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How to make money on YouTube

Make Money on YouTube

Looking to earn some extra scratch from your huge collection of adorable cat videos? Think you’ve got a shot to go viral with that heroic three-story bellyflop you did last summer? No matter what kind of footage you’ve got, there’s a way to make money off of it.

That being said, you should know that YouTube isn’t some kind of cash cow just waiting to be milked. Sure, there are a handful of YouTubers that make bookoo bucks, but they are the exception, not the rule. There are hundreds of millions of YouTube channels out there, and the vast majority of them only make a few cents a day. Earning a sizable amount of money on YouTube takes time, dedication, hard work, and oftentimes just plain luck. But hey, if that Fred kid can be make millions of dollars and land a movie deal just from being ridiculously annoying, who’s to say your channel can’t bring in a few bucks? It’s worth a shot.

Thanks to Google’s YouTube Partner program, monetizing your videos is extremely easy. If all’s well with your account, you can have ads up and running on your videos in just a couple hours, ready to start building your retirement fund a few pennies at a time. Below we’ve covered the steps you need to take to get started, along with a few tips for making great videos that people will watch.

How to monetize your YouTube account

Before you can start making money off of your videos, you need to enable monetization on your YouTube account. In doing so, you become a “YouTube Partner,” which basically means you allow Google to place ads on your content in exchange for payment each time one of those ads is clicked.

Step 1: To enable monetization on your account, make sure you’re logged in to YouTube and go to account features. Once you’re there, look to the middle of the page and find the Monetization section listed under Features. Click the Enable button and agree to Google’s terms of service to continue. 

warning32 In order to be eligible for account monetization, your account must be in good standing. If you’ve uploaded any copyrighted content or disregarded YouTube community guidelines by posting horrible comments, Google might not allow you to monetize your videos.

Step 2: After you’ve agreed to the terms of service, you’ll be greeted with a dialog that looks something like this:

YouTube Monetization Screen

At this point you’ll need to decide what kind of ads you’d like to be displayed on your video. Overlay ads are the small banners that occupy the lower third of the video, whereas TrueView ads are video ads that play before your video. Using both isn’t always the best plan – depending on the content of your video, you might want to opt for one over the other.

Think about the type content you’re working with and be conscious of the audience likely to consume it. If your video is a tutorial on how to rope a goat, tie a bowtie, or some other piece of valuable educational material, then your viewers are more likely to sit through an ad. If your video is just something silly and fun, you might want to opt for just Overlay ads, as TrueView video ads can often turn people away from your video before they even watch it. Don’t stress too much about which ads will be more effective though – you can always change your settings later. Just keep an eye on your Adsense page to track views and clicks so you can get an idea of what works best. 

Step 3: Click that big ol’ Monetize button in the lower left and you’re all set. Your videos will be under review for a short period, but after that they should start to display ads whenever they’re played. 

Getting paid:

Now that you’ve got your account all set up and monetized, any earnings you get will be funneled into your Adsense account. If you don’t already have an Adsense account, you’ll need to set one up at some point, but Google doesn’t force you to do it until your video starts generating a decent amount of revenue. In order to fully set up your Adsense account and receive your earnings, you need to complete the five steps listed here.

The last of these five steps requires you to meet a payment threshold before Adsense gives you money. Basically what this means is that you’ll need to accrue at least $100 before you get paid. If you don’t meet this threshold by the end of the month, your earnings will be rolled over to the next month (and the next month, and the next month if necessary) until the threshold is met. Depending the popularity of your video(s), this could take anywhere from a few hours to a few months – or even years.

1930's YouTubers

So you want to be YouTube famous…

Don’t we all? Unfortunately, no one here at DT is a YouTube star (yet …), but while we’re definitely not experts on becoming Internet famous, we do know a thing or two about making content that people like. Here’s a few general-purpose tips for making great content that people will want to watch:

  1. Do something original. You’re not going to be the next big thing by copying what somebody else did. You might make a bit of money if you’re riding a popular trend wave, but it won’t last. Take all those zillions of Harlem Shake videos for example. Sure, they were hot for a minute, but if you jumped on the bandwagon late you probably only got a few dozen views before you fell out of the spotlight.
  2. If you’re hoping to go viral, make sure your video grabs people’s attention in the first 10-15 seconds. The Internet has the attention span of a goldfish with ADD, so you need to make a good hook if people are going to watch your video in its entirety.
  3. In order to make YouTube a viable source of income, you need to generate a regular stream of content that will attract subscribers. Just one video isn’t likely to bring in a steady stream of earnings, so it’s best to plan your videos as part of an ongoing series.

Are you YouTube famous? Feel free to share some of your wisdom in the comments below!