YouTube is big business – and not just for Google (the company that owns it).
Over a billion people use YouTube. That number sounds big enough on its own, but to really it put it into perspective, that’s about a third of the people on the internet. And some of those users are on YouTube just about every day.
We can pretty well bet that if you’re reading this, you’re one of the more than a billion people that watch videos on YouTube, so you know that when you watch a video you normally see an ad. Naturally, some of the money for those ads goes to Google. In some cases though, the people who created the video get a cut too.
YouTube has paid out $2 billion to content creators and rights holders that have taken the proper steps to claim their part of the earnings.
If you’re looking to join their ranks, then read on.
Who Can Make Money on YouTube?
We already covered the good news: YouTube does pay content creators.
The bad news is that most people that load videos to YouTube will never see a dime. And many of those that do actually get paid won’t be making enough to leave their day jobs.
For you to earn anything, your videos have to attract not only a lot of viewers, but also viewers that are willing to engage with the ads. That means they have to actually watch a decent portion of the ad before clicking that “skip” button (you know the one, you’ve probably clicked lots of times yourself), or actually click on the link that shows up at the bottom of the screen during the ad.
Those who are popular enough can reach the point of earning thousands on the website, but it’s a rare few that reach that point. The platform hosts billions of videos, so your competition is pretty fierce.
So don’t quit your job or base all your future hopes on YouTube. But if you like creating videos anyway and you want to see if your hobby can start to pay off, it doesn’t hurt to take the proper steps that make it possible to get paid by YouTube.
Note: In early 2018, YouTube made changes to its Partner Program. In order to be eligible for monetization, accounts must have accrued 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year and reach 1,000 subscribers. Follow the steps below to opt-in to the program so once you reach that threshold, you can make money on YouTube!
7 Steps to YouTube Monetization
If you want at least a chance at making money on YouTube, here’s what you need to do.
Step 1: Set up your YouTube channel.
If you already have a Google account, as most people do, then use that to login to YouTube. If you don’t yet have a Google account, start by creating one here, and then go ahead and log in to YouTube.
Once you’re logged in, click the Upload button in the top right of the screen and you’ll receive a prompt to create a channel.
Click “Create Channel” and you’re done.
Step 2: Create your video plan.
Now you need to make some decisions about the videos you’re going to upload. If you really want to gain subscribers and encourage engagement, then your goal should be to build a following of people that like your videos enough to subscribe to your channel and return again and again.
A good video plan therefore needs to do a few things:
- Make sure you understand the audience you want to reach.
- Brainstorm a list of topics for videos that will appeal to that audience.
- Create a schedule for your videos. You’re more likely to gain and attract followers if you upload consistently at regular intervals.
You might want to spend some time during this step perusing some of the most popular videos in your space to see what people respond to. You don’t want to do the same thing that other content creators are doing, but you can glean some insights into what works best to apply to your own videos.
Your plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having a plan in place to guide you will help ensure you stick with it and approach your YouTube channel in a strategic way that’s more likely to pay off.
Step 3: Enable monetization.
Now click on the Account icon in the top right corner of the screen and then click on the Creator Studio button that appears.
On the menu on the left side of the screen click on Channel, then choose Status and Features in the submenu that opens up under it.
Now you’ll see the option to enable monetization. (Note: You may have to provide Google with your country before the enable button shows up, simply follow the instructions the screen provides to do so).
Step 4: Sign up for Google AdSense.
Once you’ve enabled monetization, clicking the Monetization option in the menu will take you to a page where you can start the process of setting up your Google AdSense account, or connecting an account you already have to your channel.
Simply select “Next” and follow the instructions to create your account.
Step 5: Start loading (good) videos.
Now the basic stuff is covered and you’ve reached the hard part. Create the videos you decided on in your plan and start uploading them to the channel.
We already established that your videos have to be pretty darn good and appeal to a large audience for you to make any money, so spend some real time working to make sure your videos are especially educational, entertaining, or unique so that they’ll gain attention in a crowded space.
Step 6: Promote your videos.
Even if your videos are awesome, people won’t automatically know to come looking for you. Research the best practices for optimizing your YouTube videos for search so it’s easier for people to find you that way.
Share your videos on social media. Talk them up to friends and family members that may be interested. If people love them, eventually you’ll reach a tipping point where your subscribers start to do some of the promotion for you. In the meantime, you need to put some real effort into getting your videos in front of people.
Step 7: Keep an eye on your analytics.
At first, your analytics won’t tell you all that much. As you get more and more viewers though, you’ll be able to use your YouTube Analytics to figure out which types of videos or topics get the best results – both in terms of views and engagement. You’ll also be able to figure out a little bit about who your audience is and how they’re finding their way to your videos so you can refine your promotion efforts based on what’s working.
Use that information to continually improve your video plan. The better your videos perform, the more you’ll be able to make in the long run.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t make much headway with making money on YouTube. If you have fun creating your videos, then you won’t be wasting your time even if you never reach a payday. Keep your expectations realistic and stick with making videos of a type that you know you’ll enjoy creating, so the possibility of making money will simply be a nice bonus if or when you achieve it.
Have you had success monetizing your YouTube videos? Share your channel in the comments!
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.