If you want to make money while creating content, a good place to start is learning to monetize on YouTube. With the help of the trusty YouTube Partner Program and its built-in advertising system, you can start making money on YouTube pretty quickly.
While you shouldn’t expect to become a millionaire overnight, the smaller amounts of cash add up over time. Then, the bigger and more engaged your audience is, the better the financial returns! The good news is it’s super easy to monetize your YouTube channel. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- How do I monetize my YouTube channel?
- Is it free to monetize YouTube?
- How to activate YouTube Studio monetization
- How much can you make after you monetize your channel?
- Other ways to make money on YouTube
- Do you need 500 subscribers on YouTube to get paid?
- Key points to remember for making money on YouTube
How do I monetize my YouTube channel?
The main way to make money on YouTube is by joining the YouTube Partner Program. This allows you to monetize with adverts, and it’s simple to set up. Once you’ve hit all the requirements, you could apply for the YouTube Partner Program during your lunch break and still have time for a quick walk outside. Sounds like a winner to us!
To be accepted for the YouTube Partner Program, you need to tick off a few things first. They are:
- Live in a country where the YouTube Partner Program is up and running
- Have a channel with at least 500 subscribers
- Reach 3,000 valid public watch hours in the past 12 months – this also includes YouTube Live videos – or 3 million YouTube Shorts views in the past 90 days
- Have uploaded at least three public videos in the last 90 days
- Have an active AdSense account linked to your YouTube channel
- Have a channel with no current Community Guidelines strikes
- Follow all of the YouTube monetization policies
- Enable two-step verification on the Google account linked to your YouTube account, to be extra safe online
Is it free to monetize YouTube?
Yep! You’ll naturally have to shell out for equipment and those kinds of things, but there’s no initial fee for making money on YouTube. The platform will take a cut of your earnings, but you’ll never be billed upfront for anything.
Okay, so you’ve hit all those YouTube Partner Program criteria. Now, you just need to head over to YouTube Studio to kick everything off. Let’s walk through the process of activating all this and start making money on YouTube!
How to activate YouTube Studio monetization
- On the YouTube homepage, click your profile icon and select ‘YouTube Studio’ in the dropdown menu.
- Find the left navigation bar and click ‘Monetization.’
- Once you’ve met the requirements, you’ll see a little blue button that says ‘APPLY NOW.’ Click it! If you’ve not quite met the requirements yet, there’s a ‘Notify me when I’m eligible’ button. Hit that, and YouTube will email you when you’re ready.
- Now, YouTube will carry out a check to ensure you’re meeting their Community Guidelines. A lot of the things in here are common sense, but it's worth familiarizing yourself with the rules, so you don’t accidentally break them later down the line!
- At this point, you should also double-check that your channel’s location settings are correct. Otherwise, you might run into problems if your channel isn’t set to the correct country.
- Link your YouTube channel to your AdSense account, or create one here. What you need to do there is enter your email address, the URL (your YouTube channel) you want to show ads on, review terms and conditions, sign in to your Google account, and create your AdSense account. That’s all there is to it! If you already have an AdSense account, then you just sign in and hook it up to your YouTube.
- Apply! You might need to be patient, though. You'll usually have to wait around a month to see if you’ve been accepted or not, and if you haven’t, you’re allowed to reapply after 30 days. Sometimes, the application process can take a bit longer. That’s because your application is reviewed manually by a human, not a robot. It’s a bit annoying if you have to wait, but the YouTube peeps need to be thorough!
Once you’ve activated YouTube Partner Program monetization, you can enable ads on videos. This can be for every video, or a select few.
A solid tip to remember is that advertising revenue is based on several factors, including the number of viewers, where these viewers are based, and how much they interact with your content. It’s not just quantity – if a certain demographic watches loads of videos but doesn’t click any links, they’re ‘worth’ less to advertisers.
