Building Your Audience and Monetizing Your Channel

In order to start making money on YouTube, you need an audience. In fact, YouTube requires you to have an existing audience before they allow you to join the YouTube Partner Program, which allows you to place paid ads on your videos. You will need to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 view hours across the previous 12 months to qualify, and you need to maintain these levels to remain in the program. Your content will also need to conform to YouTube’s Terms of Service and partner policies, which we’ll cover now so you can understand them while you plan your content.


YouTube Partner Eligibility

In order to be eligible for advertising, your videos must:

  • Meet YouTube’s copyright guidelines
  • Contain no dangerous or harmful content
  • Contain no overly adult themes
  • Keep foul language at an absolute minimum (or preferably nonexistent)
  • Not include your own embedded ads

You can check out a detailed list of YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines here. You can still create videos that push the envelope a bit on your channel, but you’ll need to demonetize them. If you leave monetization active on a video that breaks the advertiser-friendly guidelines, your whole YouTube Partner membership could be revoked, so it’s best to play it safe. Even demonetized videos must follow YouTube’s overall content policies.

You should also fully disclose your relationship to any products you review or promote. Popular YouTubers have run into trouble in the past by leaving out this type of information. While such a lack of disclosure doesn’t automatically break YouTube’s rules against scams, this can alienate your audience and cause a loss of subscribers and views.


Planning Your Content

As long as you stay within the community and advertising rules, YouTube allows for massive creativity. Successful YouTubers cover everything from cooking to makeup tutorials to product reviews to video games. Instructional videos are also very popular.

While planning your content, be aware that there are different ways you can earn money through YouTube besides advertising as a Partner. If you run an online store, you can use YouTube to build up a brand culture around your products that will help you direct new customers to purchase from you. If your videos are entertaining enough to start pulling in lots of viewers, you can become an influencer that larger brands may want to sponsor — and you can sell as an affiliate of a brand, as well. You may even discover opportunities to license your videos to the media, for a fee.

Decide what your goals are and which method of earning you want to pursue first. You won’t be able to play ads on your videos until you’re accepted as a YouTube Partner, so you might want to begin with a different strategy that can still earn you money while you accumulate the view hours and subscribers you need.

During the planning process, come up with a schedule for working on your videos. Do you already have a full- or part-time job you’ll need to work around, or can you devote days at a time to building your YouTube channel? It’s important to figure this out early so you can produce videos often enough to consistently grow your audience. Your schedule will need to include:

  • Time to plan and write a script for each video (even a loose script strongly improves quality)
  • Time to prepare for shooting (if you need to go to a location, build a prop, etc.)
  • Time to actually shoot each video (without rushing or trying to get it all in one take)
  • Time to edit and process each video (cutting footage, splicing different shots, or even adding special effects)
  • Time to work on optimizing your channel
  • Time to interact with your audience

Evaluate your budget as well. Can you spend much money on video equipment and production software? Will you need to purchase products of any type, whether to make videos about a certain item or to use them in other ways? The more thoroughly you plan these steps, the better!


Looking into the Future of Your Channel

Even if you’re just getting started on YouTube, it’s beneficial to plan for the future. Once you’re a YouTube Partner, you’ll get access to extra tools and privileges that help you promote your own brand.

For example, YouTube Creators can place cards at the ends of videos that will link to other videos, but Partners can use these cards to link to outside websites. As a Partner, you could use cards to link to products on your online store, your affiliate link, a crowdfunding website, and more.

Another fun feature is the ability to use Super Chat during live video streams. With Super Chat, audience members can pay to have their messages highlighted in your chat box.

It also doesn’t hurt to enable monetization on your videos before you’re accepted into the YouTube Partner Program. This way, when you do get accepted, ads will be enabled immediately. Create and connect an AdSense account too so you can start earning money within moments of becoming a Partner.

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