There’s no denying that video content is more popular than ever. In 2020 alone, people watched more than 12 billion minutes of videos online — and they want more.

For digital content creators and businesses alike, this is a great time to focus on video content. With YouTube’s monetization features, you’re able to do just that.

In this article, we’ll define YouTube monetization, its rules and requirements, and how to monetize your YouTube videos.

What is YouTube monetization?

In simplest terms: YouTube monetization is the ability to make money from your videos.

To enable monetization on YouTube, you need to meet certain requirements and join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).

Screenshot example of a YouTube Partner Program qualification checklist.

According to YouTube, to qualify for monetization, you must have:

  • 4,000 watch hours over the last 12 months
  • at least 1,000 subscribers on your channel.

You can grow these numbers by creating quality content, as well as by promoting your channel.

Additionally, there are some other requirements to set up and monetize your channel. We’ll discuss those in the next section.

YouTube monetization rules and requirements

Monetizing your YouTube channel is as amazing as it sounds, but it comes with a few strings attached. While the requirements for YouTube monetization aren’t log, the benefits are great.

Simply put, once you’ve joined the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), it all comes down to how well your videos perform. The more views you get on your content, the more money you’ll be able to make.

Let’s look at the different requirements to start monetizing your YouTube videos:

Apply to the YouTube Partner Program

The first step is to apply to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).

It takes at least one month for YouTube to review applications before marking a decision. It may take longer than a month, mostly because YouTube has actual specialists reviewing each application.

The minimum eligibility requirements for joining the YPP are that:

Avoid copyright and monetization mistakes on YouTube

It’s important to adhere to YouTube’s copyright and monetization rules at all times. Meaning, you should only upload videos that you have made or authorized to use. Copyright also extends to music or audio tracks, other copyrighted works, or videos created by others.

If you’re caught violating any of the policies, you may be subject to the following:

  • Removal of ads from your videos
  • Suspension from the YouTube Partner Program
  • Account suspension or termination

YouTube states that they will always inform you via email if you violate any of their policies. They will also let you know about the options available to you, if any.

What to do if you get rejected by the YouTube Partner Program

If your application gets rejected, YouTube outlines which policies your channel failed to follow. If that’s the case, don’t fret. You can always re-apply after 30 days. Use this as an opportunity to improve your channel before you apply a second time.

For example, you may want to revisit any video titles, video descriptions and thumbnails to align with with YouTube’s policies. And if you have specific videos causing issues, you may also want to delete or edit them.

Top 10 ways to monetize on YouTube

We’ve covered the requirements to even begin monetizing on YouTube. Now let’s get to the more exciting part: exploring all the different ways you can earn from your YouTube videos.

You may be wondering how much money YouTubers actually make. While some of the highest paid YouTube creators earn millions of dollars from their videos, not every creator manages to make that much. In fact, the average YouTube channel earns around $18 per 1,000 views.

YouTube has changed the way creators earn money online and on the platform.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 ways to can earn money on YouTube:

1. YouTube Ads

The most “traditional” way you can make money on YouTube is through ads that appear before or during your videos.

If you’ve joined the YPP, you can turn on ad monetization for individual or multiple videos on your channel. Keep in mind that your videos must meet YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines to be able to run ads.

With several YouTube ad formats available, you’re able to control the placement of ads on your videos.

2. Paid Sponsorships

Paid sponsorships are when brands and businesses pay or sponsor a content creator to pay, use or demonstrate their product in a video. While sponsorships are provided by brands to creators, it benefits both parties as well as the viewers.

Sponsorships are hard to obtain, but can be extremely rewarding. If you have an influential channel with a large following, you can pitch to relevant brands in your niche to partner for a video.

To secure a sponsorship, show brands your past work, YouTube analytics and engagement rates. Explain to them how you can bring value to their business with your content.

3. Affiliates

Another way to monetize your YouTube videos is through affiliate programs.

So, how does this work? When you join an affiliate marketing program, you send your audience to a brand’s product or landing page via an affiliate link. If the user successfully makes a purchase, you earn a commission from the sale.

While not as lucrative as paid sponsorships, an affiliate program still generates extra income. You can become an affiliate for products that you already use, and even offer your followers a discount code.

