There has been a alot of buzz about the YouTube Partnership program leaving some working hard to get that invite. The popular belief is that you need about 500 subscribers to get an invite, this is not always true as I recently received an invitation to join after having only 12 subscribers. To understand this, you should first have a basic understanding of how YouTube is monetized.
How YouTube is monetized
The YouTube monetization system is based on gaining advertising clients. These clients pay Google (YouTube is owned by Google) for clicks to their sites. In order to get a high number of relevant clicks, ads must be paired up with contextually relevant videos that can net a high number of views in as short a period of time as possible. Active subscribers will be among those that view the video first and the idea is that their views and subsequent activity will seed the video increasing its popularity so that others will view it too along with the attached advertisement.
A partner is someone that can generate enough views to gain clicks well enough to make YouTube clients happy, as a partner you are paid per click so the more clicks your video generates, the more you will earn. It's possible to have a video receieve 1 million views, and no clicks, or 1000 views and 100 clicks, CTR (click-thru rate) is the measure of the value in clicks your video gains.
The typical CTR is usually very low, less than 1% is very common. In Adwords I can personally achieve a CTR span of around 3-7% depending on the content. My personal best is 10.5% and I rarely have anything below 1%.
So now that you have a basic understanding of how YouTube makes money, it's easy to see that the ultimate goal is to get as many views as possible. If I have 12 subscribers and can gain 5000 views in 2 days then I can achieve the same thing as anyone else with 500 subscribers. In other words, it's not necessarily how many subscribers you have, but its more about your ability to gain views quickly.
Another thing to consider here, is the rate at which you gain views. If you have 1000 subscribers and a video that's been up for 2 years with 1 million views, and I have 12 subscribers with a video that's been up for 1 month and has 50,000 views then I am outperforming you regardless of how few subscribers I have. In other words, achieving partner status ultimately depends on your ability to get views, subscribers is just one way to measure potential views.
What you should really be asking yourself
That said. The question you should be asking is not how to get views, but whether or not your videos would qualify to earn you income, in most cases, the answer is no. There are many aspects that factor in to whether or not your YouTube video can earn you income. Basically, you must own all content contained within the video and have the full permission of anyone appearing in your video. This means you can't do any creative editing using short segments of videos or artwork created by others. So while you might be able to publish videos that contain protected content under the "Fair Use" law, that same video would not qualify as a money-earning partner video.
Videos acceptable for revenue sharing
Essentially, you must have worldwide distribution rights to everything contained in your video, and it must abide by the official YouTube Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.
Examples of things that would make a video ineligible include but are not limited to:
- Your video contains content that you did not create or get permission to use. This includes:
- video images
- photographs or artwork
- live events
- video game footage
- any other copyrighted content
- Your video shows people that have not authorized you to publish them
- Your video has content that would be inappropriate for children. YouTube Partnership videos are limited to content that can be shown to all age groups.
The rules are quite strict and there is a good chance that after you apply for the partnership program, not only could you be denied, but you could also find that your videos have been removed for TOS infringement.
Even though Fair Use law may permit you to use material created by others, this is not permitted in the YouTube Partnership Program, examples of material not permitted in the program include:
- material edited together or mashed-up
- material that has been altered to any degree
- small music clips, even if under 30 seconds long
- any random clip or image that you found on the internet
- any material you paid for such as an MP3 or DVD
Additionally, material you use without permission, even if you give proper attribution or credits or if the owner has not sent you a take notice is still not permitted. You can't even sing a song that is protected by copyright.
So if you have popular videos consisting of content that you do not own, simply building up your list of subscribers and waiting to become a partner is not going to earn you any additional income unless you drastically change your video content to 100% owned by you.
I hope this helps. Feel free to comment.
Note: Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice — it's for informational purposes only.