How to Sell a YouTube Channel
In the current creator economy, independent creators are seeing higher returns for their work than ever before.
Video creators are especially well rewarded, with platforms like Tiktok and Patreon allowing independent entrepreneurs to capitalize on growing an audience and producing high-quality, consistent content.
YouTube, the original platform for video creation, has allowed entrepreneurs to monetize their videos and create established and saleable assets.
Yet, most YouTube creators aren’t even aware that they own valuable assets that can be sold for significant amounts of capital.
Let’s take a look at how you can sell a monetized YouTube channel for a life-changing amount of money.
Why Sell a YouTube Channel?
If you’ve got a high-performing asset on your hands, you’re probably wondering why you would ever let go of it.
While that’s a valid point, there are a number of reasons it might be time to transfer your baby to a new owner.
The two most common reasons we see sellers approach our marketplace are personal reasons and future business opportunities.
Major life changes can propel someone to cut with profitable assets.
A death in the family, upcoming college expenses, and retirement are high on the list of personal reasons people may need access to large amounts of cash upfront.
One of the top reasons we hear from our marketplace sellers is they haven’t figured out how to minimize their time investment and want more time and money for their growing families.
Future business opportunities
Digital entrepreneurs are often juggling multiple businesses at the same time.
They may have started a new channel or created an entirely different business model and want to devote more resources to growing that business.
Selling gives them instant access to a large amount of capital that will allow them to grow a new business beyond what they would have been capable of doing.
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to sell your YouTube channel, you’re probably wondering whether it’s legal to do it and (even more importantly), how you can do it.
Can you sell a YouTube channel?
Because seeing YouTube channels for sale isn’t common, a lot of sellers wonder if it’s even possible (or legal) to do it.
According to YouTube’s terms of service, there’s nothing preventing you from selling your account to someone else. You’re allowed to transfer your YouTube account to a new owner.
You may have heard that a new owner logging in from a different IP address could cause problems. This is a commonly heard scare tactic used to prevent people from selling their YouTube channels.
What YouTube won’t do, however, is facilitate the sale in any way. That means they won’t get involved in any valuation or exchange of money on the platform. If you have a problem with the sale, YouTube support won’t be able to help you.
But it is entirely possible to sell a YouTube channel, and we’ve seen first hand on our marketplace how these transactions can change the lives of both buyers and sellers.
Valuing a YouTube Channel
Now that you know that it’s possible to sell YouTube channels, you’re probably wondering how they’re valued.
As with most online businesses, monetized YouTube channels are given a valuation based on their net profit times a multiple.
You’ll often see the net profit shown as an annual figure based on EBITDA.
We do things a little differently. We use the average monthly revenue instead of annual because we find that it gives buyers a clearer, more accurate, and more consistent view of how a business is performing.
But when it comes to assigning the multiple for a YouTube channel, there are several factors to consider, such as:
- Video quality
- Niche consistency
- Number of YouTube subscribers
- Owner involvement
- Account health
- Watch time
- View trends
- Monetization methods
Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more detail.
Most entrepreneurs who buy YouTube channels aren’t just looking at recent profits.
They want to see that the videos have long-term staying power. That means creating high-quality videos and avoiding content that uses spammy keywords for hits.
Although it’s great to have high YouTube views, you don’t want videos such as “Top 10 Waves Caught on Film” that have been posted just to game the YouTube algorithm.
On the flip side of the above point, videos that at first glance appear to cater to the YouTube algorithm and search engine might work if they’re part of a cohesive niche.
The more niched down, the more profitable your YouTube channel could be.
For example, it would make more sense to post “Top 10 Waves Caught on Film” as part of a channel devoted to the ocean or the planet.
Just make sure your videos are consistent and your niche is identifiable to make your channel more attractive to prospective buyers.
Number of subscribers
It may seem obvious to point out that the number of subscribers a channel has is important to its valuation. However, it’s a little more nuanced than that.
It’s not enough just to have subscribers. The important thing is to have a subscriber base full of active users.
Some channels buy YouTube subscribers from places such as Fameswap in order to inflate their numbers. It’s the same concept as social media users buying followers.
Although the numbers look great, most of the purchased followers are bots. And even when they are real users, they may not be your target audience.
If they’re not actually interested in your content, your YouTube views won’t actually increase, which defeats the purpose.
Buyers want to see that you have real subscribers who are viewing and interacting with your content.
As the owner of the channel, how involved are you in day to day operations?
It’s a common misconception that interested buyers want to see significant involvement from the original owners.
It’s an understandable perspective. After all, the more effort you personally put into your video content, the better your channel will be, right?
But YouTube channels involve pumping out new videos regularly, and buyers aren’t after a full-time job. They’re often looking for a well-oiled video content machine that can be run with little owner involvement.
This means that the more you can outsource, the more your business will be worth and the higher your chances are of selling it.
