YouTube Monetization: How to Make Money from YouTube Videos
YouTube is the 2nd most visited website on earth with more than 2 billion monthly users. Every day those users watch more than 1 billion hours of video. In recent years, YouTube has become a way for individuals and businesses with little or no media experience to earn income by monetizing the videos they place on the website. In this post, we’re going to take a close look at YouTube monetization, what it is and how to get started with this very particular type of social media monetization.
What is YouTube Monetization?
The most common, (but as we’ll see, not the only) way to monetize a YouTube channel is by placing ads before, during or after the main content of a video. But not every video placed on YouTube is eligible for monetization, and if you run afoul of YouTube monetization requirements by, say, using copyrighted material without proper consent, the copyright owner may wind up being the one making money off of your video. So it’s important that you understand the YouTube monetization requirements.
How to Get Monetized on YouTube: Rules and Requirements
If you want to monetize your videos:
- Your channel must have at least 1,000 subscribers.
- Visitors must have amassed at least 4,000 hours of watch time on your channel in the previous 12 months.
- You must live in a country where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
- You must have a Google AdSense account linked to your channel.
- You must activate 2-Step Verification of your account.
- You must adhere to YouTube’s Community Guidelines with regards to deceptive practices, sexual content, child safety, hate speech, harassment and more.
- Your channel cannot have any active Community Guideline Strikes against it.
YouTube has some extremely sophisticated AI-enabled programmes scouring the site 24/7 for possible copyright infringements. If you are serious about monetizing your YouTube channel, make sure you only upload videos you made or that contain content you are authorised to use.
That said, in some cases, it is possible to use copyrighted material without permission under the “fair use” law. To learn more about fair use and YouTube, tap this link.
How to Join the YouTuber Partner Program
If you meet all the above monetization requirements you must apply to the YouTube Partner Program before you can begin monetizing your channel. To apply for the YouTube Partner Program:
- Sign in to your YouTube account.
- Tap or click your profile picture in the top right of the page.
- Tap or click “monetization” in the left column.
- Check the box to accept the Terms of Service of the programme.
- Then tap or click “apply”.
Because YouTube has more than a billion users and they use real humans to review Partner Program applications, it can take a month or more for your application to be reviewed and either accepted or rejected, so be patient.
What if you get rejected by the YouTube Partner Program?
Even if you believe you meet all the requirements, it is still possible you may be rejected for the YouTube Partner Program. That’s the bad news. The good news is, should that happen you’ll be able to re-apply in 30 days. YouTube will provide reasons why they rejected your application, although sometimes some of those reasons might seem pretty vague.
For instance, they might say they believe you tried to circumvent their ad review process, or that you violated community guidelines, without telling you the exact nature of your violation. The best thing to do is to relax and make the most of those 30 days. Go through your videos with a fine-tooth comb and purge them of questionable content or any copyrighted material they may contain that you were not aware was present. Then re-apply when the 30 days have passed.
How to Grow Your YouTube Channel and Get More Views
The secret to making money on YouTube is no secret at all: views. The more views your videos get the more you will make. Here are some tips for creating videos that will get those all-important views.
Create valuable content
The quality of your videos will go a long way toward determining if you get 20 views or 20,000 views. For instance, if you upload an instructional video that’s almost impossible to hear no one will watch it through, it will get more dislikes than likes and no one will recommend it to their friends. On the other hand, if your instructional video takes people through a step by step process where everything is clear and logical, chances are viewers will like, share, subscribe and return to your channel again and again.
Do your YouTube keyword research!
Keywords make the virtual world go round so if you are not using keywords to promote your videos your view count will suffer. Here are a few of the most popular ways to find relevant keywords for your video.
- Use the YouTube autocomplete tool – Just start typing a word into the YouTube search box that is related to your video content. You will see that YouTube automatically offers up a range of keywords and keyword phrases for you. These are, in effect, free keyword suggestions and you should make use of them.
- Use your browser’s “developer tools” – Almost all browsers have “developer tools” that enable you to view a page’s HTML code. It’s usually found through the settings wheel or the “…” icon at the top right of the browser. So, find a similar video to yours, open developer tools, navigate the dropdown menu until you see “view page source”, open the source code and search for “keywords”. You’ll be presented with the keywords the creator of that video used.
- Use a keyword research tool – If you’re having trouble coming up with relevant keywords try downloading and using one of the many FREE YouTube keyword research tools like those you can find here. These will make the process of selecting keywords a lot easier.
Have keyword-rich video descriptions
You will have a chance to add a description to each video you upload. The descriptive paragraph is a great place to not only restate your title, but to use the relevant keywords you discovered using the techniques we laid out above. But don’t just use direct keywords, make sure you use some LSI keywords as well.
LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords are indirectly related to your video topic and can help provide the YouTube search engine with context about your video. For instance, if you uploaded a video on how to make vegetarian stew you’ll want to include “vegetarian stew” in the description, of course. But you’ll also want to add some related LSI keywords like “healthy”, “vegan”, “fit” and “natural”.
Use custom thumbnails
When you upload a video, YouTube will automatically provide you with 3 thumbnail choices. Unfortunately, the still images YouTube selects are usually from random sections of the video and are dull, dull, dull. If you want people to click on your video you need to provide a thumbnail that catches their eye. To do that you’ll need to create a custom thumbnail. Here’s the thing, though. You’ll need to add a phone number to your account before YouTube will allow you to upload a custom thumbnail.
So, did you add a phone number to your account? Great. Here are the parameters for the custom thumbnail image you can now upload to generate more views:
- The image should be 1280×720.
- It should be a jpg, gif or png.
- It should not be bigger than 2MB.
- The ideal aspect ratio is 16:9.
Try to create an image that is simple and that really speaks to the content of the video. Ideally, the image will also contain some easy-to-read, descriptive text. Once you have created the custom thumbnail just log into YouTube, go to your channel, select the appropriate video and upload the image.
Use end screens and cards
End Screens cover the last 5-20 seconds of your video. End Cards are added to the End Screen and provide an effective way to promote more of your content. When they first appeared they were considered something of a nuisance. And then people began to realise how valuable they can be in generating views.
Some of the other reasons people use End Cards:
- To direct traffic to another channel.
- To direct viewers to a playlist.
- To promote a crowdfunding campaign.
- To sell T-Shirts, caps and other merchandise.
- To promote a website.
To add an End Screen to your video complete the following steps:
- Login to your YouTube account.
- Go to your channel and then tap or click on “Video Manager”.
- Select one of your videos to add an End Screen to.
- Choose where you want to add the End Screen in the video and click on that place.
- Then tap or click on “End Screen and Annotations”.
- YouTube presents you with 4 options to populate the End Screen: Playlist or Videos, Subscribe button, channel button (to promote another channel) and a link option.
- Make your selections.
- Preview the End Screen to ensure it’s what you want it to be.
- If all looks good, tap or click “publish”.
End Screens are proven to drive traffic and views and increase subscribers, but you should choose which videos to promote with End Cards carefully. For instance, if you are creating a series of instructional videos add an end card that promotes the next logical video in the series.
Build and facilitate a community
Here are some proven ways to build a community on YouTube:
Engage with your audience
People like to feel that the channel owner appreciates their patronage. A great way to show your appreciation is to respond to comments. Another great way to engage the audience is to pose a question and ask them to respond in the comments section. If they do take the time to respond make sure you acknowledge them.
Bring your outside branding cues to YouTube
If you already have a website or brick and mortar store or other branded properties, make sure your YouTube channel reflects the established brand. That means using the same logo and colour scheme along with the same overall attitude.
Integrate other social media platforms into your YouTube channel
Do you already have a Facebook page, an Instagram page or a Tik Tok presence? Post your YouTube videos there and get traffic moving between the different platforms. Then place links in your YouTube video description that link out to those other accounts. It’s a great way to enhance awareness in people who may only know you from Facebook or another social media platform.
Upload more often
If you really want to optimise community engagement, upload new content every week. That sounds like a daunting task, especially if you work alone. But, depending on the type of content you feature, it may be a lot easier than you think. Today’s smartphones typically include high-quality cameras that negate the need to rent equipment or hire an outsider. And remember, your videos don’t have to be a half-hour long. In fact, shorter is often better as far as YouTube is concerned.
Put yourself in the video
When people can put a face to a YouTube channel it helps them feel like they have a personal connection to the video creator. This is especially true if what you’re offering is fitness advice or coaching, or if it’s a travel-related channel.
Setting up a Community App
A community app is a great way to augment your community-building efforts while at the same time providing your followers or fans with a dedicated platform where they can communicate in a safe and discreet manner. You can use the app to distribute content, float new ideas, earn money through in-app purchases and host a collection of your YouTube videos. Disciple provide a simple and affordable way to create your own community app, get more views and grow your YouTube channel by moving traffic from the app to YouTube.
Additional Ways to Monetize on YouTube
Advertisements are far and away the most popular way to monetize YouTube videos. But they’re far from the only way. In this section, we’ll look at several other direct and indirect types of YouTube channel monetization.
Selling a subscription to a Community App
Selling subscriptions to your community app is a great way to use your YouTube channel to earn extra money. You can use End Cards at the conclusion of your YouTube videos to promote your community app and drive traffic to the download page where visitors can purchase and download it.
Affiliate websites were all the rage until Google decided they weren’t and basically kicked the lot to the nether reaches of their organic search results. But that doesn’t mean affiliate marketing is dead. Far from it. In fact, affiliate marketing is one of the most popular methods of monetization on YouTube, which seems a bit ironic since Google owns YouTube.
