Nowadays, it feels like everyone is getting rich off YouTube.
But in fact, YouTube itself doesn’t pay that well. At least, comparing YouTube AdSense money to other ways of monetizing your audience.
It also varies a lot depending on the content.
I know that from experience, having created YouTube channels in a few different niches.
YouTube advertising revenue often won’t supply job-replacing income, except for the very top creators.
Most of the major players on YouTube earn their money through selling their own products or via affiliate links (advertising other people’s products for a cut).
They are using YouTube’s massive audience to get rich, but it is not the revenue from YouTube advertising that gets them there.
In this article, we will look at both what YouTube pays for 20 million views andhow much people are actually earning from 20 million views (including those other revenue streams).
20 million views on YouTube – how much does it pay?
The average amount of money YouTube will pay for 20 million views is $160,000.
This is advertising revenue from Google’s AdSense program (Google owns YouTube).
But that figure does not tell the full story.
It was calculated using an RPM (revenue-per-mille) of $8. That is, for every 1,000 views, the creator receives $8.
- 20,000,000 divided by 1,000 = 20,000.
- 20,000 multiplied by $8 = $160,000
However, YouTube pays a range of $1-$30 per 1,000 views depending on the type of content. That gives us a huge range of revenue figures, between $20,000 and $600,000, as we’ll explore below.
While $15 would be the mean average, we used $8 which is closer to the median average.
That’s because most YouTubers are not in the very high RPM niches. The average YouTuber will be earning closer to $1 than $30. $8 is a fairer representation of actual YouTube revenue per thousand views.
CPM vs RPM
Before we get under the hood, let’s understand two key terms.
Don’t get confused about CPM (cost-per-mille) and RPM (revenue-per-mille). Both are metrics YouTube uses, but they are not interchangeable.
They also are used slightly differently compared to other marketing channels that utilize these terms.
Firstly, ‘per-mille’ is just a way of saying ‘per 1,000 views’.
Cost-per-mille (CPM) is the money that an advertiser pays YouTube per 1,000 views of that advert.
But YouTube does not hand over all that money to the creator who features their advert!
Instead, the creator gets a cut of the CPM. They receive the RPM value; the revenue-per-mille.
Therefore, this number is always lower. YouTube is taking its cut.
Niche selection is everything
As we mentioned, the RPM for each video can vary significantly.
That’s because advertisers are willing to pay more to be shown alongside specific types of content.
Investing is a high RPM niche ($20-30) because advertisers can make a significant profit from converting viewers on to, for example, their trading platform.
‘Scary’ videos are an example of a low RPM niche ($1-4) because companies aren’t making products specific to that niche, nor do they know specifically what else people who watch scary videos on YouTube might be interested in.
Low RPM niches include:
- Prank videos
- Scary videos
- Gaming videos
- Top 10 videos
High RPM niches include:
- Make money online
Choose a niche that advertisers are willing to pay more money for, and you will receive a higher payout from YouTube for 20 million views.
Of course, the higher paying niches tend to be more competitive, which means breaking 20m views could be a lot more difficult.
It’s also important where in the world your niche audience is. If your viewers are mostly based in the United States, you will likely get a higher RPM.
So how much can you actually earn from 20m views?
If you are producing investing content for US users, you can expect it to be around half a million dollars in YouTube AdSense revenue alone.
But that is just AdSense. How much are these creators making from other channels?
Unfortunately, there is no set amount. How long is a piece of string?
But we can ask individual creators.
One creator explains that his own product that he sells generates far more RPM than his advertising.
He gets ‘just’ $6,000-$12,000 a month from his half a million subscribers in the ‘make money online’ niche.
As mentioned above, that is a high RPM Niche.
We can see he gets about 500,000 video views a month, so that puts his RPM at about $12-24.
Whilst he states that he gets up to $12,000 a month from AdSense, he claims that he gets $100,000 from his YouTube course.
That gives him (if we are to believe him, of course) an RPM of $200.
