So, you want to start making money on YouTube? Luckily for you, YouTube offers a variety of revenue streams to help you put money in the bank. We’re here to tell you that you’re not just limited to ad revenue, there’s a whole number of ways to make money on YouTube. However, you’re going to have to follow the guidelines.

Here, you’ll learn all there is to know about the basics of getting monetized then all the different ways to actually make money from YouTube, from merch through to YouTube Ads and brand sponsorships. So let’s get cracking.

man dancing in money after learning how to make money on YouTube

Here’s everything we’ll run through in-depth throughout this article:

First things first, you need to meet the requirements for monetization and join the YouTube Partner Program

Four men trying to join the YouTube Partner Program to make money on YouTube

Before anything else to make money from a YouTube channel, you have to be accepted onto YouTube’s Partner Program (YPP). To qualify, you must have:

  • More than 1,000 subscribers
  • More than 4,000 hours of public watch time in the last 12 months
  • Adhere to all YouTube’s policies and guidelines

Once you’ve done this there are a few more hoops you’ve got to jump through and we’ve gone through this in much more detail in our guide to the YouTube monetization requirements and an in-depth guide on how to join the YouTube Partner Program.

Once you’ve made it onto the Partner Program though and met these other requirements, there’s a whole range of ways you can make money with YouTube videos. Each revenue stream has its own requirements and we’re going to hold your hand through each of them.

Here’s how to make money on YouTube

You’ve done it, you’ve joined the YPP, now lets see how to make money on YouTube, from ads through to merch and premium features.

1. Advertising revenue

How to make money on YouTube - advertising revenue

One of the most popular ways to make money on YouTube is to allow YouTube to run ads before, during, or after your videos. As part of the requirements for joining the YPP, you’ll have hooked your AdSense account onto your YouTube account. You just need to activate your ads, avoid anything too controversial and you’ll start making money.

When you allow YouTube to run ads on your videos you’ll be given a number of options, including:

  • How regularly ads are served on your videos
  • How long the ads on your content will be
  • Whether the ads will be skippable by your viewers
  • When the ads will be served i.e. at the beginning, middle, end or at a particular time stamp

These choices can affect the amount you’ll make from your ads, especially as advertisers tend to pay by number of views or clicks.

How to make money on YouTube from ads

To qualify for advertising revenue, YouTube state’s that you must be at least 18 years old or identify a legal guardian who can manage your AdSense payments. Plus, you need to follow YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines. According to YouTube, content that isn’t advertiser-friendly includes:

  • Inappropriate language
  • Violence
  • Adult content
  • Harmful or dangerous acts
  • Hateful content
  • Incendiary and demeaning speech
  • Recreational drugs and drug-related content
  • Tobacco-related content
  • Firearms-related content
  • Controversial issues and sensitive events
  • Adult themes in family content

In some cases, you might be able to get away with some of the above. It’s all about the context. For example, YouTube admits that music videos may have some of the above elements, such as inappropriate language, drug-related content, and adult themes.

Nevertheless, you can still find a healthy dose of music videos that have ads on them. If you’re in doubt, err on the safe side to avoid being demonetized on YouTube.

2. Channel memberships

Sign up button on a keyboard shows channel memberships on YouTube

Another route for earning money on YouTube is through channel memberships, where subscribers make monthly payments in exchange for exclusive content or perks. These payments are similar to those you may have seen on premium podcasts or Patreon.

To qualify for channel memberships, you must be at least 18 years of age and have over 30,000 subscribers.

How to set up channel memberships and make money

To activate channel memberships for your account, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Browse to YouTube and open YouTube Studio.

Step 2: Browse to the ‘memberships’ page.

Step 3: Now click on the settings ‘gear’ icon and select >Turn off memberships > Disable

You’ll then be able to invite your subscribers to become members of your channel and pay a small monthly fee for bonus content or special privileges. If you breach the community guidelines or otherwise have your account terminated, your members will have their most recent month refunded.

Just make sure to create regular, unique content for your members, so they get something worth paying for! Start off with behind the scenes videos, exclusive Q&As, or discounted/early access to things like events or merch. That brings us perfectly on to our next point…

3. Merchandising

Merchandising is a great way to monetize your audience. If your fans love you, they’ll be eager to show their loyalty by buying all sorts of branded items, like shirts, hats, or notebooks. To help showcase your merchandise, YouTube offers a “merch shelf” which is displayed just below your videos.

To take advantage of the merchandising function, you need to be at least 18 years old and have more than 10,000 subscribers.

