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How to make money on YouTube

Making money on YouTube isn't here, but here's how to get started

With more than so many million of channels on YouTube, making a name for yourself isn’t easy. But if you’re creative, determined, and lucky enough, you might just do it. And if you know how to make money on YouTube, you can earn a decent living with it too. Maybe even enough to quit your day job. Here’s how to get started monetizing your YouTube account.

If you haven’t made your channel or your first video yet, here are some extra guides to help get you started.

YouTube Partner Program advertisements

Running adverts on your channel is the most straightforward way to make money on Youtube. To do that though, you’ll need to join YouTube’s Partner Program (YPP), which does have some stipulations. You need a channel that has at least 4,000 views across its videos over the past 12 months, at least 1,000 subscribers, and you need to comply with YouTube’s content guidelines with all of your content.

If you meet all those thresholds, you can join the partner program right now. To do so, head to the dedicated monetization page of your channel’s YouTube Studio. The process from there includes signing the YPP terms of use and creating a Google Adsense account, which links in to your channel and allows the adverts to display on your content.

YouTube add to queue option
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After that, you’ll have to wait for YouTube to approve your account. The official YouTube guidelines suggest that it takes around a month for YouTube to respond to your request. Hold fire until then before you throw a complaint their way.

If you aren’t approved, you may need to make some alterations to the way you make your videos, or the kind of content you produce. Misleading titles or repetitive content are just two of the reasons YouTube might deny your access to the YPP, so make sure that you meet all of the content guidelines before applying.

If you are denied, don’t fret. You can always fix up your videos and re-apply in a month’s time.

Once your account is set up with adverts, you can decide the kinds of ads you want to show, from banner adverts along the bottom of the video itself, to pre, mid, and post-roll adverts that show before, during, and after your content, respectively. These adverts can have various success rates depending on the type of content you make, and as you learn about what works best for your channel, you might wish to customize the type of ads you show depending on what the video is about.

Once you’ve started making some real money from your adverts, you’ll want to cash that out. To do so, follow Google’s guidelines on how to get paid from your Adsense account. It involves jumping through a few hoops and providing certain account and identifying information. Once you’re set up, you can start raking in your new internet dollars. You will need to earn at least $100 before Adsense will pay out though, so it might take a few months before you spend your first YouTube money.

Avoiding demonetization

As YouTube has become more mainstream, Google and its advertisers have grown more savvy and restrictive about the kind of content they are willing to play adverts on. These guidelines are expansive and ever changing, so it’s not uncommon for big channels to suddenly find themselves with heaps of content that’s no longer monetized.

While we wouldn’t suggest restricting yourself creatively just to earn more on YouTube, if you plan to make the creation of YouTube videos your day job, you need to make sure that you don’t fall foul of YouTube demonetization policies.

youtube playlist step 3 screenshot

There are several categories of content that YouTube doesn’t like and will potentially limit or even halt all adverts on any videos which tick one too many boxes. If you tip over into breaching YouTube’s content guidelines, you might even have your whole channel demonetized altogether, so be careful.

Google has an extensive list of content that could lead to demonetization, but here are a few examples:

  • Language: Heavy or repeated use of profanity, especially with regards to hate speech.
  • Violence: Content that is heavy on blood, gore, human fluids; real violence to people or animals, and violence towards children or animals, even if it’s fictional.
  • Adult content: Almost any overtly sexual content, including animal mating, sexual text or audio, and stories related to sexual experiences.
  • Harmful acts: Pranks, stunts, invasive medical procedures, or anything that advocates physical harm.
  • Hateful content: Any hate crime, hate speech, or bullying behavior.
  • Recreational drug use: Promoting substances or using any illegal substances.
  • Tobacco: Any promotional material for tobacco or tobacco-based products.
  • Firearms: Anything that promotes the sale or manufacture of firearms, as well as unsafe usage.
  • Sensitive issues: War, political conflict, or terrorism.

Premium, Members, and Superchats

Alongside advertising revenue, YouTube offers a number of additional ways you can earn money just by making great content and managing your personal brand effectively. If people who pay for YouTube Premium accounts watch your videos, they won’t see any adverts, but YouTube will pay you for their viewing all the same. The earnings are arbitrarily calculated by YouTube, so we can’t give you much insight there, but you can view it within your channel’s Analytics page, listed under “Paid memberships revenue report.”

Giving your viewers certain perks to become members of your channel is a great way to earn extra on YouTube too. You’ll have to meet a new, higher threshold to be considered for Membership status requires 30,000 subscribers (1,000 for gaming channels), to be over 18, and reside in one of the applicable countries.

If you meet them though, you can offer members perks like badges, emojis, videos, live chats, and other content. You cannot offer 1:1 meetings with members, nor downloads of videos. There can also be no random rewards like competitions or lotteries for members, and no perks that target children. For every person who pays the $5 a month to become a member, though, you’ll get $3.50.

For the most dedicated of your fans, you can also offer Superchat messages. That lets them pay between $1 and $500 to send a special message in your livestream chats to highlight them and even pin them at the top of the chat. Just like memberships, you take home 70 percent of all earnings for those payments.

Product placement

One way to make money from YouTube without going through YouTube or giving the platform a cut of your earnings, is through product placement and sponsored videos. You’ll need to work things out with companies yourself in order to get such sponsorships, and the actual amount you’ll be paid for them is entirely up to you to negotiate. However, should you be lucky enough to organize such a sponsorship, you will need to adhere to some guidelines.

YouTube requires that any sponsorship or product placement adhere to its advertising guidelines. You must also tick the box in your Creator Studio Video Manager to make it clear to YouTube and your audience that the video contains sponsored content. Many countries require that you be up front about such sponsorships too, so make sure to read up on your local laws for product placement too.


Ask any of the top YouTubers, and they’ll tell you that they make the bulk of their money from merchandise. Sponsored clothing, cups, mouse mats, or anything else you can imagine with a face or logo on can be a big earner. If you think you’re ready to sell merchandise to your fans and viewers, you can do so, but as with everything else, YouTube does have some stipulations.

YouTube has a list of approved merchandise sites that you can use if you want to link to them within the videos. They’re far too numerous for us to recommend any in particular, but make sure to do your research before signing with anyone as their products represent you, your brand, and are ultimately going to cost your fans money. So you want them to get a good product at the end of it.

You can manage your merchandise entirely off site if you want, keeping YouTube profit sharing away from your merch and giving you a little more creative control. If you want to keep things neat and easier to manage though, you can always use YouTube’s own Merch Shelf. That will allow you to showcase merchandise within videos and customize what’s on show depending on the video.

As with everything else, YouTube does have some stipulations on the type of merch you can sell. Check out its Shopping ads policies for more information.

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