27 genius ways to make money on YouTube (that you can copy)
Who are we? Digital creators!
What do we want? To make money on YouTube!
When do we want it? Right here, right now!
… But how do you actually do it? Isn’t it enough to just join the Partner Program and monetize your YouTube channel with Google AdSense to see your first bucks rolling in?
What’s up with AdSense (and why you will hate it)
Here’s the thing. Monetizing your YouTube channel mmight seem like the greatest idea ever, but it will not reap large profits – not from the very beginning, at least. And here’s why:
One of YouTube’s latest and most controversial policy updates was to change monetization rules. Currently, you’d have to have a total watch time of 4000 hours in the past 12 months and a minimum of 1000 subscribers to enable monetization on YouTube.
Previously, all that was required from YouTubers was to have 10000 total views on their channel, and they could run ads on their videos.
The newest criteria is particularly hard on smaller creators, killing their ad revenue. YouTube executives even said it themselves: “Life would change for a significant number of channels under the new setup.”
This leads us to thinking – there must be a better way!
And there is.
Using your videos as your promotion platform, you can make a living on YouTube by selling products, digital goods, and even merchandise, knowledge, and experience.
Here are 27 genius ideas of what to sell to actually make money off YouTube.
1. Lightroom presets
It seems that nowadays, Lightroom presets, or simply collections of photo edit settings bundled into a single click, are the bread and butter of many a digital creator. And we don’t blame them – presets really do make a great passive income source.
Let’s say you’re a photographer. You’ve often been complimented on your unique photography style and creative flair, and it looks like people wish to learn from you.
Selling Lightroom presets is a great way to pass that knowledge on and earn money while doing so because:
- Presets are easy to install and use – and people love to save time with less fuss.
- You can create an endless variety of presets and sell them in categories and batches, making your own line of Lightroom presets.
- They’re currently immensively popular.
One example of a successful YouTube seller is photographer and videographer Peter McKinnon. He has several Lightroom preset packs for sale that he promotes via YouTube to his viewership of 3.4 million people.
And judging by the comment section, his customers are more than satisfied:
2. Visual effects & transitions
If you’re a videographer or a filmmaker, it’s very likely you get to create tens and even hundreds of video effects as a part of your gigs. But what do you do with the effects that don’t get used?
Instead of filing them away on your computer, they can become yet another digital product to sell and earn money from.
For example, Arthur Moore is a filmmaker who creates stunning videos like this one where complete strangers eye gaze in busy London. His work easily becomes a great way to promote the professional visual effects and video transitions that he sells to other digital artists out there.
To put it simply, LUTs, or Lookup Tables, are coded math equations that you plug into your video editing workstation to alter the color of your footage. They also make great digital products to sell.
Here’s the thing – with good color grading, you can create the perfect mood and feel of your videos to make them stand out in the vast market of video footage.
Consequently, if you’re a videographer who has a good eye for color setups, this might be your niche to enter and make some money. Even six figures like in the case of Christian Maté Grab, a traveling filmmaker and videographer who sells LUTs and Lightroom presets.
What do you do if you’re a photographer and have LOTS of unused photographies just taking up space on your hard drive?
Publish them on stock image sites, sure. But you can also pick out the best ones and sell them as high-quality wallpapers for smartphones and desktops.
Paul Sydow is a photographer from Germany, and besides vlogging on YouTube about photography and selling Lightroom presets, he also offers urban wallpapers.
Just keep in mind that there are many beautiful pictures available on the Internet for free, so you may want to combine this source of income with others.
An overlay is another type of digital goodie to sell and help you earn a living on YouTube if you’re in the visual and graphic arts. Basically, overlays are images or textures that photographers can add to their images as an additional layer using an editing program (most commonly, Photoshop).
Some of the most common types of overlays are sky overlays, sun flares, flowers, falling snow, bokeh lights, and the list goes on and on.
As an example, among all the digital products Kaiwan Shaban, or K1 production, sells on his online store, he also offers sky, bokeh, and other types of overlays to help you create that perfect setting in your photos.