Woman modelling merch to sell on YouTube

How to make merchandise and sell it on YouTube

Step 1: Decide on a concept and design it

First up, you want to sell t-shirts, mugs or something completely different. Once you’ve worked out what you want to sell, you need to design it. If you’ve got the skills yourself, then great, otherwise you may need to source a designer and commission something.

Step 2: Create your merchandise

Once you’ve got your designs, you’ll need to actually make your products. This means you’ll need a manufacturer. There are all sorts of places out there that can help you make your items. Some will even ship them made to order to your customers, but for many you’ll need to order in bulk to your home or business address and ship them yourselves.

Step 3: Build a shop and enable the YouTube Partner merchandise shelf

Now you just need a way to sell it. YouTube has a list of approved merchandise partners that let you sync up your store with YouTube and sell directly through your channel. You will also need to turn on your merchandise shelf. If you use Merchbar it may be automatic, but for other platforms follow these instructions:

  • Sign in to YouTube Studio
  • Browse Monetization > Merchandise
  • Follow the on screen instructions to link your merchandise platform to your merchandise shelf

Step 4: Promote, promote, promote

Now you’ve made them, it’s not as simple as just seeing the merch fly out. Mention them in your videos, add links to your video descriptions, wear it if you can and consider sharing images of your fans with the merch they’ve bought! Don’t just limit it to YouTube either, if you’ve got other social platforms, share your merch there too.

Create cards for your end screens too, and have your merch as a call to action at the end of the video.

4. Super chat & super stickers

super chat and super stickers on Youtube Live

If you’re running live chats regularly then something you may want to consider is Super Chat and Super stickers, but what exactly are they…?

What is super chat and how to use it

Both Super Chat and Super Stickers are something that was introduced by YouTube to make Live Chat more interactive. When you’re in a live chat, you can enable Super Chat or Stickers so your fans can pay a small fee to have their message highlighted

To qualify, you need to be at least 18 years old and live in a country where Super chat is available

youtube's super chat allows you to monetize your channel

To activate Super Chat or Super Stickers and start earning from them, you just need to follow these steps:

  • Sign in to YouTube Studio
  • Browse to Monetization > Supers > Get Started
  • Follow the on screen instructions and toggle each to ‘on’

5. YouTube premium revenue

youtube premium helps you monetize your content

Finally, you can make money by getting a piece of a YouTube Premium subscriber’s monthly fee when they watch your videos. This program is similar to how other companies like Spotify or Medium distribute revenue made from paying customers.

You don’t need to do anything to be eligible for this if you’re already a monetizing creator, your content just needs to be viewed by YouTube Premium subscribers.

6. Get brand partnerships and create sponsored content

Woman making a clothes video for brand sponsorship

You’ll undoubtedly have seen your favourite YouTube and Instagram influencers doing this with the classic #SponCon or #Ad hashtag.

Sponsored content involves a brand paying you to promote a product or service within your content. This could be as simple as you wearing a t-shirt or could be more complex and require you to make a specific video as part of a wider campaign. Either way, there’s good money to be made. Sponsored content is a great way to make money from YouTube without having to lose any of the money that comes in. When you partner with a company to promote a product, you can keep it all, apart from the money that goes on tax, of course.

How to set up brand partnerships on YouTube to make money

This can be easier said than done. It’s not necessarily as easy as emailing your favourite brand and getting paid straight away. Many brands are particularly picky about who they work with and some will only approach people, rather than allow people to pitch them. If you do want to pitch out, here are a few tips from us:

  • Make a list of brands you want to work with: make it a mixture of both big and small. You may love a huge brand but they may be more picky about who they work with. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go though.
  • Find out whether they have a media relations or PR team you can contact: It’s important you email the right person. Simply getting in touch with customer service won’t get you anywhere.
  • Create the perfect pitch: How you sell yourself can make all the difference. If you’ve not got a media kit, you should make one. Emphasise what you can do for them. Talk up previous partnerships, your subscribers, how many views and how much engagement you get on your videos.
  • Join partner programs: There are a number of specific platforms that help YouTube influences find brands to work with. Signing up to one could help you find new people to work with.

If you do find people to work with, be transparent. Both legally, and morally, you need to declare that what you are doing is an advert. There are Google Ad Policies and then each country has its own set of advertising standards around disclosure. For instance, the US has the FTC and the UK has the ASA.

