What are Some of the Best Ways to Monetize Your Vlog?

From Google Adsense, to merchandise, to sponsors, to cross channel strategies; we explore the best ways to make money vlogging.

by J. Manning
on November 20, 2018

So you’ve either just started vlogging or have been doing it for a few months. If you have begun to put in quite a few hours to pull it off, then you are probably thinking to yourself about how you can actually start monetizing the content you make. You might be strapped for ideas but fear not. In this article, we’ll go through some creative methods of how you can plan out your vlog monetization strategy without losing your mind. Although monetizing a blog or vlog can be difficult, it need not be. All you really need is a willingness to learn, initiative, and a little bit of patience.

Figuring Out How to Use Google Adsense

Once you’ve consistently been making quality videos on YouTube and engaged your viewers, you’ll want to start looking into how you can partner with YouTube and utilize the Google Adsense function of the platform. First off, let’s figure out what Google Adsense even is and how it works.

Google Adsense

Google Adsense is a cost-per-click advertising program from Google that let’s content creators to insert a small line of code into their sites and have ads appear that are relevant to the content of the site. For example, a blog about refrigerators, when partnered with Adsense, could begin running small, one-line-code ads for bigger refrigerator or home appliance brands. Without getting too technical, Adsense works by having spiders crawl your site once the code has been dropped onto the site. Those Adsense spiders then match your ads with specific keywords individuals type into a Google search are then displayed at the top of search results for long tail keywords. This is why SEO is incredibly important for bloggers.

But you might be wondering how this process would work for your vlog?

Say you’ve partnered with Adsense on a successful YouTube channel and would like to start monetizing your vlog. Whenever one of your viewers clicks on an ad that appears before or while your content is playing, you will receive a specific amount of money. Essentially, the company behind the ad is paying you a share of what they pay Google to advertise their content to your viewers. While this may only yield a few cents per ad clicked, if you are consistently posting high-quality content and racking up video views, these cents can add up quickly. Additionally, other companies are likely to take notice of this and might provide you with more opportunities to obtain even more Adsense revenue.

You might think your goal is to get more people to click on the ads. While this would make sense, the major play here is to create the quality content and build your audience via multiple platforms in order to get your video in front of more viewers. The more viewers you have, the better the chances a viewer is going to click on an advertisement.

Some warnings: although it might seem like it is easy to game the system by clicking on your own ads, remember how intelligent Google’s Rankbrain AI system is. It will pinpoint the geolocation target from which the clicks are coming from and will determine that you are acting fraudulently. This can cause them to shut down your pre-existing ads as well as kick you out of the Adsense partnership for good.

Additionally, try not to bait your viewers into clicking on the ads. This is against Google’s policy and can result in your ban from the Adsense program. Instead, focusing on generating a user-base through genuine means will be your best strategy when monetizing your vlog with Google Adsense.

Using Branded Merchandise to Monetize Your Vlog

One of the more solid ways to start monetizing your vlog is to start selling merchandise related to the content of your vlog. Though the margins can be quite high if you can pull it off, it is necessary to have all of your ducks in a row according to how you plan on using merchandising in your overall vlog monetization strategy.

The first step is to have no doubt about exactly who you are as a brand and who your audience is. Merchandising isn’t simply about generating another revenue stream. It’s also about connecting and engaging with your fans. People that purchase your products and bringing it out to the world are making a bold statement about who they are and what they like.Think about how you plan to start merchandising. What do you want to sell? How do you plan to make and distribute it? How can you be creative with your merchandising strategy? One interesting example is Toms shoes. With every purchase of their shoes, they donate one to children in poverty and began to associate themselves with charity in the minds of their audience. You can use this as one strategic example of how to use creativity when coming up with a merchandising plan to further monetize your vlog.

The next step in merchandising is to build up your web presence so your vlog isn’t the only platform on which you are trying to monetize your content. By creating a Shopify store and linking it in your descriptions, you can quickly funnel your audience from vlog to store purchase page. Some other ways you can achieve sales include marketing your merchandise on social media (backlink here) or leading live campaigns and in-person demonstrations. Here are a few examples of what some bigger YouTube personalities are doing when it comes to merchandising their vlog content:

Casey Neistat

One of the top YouTubers with 10 million subscribers, Neistat has an entire website dedicated to his brand. The site is simple in that it showcases his brand as well as offers up some clothing products for die-hard fans of the YouTuber. What is interesting here is that Neistat has linked all of his vlogging social media links to his shop so audience members can go from his multiple owned platforms back to the original shop.

Successful Vlogger, Casey Neistat

PewDiePie

At almost 70 million subscribers, PewDiePie is arguably the king of YouTube. Again his site is incredibly simple but when you do a google search for “pewdiepie shop” the first result is from a website called “represent.com”. This adds an additional lesson to our ideas on merchandising. It is important to partner with other shops that have a focus on merchandising your vlog content out. Stores like Represent and Redbubble are pros at this and having an account with them is an excellent way to further engage with your fans. Remember, however, that in order to pull this off successfully, your fan base should be geared towards buying products that represent your brand. If you don’t have a fan base that will take the effort required to make a purchase, then the time spent in setting up a shop might not be worth it. Instead, try focusing on other ways of monetizing your vlog.

Getting Sponsors on YouTube

Unlike getting a YouTube sponsorship, which is equivalent to getting access to YouTube’s partnership program and the lucrative Adsense opportunities, having sponsors for your YouTube content is a special partnership you, as a content creator, have made with a brand or company.

