking at between 25,000 and 50,000 ad impressions per week on my content. I cannot disclose my exact CPM but I can say that it tends to exceed the higher end of the $2.50 to $3.50 CPM range that I gave earlier... So let's just estimate using the higher end of $3.50.
25,000 to 50,000 x $3.50 = $87.50 to $175 per week.
Almost enough for me to live off, but not quite yet. Soon!
The video below will goes over my monthly earnings on YT in one of my better recent months, I've since dropped back a bit due to changes in the games I cover but it's starting to climb back up again!
Above: It's awesome watching your YouTube earnings grow over time as it directly relates to your hard work and dedication!
ZiggyD's Monthly YouTube Earnings & Strategy Report for February 2013
How Hard is it to Earn a Living on YouTube Making Video Game Commentaries?
The short answer is: very hard.
But that doesn't mean it's difficult to start making video game content for your YouTube channel and to start earning some money on it. The reason why it's so hard to earn a living is because YT has very low barriers to entry. This means that almost anyone can get started, all they need is a microphone, the internet and a gaming computer fast enough to record video game footage. As such, you are competing with everyone from the budding young Minecraft let's player to the YouTube powerhouses like TotalBiscuit and Yogscast.
I've worked at this almost fulltime for the past year and I'm still not quite earning enough to pay all of my bills through YouTube - it takes a lot of hard work and time commitment to make big progress. However, you have almost nothing to lose by getting started! And who knows, one of your videos might end up going viral or getting a lot of search traffic and you may find yourself with a few hundred dollars you weren't expecting!
So where to now? If you have the aforementioned minimum requirements to record gaming videos then here's your action list for getting started:
- Start making videos ASAP! If you don't start recording you wont get anywhere.
- Research how to monetize your YouTube video game content with Adsense without infringing on copyright.
- Learn as much as you can about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for YouTube as you can.
- Keep putting videos up, keep learning as much as you can and keep talking to other YouTubers!
Good luck and please feel free to leave a comment either here or on my YouTube channel if you have any further questions!