How to become a YouTube influencer (and make money while doing it)

How to become a YouTube influencer

The pandemic has taught us to expect the unexpected. We saw how it impacted global economies, hit job markets and brought the entire planet to a stand-still.

In the post-Covid world, people, having had a chance to prioritise, are more flexible and open-minded about exploring off-beat career options and now seek to up their game to discover viable alternative career opportunities.

Becoming a YouTuber or a YouTube influencer is one such option that has gained traction over the past years.

Here are a few quick YouTube statistics that will help us understand a little more about this online platform and its popularity quotient.

Quick facts about YouTube

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YouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform and the second largest search engine after Google.

Its wide range of content ensures that there is always something for everyone.

Five billion YouTube videos are watched every day across the globe. YouTube’s popularity soared even more during the pandemic as people replaced physical, in-person events with online interactions and activities. However, consider the following facts about YouTube and India.

Evidently, YouTube is an exceedingly popular platform for content creators and content viewers in India. This in turn means it is an excellent platform for brands and marketers to reach their target audiences. And this presents a whole new opportunity for YouTube Influencers.

Let us first begin by understanding the basic concepts.

What is an influencer?

The advent of social media has given rise to a new economy of content creators and influencers. For brands trying to reach potential customers, influencers occupy the wide gap between celebrity endorsements and word-of-mouth - the best of both worlds.

Unlike celebrities, influencers are more real and approachable. When a celebrity endorses a product, it captures the attention of a wide range of consumers at scale. However, influencers can help brands reach more targeted audiences with greater engagement and interaction.

For instance, a YouTube influencer will actually buy the product, use it and then review it. More often than not, the audience is taken through the entire user experience through videos about the buying experience, unboxing, before-after comparisons, and price comparisons, etc. Influencers are more accessible, engaging, and responsive. And this gives them greater credibility in the minds of their audience.

What is a YouTube influencer?

A YouTube influencer is primarily a content creator who has positioned themselves as a specialist in a particular domain and established a huge following on YouTube.

The size of their following can be measured in terms of the number of subscribers to their channel and the number of views per video. There is no universally accepted eligibility threshold to become a YouTube influencer. However, for the sake of a definition, we may consider a thousand subscribers as a minimum, since that’s how many you need to be eligible to monetise your YouTube channel with the YouTube Partner Program. (More about this later)

It sounds like a rather fun job. But it does require a fair share of hard work, consistency, and commitment.

How to become a YouTube influencer?

While it may seem like YouTube is getting increasingly saturated with new and aspiring influencers, there will always be room for fresh and interesting content.

There are no formal courses designed yet to teach us about becoming a YouTube influencer. It may all seem very confusing when you begin. The trick is to stick to what you feel confident about and comfortable with, while knowing how to keep your audience interested.


Of course, that’s easier said than done. So, let’s demystify this process by breaking it down.

  1. Identify your niche
  2. Build a unique brand
  3. Plan your content and build a pipeline
  4. Publish your Youtube Channel and post regularly
  5. Optimise your channel
  6. Engage with potential audiences across platforms
  7. Measure, experiment, and iterate

By following these steps, you’ll be able to increase the reach of your content, and build an engaged audience - making you a YouTube influencer.

1. Identify your niche

You need to start by deciding your niche. The best way to do this is to identify your core area of interest and/or expertise and create your content within that domain.

For example, if you love cooking, your YouTube channel can have videos of you cooking, talking about recipes, sharing cooking tips, etc. Somebody whose core interest or skill is yoga can create videos providing information about yoga, teaching the various asanas, etc.

It can be tempting to create content based on multiple interests, but this could become chaotic for your content profile at the beginning of your journey. Having said that, you can definitely branch out and explore any other subjects that you may find interesting once your channel finds its footing.

2. Build a unique brand

A catchy name and a well-designed logo go a long way in creating a unique identity for your YT channel.

