Make it Good
Check it out. I’ve been making a living off of my own produced content for over 5 years now. It’s been such a dream to wake up every single morning knowing I’m working for myself, and doing what I think is in my best interest, and the interests of my audience. To make a living is what most content creators want. We often don’t dream of living in massive mansions, partying with the Trump entourage, eating the finest caviar plucked out of carcasses caught by the poor. We just want to pay our bills and have a little extra to take a vacation or two. That understanding of value is vital in finding success.
One of the first main things you need to understand about content creation is that not everyone can do it, and not everyone SHOULD do it. Sheer volume isn’t enough to keep you afloat. Your content needs to provide two simple things. It needs to provide a service, and it needs to be entertaining. Without those two pillars, your views and reach is hollow. Make sure, before you even think about monetizing your work, that you yourself would personally not only indulge in your content, but absolutely love it. Be enthralled in it, tell your friends and family about it. Your content needs to be THAT good. If not…well, someone else will fill that void. So if you think there’s an audience for that niche wood reviewing channel you have been thinking about creating, then make sure it doesn’t just appease your core, but it is so good, it’s able to transcend its niche, and GROW.
This is the second part of monetization that so many miss. If there is no growth, there is only death. It’s easy to understand growth, and say “well of course I want to grow my audience”. But to actually implement strategies in your work to accommodate it is another thing. This is also the most difficult pillar to build. You want to grow your demo, but you also don’t want to create content for someone else, or rather, change your ideals and content to fit a more “wide” audience. So what I have been able to do is focus a large portion of my time on community building. Building out a forum and a discord for my users to chat on. Building out a podcast network of other awesome individuals who can attribute content who may reach a different sect of my niche. Community building allows not just growth, but a specific type of growth, that only benefits the audience you want. Now, it’s not perfect, and I’m always looking for better ways to grow my work. But it has definitely been a contributing factor the success of my work.
Your Own Model
The last point I want to touch on is how too monetize. There are many different ways to monetize your work. Some monetize by sponsorships. Some by advertisers. Some by Patreon or “direct consumer backing”. And some by product or march. Each of these have their own pros and cons. I personally take a page out of each of them. On my channel, I promote my website. On the website is a library of free content, with an even more extensive paid library that I charge users monthly for. Because I’ve created my own monetization platform on my site, and I DON’T go through Patreon or a third party, I’m able to charge much less, and keep more profit. Win – Win.
Then from there I offer some products specific to my niche. These products make up a large percentage of my income, and allow a steady stream of revenue, without a steady stream of content behind them. Meaning, the products don’t really change unless I make new ones. With the sub model, you need to constantly add content to monetize. Next, I also offer private consultation to other companies. This is where the majority of my income comes in. Now you see, that last one would not be possible without the two pillars of monetization (Good Content, and Growth). And it also wouldn’t be possible without the other forms of monetization, like the subscription and the products. It all works in sync with each other. I do some sponsored content, but I try not to. Mainly because I like having the freedom of doing and saying whatever I want. Which, by the way, is something my audience expects of me.
As you see, I’m taking in multiple streams of revenue. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. Remember the YouTube Adpocalypse? So many YouTubers had to quit, because they only focused on ads. For others, like myself, it wasn’t even a thought. I didn’t use YouTube as a revenue stream. I used it to promote my OTHER revenue streams. It’s much more lucrative, and most of all, much more rock solid.
Now, it’s obviously a LOT more work. Keeping up with all these irons in all these fires becomes a daunting task. But the payoff is financial independence, and content freedom. I value those more much more than I value my own personal time – which is a sacrifice I’m willing to take. Now, I’m not saying it’s the path you should take. In fact, I’m not saying that at all. Your content drives the type of monetization you should really implement. For instance, if you are a YouTube channel that does cooking on grills, you might want to look at sponsorships and offer interesting products like Hot Sauces or Grill Tongs. But if you’re a channel that focuses on truly covering injustices happening around the world, you may want to look at direct consumer backing or a subscription model.
So take some of these tools I have outlined and take a look at what you’re doing. Is your content worth monetizing? Is it something you yourself would pay hard earned money for? If not, then maybe think about working at your craft a bit harder before asking for payment. Then after that, look at your community. Do you have a large, enthusiastic audience that’s willing to help grow your work with you? If not, maybe focus on building more community tools. And have you chosen the right type of monetization route for your content? Are you really maximizing the hard work you’re putting out? If not, take a look at trying to capture a different revenue stream. It’s all up to you. But like I mentioned at first, there’s nothing better than working for yourself and the betterment of an audience that you have built around you.