If you’re wondering whether you should start a blog or YouTube channel in 2021, then this post is for you!
My wife and I run a profitable travel blog that makes $2,000+ per month in passive advertising income.
You can see exactly how much this brand makes here.
I also spent months trying to build a YouTube channel before I realized it wasn’t for me.
Plus, I study online business models. (That’s what this website is all about.)
In short, although I don’t have all the answers, I know a lot about building businesses on both platforms.
And I’m happy to share what I’ve learned about them to help you decide which platform is best for you to build an online business in 2021.
So should you build a blog or a YouTube channel?
The quick answer is:
YouTube may be a better place to build your online brand if you have videography expertise, you are attractive, fit, funny, or otherwise good in front of a camera, and you’re most excited about publishing on YouTube. If none of these are true, a blog is probably a better place to build your brand.
I’ll elaborate on this in the sections below.
Blogging Vs. YouTube: Ad Revenue Rates
In an effort to make an apples-to-apples comparison between blogging and YouTube earning potential, let’s take a look at advertising rates for each.
In Shelby Church’s video about how much she makes from videos with 1 million views, she indicates earnings are between $500 and $10,000 with $2,000 being the average.
In the world of online advertising, the term to use for discussing these rates is RPM or Revenue Per Mille (revenue per thousand views).
According to Shelby, the RPM for videos with ~1 million views is between 50 cents and $10 with $2 as the average.
This is consistent with Travel Payouts estimate of average RPM on YouTube of $2.
Why is there such a high variance between the highest and lowest RPM you can earn?
RPM has to do with several factors including:
- the demographics of the audience watching your videos,
- the length and subject matter of your videos,
- and much more.
These factors affect blog RPMs too.
However, YouTube channels and blogs differ in their possible RPMs because bloggers have different ad networks they can use to serve ads to their audience.
YouTube Vs. Blog Ad Networks
On YouTube, you only have one ad network to work with to serve ads on your channel: Goodle Adsense.
On a blog, you can work with premium ad networks that provide higher RPMs and also have more restrictions on which blogs can join them.
For instance, my wife and I used Mediavine to serve on ads on her site for years.
Mediavine is a premium ad network, only working with websites that have 50,000 monthly page views or more.
However, they also pay more than Google Adsense (which doesn’t have a minimum traffic threshold for blogs).
Our average RPM with Mediavine was $12.89!
And since we’ve switched to Ad Thrive, an even more exclusive ad network, we expect our average RPM to be around $20!
That’s approximately 10x the average earnings on YouTube!
In short, Ad RPMs have the capacity to be much higher on a blog than on YouTube videos.
Blogging Vs. YouTube: How Long to Achieve Financial Success
If ad RPMs can be 10x as profitable on a blog than on YouTube, it only really makes sense to pursue YouTube if getting views is 10x easier than getting traffic to a blog.
And this could be the case.
Google search is a much more saturated search engine than YouTube.
Plus, the barriers to entry are theoretically higher on YouTube since making a video usually requires more money and effort to produce.
One way to approximate the answer to whether it’s easier to get views on a blog or on YouTube is to estimate how much content you need to produce on each platform to earn a specific income level.
Let’s take a closer look at how much content you need to publish to succeed on each of these platforms.
YouTube: How Many Videos to Publish (& How Long It Takes) for Financial Success
Getting a sense of how long it will take for a new YouTube channel or blog to succeed financially is really helpful for setting expectations.
And the stats above can help you get that sense.
For instance, if it takes 3,873 YouTube videos to get a million subscribers, that means you would need to publish a video every single day for more than 10 years to get 1 million subscribers!
But do you really need a million subscribers to make a full-time living?
Let’s take a look at YouTuber, Shelby Church’s 2019 earnings recap video back when she had ~1 million subscribers:
As you can see in the video above, Shelby grossed about $140,000 in ad revenue from her ~1 million channel subscribers.
This is roughly double the median household income in the US.
Going with this estimate, you could potentially make a full-time living (the median household income) from advertising on your YouTube videos with half of her subscriber count or 500,000 subscribers.
Even so, assuming you need to publish half as many YouTube videos as those with 1 million subscribers to get a half-million subscribers means you would need to create about 1,937 videos!
