How to Monetize Your YouTube Channel

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If you have thought about trying to make money with your own YouTube videos, the process may have seemed opaque to you. In this LMScast Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett tell you how to monetize your YouTube channel, and it’s much simpler than you think.

The conventional approach to generating income with YouTube goes something like this:

  • Make a video or video series
  • Become a YouTube Partner
  • Allow pop-up ads before, during, and/or after the video runs
  • Hope the video goes viral so you can rake in the cash from all those ad views

The truth is, you aren’t going to realize much income from those ads unless you get hundreds of thousands of views, and the likelihood is that you won’t. But there is a direct way to make more money from fewer viewings without inundating your viewers with advertising: Create online courses.

If you are already creating video content, then you have the basis for your online courses. You can also convert video dialog into text by getting it transcribed and summarized. Content is the hardest part, so if you have it already then converting it into an online course is not difficult, especially if you use a course development platform like our LifterLMS WordPress learning management system plugin.

Using this approach to generating income with YouTube would look more like this:

  • Make a video, or video series
  • Offer a few introductory videos from your series as a lead generator for your in-depth online courses
  • Receive payments directly when people sign up for your courses

You create courses with a learning management system (LMS) like Udemy or LifterLMS, depending on whether you want to use WordPress. You simply put your courses together with the content you already have, and build from there.

Also consider that offering beginner courses is a great way to expand your customer base. A lot of people start their course offerings at an intermediate level, which alienates viewers who don’t know the basics of a subject yet. If you offer a basic introductory course then you create new customers who are likely to continue into your higher levels of course offerings. Even if your beginner-level courses are free, you will still be ahead as users are then prepared to purchase higher-level courses they otherwise would not pursue.

One other advantage to offering online courses in your subject area is demonstration of your knowledge and expertise, which can generate income from contract consulting and services you provide.

If you have made videos to post on YouTube, then you already know how quickly and easily those can be produced. You could create an entire online course in a day and start making money from it almost immediately. And you don’t have to be a professional. In fact, often the best instructional videos include mistakes and problem-solving. That is realistic to any process, and it’s a great way to demonstrate how to handle challenges your students are likely to encounter themselves. It is also more engaging for students if your content is human and accessible.

Whatever it is you do – contracting and services, products, entertainment, or information – you can learn how to monetize your YouTube channel by building an online course about your subject.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter at for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. You can also try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

Joshua: Hello everyone, we’re back with another LMScast episode. I’m Joshua Millage, and I’m joined with Christopher Badgett. Today, we’re talking about how to monetize your YouTube channel. Chris, how do you do this?

Christopher: We’re going to give you a counter intuitive way to do it. When a lot of people think about how to monetize a YouTube channel, they start thinking about making viral videos and then becoming a YouTube partner and monetizing their videos, so that ads display before, within, or after the actual video itself. The hope is always that your video goes viral, and the more times it plays, the more you get paid. You have to get huge traffic numbers to actually make any kind of real, decent income with YouTube, which is really hard to do. We’ve got a totally different thing to talk about here, about how to monetize your YouTube channel efforts with online courses.

Joshua: Right. Absolutely. I think one other thing is, if you’re already creating this content, it’s not that hard to make it into a course.

Christopher: Right.

Joshua: Even if you have YouTube videos and you want to create text, get them transcribed, then have a blog writer put together the lesson material. You’re already half way there, more than half way there. I think it’s an easy transition.

Christopher: Yeah, and if you’re looking to monetize your YouTube efforts, you have a really incredible advantage over a lot of people. When we talk about online courses and eLearning and learning management systems, a lot of people are stuck at the roadblock of creating content, but if you’ve already figured that out, and you have no problem getting on camera, or creating screen sharing videos, you have the skill set for creating a really nice online course, with the video component.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: LifterLMS is the learning management system Word Press plugin that we’ve created.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: On the lessons, there’s a little featured media box, and you can drop in a YouTube, a Vimeo, or a Wistia video, or you could put it in the regular Word Press editor. Maybe we can get a little more tactical, like different ways to think about your YouTube channel and transitioning to an online course. We could kind of give you some how-to scenarios. Does that sound …

Joshua: Yeah! Let’s jump in, man. Let’s how-to ’em.

Christopher: I’m going to take you back to what you said about, you already have all this great content. You can use YouTube as lead generator for your online course. One way to do that is to give away some videos for free on your YouTube channel but then there’s other, more premium stuff on your online course, that maybe goes into more detail.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: One way to do that is to like, the stuff on your YouTube channel is all about the why or the what and stuff, but if you’re really teaching somebody how to execute on something …

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: … then that content would not be publicly available on YouTube, it would be in your online course.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: That’s one method.

Joshua: That’s awesome, yeah. What are some others? I know you’ve done a lot of YouTube, connected to Udemy, or not Udemy, but to learning management systems for awhile and courses. It used to be Udemy though, you’ve done …

Christopher: Yeah.

Joshua: … plenty of stuff on Udemy. What does that do though? Does it help Google ranking? What does bridging that gap really do?

Christopher: Absolutely. Probably the strategy I’ve used the most, is for lead generation for client services.