Affiliate marketing is not appropriate for all YouTube channels but for those who use YouTube to promote specific products and services (rather than to post “reaction” videos etc…) affiliate marketing can add significant ka-ching to your monetization efforts.
Affiliate links can be placed within the video using annotations. In that case, a link will pop up at an appropriate time during the video prompting the viewer to click through to purchase the product being discussed or a related product. This type of affiliate marketing works the same as it does with a website: if the viewer clicks through and makes a purchase – any purchase – you earn a commission.
As we mentioned, you can add affiliate links to the video itself using annotations, or you can use End Cards that link out to affiliate sites. You can also place affiliate links in the video description. Fortunately, YouTube is pretty open-minded about the number of affiliate links. But for the sake of your channel’s reputation, you should probably exercise moderation, meaning 3 or 4 links rather than 2-dozen.
Some YouTubers make more money from selling merchandise than they do from advertising. YouTube allows certain qualifying channels to promote and sell their official merchandise by turning on what it calls the “Merchandise Shelf”. So, exactly who qualifies for this privilege? You can if your channel…
- Is already approved for monetization.
- You are located in a country where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
- Your channel is not set as “Made for Kids”, or your channel does not have a significant number of videos designated for kids.
- Is an official music channel for an artist or a band.
- Your channel does not contain videos that violate YouTube’s monetization policies.
- Your channel has not been cited for promoting or abiding hate speech.
If you have spent any time on YouTube recently you have no doubt seen videos where the presenter says something like “Before we begin I’d like to say a few words about the sponsor of today’s video.” YouTube videos, as it turns out, can be sponsored just like TV shows.
There are a few different kinds of sponsorship available for YouTube videos, including:
- Paid sponsorships where a company pays you money to promote their product or service during your video.
- Product sponsorships where a manufacturer sends you a product to review.
- And of course, affiliate marketing that we discussed above is an indirect form of sponsorship.
As a general rule, it won’t do you much good to reach out to potential sponsors unless your channel is already eligible for monetization. That means 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watched videos. Anything less than that is unlikely to impress the brands you reach out to. And you will have to do the reaching out to attract sponsorships. YouTube is not going to do it for you.
Is YouTube Shorts Monetization Possible?
Feeling the heat from short-form video platforms like Tik Tok, YouTube launched YouTube Shorts in 2021. Videos on the Shorts platform are created using a smartphone camera and are limited to 60 seconds in length. In order to create buzz around the launch, YouTube backed up the Shorts platform with a $100 million giveaway. Every month they reward creators with bonuses ranging from $100 to $10,000.
If YouTube deems your short videos to be worthy of reward they will reach out to you and inform you of your eligibility. In order to qualify:
- You must have uploaded at least 1 Short in the past 180 days.
- The video short must be original and cannot be taken in whole or in part from another person’s channel, a TV show, a movie or other third-party properties.
- Creators must be at least 13 years old, or of the age of majority in their country.
- If the creator is 13 – 18 years old a parent or guardian must set up an AdSense account and accept terms and conditions.
- Shorts must adhere to all of YouTube’s standard guidelines, rules and regulations, including YouTube monetization rules.
- Channels do not need to be monetized to become eligible.
Qualifying for the YouTube Shorts Fund
There is no hard and fast rule determining who receives money from the Shorts Bonus Fund, and there is no point in trying to lobby YouTube on behalf of your channel. Funding decisions are made on a case by case basis at the discretion of the YouTube Shorts team.
What About YouTube Premium?
YouTube Premium is a paid version of YouTube that dispenses all the videos you will find on the standard website but without YouTube ads of any kind. That way, viewers can watch their favourite content without interruptions. They are also eligible to watch special sports programming and other content that is not available to regular YouTube users.
Money from subscriptions to YouTube Premium is distributed among YouTube creators based on how many times Premium members viewed a given video. Therefore your video could earn ad revenue from standard YouTube viewers and also earn revenue when YouTube Premium members watch.
You do not have to sign up for YouTube Premium for your videos to be seen by Premium members. As we said, all videos on the YouTube platform are visible to Premium users. In order to make money, however, you will need to fulfil the monetization requirements we discussed at the beginning of this piece.
You can learn more about YouTube Premium here.
YouTube account monetization is a great way to earn income from the videos you upload. Once you meet the minimum threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of video watched, you can apply to the YouTube Partner Program and, if approved, start earning money.
If you really want to ramp up your monetization efforts consider a community app from Disciple. A community app will provide additional revenue streams while at the same time promoting your YouTube videos, driving traffic and increasing your all-important view count.
Between YouTube and your white label Disciple community app, you’ll be optimised for income while building and nurturing a vibrant, engaged fan community.