Logos, advertising, video editing, websites. What do all of these have in common? Typography – one of the most essential factors that can make or break your project’s effectiveness.
But here’s the thing. Not everybody is a good font designer. So, if you have some experience in typography, give this visual art a try.
When it comes to design, your customers will judge a book by its cover. Therefore, create a catchy presentation graphic (the cover image that shows off your font pack to the world).
Chris Hau chose a dreamy blue background for his custom brush font, and we love it!
If you’re a freelance graphic designer or working for a company in-house, you probably already know that what your clients consider good graphic design does not always correspond with what you’d like to create yourself.
Instead of suppressing your inspiration, turn it into an extra source of passive incomeby selling the graphics that are not chosen by your clients on your own online shop. Inform your YouTube followers about your designs via vlogs – just like Aleo Designs does.
He’s a graphic designer whose work can be purchased on his online store – including this epic Pokemon Go graphics collection that includes the graphics of each pokemon – every 151 of them.
8. Nutrition plans
Being healthy and fit is often a challenge many strive to achieve. And the statistics prove it – according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the U.S. has been growing by at least 3-4% annually for the last ten years. What’s more – there are no signs of this industry slowing down anytime soon.
So, if you’re somebody who’s a certified nutrition specialist whose advice could help others, or if you simply have a successful weight loss (or muscle gain) story to share, go for it!
Talk about your inspirational health or fitness story on YouTube, then share your tips and tricks in the form of nutrition plans like Gym Topz does:
9. Magic tricks
Have you ever thought that your childhood dream of making magic could help you pay rent? Your mom says no, but your heart says yes – and you should trust it!
Modern day magicians are smart and versatile – they constantly create new ways to entertain people with their magic. One of such methods is – turning magic tricks into digital goods and selling them online.
This is exactly what Chris Ramsay, an entertaining magician, does. He’s managed to collect a large fan base on his YouTube channel, showing how to solve jigsaw puzzles, do card tricks, and street magic, as well as sharing tips on how to start a career in the magic industry. Apart from that, he sells Voodoo, one of his magic card tricks, online:
10. Sound effects
Can you imagine a typical YouTube vlog without the signature “whoosh”, “swoosh”, and “ding” sounds? Neither can we.
Adding sound effects to the video is often the final touch to make the content pop, build suspense, control the dynamics, and highlight specific episodes in it.
If you’re good with sound mixing and already use sound effects for your own YouTube videos, why not share them with vloggers who don’t have the tech or the knowledge to create their own effects?
Take Ryan Nangle as an example. He’s a video editing expert who publishes tips, tutorials, and gear reviews on his YouTube channel. Ryan also creates his own sound effects (even a dedicated “whoosh” pack consisting of 79 whoosh variations) and sells them as a side hustle.
11. Songs, loops & beats
We all know that becoming the next Mark Ronson or Beyonce is most likely not going to be the destiny for every musician or producer. So, what can you do to earn extra money in the music business?
Sell your songs, sounds, and anything else of good quality you’ve produced or created. For example, Denis Berger, or PVLACE, makes beats and has been signed to 808 Mafia, one of the biggest hip-hop production teams in the US. The exposure that he gets is also quite useful when selling his loop kits.
You don’t even have to be a musician or producer by default to sell songs. Chris Hau is actually a photographer and videographer, but he also sells songs, loops, and instrumental stems for corporate videos.
That’s right – you can sell your own voice to help you make money. If you’re a musician or a YouTuber with pipes, your vocals can be turned into digital goods that producers can use in their songs as lead or background vocals, vocal chops, and additional choruses.
For example, More Vocals sells professional royalty-free vocal acapella packs recorded by professional engineers on professional equipment.
13. Drum kits
Great news – there’s something to sell for the Ringo Stars of the digital age as well! Basically, if you have been creating drum samples and storing them away on your computer, you can sell them for good money in the form of drum kits.
Drum kits are collections of drum sounds, like kicks, snares, claps, hi-hats, that other musicians and producers can buy from you and use when making new songs.
