The Ultimate Guide to Selling Videos with YouTube
Part 1: Getting Started with YouTube
Selling videos with YouTube doesn’t require fancy equipment. It requires confidence. Think of confidence like a muscle that you need to exercise daily. The more you work on it, the better in shape you’ll be. Confidence is the most attractive thing you’ll wear.
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” – Mark Victor Hansen
Here’s an example of a YouTuber I follow religiously.
Every time Amber Scholl uploads a video on YouTube, I feel like it’s Christmas morning. Her focus is on how to create expensive looks for cheap. I don’t know what it is about this young-always-tan-Los-Angeles-bound vlogger who’s always making everything sparkly, but every time she uploads a video, I have to watch it.
The funny thing is most her Do-It-Yourself (DIY) videos aren’t relevant to me. I don’t wear make up, hair extensions, wear heels or fake eyelashes. However, even though I don’t wear an ounce of makeup, I have to watch Amber’s full makeup routine. What draws me to her videos is not her ability to take a celebrity’s outfit and find a replica of it at Forever 21 for less than 30 bucks, but it’s her confidence.
Confidence is key. But it doesn’t always come easy. Here are some tips to start building confidence to help you with your journey in selling videos with YouTube.
- Take Action. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. We often prolong projects because we’re waiting for the right time. There’s never a perfect time. You just have to start. Mistakes will happen and you will learn from them.
- Don’t Overthink. Sometimes we take really simple things and complicate them. Don’t worry so much about the perfect thing to wear or how you sound on camera. Just hit record.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. Look into your camera or your smartphone’s camera and start talking. Start filming. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
Keep It Real & Find Your Voice
YouTube is a social media platform, emphasis on social. If you learn how to talk into the camera like you talk to your friends, you’ll start to see more results and selling videos with Youtube won’t feel like such a challenge.
People are generally drawn to a conversational tone. That doesn’t mean you can’t plan and script your video out. Some people know how to wing-it while others need to take more time in preparation.
There is no right way. Practice with different formats and see what works best for you. If something doesn’t feel right or unnatural, don’t do it. The only way to find your voice is to experiment. You’ll get the hang of it soon.
Create an Account & Work with What You Have To Create Content
There’s a misconception when it comes to starting projects of any kind. People often think they need a lot of money, fancy equipment and special skills to start something. This is a myth. If you have a smartphone or a low budget camera, you can start right now.
For example, if you want to start a cooking vlog (video blog) but don’t have the top chef tools, that’s no reason to delay your project. Work with whatever you have in your kitchen. Focus on the content of the video and not so much the tools in the kitchen.
Read: How To Sell On YouTube
If you don’t have a YouTube account already, start brainstorming ideas of names for your channel. Remember not to overthink. The name is not as important as the content of the video. And if you can’t think of a name, just use your name.
My advice is to develop a routine with what you already have before you invest any money in luxurious equipment (which you may not even need or prefer).
Tip: With so many things out there fighting for our attention (social media, television, the latest Buzzfeed article), it’s best to keep your videos short (3-15 minutes). For example, in a cooking vlog, you don’t need to show viewers how you cut every vegetable for 20 minutes. You want to make people excited – not bore them to sleep. People want quick and simple steps. They want to see the finished product as soon as possible.
Create What You Like
It’s no secret that you’ll have more fun if you’re doing something you love. It might not always be easy, but if you’re enjoying the process (or at least most of the process), then creating video content will be a lot easier. However, if you’re dreading the process, then selling videos with YouTube will be difficult. Don’t be miserable. Create what you like and have fun. Set your tone and have clear goals.
Remember, this is your YouTube channel. You can do whatever you want. Get creative!
Right next to confidence, editing is also very important. A well-edited video can help with selling videos with YouTube.
If don’t have any experience editing videos, don’t be intimidated. You can easily teach yourself the basics. As I stated earlier, everyone starts somewhere! There are plenty of editing softwares to choose from, here are the most popular:
- iMovie (perfect for Mac users)
- YouTube Video Editor
- Windows Movie Maker
- Final Cut Pro
Tip: When in doubt, YouTube it! There’s even a full tutorial on how to edit videos using YouTube Video Editor on YouTube.
