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5 of the Best Video Monetization Platforms for Content Creators

| Doug Walker | March 3, 2022


Any video creator who’s generating a substantial body of work will eventually ask themselves the question: how can I monetize this? 

There are many platforms out there, as well as a lot of confusion over how exactly creators can earn revenue from their creative work. Here’s a breakdown for creators featuring the top video monetization platforms, designed to help content makers make their own minds up about the best platform where they can profit from their creative work. 

1. Patreon

Patreon is a site that helps support creators. Supporters sign up to donate monthly amounts, for which they’re rewarded with differing tiers, depending on how large their monthly contribution is. It often starts at a low number like $3 or $5/month and then goes up from there. 

Unlike some crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Patreon is designed to supply ongoing income to creators who are then able to use the income to support ongoing creative endeavors, including making videos. Creators must then reward their patrons with ongoing exclusives and rewards. These could be updates and early looks at creative material — or, at the low end, just emails or occasional check-ins.

The main pro to Patreon is that it’s a platform where creators are able to cultivate their own audience which, in theory, can follow them to larger endeavors. 

Other pros include:

  • A close relationship with fans, allowing creators to build community via patron-only posts and other direct messaging capabilities
  • Support for projects close to creators’ hearts without compromise, since that’s what creators are selling in the first place
  • The monthly and ongoing nature of payment, which after a successful launch can be somewhat reliable and predictable, and be used to plan a year’s worth of content.

The cons include:

  • It can be time-consuming to provide rewards to patrons, both in terms of launching a successful campaign and getting the attention of new patrons, as well as making sure that patrons feel like their needs are being met. Some video creators might find it another full-time job when it comes to making sure patrons don’t feel underserved.
  • It could be costly to keep up with the promised rewards — T-shirts and merchandise, for example.
  • Patrons may of course fall away for reasons that have nothing to do with creators’ output; for many looking to rein in their spending, their Patreons can be the first place they start.
  • Patreon’s site advises starting a launch by asking friends and family to contribute in order to provide the appearance of a popular launch. This may be out of the question for some or uncomfortable for others. 

Patreon provides good analytics to see how campaigns are doing and makes it relatively easy for creators to see their patrons’ monthly contributions and transfer them to their bank accounts. Patreon charges a number of fees to creators, however, including a fee whenever they transfer their money out of Patreon. The Patreon fees charged depend on the plan creators are using, so it’s worth reading these guidelines closely

Of course, Patreon can also be used in conjunction with other platforms. Like Kickstarter and all other crowdfunding sites, funds are donations, not an equity stake, so creators can make use of them however they want. So a Patreon campaign could fund the initial episodes of a talk show, which could then be monetized on another platform (with some luck). 

2. YouTube

YouTube is the OG for video viewing. Creators can apply to join the YouTube Partners Program, which allows creators to share ad revenue, as well as other possible sources of income such as:

  • Channel memberships
  • Merch shelf
  • Features like stickers that fans pay for so their messages are highlighted in chat streams
  • A portion of a YouTube Premium subscriber’s subscription fee when subscribers watch your content.

In order to join the YPP, YouTube advises that creators:

  • Must be in good standing with YouTube (ie, haven’t violated any speech or other rules)
  • Have 4000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months
  • Have at least 1000 subscribers. 

Once approved for the YPP program, creators don’t have to necessarily sustain this high level of engagement, but they must maintain a certain level of activity every 6 months, including posting some new content. 

The pro of monetizing on YouTube is that it has a vast audience and is really the byword for video watching online. The con is that YouTube now expects creators to treat this as a full-time job. This may be appealing to some video content creators, but others who just want to post occasional short films online and receive a slice of advertising revenue may balk. In any case, YouTube, like other platforms, now expects creators to build their own audiences first and then monetize them. 

Content also has to be “advertiser-friendly,” which is hardly a surprise, but may also restrict some creators from making the videos they want to — at least on YouTube. 

YouTube has also designated a $100M YouTube Shorts Fund to “reward creators for their dedication to making creative, original Shorts.” There’s no application, however. Rather, YouTube will take the initiative of reaching out to bestow bonuses on “thousands of creators each month.” 

In short, YouTube has evolved to reward creators with channels, rather than those who put up a short film after a festival run (for example) and then hope to make some extra revenue from it. 

