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For brands and small businesses, YouTube offers a number of different opportunities for monetization that go beyond just including ads on the beginning or end of a video. That’s especially important to keep in mind, since YouTube has significantly raised the bar for traditional video monetization. If your YouTube channel doesn’t have enough subscribers and views, then it probably doesn’t qualify for ad monetization, so you will need to get a little creative.
Option #1: Indirect monetization via promotion of your own products
The first option is perhaps the most obvious – use your YouTube videos to showcase and promote your own products. If you’re a fashion designer, here’s a great opportunity to point out the standout pieces from your new line of clothing, or to showcase models wearing your clothes. If you’re a software company, here’s a great opportunity to point out the best features of your new software offering. In other words, you are turning your YouTube videos into the online equivalent of a 30- or 60-second TV commercial. This is not direct monetization – but it is indirect monetization. You get paid when people buy your products, not after they watch your videos, so make sure you include links to those products (either within the video itself, or in the “about” section of the video).
Option #2: Paid product placements
And you’re limited to just promoting your own products – you can also offer to promote the products of someone else. For a fee, of course. According to YouTube, a paid product placement is anytime you specifically mention a brand during an editorial part of the video content. So, for example, if you are taking a brief timeout from discussing industry news or trends during a YouTube video to mention the irresistible appeal of a new herbal supplement, that counts as a product placement. And when you do that, you must notify YouTube when you upload the video. You will need to go into the advanced settings, and make sure that you check off the right boxes.
Option #3: Merchandise and swag for your brand
It’s relatively commonplace these days to find YouTube content creators hawking their new line of brand-affiliated merchandise. Some people would probably call this stuff “swag” – it’s basically t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and coffee mugs with your YouTube brand logo on it. It’s easy these days to outsource the creation and distribution of these products to a third-party service (think Zazzle or CafePress), and it gives audience members a fun way to support your brand. This is perhaps the best option if you don’t have any tangible products to sell. The downside, however, is that you will only pocket a small percentage of any sale.
Option #4: Tips, donations and subscriptions
Another trend spotted on YouTube is the growing number of content creators who are actively soliciting tips, donations and subscriptions. Some content creators accept payments via PayPal, while others offer a special QR code where you can send some Bitcoin their way. And still others actively solicit Patreon subscriptions to help fund their activities.
One important point to keep in mind is that if you are first starting out on YouTube, you simply won’t have the audience size or audience demographic that will make ad monetization worthwhile. So you will need to explore one of the four options mentioned above. Content creators deserve to be compensated, and if YouTube isn’t going to help them, then they will need to look elsewhere.