Earning revenue from your content may not be your initial reason for starting a YouTube channel. However, the opportunities to make money are open to any creator who can build views, subscribers, and an engaged audience.
While you have to be in the YouTube Partner Program to qualify for AdSense revenue, there are many other ways a creator can generate income. Let’s dive into the different options:
#1 Ad-Revenue Share from the YouTube Partner Program
Generating revenue from ads run against your content is one of the accessible ways for creators to earn money from YouTube. Applying to join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) is a milestone in monetizing your content.
There are a few hoops for creators to jump through before they qualify. Still, those goals themselves are all important on your YouTube journey anyway, so if you meet the criteria, you may as well start to earn an income from the content you’d be creating regardless. These are the six requirements needed from channels applying to join the YPP:
- A Minimum of 1,000 YouTube Subscribers
- At Least 4,000 Hours of YouTube Watch Time Generated in the Last 12 Months
- Live Where the YouTube Partner Program is Available to Creators
- Have No Active Community Guidelines Strikes on Your Channel
- Have a Linked AdSense Account
- Have Two-Factor Authentication Enabled
If you hit all six goals, you can take the following steps to apply to the YPP and enable monetization on YouTube:
- Sign in to the YouTube account you want to monetize
- Click through to YouTube Studio
- In the left-hand menu, select Other Features > Monetization
- Read and agree to the YouTuber Partner Program terms and eligibility requirements
- Create a new Google AdSense account or connect an existing one to your channel
- Confirm your monetization preferences
To get an idea of your predicted or potential YouTube revenue, return to the dashboard, click the Analytics tab on the left-hand side, choose Revenue from the tabs at the top, then scroll down to the chart Monthly Estimated Revenue section. YouTube keeps a 45% share of ad revenue. But that still means a 55% payout for you! Click here to learn more about the YouTube Partner Program.
#2 Super Chat
If creators go live on YouTube, they have an opportunity to use the Super Chat feature to monetize that live stream. Viewers can purchase a Super Chat message with a credit or debit card during the stream. Once that payment has been processed, YouTube will highlight that viewer’s message on the live chat screen.
If you have Super Chat turned on, viewers will see a dollar bill symbol on the chat screen. A slider will appear if they click on this button, offering the chance to donate a dollar amount to the creator.
Enthusiastic viewers can donate anything from $1 to $500 per day (up to $2,000 per week) or the equivalent in their local currency. YouTube keeps about 30% of the money earned from a Super Chat donation.
#3 Super Stickers
Super Stickers allow viewers to pay to use a particular image to appear on a YouTube live stream chat. There is a range of designs available that fans can purchase that cover gaming, music, fashion and beauty, food, and other genres.
Super Stickers are also available to creators already using the Super Chat feature. The feature is live in 4 languages across 60 countries. The Stickers come in a range of price points, from 99 cents to $50. YouTube keeps 30% of each donation.
#4 Super Thanks
Just like Super Chat and Super Stickers, Super Thanks is also a way for fans to “tip” their favorite YouTube video creators and another way for YouTubers to monetize their content. However, viewers can use the feature on videos that have been uploaded rather than live streamed.
YouTube expanded its Super Thanks feature earlier this year to all channels currently enrolled in its YouTube Partner Program. Sixty-eight regions, including the U.S, the U.K, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Brazil, India, and South Korea, now have access to the additional viewer donation option. Get more information about Super Thanks directly from YouTube:
#5 The YouTube Shorts Fund
As of June 2022, YouTube Shorts now has more than 1.5B monthly viewers, three-quarters of YouTube’s total monthly global viewership of 2 billion logged-in users. The platform’s answer to the massive popularity of TikTok has now started running ads against these very short-form content clips, but for creators not in the YPP, YouTube has another way to help you benefit financially.
