how to make money on youtube

Illustration by Jason Reed

How to make money on YouTube

Build your channel the right way.


Kristen Hubby


Lauren L'Amie


Posted on Nov 24, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 12:53 pm CDT

Making money from posting videos on YouTube sounds as simple and ideal as winning the scratch-off lottery at your neighborhood gas station. But the reality of the vlogger dream takes effort, time, and strategic planning to actually make it into the big leagues of YouTube stardom.

But don’t let the view counts of YouTube’s biggest stars scare you as a new creator. The key to success when beginning your YouTube journey is taking advantage of the thriving YouTube community. Follow these simple steps to guide you in the right direction toward your goal of making money on YouTube.

How to make money on YouTube

1) Set up your account

Yes, it’s an obvious first step to building a path to revenue, but it is an important one at that. If you own a Gmail account or have signed up for any Google services in the past, you already have an account to use via the YouTube account page.

When setting up an account, it is important to keep in mind a channel name or brand appearance that will be easy to remember, as well as be visually appealing. Adding channel art, visual icons, a unique channel name and description will help you stand out.

Verifying your account is a simple step that ensures to viewers that you’re a real person making videos, not a spammy robot.

In Body Image
Screengrab via YouTube

2) Create content

After setting up your channel with attention-grabbing branding, uploading your first batch of videos is the next box to check off your list. This can be a series of videos that pertain to the image you are striving for, or even an introductory video to describe who you are.

The key with a majority of content curation for YouTube channels that are monetized is to frame the content to be SEO-friendly. This will make your videos easier to discover in search engines.

While creating videos, always shoot in the highest HD quality, and lean on your editing chops for added flair. Whatever you do while editing, keep in mind to not use copyrighted material or else your video will not be eligible for ads.


3) Monetize!

After you’ve built up a subscriber base and you’ve reached that 10,000 views goal, enabling your channel for monetization will begin the money-making process. This means that YouTube is allowed to place ads in your video—so long as there is no copyrighted material in your channel.

In your YouTube account sidebar, click channel, status and features, then you’ll see the option to enable monetization.

From here, you’ll be able to set the types of ads you want to run on your videos and automatically turn on monetization for all your existing and future videos. Check the boxes under ads formats to choose the types of ads you want to show, then click save.

Connecting your channel to an AdSense account is the last step in beginning the ad process. AdSense is the primary advertising engine Google utilizes on its own sites and partner sites, like YouTube. (Google has a great tutorial for how to work and sign up for AdSense.)

make money on youtube
Screengrab via YouTube

4) Build an image

Building a solid image is the answer to engaging a loyal audience, which is your biggest customer. Tailor your videos to fit the message or idea that you envision for your channel.

Fun and popular ideas for creative content can entail makeup tutorials, video game reviews, comedy webseries, or even partnering up with someone inspirational for speaking engagements. If you are knowledgeable on certain topics and subjects, share that insight with your viewers and get paid for it.

According to Forbes, in 2015 YouTube user PewDiePie was worth $12 million for his “playing video games with your bros” channel. Smosh‘s comedic adventures and the Fine Brothers‘ “React” series each made $8.5 million.

No matter what the concept is, when produced regularly these interactive videos can lock down viewers and create devoted subscribers, it’s as simple as that.


5) Look into partnerships

You may want to consider pairing with the YouTube Partner Program, which offers extra content creation tools, community support, and creator tips.

In April 2017, YouTube updated the YouTube Partner Program after numerous reports of channel impersonators and video plagiarism. According to these new regulations, a channel is only eligible to run ads after receiving 1o,000 lifetime views.

YouTube will review your application to make sure your channel adheres to its community guidelines. Once approved, you will receive a share of the income from the advertising on YouTube and get paid for every thousand views.

Partnering with brands, or gaining sponsorships, is another great way to gain revenue. Brands and agencies can be eager to collab with creators when their target audience is keen to the channel’s audience. A good first step is reaching out to the brands you admire and providing samples of your content that might be engaging to their audience. Think of it as a trade-off.

While this is just a handful of steps, utilizing these tips and tools will generate revenue toward your account, however small you may start. Don’t be shy, put your best foot forward, and show YouTube the best content you’ve got.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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*First Published: Nov 24, 2016, 5:00 am CST