Carla Marshall has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, and SEO. She was previously Editor in Chief at ReelSEO.com, and as a journalist and video marketer, she's covered news stories, creator journeys, and digital-first publishing initiatives across all the major online video platforms. She is YouTube Certified and a judge for the Shorty Awards, as well as the UK, US, Canadian, Global, and EU Search Awards.
How to Monetize Your YouTube Channel - A Beginner's Guide
JUMP TO SECTION:
- 1. Learn the YouTube Partner Program Requirements
- 2. Track Your Progress Toward Meeting the YPP Requirements
- 3. Follow YouTube's Rules for Monetization
- 4. Avoid Copyright and Monetization Mistakes on YouTube
- 5. Link a Google Adsense Account With Your YouTube Channel
- 6. Apply to the YouTube Partner Program
- 7. What to Do When If You're Rejected From the YouTube Partner Program
This post is all about how you can monetize your content on YouTube to start generating revenue. There are four golden rules to making money on YouTube, and they are:
- You need to have 1,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel.
- Your videos have generated 4,000 Watch Time hours over the last 12 months.
- You comply with all of YouTube's policies and guidelines.
- You have an AdSense account set up.
To learn more about these steps, watch the video below:
1. Learn the YouTube Partner Program Requirements
Commonly known as the YouTube Partner Program, or YPP for short, you'll need to hit all four requirements (listed above) before your channel will be accepted.
Let's start with the 1,000 subscribers piece. This one is pretty straightforward in that it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to 1,000 subscribers. Once you hit that milestone, you can cross it off the list.
You also need 4,000 hours of Watch Time on your videos over the last 12 months. There is some confusion with this one, so let me try and clarify that. First of all, this is not about how much video content you, the YouTube creator, watch. This is all about how much video content is watched on your channel by people across the world. It’s all those hours of video that people have watched on your channel in the last 12 months (from any given date). You could have 4,000 hours of Watch Time over the lifetime of your channel, but it's only the last 12 months that count for YouTube Partner Program requirements.
Fortunately, live streams do count toward that big, 4000-hour goal.
These videos, however, do not:
- Unlisted videos
- Videos you've deleted
- Videos set to private
- Advertising campaigns
- YouTube Shorts
One more thing: If you're already in the YouTube Partner Program, and your channel falls below 4,000 hours of Watch Time, YouTube won't automatically remove you from the program. But it can make that choice in the future. If you want a much more detailed video on the topic of 4,000 hours specifically, check out this video:
2. Track Your Progress Toward Meeting the YPP Requirements
Are you close to monetizing your channel through the YouTube Partner Program? Here's how to check:
- Log in to YouTube and go to the YouTube Studio (click your profile image and select YouTube Studio).
- Click Monetization in the left navigation menu.
The monetization page will track your progress toward reaching 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of Watch Time. When you reach both milestones, you'll see a blue button prompting you to "apply now."
Want a faster way to track your progress? Download and install vidIQ. Then, on pretty much every YouTube screen, you will see a collection of real-time stats for your channel. It will show you your channel's views per hour, views over the last 48 hours, and your subscriber count. But the really cool thing is that it will track your progress toward 4,000 hours of Watch Time too! Once you hit 4,000 hours, that number will turn green to show you you've reached that monetization requirement.
3. Follow YouTube's Rules for Monetization
Next on the list is the rule book. If you want to monetize your content, you need to make sure you do it the right way, as YouTube states:
When you apply for the YouTube Partner Program, you'll go through a standard review process to see whether your channel meets YouTube's policy and guidelines. Only channels that meet them will be accepted into the program.
YouTube constantly checks whether channels in the program are meeting YouTube's policies and guidelines. Both are comprehensive and strike a balance between meeting the interests of creators, viewers, and advertisers. I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these policies and guidelines if you want to monetize your content in the future.
However, if you are in a TLDR mood, to summarize, apply common sense. If you think a video might be inappropriate, chances are, it is. You make such content at your own risk.
