Maybe you’ve been an avid watcher of YouTube videos for a while now and want to have a go at creating your own. Or perhaps you’ve already been putting out video content for some time and want to take it a step further by making some cold hard cash. 

You won’t find a one-size-fits-all method to YouTube monetization and no guarantees either. But understanding the rules and regulations, along with what kind of content audiences want to see, can help you transform your hobby into a money-maker.

What Is YouTube Monetization?

With the number of YouTube users worldwide rapidly approaching 2 billion people, it’s little surprise content creators want to capitalize on this audience and make some money. And that’s exactly what YouTube allows you to do.

Anyone with a Google account can make a YouTube channel, both as a viewer and as a creator, for free. You could make a video right now, publishing it through the platform and starting to see views come in. 

But monetizing YouTube is a little different. Not every video will earn the creator money and for most channels, especially when they’re getting started on YouTube, this will be the case. You’ll also come across YouTube monetization rules which mean certain types of content cannot make any money or are heavily restricted in terms of how much it can make.

Don’t be put off by the guidelines Google has in place for the platform, though! The potential for you to monetize YouTube videos is significant and you can quickly bring in some extra money.

How to Monetize YouTube Videos

For many YouTube creators, they’ll monetize their content via one of two routes: earning directly through the platform or working with sponsors and advertisers to create content. Sometimes people will work on both at the same time to maximize their income and for the biggest channels, it can be a lucrative strategy.

YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and Ads

To earn anything directly through your own channel, you must meet the YouTube monetization requirements to join the YPP. When you become a partner, you’ll be able to earn money on most, if not all, of your videos on upload.

To become part of the YPP, you’ll need to:

  • Live in a country where the program is available
  • Have no active Community Guideline violations
  • Have at least 1,000 subscribers to your channel 
  • Have over 4,000 public watch hours in the last year—this means any views on your private or unlisted videos won’t count, so focus on creating engaging content to rack up those public views as quickly as possible

From early 2023, 10 million Shorts views over 90 days will also help you qualify, to benefit creators who don’t make longer content.

Before this point, you won’t be eligible to apply for the YPP and your application will be rejected. You’ll also need to remain active on your channel within a 6-month window to avoid being removed from the program.

If you do manage to become part of the YPP, the final steps you’ll need to take are:

1. Agree to the YouTube channel monetization policies currently in place.

2. Set up a Google AdSense account—this is how you’ll be paid for any clicks to ads shown on your videos.

3. Have your channel reviewed by the people at YouTube—this typically takes around a month, but you can check your status in the Monetization panel of your account.

Once those pieces are squared away, you should be approved as part of the YPP and can start making money from ads shown on your videos and when YouTube Premium subscribers, who don’t see any ads, watch your content.

Other Ways to Monetize within the YPP

Channel memberships allow creators to offer exclusive content to paying monthly subscribers at a price you set yourself. You can even sell custom merchandise or event tickets directly via your channel once you hit higher subscriber numbers.

Features like Super Chat, Super Thanks and Super Stickers offer viewers an opportunity to buy tokens for showing their appreciation for you as a creator during live streams or Premieres, making them stand out as fans in the chat function but also giving you some additional income.

Paid Brand Sponsorships

Outside of the YPP, you can still make money through your YouTube channel by partnering with advertisers like brands and businesses who are looking to market to your audience. 

To create this type of content, you’ll typically work with a brand’s marketing team to integrate their product or service into one of your existing videos. This could be talking about your experience using the product or other recommendations based on your experience with the business. The brand will then pay you for talking about them in your video.

YouTuber Cecilia Blomdahl watching a Skillshare video from her home office in Svalbard.
Partnering with brands like Skillshare to promote their products and services is one way YouTube creators can earn money from their videos. Still from Cecilia Blomdahl’s YouTube video Preparing for a long Polar Night.

Most businesses will want to see evidence of an active and engaged audience before deciding to partner with you. If you’re hoping to benefit from high rates with this type of monetization, you’ll need to be on top of your YouTube analytics to prove your value to the brand.

YouTube now offers a service called BrandConnect, aimed at creators looking to work with partners in this way, helping you connect with relevant businesses and expand your network as a video influencer.

The best reason to integrate brand partnerships into your YouTube channel is because you won’t be restricted to the same monetization requirements the YPP has. If you’re making popular videos and steadily growing your reach, brands may be interested in working with you before you hit 1,000 subscribers or a set number of views.

Affiliate Marketing

If you buy products from certain businesses over and over, you should look into if they run an affiliate program. This is where the brand will provide you with a link you can share with your friends, family and even your YouTube audience so, when they want to buy from the same brand, you’ll earn a small commission as a result.

While you won’t need to integrate those links directly into your videos, one of the best ways to earn money on YouTube in this way is to mention the brand or their products in your video, then provide the affiliate link in the Description box underneath.

Can You Monetize YouTube Shorts?

With platforms like TikTok surging interest in short-form video content, other digital channels are looking to make a profit from this type of content too. YouTube Shorts are videos of up to 60 seconds and can be shot and uploaded directly from a smartphone. They’ll still show up on your channel alongside your regular videos and in subscribers’ Subscription feeds.

The dashboard of a YouTube subscriber’s account, showing recent videos from the channels they follow.
YouTube Shorts appear alongside standard long-form videos within a subscriber’s feed.

Until recently, YouTube has had no way to monetize these videos and the views don’t count towards the 4,000 hours needed for YPP approval. The YouTube Shorts Fund was established in 2021, giving the most active Shorts creators an opportunity to earn funding as a “thank you” from YouTube for their community contributions. Anyone who makes engaging short-form content is eligible, not just creators in the YPP.