Another key fact is that if you want to make money on YouTube, you’ll need to avoid copyright claims, takedowns, and third parties monetizing your content. That last point sounds kind of wild, but it can happen. More often than not, YouTubers will use music they don’t have the rights for, which alerts the rights holder (usually the songwriter/artist/record label) and allows them to take action.
It’s an easy mistake to make, but it means the rights holder can monetize your content – they can take the revenue from the video instead of you, as their music is being used. If you want to sidestep this, check out our catalog of 40,000 royalty-free tracks and 90,000 sound effects below: all ready to use on YouTube worry-free.
How much can you make after you monetize your channel?
The amount you can make on YouTube varies significantly depending on several factors. These include:
- Your niche
- The number of clicks your ad gets
- The length of your video
- Where your viewers are located globally
- The number of views your video gets
The average YouTube pay rate ranges between $0.10 to $0.30 for an ad view – YouTube banks 45% of the AdSense earnings, leaving you with 55%. An established YouTuber can make around $18 per 1,000 ad views, which usually comes out to about $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views. But a more realistic expectation is probably to earn $1 to $2 per 1,000 video views. To give you some context, you need to be generating over one million views per month to replace a full-time income. That’s why so many creators don’t rely on Google AdSense monetization alone!
However, it’s worth mentioning that pure video views, without ads, can also bring in revenue – if the views come from YouTube Premium users. In these cases, YouTube shares some of its subscription revenue with creators. Just like with the ad-generated income, YouTube takes a 45% cut of a creator’s Premium earnings. To learn more about how much a YouTuber earns, click here.
For a more comprehensive measurement of how much you’ll earn per 1,000 views, you can head to YouTube Analytics and check your RPM. This stands for ‘Revenue Per Mille,’ which calculates your earnings based on ads, channel memberships, YouTube Premium revenue, Super Chat and Super Stickers – we’ll discuss some of these later. It also includes views on videos you haven’t monetized.
RPM is different from CPM, which means ‘Cost Per Mille.’ This is the cost per 1,000 ad impressions – it only counts revenue from YouTube Premium and ads. This means it only includes views from monetized videos. The total amount calculated for CPM is before YouTube takes a cut, unlike RPM, which shows you your actual revenue.
You can increase your RPM by:
- Turning on monetization for all videos
- Turning on all ad formats
- Turning on ads at all eligible positions (midrolls, for example)
- Turning on features like channel membership and Super Chat to diversify your revenue streams
Other ways to make money on YouTube
Most content creators monetize their YouTube channel as part of an overall effort to rake in cash – it’s not their only source of income. There are several ways to make money on YouTube linked directly to the YouTube Partner Program, and others that aren’t! Let’s dig into them.
Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks
These are fun little features for viewers to show their appreciation, and earn you some money along the way. Basically, if you want to interact with your fans while making money on YouTube, go Super. Each Super feature gives creators a 70% cut, with YouTube pocketing the rest. Not a bad split!
- Super Chat is available in YouTube Live videos and premieres. It gives watchers the chance to donate anything between $1 and $500, which means their comment features prominently in the live chat.
- Super Stickers do a similar job to Super Chat – they’re fun stickers viewers can buy, which are pinned to the top of the live chat. This means commenters with Super Stickers are more likely to grab the creator’s attention while streaming.
- Super Thanks do what they say on the tin: they show gratitude towards creators! When viewers buy Super Thanks, they snag a featured comment in the Livestream chat, plus a GIF. However, Super Thanks can be purchased and used outside of Live videos. In fact, they can be used on any video uploaded on YouTube.
Sell your merchandise
Through your content, you’ve probably developed funny characters, coined catchphrases, or noticed a gap in the market for products you know your audience would love. Make these a reality with branded products, which you can sell via a web store.
There are really no limits to what you can brand, package and sell these days. Think up some ideas, crunch the numbers, and ask your audience what they think.
