One of the first things that come to mind when starting a YouTube channel is the question of “How long”. How long will it take to get 1000 subscribers, how long will it take to get to 4000 hours watch time, how long until I can make a full-time living off of YouTube. These are questions I get asked a lot and see all too often.
The simple answer is that no-one can tell you exactly how long it will take. For some, it can take weeks, others months, and then for some, it can even take years. This can depend on so many things, such as your familiarity with video editing, your experience with SEO, your on-screen personality, any potential existing fanbases you can leverage to drive traffic to get the ball rolling, etc.
None of this is necessary though, (of course it does help, but it isn’t necessary), and whilst I cannot tell you how long it will take0, I can teach you a few things to get monetized on YouTube faster.
Let’s get straight to it.
Related article: How to set up a Youtube channel
What’s the Goal?
YouTube Monetization is mainly made up of two criteria (or goals) that need to be met in order to be accepted into the partner program.
- You will need 4000 hours of watch time in the last 365 days
- You will also need to have 1000 subscribers
P.s. You will also need to comply with all of YouTube’s policies and guidelines & have an AdSense account set up. The guidelines & setting up an AdSense account are relatively easy to abide by and set up, so let’s get to the goals.
These two goals do seem like quite a lot upon first glance, especially when you are just starting out. It can be quite difficult to see growth at first but what I’m sharing with you in this article will bring in your first few viewers and exponentially grow your channel once you’ve hit the 100 subscribers or 1000 watch time mark and then beyond that well into monetization.
We need to highlight the two goals here though before we start because it is important to remember that this is about getting both subscribers and watch time. It’s not one or the other. You can have 2000 subscribers, but with less than 4000 hours of watch time, you won’t be able to apply for the partnership program. It’s also true vice versa, you may have 6000 hours of watch time in the last 365 days, but if you only have 200 subscribers, you won’t be able to monetize your videos until you’ve gotten more people to subscribe.
This is quite common though, often you will achieve one before the other, and then what you need to do is focus all of your resources on getting more people to the goal you have not yet achieved.
Now that we’ve classified the goals on how to monetize your YouTube channel, let’s get to the methods that you need to implement to achieve it fast!
Make videos for a specific audience
This is one of the areas that I see people struggling with the most. To make videos for a specific audience means you are focusing on a specific interest people have and creating content to satisfy that interest.
The keyword here is interest and this is one of the things that is often misunderstood. This “interest” is your niche or the topics of the videos that you make. For example, you are a tech channel and make mostly tech reviews, as a result, your audience are people who are interested in tech. This means that when you post a video, the people that watch it will be more likely to watch other videos on your channel or clickthrough on your thumbnail as it’s something that is targeted towards them and they have an interest in.
Now let’s look at another example. You’re still a tech channel, but you’ve just purchased an old Chevy that you’re going to restore and post the videos on your channel. What will happen when people who have shown proof that they’re interested in tech are now being presented with car restoration videos? They’re going to just skip over them and the YouTube algorithm is going to think this content is not relevant to these particular people. Think about how that will then work later on when you upload another tech video. How will the algorithm know this content is then again relevant and to which audience? Should your new car restoration subscribers or people looking for Chevy restoration videos be shown this video, or the alienated audience from before?
Stick to a specific niche to build an audience of people who are interested in the videos you create. As you create more videos, YouTube will work out that this type of person is watching these videos and your videos will start being recommended to viewers with similar interests.
Once you have a good number of videos on your channel, this can be huge for channel growth!
Related article: 20 YouTube Channel types you can start today!
Consistency is important, it lets your viewers know when they can expect new content from you. It tells YouTube that you’re taking care of your channel and care about your community. When you’re trying to monetize your YouTube channel, it can be especially important because you will be creating more content.
More videos on your channel mean there will be more chances to find your ideal audience and there will be more content for them to watch once you’ve reached them. More videos generally mean more watch time.
Now let’s just put this into perspective first. More videos do not necessarily mean “more videos”. Confusing, I know, but let me explain.
For a video to be worthwhile uploading to YouTube it needs to provide some form of value to viewers. This could be entertainment, information, education, etc.
What this means when it comes to uploading more videos to YouTube and being consistent is that you only need to upload videos that provide viewers with value and if that means you can only create one value-rich video per week or one per month, then that’s the schedule you need to stick to.
If you can create videos two or three times per week, that’s great, but make sure there is a reason behind uploading them. Uploading a video just for the sake of uploading isn’t going to get you anywhere.
For most niches, I recommend 1 or 2 videos per week, as long as it is something you are able to handle whilst providing some form of value to your audience.
Consistency -> Increase the likelihood of reaching your ideal audience + more watch time.
Use YouTube Playlists
Still considered an under-utilized feature on YouTube is playlists.
These can be quite quick to set up and can yield great returns but they’re still so often overlooked even once you already know the benefits.
Playlists do 3 main things that you need to know about when trying to monetize your YouTube channel.
- Playlists appear in YouTube search results -> Be found more easily.
- Once someone clicks on a playlist, they get automatically forwarded to the next video in the playlist once the video they’re watching has ended -> More watch time.
- Easy way to categorize your channel. When people visit your channel, they know immediately what to expect -> Increasing subscriber rates.
Playlists are such an untapped resource on YouTube, I’ve put together an entire article on Playlists that you can read here… Once you’ve finished reading this article of course 😉 Go ahead and open it up in a new tab in the meantime.
Build out your channel page
Once a person clicks on one of your videos, they may be interested in seeing what other videos you have and here some of the things we’ve already mentioned can come together on your YouTube channel home page.
This is the landing page people go to when they click on your channel name or profile pic and more often than not, it is the second place they visit if they want to see more of your content.
Your channel page allows you to do many things, two of the most important ones are to showcase a featured video and to present categories in the form of playlists.
