Make money from your YouTube videos

If you're uploading content to YouTube, make sure you get your cut of the proceeds



YouTube videos could make your fortune. Find out how to claim a share of the ad revenue

More than a billion people visit YouTube each month. That’s a huge market for Google: analysts believe it makes more than $4 billion per year from selling advertising around (and on top of) user-uploaded videos.

It could also be a huge market for you. Google operates a profit-sharing system where video uploaders receive a cut of the revenue raised from advertisements shown next to their content. The idea is to encourage creators to keep uploading high-quality content to make money for themselves and Google. Already there are plenty of people making a comfortable living from creating and promoting YouTube videos – and in this feature we’ll show you how to join them.

Teaming up with Google

In order to make money from videos, you need to become a “YouTube Partner”. It’s a friendly-sounding phrase, but you should realise that you’re very much the junior partner. You have to play by Google’s rules, which means granting it a “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable licence (with right to sub-licence) to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform” the videos you upload.

It’s also worth remembering that Google likes to tinker with and upgrade its services. It’s possible that one day you’ll wake up and find your financial arrangements and video-promotion strategies have been turned upside down by some big, unilateral change. That’s just something you’ll have to live with if you want to be a YouTube Partner.

For the same reason, while building up your YouTube channel, be wary of following online advice and tutorials that are more than a few months old, as more recent updates may have made them obsolete or misleading.

Happily, if you’re ready to take the plunge, the process of becoming a YouTube Partner is quite effortless. In the past, only big, successful channels were considered for partnerships, but today anyone can get in on the action.

What sort of videos can you upload to make money?

YouTube has a set of guidelines that cover all uploads, both from partners and regular users: broadly speaking, you can’t post anything containing copyrighted music or images, as well as sexually explicit content, gratuitous violence and misleading tags and titles. These guidelines are often flouted, but as a partner you’ll want to take them seriously – YouTube reserves the right to cancel partnerships with people who break the rules.

Apart from this, you can indicate that you’re happy for adverts to appear on any uploaded video. You can even upload your own commercial content (such as an advert you’ve made for someone else’s business) as long as you own the copyright: you simply need to warn YouTube at the time of uploading, so it doesn’t place inappropriate advertising alongside it.

If you’re creating content specifically to make money on YouTube, however, it’s worth putting effort into tailoring your videos for maximum marketability: we’ll discuss this below.

Setting up your account

Although setting yourself up as a YouTube partner isn’t difficult, it’s a process that involves a few steps. The first thing you need is a YouTube account. You can use an existing Google ID, but if this is tied to your personal name you might want to create a new one with a more eye-catching name: all things being equal, a video channel curated by “AceGuitarReviews” is likely to attract more clicks than one operated by “bjennings78”. This new ID can be easily connected to an existing one, so you can use YouTube under your new nom de plume while remaining signed in as yourself to Gmail and other services: to switch, use the icon at the top right of the YouTube interface.

Once you’ve done this, you can sign your new ID up for the Partner programme. Once you accept the terms and conditions your YouTube account should immediately become eligible for advertising. To see this in action, upload a video: in the Edit view, above the description, you should see a link labelled “Monetisation” below the video frame (this link doesn’t appear for non-partners). Click it and you’ll see the options to enable in-video adverts – the sort that appear over the bottom section of the frame while your video is playing – and in-stream ads, which are shown before your content starts. YouTube also offers a control panel where you can also check your monetisation settings, and apply settings to multiple videos.

Before you can relax and wait for the money to roll in, however, there’s one more very important thing to be done: if you’re not already a user of Google’s AdSense service, you’ll need to sign up for this as well. This is how your payments will be made, so if you enable adverts but don’t set up an AdSense account, Google will keep all the money for itself.

Payments are made through Google's AdSense system

The regular AdSense sign-up process is designed for webmasters, but as a YouTube user, you can sign up without having to wade through irrelevant questions about your website by going through this simpler sign-up process. You’ll have to provide a physical address – Google takes financial transactions a little more seriously than everyday website business – and it may take a week or more for your registration to be processed.

How much money can you expect to make?

Once everything is set up, you’ll receive 55% of the advertising revenue generated through your videos, via an automatic payment each time your outstanding earnings top £60. Exactly how often that will be is hard to predict. For one thing, it naturally depends on how many people watch your videos in the first place – or, to be precise, how many people watch the adverts. If you choose to allow pre-roll advertising to play before your video starts, you’ll only get paid if the viewer watches at least 75% of the advert.

On top of this, Google sells adverts at a variety of rates, and receives commission based on a combination of views and clicks. It doesn’t share the details with its partners (that is, you), but once you’ve been up and running you’ll clearly see that some videos generate far more revenue per view than others. In all, it’s impossible to make any promises in advance about how much you’ll make.