Here are a few things to be kept in mind while choosing a name for your YT channel:

  • Check availability - make sure the name you choose for your channel is available and is not being used already - especially by an already popular channel/ user.
  • Easy and catchy - ensure that your channel name is easy to spell. Giving a catchy name also makes it easy to remember.
  • Relatable to the content - choosing a name relevant to the content makes it easily relatable for the viewers. For example, if your content is related to vegan recipes, integrate an element of veganism into the name. Relatable is directly proportional to memorable.
  • Be mindful of cultural sensitivities - It’s critical to be conscious and avoid making any comments that may hurt the sentiments of any religion or community. Any sort of insensitivity may cause irreparable damage to your brand, overnight. Besides, if your content doesn’t follow YouTube’s community guidelines or if your viewers report your content, the ability to monetise your channel may be significantly curtailed.

You could also boost your brand recall by creating a three-second clip that will run before each of your videos. It needs to be compelling and in line with the identity, you want to portray. The Disney castle logo that plays before every Disney video is a great branding example.

A mistake many beginners make is to try to appeal to all kinds of content consumers. It helps to be clear about what you want to do on your channel and who you want to cater to. Therefore, think hard to identify your core audience and position yourself accordingly.

The linked blog will give you more information on how to build a brand.

3. Plan your content and build a pipeline

Begin by brainstorming. That could be you with a friend, or you with your notepad.

Start uploading videos only after you have taken your time to plan your content. Below are some of the considerations you should take into account.

  • What kind of content would you like to share?
  • What kind of content do you think your audience wants to see?
  • What has worked with your audience in the past?
  • What do your audiences search for in your domain?
  • What are the subjects and themes yet to be explored within your domain?
  • What is the frequency with which you can create videos to publish?
  • What is the ideal time of day or week to post?
  • What should be the ideal duration of your videos?
  • What are the hashtags that will help you amplify your content?

Planning content ideas gives your channel a much-needed structure that becomes closely associated with your niche and brand image. It also gives your audience a sense of what to expect when they come across a video by you, which may give them a good reason to hit ‘play’.

Keep creating unique and original content ideas that you think will keep your audience engaged and interested.

4. Publish your Youtube Channel and post regularly

Publishing your channel is the next step. Read the linked article for a more detailed explanation about how to create your YouTube channel.

Once published, posting regularly is one of the keys to the success of any youtube channel. Choose a day and time to post regularly - calendaring the planned content always helps in being regular and frequent without gaps. Build a cadence and set the rhythm.

How to create good content for YouTube is a fair question to ask at this point. This is discussed later in the blog. So, read on.

5. Optimise your channel

There are many ways to optimise and make the most of your channel.

Ensure that you make strategic use of keywords as they decide everything when it comes to Google recognising you. Use them in your title, description, hashtags and even while speaking in your videos.

Hyperlinking citations for key moments is a great way to boost user-friendliness. They allow your audience to quickly find the content they want to see within a video with the time-stamp feature.

Entering a transcript file for your videos, creating compelling thumbnails, organising your channel with playlists, and having an end screen with a call-to-action are other great ways to boost your channel optimisation.

Read the linked article to get into the nitty-gritties of YouTube SEO.

6. Engage with potential audiences across platforms

Being a YouTube influencer does not mean you cannot have a following on other social platforms as well. In fact, it is beneficial to funnel your followers from other platforms such as Twitter or Instagram towards your YouTube content. This also helps you keep your existing audience from YouTube engaged in the period between your video drops, with related updates and snippets of upcoming videos.

It is important to maintain the consistency of your brand identity across platforms so that all your content is instantly recognisable as yours. This will not only boost your number of followers on each platform but also allow you to leverage the network effects of each platform to share your content on a wider scale and gain more traction.

7. Measure, experiment, and iterate

It is important to keep a constant track of how your channel is doing in terms of number of views, YouTube channel subscribers, engagement, and more. YouTube gives you access to your analytics in granular detail – from demographics and user locations to even average watch time.

