“Mom, I want to be a YouTuber”. If you grew up before the 2000s, it’s most likely that you never even dreamed about making a career on the internet, even less of a website like YouTube. But nowadays, the reality is so different, that YouTubing has become not only a thing but an actual full-time career for many people around the world. It has become so big, actually, that according to a survey made in 2019, children in the US were three times as likely to want to be a YouTube star than an astronaut. Oh, how things have changed!

So what’s the whole big deal about it? Of course, there is the fame aspect, but also there are many people who have made millions from posting videos online. And a whole other bunch that generates constant income from YouTubing, even if it is as a hobby. Even if it’s categorized as one of the worst jobs for mental health (due to the exposure and constant criticism), there are more than 31 million channels on YouTube and the number grows by the minute. Even more, 15 million creators upload 80 million videos every month. No wonder, YouTube is the second most visited website and the number one source for people wanting to post videos online. 

As being a YouTuber seems to be a sort of dream, it involves a lot of work to make a living out of it. And when we say a lot, we mean A WHOLE LOT. It’s not like you to start a channel and immediately your bank account will be flooded by money, it takes time to make it on YouTube. If you wanna know how YouTubers make money, it all starts with monetizing your channel. Keep reading to find out how to make money on YouTube!

YouTube Partner Program

To start making revenue from ads, you need to be accepted into the YouTube Partners Program (YPP). And not anyone is allowed in the club. To do so, first, you need to live in a country where the program is available. Most importantly, you need to reach a certain amount of numbers. So, how many views do you need on YouTube to make money?  You must have reached 4000 valid public watch hours in the past 12 months and have at least 1000 subscribers.  This is all about how much video content is watched on your channel from people all across the world, all those hours of video that people have watched on your channel in the last 12 months (no matter the date). You will also have to sign and agree to the terms and conditions, have an AdSense account (for which you need to be over 18 years old) and of course, get reviewed and approved by YouTube. About this last thing, surprisingly, all reviews are made manually, meaning that an actual human and not a machine does it, so it can take a while (usually around a month). No easy task, and this is something people often criticize about YouTube, as it favors those who give the site more income. 

A few more things to keep in mind regarding the number of views is that live streams count towards that total, as well as unlisted videos. But if you delete any videos, that Watch Time will be removed from your channel Watch Time hours. Keep an eye on your YouTube analytics—which you can find on the Creator Studio—to see if you qualify for the requirements and see how your stats are going. 

Joining the YPP means that you will have to stick to their rules, though. And they make sure you are following their guidelines, as they are constantly checking channels that are part of the program. So be sure to read their terms and conditions to see if you are actually willing to stick to them. You have to add value to any third party content you monetize, and that your content has significant original commentary, educational value, or editorialized statement. YouTube keeps an eye on those channels that reuse content from others, so no matter how many subscribers or followers you have, if the videos do not check on those boxes, then you won’t be eligible for the program. 

Unfortunately sometimes, even if you meet all the requirements, YouTube does further review, meaning that the process can take longer, even up to a year to get a response. Some, never even get one or, on the contrary, are rejected from the program. If this is the case, usually you will get a reason why, even though they won’t specify if it’s due to a specific video or content. However, the good news is you can reapply for the program in 30 days’ time. Keep in mind that if you reapply after being rejected, you should analyze a bit if you need to change something, to avoid being denied again. 

So once you’ve been accepted to the YouTube Partners Program, there are several ways to make money. Here are some of them:

Ad revenues:

You can get ad revenue from the display, overlay, and video ads. Display ads appear to the right of your video and above the suggestion list on your right, while overlay ads appear in a kind of transparent banner on the lower 20% portion of your video. Video ads are probably the most known (and polemic) form, as they appear before or during videos and can be, let’s admit it, kind of annoying to viewers. There are two forms of video ads: skippable and non-skippable. Skippable video ads allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds if they choose. Inserted before, during, or after the main video, while non-skippable video ads must be watched before your video can be viewed. With these ads placements, the YouTuber gets a percentage based on views, clicks, and more.

Channel memberships:

Channel memberships allow viewers to join your channel through recurring monthly payments and in exchange for getting members-only benefits like badges, emojis, and other goods (works a bit like Twitch). 

Merchandise shelf: 

YouTube allows you to sell official branded merchandise, something really big YouTubers make revenue from. The merch shelf will display up to 12 products to your viewers, who can change the order in which they see them opting by default from the retailer, or you (the YouTuber) can select up to 12 specific items to display on the shelf and order them yourself for your entire channel or video. 

Super chat and Super stickers:

These features let your viewers purchase chat messages that stand out and sometimes pin them to the top of a chat feed. Basically, fans pay to get highlighted in chat streams.

YouTube Premium revenue:

Get part of a YouTube Premium subscriber’s subscription fee when they watch your content. The revenue from YouTube Premium membership fees is distributed to video creators based on how many members watch your content.

Each of these features has its own set of eligibility requirements on top of subscriber and view count requirements. For example, for the YouTube Premium revenue, you have to create content that is watched by a viewer who is a YouTube Premium subscriber, while for the Super chat revenue you have to live in a country/region where Super Chat is available. 

In conclusion, there are a lot of small letters when it comes to making money on YouTube, especially related to the YouTube Partners Program, which, at the end of the day, is one of the main sources of YouTubers making a living out of creating content. Of course, having other social media channels that drive traffic to YouTube makes a big difference, and, most importantly, having sponsored content by brands helps to avoid the YouTube money cut. All in all, it all comes down to creating quality content that generates views and interactions that appeal both to brands and YouTube advertising. No one said being a YouTuber was an easy job!