Should you start a blog or YouTube channel? Which is harder?

Normally, an article like this should be impartial when it comes to recommending if a person should build a blog or a YouTube channel as an extra source of income.

To be upfront and honest with you, we believe most people are better off learning how to build a blog, instead of trying to grow a YouTube channel.

We have a lot of reasons why we recommend this, reasons we’ve learned during years of online marketing and which are explained further in this article.

As a summary though, it all comes down to these major reasons:

  • Blog traffic is constant and requires little work to maintain once acquired. YouTube requires constant new videos or you’ll be forgotten.
  • Building blog traffic is easier to learn and more predictable than building a YouTube following.
  • Blogs are an appreciating asset, gain value over time & are easy to sell. YouTube channels lose value over time, are harder to sell and have lower valuations.
  • Blogging has an ecosystem that provides traffic building solutions and monetization options. With YouTube, you’re mostly stuck with Google’s Adsense program.

That’s not to say a YouTube channel is a bad idea. It’s just that YouTube is much more winner takes all than blogging.

Big YouTubers (1 million subs and up) make far, far, far more money than even the biggest blogs.

YouTubers making 1 million dollars a year? Yeah, there are plenty. Solo bloggers making 1 million dollars per year? Extremely few.

To be clear though, building both a YouTube channel or a blog requires a lot of work.

If you’re new to both of them, you will have to first invest time and effort to see what works and what doesn’t.

After you have learned what works and what doesn’t, you’ll have to work a lot again to actually build a blog or a YouTube channel that can providea healthy income.

7 reasons you should start a blog

Blogs are much more passive

By far the biggest advantage blogs have over YouTube channels is that blogs are extremely passive and require very little maintenance once you’ve built traffic and income sources.

Most blogs generate their traffic through Google search (and to a lesser extent Pinterest, yes, Pinterest).

Generally, bloggers focus on ranking their articles on certain keywords on Google search results pages.

Once you’ve done that, the articles hang around in search results for months, or even years without you touching them.

This means you’ll have articles generating traffic (and income), for many years to come.

Because of this, such blog articles are called evergreen posts.

It’s entirely possible you can build a blog with 50,000 monthly visitors and then completely ignore it and not post anymore.

1 or 2 years later the blog might still bring in 40,000 monthly visitors, depending on how competitive the blog’s niche is.

YouTube channels however require constant work.

Most YouTube videos gather the bulk of their views (and revenue) within a few days or weeks after being published.

That being said, there are some YouTube videos (how-to’s, for example) that are also evergreen videos. However, they still don’t bring as much traffic as blog posts since YouTube usually devalues old content and emphasizes new videos.

Finally, you can’t just build a YouTube channel to 100,000 subscribers and 100 videos and stop posting completely. If you do this, your audience will “cool off” and you’ll be generating very few new views (and thus, money).

The difference between having a successful blog, vs having a successful YT channel, is that a successful blog generates money even when you don’t work on it for 2-3, while a YouTube account requires constant work generate new views.

A blog is a better appreciating asset

When you first thought about building a blog or a YouTube channel, you probably didn’t take into consideration you might want to sell it at some point.

Well, you can actually sell both and this is in fact a big reason why a blog or a YouTube channel is a smart investment of your time and effort.

Besides the monthly income, both of them are actual financial assets that hold value and can be sold if you need capital.

So what is the value of a blog or YouTube channel?

For blogs, the value is calculated as such: average monthly income for the past 6 months, multiplied by 30-40.

This means a blog generating $2,000 per month can be sold for around $60,000 to $80,000.

This formula is extremely standardized, so there’s very little negotiating room to make the sum smaller or bigger.

Valuating a YouTube channel is much more complicated.

This is because YouTube channels are tightly connected to the person who made all the videos.

If that person is replaced by someone else, then there’s a very good chance the channel’s subscribers will be put off by the new person. As a result, the channel’s viewership (and thus, income) tanks.

Secondly, there’s the fact that YouTube videos usually make most of their views and revenue within a week of publishing.

They bring little traffic in the weeks, months, and years after publishing so they don’t have as much passive income potential.

As a result, calculating the value of a channel is much more complicated and some channels are outright unsellable if they can’t be separated from the original creator.

That being said, YouTube channels are usually valued at around 10-20 times monthly income. Thus, a YouTube channel that makes around $1,000 per month will be valued anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000.

Taken from https://www.trustiu.com/en/buy-youtube-channel

If you are serious about starting a YouTube channel but want to keep the option of selling open, then our recommendation is to keep the channel as disconnected from you as a person as possible.

This means not showing your face or voice, consider hiring multiple voice actors to narrate videos, so your audience gets used to various people on the channel, doing no-commentary videos etc.

Growing a blog is easier and more predictable

The blogging community has by now discovered the some of the most efficient and succesfull strategies that can predictably generate consistent traffic.

