How To Make Money with YouTube in South Africa

Get paid when others watch your videos.

YouTube is the leading video-based social media network in the western world and certainly the most popular in South Africa. With billions of users spending hours on the platform every day, it is no surprise that advertisers are vying for their attention.

Creators are the core of YouTube, and without them, there would be no YouTube. The monetary incentive for creating engaging content have allowed many creators to make YouTube a full-time career.

Businesses have benefited from YouTube too, with some businesses relying on YouTube revenue as their sole source of revenue.

So, how do you get a piece of the money pie? How do you tap into millions of people potentially interested in what you have to say or produce?

How do you build a community and get in the workflow of uploading on a consistent basis and scale your YouTube channel to a point where it earns you enough money to not have to work for someone else?

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover all that and more. Here’s everything you need to know about making money with YouTube in South Africa.

How South African Youtubers make money

There are several ways you can make money with YouTube. The first and most common way people make money is through YouTube’s Partner Program.

YouTube’s Partner program is connected to Google AdSense and Google’s Ad network where advertisers run video ads, display ads, and text ads (sometimes a combination of all).

These are the ads you see before a video, overlayed on a video, after a video and below or next to a video, or even in between feeds such as the Homepage.

If you haven’t yet noticed the first thing you see when you go to the YouTube homepage these days is a display ad. A rather large one on desktop and YouTube for TV.

The two most popular formats of video on YouTube currently are standard videos and shorts.

With shorts creators will keep 45% of the revenue generated and with standard videos, creators have a variable revenue split with Google but is generally like Google AdSense which is around 40%.

To be eligible to join the YouTube Partner Network in South Africa, you will need to have no active YouTube community guideline strikes on your channel, have more than 4000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months, and have more than 1000 subscribers.

Every time someone watches one of your videos and sees and advertisement from an advertiser who is bidding for impressions, or someone clicks on any ad, you will make money.

Over time, you will be able to determine your average rate per 1000 views to determine how many views you need to make a certain amount of money. The more views you have, the more money you will be able to make.

Interested in knowing how much money your favourite South African YouTubers are earning through the YouTube Partner Network?

Visit your favourite Youtuber’s channel, copy the channel URL and head over to Social Blade. Enter the URL or Username into the search box and hit search.

Below we used SABC News’s YouTube channel for an example, and we can see many stats about the cannel and that they are generating around $5000 to $79000 per month in revenue.

Although this is a range and not entirely accurate it uses industry data to provide estimates, and this can be seen as an indicator of the value of a channel’s viewership.

YouTubers in many cases have more than one source of income so that they don’t not have to rely solely on YouTube.

Most commonly YouTubers will also make money with affiliate marketing where they promote other brand’s products and services with a unique link or code, and when someone makes a purchase using that unique link or code then creator is paid a commission on the sale.

The next method is through sponsorships. When YouTubers have built up a sizeable viewership and community, some brands will approach creators directly to sponsor their videos in exchange for a short shoutout and promotion of a product or service, you might have seen a YouTube taking minute or two thank a sponsor of a video.

Sponsorships income will be largely dependent on your viewership and audience size but pays extremely well because you don’t have to share your income with YouTube. You might need to give SARS their cut though.

Lastly YouTubers can also make money from memberships and people can also tip them, or you could use YouTube to create awareness about your products and services if you have any already.

The power of making money on YouTube lies in the ability to create a video once, upload it and potentially drive revenue from it for several years. As your video library grows – so will your income.

How to start a YouTube channel

Starting a YouTube channel is super easy. All you need is a Google Account. If you have a Gmail email address, then you already have a Google account, if you don’t quickly set one up for free here. If you’re under 18, a guardian may set one up on your behalf.

Next, make your way on over to, sign in with your Google account and click on your profile image, then click on “Your Channel”. You may be asked to create a channel, to which you may select “Yes”.

And there you have it, your very own YouTube channel. Take some time to explore all the features and begin filling out all the basic information about your account, such as you’re about info, adding any relevant social media or website links and uploading a unique profile picture as well as a banner image for your YouTube homepage.

Uploading your first video

YouTube has a creator studio where you can manage every aspect of your videos, see analytics of your videos’ performance as well as update old videos.

Uploading your first video is easy, click on the upload icon next to your profile picture in the YouTube header.

Next follow the step-by step prompts by YouTube to upload the video to your channel. Processing for large files can take some time, so a stable internet connection is beneficial.

Be sure to include a well written description for your video as well as tags so that YouTube can get a better understanding of what your content is about and subsequently recommend it to the most ideal audience.

A video transcript can also be added to further help YouTube make sense of your video and provide more accurate video captions.

Tip: To increase the click-through rate of your videos (likelihood of someone clicking on your video) create custom thumbnails rather than using the standard screen grab from YouTube.

We recommend Canva to create stunning YouTube thumbnails for your videos. Canva is free to join.

Getting into the flow of things

After you’ve posted your first video, give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishment. Many people procrastinate and never even get to this point.

But also realise that the work has only just began and filming, editing, uploading, and optimising, and monetising your channel is tough, and will require a lot of effort and motivation to stay consistent, as consistency is the only way your channel will grow, and equally your income from the platform.

Monetising your YouTube channel

Once you’ve reached the eligibility requirements mentioned earlier, you can apply to be a part of the YouTube Partner network. If you don’t have the patience, don’t worry, as there is more than one way to make money on YouTube.

Check out our full list of affiliate programs and networks in South Africa or reach out to brands related to the topics of your videos and ask whether they would like to partner with you or sponsor your videos.

Finally, instead of being the product, create your own products such as merchandise like clothing, or even digital goods like eBooks or online courses which you can sell to your viewers. You can also sell coaching or consulting on the side.

To conclude, YouTube can be a great source of income to compliment or substitute your current income, but its comet the cost of hard work, hustle, and a culture of learning will need to be developed as the internet is continually evolving and to rely solely on YouTube as your primary source of income will put you at the mercy of Google.

Nevertheless, many have succeeded on this platform, and there’s no reason why you cannot either.

More and more people are choosing video-based content over text-based search, and it is say that YouTube has become part of our everyday lives.

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