But changes are rolling out too. In September 2022, YouTube announced Shorts will be available for monetization for YPP accounts from early 2023, with creators being able to keep 45 percent of the revenue generated through this content. 

Advertising revenue will be gathered over several weeks based on the ads shown between each Short video and divided up among YPP Shorts creators, then included in the normal AdSense payout creators receive each month.

Rates for Monetized YouTube Videos

For creators in the YPP, you can expect to earn around 55 percent of the revenue any ads on your videos generate—the other 45 percent goes to YouTube. If you’re selling merch or tickets, you’ll see more of the income yourself, but will still need to pay fees to any booking agents or product manufacturers.

All ads on YouTube are billed to advertisers on a cost-per-click or cost-per-view basis, so what you can make here will vary. An ad will need to be viewed for 30 seconds or more than halfway to be considered “watched”. 

Average YouTube monetization rates on ads are around $0.18, so for every 1,000 ad views, you’d be making about $18. But this all depends on industry and niche, and not all video views are going to be equal to ad views. Generally speaking, you’re looking at roughly $5 to $7 for every 1,000 video views across all topics.

YouTube Monetization Rules and Requirements

Especially on a platform as big as YouTube, you’ll find a long list of regulations for creators to follow before you upload your first monetized video

Monetization requirements have changed over the years, but a few key areas have stayed the same and likely won’t be going away any time soon. Besides the requirements for joining the YPP, creators must continually follow Community Guidelines in relation to spam, sexual content, bullying, harmful content or anything involving children and their safety.

Any channel promoting content under “made for kids” also has their own regulations. If children are considered to be the primary audience for the video or a video makes heavy use of child actors, characters or content aimed at children, this will be considered a “made for kids” video.

YouTuber Ryan Kaji with a gold and purple treasure chest toy, in front of a white couch with blue and pink throw pillows.
Any videos with content aimed at or featuring children need to follow their own YouTube monetization requirements and guidelines. Still from Ryan’s World video Ryan controls the remote control RC from PackRats!

Videos encouraging negative behaviors which could be dangerous, dishonest, bullying or harmful to a child, or any content with heavy promotion of brands and purchasing products will be flagged and could lose the creator a place in the YPP.

The Most Profitable Types of YouTube Channel

Ultimately, the more views your videos have, the more money you can potentially make if you’re part of the YPP and generating AdSense revenue. 

Certain genres and topics will generate more income than others, simply because they’re watched more and the keywords advertisers are bidding on for their ad to be shown are more competitive and expensive.

Personal Finance

Any YouTube business channel that can help people make money is going to be popular. But so is learning how to better manage your finances and feel more confident about how you’re using your income and investments. 

Demand for this type of content continues to grow, especially during times of possible financial downturn. If you have the knowledge and skills to produce frequent content on personal finance topics, you’ll likely see increasing views on your videos fairly quickly. 

Advertisers in the finance industry are also willing to pay big money to get their name in front of audiences, so AdSense keywords and possible brand partnerships can be lucrative in this niche.

Technology and Gaming

Product reviews are particularly common in the technology and gaming industry, with users turning to video content to find out the best products for their needs and see how things actually work. 

YouTuber NickMercs live streaming while playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
Video game walkthroughs and live streams are some of the most popular content on YouTube. Still from NickMercs video What I Think of Warzone 2 & MW2.

With the increasing popularity of esports and live-streaming on sites like Twitch, YouTube has also heavily pushed gaming content and creators in order to compete. Game walkthroughs are incredibly popular, particular when creators go live while playing a newly released game and provide commentary as they play.

Lifestyle

Humans are naturally inquisitive and nosey, which is why people love to watch lifestyle content. Family vlogs, cooking videos, fashion and beauty content are all some of the most popular on the site. 

While you have hundreds of potential avenues to go down with lifestyle videos, most also have a large amount of competition. Find the topics you’re most passionate about and lean into those areas. 

When you love what you’re making videos about, you’ll want to create more and feel more connected to your audience. And that’s when you’ll start to see your audience increase to the point where you can monetize your YouTube videos.

How Much Money Can You Make on YouTube?

As you’d expect, anything to do with making money online is never a guarantee. The amount of money you can make on YouTube varies hugely, depending on the type of content you’re creating and your audience size.

Unless you have hundreds of thousands of subscribers who are clicking or viewing the ads, you likely won’t make much, which is why YouTube is often a fun side hustle for many creators rather than a full time occupation. It’s not unusual to hear of big creators like Jake Paul, Ryan Kaji and Logan Paul pulling in millions each year from YouTube ad revenue, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.

Dashboard of YouTube Helen Anderson’s channel, showing her most recent videos and a feature video for autumn clothing.
Content creators can sometimes make YouTube their full time job when they’re seeing subscriber numbers into the hundreds of thousands, with advertising revenue helping to fund their work. Still from Helen Anderson’s YouTube channel.

Typically, the larger sums of money are made through brand sponsorships, as you can set whatever price you’d like and negotiate directly with the brand. The biggest YouTubers build entire careers off this model, while making very little in AdSense dollars via the YPP. Once you have the audience built to support this framework, it might be time to start thinking about if it’s worth becoming a full-time video content creator.

Turn Your YouTube Videos into Money-Making Content

You won’t be seeing thousands of dollars rolling into your bank account the week after you upload your first video. YouTube is certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme. 

But with perseverance and dedication to your niche, you’ll steadily build your audience. Soon, you’ll reach a point where you can monetize your YouTube videos and start to see some financial return for all the hours you’ve invested in content creation.

Written By

Holly Landis

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