It’s a demanding platform but could be a good source of income for video creators looking to put out a steady stream of content and build their own audience. Google and YouTube offer analytics and metrics to explain exactly how views translate into monetization, although these can feel slightly opaque.

Google’s AdSense mostly uses Revenue Per Mile (RPM) as its metric of how much money a video has earned per 1,000 video views, which creators can learn more about here, along with tips on how to increase their RPM. Creators can also make additional revenue through: 

  • Brand deals and sponsorships
  • Speaking and consulting fees
  • Selling merchandise off the merch shelf

Vodcasts on YouTube

Vlogging and video recordings of podcasts are genres that would work well for the YouTube monetization business model, a la Joe Rogan (before he went to Spotify), and shows like Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown

Shows like these are relatively easy and inexpensive to make and tend to be long (an hour or so per episode) so a diligent creator can handily make the required 4000 public watch hours. Additionally, they are an easy format for YouTube to insert ads into (or overlay on top of) Of course, it will be easier for creators to get those views if they have a modicum of celebrity or are celebrity-adjacent. 

Chat show vodcasts may have to steer clear of some controversial topics in order to satisfy the somewhat vague YouTube “good standing” requirement, which specifies that it holds Partners to higher standards than just anyone who can upload content to the platform.

Monetizing Live Streams on YouTube

Creators can monetize video live streams on YouTube. This relies on a certain kind of video, of course, like more personal first-person content or streaming video games. Some live streams are themselves infomercials, but even if not branded, live streams can provide advertising income via pre-roll, mid-roll, and display or overlay ads. Like other kinds of YouTube video content, live stream channels have to be approved for monetization as part of the YouTube Partner Program. 

Bottom line: YouTube might be lucrative ultimately, but it relies on building a strong and passionate audience base. Still, once creators have built that base, there are several ways to monetize their content on YouTube, including multiple ad options including preroll (i.e., before the content plays), mid-roll (which interrupt the content, like old-fashioned TV ads) and overlaid ads (which sit like subtitles or banners over the content as it plays).

3. Vimeo

Vimeo is the platform filmmakers tend to prefer over others: “the high-quality home for high-quality videos.” It’s not for influencers or unboxing videos. Rather, it tends to feature short films, many of which are award-winning, as well as filmmakers’ reels. 

It offers better resolution and image quality than other sites in this list and is designed less as a social media platform and more as a site for enjoying filmmaking. It offers a host of other filmmaker-specific features like password protection for sharing in-progress cuts, as well as simply restricting access to certain viewers. 

Vimeo also offers tools for monetization, which may surprise some. Shows like High Maintenance, now on HBO, started life as Vimeo-hosted productions. Vimeo offers two ways for creators to monetize their content: 

  • OTT (over-the-top), a subscription service like Netflix and other streamers, which offers monthly, annual, transactional, and pay-per-view monetization options
  • Vimeo On Demand, is a service with which individuals can make one-off purchases, but it requires a paid Vimeo subscription to get started.

These can be combined, on the Vimeo site or powered by its technology on other apps, so that creators can monetize a library of content, and also charge one-off amounts for people to rent or buy specific titles, including live-streamed pay-per-view events. 

According to Vimeo’s blog, it is easier for creators to make income using their site than YouTube. The logic goes that charging users upfront for consuming videos is just more straightforward than relying on an opaque algorithm that disburses advertising income and occasional vague bonuses. Vimeo can also provide creators (like the High Maintenance artistic team) with a devoted audience they can build on to create their next success. 

Unlike some other platforms, though, Vimeo requires payment from creators to use its technology. 

These pricing plans are straightforward. To create a web-based OTT channel, creators can pay either $1/subscriber per month (with possible added processing fees and taxes). In exchange, creators receive:

  • Use of Vimeo’s high-quality video player
  • Web payments
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing
  • Necessary Bandwidth

For the “Growth” package, starting at $500/month, creators also receive (among other features:)

  • Unlimited live events
  • Live pay-per-view
  • 3 concurrent streams
  • More upload hours and higher bandwidth

Vimeo offers creators a calculator which they can use to put together a custom package depending on their needs. 