The first is to find “keywords” or topics that haven’t been written about very much, called underserved topics.

A good example of an underserved topic is when a Google search shows lots of Reddit, Quora or other forum-based posts.

These are usually lower quality compared to dedicated, full length articles, suggesting that a) the keyword has little competition and/or b) the competition’s articles are pretty bad quality.

With this method, even brand new blogs can rank and gain traffic. All you need to do is find uncompetitive keywords, post 30-40 articles and then wait 3-6 months for them to gain traffic.

The second method has a few more extra steps. In this method, you search for more “competitive” search terms (meaning, you start to see big name websites like The Verge, New York Times, Wikipedia, etc.) and try to outcompete them by having other sites link to your blog post.

Links are important in blogging, since Google basically views them as a sign of trust.

If website A links to website B’s post, this means website A considers the post to be trustworthy.

YouTube channels however are much “mysterious” in how they work.

You need to have the right, entertaining personality, accent, pleasing voice, or interesting concept to make a video be successful.

Some people are naturally good at this and can find/create a captivating formula for success.

Put simply, blogs generally reward people for what they do, while YouTube reward creators for how they do it.

Blogs are much less time consuming

You can grow a blog even if you have a very busy life and can only devote an average of 1-2 hours a week.

Depending on how fast you write,and how you do your research, 2 hours a week means 1-2 articles per month. Over a year this can mean 30 articles or so, of 1500 words each.

Depending on how you’ve done your keyword research, those 30 articles should translate to around 15,000-30,000 monthly pageviews.

With this kind of traffic you can realistically expect to make around $400-600 or so per month in passive income.

The great part about this is that you don’t have to publish these articles on an set interval. Sometimes you’ll write 4-5 articles in a month, only to write none the next month. There is no penalty in doing so.

The YouTube algorithm (and your audience) on the other hand is a hungry beast and requires much more content consistency if you want to keep them engaged.

If you have large gaps in between videos (2-3 months), then the relationship with your audience will slowly grow cold and they’ll move on to other channels.

That’s why if don’t think you can sustain a consistent schedule of videos, then it’s best to either rethink your YouTube strategy, or if it’s worth it altogether.

Blogs have a bigger ecosystem to support traffic growth and monetization

Blogs have been around for decades, and during that time a big industry has appeared that’s designed to support blog owners.

For example, you have tools such as SEMRush that show you monthly traffic and difficulty rating of a keyword.

SEMRush and other tools like it hugely simplify the content creation process, because they make it easier to know what you should and should not write about.

If you like to validate your blog idea, then SEMRush offers a free trial where you can explore keywords and how much you want.

Besides this, blogs have a big ecosystem of partners that help monetizing a website.

For example, there are multiple big players that let you place ads on your website:

  • Adsense: ~$1-5 per 1000 pageviews.
  • Monumetric: $5-15 per 1,000 pageviews.
  • Mediavine: $15-25 per 1,000 pageviews
  • AdThrive: $20-30 per 1,000 pageviews.

Most people think Adsense is the only viable way to monetize a blog, but that’s only true for very small ones (5,000 or so pageviews per month).

If you take your blog to 60,000 pageviews and join Mediavine, you can realistically expect to make around $1,200 just from ads, as well as another $1,000 or so from affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product, somebody buys it by clicking your link, and you receive a commission as a reward.

The biggest player in affiliate marketing is actually Amazon, through its Amazon Associates programs.

Just to give you an idea of the numbers, an associate that recommends products worth $1,000 per month, can expect to make anywhere between $50 to $100 as a commision.

There are plenty more other affiliate marketplaces other than Amazon, meaning there’s always a product or niche you can recommend.

YouTube channels generally have a much more limited ecosystem they can rely on.

One reason is that Google doesn’t release as much details about YouTube search keyword volumes or difficulty, as it does for its search engine.

As such, there’s practically no tool out there that give you accurate traffic volumes for a particular YouTube keyword. Basically, you have to make videos on gut feeling, and hope you’re right.

In terms of monetization, YouTube only allows you to use Adsense as an ad provider, which wouldn’t be that bad but the payouts aren’t really that good.

The average is around $1-3 per 1,000 views. So a channel that generates 100,000 views a month can realistically expect around $100-300.

The image above shows the earnings of an average YouTube channel over an 8 month period.

To be clear though, a $3 per 1,000 is the average. Some niches are far more profitable than others, such as finance which can have $15-20 per thousand views, so 5-6 times more than the average. Other niches are less profitable, such as gaming which has around $1 RPM.

Also, views from some countries are worth far more than others. Views from the USA are worth around 2x as much as those from Western Europe, and up to 10x as much from those in East Asia or South America.

You can supplement these revenues with affiliate marketing, but these won’t convert as well since most people spend time on YouTube as entertainment, rather than actively hunting for a solution as they do on Google search.

