With more than 2 billion active users per month, YouTube is one of the best marketing platforms on the planet. And because growing a channel from scratch can be a time-consuming process, you might be tempted to buy one that already has a solid subscriber base.
So, can you buy a YouTube channel? Yes, you can buy a YouTube channel. It’s completely legal to do so, and there are many websites where you can find YouTube channels for sale.
To learn the do's and don’ts of buying a YouTube channel, read on.
Before you pay someone a bunch of money to gain access to their channel and subscribers, it’s good to understand why you might want to buy someone’s YouTube account.
One benefit of buying a YouTube channel is the residual income from the videos that are already posted on the channel. YouTube channels that get sold are often review channels, and you can earn money for years to come from the ad and affiliate revenue those existing videos get.
The other benefit of buying a channel is that it already has a dedicated subscriber base. You don’t have to spend years pumping out videos that no one is going to watch. You can take over where the original creator left off and begin marketing your own products and services.
While having a large subscriber base for the sake of the guaranteed views is nice, it also has another benefit ‒ it’ll make building an ever-larger following a much easier process.
Videos with high view counts tend to attract more viewers than videos with low view counts. There are a couple of reasons for this:
Because a large subscriber base will give your videos higher view counts right off the bat, buying an established YouTube channel can let you skip the grind and get right to the money.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though. Buying a YouTube channel comes with some serious risks that you need to be aware of.
For starters, YouTube’s terms of service explicitly prohibit the buying or selling of channels. The practice is perfectly legal from a jurisdictional standpoint, but YouTube has a strict no-tolerance policy.
Here’s why this is a problem: if YouTube figures out you bought an account, they will instantly ban that account and remove all traces of it from the platform. You’ll be out however many hundreds or thousands you spent on the account.
No one outside of YouTube knows exactly how they determine which accounts have been sold. There are a few factors that almost certainly play a role though.
One big indicator is the IP address. If you buy an account from someone who lives halfway across the planet, YouTube is going to notice that another person has suddenly started using the account. This will tip them off that something fishy is going on, and may lead them to suspend the account.
Another indicator is that the person featured in the videos is going to change. Unless the person who originally owned the account was outsourcing the video production ‒ and they hand you control of that video production team ‒ YouTube might notice that a completely different person is suddenly manning the channel.
People typically subscribe to YouTube channels because they connect with the person featured in the videos. If you plan on continuing to post on the channel ‒ and you lack the charisma or likeability of the original channel owner ‒ you’re going to have a problem retaining subscribers and continuing to grow the channel.
Even if some subscribers like you, they might not understand why there was a sudden change in personality ‒ which can push even more viewers to unsubscribe.
Your first order of business is to find a seller. There are quite a few websites where you can find reputable YouTube channel sellers. Flippa.com and Fameswap.com are two of the most well-known options.
Before you make a final decision, there are a number of questions you should ask the channel owner. The answers to these questions will affect the channel’s value, and will, therefore, impact your offered price.
The channel’s subscriber count will have the biggest impact on the channel’s overall value. Knowing this information is essential if you want to make money on this purchase.
Even if the channel has millions of subscribers, you can’t earn a single cent in ad revenue off of them if the channel hasn’t been approved for monetization by YouTube.
If a channel with a significant subscriber base still hasn’t been monetized, there might be something wrong with the channel (strikes, copyright issues, etc.) that might dissuade YouTube from ever approving it.
If a channel isn’t monetized, the owner needs to have started the monetization approval process at the very least. If they haven’t, don’t buy the channel until they do.
If the channel has been monetized, it’s already making some money from ads each month. To give the channel a proper valuation, you’ll need to know the monthly ad revenue amount.
Many YouTube channels that get sold are review channels that recommend affiliate products to viewers. If you’re buying one of these channels, knowing how much the channel owner is making in affiliate commissions each month is also necessary for a proper valuation.
Older channels often have more authority and trust than younger accounts. If an older account is still getting active engagement from its subscriber base, it might be worth more than a younger channel that is getting the same level of engagement.
However, an older channel can also be a negative. If the channel hasn’t been active in over a year, most of the subscribers will have grown stale. They might not remember the channel when you start posting again ‒ and even if they do, there’s a good chance they won’t be interested in the topic the channel is about.
If the sale of the channel avoids detection from YouTube, the only way it can be deleted is through strikes against the account. These typically come from copyright infringement, but there are other ways to get them too.
Fortunately, a single strike is pretty easy to deal with. It takes three strikes within a span of three months to get your channel deleted, so a single strike shouldn’t make you too wary of making a purchase.
The biggest challenge most channel buyers face is replacing the face and personality that is currently attached to the account. If subscribers have become accustomed to a particular person in the videos, it will be difficult to replace that person without causing a significant follower loss.
Once you’ve decided that you want to buy the channel, make an offer. If the seller accepts, you can begin the transfer process and start building your new source of revenue.
Buying a YouTube channel is legal and possible.
However, if you want to build a channel for your business that will generate revenue for years to come, I recommend starting from scratch and doing things the “right” way.
While it will take longer to build up a substantial base of subscribers, it will also make success much more likely in the long run.