How Much Do YouTubers Make In 2023? The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

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As a social media marketing expert who has helped over 100 creators scale their income, I‘m regularly asked – how much money can YouTubers really make?

With over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, YouTube presents a major monetization opportunity. However, income variability across channels is extremely high year-over-year.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down exactly how YouTubers earn, optimization strategies, what collaboration deals look like, advanced monetization methods for scaling earnings, and more.

Let’s get started!

Core YouTube Monetization Models

Google AdSense

The number one income source comes from running advertisements against video content.

Once a channel hits the 1,000 subscriber and 4,000 public watch hour thresholds over the past 12 months, creators can apply for YouTube‘s Partner Program and begin monetizing through Google AdSense.

Per YouTube‘s public data, they pay out approximately 68% of total advertisement dollars spent to creators. After fees and taxes, creators end up with ~60% of the original advertiser payments.

Payout rates fluctuate based on:

  • Viewer location – U.S. and Canada have highest commercial rates
  • Niche & audience demographics
  • Seasonality – Q4 has the highest ad demand
  • Ad competition within niche

On average though, top creators earn between $0.01 – $0.03+ per ad view. The metric used to estimate potential earnings is RPM (revenue per thousand views).

Let‘s look at some sample RPM benchmarks across categories:

Beauty & Fashion – $2-5 RPM
Tech – $3-7 RPM
Gaming & Finance – $7-15+ RPM

So a channel with 100 million views and a $5 RPM would generate around $500,000 in annual income just from YouTube ads.

Pretty lucrative! Now let‘s cover additional monetization models…


Partnering with brands represents big business for top creators.

Sponsorship fee structures vary based on:

  • Exclusivity rights
  • Video integration specifics
  • Audience demographics
  • Campaign length & video quantity

Here are typical YouTube sponsorship fees:

Micro Influencers (< 50k subs) – $500 per 100k views
Mid-Tier Influencers (50k-500k) – $1,000 per 100k views
Macro Influencers (500k+ subs) – $2,000+ per 100k views

I negotiate 7 and 8 figure deals for top creators leveraging YouTube analytic data and multi-channel packages.

Affiliate Marketing

Curating products relevant to their audience and embedding trackable affiliate links allows creators to earn sales commissions between 4-20% typically.

While harder to scale than advertisements for most, I‘ve seen channels drive 6 figures in annual commissions promoting valuable recommendations. The key is trust and relevance.


From apparel to accessories, branded merchandise represents a fan-favorite way for loyal viewers to support creators and rep their identity.

Profit margins vary based on manufacturing costs, fulfillment methods, and distribution partnerships. But generally merch brings in 30-50%+ margins on cost at scale.

Ideally combine a Shopify store and printed on demand fulfillment to test demand before investing big upfront.

Memberships (Channel, Live Stream)

Die-hard fans happily pay a monthly fee for exclusive content and privileges like:

  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Discounts
  • Priority communications
  • Live stream perks

Creators can offer channel memberships for recurring income and additional live stream monetization features like Super Chat.

YouTube takes 30% cut of membership revenue and all fan funding sources per their terms.

Advanced Tips For Scaling Your Income

Once you nail the fundamentals, here are 5 advanced tactics to maximize your profit:

Diversify Content Formats

Experiment with multiple formats like stream archives, Shorts, interviews, podcast versions and more. Repurposing content cuts production time while showcasing personality across fan-preferred mediums.

Double Upload Frequency

Creators earning 7 figures+ consistently upload at least 2X per week, while smaller channels stick to 1-2X depending on production bandwidth. Quantity and consistency drive more recommendations.

Promote Your Back Catalog

Spotlight historically high-performing evergreen videos through calls to action, end screens, playlists, and social posts. This perpetuates value.

Sell Ad Overlays Directly

Once you have a big subscriber base, you can skip programmatic networks and pitch brands directly. I‘ve seen massive deals here for custom integrated sponsorships. Exclusivity pays!

Launch Ancillaries

Podcasts, courses, niche products, and apps centered around the creator IP boost audience loyalty and provide additional income streams.

Case Studies: How Real YouTubers Earn

To make income potential even more tangible, let‘s look at real world use cases across the spectrum:

Micro Tier (100k Subs)

My client Maria consistently earns $60k+ annually from her cooking channel through:

  • Google AdSense – $3 RPM * 500k views/month = $15k/year
  • 5 Brand Sponsors/Year – $1k each = $5k
  • Amazon Affiliates – $400/month = $4.8k/year
  • Merch Sales – $35k/year

Small yet viable full-time business!

Mid-Tier (750k Subs)

Gaming creator John earns $500k+ yearly from:

  • YouTube Ads – $7 RPM * 15 million views = $315k
  • Sponsors – $5k each * 20/year = $100k
  • Donations – $400/month = ~$5k
  • Merch – $80k/year

Healthy full-time salary at faster growth stage!

Marco-Tier (5 Million Subs)

Finance influencer Sara makes $5 million+ annually from:

  • YouTube Ads – $12 RPM * 250 million views = $3 million
  • High End Brand Sponsors – 5 deals at $250k each = $1.25 million
  • Virtual Course Product Sales – $800k

Massive earnings fueling personal brands!

As you can see from real world data, YouTube enables monetization at any scale.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much should I charge sponsors as a small YouTuber?

For channels under 100k subscribers, aim for sponsorship packages around $1,000 – $2,000 based on expected views. Scale rates up incrementally as your audience grows.

Q: Does YouTube pay creators for music copyright claims?

No, creators don‘t earn revenue when copyrighted music is detected. Videos containing unauthorized music stay up but all ad earnings go to the composition rights holders. Try epidemic sound for affordable licenses.

Q: Are Multi Channel Networks (MCNs) worth it?

In most cases no, the abstraction layer takes away direct control without providing enough incremental value. For specialized needs like merch support however, they occasionally fill gaps.

Q: Do I need an LLC to start earning?

No, YouTube payments can legally be collected as a sole proprietor. Down the road, forming an LLC provides liability protection and tax flexibility. Consult a CPA and business lawyer.

I hope this guide has shed light on how YouTubers actually make money across methods, tiers, and career stages. Please subscribe if you found this helpful!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.