Other monetization options available for both YT channels and blogs include Patreon, sponsored posts/videos and even merchandising.

A blog is your property, but your channel belongs to YouTube

YouTube can do whatever it wants with channels built on the platform. They can demonetize, remove videos or outright delete the channel itself.

To be fair, you need to do some pretty extreme stuff or be very political to be punished like that.

But the point remains: YouTube can end you whenever they want and there’s nothing you can do about it.

By contrast, a blog is your property since you purchase the domain name and hosting, and the vast majority of companies that offer these services are not connected to Google in any way.

This means you can write about whatever you want and not be afraid your site will be shut down.

On top of that, Google search and websites in general are under much less scrutiny than YouTube.

If a scandalous video makes it’s way on YouTube, most big journalists will blame YouTube for having “lax content policies”. As such, YouTube is much more strict with what content it allows and does not allow.

By contrast, most websites fly under the radar so Google doesn’t have such a strict content policy as they do on YouTube.

Blogs are more privacy friendly

Building a successful YouTube channel usually requires revealing your personal identity.

It’s not an absolute rule. Many creators have succeeded in building channels without revealing their face, but they’re usually the exception.

3 reasons you should start a YouTube channel

It’s easy to start a YouTube channel

YouTube channels are very easy to setup. In fact, YouTube automatically sets up a free channel for every new account the moment users sign up.

All you need to do to get started is to upload your videos, find the right description, thumbnail and press publish.

On the other hand, blogs are much more complicated and expensive to setup.

For the inexperienced, setting up a blog can require lots of tutorials in finding the right domain name, a proper hosting platform and a good theme.

Domain name and hosting combined can cost around $40-60 per year. Themes are usually free, but the best ones have a free and paid versions that also cost around $40-60.

Another downside to blogs is that they often require tinkering. Sometimes you need to install or uninstall a plugin, compress images, setup and configure your email address from the hosting platform (such as: yourname@yourdomain.com), adjust the appearance of your blog etc.

You don’t have to do this very often. Maybe once every 1-2 months. But you will 100% run into these issues every now and then.

These technical issues are not very complicated. But if you haven’t done them before, you will have to spend a few hour learning how to navigate through them.

You’ll get your first views and subscribers quicker than blogs

One disadvantage blogs have compared to YouTube channels is something called “the sandbox”.

This is basically a 3-4 month period during which Google monitors a site to make sure it’s legitimate and has good, readable content.

During this period, blogs receive very, very little traffic (10-50 visitors a month). After the 3-4 month period however, the traffic of many blogs will grow in a hockey stick figure.

YouTube channels don’t have this issue. YouTube recommends videos on an algorithmic basis, so if a video has the proper descriptions for search, catchy concept or is just fun, it can very quickly become viral since the algorithm will recommend it a lot.

This is why you sometimes see YouTube videos with tens or hundreds of thousands of views, published by accounts with just a few dozens or hundreds of subscribers.

As a rule of thumb, if you create a YouTube video, make a good thumbnail and find good keywords for the description, then you’ll start to get views within a few days at most.

On top of that, YouTube users are much more likely to leave comments and interact with a video, which is both fulfilling as a content creator, but more importantly represents good feedback to include in future videos.

YouTube channels with a smart idea can grow lightning fast

As mentioned previously, blogs usually grow depending on “what you do”. A blog that has 100 posts will likely be much, much more successful than one with just 10.

Blogging usually has a more is better approach.

By contrast, YouTube channels usually grow because of “how they do it”. Successful YouTubers stand out in some way, for instance:

  • The creator has a uniquely sarcastic and corrosive personality that people love hearing.
  • A fantastic sense of humor combined with fun drawings to explain concepts.
  • Long form videos with a lot of production value and extensive research put into them.

If you believe you have that unique idea or approach to videos that hasn’t been done before, then YouTube is absolutely the place to try it out.

If you’re correct and have a an idea/approach people love, then your YouTube channel will grow much, much faster than a blog ever will – even ones created by people who are highly experienced in creating them.

Conclusion

Ultimately, both blogging and YouTube are viable channels to build a secondary income source, or even do this full time.

Both require a lot of work and have their own learning curve. Don’t be surprised if it takes years to actually build a following on either one.

The big thing to take into account is that whether you build a blog or a YouTube channel, both of them depend a lot on your personal strengths.

Some people are just gifted writers, while others are great in front of a camera. You personal strengths and weaknesses are a better predictor for success than raw statistics or averages.

If you believe you have a good concept or idea for a YouTube channel, then don’t hesitate. Do it. If it works, it works and you’ll figure it out from there. If it doesn’t it doesn’t. Investing time and effort (and even a bit of money) in a blog or YouTube channel is never a bad choice.

Even if these endeavors don’t work, you’ll acquire skills that are in-high demand and can help round you out professionally. It’s a win-win either way, even if it takes some time to get there.

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