Before we dive into how to make money on YouTube, we want to stress that though there is a ton of potential to make a good living from the platform, it’s important not to approach YouTube as a get-rich-quick scheme. Being a YouTube content creator takes a lot of time, hard work, and consistency. Those who climb the ranks on the platform have a true passion for their craft and delivering valuable content to viewers, which is why they’re able to consistently make high-quality content, build a loyal following and, of course, make money. Before making money on YouTube, you must discover your purpose for creating content and ensure you lead with it in everything you do on the platform.
Once you’ve nailed things such as defining your niche, mastering SEO, and creating content that your viewers enjoy, it’s time to start monetizing. Keep reading to learn more about how to make money on YouTube.
Joining the YouTube Partner Program (YPP)
The YouTube Partner Program is an initiative that gives eligible creators access to various monetization tools, such as ad revenue and channel memberships. YouTube sets specific thresholds to ensure that creators are “good citizens” on the platform. These requirements allow reviewers to better understand your channel and how your content serves viewers.
To qualify for the YPP, you need:
- At least 1,000 subscribers
- 4,000 valid public watch hours in the previous 12 months OR 10M valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days (Short eligibility starting early 2023)
- No active strikes against your channel
- A linked AdSense Account
Note: YouTube has announced that lower thresholds for fan funding will be coming in 2023. We’ll update our guide once more details are available.
Once you hit the review threshold, YouTube will typically review your qualifications for the YPP within a month. You can check your status on the Monetization Page in YouTube Studio and choose to be notified by email when you’re eligible to apply for the program. While waiting to hear back from YouTube, don’t get discouraged—continue making unique content and building your audience. You’ll reap the benefits when the time comes. Please remember that once you’re approved for the YPP, if your channel is inactive for six months or falls below the above-mentioned thresholds, YouTube may remove your channel from the program.
One key feature of the YouTube Partner Program is that it allows creators to monetize videos with ads via Google Adsense, which is paid at the beginning of every month. The amount paid varies based on factors such as the type of ad and how much of an ad a viewer watches. However, the YPP gives access to other ways to make money directly on YouTube. Below are some details on monetization features that you can get access to via the YouTube Partner Program.
YouTube Premium Subscriptions
A YouTube Premium subscription allows members to access features such as viewing content without ads on YouTube. This, of course, means that creators would lose out on ad revenue. To help creators monetize content viewed by YouTube Premium subscribers, the platform instead shares money from subscription fees with viewers. The more a YouTube Premium subscriber watches your channel, the more money you’ll make as a creator. Revenue from YouTube Premium subscribers is also paid at the beginning of the month, along with ad revenue payments.
Channel memberships allow subscribers to access exclusive content, emojis, badges, etc., from their favorite creators for a monthly fee. The pricing for these tiered subscriptions (up to five tiers) should vary based on the perks your subscribers will receive. YouTube recommends having at least three tiers. If channel memberships are available in your location, you must meet the following criteria to turn this feature on:
- Your channel must have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.
- Your channel must be a part of the YouTube Partner Program.
- You must be over 18 years old.
- Your channel must have a Community tab.
- Your channel is not set as “made for kids.”
- Your channel must abide by all YouTube policies and community guidelines.
Super Chats and Super Stickers
This particular revenue stream is available for creators over 18 years old who have monetized channels and have the feature available in their country. Live stream viewers can purchase Super Chats and Super Stickers to stand out in the chatbox with highlighted messages and animated stickers. These standout messages and stickers are pinned to the chat for a predetermined length of time—the bigger the purchase amount, the more noticeable the Super Chat and Stickers, and the longer they’ll appear in the chat. Creators earn 70% of the revenue.
Select creators (over 18 years old and with at least 10,000 subscribers) will have the chance to sell products and official branded merch through YouTube Shopping. Creators determine the pricing of Items, and they can be sold on your channel’s store, on end screens of your videos, in the product section below videos and streams, and as a pinned product in a live stream. Create your merch with Streamlabs to take advantage of our Merch Shelf integration.
