How does YouTube monetization work?

With over a billion users, YouTube is the largest video hosting website in the world. In fact…

  • People watch hundreds of millions of hours every single day on YouTube.
  • Around 300 hours of video are uploaded every single minute.
  • There are over a million companies advertising on YouTube.
  • Partner revenue is up 50% year-over-year.

So there’s lots of opportunity to make money on YouTube.

How Does YouTube Monetization Work?

YouTube monetization is fairly straightforward.

Companies create advertisements that get placed at the beginning of your videos. These are called pre-roll ads. Each time a viewer watches an ad all the way through, you get paid.

It’s just that simple.

To monetize your videos, you need to follow a few basic steps:

1. Verify your YouTube account.

Until you do so, you won’t be able to take advantage of YouTube live, hangouts on air, or upload videos longer than 15 minutes.

It’s very easy to do, and doesn’t take very long. Click here for a video on verifying your YouTube account.

2. Join the YouTube Partner Program

Once you’re in the YouTube Partner Program you’ll be eligible for pre-roll ads. There are a few more criteria for this program, but nothing too difficult.

Mainly, YouTube wants to ensure that you are uploading only original content, content that is advertiser-friendly, and so on. Beyond advertising, benefits include advanced product features, strategic and technical support, as well as access to advanced programs, such as YouTube Space and development programs.

For more information on what it takes to become a YouTube Partner, visit YouTube’s Working Together page.

A Few More Ways to Monetize Your Videos

Becoming a YouTube Partner is the most basic way to earn money as a YouTuber.

But pre-roll ads aren’t the only way to make money from YouTube.

Here are a few other ways to monetize your YouTube channel:

Sign up your own sponsors.

If you’re really passionate about what you do, you’ll be able to build a YouTube following. And the more people you get on board your channel, the easier it will be to get your own sponsors.

There are plenty of successful YouTubers who take time in their videos to promote other products and services – and each time they do, they earn money.

Promote your own products and services.

This is where the real money is at, because you don’t have to split revenue with anyone else. When you create and sell your own products, you keep the vast majority of the revenue.

When you use videos this way, your videos are simply a form of free advertising.

Build an affiliate relationship.

Affiliate marketers are like advertisers. But instead of earning a flat fee for advertising, affiliates earn a commission for each sale. This can be much more profitable, especially since there are so many high-paying products out there.

To create affiliate relationships, you can either sign up with a major affiliate network, such as Clickbank or Rakuten Linkshare, or you can work out an individual relationship with a business.

Create a separate paid video stream.

Locking some premium videos behind a paywall can be another way to earn more money than you’d get from advertising alone. YouTube has experimented with this feature in the past, with mixed results.

Vimeo offers this type of program. And other vendors, such as Amazon and PayLoadz, allow you to upload and sell downloadable video content.

Create a Patreon account.

Patreon is a service that allows your fans to become your patrons. Each time you release a new piece of content, your followers donate money to your cause.

Squeezing Every Last Drop from Your Viewers

Once you’ve settled on a monetization strategy, whether it’s product sales, advertising, or a number of strategies, it’s time to refine your strategy to make as much money as possible.

Here are a couple final tips to maximize your income:

Push people towards your offer.

Your offer is your affiliate product, your own product, your website, or whatever piece of money-making content you’ve got on the table.

Always communicate the value of this to your customers, because that’s how you’ll increase your income. Be too passive and you won’t be making any money at what you do.

Build an audience and stay in front of them.

Release content regularly. Once a month is too infrequent…people might forget who you are.

And drive traffic towards your other social media channels, from Instagram to Twitter, Vine, and Tumblr. The more the better.

Staying in front of people will remind them that you exist. And it will give you more opportunity to sell to them.


As you can see, advertising is only one way to make money online. You can sell your own products, become an affiliate, or turn your fans into patrons. However you choose to make money, make sure you put lots of effort into marketing – the more you self-promote, the more money you’ll be making.