How This YouTube Video Made $15k – YouTube as a Side Hustle

Have you ever thought of starting a YouTube channel to make extra money? While it’s not as easy to get started earning as it is rideshare or delivery driving, if you put in the time and effort, it could become an excellent source of income! Below, The Rideshare Guy YouTube Manager Elijah Bilel shares how one RSG video received over 3 million views – and earned $15,000+.

Over the past seven years of The Rideshare Guy YouTube channel, we’ve made hundreds of videos and managed to rack up more than 99k subscribers and about 19 million views. However, It wasn’t until recently that we had our first truly viral video on our Youtube channel. This video has gotten 3.7 million views so far!

One of the most interesting things is it doesn’t have anything to do with Uber, Lyft, or even the gig economy. It has to do with truck driving. Below, I’ll cover the details of this video, how much we made from it and why it was and still is so successful.

Quick summary:

  • Getting started with a YouTube channel is quick and cheap – but you’ll need an angle or a great idea for your channel!
  • Keep creating new videos and see what sticks – your first idea might not be your best idea, so stick with it!
  • Fund your YouTube channel by driving for rideshare or signing up to deliver with food delivery companies – maybe a driver channel is your angle!

The Viral Video

Did you know anyone can upload a video on YouTube? Getting started is as easy as connecting your Gmail account to YouTube, and voila, you have a YouTube channel!

From there, you will have to record and publish videos – but that doesn’t guarantee that any of your videos will go viral. Every once in a while, though, you could have a unicorn where people really enjoyed the video or got great value out of it. That’s why the science of how this video in particular went viral is a pretty amazing story.

So how much did this video make? In total, the video has made $15,418,84.

I think that number speaks for itself, but those of you who haven’t seen the video, this is a video about truck driving and how much you can make. It was made by one of our contributors, Jon. If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can check it out below: Truck Driver Salary: Here’s What It’s REALLY Like to Be a Truck Driver!!


Why This Video?

We mainly make videos about Uber, Lyft, rideshare, and the gig economy, but we’re always experimenting with other topics that our viewers and audience could benefit from, such as this video.

The great thing about YouTube is they will make a video go viral if people are genuinely enjoying it and getting value out of it. If you have an idea for a video, but it’s not part of your “niche” – it doesn’t really matter!

Also, when YouTube chooses a video to promote and showcase, it doesn’t matter how many subscribers you have!

Why do people love this video so much, and why did YouTube promote it? As RSG’s YouTube Manager, I’ll share my expertise and break it down for you:

How YouTube Ad Revenue Works

First, you have to understand how YouTube works. When you watch a YouTube video, a lot of times there’s an ad that pops up before, maybe somewhere in the middle, and after the video. The YouTube content creator actually gets paid a portion of that ad revenue. This is known as YouTube ad revenue.

This is the $15,456.56 that we saw before. That’s coming from YouTube ad revenue and a small portion from what they call YouTube Premium.

YouTube Premium is a service for people who don’t want to see any ads, so they choose to pay for YouTube Premium on a monthly basis. YouTube shares a little of that income with creators as well.

Now let’s go into the actual details of the video and why it was able to make that much.

What we see here is the video Cost Per Thousand (CPM) and Revenue Per Mille (RPM). CPM is how much a video makes per 1,000 views and RPM is how much the creator makes per 1,000 views after YouTube has taken their cut out.

This is because there’s a revenue share between YouTube and YouTube creators. YouTube takes 45% and creators get 55%. RPM is with that already in the equation. That means that for every 1,000 views, this video is making $4.11.

The interesting thing about this RPM is it’s not the same across all videos. The reason being is advertisers have the ability to target based on niches and keywords, as well as certain channels.

A good example of this that you may have seen at some point is Uber ads on the Rideshare Guy YouTube channel. You see ads from Uber because they want to target people searching more about Uber and Lyft – which are exactly the topics we cover on The Rideshare Guy channel.

The same thing applies with all niches in YouTube. Different niches pay differently because how much advertisers are paying to get in front of certain audiences can vary depending on the audience.

To illustrate this, we are going to take a look at another video that was done recently by Joe where he talks about Uber extending the wait time.

You see that the RPM is $15.28!  That’s a pretty big difference, right? That’s because ads targeting the rideshare niche pay more than the trucking niche. In other words, that RPM is actually low compared to our channel standards.

Why People Love This Video

Not every video that’s uploaded to YouTube goes viral. What’s so special about this one that just made it go boom? It comes down to four things.

1.  It’s funny. People like to be entertained – and Jon is incredibly entertaining!

Many of the comments have a lot of thumbs up, which means many people agree with the video being entertaining.

2. It’s informative. In addition to being entertaining, this video provides valuable information. By the time you finish the video, you’ve learned a lot about how much money you can make as a truck driver and what it’s like being a truck driver.

Most people who commented on the video said Jon over-delivered when it came to informing people about the life of a truck driver and the salary.

Not only are casual viewers enjoying the video, but truck drivers are validating a lot of what Jon was saying. Needless to say, if you have an interest in being a truck driver, then this video provides you a lot of information. However, even for those uninterested in ever being a trucker, they still found it informing and entertaining. A win win!

3.  Pattern interrupts. A pattern interrupt is something that resets your visual attention span so that you don’t slowly get bored and tired. Why does that matter? Because if you start to get bored, the chances of you clicking off the video and doing something else starts to increase.

