A content creator's guide to maximize YouTube earnings

Want to earn from your YouTube content? This article has all the info you need to get started—including how YouTube revenue is calculated, and some strategies to boost your earnings.

How to make money on YouTube: Join the YouTube Partner Program

Signing up for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) is the first step towards getting paid by YouTube. With the YPP, creators can get paid for clicks on ads on their videos. But you have to qualify for the program first, which requires:

  • An AdSense account
  • A minimum of 1,000 subscribers
  • Reaching 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months or 10 million Shorts views in the past 90 days
  • Agreeing to the terms and conditions, and adhering to YouTube’s rules for content
  • Getting final approval from YouTube (which may take up to a month)

You can meet most of these requirements simply by growing your YouTube channel. But to get paid from the YPP, you’ll first need to sign up with Google AdSense (because Google owns YouTube) and verify some personal info (like tax status and banking info) to receive payments. Once you’re in the YPP, you’re eligible to start earning ad revenue from YouTube.

Benefits of the YouTube Partner Program

As a YouTube Partner, you get access to several money-making features:

  • Ad revenue: You can feature different types of ads on your videos and earn from ad engagement.
  • Channel memberships: Subscribers can make monthly payments to access exclusive content on your channel.
  • Shopping: You can create a store on YouTube for your fans to directly purchase your merchandise.
  • Super Chat & Super Stickers: Fans can pay to feature messages at the top of the chat box during livestreams.
  • Super Thanks: Fans can pay to have their messages highlighted in the comments section of your videos.
  • YouTube Premium revenue: Earn a portion of YouTube Premium subscribers’ monthly fee when they watch your videos.

Most YouTubers earn the majority of their income from ad revenue, although all of these sources can help to supplement your earnings.

How YouTube ad revenue is calculated

It’s a misconception that YouTube pays creators for the number of views their videos receive; it’s actually ad engagement that generates revenue.

Understanding the relationship between video views and ad engagement

When a viewer watches or clicks on an ad that’s shown on your video, you get a cut of the revenue. But to get more views and clicks on ads, you generally need more video views (which is where the misconception comes from). Getting more views on your videos should, in turn, get more views and clicks on the ads they display, but it’s the ads that generate revenue.

Calculating views and clicks with YouTube’s different ad types

In general, the more that ads placed on your videos are viewed and clicked, the more money you’ll earn. But there are several types of YouTube ads, and they all work a bit differently. Some play before or during your video, others are overlaid on top of your video, and some appear beside the video altogether. Some are skippable; some aren’t.

Some ads use a cost per mille (or CPM) pricing model, where you get paid for every 1,000 impressions (or views). Some ads count a “view” as watching a certain percentage of the ad (e.g. at least half of the ad, or three-quarters, etc), while others don’t pay until a viewer watches the entire ad. This generally depends on where the ad is located (e.g. at the beginning of the video, during the video, or as a banner on the landing page for the video). Other ads (like overlay ads) use a cost per click (CPC) rate, where you only get paid if someone actually clicks on the ad.

It’s up to you to decide which kinds of ads you’ll allow on your videos, but you don’t get to choose the particular ads themselves. YouTube matches ads to videos based on a video’s content and metadata—striving to keep ads relevant when possible. You’ll likely need to experiment with different types of ads to see which perform best with your particular content.

Other ways to monetize YouTube apart from ads

In addition to ad revenue, there are a handful of other strategies and opportunities to increase your earning. Note that some of these opportunities are available on or off of YouTube (e.g. with selling merchandise, you can use YouTube’s built-in store feature or another platform of your choice). Here are some popular ways to boost your earnings.

Channel memberships and other paid subscriptions

YouTube offers channel memberships to Partners, where a subscriber can sign up for a monthly recurring subscription to your channel in exchange for perks, like early access to content, or access to exclusive content. You may also be able to set up exclusive subscriptions for your content using another platform, like Patreon.


Many creators also sell their own merchandise—either directly through YouTube’s Shopping feature, or through another platform. Merchandise sales can supplement your earnings from ad revenue, but you’ll need a dedicated following to buy your products.

Affiliate links are customized links to certain products that many content creators (including YouTubers) often promote. When someone makes a purchase using your affiliate link, you earn a portion of the sale—providing a small but potentially steady source of revenue. To get started using affiliate links, you’ll need to reach out directly to particular sponsors and join their affiliate programs. While not technically part of YouTube or the YPP, it’s common to see YouTube creators include affiliate links in their video descriptions and elsewhere.

Brand sponsorships

If you have a large enough following, or even a small but loyal following in the right niche, then brands may be willing to sponsor your content to receive exposure from your audience. The key to sponsored content is attracting the right sponsors who fit your niche and appeal to your audience. Brand sponsorships are usually paid in one lump sum, in exchange for you using or mentioning a particular product or service in a video—though these deals can come in all kinds of different forms.

Supplement your YouTube earnings with the Brave Creators program

YouTube earnings largely depend on the quality of ads placed on your videos, the number of viewers who engage with those ads, and how well you can monetize other revenue streams like affiliate links and brand sponsorships. And the Brave Creators program gives you yet another opportunity to monetize your channel.

Brave’s goal is to rebalance the Internet economy. Users can earn BAT for viewing a new kind of private, unobtrusive ads. Users can then tip this earned BAT to content creators on YouTube, and even set up recurring tips for their favorite YouTubers. Join Brave Creators to unlock another revenue stream for your YouTube channel today.

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