Make your social channels pay!

For every Khaby Lame, Bella Poarch or PewDiePie, there are thousands of people making video content on social media who don’t reach household name status. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money on social media through your videos. All of the main video sharing platforms offer some way of incentivizing content creators to upload their material. In the coming months we’ll be delving into the individual channels to look at how to monetize social media, but first we’ll look at the basics. If you’re a creator who’s just starting out or are looking to monetize social media followers, this will give you an idea of the opportunities out there.


It’s not just about ads

Ask a regular person how to monetize Instagram or YouTube and they will say the majority of a creator’s online income comes from ads. In the most famous examples, that is true. But as you move down the rich list, you’ll see that revenue from ads diminishes – you need to be bringing in big numbers to start considering giving up your day job.

If we take YouTube as a benchmark, a monetized video with a million views can expect to make about $3,000 from ad revenue;. you would have to create more than 20 videos with a million views every year to earn an average salary. Not all creators want video-making to be their sole source of income., though. Plenty of creators make content about their day jobs and giving it up isn’t an option. Note that the sector you are in will have a big impact on what advertisers are willing to pay, and that will also impact your earning potential.

So what other options are there?


Paid subscriptions

One way is monetize your content is to offer paid subscriptions. You can charge people a monthly rate to be subscribed to your channel, and offer them incentives in return, such as access to exclusive content or early access to all your content.

Say your videos are based on your expertise in the stock market, for example – your subscribers will value having the lowdown on the latest moves, and if they are investors, they might well be willing to pay for it.



Some people will simply pay for your content simply to support you and keep you posting, even if there are no personal advantages. Big operations like Wikipedia survive solely on donations rather than advertising, so if you’re creating something of value, you might be surprised how many will dig deep for you.



If you watch longer-form videos, you’ll be used to the creators breaking off from the main topic and talking about a company that’s sponsoring them. For the sponsors, it’s more personal and credible, especially if it’s a product or service you use yourself and it’s related to the theme of your videos. Some makers will have a standard video segment that they’ll edit into all their videos, while others will treat the sponsorship more organically and weave a unique story into each video.


Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a great option for almost any niche. Essentially, you mention products, services or businesses in your videos and link to them with trackable URLs in your video description and/or clickable links in the video itself. If a viewer follows the link and makes a purchase, you’ll get a cut of the profit.



Finally, you can offer merchandising related to your subject. That can mean personalized mugs, T-shirts, mouse mats, bags and so on. It could directly advertise your channel, but if you’re creative, you can make amusing meme-like images that your subscribers will appreciate and have them printed to order. What’s great about this is that there’s no up-front cost involved. You don’t need warehouse stock – just link to on-demand manufacturers who can print a single copy of your artwork on the item and deal with shipping and returns to the customer.

Remember, you can run these income streams alongside ad revenue, or you can use them to replace it – it will all depend on your business model and the expectations of your viewers.


What video platforms are available?

It’s impossible to say what’s the best social media platform to monetize, as they all exist in their own niches and have their own typical users, but here’s a rundown of the major platforms that are monetizable.

  • YouTube – The biggest video sharing platform in the world offers its own opportunities and challenges. If you can make your video viral or gather large numbers of subscribers, you’re onto a winner. On the negative side, it’s highly competitive, and non-subscribing users are unlikely to see your content by chance unless it’s quite special. You can link to AdSense as soon as you reach 1,000 subscribers and have 4,000 watch hours over a 12-month period.  You’ll also have to agree to follow the monetization policies. Simple things like strikes can make you breach the guidelines, so make sure you’re only using professionally sourced production music.
  • Facebook – If you want to know how to make money on Facebook videos, explore in-stream ads. It gives you control over which videos feature ads, and alongside regular Facebook monetization opportunities, it can be profitable.
  • Instagram – Now that Instagram is owned by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, you’ll find similar options, as well as using badges, shopping and community memberships.
  • TikTok – This platform is dominated by creators targeting young people, and that opens up some special opportunities for monetization, in the form of youth-targeted ads. However, it’s worth mentioning that TikTok’s contributors and audience covers all ages, and also has plenty of political, business and cultural content that can be perfect for targeted ads.
  • Twitter – This platform now has pre-roll ads and sponsorship opportunities that can be rewarding if you post a lot of shareable videos.
  • Snapchat Snapchat Stories Revenue Share Program is how to make money on Snapchat, and there are also opportunities to earn from the Spotlight scheme if you make a great one-off video.
  • Vimeo – Vimeo doesn’t run ads, but if you regularly post on the platform you can make money by signing up paid subscribers, to whom you can offer exclusive content.
  • Twitch – You can sign up for ads or Sponsorship on Twitch, the platform that’s popular with game streamers.
  • Dailymotion – The video platform Dailymotion also has a scheme for sharing ad revenue with creators, so check that out if you’re a contributor.


Options for creators of all sizes

As you can see, there’s plenty of scope for monetizing video content, whatever audience you serve , and however many subscribers you have. On most platforms, getting lucky with just one video might give you a handsome payday, but if you are a regular creator, there’s no reason why you can’t use your talent and knowledge trickle a little extra money into your bank account every month.


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