How personality-focused is your channel? Are you featured in the videos? Does your subscriber base associate you with your channel?
This can be a non-starter when it comes time to sell. It makes a lot of sense. Not only do personality-driven videos require more time and effort from the owner, but they can also be extremely difficult to transfer.
Even looking at mainstream television shows and film franchises, you can see the difficulty in replacing well-known personalities and actors with new faces. Both viewership numbers and revenue often take a nosedive, which is a risk independent buyers aren’t willing to take.
Another benefit of removing yourself from the picture is that you can outsource production, which will save you time and make your business more attractive to potential buyers.
Having a healthy account with a high number of subs and coveted YouTube Creator Awards could help bump up your valuation.
On the flip side of that, an account that has received strikes for copyright infringement or other content that goes against community guidelines can reduce your valuation.
Make sure 90 days have passed since your strike was issued before listing so your account will be in the best shape possible.
A high number of views on your videos is great, but you also want to keep an eye on your average watch time.
Your channel could be monetized and get a lot of views, but it’s irrelevant if users aren’t watching a significant portion of them.
A solid and consistent average watch time shows interested buyers that your channel is capable of producing high-quality videos on a regular basis that YouTube users actually want to watch.
You’ll also want to take a look at your view spread. It’s fine to have a standout video that went viral. But you want your views to be spread over a number of videos to show diversity.
If you’ve got one video with over a million views while the rest of your videos show an average of a few thousand or less, it could put buyers off.
They might view it as a risky investment, as most of their revenue could be coming from a single source that they might not be able to profit from in the future.
This brings us to one of the most important points: how your YouTube videos are monetized.
There are several ways you can monetize a YouTube channel, including through affiliate programs and AdSense.
You might also be big enough to explore direct sponsorship opportunities from companies in your niche. Or, if you’re eligible, consider applying to the YouTube Partner Program to increase your revenue and make your channel more appealing to potential buyers.
There’s also room to create a website where you can repurpose and monetize content you’ve already posted on your YouTube channel.
The more diverse your YouTube monetization methods are, the more stable your revenue streams will appear to interested buyers.
Finding Interested Buyers
Now that you know how to make your channel as attractive as possible to buyers, you’re probably wondering where to find them.
There are a number of places you can go online that list YouTube channels for sale.
You could go the private route, announcing your sale on social media platforms or in private groups. And there are also dedicated platforms like Trustiu that will allow you to list your YouTube channel for sale.
We recommend that first-time sellers use a broker to make the sale easier. The reason for this is that private groups and independent platforms often offer little more than a way to bring exposure to your business.
When you go private, you won’t get assistance with valuing your business, negotiating a fair price, or transferring your assets. That means you’re opening yourself up to potential bad actors or tire kickers.
But with a broker, you get access to a wide buyer pool and industry experts who can help you reach your financial goals for the sale.
Once you’ve found a buyer and agreed to a sales price, you’ll have to transfer over the account. Depending on how the account is monetized, this can be straightforward or complicated.
There are three different scenarios you could run into:
YouTube account without AdSense
If your YouTube channel is not monetized with AdSense, you can simply hand over the entire Google account and have the buyer change the credentials on it.
This is the fastest and easiest way to transfer over an account.
However, caveat emptor: it can’t be done if the channel is monetized with an AdSense account, because these accounts can’t be transferred.
AdSense Monetization and Non-Branded Channels
If your YouTube channel does use AdSense, you’ll need to transfer it as a branded channel.
If it’s not currently branded, that doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. It just means that you’ll have to change it to a branded account before the sale can be completed.
This can be a fairly complicated process, especially if you’re unfamiliar with branded channels.
It’s also important to have the buyer create their own AdSense account well before the transfer to avoid significant drops in revenue post-sale.
AdSense Monetization and Branded Channels
When AdSense is one of your monetization methods, the best-case scenario is that you’ve already made it a branded channel.
Having a branded channel means you can immediately add the buyer as an owner. They’ll receive an email link to accept ownership.
The important thing to remember with this transfer is that you’ll have to wait seven days after the buyer has accepted ownership in order to make them the primary owner.
Once that is done, the buyer can link their own AdSense account directly to the channel.
Making the Sales Process Smoother
While the good news is that it’s entirely legal to sell a YouTube channel, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of launching the process.
You might feel like you don’t know where to start when setting a fair price for your business, finding reputable buyers, and transferring your assets correctly.
That’s where we can come in. You can start by using our free valuation tool to get an idea of what your business might be worth.
Our vetting advisors will help you build an accurate P&L sheet to present to buyers and give you an accurate valuation of your business.
Once you’re listed, our sales team can help you connect with qualified buyers who are interested in your channel.
And once you’ve accepted an offer, our migrations team will handle the transfer process from start to finish, no matter what type of monetization methods you might be using.
If you’re ready to get started on the next step in your entrepreneurial journey, schedule a call with one of our advisors today to get the ball rolling!