Make Money on YouTube Before you Unlock Monetization

How to Make Money on YouTube Videos Before Monetization

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Ads – everyone hates them, yet they are everywhere. Why is that? Well, the short answer is, of course, money. Companies pay a lot of money to get their brand out, and serving ads to people is one of the most effective methods of doing just that. As a website owner, I serve ads through an ad network myself, though I’m not very happy about it. Unfortunately, running a website costs a fair amount of money, and I have bills I need to pay, just like everybody else. YouTubers also rely on ads, though ads are called “Monetization” on that platform. But, of course, YouTubers also lack the control that a website owner has.

As it turns out, you can make money on YouTube videos before you’ve unlocked monetization. But, of course, there is a catch. (Isn’t there always?)

This relies on having your own website, so be prepared to pay for hosting and find a domain that works for your channel that isn’t a trademark of some company. I’ll be including a table later on showing what you can expect to pay for these essential assets, as well as outline some advantages and disadvantages of owning your own website, sourced from my own experience.

Eventually, once you do unlock monetization, you can also collect any revenue generated on YouTube, in addition to what your website generates. While the views are separated, the fact that your content is available somewhere else is also a considerable benefit since YouTube can arbitrarily declare your video unfit for the platform and demonetize or even outright remove your videos at their whim.

But first, let’s explain how it is possible to monetize your videos off of the YouTube Platform.

Ezoic – The Ad Network That Makes This All Possible

Ezoic Video Import Feature
It even allows you to import videos directly from your YouTube Channel, including the video title, description, keywords used, and more.

This ad network is called Ezoic, and I never expected I’d be writing about them, given my initial poor experience with them a year ago. See, I briefly enabled ads from them on my site for a week. Unfortunately, the site speed (then) slowed to an absolute crawl, and ads littered the screen as if it were the 90s again.

Well, Ezoic had come a staggeringly long way since then. Yes, their system still contributes extra page loading time, but it’s under 3 seconds on a slow 3G mobile connection. Moreover, the desktop load time is under a second – a marked improvement over the disastrous 19 seconds it once claimed, due in part to their new LEAP tool.

I also limited the number of ads that can appear on a page to a maximum of 8 since the system was shoving too many in my face for comfort by default.

An extra benefit of Ezoic is that you can upload videos and serve ads when they are played. They even host the videos. This means you don’t need to invest in an expensive high-capacity storage server, though bandwidth is still impacted somewhat as people consume video content. With that said, this is balanced out a bit by the fact that Ezoic will cache your website to their cloud-based content delivery network, or CDN for short. This reduces the strain on your server by a large margin and lets you edge out with a cheaper, slower server for longer.

My YouTube channel has a staggering total of around 36 subscribers and is well under the 4000 watch hours needed to enable monetization (Ads run by AdSense) on the platform. However, this ad network I’m working with allows me to monetize my videos now, on my terms.

Once you’ve uploaded a video to Ezoic, you merely need to create a video placeholder using the Ezoic Chrome Extension on your website (while not logged in) and select a video to show up in the placeholder. There are a few tutorials on YouTube on how to do this.

Check out Ezoic & My Host for Yourself

Disclosure: Both buttons are Affiliate links. The left button is for Ezoic, right for Siteground.

Advantages to Using Ezoic for Video

There are many advantages to hosting videos on your own website:

  • You get Ad revenue from your videos right away
  • You own the platform – You can include anything you want in the video (within the bounds of the law)
  • Owning a Website gives you more user trust
  • Brands will go out of their way to contact YOU for sponsorship deals and the like, and won’t be behind a MCN
    • Know your worth – You might not create blogging content, but this still applies.

Downsides to Using Ezoic

While you gain access to monetization far sooner, there are some drawbacks to this option:

  • First, you are no longer hosted on Youtube, and as such, you lose any copyright claim protection they offer.
  • You don’t get the video curated by the algorithm to the largest video consuming audience in the world.
  • It’s not as easy to post videos using Ezoic
  • There are no guidelines or a good set of tutorials involving the Ezoic video tool (yet)
  • No in-video links that can link to your other video content(yet) when referencing them in your existing YouTube video content
    • Think end cards or mid video links
  • You need to have a website, meaning you need to buy a domain and hosting plan, choose a platform(such as wordpress or squarespace) and build out a website if you don’t already have one.
    • I use Siteground for my host, and wordpress as my content management system
    • There are hundreds of website back-end options out there. Wordpress is one of the most user-friendly platforms, if a bit slow.

