How to Diversify Your YouTube Income and Create Products for Your Audience [Creator's Tip # 73]

Most YouTube creators rely on Adsense as their primary source of income from their videos, but you can earn a lot more money from your YouTube audience by developing a product to sell to them. Often this is an information product of some sort and can be much more profitable than relying on advertising dollars and sponsorships alone for your income on YouTube.

For this week's Creator's Tip, we talked with David Garland, creator and host of the website and podcast show, The Rise to the Top. His show provides insight and tips to help individuals learn how to start their own shows or how to take their existing shows or YouTube channels to the next level.  David talks with us about how to determine what kind of product you could sell to your audience, tips for making and launching it, and how to give your subscribers something that's valuable for both you and them.

Don't Miss Out - Join Our VIP Video Marketing Community!
Get daily online video tips and trends via email!

View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey, guys. On this week's Creator's Tip video, we're going to talk with about developing products that you can then sell and promote to your YouTube audience. That and much more coming up on this week's Creator's Tip video.

Hey, guys. My name is Tim Schmoyer , and welcome to another week of Creator's Tip where every week, we just help you guys who are making online video content know how to make that stuff perform the best on the web, and I have a special guest here with us today. His name's . Thanks for hanging out with us, man. How you doing?

I am awesome, my man. Great to be here and helping YouTube nation. I'm a big YouTube fan, so excited to be here.

Yeah, David does a lot of awesome stuff. You guys should go check him at at He's a new media broadcaster. In fact, it's your podcast that's had 7 million downloads from across a hundred countries lately?

Yeah, yeah, you know, if you add them up over the last hundred years. No, it was – yeah, we've got 7 million views-ish in about – yeah, actually now over 100 countries mostly viewing either interviews that I've done with all kinds of interesting people or just myself riffing on some random stuff, so.

Cool. Well, I'm most familiar with him, guys, is that he does a lot of great interviews and David, one of the ones that I saw, and I know you kind of talk about this kind of stuff a lot throughout – on is product creation, launches. One of the things that we talk about here at ReelSEO is, you know, how you make money off your videos, and a lot of times that's kind of limited to Ad Sense revenue. I know there's, like, a lot of people that make a lot of different content that watch this stuff, and what I want to help them start thinking through with your help here is different products that they can create. What advice would you have for a YouTube video marketer/creator who's trying to start that, to get that wheel turning. You know, do you have any advice for someone who's just starting?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I do, and I'm going to promise I will answer that question.


I promise. Do not let me dodge it. I will because I actually have an exact answer for that to start, but I want to give, like, a little bit of context here, all right?


Like, while we're talking about it, because I was in the same camp that a lot of people are in just a couple years ago. So meaning my show, “The Rise to the Top,” which is about media-preneurship – that's what I call it, which is content creators and, you know, online publishers, new media, that's what we cover. My show was solely based basically – let's call it 95-97% of the revenue, you know, of sponsorships that I sold myself, and I was actually continued to be very successful at it for no apparent reason, but the bottom line is sponsorships are what I was doing. I did some kind of inconsistent things on the side. So what I mean by that is an occasional speaking or an occasional special project or an occasional random thing, but nothing that was consistent, and the problem with those two things – and I think a lot of folks that are going to watch this are thinking about these things – is number one is with the inconsistency. That sucks, right? Like it just kind of sucks. You just don’t know what's going to happen. Like, you don't know what's going to go on.

It's unpredictable.


Right, yeah.

And with sponsorships and while it's one of those I have a love/hate relationship with sponsors, you know? And by the way, I love my sponsors, of course, but I'm saying that I go for – you know, try to find the right fit and all. There's all these different things we talk about sponsorships but bottom line is the challenge with sponsorships is a couple Number one, you're – it's not in your control, right? So meaning, you know, I've seen every weird reason under the bridge for a sponsorship discontinuing with myself, friends, whatever. You know, someone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, someone runs out of money, the contact that you have at the company leaves and leaves you with no one else to talk to. There's so many different things that can happen and what ends up happening is you become very dependent on these sponsors, and the problem is they're – you’re sort of the middle man.