The Basics of YouTube
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine so it’s important how you word your content. After you’ve created your content and edited your video, you’ll need to add a bit more before you hit publish. Here are a few basic tips to consider.
- Title: A short, snappy title will get viewers to click on play. For example, Yovana Mendoza published VEGAN PIZZA RECIPE! HEALTHY & EPIC on her vegan vlog and it certainly grabbed my attention (and made me a bit hungry, too).
- Use Tags & Keywords: Sometimes uploading a really great video on YouTube just isn’t enough and you need to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords to increase your viewership. For example, if you have a video about being happily single, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right words so when someone searches “how to be happy and single,” your video pops up. If you have trouble figuring out what words to use, do a quick Google search on your topic (i.e. happy and single) and see what pops up. Do a similar search on YouTube to see what comes up.
- Description: Right after you type in your title, you’ll have to fill out the description section. In this section, you can provide a brief explanation on what the video is about. This is also an opportunity to provide links to any social media channels you’re on, blog posts, websites or anything else you have in relation to your YouTube Channel. This will help you with selling videos with YouTube.
- Video Category: Make sure to assign your video to the correct category. If you’re unsure, look for similar videos and see what they’re categorized under.
If you’ve ever read the comment section of anything, then you know that’s where Internet trolls love to hang out. They’ll say really rude and ruthless things and for some reason, their words will stick or upset you. But here’s the thing, you can’t let them get to you. Do you think any successful YouTuber, entrepreneur or celebrity let’s the negative comments get into their heads? Of course not!
Comedian and YouTuber, Lilly Singh (or better known as IISuperwomanII) says in her book, How To Be Bawse, that she learned how to conquer her thoughts and it helped especially when it came to negative comments on her YouTube channel.
“The Internet is wonderful and revolutionary, but let’s face it, it can also be extremely cruel. People feel they can say anything to you when they are sitting comfortably behind their computer screen being completely anonymous,” she says in her book. “Do hateful comments still bother me? Sometimes, but not as often. How did I deal with them? When people ask me this, my response is usually, ‘I developed a thick skin.’ But what I really mean is, I learned how to conquer my thoughts.”
Remember that the negative comments aren’t about you. Someone might be in a cranky mood or just enjoy being jerks. They’ll say offensive things and point out your flaws. Your job isn’t to please them. Your job is to keep creating.
Srinivas Rao, founder & host of the Unmistakable Creative Podcast says in his book, Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best, that if he’d listen to his critics, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“When you visualize how much catering to your critics can limit the potential of your work, you can more easily ignore them and move on,” he says in his book. “You have to find the courage to take action in the face of criticism if you’re going to do anything unmistakable, and realize that your critics are not the ones who are going to live with the consequences of the choices you’ve made.”
Focus on the positive comments and remember them for those days when the negative comments starts to affect you mentally. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to selling videos.
You can literally spend hours, days, or weeks obsessing over every little detail. You’ve already created the content and edited the video. You’ve gone over and over your video but need to go over it one more time.
If you let yourself, you can spend the rest of your life trying to make it perfect. But that’s not how selling videos with YouTube works. The trick is to hit publish and start working on the next video right away.
The saying, “we are our biggest critics” holds a lot of truth. Let your inner judgment go, take a deep breath, and hit publish. Don’t be afraid to show the world and yourself what you can do. You got this!
Part 2: Marketing Yourself
As we talked about in Part 1, confidence is key. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or if you’ve been in the game for years. Having confidence in yourself throughout every process will bring you closer to your goals. And if you have setbacks, it’s OK. The secret is to get back up and push forward. Nobody is perfect. As you go through this article, remember to not define your success by a dollar value or how many followers you have.
Dara K. Fulton, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher and small YouTuber, kindly shared her experience and insights with me, and I will be referring to her throughout this article.