Understanding your YouTube analytics will give you vital insights as to how you can improve your content. For example, knowing when a viewer is likely to leave your video will give you an idea about where the viewer loses interest. This will help you adjust your future content accordingly.

Read the linked article to understand how the YouTube algorithm works.

Along with keeping a track of your performance, it is important to consciously experiment with your content. This could be in terms of themes, structure, tone, delivery, and more. It will help you discover surprising things about what clicks with your audience.

So, measure – experiment – iterate.

How to begin creating original YouTube content?

Let us now turn to the actual process of creating content. While this isn’t a movie-scale production, it’s still a production. Which means some of the technical considerations remain the same.

1. Technical requirements

Many YouTube influencers started off creating content using just their mobile phones.

However, YouTube has now become a competitive space and it is recommended to put in some technical effort to enhance the audio and visual quality of your videos. The kind of equipment you need is largely based on the kind of content you plan on creating.

  • The visual component

You do not really need to buy the most expensive camera available. You can go for an affordable one that can record high-quality (at least 1920x1080) videos.

A tripod is an absolute asset to create stable and non-shaky videos and give your videos a professional touch. In case you’re likely to be moving your camera, invest in a gimbal mount that stabilises your image and makes camera movements smoother.

The effect of lighting in your videos can’t be underestimated. Lighting choices are critical as they set the mood of the video. Consider investing in good soft light sources, ring-light LEDs, and a handy reflector to give your videos a clean, crisp, and professional look.

  • The audio component

Your choice of the microphone will differ based on the conditions under which you record. If your video presentation is such that the microphones need to be concealed, you may choose a good quality lapel mic or an off-screen boom mic at a distance. As far as possible, try to record audio in a place with minimal echo and ambient noise. Your subscribers will very likely lose interest if your audio is not clear.

  • Post-production

Presentation is everything and that is where post-production comes in. A good video editing software not only helps to remove all the bloopers and unwanted footage but also greatly helps to blend images and sounds to create a work that connects with the audience.

In addition, graphics and typography added in post-production will enhance the production design of your video.

2. Content and preparation

Coming to the content bit, it is important to understand that consistency, apart from originality, is extremely important. Pay close attention to the structure, tone, and style of each video, and establish a frequency at which you post your videos.

  • Structure

Content planning is easier when you have a well-defined niche and brand image.

Create a content plan. Have a very clear idea about what exactly you want your content to do.

 Do you want to do a travel series, or DIY videos? Will you be making informative videos about one set topic or exploring a new theme with each video? Each type of video comes with an expected structure. However, you may defy the norms consciously.

Start with brainstorming, i.e., just randomly writing down ideas that come to mind. You can then start examining to see which of those can be brought together into a unified whole, with a seamless flow.

As mentioned before, be open to tweaking your structure based on the performance of your channel’s analytics.

  • Tone and style

Your tone and style need to be in sync with your brand image and content. At the same time, it needs to be authentic to you. This goes a long way in determining your brand personality.

Is the content intended to be funny, witty, sarcastic, deep, meaningful, matter-of-fact, or formal? No single adjective can fully describe your tone, but a mix of adjectives can closely approximate it.

Similarly, the style of your videos is a conscious choice. From animated explainers to stock-footage edits, to video essays, to one-person-talking-to-camera – there are innumerable video styles to choose from. But always keep in mind the consistency of your brand while making that choice.

Dictionary of obscure sorrows uses stock-footage edits with meaningful prose in voice-over to create a distinct tone and style.

Also, check out the insightful video essays across a wide variety of subjects by The Nerdwriter, for their tone and style.

  • Frequency

Create a realistic posting goal for yourself. Use a content calendar.

On average, and especially when you begin, it is recommended that you post twice or thrice a week. An essential part of creating a successful YouTube following is to post consistently so that your subscribers know when they can expect to hear from you, thus fostering a connection.