Using these estimates, publishing a video every other day, a more realistic (but still manic) pace than every day, will still take you 10 years to earn the median household income from your channel.
But do you really need to publish this many videos to succeed?
Check out the next section to find out.
YouTube and SEO
SEO or search engine optimization is the study of how to rank your online content in search engines like Google, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Typically, when marketers refer to SEO, they are referring to how to rank in Google search results.
However, the principles of SEO very much apply to YouTube (owned by Google) and even Pinterest.
When search engines like Google and YouTube were less saturated, people could blog or vlog about whatever they wanted and show up in search results.
Today, search engines are more competitive, and creating content about whatever you want isn’t very strategic.
In fact, I don’t recommend anyone publish content about whatever they want, whether that’s blog or YouTube content.
Like I mentioned before, that may have worked in the past, but today that strategy is like playing the lottery and hoping you win.
Instead, I recommend the timeless strategy of SEO.
How to Do YouTube SEO
A thorough guide on YouTube SEO is outside of the scope of this article.
However, basic YouTube SEO isn’t difficult to understand.
To maximize the number of views on your YouTube videos, you should:
- Search YouTube for topics you could create high-quality content about, and
- Create that high-quality content when you see lower-quality content ranking in YouTube search results.
If you can do this over and over again within a given niche, I think you could create a financially successful YouTube channel with hundreds (instead of thousands) of videos.
This is SEO expert, Brian Dean’s strategy.
As I write this article, Brian’s YouTube channel has 39 videos and over 11,000,000 views.
If he can keep this up, he could make the median household income of ~$70,000 per year in advertising on his videos with 124 videos total (just 85 more).
124 videos is still a lot of content to produce.
But it’s far less than the 1937 videos estimated above to reach this ad income level!
Brian is an SEO expert.
And his results are atypical.
However, his results show the power of SEO and what’s possible if you’re strategic in your content creation.
Check out Brian’s YouTube channel and YouTube guide for more information on how to use SEO to rank your YouTube videos.
Blogging: How Many Blog Posts to Publish (& How Long It Takes) for Financial Success
In the above sections, I estimated that a YouTuber needs to publish between 124 and 1937 videos to earn ~$70,000 in advertising income from their channel.
The more SEO savvy the YouTuber is, the fewer videos (s)he will need to make to earn that income.
Now let’s look at how to earn $70,000 per year in ad income from a blog.
To earn $70,000 in ad income from your blog, you will need to receive a high volume of traffic.
The good news is, if that traffic is English-speaking, you can most likely join a premium ad network like Ad Thrive.
Assuming a $20 RPM, you will need to get 3,500,000 yearly or 291,667 monthly pageviews on your blog.
A new blog won’t have the authority to rank for high search volume keywords in Google.
So your average blog post will probably receive 1,000 monthly pageviews.
This means you’ll likely need to publish about 292 blog posts to reach $70,000 in ad revenue from your blog.
Of course, this assumes you are doing some degree of SEO research.
(SEO research is probably even more important for blogs than it is for YouTube channels.)
Blogging vs. YouTube: Production Value, Content Updates, and More
I gave a wide range estimate for the number of videos required to make $70,000 in ads on YouTube.
And I gave a specific estimate for how many blog posts to publish to make that same income level.
But even if you estimate that you need to create the same number of blog posts and YouTube videos to reach an equal level of income, writing is usually easier to publish than video.
Video requires a camera and software to edit it.
But writing can be published more quickly and easily.
Also, you can easily update blog posts.
But, as far I understand, you can’t really update a YouTube video.
And you have total creative freedom over a website or blog.
But on YouTube, you have to play by YouTube’s rules.
Like I mentioned in my post about blogging vs. Instagram, the platform that gives you more ownership is more likely to help you build wealth.
In this instance, a website gives you more ownership than a YouTube channel.
On a website, you can host software, capture visitors’ emails, and do almost anything you want.
On YouTube, there are many more restrictions.
Like I mentioned in the introduction, unless you have very specific reasons for wanting to start a YouTube channel, I think a blog has a higher likelihood of financial success than a YouTube channel.
That said, if you already have a financially successful blog, a YouTube channel could be a great way to diversify your brand.
If you’re still on the fence about which to start, let me know in the comments!