Want to create an extra income stream for your business? The easiest way to start is to monetize your YouTube videos with AdSense ads.

Top YouTubers earn up to $29.5 million per year, most of which comes from Google AdSense ads shown in their videos.

If you want to join the club, you need to meet certain YouTube requirements, apply for the partnership program, and create your own AdSense account.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to do to start making money from AdSense on YouTube, including requirements, best practices, and how much you can expect to make.

What is AdSense for YouTube?

AdSense for YouTube is the platform that lets YouTube creators monetize their channels with YouTube ads.

It’s Google’s official advertising platform for publishers that lets you sell ad spaces to advertisers.

Note: Until 2020, you needed to be a YouTube Partner and actively choose to monetize with ads for them to even show up in your videos. But Google changed its terms of service and will now often show ads on videos even if you aren’t getting paid for it.

So now, the only real difference it makes is whether you’re also getting paid through the ads or Google alone profits. Thankfully, the requirements are not that hard to meet. So if you have a sizable audience already, chances are you can sign up to get your piece of the pie.

If you’re a big fan of YouTube videos, you might already know about the different types of ads that exist on the platform, but let’s quickly recap.

Different types of YouTube ads shown through AdSense

There are two main formats of ads on YouTube that help you make money — banner-based display ads like this:

AdSense display ad in YouTube video

And full-screen overlay video ads like this:

AdSense video ad in YouTube video

Since video is the main format, there are many types of video ads, including unskippable six-second ads called bumper ads and longer ads you can skip after six seconds.

The types of ads shown on your videos will affect YouTube earnings. As on other digital ad platforms, supply and demand — and therefore prices — for specific audiences differ significantly. We cover how this can affect your earning potential in a later section.

Google AdSense YouTube requirements: Joining the YouTube Partner Program

Let’s take a closer look at eligibility and the hoops you have to jump through to start monetizing your YouTube content.

Requirements of the YouTube Partner Program

To start using Google AdSense for your YouTube videos, you need to join the YouTube Partner program.

To be eligible to apply, your channel must meet the following requirements:

  • You must live in a country where the YouTube Partner program is available
  • Your channel must have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months
  • Your channel must have more than 1,000 subscribers
  • You must link your channel with a valid Google AdSense account

You can check whether or not your channel is eligible by going to the monetization section inside the YouTube studio for your channel.

Monetization tab within YouTube studio

If you aren’t eligible, it shows a notification button, offering to notify you by email when you meet the requirements.

You can start the YouTube Partner Program signup process right from that page if you’re eligible.

The review process — other reasons you may not qualify for becoming a YouTube Partner

Once your channel meets all the requirements, you can apply to become a YouTube Partner, but you’re not guaranteed to become one.

During the review, Google will check whether your content is viable for monetization.

In general, this means that your content is original and suitable for all audiences.

Another common reason for rejection is “reuse of content.” This is when video makers take clips from other YouTube videos, movies, or TV shows and use them to illustrate points or even make up the bulk of their videos.

A small YouTuber with a channel called Tee Blend had this issue. The YouTube team rejected his monetization request three times.

Because the YouTube Partner team manually checks for issues like this, the review process can take up to a month.

We’ll cover how YouTube defines “content suitable for most audiences” in our section on videos eligible for monetization below.

How to create a Google AdSense Account and link it with your YouTube channel

The first thing you need to do is create a Google AdSense account. If you already have a YouTube channel or Gmail, you have a Google account.

The homepage of Google AdSense

You just need to log in and fill out some extra information — like what country you’re based in and your website URL (you can also check the “I don’t have a site yet” box).

Signup process for Google AdSense

Fill out your business address as well, regardless of whether you’re a person or a business, and agree with Google’s terms and conditions.

If you already have a Google Ads account and are wondering if you can use that, you can’t. Google Ads is a platform for advertisers, while Google AdSense is for publishers, aka content creators. They’re two different platforms that handle different sides of Google’s ad business.

Start the YouTube Partner Program application when you’re eligible

Does your YouTube channel meet the requirement of 1,000+ subscribers and 4,000+ public watch hours?

If so, you’re ready for the next step. Click the “Apply Now” button.

Screenshot of YouTube channel eligible for monetization

The second step is to connect your Google AdSense account with your YouTube channel.

Application process for YouTube partner program

Specify that you already have a Google Adsense account.

Prompt on YouTube asking if you have AdSense

Fill out the last details on your profile, and Google AdSense will redirect you back to your YouTube account. If the YouTube AdSense connection was successful, you should see the following message:

Monetization review message on YouTube channel

The review process usually takes about two to three days but can take up to two weeks in some cases.

If you’ve followed along so far, then good luck with your application! If your channel doesn’t quite meet the requirements, we have a few tips to help you get to 1,000 subscribers and beyond.

Not there yet? 4 best practices for getting to 1,000 subscribers

Are you struggling to get your YouTube channel off the ground? It can be challenging to attract an audience if you’re a small business with no brand awareness.