Her main focus on her channel is about offering motivation and advice for ESL teachers and students. While Dara loves creating content on YouTube, she hasn’t made any money (yet). However, she enjoys sharing her story and knowledge with the world and is very active within the community.
“I am open to the possibility of making money on YouTube,” says Dara. “Sadly, I don’t know if I will since I have a small subscriber count and don’t get millions of views for my videos (and I’m okay with that).”
It’s important to create something you enjoy (even if you’re not making money yet). Selling videos with YouTube will be so much easier if you love what you’re doing. Dara’s advice to anyone who wants to start a YouTube channel is to first know why you want to start a YouTube channel.
“This is important because it will determine the type of content you want to share, the audience you want to reach, and how it will fulfill your purpose,” says Dara. “For me, I didn’t have a specific goal when I started my channel, but now I know my goal is to connect to people in the ESL community.”
Selling videos with YouTube is totally possible if you know how to market yourself. But don’t expect to make money right away. It might take you more time than others. The job comes with many hats – marketing, self-promotion, content creation, editing and self-motivation. Let’s dive into ways you can market yourself to increase your viewership.
“Make your marketing so useful people would pay you for it.” – Jay Baer
Utilize Your Skills
YouTube is a great tool to share any skill or talent you have. Dara uses her skills as an ESL teacher (for adult learners) and shares her knowledge on YouTube. As an ESL teacher she has to grab the attention of her students and turn everything into a lesson when possible.
A great example is when Dara was teaching, a student asked why she was so fat. Personally (and I’m sure many feel this way), if someone asked me something like that, I would take offense. However, Dara handled it like a champ and turned it into a class lesson.
She shares her experience about this on her YouTube channel where she offers encouragement and advice for ESL teachers who are unsure of how to deal with uncomfortable questions and comments in their classroom. It’s clear that Dara has good classroom management and communication skills. She may not have millions of subscribers, but I’m sure she has helped someone out there.
Homework: Jot down 2 strong skills you have that can help you with YouTube.
Brand Yourself, Be Active On Social Media & Spread The Word
There is no room for shyness when it comes to selling videos with YouTube! Marketing yourself means telling the people you know (and don’t know) that you’ve started a YouTube channel. You have to tell people. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and clients. Tell everyone! Brag – but be smart about it. You don’t want to be that awkward lady (or man) at a conference forcing your business card into the hands of strangers. You do want to be that awesome chick (or dude!) that energetically, nonchalantly brings up their project in a conversation. If people don’t care, they don’t care. But when people do care (and they will), they’ll want to know more.
Next, share your videos on as many platforms as possible. Social networking is easy to master. If you want to create a couple of specific social media accounts or platforms that relate to your YouTube channel, go for it. For example, if your YouTube channel is called Cooking with Me, your Instagram account will be the same name. You can start with a few that you really enjoy such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. You can also connect with viewers through Google+, LinkedIn and Tumblr. The more social networks you master and share your work online, the easier it will be when you’re selling videos with YouTube.
“I’m very active on social media. I post my videos on Instagram, Twitter and Google+,” says Dara. “My viewership has increased significantly since posting video clips or posts on Instagram. I love engaging with my audience. One way I do so is posting videos on my Instagram page sharing updates and a motivational series called: Coffee with Dara: offering motivation and encouragement to the world. I believe this connects us, because I’m sharing a part of me with them.”
Don’t be overwhelmed if you’re not used to social media. Take advantage of social networking and be active. Soon you’ll be closer to your goals and selling videos with YouTube will come naturally.
Using the tools available through YouTube can help you out a lot. Make sure to be as detailed as possible with your description to each of your videos. Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) words in your title and accurate tags & keywords so people can find you! Also, have an eye-catching thumbnail for your video.
Homework: Tell at least five people you know this week that you have a YouTube channel or are going to start a YouTube channel.
