How to make money on YouTube shouldn’t be the first question a would-be creator need to ask themselves. However, earning revenue from the content you create and the views and subscribers you attract might be what keeps you going as a content creator.
While you have to be in the YouTube Partner Program to qualify for AdSense and get paid for the ads that appear around your videos, 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. To join the YouTube Partner Program, creators must meet six requirements:
- 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, in your YouTube dashboard:
- Click the Analytics tab on the left-hand side
- Select Revenue from the tabs at the top
- Scroll down to the chart in the Monthly Estimated Revenue section
YouTube keeps a 45% share of ad revenue, which means creators get 55% of revenues generated from ads around their videos.
#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.
For more information about setting up and benefiting from the Super Chat feature, you’ll need to be over 18 and live in a location where it is available.
#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
Turning to your viewers can be a solid strategy for how to make money on YouTube. 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.
Super Thanks is available to all channels in the YouTube Partner Program. Sixty-eight regions, including the U.S, the U.K, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Brazil, India, and South Korea have access to the additional viewer donation option.
#5 Make YouTube Shorts
YouTube Shorts rake in 50 billion views every day. It took a while but today, creators can monetize YouTube shorts to get a cut of ad revenues. Before this update in early 2023, the only option creators had was to try to get some support from the $100M YouTube Shorts Fund.
To qualify for YouTube Shorts monetization, a channel must meet the following criteria:
- 1,000 subscribers AND
- 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months OR
- 10M views on Shorts videos in the last 90 days
#6 How to Make Money on YouTube Premium
YouTube Premium offers a better viewing experience with ad-free videos, offline playback, the option to continue playing audio with your phone screen off, and more. Ads on YouTube are how most creators make money on YouTube so while it sounds pretty good for viewers, it doesn’t sound so great for creators. Fear not: creators can still make money on YouTube even if YouTube Premium users aren’t seeing ads around their videos. 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 how YouTube ensures creators still make money on YouTube from YouTube Premium users.
#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
Some creators make money on YouTube by… making money off YouTube by selling merchandise, AKA merch. Merch can include branded hoodies, t-shirts, water bottles, mugs, tote bags, key chains, or anything that fits with the creator’s brand and that viewers want to buy. Merch can be a great way to make money on YouTube.
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
Sponsorships or Partnerships mean a brand or publisher wants to work with a creator directly on content that promotes a product or service.
Authenticity is everything in a brand deal; you worked hard to build an audience, inauthentic content jeopardizes that audience. For a successful brand deal, the creator needs to be a good fit for the brand but it’s at least as important that the brand is a good fit for the creator.
Nano and micro creators can land a brand sponsorship deals early in their YouTube journey. Even before they qualify for the YouTube Partner Program. However, smaller creators won’t command the big money that a channel with 1M+ subscribers might.
#10 Affiliate Sales
Affiliate marketing is a self-directed approach to getting paid for promoting products. As an affiliate, creators will have a custom link that tracks activity (visits, product sales, etc.) that your content drove. Many online products, services, and stores have an affiliate program. Most will require the content creator to qualify first. Applying to be an affiliate is a bit of admin work but it can be a great way for savvy creators to make money on YouTube.
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.
So there you have it. 10 ways to make money on YouTube. The best advice for any YouTube creator looking to make money on the platform is this: Consider your YouTube as a business from the very beginning of your creator journey. This little mindset shift will help to set you 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