19 Passive Income Ideas for YouTubers

September 5, 2023
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YouTube ad revenue is just the tip of the iceberg. With over 50 million YouTube creators and 2.51 billion logged-in monthly users, there are countless ways to monetize your influence and turn your channel into a passive income machine. This post reveals 19 creative strategies to help you diversify your revenue streams beyond Google AdSense. From affiliate marketing to selling merchandise, these outside-the-box ideas will help you maximize your earnings so you can profit from your passion.
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19 Ways YouTubers Can Make Passive Income

Idea 1: Selling Digital Products

Creating and selling your own digital products like ebooks, templates, graphics packs, and online courses is a great way for YouTubers to monetize their skills and knowledge. Some pros of this strategy include:

  • Low overhead costs – Once created, digital products have negligible hosting/distribution fees
  • High margins – Since they’re digital, there are no printing/shipping costs
  • Portability – Your products work on any device and can be enjoyed globally
  • Recurring revenue – Every time a product is purchased, you earn passively

Some cons are that it takes time to develop high-quality sellable products. You’ll also need to market them effectively. But many YouTubers earn hundreds or thousands per month through courses alone by building an engaged email list over time.

Idea 2: Affiliate Marketing

Promoting other people’s products and services through affiliate links allows you to earn a commission whenever a sale is made. Since affiliates only get paid on successful sales, there’s no upfront cost – making it a very low-risk way to start generating recurring income from your audience.

Pros of affiliate marketing include:

  • Wide selection of offers across many niches
  • Payouts for products you’d recommend anyway
  • Performance-based commissions vs fixed sponsorship rates
  • Payouts continue as long as the link is active

Drawbacks are the potential for lower commission percentages than other options. Affiliates typically report earning anywhere from $50-500 per month depending on offer types and promotional efforts.

Idea 3: YouTube Channel Sponsorships

YouTube channel sponsorships can be a lucrative way for creators with large audiences to generate monthly income. Here’s a brief overview:

YouTube channel sponsorships involve promoting a sponsoring company or brand within your videos, usually by thanking them at the beginning or end. To qualify, your channel generally needs over 100K subscribers.

Once partnered, sponsors will pay you a flat monthly rate just for including brief mentions in most videos. The rates fluctuate based on your subscriber count.

Subscriber CountEstimated Monthly Sponsorship Rate
100K – 500K$1,000 – $3,000
500K – 1M$3,000 – $5,000

The pros are that sponsorships provide stable monthly income without a ton of ongoing work once secured. For large channels, therates can add up to a significant passive paycheck.

The downside is that sponsorships aren’t truly passive since you need to constantly create new content. Large audiences are also required to even qualify, and sponsors can be irregular to secure. Rates may also lag if your growth slows.

Idea 4: Merchandise line

  • Selling branded apparel, accessories, collectibles is a fun way for fans to represent their favorite creator. Sites like Teespring and Printful handle production and shipping, so you don’t have to deal with any of the logistics.

  • Pros are that there’s zero upfront costs for you since the sites handle everything. It also gives your community a way to show their support. Promoting new drops helps engage subscribers.

  • Cons are that profit margins tend to be on the lower side, typically around 15-20% of sales. This is because the sites take a sizeable cut to manage production.

  • You also rely solely on organic sales from your existing fanbase. Generating consistent passive income takes maintaining a minimum sales velocity.

  • However, popular items from major creators can sell very well. Even small channels can expect to generate a few hundred dollars per successful merchandise campaign.

  • If you have a sizable following of over 50K+ engaged subs, releasing regular limited-time drops could easily earn you $500+ per month through tee and accessory sales alone over time.

Idea 5: Online Course Creation

Creating online video courses teaching skills in your niche allows fans to go deeper with your expertise. Platforms like Thinkific make hosting, selling, and protecting your IP easy.

Pros are one-time setup costs but high lifetime customer value. Courses can generate thousands per month depending on your following. Cons are the upfront content creation workload.

Idea 6: Paid Membership Community

Launching a paid membership community site on platforms like Patreon allows superfans to access bonus perks like behind-the-scenes videos for a small monthly fee.

Pros are recurring revenue from loyal subscribers. Cons are the ongoing community management workload, although Patreon handles most of the tech. Top YouTubers earn $10K+/month through Patreon however by providing a lot of extra value.