Keep a buffer stock of ideas. They come in handy on days that you are not feeling particularly inspired to create content and help you stick to your posting goals.

Your content can make you or break you. In addition to ensuring that it is 100% original, you can keep it engaging by inserting audience polls, ask-me-anything (AMA) sessions, etc.

Examples of Indian YouTube influencers

Let us take a look at a few Indian YouTube influencers who made it big on the platform.

1. Ajey Nagar (CarryMinati)


Genre: Comedy; gaming; satire; sketches

YouTube channel subscribers: 32.7 million

He pioneered the concept of ‘roasting’ in India. He started his channel as a kid when he was 10 years old and is one of the top paid influencers today.

2. Sandeep Maheshwari

sandeep youtuber

Genre: Concepts of life, success, etc.

YouTube channel subscribers: 21.7 million

Having gone through his fair share of ups and downs in life, Sandeep Maheshwari started with very little. He started his YouTube channel in 2021, and through sheer perseverance and hard work, today, he is looked upon as a guide, mentor, role model and youth icon by millions of people across the globe.

3. Rajesh Kumar  (FactTechz)

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Genre: Scientific/educational videos

YouTube channel subscribers: 17.4 million

Rajesh Kumar  started his YouTube channel in 2016 when he was only 16 years old. His is the 'first' Indian YouTube channel to cross a million subscribers in less than a year.

4. Vidya Iyer (Vidya Vox)


Genre: Music

YouTube channel subscribers: 7.47 million

She started her YouTube channel in 2015 and has garnered much success with her hard-work and talent. The driving force of Vidya’s success is the creativity behind the fusions and the selection of songs.

5. Yashraj Mukhate


Genre: Comedy, music, pop-culture

YouTube channel subscribers: 4.82 million

An engineer-turned-YouTuber, Yashraj Mukhate came into the limelight with his quirky semi-parodical musical compositions when a video where he set dialogues from a Hindi serial to peppy rap beats, broke the internet (in India). His unique brand of musical humor is his strongest suit.

These YouTube influencers did not become successful merely by uploading a few videos. They worked diligently on their content, stayed the course, and effectively monetised the YouTube platform over time. However, YouTube wasn’t their only avenue to make money as a YouTube influencer.

How to make money as a YT influencer?

There are various ways for a YouTube influencer to make money. Let us take a look at a few of them here.

  • YouTube revenue and advertisement

The YouTube Partner Program though not an imperative step to monetising the platform, definitely does make it easier. What this basically means is that you allow YouTube to run ads during your videos and whenever someone sees or clicks on those ads, YouTube and you split the fee that Google charges the advertiser.

Here is a list of requirements to qualify as a YouTube partner and the latest guidelines for influencer advertising in digital media for your read.  The basics are below:

  • You must have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months

  • You must have more than 1,000 YouTube channel subscribers

  • You must have an AdSense account

YouTube Premium is another option for YouTube channel subscribers to support YouTube influencers but without the ads. It is a paid membership program that pays content creators simply based on how much members watch their content. Every time a subscriber watches your video, you get a part of their subscription fee. This option works automatically and can be the perfect complement to your earnings from YouTube.

  • Products and merchandise

Once you have 10,000 YouTube channel subscribers (unless yours is a music channel, where it needs to be an official artist channel), you can also explore building your brand merchandise by setting up your merchandise shelf on YouTube. This not only generates earnings from YouTube but also helps to reinforce your brand identity and image. For example, if you are a chef running a YouTube channel, you could sell your own branded cookware - on your YT channel. Read a beginner’s guide to leveraging YouTube Marketing to increase sales.