It's so fickle. It is. Like, I was a full-time blogger for a couple years, and I know what's that like. People come and go, and then like, when they’re all gone, you're like, oh, shoot, I have nothing to depend on now, you know?

Exactly, exactly, so one of my goals when I started kind of learning about this, and I have that sort of obsessive learning where I want to learn everything and then I want to try it myself and make sure I can do it, and the way that I learn a lot of times is just by doing it on my show. So I was like, I want to come up with some products to do. Let's bring on some people that've done it. I want to hear about their good, the bad, the ugly, and so I did a whole kind of series on that, and my first thought – and this is where a lot of people are, too. I think we all come from the kind of creative mindset – is that there's a lot of sketchy crap out there about products. Like, just it's so sketchy. I don't even know. I'm like wipe my eyes, and I think we get nervous as content creators that we're going to lose some kind of trust or some kind of issue if we directly sell to people something because we're going to fall into that, like, scammy internet marketing.


So I was like, F that. I'm not going to do that. You know what I mean? And I actually delayed for a long time coming up with a product because I was honestly a little nervous about it. I was nervous about kind of doing this, and you know, and people'd even come up to me and say, “David, you have to sell me something.”

I've had that, too. At ReelSEO, people are like, “Hey, you know, are you guys selling anything?” I'm like, mmm, and they're like, “Whenever you do, let me know 'cause I'll be the first one to buy it.” I'm like, wow.

Alright, see, that's an exact case that I bet a lot of people that are watching this are in is that people – when people like you and they want to learn from you and they're entertained or they're learning or whatever, they want to buy something of value, right? You have to get that. This is the first before I tell where to start is getting into that mindset that it's okay to sell people things that you create that are awesome. You know, when people start coming up to you at conferences saying you need to do something, I was like, alright, I need to do something, and what I did – and this is going to lead into that first point – was that my first big digital course, $495 course called Create Awesome Interviews was taking my four-plus years of knowledge and thousands of interviews that I've done and condensing it into a course to teach people how to do it, basically how to do your own interview-based webshow on video but if you want to do audio only, as well, great, okay? And so just like we're doing here and all the different ways to market it and monetize it, whatever, and you know, it did six figures, you know, within the first few months of it being out, okay?

Right, that's awesome.

Let's get back to kind of the original question here after my big rag because I want to give people – there’s nothing worse than not understanding kind of like what's going on. So how did I discover what I was going to do and where can you guys figure this out, okay? A few different places that I think are critical. Number one, think about all those annoying messages and emails you get from someone asking a question that's over and over and over and over again, okay? Clue number one. So for example, the number one questions that I was getting was how do I – I want to do an interview. How do I get someone to come on? How do I get someone to say yes, or how do I record a side-by-side Skype interview? Questions like that were coming in over and over and over again. So I said okay, hm, interesting. We might be onto something here. So pay attention whether it's on Twitter, Facebook, email, comments. What are people always asking you about? That's the number one thing to think about first, okay?

Then what I like to do is sort of a soft test to see if this topic that people are really interested in. So what I did was I used my blog or my site and just kind of wrote maybe a video. I did a couple little things, very short things about interviewing, a couple tips, you know, just giving away some content just to see what people had to say, and the comments and the feedback were huge, you know, and it was like you could tell that I had hit on a passionate subject that people cared about, and that's when I decided to kind of keep going for it, and the third thing that I'd recommend doing if you want to give it a shot is send out a survey, and what I did was I simply sent out a survey. I said what do you want to know about doing online interviews? What do you guys want to know? That's it. Here's an open-ended survey. Put your name and email and ask your questions, and you know, I got hundreds of responses from that, and I'm not necessarily saying you need hundreds of responses to say this is a viable idea, but I think you want to see if people are interested in this, and I didn't say I'm creating a course. I didn't say I'm writing a book on it. I didn't say what I'm doing with it. I just said do you guys want to learn more about this? What do you want to know? Basically they created the outline for me just by asking all those questions. So that's kind of some places to start.