4. Channel Membership

YouTube channel memberships are a monthly subscription in exchange for exclusive perks. Creators can give exclusive offerings to channel members, such as product discounts, 1:1 live chats or exclusive videos.

Screenshot example of a YouTube channel with a membership option. A "join" button appears next to the "Subscribe" button on the main YouTube Channel page.

Membership fees are set by the creator, and channels need at least 1,000 subscribers to enable this feature.

5. Patronage

If you have a loyal fanbase, a third-party platform like Patreon lets digital creators, artists, writers and businesses provide exclusive perks to patrons who support your channel and content.

Screenshot example of a tiered patronage program to be used for YouTube monetization.

Patreon is popular with YouTube creators and brands, like a YouTube channel membership. But with tiered membership, you can choose different perks to offer patrons regardless of your subscriber count. Provide exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes videos or perks like early access and one-on-one time.

6. Merchandise

YouTube channels with more than 10,000 subscribers can sell merchandise via a merch shelf that appears on each video page. If you’ve built a strong brand community, you can open up another revenue stream by selling branded merchandise to your fans on YouTube.

Example of a YouTube channel Rose Anvil using merchandise as a way to monetize on YouTube.

This is particularly useful for YouTube creators who may not have their own website and want to sell merchandise to their followers. With over 45 supported merch platforms or retailers worldwide, there is an opportunity your grow your brand.

7. Super Features: Super Chat, Super Stickers, Super Thanks

If you’ve ever watched a livestream on YouTube, you might have noticed that some chat messages stand out and are highlighted over others.

Example of a YouTube Chat monetization feature in a live chat.

That’s because YouTube lets creators enable Super Chat on their live videos and premieres. This monetization feature allows your audience to pay between $1 to $500 to get their message featured in a livestream chat.

In that same vein, Super Stickers work similarly to Super Chat.

Instead of buying chat messages, users can buy and share fun stickers. These stickers then get pinned to the top of the chat stream to grab their favorite creator’s attention.

And finally, the Super Thanks feature allows users to show appreciation to their favorite creators. By donating a small amount, users receive a featured comment in the livestream chat, as well as an animated GIF.

Example of a YouTube Super Thanks monetization feature in action.

Unlike Super Chats and Super Stickers, users can buy Super Thanks on any uploaded video, not just livestreams and Premieres.

These are great features for digital creators or brands that create helpful and educational videos. Not only do these Super features generate some extra income, but it also allows your top fans to show their support and gratitude for your content.

8. YouTube Shorts Fund

In May 2021, YouTube launched a $100 million fund exclusively for Shorts creators. This money is to be distributed each month to YouTube Shorts creators over 2021-2022.

This means every month, YouTubers can make anywhere from $100 to $10,000 depending on the engagement and views on their Shorts videos. And eligibility refreshes every month, so if you don’t qualify for one month, you may qualify the next, or vice versa.

To receive a YouTube Shorts Fund, you don’t need to be part of the YPP, so for creators don’t meet the requirements of the YPP program, this is a huge benefit. But, creators still need to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for a YouTube Shorts Bonus.

9. YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium is a subscription service offered by YouTube. Members can watch ad-free content, download videos, enable background playback and more.

So, how does this affect monetization? Will creators monetizing their videos via ads still get paid if YouTube Premium members watch their videos? Fortunately, yes.

According to YouTube, subscription revenue payments are distributed to creators at the beginning of every month just like ad revenue payments. The amount, of course, depends on how much Premium members watch your videos.

10. YouTube BrandConnect

YouTube BrandConnect connects brands with YouTube creators for content campaigns. Audiences trust creators when it comes to product recommendations. And using BrandConnect can — yes — connect YouTube channels with brands for partnership

This service is currently available only in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

Earn revenue from your videos with YouTube monetization

Creating and publishing videos is not just great for brand awareness. It’s also an excellent way to support yourself by monetizing on YouTube.

Are you ready to grow your YouTube channel? If your goal is to start monetizing on YouTube, start by branding your YouTube account. Then promote your channel and get more views on your videos. Remember, the more views and subscribers you have, the more opportunity you have to monetize on the platform. Cha-ching!