After all, you have to find a unique angle that makes your business stand out among countless, often larger competitors with bigger budgets.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re entirely without hope. We’ve compiled a shortlist of four best practices that can help you kickstart your YouTube career.

1. Actively interact with your audience

Attracting an audience on YouTube isn’t just about the videos you make. It’s also about your relationship with that audience.

How you treat early fans (and even detractors) can significantly impact the growth of your YouTube subscribers.

You should always interact with your audience, even if you only get a handful of comments on each video.

For example, look at how burgeoning YouTuber Greg Preece responds to virtually every comment on his videos.

Screenshot of YouTuber interacting with comments

He understands that comments are a crucial signal that YouTube considers when recommending a video to other viewers. By interacting with comments directly, he incentivizes viewers to comment on future videos and share their thoughts.

Plus, what better way to get someone to subscribe than by actually having a conversation with them?

2. Emulate (but don’t copy) successful creators in your space

Impactful YouTube ideas can be hard to come up with. Many creators go through long periods of trial and error, sometimes lasting for months and hundreds of videos. But you don’t have to start from scratch.

If you don’t want to spend months making videos that fail to strike a chord with your audience, don’t despair. There’s a shortcut.

Identify leading creators in your space, and see which of their videos get the most attention. On a YouTube channel, you can sort the videos by most views, which makes this a simple exercise.

To find top creators in your category, search for broad topic keywords and explore top videos. Then, pay special attention to high view count videos in the suggested videos section.

Don’t copy them, but look to these videos for inspiration.

3. “Piggy-back” off of topics with existing interest

If you’re just starting on YouTube, no one is going out of their way to find your YouTube video or channel. That’s just a harsh reality.

So don’t sit and wait for an audience. Instead, make videos on topics within your niche that already interest people. You can focus on evergreen content, like issues or questions anyone will have when first renovating their house.

You can do keyword research with a professional SEO tool or let Google guide your way to such questions. Explore related questions and searches, and let autocomplete expand your search from your general topic keyword — like “home renovation.”

Then make sure to optimize the YouTube SEO for your videos.

As a small YouTube channel, it can be hard to get noticed for the most popular topics. The best strategy is to take advantage of speed.

Google Trends is your friend here. Always be on the lookout for breakout topics that stand out (you can even set up daily email alerts).

Google Trends for home improvement

For example, a YouTube video on “the dark side of home renovation shows” sounds like a great idea.

You should also keep your finger on the pulse of YouTube trends and take advantage wherever possible.

4. Optimize your videos for YouTube’s suggested videos algorithm

Don’t only focus on keywords when suggested videos drive over 70% of all views on the platform.

Make an effort to:

  • Craft titles and thumbnails that make your video stand out
  • Draw your audience in during the first minute to improve average watch time
  • Make longer, in-depth videos (YouTube’s goal is to keep users on the platform as long as possible)

Fashion magazine GQ does a great job of this with its series on how celebs spent their first million.

YouTube video and thumbnails from GQ

The title captures the interest of the audience, and the thumbnails feature a big stack of cash or ridiculous purchases of the celebrities.

If you’re struggling to present yourself and your company well on camera, we can help you out with a professional video spokesperson.

What types of videos are eligible for monetization via AdSense?

Regular non-adult video content that doesn’t cover sensitive topics is eligible for monetization via AdSense.

Google calls this type of content advertiser-friendly. This is in contrast to themes Google considers sensitive, which makes videos likely to get demonetized.

These include:

  • Inappropriate language
  • Violence
  • Adult content
  • Shocking content
  • Harmful or dangerous acts
  • Hateful and derogatory content
  • Recreational drugs and drug-related content
  • Firearms-related content
  • Controversial issues
  • Sensitive events
  • Enabling dishonest behavior
  • Incendiary and demeaning content
  • Tobacco-related content
  • Adult themes in family content

Table covering factors of advertiser-friendly videos

If your content contains any of these themes, YouTube will make quick work of your dreams of big bucks. They’re getting more strict about their standards for advertiser-friendly content as time goes on.

What constitutes “inappropriate language”?

One of the biggest reasons for demonetization is the most straightforward: inappropriate language. But that begs the question, what exactly does YouTube consider inappropriate language?

A couple of YouTubers have tried to compile a list of likely suspects:

Google spreadsheet of demonetized words for YouTube

Many words on the list are just swear words or ways to try to avoid filters by using numbers in place of letters. But you see a fair number of controversial topics as well.

For example, videos that mention the website 4Chan have a fairly high likelihood of demonetization.

Increasingly strict standards of demonetization

Over the past several years, YouTube has become more strict about content and has actively demonetized videos from even the most prominent YouTubers.

Casey Neistat, one of the biggest video bloggers on the platform, has repeatedly had videos demonetized, even though they seem innocuous.

