3 Ways to Make Money as a How-To YouTube Channel

Not getting enough repeat views or revenue from your how-to or tutorial YouTube channel? Here are three ways to change that for good.

In theory, how-to creators should be making tons of money on YouTube. As of July 2016, instructional videos were among the top four categories watched on the platform.

With stats like that, one would think how-to creators are the most popular, well-paid people on YouTube. After all, if so many viewers come to the platform to learn something new, shouldn’t that mean how-to creators are bound to be successful?

Here’s the surprising truth about how-to channels: Running a profitable one is harder than it looks. In the beginning, instructional creators can harness the power of SEO, but eventually, that benefit might wane. After you upload dozens of videos addressing viewers’ search-related queries, getting them to watch all your videos can suddenly become a challenge. Once a viewer gets the tutorial they need, they’re likely to move on, unless you find a way to keep them coming back for more.

If you want to know how to attract repeat viewers to your channel, just keep reading. We’re going to share three ways any how-to creator can build a profitable YouTube audience.

#1 Build an Authentic YouTube Community by Livestreaming

Community-building is an important part of any creator’s journey, especially if you want to make money on YouTube. Luckily, there’s an easy way to make subscribers fall in love with your personality, and that’s by hosting a live stream on your channel.

If you need a good example to follow, check out VectorVest. Every week, the financial investment channel hosts a live stream to share stock market trends with like-minded viewers. While stocks and bonds don’t exactly sound entertaining, VectorVest doesn’t adhere to the stuffy reputation of wealth building. In the video below, the company’s live stream host jokes about how major airlines are handling COVID-19. Surprisingly, his analysis of this stock market news comes with wacky sound effects:

So how does this down-to-earth content make VectorVest more money? It’s very simple. In the description of the live stream, as well as the chat, VectorVest shares a link for viewers to try their investment tool for free. It’s a 30-day trial, but if viewers sign up for longer, that leads to more money in the bank. However, getting those initial sign-ups is less about the features of the tool and more about producing a fun live stream that effectively can sell it.

In terms of live video, we do something similar here at vidIQ. On YouTube, we’re a how-to channel that goes live frequently to connect with our viewers. Currently, one of our most anticipated live streams happens to be our weekly channel audits, where we tell budding YouTubers how to improve their channels.

Our audits are hosted by Rob Wilson (YouTuber in residence), Travis McPherson (customer success), and Dan Carson (executive producer). The first thing you’ll notice about these three is that they are not afraid to have fun. In fact, they have so much fun that they invite our viewers to make embarrassing memes of them. The funnier ones are displayed in the live stream every week, like this one:

But of course, the point of all this fun is to encourage people to sign up for vidIQ. So whenever possible, we highlight vidIQ tools during our live streams. In the meantime, we also get Super Chats, which are donations viewers can make during a live broadcast on YouTube. To unlock this feature, you’ll need to be at least 18, have a monetized channel, and live in one of the available locations. If you have all three, the ability to get paid via Super Chats makes live streams worth the extra effort.

As you can see, being likable on YouTube leads to a profitable fanbase. So if you don’t mind telling a joke or two, go ahead and fire up those live streams.

#2 Share General How-To Advice on YouTube, Monetize Elsewhere

Does your how-to niche lend itself to deeper instruction? Perhaps it’s so complex that you’d need courses, one-on-one sessions, and other educational services to teach it to your audience?

If that’s the case, you can make more money by selling your full expertise outside of YouTube.

Audio engineer Baywood is a great example of this. He has a very focused YouTube Channel, and most of the videos he uploads are mixing tutorials. Pick one to watch at random, and you’ll see that Baywood isn’t sharing all of his technical music knowledge. Instead, he gives his subscribers general tips and guidance from the perspective of a skilled audio engineer and producer.

Baywood doesn’t stray from this formula often, and that’s probably for the best. In the description of his videos, he shares links for viewers to purchase the rest of his skill set, which are mixing services and custom vocal presets.

YouTube is a great platform to establish yourself as a subject matter expert. Just don’t forget that your expertise can be monetized off the platform as well!

#3 Treat Your Expertise As a Service to Generate Revenue

If you’re a how-to creator that just wants to focus on video creation - no fancy business websites or portfolios - that’s OK too. You don’t always have to sell your expertise off YouTube because there are ways to do it within the platform. After all, people pay for things that make their lives more enjoyable, regardless of where those things are sold.

Your how-to niche is no exception to this rule. Several creators are finding ways to fund their instructional content on YouTube, and their methods go beyond traditional AdSense revenue.

Take the popular gaming channel Mumbo Jumbo, for example. For years, Oliver Brotherhood ran this gaming space as a how-to channel. He’d post Minecraft tutorials at the beginning of his YouTube journey, and that earned him a fairly large audience.

However, when he expanded his videos to include gameplay walkthroughs, he started getting PayPal donations from his viewers. In the video below, you can see Oliver shouting out his donors. To make them feel extra special, he put their names plus their donation amount on some of his Minecraft buildings:

MumboJumbo has 6.23M subscribers today, but videos like the one above depict his humble start as a how-to creator. The key lesson to grasp is that as early as 2013 (the video’s publish date), creators could use their YouTube community to make money via donations. The same thing can be done in 2020.

We’ve talked about this channel before on the blog, but Houseofjaz is another how-to creator who makes money from donations. In our blog, How to Make Money on YouTube As a Musician, we explained how subscribers pay this creator (via PayPal) to upload piano tutorials of their choice.

While AdSense revenue is nice, not every how-to channel attracts enough views to see its earning power. If you aren't getting a sizable YouTube check, use these three methods to build a community and make more money.

Want to Succeed as a Video Creator on YouTube?

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