Learn How to Monetize YouTube and Grow Your Channel

Jessica is a Google Analytics certified Digital Video Analyst at WebFX. She has created over 100 videos for the WebFX YouTube channel (youtube.com/webfx) in the last two years. Jessica specializes in video marketing and also loves content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and many other aspects of digital marketing. When she's not creating videos, Jessica enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, and watching movies.

If you want to monetize YouTube, either for your business or your personal channel, you need to be aware of the different monetization options available, YouTube’s policies, best practices, and more. In this blog post, we’ll explain YouTube monetization and how you can become a YouTube Partner so you know exactly what to expect for your business. But first, what does getting monetized on YouTube actually mean?  

What is YouTube monetization?

YouTube monetization means you make money from the content you create for your YouTube channel. A major source of revenue from YouTube monetization is ads When you monetize your videos, you allow ads to run on them.

As a result, you collect a portion of the revenue from YouTube ads. To monetize YouTube, you need to apply for the YouTube Partner Program, which has its own set of requirements.

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YouTube monetization requirements

Two major requirements of YouTube monetization are:

  1. You need to have over 1000 subscribers
  2. People need to have watched at least 4000 hours of your videos in the last 12 months

How do you know if you’ve hit those requirements?  You can check to see if you’ve met the first two YouTube monetization requirements in two ways. Let’s start with the more in-depth way first.  Log in to your YouTube channel and go to YouTube Studio. In your dashboard, you should see a live count of how many subscribers you have.    Subscriber count in YouTube Studio   To see how many hours people have watched your videos, go to your channel analytics and look at the “Overview” tab.

You’ll need to adjust the date at the top to cover the last 12 months.    Watch hours data in YouTube Studio   Once you’ve adjusted the date, look at the “Watch time (hours)” tab above the graph in the center of the page. There you’ll see how many hours people have spent watching your videos. Now, we’ll go over the simple way to determine if you’re eligible to become a YouTube Partner.  In YouTube Studio, you may have noticed a “Monetization” tab on the left sidebar.    Monetization tab in YouTube Studio   Click that tab and you’ll see a message that either says you’re eligible or not eligible to apply for the program.    Message that says you are not eligible for monetization   Yes, we said apply.  Meeting the watch time and subscriber requirements doesn’t guarantee you’ll get into the YouTube Partner Program.  In addition to the 4000 watch hours and 1000 subscribers, YouTube also requires:

  • You adhere to YouTube monetization policies
  • You live in an area where the YouTube Partner Program exists
  • You have a linked AdSense account

You should become familiar with YouTube’s monetization policies before you apply for monetization. The policies include its community standards, AdSense guidelines, and other topics deemed important by Google. 

Why is AdSense important for YouTube monetization?

Getting monetized on YouTube means you’ll hear a lot about Google AdSense. But without an explanation, it doesn’t make much AdSense.  To make money from YouTube, you need an AdSense account, and you need to link it to your YouTube channel AdSense is an ad network that allows advertisers to bid on available digital ad space, i.e.

your monetized YouTube videos. Here’s a basic overview of how AdSense makes you money:

  • You make ad space available for advertisers
  • Advertisers place bids to have their ads appear in front of their target audience
  • Google matches the advertisers to your content
  • The highest bidder’s ad appears in front of your viewers
  • You earn a portion of the ad revenue

This next sentence is very important. Do not sign up for an AdSense account on the AdSense website.  The regular AdSense signup page asks you for a link to your website. Your YouTube channel is not a website.    Regular AdSense website with an X through it   According to Google, if you sign up for AdSense through the main website, your AdSense account will not be approved and your YouTube channel won’t be monetized.  Create your AdSense account through YouTube Studio.

   For more details, read Google’s guide to signing up for AdSense with YouTube

The YouTube monetization application process

Once you submit your application, an actual person (not an algorithm) will review your channel to make sure it meets all of YouTube’s policies and requirements.  Since a human needs to approve your application, the process takes time. According to YouTube, you should know if you’re approved around one month after you apply.  You may wait longer than one month if your channel needs further review, if YouTube has a lot of applications, or even if technical difficulties slow down the process. Again, make sure your channel meets all of YouTube’s requirements before you apply to make the review process as smooth as possible. 

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If for some reason, you get rejected from the Partner Program, you just have to wait 30 days before applying again.

However, take time to review your account before re-applying.  YouTube will explain why they rejected your channel in their rejection email, so read that closely and make changes as necessary. You may need to adjust video thumbnails or even delete videos that violate community guidelines. Taking a deeper look at your channel will help you understand what caused the problem. 

