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You’ve set up your YouTube channel, you’ve started getting more views, your subscribers are growing and you can see your engagement going up. You feel like you’re making progress but at some point you really want to know — when do you start getting paid?

Whether you’re creating content for fun or looking to build a new income stream, it’s helpful to find out when you’ll start earning money from YouTube and what you need to do to get paid. Here’s everything you need to know, plus five tips to maximize your earnings.

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When do you start getting paid on YouTube?

Unfortunately, you can’t start earning money the moment you set up your channel (that would be nice, wouldn’t it!). You’ll start getting paid on YouTube when you have at least 1,000 subscribers or 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months. At that point, you can begin using the YouTube Partner Program to monetize your channel with ads.

That can feel like an insurmountable milestone, but consider the different ways you can reach 4,000 watch hours. You can have 4,000 viewers watching one hour of your content, 8,000 viewers watching 30 minutes of your content or 240,000 viewers watching one minute each. So longer videos created for a really engaged audience might help you get there more quickly. 

The more subscribers, viewers or watch hours you have, the more your earning potential goes up. That’s because YouTube pays content makers according to how many times someone views an advertisement and how long they watch the ad for.

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How do you get paid on YouTube?

There are a few steps you need to take to make sure you can earn money from your channel when the opportunity arises.

To start making money on YouTube, you need to sign up for the YouTube Partner Program and create a Google AdSense account or connect your existing account to your channel. You also need to live in a region or country where the YouTube Partner Program is available.

Once you’ve earned $100 on the platform, you can then begin withdrawing funds. With the average YouTuber earning between $2 to $12 per 1000 views, that means you’ll need a solid viewership or a few big hits before any income starts rolling in. 

5 ways to maximize your YouTube earnings 

Most YouTubers monetize using the built-in ad framework, but there are other ways to quickly maximize your earning potential.

  1. Adapt your content to fit YouTube’s guidelines

It’s always a good idea to be aware of YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines.

In an effort to be more transparent, YouTube recently revealed more about its ads algorithm and how it determines which YouTubers can make money from the platform.

The algorithm evaluates videos according to set criteria that determine how much you can earn from your videos. If you’re making content that goes against their guidelines, you’re going to be severely limited in your potential revenue.

Here are things to avoid in order to comply with YouTube’s guidelines:

  • Inappropriate language
  • Violence
  • Shocking content
  • Harmful or dangerous acts
  • Hateful, derogatory or demeaning content
  • Recreational drugs, drug-related, and tobacco-related content
  • Firearms-related content
  • Controversial issues and sensitive events
  • Dishonest behavior like hacking or trespassing
  • Adult content or inappropriate content for kids and families
  1. Create longer videos

There are no hard and fast rules for how long your YouTube videos should be in order to use their ad platform. Both short and long videos can feature pre-roll or mid-roll ads that help you make money. That said, creating longer-form content might actually help you up your earning potential.

Videos that are over eight minutes long have the opportunity to include extra mid-roll ads — boosting your potential revenue.

Still, it’s important to remember that your videos need to be engaging for viewers. If you create a 30-minute video that’s 25 minutes of waffling and time-filling, don’t expect people to stick around until that mid-roll ad. You really need to find the right balance between the length of your content and the value you’re giving your viewers.

  1. Remind viewers to subscribe

If you’ve ever watched a video from a popular YouTube channel, you’ve probably seen the host ask you to “smash that subscribe button!” While it might come off as corny, there’s a good reason to make this request.

First, this will allow you to monetize more quickly. Remember that to start getting paid by YouTube, you need at least 1,000 subscribers. A friendly reminder will help you hit that milestone so you can begin the work of monetizing through ads.

But prompting subscriptions also increases your chances of increasing viewership on future videos. When subscribers log onto YouTube, they’re notified of the latest videos from the channels they’ve followed, significantly increasing the likelihood of them watching each video that you publish. More subscribers means more views, and more views means more money in your pocket. 

  1. Build a community

As well as encouraging more viewers to become subscribers, you can also work on building a community around your YouTube channel to strengthen your connection with your audience.

To build a community around your YouTube content, consider these three things when creating videos:

  • Stick to your niche: The easiest way to build a community on YouTube is to find a niche and stick to it. This sets and reinforces expectations for viewers and increases the chances of them becoming subscribers and advocates for your channel.
  • Be genuine: The most successful YouTubers are the ones who make their viewers feel like they truly know them. When you show off your personality in your content and you’re authentic and vulnerable in videos, viewers feel like they’re building a bond and joining a community. That feeling is a powerful one, and something that people will come back for.
  • Shoutout your social media: Encourage viewers to follow you on social media to give you more opportunities to engage with them. Remember, a community doesn’t have to be based within a single platform. The more touchpoints you have with people, the more likely they are to stick around and the more opportunities you have for monetization.

Building a community goes beyond simply publishing videos. But once you create that relationship with viewers, you’ll find it much easier to grow your YouTube channel in the long term and the revenue will follow.


  1. Try multiple monetization strategies

Ads are not the only way to make money from YouTube. 

In fact, if you want to start earning money using YouTube, it’s a good idea to explore other monetization strategies. 

There’s a whole host of ways to monetize your YouTube channel, including:

Check out our guide on 10 ways to earn money through YouTube for more inspiration and tips.

Ready to earn money through YouTube?  

Whether you started your YouTube channel on a whim or are using it to support your business, every creator reaches a point where they want to start getting paid on YouTube. 

While it will take some time to earn money from your videos, by focusing on growth, knowing the ins and outs of the YouTube platform, and trying multiple monetization strategies, you’ll set yourself and your business up for success. 

And if you do decide to use course creation as a way to monetize your YouTube audience, Thinkific can help.  

Get started with Thinkific for free today.

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