8 Ways to Monetize YouTube Videos (even without 4,000 watch hours)

When you’re ready to make money online (or even offline), it makes sense to look at all your possible sources of income.

One exciting way to boost your income is to start making money on YouTube. People love videos and share them across all kinds of social media platforms. Just think about the last time you scrolled Facebook and how many videos there are now! If you can learn to monetize YouTube for your own business ventures, you’ll really have something going for you.

The neat thing about YouTube is that it’s video-based, which for many people can be a really fun way to make money. YouTube is free, it’s fairly accessible even if you don’t have fancy equipment, and it has millions of users. Plenty of people get off to a good start using only their smartphone as a video recording device. Uploading your videos is fairly simple — it requires a free account, and that’s it. You’ll need to have your account set up for monetizing — but the process is simple. You can learn more here about how to make that happen.

How Can I Monetize YouTube?

YouTube is a really interesting way to make money, and when it’s done right, it can be very lucrative. If nothing else, it’s definitely worth a closer look to see if it’d be a good fit for you. Let’s check it out!

1. First Things First: AdSense

YouTube is going to be putting ads on your videos no matter what, so you might as well capitalize on them by getting your AdSense set up once you hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within 12 months on your Channel. (You can get your channel prepared while you wait to reach those metrics.) This is done within your YouTube account. You may also want to read up on what sorts of videos will qualify for Adsense revenue.

To get your channel up to speed – or watch hours – quickly, I have some tips below.

2. Fill Your Funnels

If you already have an established online business with email opt-ins and/or products for sale, YouTube can be a great way to fill your sales funnel.

Use your videos to provide helpful, useful content to your readers and viewers, and in the video point to your opt-in (or create a special new opt-in just for your viewers). Once someone enters their email address, you can send a series of emails building your relationship with them and eventually offering your products or services for sale.

I have found YouTube a great way to build my email list. The incoming traffic currently converts at a much higher rate than my other social media channels. And, if you have a blog, create videos around some of your monetized posts and link to them within your video description.

3. Affiliate Marketing

The best way to succeed with affiliate marketing is to share genuinely about how your product changed your life. YouTube is a GREAT place to start sharing — you can show how you use the product, why you love it, answer common questions, and more. (Just be sure you follow any and all of your company’s compliance guidelines!)

Video allows for some additional ways to connect that aren’t always portrayed well in text. You can do “unboxing” videos, tutorials, product reviews, and “hauls.” Include your affiliate link within the video description and/or within the video. Don’t forget to disclose!

4. Monetize YouTube with Brand Sponsors

The same way brands are working with bloggers for sponsorship opportunities, they’re looking for great YouTubers to share their products far and wide. Begin pitching companies you love with sponsorship opportunities and see what ends up working for you! Just remember to follow good sponsorship guidelines — only work with brands you trust to promote products you believe in and are relevant to your viewers. You will also need to properly disclose this relationship. Google has paid product placement guidelines which were updated December 5, 2018.

5. Monetize Your Channel with Community Sponsors

For a while now, YouTube has made available a “Sponsor” button on some gaming channels. They just started beta testing the option with non-gaming channels as well.

For $4.99 per month, your biggest fans can Sponsor your channel. This will give them a little badge that displays by their name in your comments. You can also offer them special perks like sponsor-only content. Creators receive 70% of the revenue after local sales tax is deducted.

To see if you have this option available, head over to Channel > Status and Features > Sponsorships.

6. Become an Amazon Influencer

Amazon recently introduced their Influencer program which allows social media influencers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to earn money through their Amazon recommendations. Once approved, you will have the ability to create a page on Amazon filled with products you recommend. You can then just share the personalized link on your social media channels. When someone clicks through and buys, you will earn a commission on approved product categories. Bonus: Influencers can also link to their page within emails! Something not offered to regular Amazon Associates.

This program is not open to everyone. If you apply with your Twitter or YouTube account, you should get an immediate acceptance or decline. Facebook and Instagram are vetted by hand.

7. Benefit from YouTube Red Subscribers

YouTube Red is a subscription service that users can buy that eliminates ads from their videos. As a YouTube Creator, you can start receiving a commission based on how much time Red subscribers are spending on your videos. You will be able to see your YouTube Red watch time in your Analytics.

To increase your earnings, make sure your videos are interesting and useful, with great SEO, to capture as many eyeballs as possible and keep them coming back for more. You won’t be approved to receive Red income until you meet the standard monetization requirements (1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the prior 12-month period).

8. Sell Merch

If your channel really takes off and develops a life of its own — or if the brand you’re building does — you can create and sell specially branded merchandise in your videos. T-shirts, mugs, canvas bags, and things like that can be great merch options, and there are several different drop-shippers available so you won’t even necessarily have to mess with inventory. This can be especially good if your brand has a lot of fun. This is another opportunity to use that Amazon Influencer link.

Always Disclose

Just like with blogging, you need to make specific disclosures in your YouTube videos when you’re promoting sponsored or affiliate-compensated content. Not doing so puts you in violation of the FTC, the YouTube platform rules, or both. You can read up more on YouTube’s disclosure requirements here so you can stay on track.