Idea 7: Investments

Unused funds in your business or personal accounts can be invested for long-term growth. Index funds that mirror overall market returns have historically averaged 7-10% annual gains with minimal risk/effort.

Consistency is key. You’ll need roughly $10K+ invested to generate sizeable supplemental income passively from the share of profits/dividends. But it’s a set-it-and-forget-it way to grow wealth over decades.

Idea 8: Podcast Sponsorships

Similar to YouTube sponsorships but for a podcast – sponsors pay monthly for mention/thanks in each episode. Rates are usually higher than YouTube at around $0.50-1 per download.

Pros are scalable recurring income. Cons are effort to build/maintain a large audience, and sponsors aren’t guaranteed. Top podcasters generate >$10K/month through ads.

Idea 9: Stock Image/Video Library

Relevant clips, templates, and photos from your YouTube work can be uploaded to stock sites like Shutterstock for others to license.

Each sale earns a small percentage but it adds up over time with zero effort beyond the initial uploads. Popular assets can bring in $50-500+ monthly depending on how many people use them.

Idea 10: Print on Demand Products

Merchandise drops previously mentioned generated manually. Print-on-demand platforms like Redbubble handle production/shipment fully passively.

Pros are infinite scalability with no upfront costs. Cons are lower margins (closer to 10%). Still, popular designs bring in >$200/month easily with global reach.

Idea 11: Freelance Work

Leverage your skills and growing platform to pick up paid side gigs like VA work, consulting, editing for others.

Initial effort but can become recurring work-for-hire deals. Freelancers typically aim for $30-50/hr minimum rates depending on experience.

Skilled YouTubers earn >$1K/month extra through freelancing.

Idea 12: Affiliate Conferences

Larger influencers get paid to speak/present at industry events sharing their expertise and story.

Pros are lucrative one-time fees ($5K+ commonly) to share knowledge. Cons require travel/time away from regular content. But wealthy network growth potential from IRL interactions.

Idea 13: Brand Sponsorships

As social media profiles grow into the 10K+ range, YouTubers become viable micro-influencers for performance-based sponsored posts.

Rates vary widely but typical CPM ranges from $2,000-10,000+ per post depending on engagement. Cons are irregular work but big payouts when secured.

Idea 14: Info Product Upsells

Bundle additional complementary products to sell alongside initial offerings like courses for a discounted bundle price.

Average cart size increases for negligible extra work. Even low 20%+ upsell rates generate extra hundreds per month collectively long-term.

Idea 15: Paid Consulting

For experienced influencers, one-on-one consulting/coaching packages deliver personalized feedback and strategies to serious students.

Hourly or package rates aim for $100-500 range. Clients become recurring income if value is consistently delivered. Top consultants pull in >$10K/month.

Idea 16: Creator-Led Retreats/Events

Host multiday immersive courses/retreats teaching topics in-person. Cover costs through ticket sales for quality time with students.

Properly marketed retreats earn $5-10K profit per event. Cons are irregular work but lucrative and engaging for attendees.

Idea 17: Strategy/Influencer Marketing

Help other brands strategize and find influencers to run collaborative campaigns leveraging your network.

Retainer clients provide $1-5K/month baseline. Projects fluctuate but big payouts available for top consultants.

Idea 18: Email List Monetization

An engaged email list is a valuable asset to sell your own (and affiliates’) offers to over time. Consent rates >20% are achievable.

Pros are complete control over offers/rates. Cons are list building workload but high LTV customers. Top influencers report $5-10K monthly income from lists alone.

Idea 19: Affiliate Lead Generation

Leverage your authority to promote high-ticket offers and earn percentages of resulting sales.

Big individual commissions ($500-2k commonly) but requires promoting offers you truly believe in for credibility. Consistent work generates >$5K/month passively from leads.

Final Thoughts

Achieving significant passive income takes consistent effort over months/years. But even beginner YouTubers can test multiple low-effort strategies like affiliate linking and build from there. The key is finding models that fit your skills/niche and promoting diligently for residual rewards.

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    Gauri Pandian

    Gauri Pandian is a seasoned Business Development Manager with 9 years of experience in sales and client relations. Currently, she is responsible for business growth and client acquisition as a BD Manager at Zipprr, a leading custom software development firm. Prior to this, she has worked with Early-stage startups helping them scale through strategic partnerships. Gauri has a crack for understanding customer pain points and unlocking new opportunities.