Be Consistent & Set Goals
“Success isn’t always about ‘Greatness’, it’s about consistency. Consistent, hard work gains success. – Dwayne Johnson (The Rock)
We live in a world were streaming Netflix can be done in 2 seconds, we can have something delivered within 2 days (thanks, Amazon Prime), and our idea of dating is now swiping left or right. People are impatient. We want quick results. We want instant fame. But when it comes to selling videos with YouTube, you can’t take the short-cut.
When you’re consistent, you’ll get better and better everyday. You don’t necessarily have to promise your viewers you’ll upload every Wednesday, but if you do, you should keep your promise. If you can’t commit to a certain day of the week, set a goal to post weekly or bi-weekly (but make sure to hold yourself accountable).
There are some YouTubers who will sometimes post weekly and then sometimes more than once a week. Whereas other YouTubers will openly promise their viewers that they’ll post a new video every week or twice week. For example, Comedian and YouTuber, Lilly Singh (or better known as IISuperwomanII) posts every Monday and Thursday, and has held her promise for years.
Tip #1: Set Reminders
Set reminders on your phone (i.e. “work on video content tonight”). You can also ask friends to remind you and add post-it notes around the house. So every time you go to the refrigerator or your desk, you have a friendly reminder to get to work.
Tip #2: Set Specific Goals
Don’t treat your YouTube goals like New Year’s Resolution. Have a calendar and write down your goals into small doable actions. For example, if you have a goal to post a new video every Friday, then set small actions. Film on Monday, edit on Tuesday, and make any adjustments you need on Wednesday. Then Thursday will be the final review.
Tip #3: Do It Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
If you only did things when you felt like it, then nothing would ever get done. A cool trick I like to use for taking action is to commit to 15 minutes a day. Usually once those 15 minutes are up, I’ll end up working a bit longer. However, I am not obligated to work past the 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes.
Tip #4: Reward Yourself
Give yourself a little incentive. For example, if you post your video by Friday, then you’ll take yourself out to a nice breakfast or spa treatment. Here’s the catch: you can’t cheat. If you don’t meet your goal, then you can’t reward yourself.
Homework: Plan out 1 video idea this week.
Know Your Competitors, Follow/Befriend Them & Network
Your competitors are not your enemies. It’s smart to connect with them. Comment on their YouTube channel with genuine thoughts. But don’t force it or it may be mistaken for spam. For example, don’t post, “Follow my YouTube channel for tips on how to be successful on YouTube!”. This shows that you didn’t take the time to watch their video but are only commenting for selfish reasons.
Instead, you can post something along the lines of this, “Wow, your recipe for how to make raw vegan pizza looks amazing. I’ll have to try it soon. P.S. I’ve been following your vlog (video blog) for a while now and you’ve inspired me to start my own. Thank you!” Comment if you really mean it.
Don’t go to every food vlog and post that they’ve inspired you. Someone will catch on and you’ll lose your credibility. Post nice and thoughtful comments that will help you build relationships with other YouTubers.
Learn as much as you can from your peers and your industry. See what’s out there and what’s not out there. Make sure you’re always in the loop.
Other ways you can network is to host in person events once you hit a certain number of subscribers. This can be something simple such as a meetup at a local bar or coffee shop to meet your followers.
You can also start a blog or website to compliment your YouTube channel. For example, Dara has an ESL blog that accompanies her ESL YouTube video series.
Homework: Find 3 YouTubers who are in your category and study how they approach the camera.
Just Do It
As Nike’s famous slogan says, Just Do It.
YouTube is supposed to be fun. Seriously, how many times is too many times to watch funny cat videos? The answer is never.
Think of your favorite YouTubers. What is it about them that draws you to their videos? Are they funny? Do they provide insight on life? Are they teaching you something? Do you learn new information from them every time you click play? How are they selling videos with YouTube?
Remember to not define your success with a dollar value. Work on your videos, stay committed, and eventually the money will come. In the final chapter of this guide on selling videos with YouTube, we’re going to discuss the revenue stream and discuss specific approaches to take to start selling videos with YouTube.
Part 3: Learn The Revenue Stream and Make Money
Welcome to the final part of this guide on How to Make Money Selling videos with YouTube!