 Apart from selling directly through the YouTube merchandise shelf, you could also set up an online store for your merchandise on ecommerce platforms like Shopify. In a related blog, read more on the nitty gritties of building, and growing a profitable online store. You could further direct your subscribers to buy your merchandise by inserting your online store/shopping links in your video descriptions and promoting them through your videos. To make all this easy for you, Shopify has integrated with YouTube to make this easier for you. Our Google app helps you instantly sync your products to YouTube, create live shopping experiences and manage your sales via your single Shopify Dashboard.  


Source: Youthiapa

Youthiapa, a Shopify store, is the official merchandise store for the popular YouTube channel BB Ki Vines, by Youtube influencer Bhuvan Bam.

  • Fan-funding

Fan-funding is another approach to generating revenue. It basically means asking your YouTube channel subscribers (who are your fans) to fund your work. Channel memberships are a great way to monetise your channel. In exchange for monthly payments, fans receive bonus content such as special videos, live chats, etc.

YouTube’s Super Chat, Patreon, Tippeee, Kickstarter are all popular fan-funding platforms that are worth trying.

  • Brand collaborations

Partnering or collaborating with brands is another savvy way to make money as a YouTube influencer. Once you are an established YouTube influencer, many brands will want to partner with you to promote their products.

YouTube has also set up BrandConnect which is a sponsorship platform to connect content creators with brands. You need to pick a brand that is in line with your niche and brand identity. For example, if you are running a beauty blog, it makes sense to partner with a cosmetics brand and promote their products.

You can promote the brand and its products through unboxing videos, tutorials, sketches, etc.

Check out another interesting article that talks all about monetising opportunities as a YouTuber in greater detail.

YouTube could be your launchpad

YouTube provides a great platform to kickstart your meteoric rise to fame. In addition to ensuring that your content is original, relevant, and creative, it is vital, now more than ever, to understand how to keep your audience engaged and monetise this platform in a way that best works for you.


1. How does YouTube pay influencers?

YouTube pays influencers with the revenue generated through playing ads during their videos, premium subscriptions, channel subscriptions, products sold on the merchandise shelf, etc.However, there is a set of guidelines and formal process to be followed before you start earning from your YT channel. As a prerequisite, one needs to sign up for the YouTube partner program and set up an Adsense account.

Check out YouTube partner earnings overview, for more information on earning from the YouTube partner program

2. Is there a time-limit for one to get 1000 YouTube channel subscribers to become an influencer?

There is no defined time-limit to get 1000 YouTube channel subscribers to become an influencer.

3. How much time does it take to become a YouTube influencer?

Your success as a YouTube influencer depends on the kind of content you create, how consistently you post, and its utility and/or entertainment quotient to subscribers. Optimising it using keywords is yet another important aspect that gets you more subscribers faster. A good average for successful YouTube influencers would be between one and two years to build up the first 1000 subscribers on uploading consistently with optimisation. But not every YouTuber makes it big - truth to be told, only 0.4% of channels on YouTube get all the views and then there is an added complexity of the YT algorithm.

4. How much does a YouTube influencer make?

A YouTube influencer with 1 million video views is estimated to make anywhere from ₹7000 to ₹30000 from YouTube Partner Programme.

However, how much a YouTube influencer makes has a high degree of variance depending on the genre of their content, their audience niche, geographical locations of viewers, and more, apart from directly measurable values like subscribers and views.

A tool like Social Blade helps you estimate how much a particular YouTube Channel makes in revenue. In order to get an idea about your income potential as a YouTuber, you could check out the figures of Youtube channels closely resembling the kind of content you create, and targeting a similar audience.


Source: Social Blade

For example, the estimated yearly earnings for Indian YouTuber Rachana Ranade, with 80K subscribers is between $14.9K - $238.1K (₹1,147,000 - ₹18,329,500).

5. How many YouTube channel subscribers do you need to become an influencer on YouTube?

To become a youtube influencer and to be able to monetize your channel, one needs to have more than 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of public watch time in the previous 12 months. The linked blog on how to get more subscribers on YouTube discusses the strategies to get there.

Do you want to create your own online store?