We can, however, give you a very rough idea of the sorts of figure we’re talking about. Based on online anecdotes and our own observations, it isn’t unreasonable to expect your videos to average between 0.1p and 1p per view. You can check on your revenues at any time by logging into your AdSense account.

Attracting viewers

Since you have no control over the commission rates on your videos, if you want to maximise your return you’ll have to tackle the problem from the other side – by getting as many viewers as possible.

There are plenty of tools and tips available online to help you achieve this. Google itself naturally wants YouTube content to be as successful as possible, so it publishes an online guide called the Creator Playbook. It’s a lengthy read, but well worth a look.

We can give you a few tips right here too. The first thing to be aware of is that YouTube search results and recommendations are based heavily on “watch time” – that is, the total amount of time people have spent watching a given video. If lots of people click on your video, only to rapidly click away again, YouTube’s algorithms will perceive it as a lower-quality video than one that people watch to the end. It will do you little good, therefore, to trick people into watching your videos by giving them tabloid-style titles.

Another thing to remember is that the audience on YouTube tends towards the young, so videos that attract the under-30s are likely to do better than those that don’t. Obviously you may prefer to make videos that play to your personal expertise and experience; but if you’re approaching your YouTube channel primarily as a business, it makes sense to go where the clicks are, and that’s with the younger generation.

Regular content and subscriptions

Uploading single videos on an ad hoc basis may suit your lifestyle, but you’ll get more clicks if you can persuade people to watch lots of videos in one sitting – and to come back for multiple sittings.

A schedule gives visitors a reason to keep coming back to watch your videos - and adverts

You can encourage the former by organising your videos into playlists and promoting them as such, so that when one video finishes, the viewer is automatically carried on to another. Ideally you’d divide your content into playlists so that the next video would be relevant to the viewer, and they’d want to stick around. If you can’t do that, offering them something only tangentially related is better than offering them nothing.

When it comes to attracting recurrent visits, YouTube recommends that you establish a regular publishing schedule. When you advertise a schedule on your YouTube “channel”, you give your visitors a reason to keep coming back to watch your videos - and adverts.

YouTube also lets users “subscribe” to your channel, so that when they’re logged into YouTube they’ll see your activity on their home page, and can easily keep track of your uploads (along with those of other channels they like) through the My Subscriptions link at the side of the screen.

Persuading people to subscribe is a tremendously effective way to get more attention from them, so Google puts a handy Subscribe button on every channel home page. Even better is to persuade people to subscribe while they’re watching a video. You can do this by using YouTube’s Annotations feature: this lets you overlay a speech bubble or “hot” area on the video that, when clicked, immediately subscribes the viewer to your channel. For some types of video it may even be appropriate to have the presenter say something directly to the viewer, perhaps along the lines of “we post new content every Wednesday, so please click below to subscribe”.

Other ways to woo viewers

We’ve tackled a few fundamentals, but there are plenty of smaller things you can do to help build a following. As YouTube links are easy to share around the internet, it often happens that views build up slowly, then suddenly one of your videos “goes viral” and the next thing you know, 100,000 people are checking out your channel.

To make the most of an opportunity like this, you have to be prepared: make sure your channel has a decent graphic header and a description, and that your videos have clear, interesting titles and thumbnails. YouTube also encourages users to create “trailers” to welcome unsubscribed visitors, although this is a new feature and it remains to be seen how popular and effective it will be.

Another thing you can do is to add other people’s videos to your own playlists. You won’t earn advertising revenue for these, but it will make your channel more rewarding to visit, and the details of your updated playlist will appear on subscribers’ home pages, giving them a handy reminder of your existence.

YouTube's Analytics view can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn't


One final point: the YouTube interface is a bit of a virtual rabbit warren, so it can be hard to find all the features it has to offer. A particularly useful yet poorly advertised feature is the Analytics view. One way to find it is to open the Video Manager, then click Analytics in the left-hand pane.

From here you’re presented with a handy overview of video views, minutes watched, Likes, comments, revenue earned and more. Drill down into the settings in the left-hand pane and you can also see all sorts of breakdowns of demographics, the devices used to watch your videos and – under Audience Retention – the average view duration, which is to say how many seconds the average viewer actually spent watching your video before moving on.

This information can be quite brutal, but it can also be extremely useful, since it enables you to find out which videos are working for you and which aren’t. In the longer term, this detailed information can reveal trends that may give you pointers as to whether or not you’re going in the right direction.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

Posted on 5 Oct 2013 at 09:27


Also another guide for YouTube Virgins: http://mashable.com/2012/08/24/how-t...-from-youtube/

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