How to make money on YouTube

How to make money on YouTube
Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Making money from YouTube isn't as hard as you might expect, and there are lots of ways to go about it. Some methods are only feasible if your channel is already very popular, but don't be disheartened – even a smaller channel can bring in some cash if people enjoy what you do and want to support you.

You might not be able to quit your day job, but with a little work you can at least cover your costs, and perhaps turn your channel into a lucrative side-hustle.

However you decide to make money on YouTube, make sure you always disclose the fact to your viewers. YouTube's terms of service explain how to go about it.


AdSense is the easiest way to make money on YouTube, provided your channel is popular enough. If you're approved to join, you'll earn a small cut from the ads shown on your videos.

Before you can join AdSense, you'll need to join the YouTube Partner Program, which has a few requirements:

Even if you don't yet meet the requirements for public watch hours and subscribers, you can sign up to have your account reviewed when it hits the necessary milestones. Sign into YouTube, click your account icon in the top right and select 'Creator Studio'. Choose 'Channel' and click 'Status and features'. Scroll to 'Monetizaton' and check 'OK'.

Your account will then be submitted to YouTube for review immediately if you already meet the numbers required, or later if not.

The review process involves automatic systems and human assessors, so expect it to take a little while. You can check the status of your application on YouTube's monetization page.

If you're approved, you're good to go. If not, don't worry – you can take the necessary steps to ensure your channel meets the requirements and try again in 30 days.

Merchandise Shelf

(Image credit: TeeSpring/YouTube)

Merchandise Shelf

The Merchandise Shelf is a collaboration between YouTube and Teespring – a company that specializes in promotional T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and other items.

To be eligible for the Merchandise Shelf, you must be part of the YouTube Partner Program (described above), have at least 10,000 subscribers, and have no Community Guideline strikes against your name. In short, your reputation must be spotless.

Provided you're in a country with access to the YouTube Partner Program, you'll be able to set up a Merchandise Shelf, but only viewers in selected countries will be able to buy your branded goodies (see the full list).

You design your merchandise by uploading artwork to the Design Launcher, and Teespring prints items when they're ordered and ships them to your viewers. For each sale, you'll receive a cut of the profits.


(Image credit: SpreadShirt)

Other merchandise

Don't have 10,000 subscribers yet? Don't fret, there are other ways to sell branded merchandise. Sites like Spreadshop (global) and Spreadshirt (UK only) make it easy to design your own T-shirts, which are printed on-demand and shipped direct to your eager viewers without you having to touch a thing.

Because these sites aren't integrated directly with YouTube, you'll need to share the link to your branded goodies in your video descriptions, and draw attention to it in the videos themselves.

Affiliate programs

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Affiliate programs

If you often feature products in your videos (for makeup tutorial, for example), it's worth investigating stores' affiliate programs. Some programs will let anyone join, but most have an approval process where you'll need to prove that your channel has enough viewers to be a good investment. Amazon Affiliates is one of the easiest to join, and perhaps the most useful.

Once you've been approved, you'll be able to provide custom links to products in your video descriptions, which will tell the retailer that the customer reached the store via your channel. If the viewer chooses to buy something, you'll earn a small commission (different retailers offer different rates). The products won't cost your viewers anything extra.

Always mention if you're using affiliate links in your video descriptions.

Brand sponsorship

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Brand sponsorship

If your channel is taking off, you might be able to find companies to sponsor your posts. You can do this by approaching them directly (take a look at sponsored videos like yours to find out which ones might be receptive to the idea), or through a third party like Famebit, which acts as an agent to connect brands with YouTubers.

The terms of partnerships vary enormously – the sponsor might be happy for you to simply mention their product, they might be open to you pitching video ideas, or they might have their own suggestions, It's up to the two of you to work out a deal that suits you both, and set an appropriate price.

Always make it as clear as possible if you've worked with a brand to create a video – not only to make sure you comply with YouTube's terms of service, but to maintain your viewers' trust.


(Image credit: Patreon)


Patreon is a type of crowd-funding tool for fans to support their favorite artists and creators, and it could be perfect if you have passionate viewers who are willing to help cover the cost of making more content.  Money earned through Patreon can go towards your general expenses, or you can make special content as a perk for your paying 'patrons'.

Because it's a subscription platform, Patreon means you can be confident you'll receive a certain amount each month, providing some stability.

Patreon isn't free though, and there are various fees involved for setting up your account, taking payment from patrons, and tranferring money to your account. Check out the full details.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)