You may have seen the hosts of some of your favorite channels talk about a certain partner product before diving into the content of the video. They’ll say something like: “before we get into the good stuff, today’s video is brought to you by…”. This is the result of a successful partnership with a YouTuber and a specific brand. So while you might not be able to ink a brand deal in one night, consistently following these steps can get you there eventually:

1. Reach Out To Brands

If you’ve got quality content that speaks to a certain audience, you can either wait for the brands to come to you or you can seek out brands yourself. While the former might require you to go viral on a video, the chances of this happening is quite rare. On the other hand, proactively looking for brands that would make good partnerships can lead to quality results in your monetization strategies. You can do this by connecting with niche brands on social media and interacting with them. Alternatively, you can go to the company’s web page, look for the brand sponsorships section and reach out to whoever is in charge of that facet of the company.

2. Narrow Your Niche

It might seem like a great idea to go after the largest brands that suit your content, but often times this can result in a futile effort. Instead, try going after niche brands that are not as far of a reach. If you have a vlog that reviews new book releases, it’s more likely you’ll be able to snag a partnership from a local bookshop than you will from Penguin Books. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t aim for the stars but setting realistic expectations for where you are at this point in your vlogging efforts might bode well for your bottom line and the growth of your vlog.

3. Network, Network, Network

They say connections are some of the most important things you can do to help your business thrive and while we may think everything is driven online or through social, the art of in-person networking and getting your face seen is still extremely valuable. Say we continue the previous example of you having a new book release blog. Attending author signings and special local bookshop events can put you in front of these brand deal decision makers who are more likely to get on board with sponsoring you because they have an intimate, real-life connection with you. Organize these brands in a Google spreadsheet and start following them on social to figure out how best you can meet them in person. You’ll be surprised at how much more open people are in person than online where they're likely to guard against hackers and spammers.

4. Get Onboard with Sponsorship Marketplaces

One interesting aspect of online video content creation that has cropped up in recent years is the arrival of sponsorship marketplaces. Places like Famebit and Grapevine connect content creators with brands by allowing creators to browse different potential deals and apply for them. Some deals include a getting a certain amount of money or free product for introducing their brand to your audience within the content that you create.

Following these four steps consistently can net you a brand deal in a very short amount of time. However, the absolute best way to get one (or many) is to work on your content and continuously optimize it to grow your audience. A careful growth and quality control strategy for your content one day get brands coming to you instead of the other way around. And who knows, maybe one day a top brand will come knocking on your door after you’ve impressed them with the content that you’ve been honing.

Linking Up Cross Channel Monetization Strategies

The arrival of crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and Patreon marks a paradigm shift in how people are able to monetize the content they create. If even some of the most ridiculous projects are getting funded, what is stopping you from getting your content monetized through the websites?

Since you are a creator that creates videos on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to get onboard with Patreon. Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where people can sign up to contribute a certain amount of money per month. It works like a subscription service for video content and is an excellent way of making sure you have access to the best equipment to make your vlogs. So how do you go about setting one up and monetizing it? Check out these steps:

The Setup

Making an account is simple enough. All you need to do is sign up and fill out the necessary fields or you can save a lot of time by signing up directly through your Facebook account. Once you have done this, you’ll be taken to a page where you can set up your account page. In the initial steps, Patreon will take you through some of the basics like setting up what you want your page to be called, what you are creating, and figuring out the category you will be featured in. You’ll want to be careful what you write as this will be the first thing that your potential patrons will see.

What to Write

This is where many people make mistakes when they first make their accounts. As we noted above, you’ll want to niche down and know the exact category you fit into without having to over-explain yourself. Short and simple biographies alongside a quality shot video trailer are optimal for getting potential investors drawn into what you can provide them with. Your video is important as it will both provide a personal touch to what you are offering, as well as create a more intimate relationship with the investor. One of the most important things you can do to create a professional video and draw an audience is invest on a top rated camera for vlogging. A video produced with a high quality camera will pay dividends as your channel gets more exposure.

Make Sure All Systems Are Go

One of the most simple yet overlooked keys to monetizing on Patreon is having content ready to go as soon as possible. This means creating the content before you start setting up your Patreon account. The reason being is that you’ll have something to offer your first pledges straight from the get-go.

Manage Your "Rewards"

Something else most users tend to overlook is how they should structure and manage the “rewards” section of their page. While it might be easy to set it up once and then forget about it, you should constantly be monitoring the state of how you are rewarding your most loyal audience members. You can choose from a plethora Patreon offers you or you can make up your own. While these rewards are key to getting you funded within the first month, you’ll want to keep updating them as your page and content evolve over time.

Set up Your Goals

This is a great thing for both you and your fans. Goals give you a sense of purpose in how you can evolve your content while giving your fans something to look forward to as you create and deliver your content. The great thing about this is, like rewards, your goals are ever-evolving and you can treat these as a source of inspiration for coming up with ever new monetization strategies.

Share, share, share

Patreon makes it easy to link up your other channels (website, vlog, and social pages). Make sure to update your Patreon page as soon as you drop new vlogs and market your Patreon page on your vlog and social media pages. The more cross-channel linking you participate in, the more connected your fans will be with all facets of your brand. Additionally, you’ll have a better web presence as well thanks to all of the backlinking you do to your pages. This will result in more link-juice and a higher SEO ranking.

Like any other platform, it takes a little bit of trial and error to figure out what works for Patreon but eventually, you will get the hang of it. The same can be said of any monetization strategy. No matter which method you choose and how you decide to link them up, make sure to start with a well-organized plan to use Adsense or pitch potential sponsors. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day but with enough patience, you can quickly be on the path towards monetizing your vlog content.