14. Guitar tabs & sheet music
Are you a musician who loves doing unique covers of popular songs and publishing your performances on YouTube? You might have noticed that your viewers are asking to share the tabs or sheet music so that they could learn your version of the songs as well.
Why not give in to them – and earn money by doing so?
David Plate, a jazz and acoustic guitarist, creates guitar arrangements for popular and classic songs on solo guitar, publishes tutorials on his YouTube channel, but the tabs and sheet music are up for sale on his online store.
15. Vocal effects
If you’re in the music business, you probably know that there are hundreds of thousands of unique vocals out there, ranging from Barry White-like depths to the high notes of Ariana Grande.
With all this competition, how do you make your vocals and with that – your song stand out? Here come vocal effects to the rescue!
If you’re a producer who’s got a knack for creating vocal effects, make your own collection – and you’ll have yet another digital product to sell and help you earn money on YouTube. Just like Farai the Producer does, selling his vocal templates to help others make their next hit.
If you’re a YouTube creator who also enjoys writing (and you’re actually good at it), try creating an ebook about a topic or issue you care about and then putting it on your online store for sale.
The great thing about ebooks is that you don’t need a publishing house to get your book out there, eliminating the expenses and hassle of actually creating books, storing and delivering them.
Self-help books are a popular genre that you can give a try. According to latest reports, readers of fitness and self-help books pushed non-fiction sales up by 9%, while revenues from fiction fell by 7%. No wonder SelfHelpFitness has their digital shelf fully stacked with ebooks about fitness, wellness, and building your own online business.
17. Tutorials & actions
If you have unique knowledge, especially something that’s hard to come by (perhaps something in IT, tech, programming, or video editing), make use of it.
Turn it into tutorials or actions (a series of steps that have been pre-recorded to be reapplied) and put them up in your storefront for other people to purchase.
Here’s an example. Photoshop Tutorials.TV sells Photoshop action packs, and they use their YouTube fan base of more than 900 000 viewers to promote their online store.
If you’re under the impression that only the Kim Kardashians of the world have their own merchandise, think again. There’s no magic number of subscribers (or watch hours, for that matter) that determine whether you’re ready to sell your merch or not.
If your brand is strong and your audience active and engaged – perhaps, there’s no better time than the present to start selling. Besides, with the help of print-on-demand platforms like Printful, you can print your merch as orders come in so you don’t have to risk with your money.
What should YouTubers selling merch print on their products? Anything from funny catch phrases to smart quotes and your logo works. Or even an animation of you, your pooch, and a wooden box called Tiny Box Tim like in the case of popular video game YouTuber Markiplier does.
19. Your own product line
If you’re into specific type of products and enjoy vlogging about them on your YouTube channel, why not start your own product line? Beauty products, food items, homemade goodies – whatever floats your boat!
Pick a niche, decide how you’re going to manufacture it (make the products yourself or outsource), and pick a storefront to sell your products. Arianna O’dell, a marketing professional, who created her own product line without prior experience in product design chose Etsy as the platform for her line of dolphin beach towels.
And don’t forget to use YouTube as your promotion platform!
Enjoy spending hours on end interacting with your YouTube followership and answering their questions? You might even start to feel like one big YouTube family with a couple of inside jokes that only you and your posse understand.
Well, how about overcoming that digital barrier and meeting your fans in person? We’re not talking quick meetups, we’re talking – retreats! And the theme can be about anything you and your viewers like. Video games? Sure! Netflix? Bring it! Or stick to conventional themes, like a yoga retreat which is something that photojournalist Sjana Elise organised for her viewers.
Here’s how to get going: start with creating an agenda, setting the date, picking and booking the venue, then plan the activities. And don’t forget to talk it up on your channel so that your followers know what’s coming – and can reserve their spot in good time!
21. Instagram Stories templates
With more than 400 million users, Instagram Stories has become twice as popular as Snapchat and is now more than just a platform for influencers and their delicious food and travel snaps. The truth is – creating visually appealing Instagram Stories is an art form that requires lots of time and dedication, not to mention at least some amount of creativity.
