A YouTube creator and active-duty US Navy sailor had his highest-earning month ever in April despite ad rates plummeting


Austen Alexander

  • Austen Alexander is an active-duty sailor for the US Navy and a YouTube creator with 344,000 subscribers. 
  • In April, Alexander had his best month on YouTube after experiencing a sharp uptick in viewership on his channel. 
  • With more people consuming video content at home — due to the coronavirus pandemic — YouTube has seen a 20 to 30% increase in views and engagement over the last few weeks, according to the social-media-marketing platform Mediakix. 
  • For Alexander, this increase in viewership led to him earning more money directly off the platform than he had ever earned off YouTube in a 28-day period. 
  • Alexander broke down how much money his YouTube channel earned in April from AdSense and how his digital business has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

YouTube creator Austen Alexander, who has 344,000 subscribers, just had his best month ever on the platform. 

Since the middle of March, Alexander’s YouTube channel has experienced a sharp uptick in views, he said, which correlated to a spike in overall monthly revenue. 

With more people consuming video content at home — due to the coronavirus pandemic — YouTube has seen a 20 to 30% increase in views and engagement over the last few weeks, according to the social-media-marketing platform Mediakix. 

In the last 28 days, Alexander’s YouTube channel received over 7 million views, compared to the usual 1.4 million to 2.9 million range. His channel also gained around 118,000 subscribers, according to a screenshot viewed by Business Insider. 

Creators like Alexander, who are a part of YouTube’s Partner Program, can earn money from their videos through advertisements placed by Google, called AdSense. YouTube creators are paid a certain rate for every 1,000 views, which is called the CPM rate. These ads generate a certain amount of money depending on factors like a video’s watch time, length, and viewer demographic. 

As a YouTube creator, Alexander earned over $12,300 in April from AdSense, according to a screenshot of his channel analytics viewed by Business Insider. This is more money than he has ever earned off YouTube in 28 days, he said. 

“This has been my top earning month throughout my two years of being on YouTube,” he said. “I know the views have definitely helped me.”

When Alexander isn’t filming videos, he’s working as an active-duty sailor for the US Navy. He started his channel 2 years ago after receiving too many questions about his job in the Navy on Instagram. 


Alexander’s CPM rates have dropped, but the increase viewers has made up for lost revenue 

Many YouTube creators have experienced a decline in direct-ad-revenue rates from the platform in recent weeks, likely because of shifting ad budgets amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s been true for Alexander as well, he said.

Alexander earns between $8 and $9 on average for every 1,000 views. Recently, his rates have dropped by 60%, he said.

“One day my CPM was even about $2.93,” he said. “Less businesses are paying to advertise, so my channel’s CPM took a big hit.” 

But although his CPM is down, his views have increased by about 400 to 500%, he said, which ultimately made up for that loss in revenue.

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For more on the business of influencers, check out these Business Insider Prime posts: 

  • Some YouTube creators say their ad rates have dropped sharply in recent weeks and increased views haven’t made up for the loss in income: YouTube creators are experiencing a decline in direct ad revenue in response to shifting advertising budgets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • TikTok star Addison Rae describes her rise to 33 million followers, from dancing competitively at 6 years old to catching Mariah Carey’s attention: Addison Rae spoke about her rapid success online and how she is building a larger business with merchandise and lucrative brand partnerships.

  • How a YouTube star making an estimated $14 million per year has adapted his business in recent weeks, as ad rates drop by over 50% but merch sales nearly triple: Preston Arsement is the CEO of the digital media studio TBNR, which all started from filming gaming videos in his bedroom.

  • How much money do YouTubers make a month? A minimalist influencer with 77,000 subscribers shares exactly what she earns and spends: Kyra Ann earns more money a month from her YouTube channel than at her day job, and she shared how much money YouTube paid her in February.

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