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. 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 Premium.

Meet the requirements for monetization

First, you have to be accepted onto YouTube’s Partner Program. 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.

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 (discussed below).

Advertising revenue

One of the most popular ways to make money on YouTube is to run ads before, during, or after your videos. Choose from display, video, and overlay ads to customize your advertising experience.

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 a kindergarten teacher certainly wouldn’t show in class. Nevertheless, if you’re in doubt, err on the safe side to avoid being demonetized on YouTube.

Channel memberships

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.

subscribe button youtube


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.

YouTuber and streamer Aphnau's merch shelf

Super chat & super stickers

You can also make money by activating Super Chat and Super Stickers, where your audience can pay to have their messages highlighted in chat streams.

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

YouTube premium revenue

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.

To be eligible, you must create content viewed by YouTube Premium subscribers.

youtube premium helps you monetize your content

To make money on YouTube, avoid reused content

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.
  • Music that has been altered to change the pitch or speed, but which is otherwise indistinguishable from the original.
  • 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!

YouTube copyright claims mean you can't monetize

Watch out for copyright infringement

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 platform

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.