Your featured video should be a short video (channel trailer) that lets visitors know what your channel is about and why they should subscribe. Highlight what you feature the most and what viewers should come to expect from your videos for the most accurate representation that will have subscribers excited about your videos.
Using your playlists to categorize your channel is one of the most effective ways to convert viewers into subscribers. This is because once they land on your channel, they immediately know what it is you do and what type of videos they can expect. Potentially even more so than from your channel trailer.
If you are a tech review channel, for example, you could have playlists highlighting the main tech you review, I.e. DSLR camera reviews, Canon Lens Reviews, Laptop reviews, etc.
Another benefit of using playlists on your YouTube channel home page is that once a user clicks on a video, the playlist will automatically go through the rest of the videos as well if the viewer doesn’t leave. The more a user watches your videos, the more watch time you get, the more information YouTube gets about who is interested in your videos and there’s a high chance that YouTube will recommend more of your videos to that user and others that have similar interests.
Create a thumbnail that captures attention
This one may be quite obvious, but it’s worth mentioning as so many people treat YouTube thumbnails as an afterthought.
The thumbnail is often the first thing a potential viewer will see relating to your video. If it’s bland, mundane, and just uninteresting, that user is not going to click through and you won’t get the view.
But it’s not just about one view.
If that one person doesn’t click through, how many more people are just skipping past your videos? (You can actually look at this in your analytics under Reach->Impressions, these are the number of times your videos have appeared in search results, on someone’s feed, or in the suggested bar, etc. and you can also see the clickthrough rate)
It’s not just about people skipping your videos though, as YouTube clearly states that by increasing your clickthrough rate, you can increase the chance of YouTube suggesting your content.
I’ve put together a video below that takes you through everything you need to know about creating thumbnails that capture attention and convert. 😊
Utilize your end screen and cards
One of the goals when it comes to monetizing your YouTube channel fast is to get more watch time. A great way to get more watch time is to keep the people that are already watching your videos on your channel.
How do you do this? Well, one aspect is to create videos on similar topics, although I may have already mentioned that already. 😉
To get people to continue watching your content, utilize your end screen to suggest a similar video, and use a card in the video to link to a similar video or a video that provides more information.
If people have stuck around all the way to the end of your video, there’s a good chance they enjoyed your video and will be interested in watching another. Make it easy for them by suggesting one or two in your end screen.
Pin similar video’s in the comments
The comment section is another powerful feature that can be utilized to drive viewers to a specific video, link, or even subscribe to your channel.
If your goal is to achieve the 4000-hour watch time in 365 days and you’re not quite there yet, use the comment section of your videos to link to similar videos and then pin the comment to the top. This means that this comment will always appear first. Often viewers will scroll down through the comments during or after a video, utilize this space to keep them on your channel.
The same can be said about subscribing. If you already have the 4000-hour watch time but haven’t reached 1000 subscribers yet, give your viewers the option of subscribing in that first comment.
A clickable link works wonders here and you can create one for your channel as well.
Here’s how to make a YouTube subscription link:
- Open up your YouTube channel in a browser.
- Copy the URL.
- Remove the forward slash at the end of the URL if there is one.
- Add “?sub_confirmation=1” (without the quotation marks) to the end of the URL.
The link should then look something like this:
Or if you already have a channel ID, then it can look something like this:
Add relevant videos & playlists to your video description
Another way to get similar videos to your viewers is to add them to your description.
Once someone then looks through the video description, they can have options to watch similar videos or to go through an entire video playlist on a similar topic.
By adding videos to your playlist, you also keep the viewers on YouTube, which can also help with your video optimization for search… Which brings me to the next topic.
Why worry about SEO on YouTube?
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, second only to Google, and your videos can even appear in Google search results as well.
Unlike platforms that are primarily socially driven like Instagram, Facebook, etc. YouTube benefits from a multitude of different factors that can get your videos in front of your viewers. One of which is by optimizing your videos for search (and by default, recommended areas as well)
This means focusing on all the fun stuff that makes up YouTube SEO, like your video titles, thumbnails, descriptions, tags, etc.
Luckily there are a few free tools to make your life easier when it comes to optimizing your videos to appear at the top of search results.
My favorite and most recommended tool for YouTube is TubeBuddy. The free browser extension provides you with valuable information about potential keywords to target, suggests useful tags, and even allows you to see what tags your competitors are using on their channels and in their videos.
The second free tool I’m going to recommend is the article I wrote on YouTube SEO; you can read it here to find out everything you need to know about optimizing your videos for YouTube.
Double down on what works
Makes sense, right? It’s working, so why not make more of it?
This is where it becomes useful to pay attention to your analytics. Look at what type of videos get the most views, have good click-through rates, where your traffic is coming from, etc.
Once you know where your viewers are coming from and what they’re interested in, you can create videos that are specifically targeted for your audience. This can then increase your CTR, watch time, and can convert more of those viewers into subscribers.
There’s a lot more value that can be found in your analytics, so it’s worthwhile to spend some time getting to know what everything means. 😉
Don’t forget to ask
Do you want your viewers to subscribe to your channel? A gentle reminder in the middle or towards the end can help push them in the right direction.
It can’t hurt to ask right. 😉
You may have noticed that I wrote to ask in the middle or towards the end, and not at the beginning. This is because you want to provide the viewer with value upfront, I.e. provides them with some information from your video, education, entertainment, etc. before asking something from them.
Once you’ve provided them with value in the form of your video, they’ll be more inclined in providing you with something of value, for example, a comment, a like, subscribing, or watching another video.
Now that you know how to get monetized on YouTube fast, I’m passing the question on to you. Have you started your YouTube channel yet? What interests do your viewers have? Are you struggling with anything in particular?
Let me know below, I try to answer all my comments.