How To Monetize On YouTube With Your Video Content

Written by
Special HQ
October 22, 2021

Your options for making money through YouTube

As YouTube has expanded in the last 15 years from a pioneering video-sharing service to the second most-visited website on the planet, its monetization capabilities have evolved too. If you’re regularly uploading high quality videos to YouTube and building an audience along the way, chances are you can make some money off of it. While the idea of getting filthy rich off YouTube isn’t the reality for the vast majority of creators, you can still bring in revenue that can help you increase the reach of your videos, and produce higher quality content more frequently.

Pie chart with breakdown of YT monetization, with advertising taking most of the chart

To start monetizing your uploads, you must join YouTube’s Partner Program (more on that process in a moment). From there, you have five avenues for monetization:

  • Advertising: The most straightforward revenue-earning, you’ll receive a small percentage of revenue from display and video ads that appear on top of or next to your videos.
  • Channel memberships: For users who want to go beyond just subscribing to your channel, they can purchase a channel membership. This is a YouTube-specific Patreon style service, where fans can pay a small monthly subscription fee. In return you provide extra perks and features for these members beyond your usual videos.

    Downside: YouTube’s channel memberships take 30% upfront. You get no subscriber data, contacts, or notification tools beyond the standard “subscribe and bell”.
  • Channel merchandise: If you can set up a qualifying merchandise store, people can buy from it! With certain merchandise providers, YouTube will also showcase products on your watch pages to introduce viewers to some of your offerings.
  • Super Chat and Super Stickers: This is more niche, but these allow viewers to pay for their messages to be showcased in chat streams.
  • YouTube Premium revenue: Lastly, whenever a YouTube Premium subscriber watches your video, you’ll receive a portion of their Premium subscription fee.

But, as mentioned above, in order to take advantage of these options you’ve got to be a part of YouTube’s Partner Program. How does that work, and how do you join?

Joining and remaining in YouTube’s Partner Program

Obviously, anyone can upload videos to YouTube. Enrolling in the Partner Program, however, requires your channel to meet certain requirements. In return, YouTube provides you with further resources to improve and grow along with the aforementioned monetization opportunities.

There’s a handful of eligibility requirements, and for the most part they come down to your channel meeting a certain standard, plus a couple logistical and legal requirements. To meet these requirements, you must:

  • Live in a country or area where the YouTube Partner Program is available
  • Have a Google AdSense account to which you can link your channel
  • Not have any active Community Guidelines strikes against your channel
  • Have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours of your videos over the last year
  • Follow YouTube’s channel monetization policies, meaning you’re not violating YouTube’s community guidelines or terms of service, copyright laws, or Google AdSense’s program policies

YouTube has a step-by-step checklist to guide you through the application process here.

Otherwise, once you join the Partner Program, you of course must continue to meet those standards. Furthermore, YouTube requires partners to upload at least one video (or post to the Community tab) every six months or risk having your monetization privileges disabled — obviously this shouldn’t be an issue for most in the Partner Program since it’s generally a self-selecting group of people and channels who already want to be more invested in their growth and quality. Still, it’s worth remembering especially if your channel might be more seasonally active.

Downsides of YouTube Monetization

One of the main ways that you (and Google) make money from YouTube is through its AdSense program. Advertisers are constantly paying to place their video ads into the platform via Google Ads, and signing up your Partner account for AdSense is the way you can get a piece of that pie. While this may seem fairly innocuous on the surface, there are several drawbacks to this method of monetization.

The two main requirements to sign up for this program are that you:

  1. Be at least 18, or have a legal guardian who is at least 18 and can be trusted to handle your financials.
  2. Create content that caters specifically to their advertiser-friendly guidelines.

Although number 1 isn’t an issue for most people, it’s number 2 that has been the subject to a lot of contention online. Not following their guidelines runs the risk of having strikes levied against your account, or outright demonetization. Many creators have been left in the dust with these rules, including entirely legitimate production operations such as true crime channels.

2 YouTube page mockups comparing $500 and $1,500 earnings with 500k views

The revenue gained from AdSense can also be incredibly low, especially if you are creating niche content for a select audience. Payouts typically range from $0.01 to $0.03 per view and are dependent on several things. Your content needs to be a certain length (preferably 10 minutes or more) and pay is heavily determined on the amount of views you receive.
The type of content you create is another determining factor in your revenue generation. YouTube pays different rates to different creators, and the payouts can vary wildly. Professionally-focused creators who produce content on business, marketing, etc. can earn over $25 per 1,000 views. If you wish to create content dedicated to streaming and gaming, you could be earning as little as $0.56 per 1,000 views. Why does cost per 1,000 views vary so much between content categories? It’s a great question that only YouTube knows the answer to. If you aren’t quite satisfied with YouTube’s payment scheme, there is another solution. Special’s platform offers a fully transparent pricing structure, and you have full control over how much you charge your subscribers.

Get More From Your Content With Special

YouTube can be an especially great starting point from which you can branch out to earn money elsewhere, too. Of course, Special.TV is one of those further avenues! Special.TV gives you a streamlined experience, and an ad-free, subscription-based revenue channel.

For many dedicated, quality productions, YouTube and Special can complement each other well. As an ad-free platform, Special.TV is aimed towards helping you produce high quality shows directly for fans. Because of this, it’s a great space to put out your primary content while YouTube acts as a place for new viewers to discover your other videos for free. Whether you’re combining the two platforms’ specializations for your established audience or using YouTube to grow a fanbase from scratch, the monetization opportunities on YouTube give you extra resources to improve and grow. Read more about how you can leverage your YouTube channel to grow your Special subscribers here.

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