That is a stark difference in numbers. Selling products directly or as an affiliate/sponsorship deal just makes sense as a YouTuber, or indeed as any social media personality/influencer.
20 million views on YouTube Shorts
The above numbers refer to YouTube’s classic, long-form, horizontal videos.
YouTube Shorts operate on a different model.
It’s a lot easier to get 20 million views on Shorts, as people absent mindedly scroll through less-than-1-minute videos.
You can expect a lot less money accordingly.
Shorts is still relatively new, and the revenue model is evolving. But currently, 20 million YouTube Shorts views will net you just $1,000 on average.
That is a huge downgrade from RPMs on traditional YouTube videos.
How hard is it to get 20 million views?
It’s not easy to rack up 20 million views on YouTube.
Anecdotally, most new YouTubers say it took them 1-1.5 years to get to 1,000 subscribers.
I have had channels that have reached that number of subscribers in literally days. On the other hand, I have made channels that never got there.
Your mileage may vary.
If you get a viral hit, you can get a few million views in just few days. But it still might take years until you get to 20,000,000 overall.
The best estimate would be 3-5 years.
Know that it is an exponential curve. In the beginning, you will see little progress. But after you get some traction, the viewers start to snowball.
The compounding effect of YouTube views is significant.
Once you get some happy, engaged viewers, the algorithm will do its best to find more eyeballs for your videos.
Because of that, the jump from 1,000 views to 1,000,000 views is a lot harder than the jump from 1,000,000 views to 20,000,000 views.
But if you can persevere, there are bountiful rewards to be had.
How to monetize 20 million views
When you get to the 500-subscriber mark and 3,000 hours of watch time in the last year, you can turn on monetization for your channel.
YouTube monetizes all videos nowadays, even if you’re not part of their network. If you want a cut of that ad revenue, you need to hit those above targets first.
Once monetization is enabled, you will start earning money. This can be addictive!
Your RPM might be lower than you might expect at first, but it should normalize fairly quickly.
At 20m viewers, you can earn a significant amount of money from YouTube, but this should not be your primary monetization method.
With an audience of this size, you should leverage them for more than simply ads. Consider the following:
- Affiliate advertising
- Course creation
- Selling your own physical products, like merchandise
- Direct users to your own website, with its own advertising (double your page/video views!)
- Product placement
- Become a paid influencer for brands
How to increase revenue from YouTube with 20 million views
You have limited options to get more revenue from YouTube’s advertising model.
One tip, however, is to focus on making longer videos.
Videos over 8 minutes allow for mid-roll adverts. You can therefore squeeze out more revenue by including more adverts per view.
You can enable this in the monetization area.
Be sure not to simply ramble to make your videos longer than 8 minutes. Focus on providing good value in the video.
If your watch time suffers because of unhelpful long content, you’ll lose viewers and revenue overall.
Lets not forget than having too many mid-roll adverts on a short video might turn viewers off entirely!
Is 20 million views a year job-replacing income?
It can be, but not always.
If we are talking about 20 million views over the course of a year, as mentioned, you will be earning between $20,000 and $600,000 per year.
It is therefore job-replacing income in some niches. It is certainly a great side-hustle if nothing else.
Once you get to 20,000,000 views, you might strongly consider going full-time with YouTube.
You’ve proven to YouTube’s algorithm you can get engagement, and working on it full-time likely means you’ll only get better.
If you can enable other monetizing channels like we mentioned, it is certainly worth giving up the 9-5 for.
Should you get started on YouTube?
YouTube is a grind.
We at Money Stocker love YouTube (subscribe!). It helps us spread sensible personal finance advice, and it can indeed be a highly lucrative platform.
But it takes a lot of time. Learning how to write, shoot, edit & promote is a big learning curve for most people.
If you focus on simply getting slightly better with each YouTube video, you can be successful.
Be consistent, and you will have a chance to get the likes of 20,000,000 views a year.
If you’re considering starting a YouTube channel for some passive income and/or as a side hustle, our advice is to go for it!
We also recommend passive investing for passive income – make sure you invest your new YouTube profits wisely.