Have you unlocked every feature available to you as a YouTube creator? We show you how to get access to some of the best features on the platform.
In this post, we show you how to unlock every single YouTube feature. A good place to start is to find out what YouTube features you already have, and you can do this by clicking this link which will take you to a page that shows you most (but not all) of the YouTube features available.
Unlocking All YouTube Features
Verify Your YouTube Account: The first thing you should do when you create a YouTube account is to verify it as this will unlock many of the basic YouTube features. It only takes a minute and you do it through your mobile phone.
Enable Custom Thumbnails: Custom thumbnails allow you to turn random still images that YouTube selects from your videos into powerful works of art that draw viewers into your videos. The best news is that custom thumbnails require zero views, zero subscribers, zero watchtime. All you need to do is verify your account! Check out how to enable custom thumbnails on YouTube here.
Uploading 15+ Minute Videos: By default you can only upload videos to YouTube with a maximum length of 15 minutes, so to upload longer videos, just like custom thumbnails, you don't need any views, subscribers or watchtime. All you need to do is verify your account.
YouTube Livestreaming: vidIq livestreams every week on YouTube, auditing your YouTube channels, and helping you to grow. As with custom thumbnails and 15+ minute uploads, this does not require a single view, subscriber or any watchtime, only to verify your account, although you may need to wait 24 hours before you can do your first livestream once you enable it.
Those are the rules for desktop, but for mobile livestreaming, it's a little more complicated. You cannot livestream directly through the YouTube app if you have less than 1,000 subscribers. However, you can still livestream to YouTube on a mobile device using third-party applications without a thousand subscribers.
YouTube Custom URLs: A custom URL is one of the first steps you can take to branding your channel and protecting your presence on YouTube. In order to be eligible for a custom URL, your channel requires 100 subscribers, to be at least 30 days old, and have a unique channel icon and channel art. Each channel can only have one custom URL. It cannot be transferred to another channel, but you can remove and change your custom URL up to three times a year.
YouTube Community Tab: One of the most powerful ways to reach your audience is through the Community tab. We use it every day to engage with you, and we find that people just can't get enough of voting polls. To unlock the Community tab, you will need 1,000 subscribers. Once you reach that target, it may take up to a week before you have access to it and YouTube should send you a notification when you unlock it. Check out this video on how to build a YouTube audience through the Community Tab.
Monetize YouTube Content: Probably the most important one of the lot for many of you, is monetization. I'm sure you've heard of the big two requirements for this before, but there are more besides. You will need 1,000 subscribers on your channel and 4,000 hours of watchtime over the last 12 months. As well as this you will need a Google AdSense account set up and linked to your YouTube account. Your channel must also be in good standing regarding community and copyright strikes and follow all YouTube policies. Not having all of this in perfect order can affect your application. Finally the YouTube Partner Program must also be available in your country.
Once you meet all of these requirements you can apply and must go through a review process. If you are rejected, you can apply again in 30 days. We know this is a huge topic with a lot of questions. We've made lots of videos that specifically address monetization, so click on this vidIQ YouTube Monetization playlist link to find out all you need to know.
YouTube Super Chats: Super Chats enable your fans to financially contribute to your livestream and prioritize their message at the top of the livestream chat feed. To allow viewers to Super Chat you, your channel must be monetized, of course, with at least 1,000 subscribers. You must also be over the age of 18 and be located in one of the countries that supports Super Chat.
YouTube Stories: YouTube Stories allow you to capture micro-moments behind the scenes of your videos to share just like you would an Instagram Story. The Stories feature is currently in beta and available to all eligible channels with over 10,000 subscribers. It may take up to four weeks for Stories to show up after reaching 10,000 subscribers.
Merchandise Store: There are many ways to make an income on YouTube, merchandise being one of them, and you may have noticed merchandise carousels appearing on channels. This is part of YouTube's direct merchandising feature, taking all of the pain out of setting it up yourself. As you might expect, being another income revenue stream, to get access to merchandising on YouTube, you must already be in the Partner Program and have 10,000 subscribers. You also need a clean slate when it comes to community guideline strikes.
Channel Membership: A channel membership allows the viewer or subscriber to become a member of that YouTube channel for a monthly fee, and it enables the channel to offer unique perks to those members. Think of it as a Patreon-type service directly tied into the YouTube platform. This YouTube feature has the biggest requirements list of the lot. Already in the Partner Program, 30,000 subscribers, over the age of 18, and available in your country. You and your multi-channel network, if you are with one, must follow the Terms of Service, including the Commerce Product Addendum, and your channel must have zero active strikes. And even if you do meet all of the above, YouTube is still rolling out this service, so it might not yet be available to you.
Copyright Matching: If someone else is using your content on YouTube, it may appear in the Copyright Matching list. This allows you to review the match and then take appropriate action. As of now YouTube are currently rolling this out as a small pilot project to channels already in the YouTube Partner Program, so just keep an eye out for it in your Creator Studio.
YouTube Season Playlists: I'm sure you've seen this season-slash-episode format that appears on some video titles. They replace hashtags and locations, and when you click on them, they take you to the playlist. We’re calling these "YouTube Season Playlist" for now, and when I asked YouTube how to get this, they told me it was through YouTube invite only. These shouldn’t be mistaken for official series playlists, which are available to all video creators who have verified their account. This does not give you seasons or episode numbers, but does change how your videos are presented and discovered on YouTube.
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Carla Marshall is the Head of Content Marketing at vidIQ. She 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.