4. Avoid Copyright and Monetization Mistakes on YouTube
Among YouTube's policies and guidelines is the huge topic of copyrighted material. Essentially, if you use other people's work, you could be using copyrighted material without their permission. YouTube does not want you to do that. It will almost certainly get you demonetized or prevent you from entering the YouTube Partner Program.
For most of you, this is the most important monetization policy. If you're going to use someone else content, perhaps for a reaction video, you need to...
- Add value to any third party content you monetize
- Share original commentary, educational value, or an editorialized statement.
And let's be clear, that still might not be enough. If you use other people's content in your videos all the time, YouTube might decide to not monetize your content.
YouTube confirms that if all or most of your channel is dedicated to reused content, and you're not transforming the original work by adding your own unique value, then your channel is not eligible for the YouTube Partner Program. The spirit of this policy is to make sure that YouTube is incentivizing unique and original content. It also wants to reward the creators who work hard on original content.
Now, some may see YouTube's spirit of a policy as an excuse to demonetize channels they don't want in the monetization program, but let's have a look at it from this point of view. You spent days, hours creating a magnificent piece of content, and it goes viral on YouTube. And then a dozen random video creators steal that content, upload it, generate hundreds of thousands of views, and end up profiting handsomely from it. How would you feel if that happened? That's what YouTube is trying to protect – original content from video creators.
Admittedly, duplicate and copyright content is a broad gray area on YouTube, and the platform doesn't always get it right. Some channels on YouTube clearly violate these rules. We just don't know what their individual circumstances are. They may have permission to use that content, or they may get caught in the future.
5. Link a Google Adsense Account With Your YouTube Channel
If you are going to earn money from your videos, YouTube needs a way to pay you. This will be done through an AdSense account. If you already have one, you can keep using the same one. If not, set one up during the YouTube Partner Program application process.
Side note: You can connect multiple channels to one AdSense account.
6. Apply to the YouTube Partner Program
Let's remind ourselves of those requirements one more time. You need:
- 1,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel
- 4,000 Watch Time hours on your videos over the last 12 months
- To comply with all YouTube's policies and guidelines
- Have an AdSense account set up
When you apply to the YouTube Partner Program, it may take up to a month for the platform to make a decision. That’s because actual humans will review your channel. Some channels have been approved in days, so the progress might move quickly. However, if it does take longer than a month, your channel will usually be placed in further review. When this happens, unfortunately, the wait times can get very long – three, six, possibly even 12 months. In some unfortunate cases, YouTube never seems to come to a decision, leaving the creator in monetization limbo.
This can be a very frustrating position to find yourself in. Many of you have commented about this on our videos here at vidIQ. Unfortunately, we ourselves cannot help push the process forward for you, so what we recommend you do is to talk to TeamYouTube on Twitter. Make sure everybody knows you have an issue with your application.
YouTube says this will never speed up the process, but you never know what could happen.
7. What to Do When If You're Rejected From the YouTube Partner Program
Now, let's say you've applied for the YouTube Partner Program, but you've been rejected. What can you do?
When you are rejected from the YouTube Partner Program, YouTube will give you a general reason why. Unfortunately, they won't tell you specifically what video or content is causing the issue, so you may be left blindly adjusting your channel. However, the good news is you can reapply for the program in 30 days' time.
Again, this is where you will have to use your common sense. If you think there are videos violating the community guidelines, they most likely are, and you need to adjust them. Another common issue is videos that include copyrighted content; you will need to delete those parts of your content and re-upload.
Will a community guideline or a copyright strike prevent you from getting into the program? It definitely won't stop you, but it is going to have an impact.
There is a dedicated support page with advice on what you should do if you are rejected from the YouTube Partner Program, and you’ll find it here.
Once you are in the Partner Program, and you want to earn money from Super Chats, Channel memberships, and merchandise, take a look at this video on the subject:
Want a step-by-step guide on applying to the YouTube Partner Program? Read this blog post for detailed instructions.