Use YouTube Shopping
If you want to go beyond your other storefronts – like Etsy, for example – you can sell directly through YouTube. YouTube Shopping lets you link to your products during your videos and YouTube Shorts.
Your products can also be purchased via your channel's offical store, a product shelf below your content, a shopping button within your content, or as a pinned product during YouTube Live streams.
It's a great way to link your storefronts together, and send people directly to any wares you may be peddling. To qualify for YouTube Shopping, you need to:
- Have joined the YouTube Partner Program, or have an Official Artist Channel
- Ensure your channel isn't set to 'Made for Kids', and doesn't feature a significant amount of videos in that category
- Have not been flagged for any Hate Speech Community Guideline Strikes
Use affiliate links
Affiliate marketing provides creators with a unique hyperlink. When viewers click it, they’re taken to a page where they can buy products. You can 100% monetize YouTube with affiliate links, but the amount you earn – and when you earn – depends on whose link you’re trying to big up! They’re not a get-rich-quick strategy, but affiliate links are a great way to make passive income as a creative.
Do you need 500 subscribers on YouTube to get paid?
The short answer is: yes. To kick off advertising and allow all the benefits of monetizing YouTube with the YouTube Partner Program, 500 followers are part of the deal! However, while avenues like channel membership are reserved for creators operating within the YouTube Partner Program, there are other options. Let’s discuss channel membership and third-party subscription platforms!
If you’ve gained a group of die-hard fans, you can monetize YouTube by enabling channel membership. To do this, you need to be part of the YouTube Partner Program, which requires at least 1,000 subscribers. Once you’ve enabled membership, you can organize what followers get when they sign up, and what prices the different tiers should be – the amount is debited every month, so don’t charge crazy amounts! One-on-one chats and Merch shelf discounts are a few sweet perks to offer her, but just remember that YouTube takes 30% of the monthly membership fee.
Use a third-party subscription platform
Platforms like Patreon and Buy Me A Coffee are simple, direct ways for creators to offer something to fans outside the confines of YouTube. Creative ideas like early access to videos, polls determining future content, merch discounts, and more are all worthy ideas! They can help bring fans over from YouTube into another platform that gives them more access and – yep, you guessed it – you more money.
Utilize all your social media platforms for paid brand sponsorships
Many YouTubers have active, engaged profiles on several social media platforms – it provides an enhanced offering to their YouTube channel. It’s a smart move that helps you find new audiences across multiple platforms.
On top of that, brands could be willing to work with you on sponsored content across channels – more than just YouTube. Brand endorsements and product, service, or experience reviews could all be thrown into the mix, and if you’ve got the clout on another platform aside from YouTube, then flaunt it!
Just be wary of stats and analytics, though. Businesses will want to see a return on investment by tapping into your audience, so you do have a job to do with all the free swag you might get from a brand deal. Brands look for a mixture of audience reach and engagement when choosing influencers, bloggers, and creators to work with, so bear that in mind!
Use your expertise to do freelance work
With a successful YouTube channel, you’ll likely develop some solid videographer skills. This means you can create a brand, market its content, and draw in an engaged audience. You’re pretty cool, essentially.
Businesses might approach you (or you could pitch to them,) offering work based on your skills. This may be freelance work produced for them or in partnership with them. Either way, you now have a portfolio to show potential clients or brands what you can do. Turn your talent into coins and monetize YouTube in a different way!
Key points to remember for making money on YouTube
Making money on YouTube is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s possible to make a living doing this, but it requires hard work, dedication, and knowledge of both YouTube and other social media platforms. To summarize:
- If your channel was rejected from the YouTube Partner Program, don’t sweat. You can reapply in 30 days, which is enough time to fix any problems on your channel.
- When it comes to AdSense revenue, you’ll earn 55% of all advertising profits.
- The revenue share for Super features and channel subscriptions is a 70/30 split.
- You need to make at least $100 before YouTube sends funds to your bank account, and it takes up to 60 days for that money to arrive.
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