So you have a webcam that you bought a while ago for recording YouTube cat videos but that never really took off and now you don’t know what to do. Making money with a webcam can be difficult – unless you take the one route that everyone already knows about, if you catch my drift – and it will require some real effort out of you but it’s definitely possible.
I should note that making money online is not the same as making a killing. There’s an important difference therein that you need to internalize before moving forward – do not expect to be the next rags-to-riches story. The margin for victory is only slightly better than you winning the lottery. Instead, approach “making money with your webcam” as a source of bonus income for funding your personal hobbies.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some ideas for you to consider. Dust off the old webcam, wash your face, and get ready to turn that bad boy on.
For those of you who are experts in a field, creating tutorial and “how-to” videos can be a great way to build up an audience. Don’t think of these as lecture videos, although if you want to make 30-minute lectures on the topic of economic theory, you can earn money that way too. Millions of people search for educational resources every day – why not capture a part of that audience?
For example, YouTube user andyfieldmagic has a series on learning card tricks. Another user, origamifun, has a video series for learning different types of origami. The best subject matter for these types of videos is a field that’s visual in nature – like pottery, fashion, instruments, etc. – so viewers don’t get bored. If you want to talk at them, you’ll need to have a captivating voice or personality.
So how do you make money? You can always upload to YouTube and hope to achieve a large enough following to make money off of the YouTube Partner Program. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you could set up a website and sell your videos yourself. Or combine the two ideas: set up a website with ads and keep the videos free.
If you have access to a steady source of new products, you could try setting up a gallery of product reviews. Video reviews are great for prospective buyers because they can see much more compared to reading reviews or seeing static images. These reviews can be serious, humorous, or some blend of the two.
Before you go ahead with this idea, keep a few points in mind. Know what you’re talking about – no one is going to take your DSLR reviews seriously if you don’t know what the different components do. Be thorough – missing critical aspects of a product can destroy your credibility and enrage viewers. Be engaging – there’s nothing worse than a boring reviewer.
So how do you make money? If you gather a large enough audience, the YouTube Partner program is always a choice. Setting up review website (start with our Best Web Hosting Services page) that supplements your videos with text reviews can turn into a hit, but make sure you avoid saturated markets (e.g., most electronics). Reviews are a wonderful platform for jumpstarting an affiliate marketing campaign, too.
Since we’ve been talking about the YouTube Partner Program, we should consider one of the most popular video types that you’ll see on YouTube: the personality video. These are video series that revolve around the personality rather than the content. Good examples are nigahiga, JennaMarbles, and RayWilliamJohnson.
For these videos, you can: give advice (JennaMarbles), provide running commentary (RayWilliamJohnson), do comedy (nigahiga), news for a community, or any number of other ideas. Content is important here, but personality is just as important – your audience will be coming back time and time again to hear what you’ve created.
So how do you make money? By this point, the YouTube Partner Program should be a no-brainer. However, there are alternative site programs that will pay you for successful videos: Dailymotion (Motionmaker), Vimeo (Tip Jar), and Blip.TV (Partner). Once you’ve built up a large community, you can create a website and make more money with ad revenue and merchandise sales.
Live Online Tutoring
Live tutoring is similar in concept to making tutorial videos, except instead of recording a video and uploading it to YouTube, you connect directly to one or more tutees and teach them in real-time. There are sites that facilitate all of this for you using their in-house software (typically a web-based platform) like Tutor.com and WebCamTutors. But you can also try finding your own tutees using Craigslist or something similar.
In order to do well with tutoring, you need to be intelligent, articulate, and knowledgeable on whichever subjects you teach. Basically, if you’d make a good offline tutor and you have a decent webcam and microphone, online tutoring could be worth it. If you’re doing this on your own, a program like Skype or an alternative could be helpful.
So how do you make money? If you’re employed by an online tutoring service, they’ll typically pay hourly. If you run it as a private venture, you can set your own rates.
Live Stream Games
If you have a propensity towards video games, you could stream yourself playing those games. There are free screen streaming programs and many of them include webcam picture-in-picture functionality, which is useful for connecting with your audience and dialoguing with them. If video games aren’t your thing and you’d prefer live D&D or board game sessions, that’s a possibility too.
One thing to note is that video streaming can be intensive on your computer, particularly the CPU. If you don’t have a powerful computer, you’ll need to sacrifice frames-per-second or video quality or both, which can result in a video stream that no one wants to watch.
So how do you make money? If you can build up a sizeable audience, Twitch.TV has a Partner program where you can earn some ad revenue on your stream and you can enable a subscription feature for your fans. In addition, there’s always the option of putting up a donation link and having your fans donate, which can prove quite lucrative for engaging streamers with large audiences.
Again, don’t expect to become rich overnight. Both webcams and Internet access are cheap, at least in the sense that there’s very little barrier to entry, so supply is high. You may be able to start making upwards of a few hundred dollars per month with your webcam – and I would call that a success. If you hit the jackpot and make millions, great! But for practical purposes, I’d ignore that as a possibility for now.
What other methods of webcam income do you know about? Do you have any experience making money with webcams? Share them with us in the comments!
Image Credits: Webcam Via Shutterstock