What If You’re Not Approved for the YouTube Partner Program?
If you’re not approved for the YPP, it’s likely because your channel doesn’t meet YPP policies and YouTube community guidelines. In this case, review both of these and reapply in 30 days (assuming you still meet the watch hour and subscriber thresholds). Whatever you do, keep creating content and engaging with your community—the money may not be rolling in at the moment, but when it does, you’ll have more earning potential simply because you have remained consistent.
Other Ways to Make Money as a YouTuber
YouTube Shorts Fund
Note: Shorts eligibility for YPP coming early 2023 will replace the YouTube Shorts Fund.
In case you haven’t gotten the memo, YouTube has its own short-form video platform that rivals platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. To encourage more creators to post on YouTube Shorts, YouTube launched the YouTube Shorts Fund as a way for folks to monetize their short-form content. To be rewarded for your contributions to YouTube Shorts, you must meet specific requirements such as posting original Short content within 180 days and having no strikes against your channel. Once these prerequisites are met, you’ll be invited to receive a shorts bonus that you can claim every month you’re qualified.
You’ll learn more about YouTube Shorts in the next chapter.
Streamlabs Tip Page
While you may associate Streamlabs tip pages with live streaming content, your YouTube About page and video descriptions are a great place to put a link to your tip page. Viewers who appreciate your content will look for ways to support you, and a one-time or recurring monthly tip are great ways for them to do so. Unlike many tipping platforms, we don’t take a cut of your tips, meaning you get more money in your pocket to pay your bills or invest in your channel.
You don’t have to wait to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program to sell merch (you can make your own merchandise outside the platform).To see success selling merch, you need to create a captivating design (you can use a platform such as Streamlabs Logo Maker to create a design or take the text-only route, using a catchy one-liner) and self-promote. Wear your merch often, and don’t forget to tell your audience where they can grab it.
Membership Services (Outside of YouTube)
Since YouTube limits access to channel memberships, you may want to consider creating a membership of your own off the platform using a membership service like Patreon, Ko-Fi or Buy Me A Coffee. On any of these platforms, you can offer exclusive, members-only content. For full details on everything you need to know about creating a membership of your own, check out this article.
If you read the YouTube University chapter on SEO you know that your description box can help your videos rank on YouTube. Furthermore, if you’re looking to make money on YouTube (especially before you’re eligible for the YouTube Partner Program), you should start using your description boxes to direct viewers to affiliate links for products that you may have mentioned in your video.
When was the last time you relied on a billboard, magazine ad, or other traditional advertising to make a purchasing decision? Chances are it was so long ago that you don’t remember. Nowadays, brands rely on content creators to advertise products and services, as word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic and sales. With that said, brands always want to collaborate with creators (and, of course, YouTubers) of all sizes.
While you can wait for brands to knock on your door, if making money on YouTube is your ultimate goal, learn how to pitch your collaboration ideas to brands. If you have a brand in mind that offers a product or service your audience would love and your content style aligns, go for it. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Of the ways to monetize on YouTube, licensing content may be the most overlooked and possibly the hardest to achieve. If you have a video that has gone viral or gotten super popular, there’s a chance that a media outlet may want to use your video for reporting purposes. Whether it’s a TV news outlet or website, you can license the video for a fee paid by the party who wishes to use it.
While we’re on the subject of licensing, did you know that you can make money on YouTube without making original videos? YouTube has a library of Creative Commons licensed videos available for you to use and tweak as needed. This means you can create monetizable content by repurposing videos made by other creators. Simply input your search inquiry as you usually would and select “Creative Commons” from the filters shown in the above image.
Selling products when you’re a smaller creator may not seem believable, but we’re here to assure you that it’s possible.
Now that you have learned ways to make money on YouTube keep reading to deep dive into YouTube Shorts.