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How to Get Paid on YouTube, for Creators

Creator making a cooking video to get paid on YouTube

You know the term YouTuber? Very few companies have helped coin new words in a language, but YouTube has. YouTubers make video content on YouTube and often make a living doing it. Lately, the more general term creator has overtaken YouTuber. But YouTube continues to pay YouTubers/creators for their efforts. So how do you get paid on YouTube? That’s what this article is about.

This article is part of our series on How to Run a Creator Business. Originally, we planned just one article on how to make money for all top 5 content platforms. But the top platforms have so many programs on getting paid that we decided to break the articles into 3. If you’re interested in the other top platforms, here’s the article on Facebook and Instagram and TikTok and Snapchat.

But let’s talk about YouTube.

What Kind of Content is Best for YouTube?

YouTube is, of course, a video platform. As such, it’s an awkward platform for creators who write or take photographs. Sure, it’s probably OK for a writer to narrate a deck of slides or for photographers to show their work as a slide show paired with music. But that’s an awkward use of the platform.

Instead, YouTube is great for anything that’s naturally presented in a visual format. A how-to video, a short film, a live streamed game play, or a music video.

No matter what type of video you make, you can get paid on YouTube for it.

To Get Paid on YouTube, First Join the YouTube Partner’s Program (YPP)

There are a lot of ways for creators to get paid on YouTube. Some of them are negotiated off platform directly between the creator and the advertiser. We won’t be focusing on that in this article. Instead, we’ll talk about how YouTube pays its creators directly. We’ll also talk about how YouTube helps creators be paid by advertisers or fans.

For YouTube to pay you, you have to first qualify for their YouTube Partner’s Program (YPP). At a minimum, you have to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 minimum watch hours in the last 12 months. Once you meet the minimum, you can apply to be admitted into the program.

Someone from YouTube will then review your videos to make sure the videos don’t violate any of their policies. Your content can’t be repetitive. And the YPP isn’t available in every country that can view YouTube content. You may have to wait up to 1 month to hear back from YouTube.

If YouTube approves you, you have to set up an AdSense account and give them your bank and tax information. YouTube pays you through AdSense (which is owned by Google).

Once you’re in the YPP, you can fall under the subscriber number requirement but still stay in the program. But, if you haven’t uploaded or posted anything in 6 months, YouTube might take you off the program.

Starting from 2023, YouTube will lower the qualification requirements for some types of creators. This lower tier YPP will give creators access to Super Chats, Super Stickers, Super Thanks, and Channel Memberships. The other YPP programs will still be reserved for full members of the YPP. There’s not a lot of information on this new tier yet. We’ll keep our eyes out for new developments.

The YouTube Shorts Fund Pays Creators Even if They’re Not in the YPP

Most of the time, you have to be in the YPP before you can get paid on YouTube. But, there’s one exception. Your video can be selected to be in the YouTube Shorts Fund.

The Current YouTube Shorts Fund

YouTube periodically puts money in something called the YouTube Shorts Fund to reward creators who work in the short video format. For the year 2021-2022, the fund is $100M.

To qualify as a Shorts video, your video has to be 60 seconds or shorter. It must be original content, and it can’t be watermarked with the logo of another content platform. You have to have uploaded at least one eligible short video in the last 180 days. Lastly, you have to be 13 or older in the US (or age of majority in other countries).

YouTube gives the award out based on various metrics like views and location of your views. You’ll also have to follow all the YouTube policies and content guidelines.

You don’t have to apply for the YouTube Shorts Fund. YouTube will contact you when you qualify and can receive a bonus. The bonus can be anywhere from $100-$10,000, and you’ll have until the 25th of every month to claim the money. Your payment will be issued between the 21-26th of each month.

The New YouTube Shorts Program

Starting sometime in early 2023, the Shorts program will be changing. Instead of a pool of money to draw from, the Shorts program will move to an ad revenue sharing model.

Ads will run between Shorts videos. The revenue from these ads will be pooled together to pay the Shorts creators and to license the music used with the videos. Creators will get 45% of the monthly revenue. The exact amount awarded to each creator will depend on the creator’s share of the total Shorts views. YouTube will also bring Shorts creators to marketers through BrandConnect so Shorts creators will have more opportunities to make money.

Shorts creators can apply for the YPP when they reach 1,000 subscribers and 10 million views over 90 days. Once Shorts creators qualify, they’ll have access to all the ways YPP creators can get paid on YouTube.

There are Many Ways YPP Creators Can Get Paid on YouTube

A YPP creator can make money on YouTube in several different ways. These include:

  • Ad revenue share
  • Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks
  • YouTube Premium revenue share
  • Channel membership
  • Merch Shelf
  • YouTube Shopping
  • YouTube BrandConnect
  • Ticketing

With some of these programs, YouTube will pay you directly. With other programs, YouTube will help you collect money from your viewers.

We’ll give a quick summary of each below.

YouTube Creators Can Share Ad Revenue

The oldest and probably the most basic way a creator can get paid on YouTube is getting a revenue share for the ads. YouTube runs the ads before, during, and after your videos. In marketing speak, these are called pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads.