Things to Know Before Starting Your Own Website

Serving Ads to make money on YouTube Videos before you unlock Monetization

Expenses – What It Costs to Run a Website

Before you start your own website, there are a few things you’ll want to know. For starters, how much it will cost you to run a website – in my case, around $636 a year. Your first year is much cheaper, though, and you can easily start a website for as little as $59.88, assuming you don’t hire a web developer to make the website for you. Also, you don’t need any of the extra paid options that I added to my site over time. (In fact, I need to trim some of them down.) Here is a breakdown of my site costs:

Expenses of Running My WebsiteCost
Hosting Costs (Required)$47.88 for the first year ($300 Annually after for my current plan)
Domain Registration Costs (Required)$40 Annually ($12 for a .com domain usually. I got the premium .blog domain)
Grammarly Premium (Optional)$140 Annually (Unnecessary for Videos, really)
Premium WordPress Theme (Optional)$56 Annually (You can get a free theme.)
Various other Premium Plugins (Optional)~$100 Annually
Expect to pay another Upfront one-time fee of around $300-$1000 if you hire a developer to make your website for you.

You Probably Won’t Be Profitable Your First Year

I was not profitable for the first year. In fact, by the end of the first year, I was in the hole $400 from all the things I was trying out. And even that is low in comparison to what others pay because I have professional web development experience and built my site myself.

Why was I not profitable for the first year? Well…

  • I had no traffic
  • I didn’t serve Ads
  • I didn’t know about affiliate programs
  • Nor did I have any content that would drive traffic to my website
  • That isn’t to say I didn’t have content
    • I was working my rear off trying to build it up at a rate of two articles a week
    • I was slow to create content because I kept second guessing myself
    • However, I had no clue what I was doing when it came to making content that people actually want to consume (Or knew existed)
  • I targeted subjects that were too broad
    • that would have a ton of competition from already established websites
    • Didn’t build any authority in a subject, because they were unrelated to each other
  • I didn’t understand content marketing in the slightest, despite my background in web development
    • I could make websites look nice, but my content was a garbled mess of uncoordinated information

The takeaway? Starting out, you kind of suck at making content. I certainly did. If you stick with it, though, you’ll learn and improve little by little. This applies to written and recorded content alike. You just need to make content that people are actually searching for. You learn this from something called “Search Analysis.”

How Much Money Can You Make From a Website?

Ahh, the golden question. Would you believe me if I said it was possible to make thousands of dollars per month with a website, specifically a blog? Yeah, you can. It is very hard to get to that point, but you can. Right now, I’m earning about $400 a month from my website, which is not a livable income by any means. But It pays for the site costs, with a bit left over to offset some of my living expenses. However, with each new article, and now, each new video, that amount increases. The ability to monetize videos online is a nice bonus.

As I have only just started serving ad-enabled videos on my site last week. I do not have a good amount of data on this subject as of yet. However, I will share what data I have accrued.

$1.92 earned from ezoic monetization on videos
1 week of revenue from video ads. The $1.43 was a longer, more well-made video with over 1000 views in a week

As you can see, it isn’t very much, yet. But then, my videos are complete and utter garbage at the moment in terms of quality. I have a lot to learn regarding the art of editing and making helpful content, as well as learning where the best places to put these videos are on my site.

But that, my friends, is two dollars I didn’t have before. With 36 subscribers on my YouTube account and some poorly made videos, I’ve made money from videos served on my website. With only 8 videos under my belt that I’ve ever made, that isn’t all that bad.

I’m only just entering the video scene itself, as it makes sense, financially speaking, to do so. I can create videos that add to my existing articles to enhance the experience on the website for you guys. Now that I can make money from it, they are now worth my time to make them.

Here are my actual website Earnings, for those who are curious (Earnings are up to date as of 10/19/2021):

  • From serving traditional display ads (Around $270 a month)
  • From Video ads ($1.92 after a week, for 8 poorly made videos from me being a novice at editing and video creation)
  • Affiliate Programs (Around $150 a month)
  • Sponsorship Opportunities (Varies greatly)

Of course, I’ve established a regular audience of over 33,000 people visiting my site each month, as of 10/19/2021. I’m at the point now where I can start to see a good return from my content, something you won’t get as a new website owner.