YouTube videos on demonetization

One of the issues is that Google includes things like “controversial issues” on their no-no list, which isn’t very clear. Vague language like this essentially gives YouTube the leeway to demonetize virtually any video.

The best you can do is take Google’s word for it and make content without any foul language that doesn’t attack anyone or touch on controversial topics.

How much money do you make with AdSense on YouTube per million views?

Depending on your content and how long the videos are, you can earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for one million views on your videos.

Let’s explore the two main factors at play here: your topics — and, by extension, your audience — and how long your videos are.

Factor 1: Your video topics

Advertisers typically pay a CPM (cost per 1,000 views) ranging between $4–10 for every 1,000 views of their ad, but the prices range wildly from category to category — some categories can be as cheap as $0.10 CPM.

For example, a video on “how to pose for photos” earned less than $750 in ad revenue for 2.3 million views.

Fashion case study of YouTube Ad Revenue

Jimmy, a tech YouTuber who reviews gadgets, apps, computers, and more, received a much higher CPM for his videos in 2020. He averaged over $4,700 per million views or a CPM of $4.7.

Tech case study of YouTube Ad Revenue

But it can get even higher. In a recent live stream, entrepreneur and YouTuber Noah Kagan shared behind-the-scenes data for a popular video that netted him $3,832.36 for under 120,000 views.

MMO study of YouTube Ad Revenue

That puts his CPM at an absurd $32.67. At the current rate, a million views on that video would earn him over $32,000.

These examples demonstrate just how differently YouTube values views from different audiences.

Here are a few factors at play that make an audience more or less valuable to advertisers:

  • Location: Advertisers are willing to pay more for an audience based in the U.S. vs. one in Southeast Asia.
  • Interests: Advertisers will pay more for ads on a video about making money online or software engineering than about fashion.
  • Age: If most of your audience is young teenagers, this can also affect your AdSense revenue.

Your video topics, personality, and presentation style will determine your audience.

The second main factor is how long your videos are.

Factor 2: Video duration

The length of your video affects how many ads get shown, which obviously impacts your earning potential.

Why longer YouTube videos earn more

Instead of one opportunity per video to make money from an ad, you get multiple. So basically, the longer your average video length, the more your average video view will be worth.

Of course, there’s a point of diminishing returns since the required time investment also increases exponentially. So you need to find the right balance for your channel between length, quality, and volume of videos.

4 other ways to monetize your YouTube channel beyond AdSense

Don’t worry if even higher-end CPMs like $3–4 won’t add up to much with your current subscriber count. AdSense isn’t your only option for monetizing your channel.

Live streaming and super chats

YouTube isn’t just a video-sharing platform. It’s also the second-largest live streaming platform in the world, with 1.4 billion hours of live stream watched in Q1 2021.

If your channel is monetized, you can receive “super chat” messages or “super stickers” while streaming. Loyal fans often use this to ask a live streamer a question or simply cheer them on.

YouTube live stream super chat example

Fans can donate between $1–$500 per super chat. Google keeps around 30% of every donation.

Enabling super chats is as easy as heading over to the “Supers” section in your monetization tab and clicking the “Enable” button.

Supers tab of channel monetization page

YouTube channel memberships

You can also set up a membership program for your channel. You can create varying tiers of “members” who get special perks, like early video access, dedicated live streams, and more.

Landing page for YouTube channel membership

Creators receive 70% revenue share (after taxes and fees) from these memberships.

To be eligible, in addition to being in the YouTube Partner Program, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You need a community page.
  • Your channel cannot be aimed at kids.
  • You can’t have a high number of demonetized videos.
  • You must be in an eligible country.
  • You must agree to Google’s terms of use for the program.

Private sponsorship deals

If you’re even the least bit active on YouTube, you’ve probably heard one of the following sponsorship messages before:

  • “This video is sponsored by SOME VPN, who can help you browse the internet privately and securely. ”
  • “Raid: Shadow Legends is a mobile game that…..”

If the widespread nature of YouTube sponsorship proves anything, it’s that they work. They’re even spreading to smaller channels. Companies hired 300% more micro-influencers in 2020 than in 2016.

And that’s good news for you. Even with a few thousand subscribers, you have a real chance at landing a lucrative sponsor.

And if you’re making videos for your company, you can promote your own products in the videos. Highlight them in use as you help your audience solve their problems.

Affiliate marketing

The last approach to make some extra income beyond ads is to promote affiliate products in your videos.

If you’re making an instructional video on training, you can leave affiliate links to the yoga mat or free weights you use in the description.

In the right niche, affiliate marketing can blossom into a healthy income stream alongside your advertising revenue as an AdSense publisher.


While it’s not the only way to monetize your YouTube channel, AdSense is the method that requires the least amount of up-front work — provided you already meet the YouTube Partner Program requirements.

But for small businesses, even getting past that first milestone of 1,000 subscribers can be a challenge.

If your business is struggling to grow an audience and make an impact with your YouTube channel, schedule a free call with our marketing experts today.