Before we get started, let me tell you a little bit about my dating life. OK, fine, I actually don’t have a dating life right now. While I won’t bore you with awful date stories, I will tell you that asking my girlfriends is my last resort anytime I need dating advice (I know, right? Me? Need dating advice? What a ridiculous thought!).
Actually, I head straight to Matthew Hussey’s YouTube channel for some guidance. While my girlfriends are well meaning, sometimes their advice is, you know, really bad. When I go to Matthew’s channel, he’ll tell me exactly what to do when a guy doesn’t text me back.
What I love most about him is that he knows how to present himself. His viewers feel connected to him when he’s speaking and, therefore, are curious and want more information.
You don’t have to be on Matthew’s level to engage with a community. I’ve said this before in this guide and I’ll say it again: selling videos with YouTube takes time. You need to be patient, consistent and put in hard work (even if that means you’re not getting paid yet).
However, when you’re ready, here are some tips that will help you make money.
Connect with Your Audience
When it comes to selling videos with YouTube, there are some essential steps. One of them is to engage with your audience.
This means you need to upload creative and useful content worth watching. You need creative and valuable content so people will hit that subscribe button and keep coming back.
Another way you can connect with your audience is through the comment section of YouTube. Try to promote positive conversations. If you want to go the extra mile, click the heart button on some positive comments. When you do this, they will get a notification that you gave their comment a heart (something only the creator can do), and they will know that you took the time to read their comment. This is a good step to building a connection with your viewers.
Next, listen to your audience. If they want you to create a certain type of video, consider it. If you have a fashion vlog (video blog), and viewers want to know where you buy your fancy dresses from, do a video on it. If they want to see how you stay in great shape, consider doing a video on it.
- Ask your viewers to hit that subscribe button and tap the bell next to it so they’re notified every time you upload a video.
- Consider live streaming through YouTube and use social media to your advantage.
- As I mentioned in Part 1, don’t pay attention to negative comments from trolls (and don’t let it get to your head). Focus on the positive comments.
Once you engage with your audience and build strong connections, you can move forward with selling videos with YouTube.
Become a YouTube Partner
Recently YouTube made changes their partnership policy. YouTubers now have to hit 10,000 views on their channel before they’re able to monetize it. This change was made because too many people were taking original content and uploading it on their channel. So now YouTube has new rules and once you apply to the program, they will review your content.
Prior to this, it was a lot easier for content creators to make money by selling videos with YouTube. That’s OK. Easy is overrated. We want to work for our views, right? While 10,000 might seem like a daunting number, don’t be discouraged.
In a world with countless resources at your fingertips, you can literally do anything. If you’re struggling with growing your viewership, take some time to learn how to grow your channel. If you’re new to the game, it will take some time.
Many times we feel bad when we’ve worked so hard on creating something and aren’t getting credit. The trick is to not put so much value on validation and work on yourself and your content. Amazing things will start to happen.
Once you hit 10,000 views, you can apply to join the Partner program. YouTube will then review your channel and let you know if you’ve been approved.
Once you’re approved, you can start selling videos with YouTube by getting a percentage of the advertisement served on your videos. Make sure you’re up-to-date on YouTube’s terms and policies.
Subscriptions vs Paid Subscriptions
Personally, I’ve never signed up for paid subscriptions. If I’m going to pay to get access to your YouTube Channel, you better make sure the content is valuable. If you have 10,000 subscribers, you can look into having a paid channel. If you set up a paid subscription, think about what you’re bringing to the table. Viewers can sign up for a free trial to see if you’re worth the extra money. Remember that there are also a lot of benefits to free subscriptions, too.
Setup Google AdSense
This is important if you want to get paid. After you’re accepted into the program, you need an approved AdSense account. Make sure you read up on the terms and condition of AdSense so you’re doing everything in the correct form.
Selling Videos Through Sponsors
Another way to get closer to selling videos with YouTube is through sponsorships.
