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How Many Views Do You Need to Get Paid on YouTube?

Published by Eric Sornoso on 11/07/2013


It is a question many of us have asked. We read about the fortunate that have made a lot of money posting on YouTube. There are even rumored to be the rare individual that makes a living off of YouTube.

Somebody is actually making a living off making YouTube videos?!?

The fact is a massive majority of YouTube’s users do not see the site as a place to make money and that’s probably for the best. We need to look at YouTube in the classic way actors fresh off the bus are told to look at Broadway: For every light on the Great White Way, there are a thousand that have never burned bright.

YouTube is definitely blowing up thanks to its users, making a lot of people quite wealthy. YouTube has launched studios in Tokyo, Los Angeles and London. It has started 100 channels of original content that could challenge traditional television viewing. YouTube has also made over $300 million in payments to some of its top and most popular users.

Only getting a share of that wealth is quite the challenge.

Streaming Revenue from YouTube

Like most endeavors that seem lucrative, one is going to have to put in the work. And, despite what our parents told us, you will have to be one of the popular kids. Being financially successful on YouTube means getting views, LOTS of views, and doing so on a steady basis. On YouTube, that means generating fresh, compelling content that the curious will want to see. The most popular material on the site is re-viewable, so interesting a user has to see it again and again. In turn, the word spreads across the web through Likes, Shares, links and word of mouth.

If the material begins to trend, it is on its way. If it has a title with good keywords, it starts showing up in search engines with high rankings, which in Internetspeak means YES!

Revenue Sharing

While there was always a way to stream revenue out of YouTube under certain circumstances, the video site recently opened a revenue sharing program. Previously, video creators that wanted sponsorship needed YouTube’s direct permission. YouTube has essentially automated that process. Videos can now be processed on upload for having advertisements linked to the material. YouTube will dip into its well of advertisers or a user can find their own. There are several sources from which revenue can be earned.

  • Ads provided via the auction at AdSense.
  • Ads sold by reservation through DoubleClick, as well as other YouTube resources.
  • Transactions available via YouTube Rentals.

Not surprisingly, a tsunami of users gladly signed up. Unfortunately, most never got the opportunity to start their offshore accounts. They discovered with disappointment that clicking any option that allowed advertising did not guarantee a steady stream of revenue. Uploading to YouTube is easy. Getting noticed is hard.



What YouTube pays varies. YouTube supposedly pays users approximately one half of any advertising proceeds, yet the exact amount of what advertisers are paying – and if there is any scale – is not public knowledge. It has been speculated on the webvine that YouTube is willing to pay its users at the very least $1 per view. This only goes into effect if a user reaches a minimum number of views which seems to be in the vicinity of 1,000. The snag comes in the site’s payment terms. YouTube only issues checks when a user has earned $100. What that means is a user will not see any money earned from their video content until they have reached 100,000 views. The video that sees a million views will have generated $100,000.

A content creator looking to earn income from YouTube can take solace in knowing this payment set up is not restricted to a single video. It takes into account all views for the user’s entire content library. So if one has a dozen videos reaching the appropriate number of views across the board, they can look forward to banking a check.

Being a YouTube partner can be a valuable asset for a content creator. There are somewhere around 15,000 YouTube partners globally. This partnership consists of programs that ensure a user gets the best out of YouTube in terms of sharing content and building a YouTube based career. They show users how to improve their content creation skills, how to build an audience and earn cash through monetized content.

Unfortunately, becoming a partner is not easy. One has to be invited after meeting the site’s criteria for partnership.

Do it Gangnam Style

Getting as many views as possible will make money for a YouTube contributor. One has to be careful though. There are disadvantages to uploading too much content too fast. More content does not automatically mean more views. If anything, too much content solely to inflate views can make it difficult to give the material and its creator much credence. If the intent is to try and earn any kind of money on YouTube, uploads need to be planned carefully and content must be relevant and compelling.

What it boils down to is finding your niche and determining the best ways to get your content – whether it is a guitar playing kitten or a full blown music video – noticed. While it can be daunting to even consider, it can be done. There are thousands making money with their YouTube content, from pilates instructors to DJs, and the vast majority of them could not be called celebrities or professionals.

Decide what you are good at and how that can be of interest and benefit to others. Make sure no matter what you do, it has solid entertainment value. Your music will not get Gangnam views if it is not entertaining. The music isn’t even required to be good necessarily. It does need to have some type of appealing quality that makes others want to see and share it.

After you have found your niche, look at the best ways to express it. Remember, YouTube is a visual medium. Though it may be flooded with material of people merely talking to a camera, those are rarely the ones yanking in the money generating views. Whether you are selling a product, orchestrating a tutorial or producing a series for YouTube, always look for innovative ways to catch the eye. You may not have the budget, but keep in mind the way television and film productions work. The closer you come to them, the better the chances of creating content that gets views and generates income.



Be realistic in your approach to YouTube. While it has had its fair share of overnight sensations and multi-million view videos, the majority of content creators will never reach those numbers. The likelihood of making a career of YouTube content has become a reality for some, but again, that is the exception not the rule. There is the possibility of earning a little extra money if one can develop a strong subscriber base, getting others to view, Like and Share your material.

It is also important to remember if your plan is to make money with content all material must belong to you. You cannot – without permission – use any audio or video content that belongs to someone else. Outside of that, keep it original, appealing, entertaining and compelling. These are practical ways to get many views and get paid on YouTube.

Update: 5/22/15

As several marketers have pointed out, the amount of money that you earn on YouTube depends vastly on your visitor engagement.

For example, if you have a very loyal following that watches all of your new videos every week, and if your niche is one that is a professional audience with your complete attention, those visitors are likely to earn you more on YouTube. Conversely, subscribers to a Vine video channel with quick 30 second videos or short funny videos are likely to have much lower engagement, and therefore have lower earning potential.

In the end, the name of the game for YouTube monetization in 2015 is increasing the engagement of your fans as much as possible to keep them on your videos and on your channel.