YouTube is an expansive digital landscape and the largest online video platform in the world. Over 122 million daily users consume over 1 billion hours of content. With an audience this large and active, there is fertile ground to establish a financially successful channel.
There are multiple opportunities for a YouTube channel to earn revenue. This article will cover one of the most basic—and the typical first step—to generating income with your video content using YouTube’s Ad Revenue sharing system.
Become a YouTube Partner
You must first qualify for the YouTube Partner Program to participate in Ad Revenue sharing. YouTube makes money with ads, and they favor channels that have consistent themes, clean and clear presentations, and growing viewer engagement. Small channels that are inactive or of poor quality hold little value to advertisers. There are three main steps in qualifying for a YouTube Partnership.
The first is accumulating 1,000 subscribers. This is usually the first exciting milestone for new creators. This tells the algorithm that you produce content that generates interest for returning viewers. The first 1,000 subscribers take a bit of work to achieve, and a fly-by-night channel is not likely to reach it.
Next is to accrue 4,000 public watch hours within 12 months. Having subscribers is great and shows your content is attracting viewers. However, watch time tells the algorithm how long you keep the viewer engaged. Some services let you buy views and subscribers (against YouTube’s Fake Engagement Policy), but the only way to build watch time is by generating valuable content.
Once your channel has achieved the required number of subscribers and watch hours, it will be eligible to apply for a YouTube Partnership. This is the final step, and your channel will be reviewed to ensure that it complies with company policies and is deemed appropriate for advertisers. If your channel has explicit content, copyright strikes, or violates child protection laws, it will likely be denied (and potentially removed).
Once approved for the YouTube Partner Program, you will unlock control over which videos you wish to monetize and how you want ads displayed. When you are uploading a video or editing a video’s details, you can turn ads on or off and are presented with options for ad placements.
Display ads – These are on by default and appear as an embedded still ad adjacent to the video window.
Overlay ads – Banners that are placed in the lower third screen of your video at various times are determined by the algorithm.
Sponsored Cards – These interactive cards will appear on the right side of your video when a viewer interacts with them.
Skippable video ads – These are commercials played at the beginning of your video. Typically the viewer will have the option to skip them after five seconds.
Non-skippable video ads – These are commercials that are shorter in length but cannot be skipped by the viewer.
If your video has a runtime of eight minutes or longer, you may opt to include video ad breaks within your video. You can choose the location of these ad breaks or let the algorithm choose.
Receiving Ad Revenue
Once your channel is approved to receive ad revenue, you should see money starting to accrue within the first 24 hours and will update daily. The YouTube dashboard default shows you what your channel has earned in the past 28-day period. Use the analytics panel for customized reports on the channel or individual video earnings.
Don’t be discouraged if the earnings are minimal at first. It takes effort to build a successful channel, and you should see it grow over time. In addition to advertisements, you will receive shared revenue from viewers who pay for YouTube Premium memberships.
It’s hard to determine precisely how much you will make as many factors are at play. The number of views a video receives, the length of time a viewer watches, and even keywords used to tag the video will have different values for advertisers. The best tactic is to watch your analytics, pay attention to which videos attract the most traffic or generate the most ad revenue, and ride those trends for new content.
YouTube pays out your earned ad shares in the last week of the following month, and you will need to have a Google AdSense account set up and connected to a bank.
Qualifying Content and Demonetization
YouTube allows monetization on videos deemed appropriate for advertisers. If the algorithm determines a video is unsuitable, it may be set to “limited ads” or demonetized altogether. This can be tricky and often frustrating, but there are a few methods you can employ to avoid this.
Don’t use copyrighted material in the video if you do not have the rights or permission to use it. This can include components such as music, video clips, or even photos belonging to other creators. YouTube is good at flagging these elements, and if your video is found in violation, they may decide to give the revenue to the other creator or issue a copyright strike on your channel.
YouTube will also provide a “content check” menu when you upload a new video. Here, you can declare that your video may include controversial topics, adult language, violence, or propaganda. Be honest when filling this questionnaire out. The algorithm is hard to fool, and in many cases, if the instances are mild, it will still allow monetization.
Avoid specific topics or keywords. There are certain trigger words that the algorithm is sensitive to and may limit ads just at the inclusion of the terms. Videos relating to weapons and firearms, or bullies/child abuse, tend to get demonetized easier. Unless you can talk creatively around the words or don’t mind limited ads, it may be best to avoid such topics.
If you feel your video was unfairly limited or demonetized, you may request a personal review to overturn the decision.
Becoming a YouTube Partner and sharing in Ad Revenue is an excellent way for new creators to start earning income. Keep your channel active. As it grows, so will your body of work, and the more videos you have performing well, the more revenue you will generate each month.