Let’s say you have a strong following on YouTube and you want to get some of your videos sponsored. How do you go about it? One way to do this is to research companies that complement your YouTube channel and write them an email, asking them to sponsor your video. In your email letter, make sure to include a brief statement of what your YouTube channel is about, how many subscribers you have, daily views, and demographic.
But before you go off writing letters to various companies, it’s important to have a strong viewership and subscription base. You need to show your sponsors that you have quality content and a good viewership base. When you’re applying for sponsorships, be clear about your demographic, your platform, and how you can benefit them.
Some companies will offer you compensation in exchange for talking about their brand, mentioning their product or doing a review. Sometimes they’ll do a flat rate and commission. And sometimes you’ll get a free product as well.
It’s up to you how you negotiate. If you’re YouTube channel is about fashion, for example, and you know that your audience trusts your opinion, reach out to some online retail companies (that you would use yourself or want to test out). Then create your video as you normally would, tell your audience your video is sponsored (which is legally required), and what you think of the items that the company sent you.
The retail company will most likely send you a promo code for your viewers to use to get a discount. This could be something that’s often referred to as an affiliate sponsorship, which basically means that you get a cut if someone uses your code or link to buy something. It’s not a lot – maybe 5%-10% – but will add up overtime. This may be an ongoing process.
Or you will sometimes get one time deals, which means a company wants you to promote their product or brand one time in exchange for a flat rat or a free product. Then sometimes there are ongoing deals where you sign a contract to promote a company constantly throughout your videos for a flat rate or commission and/or free products.
There are also sponsorship websites you can sign up for to find paid sponsorships. One example is FameBit, which is a sponsorship site for creators to find sponsorship opportunities. Note that they require you to have at least 1,000 followers and deduct a 10% fee every time you get a sponsorship approved and payment is processed.
Word of Caution
If you don’t believe in the product or company, don’t sell out. Your viewers want your honesty and if they feel that you’re being unauthentic, you might lose your credibility.
With that said, you don’t have to accept all offers. Just because they’re offering you some money or something for free, doesn’t mean that it will benefit your channel.
It’s easy to lose sight of your goals when dollar signs are in the picture. Make sure it’s right for you. A good rule of thumb is if it’s not something you would purchase yourself, then don’t review it. Don’t accept everything just for the money, especially if the product is something you don’t like.
- If you feel that your content might be too controversial, check with YouTube terms and conditions.
- Study what your competitors are doing and take notes.
- Build and maintain strong relationships with your viewers and sponsors (they might want to work with you again!).
- Every company has a marketing dollar and budget. Do some research before asking for a sponsorship.
- Continue to work on expanding your existing subscriber base. The more subscribers you have, the higher your chances will be to get sponsored.
Sell your Services or Products
Another great way to think about selling videos with YouTube is to sell your services or products. If you’re in the entrepreneurial field or have products that relate to your YouTube channel, connect with your audience and tell them about it. This will help boost sales.
For example, if you’re a personal life coach and you’re trying to grow your business, you can use YouTube as a platform to reach out to more people and show them a sample of what you can offer.
Or if you have a cooking vlog and you’ve written an e-book of recipes and living a healthy lifestyle, promote it on YouTube. Let your viewers know that you have a product or service. Provide a link in the description section.
- Use annotations – this is a video linking tool on YouTube that will make it easier for viewers to go to your service or product website.
- Be open and honest – don’t try to cheat your viewers. Be honest with them from the beginning because nobody likes the sleazy salesman approach.
- Answer questions – think of all the questions your viewers and potential customers may have and answer them. Consider doing a full Q&A video.
- Use social media – as I mentioned in Part 2, being active on social media is very important. So get on Facebook, Tweet your heart out, and take Instagram worthy photos.
Remember, Overnight Success is a Myth
Remember that selling videos with YouTube is not something that happens overnight. But if you work at it, your channel will grow. Don’t give up so easily and remember why you started. If you’re enjoying what you’re putting out there, then you’re halfway there. Stick with it! Keep creating!
Please refer to this guide anytime you needed a refresher on selling videos with YouTube.