Kevin David doesn't consider himself a YouTube star, but for a creator without millions of followers, he's able to generate major revenue.
David, who has 838,000 subscribers on YouTube, posts videos about how to make money online and steps to selling products on Amazon.
In 2019, his YouTube channel earned $400,000 from the ads that play in his videos, according to a screenshot of his creator dashboard. That's because David is a part of YouTube's Partner Program, which gives creators the ability to earn money through ads placed by Google.
Though David's videos don't tend to get millions of views, he earns more money than the average YouTube creator because of the type of content he produces: detailed how-to videos (like how to make money online or sell products on Amazon) and e-commerce tutorials.
These videos are more valuable to advertisers, he said, and his channel has a higher CPM rate (or cost per 1,000 views) than most creators.
Besides filming videos for YouTube, David is also an entrepreneur. He's used YouTube to extend his business and drive new viewers to his website and Facebook groups.
How the style of videos affects CPM rates on YouTube
David gets the ideas for his content by looking at the Google Ads Keyword Planner to see how often people are searching particular phrases and at other combinations of video topics and thumbnails that have been successful in view count, he said.
For comparison, Brian Barczyk, a YouTube creator with 2 million subscribers, recently told Business Insider that his video with 28 million views earned about the same amount of money. Barczyk's video showed his viewers how to help a snake that's unable to lay its eggs. The video likely reached a less valuable audience to advertisers than David's Facebook ads tutorial.
In general, business-related channels have a relatively high CPM rate. Marina Mogilko, an entrepreneur and YouTube creator, spoke with Business Insider about her three YouTube channels, and she said that her business channel makes more per view than the others — by far.
David's "Shopify Tutorial for Beginners" video, which required minimal production because he filmed it using the screen-record feature on his laptop while staying in a cheap hostel in Australia, made over $40,000, he said in August.
"Literally just using my laptop and QuickTime to record my screen, which is free," he said. "That single video earned as much as some Americans are in a year, and I literally just sat down, no editing, free recording software, single take, and recorded it."
On average, David's videos generate between $2,000 to $10,000 in Google AdSense revenue, he said.
Some top YouTube creators have strategies they employ to earn more money from advertising on videos. By figuring out the right number of ads to include per video and how long each video should be, a YouTube creator can maximize the amount of revenue they'll earn.
David includes ad options on his videos (preroll, midroll, and post-roll ads), and he places them before his viewers typically "drop off" or click off from a video, he said.
By paying attention to these metrics and building a strategy that works, David's videos continue to earn revenue years after they are uploaded.
He refers to the money he generates on YouTube as "passive income" and said content on YouTube, unlike Instagram, has the opportunity to resurface — particularly through search — and make money.
"When you post an Instagram picture, you get 1,000 likes, 2,000 likes, but the next day it's gone, and no one ever sees it again," David said. "I have a video that is close to 2 years old, and it still to this day gets over 1,000 views per day and probably generates at least $1,000 a day."
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