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How Do YouTube Influencers Get Paid?

In 2020, more and more brands are turning to influencers to reach their ideal clients. And there’s a reason why. Studies show that 70% of millennials are influenced by the opinions of their peers. Influencers are able to build trust, increase brand awareness and ultimately, bridge the gap between the brand and their market. The bulk of influencing today happens on social media and more specifically, YouTube.

While you may see these influencers more and more on YouTube, you may not know that these influencers are actually able to make a living by influencing their peers. In fact, the highest paid YouTube influencer is an 8-year old named Ryan who unboxes popular children’s toys. In 2019, he made $26 million on YouTube.

While not every influencer makes this much income, experts suggest that influencers can make between $50 and more than $50,000 per post. But how exactly do these YouTube influencers make a living?

Brand Sponsorship

Most influencers make a profit from their content by partnering with a brand that will sponsor them. By featuring a product in their video, doing an unboxing video or otherwise highlighting a brand, an influencer will be paid from the brand, based on their following and engagement. In 2018, brands that were surveyed expected to pay up to $3,000 for a sponsored video.

Ad Revenue

Another way that YouTube influencers earn an income is by placing ads on their videos. While YouTube only requires influencers to have a minimum of 1,000 followers to qualify for ad revenue, YouTube influencers with a large following are able to make a significant amount of money from their viewers watching an ad before their video. On average, an influencer can receive $18 per 100 ad views. When you have a large following, that rate can turn into a big profit quickly.

YouTube Partner Program

Along with ad revenue, YouTube has made it especially easy for influencers to begin getting paid for their content, even if they don’t have a huge following. In order to begin making money for their content, YouTube has created a YouTube Partner Program that allows influencers to monetize their videos in a variety of ways. By being accepted to the program, YouTube allows influencers to unlock a variety of features that allow them to monetize their videos, whether it is a channel membership or selling brand merchandise.

Affiliate Links

Popular among those with a smaller following, influencers on YouTube can use affiliate links with brands. Influencers will ask viewers to click on a link in their video’s description that will direct them to a brand’s website. This trackable link allows YouTube influencers to receive commission for their viewer’s purchasing something from the website.


With the world’s population watching 1 billion hours of YouTube content everyday, it’s no wonder that YouTube influencers are taking advantage of making an income on the social media platform. Whether it’s partnering with brands or using YouTube’s in-house monetization features, influencers are truly able to make an income from creating video content on social media.


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