Many streamers still look at YouTube as a VOD only platform, but it's picking up rank in a lot of ways. They've been rolling out new monetization features for both VOD content and livestreams. The YouTube Partner Program now includes 7 different ways* to earn money:
1. Advertising Revenue - Get ad revenue from display, overlay, and video ads (VOD/Live)
2. Merch Shelf - Your fans can browse and buy official branded merchandise that's showcased on your watch pages (VOD/Live)
3. Channel Memberships - Your members make recurring monthly payments in exchange for special perks that you offer (Live)
4. Super Chat - Your fans pay to get their messages highlighted in chat streams (Live)
5. Super Stickers - Same as Super Chat, but with animated sticker packs (Live)
6. Super Thanks (Beta) - Yet another way for creators to earn money, particularly on VOD content (VOD/Live)
7. YouTube Premium Revenue - Get part of a YouTube Premium subscriber's subscription fee when they watch your content (VOD/Live)
*Note that these can apply to VOD content or Live streams.
**To be eligible to use these features, you must be a part of YouTube's Partner Program.
How To Be Eligible To Apply For YouTube's Partner Program
The lowest hanging fruit for those of you who are streaming on Facebook or Twitch is to use YouTube for VOD. Creating a channel for offline content regardless of whether it's short or long form will help expand your audience and direct more viewers to your primary streaming platform. Earning ad revenue on your YouTube channel is the cherry on top, but you have to make sure you can get to monetization first.
Before applying to the YouTube Partner Program, you have to make sure you meet general requirements that include:
- Live in a country/region where the partner program is available (now 121 countries and counting)
- Have 4000+ watch hours in the past 12 months
- Have 1000+ subscribers
Keep in mind advertisers are looking for content appropriate for most audiences to plug into, so if your content contains sensitive topics such as drugs, sexually suggestive content, or hateful content, you'll end up locking yourself out from a lot of revenue opportunities with your VODs. Once you're accepted as a YouTube Partner, you can set up ad preferences and enable monetization on your uploaded VODs.
Getting To Monetization
To hit Partner status, you can use VidIQ or TubeBuddy to help you improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on the platform. They provide tutorials and analytics on YouTube channel growth and offer free Google Chrome web extensions with paid add-ons. Both of these tools will help you find topic and keywords for your videos, as well as create SEO-friendly titles, descriptions, and tags.
Protip: One key thing StoneMountain64 and I want streamers to understand is that you should create multiple channels for different types of content. Making content specific for YouTube is really important, if it varies too much YouTube's search algorithm won't be able to classify your content as easily and your discoverability will suffer. That's why the bigger streamers will have multiple channels based on gameplay or genre. StoneMountain64's main channel consists of VODs with siege and funny moments, and his secondary channel has all of his full game play VODs on it.
Once you've put in the work, the next step is to understand when you should be monetizing. The timing is just as important as the how. Especially in the early stages, making 10 dollars in ads is less important than keeping retention from falling off 25% which would lower your impressions, affect new subscriptions, and ultimately lower your value to the algorithm.
Check out our When To Monetize video in The Playbook that covers the intricacies around turning on ad revenue.
If you're streaming on Twitch of Facebook, you should definitely be using YouTube as your VOD platform, regardless of whether you're doing long form or short form content. Putting in the time and effort to create a dedicated channel can a) lead to monetization from VOD alone and b) direct viewers to your main streaming platform.
Understanding How YouTube's Paid Digital Goods Work
YouTube has been expanding ways creators can diversify their revenue streams on the platform. The intention behind their latest tool Super Thanks is to allow creators to strengthen relationships with their viewers while increasing their earnings on the platform.
In 2020, over 10M viewers bought their first Paid Digital Good (Super Chat, Super Sticker, Super Thanks, or Channel Membership) on YouTube. Fans purchase a colorful Super Chat or an animated Super Sticker that stands out and gets pinned to the top of the chat for a set period of time. The bigger the purchase amount, the more the messages stand out and the longer it stays at the top of the chat feed. They can also show their support for their favorite creators by leaving them a Super Thanks with a monetary amount attached to it on their VOD content.
- Super Chat is available at variable price points set by every creator.
- Super Thanks is available at price points between $2 and $50 USD (or local currency equivalent.)
- Super Stickers is available at price points between $0.99 to $50 USD(or local currency equivalent.)
- Channel Membership is available at recurring monthly payments in exchange for special perks creators offer, with 5 tiers available.
Your channel MUST be monetized to be eligible to use any of the above features. Note that YouTube still takes a cut from each transaction. Some creators have cited this amount hovering at about ~30%.
If you want to learn more about how YouTube algorithms work, read this article I wrote on Algorithms and Discoverability.