In May 2021, a $100 Million Fund for Shorts creators was rolled out to many eligible channels. Each month creators can apply for payment from the Fund if they meet the criteria set by YouTube. If selected, creators can expect to earn between $100 to $10,000 a month from the Fund. Such is the demand from creators, YouTube has some steps in place before it can qualify. Eligibility for a Shorts bonus will be based on your channel’s Shorts performance in the previous month. You’ll also need to:
- Be located in an eligible country (check the details from YouTube here)
- Be at least 13 years old in the US, or at the age of majority where the fund is active.
- Follow YouTube’s Community guidelines and Monetization policies – in other words, your account must be in good standing.
- Have uploaded an original Short in the last 180 days.
- Accept the terms of the program and link to an active Google AdSense account to receive the bonus payments from the Fund.
Read more about how to make money with YouTube Shorts in our handy guide.
#6 YouTube Premium
Did you know that YouTube Premium is more than a bunch of perks that offer a better viewing experience (ad-free videos, offline playbacks, etc.)? It can also generate income for creators
The platform compensates for the loss of potential AdSense revenue by sharing viewers’ monthly membership fees with creators. Learn more about Premium from YouTube
#7 Channel Memberships
Channel Memberships are tailor-made for creators to leverage their subscribers and fans. You can create a space to reward those viewers and subscribers who sign up with exclusive content and other membership perks.
Memberships are available at different prices, so fans can pay whatever they can afford or feel is appropriate. The minimum starting price is $4.99 per month, while the maximum a creator can charge is $49.99 per month. As with AdSense, YouTube will deduct 30% of your overall revenue. Learn more about the benefit of Channel Memberships for both the creator and the user:
#8 Merch Sales
Many YouTubers have successfully diversified their income by selling merchandise on (and off) the platform. The sale of branded hoodies, t-shirts, water bottles, mugs, tote bags, key chains, and other products can generate substantial revenue for a savvy creator.
It pays to plan out your merchandise strategy before investing in any product and certainly before using any service to manufacture and sell merchandise on your behalf. We spoke with four industry experts about the steps to take for a successful merchandise strategy. Take their advice, and you’ll be off to a winning start.
#9 Brand or Sponsorship Deals
Brand and sponsorship deals are a vast topic, and we will take a deep dive into this potential revenue stream in future posts. As an overview, Sponsorships or Partnerships mean a brand or publisher wants to work with a creator directly on content that promotes a product or service.
Securing a brand deal as a creator is overwhelmingly due to that channel attracting the right audience reach and engagement. The creator needs to be a good fit for the brand, and perhaps more importantly, the brand needs to be a good fit for the creator. Credibility and authenticity are everything in a brand deal.
Unlike the YouTube Partner Program, a creator doesn’t need 1000 subscribers or 4000 hours of watch time to win a deal. You can get sponsorship deals early in your YouTube journey, although, as a smaller creator you need to be realistic and understand that you’re probably not going to make the same money as a channel with 1M+ subscribers might.
A considerable number of companies specifically want to pay smaller creators because they know their audiences are engaged, meaning their return on investment will be higher. That’s a win for all parties involved.
#10 Affiliate Sales
Did you know you can earn a decent commission as an affiliate marketer? You can get paid to promote someone else’s service or product by providing a custom link that tracks consumer activity on your affiliate account.
For example, you may create a video around a specific gaming console, then provide an Amazon affiliate link in your description box directing to that product. You get a small commission if a viewer clicks on your link and buys the console!
Amazon is a great place to start with affiliate marketing because anybody can apply and be accepted into the program. Just be aware that, as with any business transaction, there are rules to follow, but for the most part, they are a pretty easy target for most people to hit. Read our extensive guide to the Amazon affiliate program for YouTube creators to learn more.
Aside from Amazon, almost every brand has an affiliate marketing program of sorts – including TubeBuddy! If you feel your channel is focused enough to promote a product or service, start searching for something you can promote that’s an excellent fit for you and your audience.
We have covered ten ways to start making money on the platform. Just remember to use YouTube as a business from the very beginning, so you set yourself up for financial success.
Carla Marshall is the Content Marketing Manager at TubeBuddy. She has 11+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, & SEO