7. Become an affiliate partner

woman with donut earns money on YouTube from being an affiliate

Another way to work with brands is to become an affiliate partner. As with sponsored content, this means partnering directly with a brand, or through an affiliate network. It works a little differently from there though. Affiliate marketing works like this:

  • You are provided with either an affiliate link (URL) or an affiliate code
  • An affiliate link is a link that you can put in your video description. If someone clicks through using it, and purchases the product, you will get a percentage of the sale.
  • An affiliate code is when you are given a unique code by a company that people can use at checkout. As with a link, you’ll then get a kickback from the sale.

As with sponsored content, you’ll have to declare that links are affiliate. Most YouTube creators do this using hashtags like #affiliate or #affiliatelink in their video description, but this isn’t actually enough. You’ll need to fully disclose that the link is an affiliate and that you’ll receive a commission if it’s clicked. You should do this verbally in your video and also in your description.

8. Crowdfund from your fans directly

Crowdfunding as a way to earn money on YouTube

While you may already be using Channel Memberships, there are other options for you to get money from your fans directly.

There are two types of sites for this. Either sites that focus on standalone crowdfunding campaigns, i.e. GoFundMe or Kickstarter or sites that offer a service like Channel Memberships, i.e. Patreon or Ko-Fi.

  • Standalone crowdfunding sites are generally used to make money for one-off things. For instance many people use them for raising money for new kit, like a laptop or camera, while others use them to cover medical fees in extreme events.
  • Subscription crowdfunding sites are used to offer ongoing payment. They’re incredibly popular for creators and generally you are expected to give subscribers something additional in return, like exclusive content; very similar to Channel Memberships on YouTube that we mentioned earlier.

9. License your content

make money on youtube by licensing your content

Flip the script and you can passively make money from your videos in the same way that artists do when you use their songs. If one of your clips goes viral, there’s a good chance every site under the sun will want to use your YouTube video. To do this they’ll need to pay you, and that’s why it’s so important to license your work. You may not want to do this for all your videos, but if you license your most successful pieces, the ones most likely to be shared, you can see the money start rolling in.

To make money from licensing your content just follow these steps:

  • Keep your contact details up to date: just make sure your email address in your about page is as up to date as possible. Then, if someone needs to get in touch to use your viral video they’ll be able to do so easily.
  • Sign up to video rights marketplaces: These are sights that let you upload content to be used by the media in return for payment. It’s a great way to take advantage of any newsworthy content you create. 

To make money on YouTube, avoid reused content

woman typing on laptop on YouTube

If you want to monetize your YouTube videos, you need to stay away from reusing content. Examples of content YouTube won’t monetize include:

  • Content exclusively featuring readings of third-party material you didn’t create, such as images or text from news feeds, social media updates, or other websites.
  • Templated, mass-produced, or computer-generated content.
  • Videos intended to just stream music. Even if it’s been altered to change the pitch or speed.
  • Compilations of other Creators’ songs, videos, or other content.

According to YouTube, if you have too many videos that reuse other people’s content, you may be blocked from monetizing videos across your entire channel. Reusers beware!

Want to not get copyrighted on YouTube? We’ve got you covered.

Watch out for copyright infringement

YouTube copyright infringement claims

Reusing other Creators’ content may also result in copyright infringement claims. If you use copyrighted music without the rightsholders’ permission, the content owner can do the following:

  • Mute your video
  • Block your video (either in certain jurisdictions or worldwide)
  • Monetize your video (the copyright owner gets ad revenue, not you)
  • Demonetize your video or channel

If you repeatedly violate music policies on YouTube, you may be in for a world of hurt. YouTube may decide to completely block your channel, preventing you from reaching your audience.

How to find legal music to use in your YouTube videos

To prevent YouTube from blocking your videos for copyright infringement, don’t infringe copyrights. It’s as simple as that. But where can you find the best high-quality music to include in your videos without having to worry about copyright owners blocking your video or siphoning off your ad revenue?

Enter Lickd.

Lickd popular music licenses for youtube

Lickd is a state-of-the-art music licensing platform that takes the guesswork out of finding legal music for YouTube videos. Instead of illegally using copyrighted music without a license or settling for uninteresting background music from stock music libraries, Lickd’s music catalog contains a diverse array of high-quality, lyric-filled music that’s sure to capture your audience’s attention.

With Lickd, you don’t have to worry about costly subscription fees. You simply pay per track, with pricing adjusted based on your past 50 videos’ views. If you’re a budding artist, you won’t have to pay superstar prices. We understand you might not have a humongous music budget yet. We’re willing to work with you while you grow.

If you’re ready to start taking your videos to the next level and make money on YouTube, sign up for Lickd today and get 25% off your first song.