Joshua: Okay.

Christopher: We’re co-owners of a web development company called codeBOX, where we build custom WordPress sites, often with deep Infusionsoft integration, and really advanced LMS builds and things like that. In the past, one of the ways I would generate leads, is I would create a beginner’s guide on how to build a WordPress website. I’ve actually just gone though the process of creating a new one of those …

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: … current to 2015. It would just be comprised of about an hour to two hours of content, screen sharing, showing how to build a WordPress website.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: I would take those video and put them on YouTube. Right now on YouTube my original ones, collectively, those six videos have over ten thousand views of people. Some of those people find me on YouTube and have contacted me for client services.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: I would also take those same videos and build a course on Udemy, make it a free course, and that is also a lead generator. I have, last time I checked, somewhere around seven or eight thousand people, in that course on Udemy. Then I also take those YouTube videos and have embedded them on a website …

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: … for client services for WordPress build. That’s another place where that course exists. Now, we’re in the process of creating another site called WP website in a Weekend, where those videos exist and we’ve used LifterLMS to create the learning management system or the online course for that. It’s going to be free and it’s just a lead generation tool. Add all that up, now it’s thirty thousand people have come in contact with these videos, many of which have contacted for services or bought LifterLMS and other things. It’s just massive what you can do. Those original videos? I just recorded them like one afternoon.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: You just got to put them in a few places.

Joshua: Yeah. Actually walk me through that. Let’s get super tactical. How do you go from … It’s one thing to create a video like this, right? We flipped on the Skype call recorder, we’ve got our mics set up, this is like creating a YouTube video, right? Free flowing, kind of unstructured, flowing. I come up with a question, I ask you. You come up with a question, you ask me. It’s fun, right? I know other people have a different process for their YouTube videos, but if someone’s watching and they’re like, “Yeah, that’s how I create my YouTube videos.” Then they’re like, “A course. How do you get structure?” Do you create an outline beforehand? How do you take the production process down into a course production process? I feel like it’s just a little different when we create YouTube videos, opposed to when we create a course.

Christopher: It depends what level you’re at, and the professional quality you want to go for. For me, when I first did that tactic, I went with a kind of like the amateur, wing-it route. Which is totally cool.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: It has generated I don’t know how many tens of thousands of dollars in revenue over time, off the back end through client services or product sales or whatever.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: For me, we have a blog post at, about the mistakes entrepreneurs when creating their first online course. One thing that Chris Coyier said, is that people try to be too professional and cover up their mistakes in their videos. Which depersonalizes it a little bit, makes it take longer and so on.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: What I did, is I gave myself a challenge to create my course in one day. I sat down and I had it easy because it’s a screen sharing video, so all I had to do was use ScreenFlow on the Mac to record my course. That’s what I did over the course of just one day. When I would make mistakes I would not cover it up or not edit it. I just talked through what’s happening because you know what, the people who are watching it are going to make mistakes too. One thing I did with ScreenFlow is I turned on the camera. Ultimately when the video was done, the screen share was the top ninety percent of the video …

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: … but then there’s my little talking head at the bottom.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: The reason I did that, is because it builds a real human connection. People can see me talking. It’s almost like if they just heard my voice, it would just be audio, but they can see me talking so it …

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: … builds a more human connection.

Joshua: Cool.

Christopher: Which makes you even more approachable when it comes time, if they become interested in doing client services.

Joshua: I like that. I like that. That’s amazing. What if you’re a YouTuber and you’re monetizing and you don’t have client services, like all this still applies to products.

Christopher: Yeah. Absolutely. Whatever your specialty is.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: Consulting,

Joshua: Whatever it is.

Christopher: Products, a brick and mortar business, you can do all kinds of things.

Joshua: I think too, the cool thing is the YouTubers out there who are doing more of the funny comedy stuff. Just teach them how to do that.

Christopher: Yeah.

Joshua: A lot of people get so wrapped up in it. It’s like, “I’m a comedy channel.”, or, “I’m a lifestyle channel.” Teach them how to be a lifestyle channel or a comedy channel. You guys are doing it, you know?

Christopher: Yeah. The other pro tip I would add to that is, beginner’s markets are huge. People often forget what’s it’s like to be a beginner.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Christopher: For example, we build really heavily custom, even web applications on top of WordPress, but there’s a lot of people who are just trying to build a simple three page website on a free theme.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: I slow down. I’m not using the big words or the lingo, and just really teaching somebody from the beginning. That’s the other pro tip is, teach. If you’re doing it for the first time, you might try going after the beginner.

Joshua: Right.

Christopher: Just give yourself permission to make that course.

Joshua: That’s awesome. I love it. Right on, Chris. Thank you so much, Man, for giving all this information. This is great. There’s so many YouTubers out there scraping the bottom of the barrel in the terms of income that could be making a lot more money if they just spend an afternoon like you said, and monetize that information. I think this is a great episode. Yeah, if anyone has any questions, you can reach out to me @JMillage or Chris at @ChrisBadgett. Our official LifterLMS channel is @LifterLMS. Hit that one up, because that’s the one where we’re more responsive. Hope you guys are having a great day, and we’ll talk to you next week.

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