CREATED: 19.03.2024UPDATED: 26.03.2024

Can you monetize reading books on YouTube?

Can you monetize reading books on YouTube?

Here are 6 ways to monetize audiobooks on YouTube, plus tips for growing your channel.

Can you make money reading books on YouTube? Everyone loves a good book, and it’s easy to make some extra money by recording yourself reading stories online. Here’s what you need to know about monetizing audiobooks on one of the largest social media platforms in the world. Get tips for improving your side hustle using BlurBay, SEO and cross-promotion on social media.

Can I make money reading books on YouTube without the publisher’s permission?

If you want to record yourself reading a book and then post the recording on YouTube (or anywhere else), you must get the publisher’s permission. However, there are 2 cases where you can post audiobooks without permission:

  • The book is public domain. A book becomes public domain shortly after its copyright ends. This means it can be used commercially or personally for free without permission. Book copyright laws vary by country, but many old works fall into this category. Some famous examples include the Sherlock Holmes stories, everything written by Shakespeare, and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
  • You post a “derivative” of the original work. Suppose you modify a book significantly, say, by adding commentary or animation. In that case, your work may be considered separate from the original and may not fall under its copyright law. You’ll often hear derivative works called “fair use” of the originals. “Fair use” law permits using copyrighted material for specific purposes like teaching, news reporting, or commentary.

What do I need to record audiobooks for YouTube videos?

It doesn’t take much to start recording audiobooks for YouTube videos. At the very least, you need a quiet space to record, a microphone (plus a shock mount if it doesn’t come with one), a pop filter, and audio recording software. 

Eventually, you may want to upgrade with extras like a mic boom arm for more convenient microphone placement or a digital audio interface for higher-quality audio control. A shock mount may be a good investment to prevent vibrations from your mic stand or boom arm from interfering with your recording.


Look for a microphone that records clear sound, reduces background noise, and suits the frequency of speaking voices. Ideally, your microphone should have a frequency response (or sensitivity range) of around 70-80 Hz to 12,000-15,000 Hz.

Many voiceover professionals prefer condenser microphones that pick up audio in a cardioid pattern, which records sound around the mic but is most sensitive in the front. Here are a few recommendations, but check out this article for more suggestions:

Good for beginners: Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio Technica AT2020 microphone

  • Approx. $100 USD
  • Great balance of price and quality.
  • Cardioid condenser microphone with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. It has an XLR output, so you need an audio interface to record, unless you have an adapter to connect the mic directly to your computer.
Good for traveling: RØDE NT-USB

RODE NT USB microphone

  • Approx. $130 USD
  • Connects directly to a computer with no need for an audio interface. Comes with a stand and pop filter.
  • Cardioid condenser microphone with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Premium pick: Neumann U 87 Ai

Neumann U 87 Ai microphone

  • Approx. $3,500 USD
  • Built with top-of-the-line audio recording technology. A worthwhile investment for serious, long-term voice professionals. (Interesting side note: Frank Sinatra’s microphone of choice was the Neumann U 47.)
  • Condenser microphone with the option to switch between 3 pickup patterns: cardioid, omni, and figure-8. The frequency response is 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

Pop filter

One quality that separates professional-sounding voiceovers from amateur home recordings is the absence of “plosives.” Plosives are the burst of air that hits a mic when the mouth closes off to make certain sounds like p, t, k, b, d, or g.

A pop filter breaks up the air between your mouth and the microphone, eliminating plosives. The good news is that pop filters are relatively inexpensive. You can get one for $10-$20 USD.

Audio recording software

Audio software captures your voice recording and lets you polish and edit it on your computer. Audio editing can get complicated, but there are some good starter software options with plenty of online tutorials to help you out.

Audacity is the software of choice for many people because it’s free and has a relatively simple interface that isn’t too tough to learn if you’re new to audio editing. For more suggestions, check out this guide.

6 ways to make money by reading books on YouTube

To monetize YouTube audiobooks, you need to be part of the YouTube Partner Program (more on that below). But that isn’t the only way to make money by reading books on YouTube. Check out the tried and true monetization strategies below.

Funnel viewers to a monetized website

Use your channel to direct viewers to an independent website where you can earn revenue however you want. Enable ads through a program like Google AdSense, sell products and services, or engage in affiliate marketing.

Besides a source of income, a monetized website can be an excellent way to showcase your brand. Create a catalogue of your audiobooks with links back to your YouTube channel. Write book reviews, publish lists of the best and worst audiobooks, and encourage audience discussion.

If you like the challenge of designing a website from scratch, consider using WordPress. If that sounds a little overwhelming, check out platforms like BlurBay that come with built-in tools and templates to get up and running quickly. BlurBay doesn’t charge a monthly subscription or ongoing hosting fees. Instead, pay just 5% of your earnings. The rest is yours to keep!

Can you make money reading books on YouTube? Monetize your content on BlurBay.

Show ads

When you join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), you can make money by showing ads on your audiobook videos. The program includes other perks like channel memberships, a customized channel page, special analytics tools, and Creator Support. As a YPP member, you also get to keep your content’s copyright and distribution rights.

To join YPP, you must have accumulated 1,000+ subscribers and 4,000+ long-form video watch hours (excluding YouTube Shorts) in the past 12 months. Go to YouTube Studio and tap Earn in the bottom menu. Select Apply, then Start. Accept the terms and conditions and select Start to link (or set up) an AdSense account.