Yeah, that's really awesome. Do you feel like you need, like, a certain size audience before you can really jump in and start doing that, or can you start with your ten subscribers and go from there?

Well, you know, I don't think there's really – I think it's better to start than way, you know, in my opinion. I almost – I probably waited too long. I don't think that there's a point where you can, you know, say okay, now let's hit the green light. Like, I know people that've waited for a certain amount of email subscribers, things like that. That always helps, but I'd rather get started because here's another thing to think about. My course sold and continues to sell for $495, and we've got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of graduates out there also advocating it and doing things like that. Even if you've got a few people in, you're going to get testimonials. You're going to get, you know, some love, and think about it this way: let's say you're out there doing Ad Sense, God forbid, or you're selling your own ads or whatever you're doing, okay? Let's just say you had ten people 'cause this is another challenge, right? If you only have ten people, 20 people that are really big fans, that's a tough sell to an advertiser. You're not going to get too much, and you have to continually build your audience bigger and bigger and bigger for sponsors to care about you.

Now let's say you have those same ten people and you end up with a $500 course and ten people buy it, that's five grand. There's no way you would make that much from any other source potentially than doing something like that. I don't think an audience is necessarily too small, and also I just think, you know, too many people are waiting for that perfect moment. There isn't that perfect moment.

Yeah, when I did my first information product, this was a couple years ago now, my website was – everything on it was completely free for years and years. I started in 2005. I think my first product was, like, 2010. So for five years, it was all free and all of a sudden, I had a paid product and I feel like it was actually detrimental doing everything for free because, like, people were like, “Whoa, you know, we're used to getting everything for free from you. Like, we're okay with pulling our wallet out with, like, this publishing company or this, but like, we don't pull our wallet out. You know, we're not used to that with you.” So it took – it was really hard to, like, get that going, and so now, like, I feel like it's way better to start with just a paid product, even if people, like, don't buy it maybe. This is my naivety Correct me if I'm wrong, but at least so that they know that they could pull out their wallet with you if they wanted to in the future when you come out with something else. At least that's in their mind, you know?

Yeah, because you want to – the hardest sale, if you will, or hardest thing is to go from zero to one penny.


Not from one penny to $1,000 or something like that. That's not – it's getting people that are exactly what you said, used to free, and kind of what I – my philosophy on it, and I agree with you, for sure. I'd rather have something our sooner than later just to get people in that mindset.

Exactly, yeah.

That's where it – what I did with my show from day one was always had, you know, “something to promote.” I'm putting that in quotes, “something to promote.” So it was an affiliate or maybe it was a sponsor or maybe it was, you know, I don't know, whatever, a book of a friend, but I always made sure that there was not overdoing it by any means. You know, I'm a very soft promoter. I'm not something that's going to go shove it down people's faces, but I wanted people to not have that reaction like you just said, and for example, Ramit Sethi who does I Will Teach You to Be Rich, buddy of mine, when he came over talking about this, like, he talks about, like, his first product was like – and this was after years, too. It's like an ebook or something. It was like $4, 3.99 or something like that, and he had people that were, like, emailing him saying that he was, like, Satan. Yeah.

You know what? You're going to get some of those people regardless of what you do, whether you charge one penny or $10,000. You know, screw those people. That's not who you need to worry about, but I could not agree with you more. Getting something sooner than later is a great thing and it also kind of kicks that momentum off to then do the next thing or whatever it might be.

Yeah, awesome. I know there's a lot we could talk about with this, you know, as far as how do you price it and how do you discover, you know, what your audience is willing to pay and, like, all that kind of stuff, but let me skip ahead of that a little bit, and you can – if you have some great resources for that, I'll ask you about that at the end, but right now, let's say you've developed your product, you've got it priced, and you’re ready to launch it. What advice can you give for people who are working specifically with a video audience for launching and promoting a product, like, when you release it?

Great question about – well, here's what I did, and I just – you know, I mostly like to share literally personal experiences 'cause I think there's nothing better than that, so what I did is I would start teasing different things about the product as we got closer and closer to it, and what I did was I basically just had people opt into a email list. You know, I was like, if you're interested in learning how to do online interviews, I've got a product coming out soon. I was very – like, the cool thing about being a content creator is that there's already trust you've built up with people.

