About two years ago I decided that I wanted to be a professional YouTuber. I really had no idea what that meant or included, I just wanted to get paid for making videos on the platform. And hey, if fame followed as a result, then great (although I can’t say that was my primary goal). Now, I consider myself a full-time YouTuber — I've realized the dream. So how did I get from there to here and what can you learn from my experience? Keep reading.

A few common Google searches are:

  • how to be a YouTuber
  • how do YouTubers get famous
  • how do YouTubers get paid

I’m going to take a shot at answering all three of those questions today. Actually, they’re all kind of the same question. If you’re truly “YouTube famous” then you’re definitely getting paid (which, obviously, means you’re a YouTuber). I think the real question people have is how do I get started? How can I get headed down the right path that could eventually lead to being rich and famous as a YouTuber?

Well here’s the thing: it’s definitely possible for you to become a famous, well-paid YouTuber but it is going to take a serious commitment. If you’re not prepared to spend at least five years pursuing your dream of becoming a successful YouTuber then stop reading this article right now and rethink what you want to do with your life. If there’s one thing I can guarantee you it’s that becoming a successful YouTuber with a self-sustaining channel is not going to be easy (nor will it happen overnight).

Still here? Awesome. I recently wrote a book called From You to YouTuber which is a detailed how-to guide for starting a profitable YouTube channel as quickly as possible. In it I detail how you can start earning a full-time income as a YouTuber even with a channel that has less than 50,000 subscribers. If you’re serious about becoming a professional YouTuber and want to get your channel started on the right foot I’d highly recommend picking up a copy.

How to Be a YouTuber

Like I mention in my book there is a major difference between being a YouTuber and being a successful YouTuber. Being a successful YouTuber entails more than just aiming a camera at your face and posting the results on YouTube. Yes, you’ll need the best YouTube camera, gear and resources but even more importantly you’ll need a solid strategy. 

Picking the right focus (i.e. a focus with real potential to be profitable) is key. If you get this right on day one then the time you invest in creating a channel won’t be wasted. On the other hand, picking the wrong focus is one of the worst mistakes you can make as an aspiring YouTuber. 

I recommend using the Five P’s outlined in my book to pick the right focus. I won’t go into all the details here, but I will say that picking a channel focus based purely on something you’re passionate about is the wrong thing to do. 

How to Get Famous on YouTube

There are different levels of fame in the world — and on YouTube. The truly famous can be recognized by a massive portion of the population. These are the superstars. In my experience, the superstars of YouTube have been churning out content for at least five years and usually closer to ten. If you want to be super famous on YouTube then you’re going to have to work hard at it and not give up. 

But there’s another level of fame on YouTube. I call it fameish. Many YouTubers are well-known within smaller, more niche circles, rather than to society as a whole. These YouTubers have a dose of fame. Though they might not currently be recognized on the street, they could pack a sports arena to capacity if all their subscribers got together in one place. 

If you want to get famous you’ll need to start by getting fameish. Every famous YouTuber once started with zero subscribers and was excited to get their first. There really aren’t any shortcuts that the average person can use to get more attention than anyone else (all the big channels use all the best techniques already, after all). It’s going to be a slow climb. 

So how do you get famous on YouTube? The real answer is you upload, and upload and upload. You keep uploading, first in relative obscurity, because you love it. You like making videos. You like the idea of connecting with a community. You like the idea of someday becoming fameish and then truly famous. You just keep uploading. 

As time goes on some of your videos will get more views than others. Some will get many more views — hundreds of thousands or even millions of views. 

And to get famous on YouTube you have to get views. Thankfully there is a formula you can follow to reliably draw in new eyeballs. I call it the HIT Squared strategy and it’s the best way that I know of for small YouTube channels to get outsized views. This is something I cover extensively in my book. 

How YouTubers Get Paid

After you’ve started your YouTube channel and have figured out how to get hundreds of thousands of views (or more) on some of your videos then you’ll be in a position to start earning some good money. Again, let me emphasize that it takes time for a channel to develop to the point where it has serious monetization potential. YouTube is not a get rich quick scheme — it has to be treated like a real job to earn real money. 

That said, smaller YouTube channels (particularly those with under 50,000 subscribers) aren’t going to earn a tonne of money from ads. Depending on your subject matter you might have more luck with affiliate sales, but those can be anything but consistent. Sponsorships, on the other hand, can help smaller YouTubers earn higher dollar amounts. 

There are several great influencer marketplaces that can connect YouTubers with brands willing to pay for product coverage (several of which I list on my YouTube resources page), but direct selling sponsorships definitely shouldn’t be neglected. 

Actually I’ve had quite a bit of success selling direct sponsorships for my YouTube channel. I’ve even developed a way to convert many of the inbound requests that come my way into paying sponsorships. For more information on earning more through high-paying sponsorships be sure to check out my book. 


So now you know more about how to become a YouTube including how to get famous on YouTube and how YouTubers get paid. The answers I provided hopefully showed you that becoming a YouTube sensation is definitely possible (but doesn’t happen overnight).

If you’re interesting in becoming a YouTuber or have already started a YouTube channel but want to better understand how to get more views and make more money then be sure to check out my book From You To YouTuber. Also, don’t forget to check out my list of The Top 100 Tools and Resources for Aspiring YouTubers. Finally, if you’re looking for a YouTube consultant I’d be happy to connect with you using the link in the site's main navigation.