Throughout that video, Jon shows footage of what it’s like to be a trucker. He does this while continuing to share details of being a truck driver.

All that is visually resetting. You keep seeing something different. This matters because the longer someone watches your video, the more YouTube is told that, “Hey, this video is pretty good.” This causes YouTube to show this video to more people.

4.  It’s simple – and highly shareable. When things are overly complicated or very niche-specific, it’s hard for them to go viral. This is because videos go viral when they’re shared, and people share simple things.

If you share something with a friend, you don’t want to have to give them the whole backstory or details on it. You just want to be able to share it. The spark that caused this video to take off came from when people started sharing it on Reddit.

That sparked a viral wave that’s still going to this day. It likely wouldn’t have happened if Jon’s video wasn’t simple, making it highly shareable. That’s why people love this video, but why did YouTube go crazy promoting it? Let’s get into that now.

Why YouTube Promoted This Video

There are three ingredients that must be in place in order for a video to go viral.

1. A good title. I know it might seem overly simple, but creating a good YouTube is more scientific than it may seem.

The title of the video is “Truck Driver’s Salary: Here’s What It’s Really Like To Be a Truck Driver”. Let’s actually break down why that’s such a good title.

  1. SEO-friendly. It has the term “truck driver salary” in there. People are always searching for how much truck drivers make.
  2. Lets you know what to expect. Right from the get-go, you know this is showing you how much the truck driver’s going to get paid and what is it really like to be a truck driver. You also know that it will cover what their day is like. That’s the expectation that the title was setting, but it’s not answering those questions directly. That’s the job of the video to do.

2. A good thumbnail. The thumbnail is the image on the video that you see before you click on it. In a way, it’s like the book cover to the book from a video perspective. It’s supposed to get you interested to actually go further and click on it.

Now let’s take a look at the thumbnail that we have right here.

The thumbnail reads, “Here’s what it’s really like to be a truck driver.” It’s saying exactly what you’re going to get.

This is important because, in some way, a person needs to know what the video is going to be about without actually reading the title. They should have to read the title for elaboration. Most people, as they’re scrolling through YouTube, will just notice the picture.

That’s why the picture has to be able to grab their attention and say what they’re going to get if they watch this video. The text on the thumbnail says what they’re going to get. You see some Doritos, which is intriguing. Lastly, you see Jon with a rear-view mirror in the background with a trucker hat on. That’s intriguing enough to have people click on the video.

To illustrate this, we can go to the reach section in the analytics of the video. You can get feedback on a thumbnail by looking at the click-through rate.

The click-through rate is the percentage of people that are actually clicking on that thumbnail versus how many people the video appeared in front of. A good click-through rate is usually going to be above 2%. If you have anything under 2%, then that means that your thumbnail could use some work.

The click through rate for this video is 3.4%!

A quick note on thumbnails: A lot of people put a lot of time into creating fancy thumbnails, with shadows and bright colors and images of themselves with shocked or angry faces. While this definitely works, this video’s popularity shows you can have an average-looking thumbnail and still go viral because of the quality of your video.

3. High watch time duration. Watch time duration is how long people are watching your video for. Are they watching the full video or are they leaving after 30 seconds because it’s boring? The information that YouTube has given us here is how long people are actually watching the video.

We see this average percentage viewed is 61%. Obviously, if you can get 100%, that’d be awesome, but that’s just not practical. Not everyone is going to watch the full video.

A good percentage to shoot for is between 40% and 60%. That’s telling YouTube that the video is good, so the algorithm starts recommending it to more people.

The reason for this is YouTube wants to serve more ads. Showing a popular video to more people means more opportunities to serve more ads to them.

To break this down even further, the graph in the picture above compares the video to other videos on that topic. In this case, other trucking videos. It’s saying that it’s above average when compared to other trucking videos all the way up to almost five minutes. That’s why YouTube went crazy promoting the video.

Want to Start a YouTube Channel? How to Fund It

Starting a YouTube channel is pretty easy and cheap – it’s free to create a YouTube account, and you can start filming yourself on your phone or your computer (if you already have a camera in your computer).

Uploading your video and hitting publish is also free!

But what if you want to add some cool graphics, or actually edit your video every once in a while? You may need software more advanced the Apple’s free iMovie software (or other editing software for Windows computers).

Luckily, most beginning YouTube editing items are fairly affordable! You don’t need to spend thousands on editing software or lighting at the beginning – but you do need to spend something!

While you’re creating video ideas and thinking of new angles to cover, why not rideshare or delivery drive to fund your YouTube channel? You can sign up to drive for Uber or Lyft here, or choose one of the best food delivery services to work for and earn with them!

Breaking Into YouTube

Bringing this full circle, Jon’s video was entertaining and informative. This triggered the necessary metrics for YouTube to make the video go viral.

It’s that virality that caused the video to get 3.7 million views and $15,418,84! In addition, this video helped to bring over 16,000 new subscribers to the channel – continuing to increase how much money we’ll make with this video in the future.

Are you guaranteed to go viral on YouTube with your first video? It’s not likely, but it’s possible! Keep in mind the strategies and suggestions I shared above, and let us know: do you have a YouTube channel or would you start one?

Also, did you watch the trucking video? What did you think of it?

-Elijah @ RSG

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