How Big of a Website Do You Need to Be to Make Money?

For a regular, sustainable income, you’ll need about 10,000 visitors every month, at least when it comes to making money from ad revenue. But, with that said, you can certainly make money a bit earlier, provided you make good use of your website’s capability for monetization.

  • If you have a Web Store, for example, sales generate revenue. (Sales tax comes into play with this one, bear that in mind)
  • You could create and sell a course
  • Creating a book/e-book for KDP and promote on your website
  • Affiliate based articles that generate a decent amount of traffic

After 10,000 though, it gets so much easier to ramp up. You’ve established yourself as an authority at that point, so Google is more likely to rank your articles/videos higher up on the page for your subjects, provided they are relevant to your site.

What Are the Advantages of Having Your Own Website?

For newer YouTubers trying to get to a point where their efforts are rewarded, I can’t promise that you’ll be able to rake in loads of ad revenue and quit your day job. At least, not any earlier than you would if you managed to achieve the monetization requirements of YouTube.

However – I can promise you this:

  • Your videos and channel will never be removed by someone else based on some false copyright claims/strikes to your account.

You own the platform; you decide what goes and stays. This is pretty big, especially since the alternative is that your content is simply removed from the face of the internet, and all of your hard work is just crumpled up and thrown away. If you’ve ever had to deal with YouTube customer service about this, then it should be painfully obvious the advantage this offers you.

You can also make the website look however you want it to, assuming you know how to change that.

Finally, you can monetize your website in ways that YouTube simply doesn’t offer. Heck, you can even add your own online store to your website with things like Woocommerce or Shopify. This lets you sell merch on your own platform, or even sell products like books, or courses. Of course, let’s not forget that you can still post the same video on YouTube as well, collecting revenue from both once you get monetization.

Disadvantages?

As stated earlier, running a website costs money. This is one advantage that YouTube offers that is a big factor for many of you. Plus, you also are subject to maintaining your website, which takes a fair amount of time if you aren’t sure what you are doing.

You are also responsible for keeping an eye on it – If it is down for some reason, you can’t just jump on social media and see what is going on. Instead, you’ll have to get in contact with your hosting provider and figure out why it is down.

Overall, it is a lot of responsibility and is daunting to the inexperienced individual. However, as a website owner myself, I can say that it isn’t all that bad. My host has amazing 24/7 support available. Whenever I notice a problem, I just hit them up and ask if they can help, which, in 90% of the cases, the problem is resolved swiftly without me doing anything else.

That other 10% is usually due to a recent code-based change to my site. Something silly, like a missing semi-colon, can do a world of hurt to your site. If you back up your website (which my host offers automatic daily backups), these problems are resolved by reverting to one of the backups that pre-dates the code change.

Protecting Yourself as a Website Owner

Something important to mention: as it is your website, you are fully responsible for every bit of content that appears on the website. It is extremely important for a website owner to not use copyright-protected content in your videos that appear on your website. DMCA will be directed directly at you, not YouTube.

For this reason, I recommend forming an LLC to help protect yourself from lawsuits and things like that.

Also, you do need to pay taxes on your earnings. Come Tax season, Ezoic will make your tax documents available for filing, as do any affiliate programs you take part in. You’ll probably want to hire an accountant to handle your taxes since filing for all of these different programs can be quite complicated.

I use this google sheet template to keep track of my website earnings for tax purposes. If you want to use this sheet for yourself:

  • Click File
  • Make a Copy

Anyone who requests access will be ignored.

And that’s all I have for you on this subject for now. Thanks for reading, and be sure to join our discord server if you have any questions (Or leave a comment I suppose.)

The TLDR Version

While I do understand that this article is a long one, I also know not everyone will be interested in doing this. So I created a short TLDR version for you. If you have the time to read the whole thing though, you’ll find some nuggets of information that come from my personal experience as a website owner.

  • Post videos on your own website
    • You need a Domain & Host
    • I recommend using Wordpress if you aren’t familiar with owning a website
  • Serve Ads on those videos using Ezoic Or some other Ad network that supports videos
  • Make money from your YouTube Videos posted on your own site (provided your website gets traffic to those videos)
  • Don’t expect to make money for your first year, especially if you aren’t regularly adding content to the site.
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