It typically takes around a month to hear back. View your application status in the Earn section of the YouTube Studio app.

Enable channel memberships

As your subscriber base grows, some enthusiastic viewers may be willing to pay a recurring fee to access premium content. Once you join YPP, you can enable channel memberships directly on YouTube.

Alternatively, offer membership-based content using third-party platforms like Patreon, Memberful, Bold Commerce, or Ko-Fi.

Haven’t quite reached the threshold for joining YPP? Don’t worry. You can enable channel memberships and access limited monetization features (like Super Chat, Super Thanks, Super Stickers, and selling your own products through YouTube shopping) so long as you have:

  • 500 subscribers,
  • 3 public uploads in the past 90 days,
  • 3,000 long-form video watch hours in the past year

Partner with brands

Even if you’re a budding YouTuber, brands may still be interested in partnering with you to promote products and services. Look for brands complimenting your audiobooks’ subject matter and your viewers’ interests.

Earnings from sponsorships are commonly calculated as cost per mille (CPM), or the price for every 1,000 views. Many creators earn between $10 and $50 for each thousand views. If a sponsored video garners 30,000 views, your earnings could be anywhere from $300 to $1,500.

Engage in affiliate advertising

A great way to earn revenue is by recommending other brands’ products and services to your subscribers via affiliate marketing. When you join an affiliate program, you’re given a unique link to include in your YouTube video descriptions. If subscribers click on this link and complete a purchase, you receive a percentage of the sale (often under 1% up to 5% or higher).

Certain brands, like Amazon, offer in-house affiliate programs. Others, like Barnes and Noble and Better World Books, offer affiliate programs through a third-party platform. Some well-known affiliate networks are Rakuten, ShareASale, Awin, and ClickDealer.

Sell merch and products

Your YouTube subscribers can support your passion as a content creator and spread the word about your channel by wearing and using branded merch. Think T-shirts, bags, mugs, posters, notebooks, pens, socks, and more.

Creating merch can be fun. There are tons of platforms for designing and selling YouTuber merch, including Teespring, Threads, Bonfire, Printful, Fanjoy, and MerchLabs.

Can I make money reading books on YouTube? Sell merch and products.

Tips for growing your YouTube audiobook channel

Record good-quality audio. Besides investing in good equipment, use soundproofing to minimize background noise. Read aloud at a steady pace and clearly enunciate your words. When editing, go through your recording carefully to remove mistakes, unnecessary pauses, and extraneous noises.

If it’s appropriate for the material and not distracting, consider adding soft background music to enhance the listening experience. Get more audio recording tips in this guide.

Post long, continuous videos. Long videos are best for audiobook channels since listeners usually prefer listening to whole chapters. Aim to produce 20-60 minute videos, stopping when there’s a natural chapter break or narrative shift. That being said, experiment with different types of videos. Some listeners may prefer bite-sized content or literary samples, especially for non-fiction content.

Follow SEO best practices. Research relevant keywords for titles, descriptions, and video content using tools like TubeBuddy or Google’s Keyword Planner. Add tags to make your videos easier to find based on genre, author, or theme.

Use closed captions and subtitles to help the deaf and hard of hearing and make your content more easily discoverable by search engines. Encourage listener engagement to gain points with YouTube’s algorithm.

Collaborate with other YouTubers. Collaborations can expose your channel to a broader audience, so partner with YouTubers in related niches to host book reviews or literature discussions. Offer to be a guest narrator and read a chapter, or invite YouTubers to contribute to your channel in exchange for promotion.

Cross-promote on multiple social channels. Post small pieces of content, story highlights, or behind-the-scenes content on different social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Make your content more discoverable by using relevant hashtags.

Join online book discussions and forums to offer your channel as a resource for audiobook enthusiasts (keep it subtle and avoid sounding pushy). Posting consistently will help your channel (and other social accounts) grow and boost your revenue.

How often should I post YouTube videos?

YouTube rewards creators who post frequently and consistently. Research suggests that the best YouTube upload schedule is daily, although weekly uploads can also lead to growth. A few studies have found that the best time to upload YouTube videos is between 2pm and 4pm on weekdays or between 9am and 11am on weekends.

Whatever upload schedule you choose, remember that quality matters more than quantity. Uploading many videos may attract an audience, but making great content will convince people to stay. Watch time and subscriber growth affect your eligibility for YouTube monetization, so pay attention to viewer feedback and improve your content accordingly.

Can you monetize reading books on YouTube? FAQs

Is it legal to make money from reading books on YouTube?

Yes, you can make money from recording audiobooks for YouTube as long as you aren’t violating any copyright laws related to your material. Get permission from the publisher before posting anything on YouTube. Alternatively, make videos using public domain titles.

What genres are the most popular for audiobooks?

The most popular audiobook genres vary by market and country. But top genres often include autobiographies, memoirs, fantasy, mystery, thriller, suspense, self-help, and business.

Can you monetize reading public domain books on YouTube?

Yes, you can monetize reading public domain books aloud in YouTube videos. Public domain works are not protected by copyright, so you don’t need permission from the publisher or author to use their books in for-profit activities. After you’ve uploaded your work, promote it on social media and consider using BlurBay to create a website for showcasing your audio library.

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