The exact amount you’ll earn depends on various factors. Advertisers bid for ad space for your video, so the amount you’ll get depends on how badly the advertisers want to show ads with your content. Once the bidding is finished, you get 55% of the payment while YouTube takes 45%.

You can pick which video you want to participate in the ad revenue share program. YouTube will review your content for advertiser friendliness and viewer engagement. If you violate YouTube’s content policy multiple times, YouTube has the right to turn off your ad revenue share.

Your Viewers Can Support Your Videos Through Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks

Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks are similar concepts where a creator’s audience can pay the creator directly. The audience typically use these methods to award a creator for a specific video or performance.

Super Chat and Super Stickers are available during live streams or video premiers. Super Thanks are available for existing videos. When a viewer buys a Super Chat, their chat messages during the live stream are highlighted so you can see—and presumably answer questions—better. A Super Sticker will cause an animated image to run across the screen during your videos. Again, this creates a chance for you to thank the donor.

Fans can pay from $1 to $500 for Super Chats and Super Stickers. Super Thanks is priced at $2, $5, $10, and $50. Fans can spend up to $500/day and $2,000/week on these buys.

Your revenue share is 70% of the price your fans paid for these digital goods. If your fans bought the goods through the App Store, the 70% is calculated after the App Store fees. It seems if your fans buy the goods from the Google Play store, the fees are waived. YouTube covers other transaction costs like credit card processing fees.

If the Viewer is a YouTube Premium Subscriber, YouTube Pays You a Revenue Share

YouTube offers a service called YouTube Premium. Subscribers enjoy ad-free YouTube viewing.

YouTube puts all the Premium Subscription fees for a given month into a pool. It takes 55% from this pool to pay the YouTube creators. Your share of this 55% is based on the number of times a Premium subscriber viewed your content vs. the total Premium views on YouTube.

You Can Sell Membership to Your YouTube Channel and Provide Exclusive Content

Another way for you to get paid on YouTube is by selling a monthly membership of your YouTube channel. In return for the paid membership, creators often offer perks or exclusive content to their subscribers.

You have to have 1,000 subscribers to your channel before you can offer subscriptions. Membership pricing varies by geographic location. In the US, you can price the membership from $0.99-$99.99 in increments pre-set by YouTube.

You get to keep 70% of the subscription revenue, after taxes and fees are deducted. YouTube covers all the transactional costs, including credit card processing fees. If your channel is a part of a multi-channel network, your fees may differ.

YouTube Shopping Lets Your Viewers Buy Merchandise During Your Videos

You can get paid on YouTube by selling merchandise while your video is playing. YouTube offers several places on your video’s play page to display the merchandise.

Your shop must be set up on specific platforms for this to work. Here’s the current list of platform partners. You handle all the pricing, ordering, payment processing, shipping, etc. YouTube takes no part in it.

You need to have 1,000 subscribers or be an Official Artist (for musicians) to qualify for this feature.

YouTube Can Connect You with Advertisers Through YouTube BrandConnect

Right now, one of the most popular ways for companies to advertise is through creator endorsements, product placements, or a specifically tailored video.

Traditionally, these deals between creators and advertisers are made off-platform. But YouTube can connect you with advertisers who want this type of content through YouTube BrandConnect.

To participate in BrandConnect, you have to sign up for the program. Once you qualify, you’ll get an invite. You decide which brands you want to work with. The advertiser pays you after a specific video goes live. You and the brand negotiate the amount. YouTube is not involved.

Right now, this feature is only available to creators in US, Canada, and UK.

If You’re a Musician, YouTube Can Make Selling Your Concert Tickets Easy

YouTube is a popular place for musicians to show their music videos. The Tickets program helps musicians sell tickets to their concerts.

While your music is playing, you can display a one-click link from your YouTube page. The link takes fans to a ticket seller to buy a ticket.

Currently, the sellers include: AXS, Eventbrite, SeeTickets, Ticketmaster, and DICE. Right now, this feature is available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and US. Any ticket selling fees are between you and your ticketing agent.

YouTube Will Release Money You’ve Earned Through AdSense

YouTube pays its creators through AdSense once you’ve earned a minimum amount. This payment threshold is different for every country, but for US, it’s $100.

You’re paid between the 21-26th of each month, with a monthly cycle. The electronic funds transfer can take 4-10 days. Wires can take up to 15 days.

YouTube is the Best-Known Video Platform for Creators but There are Others

Where it comes to videos on the internet, YouTube is the dominant platform. In our experience, you can find most every video on YouTube, even when the video was originally posted on another platform. You can, of course, post your original YouTube video to other video platforms too. These days, the two other platforms tend to be TikTok and Snapchat.

And it’s a good idea to cross-post. As a creator, you want to reach as many viewers as possible. YouTube’s viewers are of all ages. But of the top 5 social media platforms for creators, TikTok and Snapchat tend to have the youngest viewers. Advertisers like these younger audiences because they tend to spend more. So, you can’t go wrong with trying to capture some of these younger audiences.

And that’s what we’ll go over next: How to Earn Money on TikTok and Snapchat, for Creators.

Interested in starting and running a small business? Here’s the beginning of our step-by-step guide: What to do right after getting that great business idea.

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