6 ways you can make money with YouTube

Before you start rolling in dough, take a minute to learn about how you can make money from your YouTube channel. Most of these options can be turned on within the “Monetization” tab in YouTube Studio. 

1. Earn revenue from ads

YouTube allows a variety of ads to run across creators’ videos.  While your videos may include ads whether or not your channel is monetized, YouTube Partners can collect revenue from the ads that appear with their videos. You can choose to monetize videos individually or in bulk through YouTube Studio. 

2. Encourage channel memberships

As a YouTube Partner, your fans can pay a monthly subscription fee to get exclusive content from your channel.  This content may be members-only videos, stickers, or other items that regular subscribers cannot get.  If you enable channel memberships, you’ll see a “Join” button next to the “Subscribe” button on your channel page.   Channel membership "Join" button   Creators earn about 70% of the revenue from their channel memberships. 

3. Sell merch with your videos

If you have some sick t-shirts to sell—or anything else your fans might love—you can sell them through YouTube.  YouTube’s “Merch Shelf” appears under eligible videos and includes branded items specific to your channel.    YouTube Merch Shelf   With this form of YouTube monetization, you’ll also see a “Store” tab on your channel’s homepage.    Store tab on a YouTube channel page   You can create channel merch by partnering with one of YouTube’s approved retailers.

4. Create “Super” fans

Fans can pay for priority messaging during live chats.  With Super Chat and Super Stickers, paying fans participating in your channel’s live chat will see their messages and stickers highlighted within the chat.  Talk about grabbing someone’s attention!

5. Earn revenue from YouTube Premium subscribers

Earning YouTube Premium revenue may be the easiest option when it comes to getting monetized on YouTube.  You really don’t have to do much to earn revenue. When someone who pays for YouTube Premium watches eligible videos on your channel, you earn a portion of what they pay for YouTube Premium. That’s it!

6. Partner with other brands for sponsorship opportunities

Working with brands for channel sponsorships requires time and creativity, but it’s a great way to make money outside of YouTube’s monetization requirements.  Leverage your YouTube channel’s audience to partner with brands that make sense for your channel. If you make home renovation tutorial videos, for example, you can partner with a brand that makes tools or even the store that sells you the materials.  Don’t be afraid to ask for sponsors. If there’s a certain brand you consistently use and trust, it can’t hurt to reach out.

Make sure that you disclose any paid promotion in your videos before they go live on YouTube. You can do this when you upload your videos by checking a box certifying that you have partnered with a third-party sponsor.    Paid promotion disclosure on YouTube   With a popular channel, brands may come to you for promotion.  If you still have a small YouTube presence, no need to worry. We have some tips to help you reach YouTube Partner status. 

How to grow your YouTube channel for monetization

1. Use YouTube SEO

Before you even create your YouTube videos, take some time to do YouTube keyword research You can use a tool like VidIQ to figure out which keywords the top videos use, as well as keywords with the best ranking opportunities. Once you’ve settled on a topic and your target keywords, use them throughout your video script and in your video title, description, and tags.   Cake-related keywords used in a video title and description for content about cake   This will help YouTube understand what your video is about so the algorithm can present it to people who search using your keywords.

2. Promote your videos outside of YouTube

You don’t have to wait around for YouTube to start showing your videos in the search results.  If you have a website, any social media accounts, or an email marketing strategy, start including your YouTube videos.   Post on Facebook when you upload a new video. Send a weekly video digest to email subscribers. Embed your videos on your website.  Use the audience you have to grow your YouTube channel. 

3. Research what works for your competitors

Don’t ignore your competitors’ YouTube efforts. Whether they’ve learned how to monetize YouTube or they just create interesting content, spend time analyzing their videos. Do they have videos that get a lot of engagement?

Do they make similar videos to you but earn more views?  Set aside time to analyze what you can be doing to outgrow your YouTube competitors.

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If you’re ready to monetize YouTube, what are you waiting for?

Whether your channel meets the YouTube monetization requirements or still needs some TLC, now is the time to get started. 

Recap of the YouTube monetization requirements: 

  1. 1000 subscribers
  2. 4000 watch hours in the last 12 months
  3. Linked AdSense account
  4. Content doesn’t violate YouTube’s monetization policies
  5. YouTube partner program exists in your location

Check out the WebFX YouTube channel to learn more about the ins and outs of digital marketing. 

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