Vimeo also offers support and analytics, and users can use Vimeo’s technology to create their own OTT platforms. While Vimeo is preferred by filmmakers, others who make use of its OTT technology include: 

  • Yoga and fitness instructors
  • Cooking class and other instruction services
  • Inspirational speakers
  • Live sporting events

One major plus of Vimeo’s approach is that creators can monetize their content without “smothering them in ads,” as Vimeo puts it.

In all, 6500+ channels use Vimeo OTT to monetize their online videos. 

Vimeo is a great platform to consider for creators looking to give their offerings a professional sheen and monetize their content in a straightforward way. 

Vimeo does require upfront payment and some more complex tech than simply uploading to YouTube, but for creators who are more attuned to the aesthetic element of their work, Vimeo is an excellent platform.

4. Meta: Facebook and Instagram

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is pivoting toward creators. Clearly, they see the future as belonging more to makers than just sharers of photos. Creators can make money directly and indirectly by posting content on Meta. These might include:

  • Hosting online events, which guests pay to attend
  • In-stream ads for on-demand video, require a minimum of 10, 000 followers and a total of 600,000 on-demand, live, and previously live minutes viewed, and at least 5 on-demand or previously live active videos
  • Subscriptions, which offer a monthly income, a la Patreon. However, Meta requires a minimum of 10, 000 followers and at least 250 weekly returning viewers, as well as 50, 000 post engagements in the last 60 days
  • In-stream ads for Live and previously live video
  • Instant articles
  • Stars, a “virtual good” that fans can send creators. Facebook pays a whopping $0.01 per star a creator receives.

Facebook is also starting to offer bonuses for creators, with a view to making creating on Facebook a sustainable and more predictable endeavor. Facebook, like other large platforms, relies on immense popularity before creators can start making meaningful income from their work. On the other hand, Facebook’s reach is unsurpassed, even with falling engagement, which they’re hoping to boost by pivoting to being more of a creator’s marketplace

Since Facebook wants everyone on Facebook all the time, it makes sense they would try and motivate creators this way. However, even with Facebook’s announcement of $1 billion in creators, a giant tech platform it is opaque and fickle: last summer, it was announced that IGTV creators could monetize their content by adding ads — but IGTV was discontinued shortly after.

Reels, introduced on Facebook and Instagram to compete with TikTok, can be monetized. This can be via Challenges (eg, earn $20 if 5 Reels get 100 plays each in one month), which will obviously spur a certain kind of content (fast and easily consumable). Meta is also rolling out overlay ads on Reels, though it’s hard to tell how much of this revenue will reach creators. 

5. TikTok

For a certain kind of creator — namely those engaged in the creation of short and punchy TikToks — this is a great platform to grow celebrity and become an influencer.

It’s an extremely narrow scope of content that TikTok features, of course, but within those few seconds are genres including: 

  • Chefs and recipe developers & stylists
  • Dancers and athletes
  • Fashion stylists and influencers

Judging by TikTok’s demographics, it also helps to be 21 or under. It’s not a platform for creators of longer short films, but it has its own ecosystem and TikTok celebrities, many of whom have been able to monetize their videos and also build careers outside of TikTok. 

TikTok videos can be monetized in two main ways: 

  • Via the creation of branded content. This means that brands pay creators to create content for them. This is where popularity can directly impact the amount of money that creators get paid, so it helps to have a following. Branded content is clearly labeled as such on TikTok. And advertisers can seek out TikTok creators via the TikTok Creator Marketplace.
  • Applying to the U.S. TikTok Creator Fund, which “will help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content on TikTok”. TikTok promises to pay U.S. creators “at least $200M over the next 12 months beginning in August 2020,” with the number heading into the billions. As to how this will be apportioned to creators, according to TikTok, there are “a number of factors” determining this. These factors include the video’s number of views, engagement with the video, and the authenticity of a view (no bots). In other words, it’s a bit opaque but certainly, some creators are able to make a living from TikTok.

The cons of TikTok for monetizing content, then, are that the terms of its monetization are opaque and that it only supports a certain kind of content.

Conclusion: Best Platforms for Monetizing Video Content

There are monetization options out there for creators of all stripes — even if finding the right one for them will take a little elbow grease and consideration of their own needs.

Ultimately, the best monetization platform does depend on the kind of content creators are working on and how devoted they are to producing videos in a consistent, ongoing fashion, as well as producing extras and finding ways to connect with and build a community around their productions. 

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