So, if you’ve been praised for your beautifully crafted Instagram Stories, turn them into a product to sell. For example, motion designer and illustrator Hector, or Jherem, sells Instagram Stories packs that are easy to modify and even come with a video tutorial:
22. Knitting patterns
For those creators who have been lucky enough to learn crafts, like knitting or crocheting, from their nanas, there’s another way to earn passive income – sell your patterns, or in other words – the written instructions on how to construct a specific design by knitting or crocheting.
All you need is the passion and skills for knitting or crocheting, a creative mind, attention to detail (and the ability to write your pattern down), and a platform for selling – either a website or your very own online store.
Katie, or the Queen Stitch, sells her handmade knits, as well as her knitting and crocheting patterns and has some really cute designs to offer, like these acorn and Christmas-themed beanies:
23. Phone cases
According to Statista, there will be 2.87 billion smartphones in the world by 2020, which means that at least one out of three people will own a mobile device. And with smartphone prices on a constant rise, the owners are more likely to want to protect their property, too.
With that comes a higher demand for phone cases. The great thing – it’s possible to start your own phone case business from scratch in just a couple of hours.
If you’re a notable YouTuber, phone cases can be a great addition to your merchandise collection – just don’t forget to promote your phone cases in the latest YouTube video.
Apart from that, phone cases can also be a stand alone product. Like in the case of John Webber, the owner of Carvedproducts. He offers wallets, jewelry, and even speakers and power banks made out of wood alongside his unique wood and resin phone cases.
24. Study notes
There are plenty of high school and college students that struggle with their grades and exams. If you’re good at specific subjects and take pride in your well-organized note taking skills, here’s your chance to help them – and make some extra income while doing so.
For example, Melissa Maribel, a chemistry tutor and a full-time YouTuber, makes helpful video vlogs about chemistry and sells digital downloads, like chemistry notes, that guide students through specific topics.
What’s more, selling digital notes has helped Melissa make over $5000 since February 2018, and the business is growing still. Whoever said that note taking cannot be turned into a successful business?
Do people keep coming over to dinner parties and cannot stop praising how good your sweet potato casseroles and red velvet cakes are? It might be time to start a food channel and share your recipes to make a profit.
Even experienced restaurant owners do it as a side income. For example, Chef Agathe teaches cooking classes and has been running her own Cafe by Tao for 7 years. At the same time, Agathe also has her own online store where she sells unique vegan recipes so that other people can prepare her signature dishes at home.
26. Subscriptions & memberships
Subscriptions and memberships are a relatively new business model by which a customer would pay for products or services throughout a specified time-period – similarly as you’d do with your Spotify or Netflix account.
The appeal in selling subscriptions comes from being able to collect recurring revenue and establishing a more foreseeable cash-flow. Besides, the opportunities of what to sell are only limited to your imagination. Here are some examples that would work as subscriptions:
- Weekly meal plans
- Membership to an exclusive community
- Weekly motivational quotes
- Digital newsletter subscriptions
For example, artist Ann Kullberg sells monthly COLOR magazine subscriptions where each issue is packed with tips, how-to’s and inspiration to help aspiring artists grow.
We live in a dynamic world where people are constantly looking for ways to de-stress and calm themselves. For some, that means yoga and therapy. Others opt for ASMR videos.
ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is the feeling of well-being combined with a tingling sensation on your body, and is experienced as a result of listening to a specific stimulus – often an ASMR video, like this one:
The ASMR trend’s actually been getting quite popular recently – so much so that even big companies, like IKEA and Michelob Ultra, use ASMR as a part of their marketing campaigns.
So, if you have a good soft-speaking or whispering voice and decent equipment for recording and filming, this is another high-demand niche to tap into.
You can publish shorter videos on your YouTube channel and sell longer, exclusive ASMR content, like this guided ASMR meditation by Dauchsy Meditations, on your online store.
Ready to make money on YouTube?
And there you have it! A handful of digital (and physical) goods to sell that will help you turn YouTube into your favorite source of income. Try one or two of these suggestions and see where they take you.
If you have other tips how to earn money via YouTube, share with us in the comment section below!