How to Make Money on YouTube

In the past year, presidential parodies and clever online-only ads became viral sensations; “annoying” but lovable fruits and unassuming Alabamans transformed uncomfortable situations into triumphant social memes; and talented partners have drawn huge audiences with channels that showed people how to crochet flowers, apply the perfect lipstick — and sometimes just how to have fun.

YouTube currently has more than 15,000 partners worldwide — many of whom are making enough money doing what they love to buy a new house, or even make a career out of their videos. In fact, the number of partners making over $1,000 a month is up 300 percent since the beginning of 2010 and YouTube now has hundreds of partners making six figures a year. (See last month’s column on how to become a YouTube partner.)

One of the partners making six figures a year is Michael Buckley, writer, producer, and star of entertainment news show “What the Buck?” For Buckley’s backstory, read “YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money” by Brian Stelter, which appeared Dec. 10, 2008, in The New York Times. One of his recent videos is “OMG! LADY GAGA KILLED OSAMA?!!!! – A “Superstar” Dance For Our Troops! 🙂.”

Two years ago, YouTube asked Buckley to share the secrets to his success. He created the video below that covers topics ranging from how to get more views on YouTube to how to make money on YouTube.

Another way of making money on YouTube is product placement. For example, Michelle Phan, a makeup teacher and also a spokesperson for Lancome, created the “Lady GaGa Poker Face Tutorial” video. It shows young women how to replicate the pop singer-songwriter’s entire look, hair, accessories and makeup — and as of this writing has more than 27.3 million views!

If you watch the video, you’ll see that the blonde wig and gloves are from At SES New York 2010, I asked Jordan Blum, President of, to provide more details about what he called “product placement on steroids.”

Another way of making money on YouTube is to sit on a horse backwards pitching shower gel. Look at your ad, now back to “Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” now back at your ad, now back to the ad created by Wieden+Kennedy.

At Connected Marketing Week 2010 in San Francisco, Byron Gordon of SEO-PR interviewed Dean McBeth of Wieden+Kennedy about the success of their Old Spice “The man your man can smell like” YouTube advertising campaign.

You can also use YouTube’s Promoted Videos to generate leads and make your cash register ring. I’ll be discussing this topic on Tuesday, May 10, at the Direct Marketing Association of Northern California‘s luncheon in Burlingame, Calif.

One of the marketing case studies that I’ll be presenting examines how Dynomighty Design uses YouTube to generate 50 percent of the traffic to its website. And the small business does this by using videos like its recent “Subway Map Mighty Wallet.”

At SES New York 2010, I interviewed Dynomighty Design President and Designer Terrence Kelleman, who told me more details about the small company’s success using YouTube as a social media platform to sell Dynomighty products.

At the DMAnc luncheon, I’ll also explain how Orabrush sold $1 million worth of $5 tongue brushes using YouTube. If you want to watch a funny version of the company’s success story, watch the recent video “Orabrush the Movie–Official Trailer.”

At SES New York 2011, I interviewed Jeffrey Harmon, the CMO of Orabrush, and Abe Niederhauser, the company’s Online Sales Director, about how to build your brand using video.

There are a ton of video marketing tips in these five YouTube success stories. You will want to go back and watch each video that you haven’t already viewed. In case you skipped over a couple, here is an outline of four of the more important video marketing tips:

  • Optimize your video for YouTube
  • Create compelling video content
  • Engage the YouTube community
  • Measure outcomes vs. outputs

Editor’s note: This column originally was published on May 9, 2011, and comes in at No. 3 on our countdown of the 10 most popular Search Engine Watch columns of 2011. Over the final two weeks of 2011, we’re celebrating the Best of 2011 by revisiting our most popular columns, as determined by our readers. Enjoy and keep checking back!

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