Having outside income streams is especially important. After all, a change to how YouTube partners with and compensates creators could drastically shake up a YouTuber's ability to earn money with little warning. This happened in January, when the YouTube Partner Program boosted the eligibility requirements for monetization from 10,000 lifetime views to 4,000 hours of watch time within the previous year and 1,000 subscribers, leaving some content creators scrambling to reclaim their ability to earn money.
“The way YouTube is distributed is not always conducive to ad revenue,” said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, which tracks the the technology sector. “The YouTube ads are on the side, but they are not embedded in the programming, like you see in television.” The current YouTube format might be good for consumers, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that great for the bottom line, Bajarin said. “They are going to have to change things up,” Bajarin said.
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For other YouTube creators, ad dollars only go so far, and a significant portion of revenue comes from sponsorships and “affiliate marketing” (when brands offer a commission on any sales or traffic that the creator’s content drives). Affiliates function pretty seamlessly through YouTube; anyone can include links to featured products in their video’s caption, and when audience members click through and buy them, that YouTube channel gets a small kickback. Many YouTubers prefer Amazon’s affiliate program, “Amazon associates,” although there are plenty more to choose from.
Until last month, pretty much any random person could enable the “monetization” setting on their YouTube account and get ads on their videos, allowing them to earn a fraction of a cent for every time a person viewed or clicked on their content. That all changed in January, however, when Google (YouTube’s owner) announced new standards to merit those ads. Now, to be accepted into the “YouTube Partner Program” and monetize your channel, you need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch-time over the past 12 months; your videos will also be more closely monitored for inappropriate content. Meanwhile, YouTube also promised that members of “Google Preferred” — a vaunted group of popular channels that make up YouTube’s top 5 percent, and command higher ad dollars because of it — will be more carefully vetted. (These shifts followed the Logan Paul controversy, as well as a brouhaha about ads running on unsavory content, such as sexually explicit or extremist videos.)
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Just like with on-page SEO, it’s important to optimize your video’s title and description. The title is the first thing people will read when scrolling through a list of videos, so make sure it’s clear and compelling -- it should make searchers curious about the content or be instantly clear that your video will help them solve a problem. Do some keyword research to better understand what viewers are searching for. Include the most important information and keywords in the beginning of your title. Finally, keep titles to around 60 characters to keep text from being cut off in results pages.