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A zero-waste YouTuber with about 125,000 subscribers explains how much money he earned each month in 2020

  • Levi Hildebrand is a YouTube creator who films videos on how to help preserve the planet, be a minimalist, and follow a zero-waste lifestyle. 
  • He started his YouTube channel in 2017 and now has about 125,000 subscribers.
  • By monetizing his videos with ads and brand deals, he turned his YouTube channel into a full-time job.
  • Hildebrand spoke with Insider about how much money he makes on YouTube, and why he only works with brands that align with his message. 
  • Subscribe to our influencer newsletter: Insider Influencers.

This is the latest installment of Business Insider's YouTube money logs, where creators break down how much they earn.

Levi Hildebrand wants to help preserve the planet and he has turned this mission into a full-time career by sharing his message on YouTube.

Hildebrand launched his YouTube channel in 2017 and now he has 125,000 subscribers. On his YouTube channel, Hildebrand has videos about urban farms, compostable phone cases, and how to follow a zero-waste lifestyle.

His channel's slogan is: "You don't need to be a hero to save the planet." 

To make a career out of posting content on social media, Hildebrand has developed several revenue streams, including brand sponsorships, affiliate links, Patreon, and money earned from ads placed in his videos through YouTube's Partner Program.

Read more: A 5-step guide to making the most money possible from YouTube video ads, with advice from top creators

To be accepted into YouTube's Partner Program, creators must have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours, and once they are in, their videos are monetized with ads filtered by Google. How much money a creator earns (called AdSense) depends on the video's watch time, length, video type, and viewer demographics, among other factors. YouTube also keeps 45% of the ad revenue, with the creator keeping the rest. 

Hildebrand's YouTube channel is a One Percent for the Planet member – an organization where members contribute at least one percent of their annual earnings to help save the environment. And for 2021, Hildebrand said he will be donating all of the money his channel makes this year from YouTube AdSense to the organization. 

But how much money does a YouTube channel about sustainability and minimalism earn? 

Hildebrand broke down how much money he's earned on YouTube by month in 2020. Insider verified his earnings with screenshots of his analytics dashboard:

  • January: $756
  • February: $967
  • March: $682
  • April: $1,008
  • May: $995
  • June: $1,181
  • July: $1,167
  • August: $1,199
  • September: $1,722
  • October: $1,444
  • November: $1,549
  • December: $1,156

YouTube ad rates fluctuate month to month, and at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, some YouTube creators saw a decline in their March earnings as advertisers pulled campaigns and lowered budgets. You can see that reflected in Hildebrand's earnings.

A post shared by Levi Hildebrand (@levi_hildebrand)

Working with brands as a zero-waste influencer 

Since Hildebrand follows a sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle, he only supports brands and companies that have similar values.

For instance, some of the brands and products that Hildebrand has promoted on his channel include the shoe brand Allbirds, a phone case company that makes compostable products, and a sunglasses brand that uses sustainable materials.

Only working with eco-friendly brands can be tricky and he rarely says yes to working with new companies, Hildebrand said. 

"I never agree to a product review or a collaboration of any kind until I've actually held and used the product for a significant chunk of time," Hildebrand added. "Because if your product sucks it doesn't matter if you have the best branding and you save 1,000 whales for every purchase. I will take a better produced high-quality product over an overtly sustainable product in the same niche."

To help him decide whether a brand is worth promoting, he created a checklist of must-haves: 

  • The product must be high quality.
  • The company has to have good branding. 
  • The brand must have some focus on sustainability or giving back to the planet. 

Read more: An Instagram influencer's guide to negotiating a brand sponsorship and what contract terms to watch out for

Hildebrand's message to the YouTube community is that he hopes to see more creators sharing tips on how to care for the environment. 

"Big creators like MrBeast and Mark Rober have a voice and when they do things like the TeamTrees challenge and other things like that, they are normalizing environmental actions," he said about the 2019 movement started by two YouTubers where for every dollar donated one tree would be planted somewhere around the world (to-date TeamTrees has raised over $22 million).

"If we see creators of any size using a reusable bottle and mentioning the fact that you shouldn't use disposable, or creating a lifestyle that is sustainable that they are representing to their audiences, that can make a huge difference," he said. 

For more on how much money YouTube stars earned from the platform in 2020, check out these posts:

  • A nano influencer breaks down how much money she earns on YouTube with 1,900 subscribers
  • A YouTube star with over 200,000 subscribers explains how much money she's made each month in 2020
  • A YouTube creator and candle maker broke down her exact income for every month in 2020

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