Right, exactly. You don't need to knock them over the head with a hammer and you don't need to be all sketchy and worry about, like, the purple color of the text or something like that. You don't need to do it. I've noticed that the simpler things were, the better. What I did was – is I had people – the first thing I did was I literally just put up a video and I put up a video on my site, little squeeze page, which is just a video and, you know, a place to enter your email, and made – did it with Optimize Press, didn't take very long, and this is great of, you know, having video 'cause I think that obviously connects best with people, and I said, you know, hey guys, you know, I’ve gotten a lot of questions, I put out the survey, you guys have asked so many different cool things. I'm going to put a course together, and I want you to be, you know, one of the first people that knows about this. You know, I want you to be a VIP. You're going to get, you know, a few different benefits of being a VIP. You're going to get in first, you’re going to get some special things. All you have to do is enter your email. I'll let you know when it's ready. We're working on it.

Cool, yeah.

And then I promoted that in many different ways. So I promoted that on my show, I promoted that on my blog, I promoted that on social media saying hey, guys, by the way, check this out, and people started opting in, and then what I did was I just would periodically – I didn't even finish it. I barely started it, even when I did this part – was I would send just, you know, every – I don't even want to say week, maybe around a week, a week to ten days, I would just send something out to them.

A little update, keeping...

Nothing really to do with the – I kind of teased the product, but I would say hey, you know, guys, you know, I just put this little video together called “The Ten Benefits of Doing Online Interviews” I just did something like that. I just did a quick little PowerPoint and video. I said here's the link, go check it out. You know, hope all is well and then, I did a couple videos like that. You know, they didn't take me very long. It's a PowerPoint and me talking and going through the benefits. Then I did an interactive one, and this is a cool tip because people want to feel like they're talking to you. You know what I mean? They want that connection. So what I did was – and this was – I wasn't sure how this was going to go, but I asked them, I said, what's your biggest fear about doing online interviews? Hit reply and let me know.

Via email?

Yeah, through email, which was very risky, but I got a zillion different responses to that, and I ended up engaging these people. You know, I'd email back and oh, that, you know, that's, you know – you know, people say I have a face for radio, whatever, and started to – again, though, you're building that kind of rapport with people and as we got closer, all I basically had to say was hey, guys, tomorrow it's going to go on sale, you know. The VIP launch, which I called it, is going to last a few days. I can't remember – you know, whatever I did. I broke, like, every internet marketing rule, too, when I did this, but whatever day – I think I did it over four or five days. I said you can get the VIP package, which is going to have, you know, a couple bonuses just for VIP people, and that's going to be from now until Sunday, you know? And then I just kind of did it from there. So the trick was – I think the key thing is you want to get people to opt in, you know, beforehand, well beforehand, and use your channel, whatever that channel might be – YouTube, you know, etc – to get those plugs in. So maybe you do your normal video that you're doing on YouTube, spend five seconds at the end of the video directing people to go somewhere to go opt in. You know, be like if you're – I don't know, if you’re doing videos about relationships or something on YouTube and you’re going to do the how to – you know, a girl's guide to, you know, picking up dudes or something, whatever it is, and you do that thing. You say hey, by the way, we've got something going on. You can opt in here, and you can either say hey, just opt in and I'll keep you posted or you can say hey, opt in and I'll send you something free. Like, opt in, I'll send you free tips or something like that, and that – I've noticed honestly simple and worked very well.

Awesome. So for after you've promoted it and you’re getting it out there, there's a lot of other things that go along with this, and I'd like to hear what research you could recommend for people who want to dig into this further as far as, like, pricing and marketing and, like, if you need to set up affiliates for, like – obviously is a good resource they should check out. Do you have any other books or stuff that would kind of fill in all these gaps for people who want to learn more?

Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of things that I enjoyed learning from. Obviously a lot of interviews I have on the show, we talk about these things in certain ones. Another person I want to recommend that was a great mentor to me when it comes to – a couple people, actually. One was Ryan Lee. If you want to go check him out, I took his course called 1K Per Day, which was a great course on creating high-end products, and I found that very valuable and really helped me along. Another person that's another friend of mine like Ryan is Marie Forleo,, and her and I were friends and we actually hopped on Skype just to kind of talk about the product a couple times and just talked about pricing and stuff like that.

The other thing that may be kind of like a tip, though, is you can't – you just can't get hung up on too many of the little details that people get hung up on. Here's some of the details that I've seen that are a nightmare for people. Number one is the name of the product, okay? People, like, go, like, ape bananas thinking about this name and going crazy. It's not that important. Like, I wish I could tell you. It's like, just come up with a stupid name and just do it. Okay, so two, the pricing can drive people nuts and honestly, it drove me a little nuts, but...

That's what drives me nuts the most, just to be honest. That's the part I spin my wheels on the most.

Here’s Ryan’s advice on it, and this is just something to think about. I'm not saying it's perfect for everyone's market or whatever, but Ryan's advice was – 'cause originally when I was going to put it out, I was thinking oh, I'll just do it like $97 or something like that, and Ryan said that there will be no difference in the type of marketing that you're going to have to do and the type of effort that you’re going to have to do between $97 and $497 or whatever my price, and I found that to be very, very true, and also the higher pricing you go, the more quality customers you're going to get in. You’re going to get people who actually, you know, are quality So you know, pricing – there's a lot of different strategies out there. There are people that are far better than me, but that's kind of...

Yeah, that's cool.

And also if you don't want to deal with credit cards and fulfilling stuff and affiliates, which I – and I've done it both ways. I've done it where we've done it and I've done it where I got rid of it. Clickbank is great. So Clickbank, which I didn't know anything about Click Bank other than I'd bought a couple things on it before, but Clickbank is great because you pay a higher percentage. There's no up-front fee or anything. You list your product there. It's basically your credit card processor and fulfillment thing, and you know, people can buy it there. If you have a refund policy, they can refund there. You don't have to handle anything. They pay either weekly or biweekly depending on how you set it up and also if you do an affiliate program and let's say you want to give away 50% of sales or whatever, they’ll set that up automatically for you. They'll pay the affiliates. So it's kind of like you're giving up a slightly higher percentage...

But it's hands-off.

Hands-off, yeah.

That's awesome.

You don't want to deal with that 'cause I've had to deal with that on some other stuff, and it was kind of a nightmare. So I'm a big believer in paying, you know, for convenience of some kind, and I just found it to be very much worth it. If you're doing something digital, delivery on there is very, very easy.

Awesome. Well, thanks so much for hanging out with us, David. Really appreciate your time. You guys, go check him out at and start keeping up with all the interviews and things that he's doing talking a lot about this other – this kind of stuff, also social media, and he's doing YouTube videos. Are they weekly now at this point?

Actually what I do is – what you can check out is the two things I do every week, never missed, is that Rise to the Top, so full episodes on Wednesday where I bring on a mediapreneur, content creator, something like that. We talk about hot topics and stuff like that, and then on Mondays, what I do is DSGTV, which is my YouTube shorter videos which is just me usually literally sitting on the ground behind my couch with a poster-board behind me doing a lesson of some kind. Maybe it's, you know, growing an audience or product stuff or anything like that that's going to help, you know, new media folks and content creators, you know, grow the audience, monetize and all that jazz. So that's been a lot of fun.

Yeah, you guys can go check those videos out on his – at his website, too,, and if this is your first time hanging out with us, we do content like this every week, as well, just helping you guys who are creators just know how to make that stuff work and excel the best on YouTube as possible. So make sure you subscribe. I'll have another one of these for you next week, and make sure you check us out also at for all the awesome stuff we're publishing there for you guys all throughout the week and I will see you guys again later for another...

About the Author -
Tim Schmoyer is the host of ReelSEO's Creator's Tip and the author of "30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel". You can see some of his personal videos on his Family Vlog Channel. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Adam Peterson

    Great interview!

    • Tim Schmoyer

      Thanks, Adam!