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How Much Can a Photographer Make on YouTube?

Money from YouTube is not just about ad revenue. It's about marketing and branding
Photo for YouTube revenue model

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the rise of photography channels on YouTube. And in the wake of the pandemic, which has limited many in-person assignments for professional photographers, more and more of these channels are being run by pros seeking to find new sources of income.

But how much money can a photographer really make with a successful YouTube channel? One pro is speaking out about his experiences running his own channel and in the below video he shares how much YouTube paid him last year.

The photographer is the Atlanta-based Evan Ranft whose channel has nearly 225,000 subscribers. While his professional photography business was hit hard by pandemic, his YouTube channel actually did quite well in 2020 with around five million views.

“2020, let’s just be straight up, was a terrible year for all of us but in terms of my YouTube channel it wasn’t necessarily the worst year. It was actually one of the best,” Ranft says. “I did some paid photo shoots at my house, got out and did some photography in small towns, went to some cool waterfalls, did some hiking, did some street photography, drove across the country – it wasn’t all bad. And all those experiences turned into videos for you all to consume and watch and paid me a little bit of money last year.”


In an effort to be transparent with his viewers, Ranft decided to reveal his income from his YouTube channel in the video.

“The reason I’m breaking this down today is not to brag or boast or anything,” he says. “Once you actually see this number, you’re going to scratch your head and think, huh, that is not as much money as I expected a YouTuber to make. That is because most people don’t understand the YouTube business model for most channels.”

Ranft’s revenue directly from YouTube for 2020 was $25,273.07. But he goes on to explain how he was able to further monetize his channel and it’s not just from the ads that pop up during his videos, aka his YouTube ad revenue.

“Typically, YouTube ad revenue is higher for channels in things like finance and interior design. Things like photography, for my channel, are not necessarily the highest paid out there,” he admits. “So, my business model has multiple streams of income, which is what most entrepreneurs recommend to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, i.e., having a lot of ways to get paid.”


For Ranft, YouTube is basically the top of his marketing tree, with the rest of his revenue streams branching off it. “I’m not as concerned with YouTube actually making me money in ad revenue. I’m more concerned with grabbing a potential audience and building my name and having people find out about me through the things that I’m making here.”

Watch the video to see how it all breaks out financially for Ranft and how you can potentially do the same with your own YouTube channel. If you’re looking for a way to get started, check out this tutorial on how to create a professional-level YouTube studio in a small space. For another perspective on how pro photographers are leveraging YouTube, read our interview with swimwear photographer Anita Sadowska.


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