Content creators can join the YouTube Partner program after accumulating 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time. This gives creators access to monetization features such as advertising, fan funding and merchandise sales. Top YouTube stars make close to $20 million a year. However, most make far less or nothing at all.
The first step to making money on YouTube is to join the YouTube Partner program. Partnership gives content creators access to special tools, such as the ability to monetize their videos via Google Adsense. To qualify, content creators must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of accumulated watch time over the prior 12-month period. YouTube monetizes videos via pre-roll, display, and other advertising formats. Advertisers pay based on clicks and impressions. YouTube gives the content creator 55% of this revenue and takes 45% for itself.Content creators must adhere to advertising guidelines.
One lucrative form of advertising is brand sponsorship, also known in the digital marketing world as “influencer marketing.” A company will pay a content creator to promote a brand or product within a video. For example, early in her YouTube career, Michelle Phan drew the attention of cosmetics brand Lancôme with her popular make-up tutorials. As of 2019, there were more than 700 agencies that help match brands with social media influencers on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Another popular way to monetize a channel is through channel memberships. Fans and followers make recurring monthly payments in exchange for bonus content such as badges, emojis, special videos, live chats, and other content. YouTube partners who have reached 1,000 subscribers can enable this monetization feature on their accounts. Third-party services such as Patreon also help video creators to monetize their fan base via monthly memberships. Top video creators earn as much as $40,000 per month from fan support.
YouTube partners also have the ability to sell up to 12 items of merchandise to their audience by enabling this feature in their accounts. Jeffree Starr has made millions selling lipstick, highlighters, and eye shadow palettes to his fans.