As 2020 draws to a close it's become clear that although YouTube can be a source of income in the long run it won't be something that is worth putting full time effort into in terms of the Adsense/affiliate revenue that is generated. At least for a coding based channel. A financial related channel would have a better payoff (think x4 revenue for similar views)
Yes average views per video I upload are up but in order to reach say $1k/month at an optimistic $4 per 1000 views I would need to be getting 250,000 views/month. At the current rate I would expect this to take at least a year and also branching out into doing more general videos and it would take time away from other more potentially lucrative ways of approaching the revenue problem.
As I type this I made $1.88 in Adsense revenue for yesterday - for the amount of work that goes into these videos this just isn't worth it. Yes continued effort will increase this number but over time it will drop back down if you decide to have a few weeks off etc. And the type of videos that do best tend to be reviews or opinion based ones that I don't enjoy making as much as the coding videos.
As a shorter term income boost becomes more important relative to my runway it is time for a change of strategy. I now have 3 monthly subscribers and 2 active trials for one of my apps I launched in November. This is worth pursuing as effectively it is just a numbers game. The more downloads I get the more MMR (monthly recurring revenue) it will generate. Now the 2 trials are annual subscriptions at $9.99 so this seems like a much more sustainable approach than YouTube in terms of generating revenue a bit more passively over time.
Out of 263 downloads I have had 6 trials and 3 paying subscriptions. So far only 1 trial has not converted. So 2% of downloads choose to do a trial and 75% (so far) continue to pay. As some of these downloads will probably not even enter the app I don't think these numbers are too bad but I would like to get the 2% trial number up.
Obviously this is early days but I did improve the app with an update with some graphs and extra stats so I would expect the conversion to tick up slightly at least in terms of trials. So this means that with what looks like 1 free trial user every 44 downloads and say 2 or 3 paying users every 100 downloads (optimistically with app improvements) that means that at 10 downloads a day I can expect 5 or 6 new subscribers a month. Let's give a subscriber an average price of $3 and that's $18 MRR. Now that may not be a lot but over time as the app improves I can work on ASO and the app itself and at a low price point I don't expect churn to be that high so in 6 months from now there is no reason why this figure cannot be $100/month. 12 months perhaps $250/month. 18 months $400/month etc.
And here's the interesting part. I am working on at least one other app that should be launched sometime in January that I would expect to add to this figure. Although I will only get 50% of the profit here. And if I can get my other indie app also launched in November to generate 1 sub a month then we are looking at something that at least generates as much as the YouTube channel. It seems like I should dedicate more time to building apps and launching them as quickly as possible to see which ones rank well on the App Store. Once I find one that generates 5 to 10 downloads a day I should improve on it and include in app purchases from day one.
The YouTube channel will be used in a different way. Its strength is the audience I have created - I am thinking on using it to show shorter videos about SwiftUI techniques and tips. This will keep the subscriber count ticking up but also mean that I can produce the videos without spending hours planning, recording and editing. Which leads into the final piece of the puzzle which is where I will put my longer videos. A custom website that will host the more premium videos (with an option to add courses). So for example one of the series on this custom website would be "build 10 SwiftUI app layouts". This would be priced at a reasonable amount (say 24$) and using the shorter videos on youtube I would place this url under each video and push a funnel towards the premium website.
I did think for a long time about doing a subscription premium SwiftUI website but this is not the life I want where I am forced to produce content for a number of people paying monthly for frequent uploads - it restricts you to be located somewhere you are able to film high quality videos.
So I still think I'm a long way from being able to support myself with this income but the plan above is better suited to the previous one which was to churn out YouTube videos and then do a course when I'd gotten enough subscribers. I need to build for the longer term without burning out.
I will be providing updates into 2021 via my twitter and my youtube