How Many Subscribers Do You Need to Make Money on YouTube?

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Making money on YouTube is possible for anyone, but it’s about more than just creating great content. It’s about building an audience of dedicated people who are interested and engaged in your content and then learning how to monetize that content.

An important question to consider when you’re setting up these building blocks on your channel is this: How many subscribers do you need to make money on YouTube?

The truth of it is…

Some channels with fewer subscribers make a lot of money and some channels with millions of subscribers make very little money.

Having more subscribers on YouTube will always help you make more money. There is more potential with a higher number of subscribers.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make real money without reaching a million subscribers.

It all depends on a few different factors, including:

  • What niche your content is in
  • The style of your video content
  • Your monetization preferences
  • How engaging your content is

Getting a better understanding of these factors will help you decide how you might earn money on YouTube and how many subscribers you need to make money on YouTube.

Most Common Ways to Make Money on YouTube

YouTube monetization options

People make money on YouTube in a variety of ways, but we’re going to dive into the most common methods that people are using to make the most money.

Remember that when it comes to any of these revenue streams for your channel, creating high-quality videos that are engaging will lead to more subscribers and more sales.


Advertising is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make money on YouTube. It’s as simple as placing ads in or around your video content and collecting a portion of the money generated from viewers clicking on them.

I’m sure you’re no stranger to seeing ads on YouTube. Ads are often the price that we pay for any free content on the internet.

ads on youtube example

Advertising can be a great source of passive income because it requires little effort to maintain after setup.

The downside is that you don’t get paid much for it. Generally, you’ll need to have a lot of subscribers and views to make any real money with ads.

The best strategy is to diversify your YouTube income with various methods, ads being just one of them.

How Ad Revenue on YouTube Works

In order to start monetizing your channel with ads, you’ll need to first join the YouTube Partner program. We’ll explain more about the specific eligibility requirements later on in this article.

Additionally, your videos must follow YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content and community guidelines and you’ll need a Google AdSense account to collect payments from YouTube.

There are two types main types of video ad formats:

  • pre-roll video ads that play before a video
  • and display ads that appear in the video description box
youtube display ads for subscribers

The amount advertisers pay for each ad depends on the type of ad, target audience, and other factors such as how much engagement (viewers watching until the end) each ad has had.

Typically, advertisers pay more when viewers are more engaged, so creating interesting and engaging content can help increase ad revenue significantly.

Advertisers also pay more when they know their target audience is likely to see their ad, so segmenting based on audience demographics (age range, gender, interests etc.) can help increase chances of getting higher paying ads in your videos.

We’ll talk more about how to join the YouTube partner program later on in this article along with YouTube video eligibility requirements.


Sponsorships are another popular way to earn more money on YouTube.

This method involves partnering with brands and companies in order to promote their products or services in exchange for financial compensation.

In order for creators to earn money through sponsorships, you generally need to have a large subscriber base (into the tens of thousands). But not always.

You can make money with sponsorships even with a smaller audience, but they must be highly targeted and engaged with your content and ideally trust your opinions and recommendations. (Sponsors pay more for this).

Ideally, you seek out brands and products that are related to your niche and channel topic as well as to your target audience. Building relationships with sponsors is a good way to get exclusive discounts and other offers for your audience.

Tips for YouTube Sponsorships

Try to incorporate sponsorships in an organic way. If viewers feel like you’re just trying to “sell something” to them, they’ll be less likely to bite.

One way to do this is by providing a lot of really valuable information in your videos.

The more YouTube views and subscribers that you have, the more likely brand and companies will reach out to YOU for sponsorships. Otherwise, you’ll have to seek out these partnerships on your own.

YouTube also provides helpful tools, like Creator Sponsorships and Brand Partnerships, that which allow creators to connect with potential sponsors more easily and efficiently.

You can also check the detailed analytics in your channel to see how viewers engage and respond with sponsored content and adjust accordingly.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another popular revenue stream for most YouTube creators that involves promoting other companies’ products or services in exchange for a commission on any sales generated through their promotion.

Once accepted into an affiliate program, you’ll get a unique tracking links (affiliate links) that you can share with your audience.

When someone clicks your affiliate link and purchases, you get paid a commission from the merchant – usually between 4-15% of the total purchase price depending on the affiliate program rules.

How to Use Affiliate Marketing in YouTube Content

You can share these affiliate links and partnerships with your subscribers in many ways. One effective method is creating review videos. You can review affiliate products and services and tell your viewers why you love them.

Other examples of how to use affiliate marketing in video content include tutorials and comparisons (comparing products and services).

For example, we partner with Bluehost and feature them in our YouTube videos.

affiliate marketing on youtube

A channel about photography and filming could focus on creating videos on their favorite camera or filming equipment, the software they use to edit photos or videos, etc.

This kind of dedicated content is more effective at earning affiliate sales than just throwing out your affiliate links everywhere – as much as possible.

Don’t forget that when it comes to sponsorships and affiliate marketing, you want to make sure that you create multiple videos about these topics and always add your paid links to your video descriptions.

And finally, you need to make sure you have the right disclosures for affiliate marketing and sponsorships. It’s important to be transparent about your relationships with companies that pay you and it’s also a legal requirement in the US.

Product Sales

As a content creator, you can also make money on YouTube by selling your own products.

This can include physical items such as t-shirts, hats, mugs, and any other type of your own merchandise that bears the creator’s logo or design. This can be outsourced pretty easily by setting up Shopify with YouTube.

You can also involve digital products such as ebooks, online courses, or even software applications. This is partly how we monetize our YouTube channel through the sale of our blogging courses.

You can link our products directly as well as build an email list to sell even more.

This is a great way to earn money on YouTube that is very flexible and doesn’t require a certain number of YouTube subscribers or to join the YouTube partner program.

Donations and Patreon

make money on youtube with patreon

In addition to the above methods, a YouTube video creator can also make money from donations or fan contributions through services such as Patreon or PayPal.

Many creators offer exclusive access to bonus content and rewards in exchange for donations. Others just ask their viewers to “buy them a coffee” in the form of a donation.

As with every other revenue stream mentioned, being more engaged with your audience and overdelivering value will help you translate more video views into subscribers and donations. Consider staying connected and responsive via social media and video comments.

Channel Memberships

youtube channel memberships monetization

Lastly, another way that YouTubers earn money is through channel memberships. This is similar to the donation-based model that we just explained above but YouTube has created a way for YouTubers to set this up within their own platform rather than using an external platform like Patreon or PayPal.

YouTube, of course, takes a cut from channel memberships. Currently, this cut amounts to 30% of earnings.

Channel memberships start at $4.99/month and can be set as much as $49.99. Creators decide how much they want to charge their members and usually offer similar benefits to what we described on the donation-basis model: exclusive offers, perks, content, etc.

Who are some of the top YouTube earners?

From comedians to beauty gurus to kids just being kids, there are millions of people making money with YouTube.

Let’s look at YouTube earnings from a few top creators:

  1. Jenna Marbles started her channel back in 2010 and quickly rose to fame. From her hilarious YouTube videos and vlogs, Jenna has been able to earn an estimated $8 million in 2020 alone.
  2. Jeffree Star creates makeup tutorials, vlogs, and product reviews that have earned him an estimated net worth of over $50 million dollars. His channel has also gained over 20 million subscribers, making him one of the most successful YouTubers in the world.
  3. PewDiePie‘s highly entertaining gaming and comedy videos have earned him over 105 million subscribers and a net worth of roughly $30-40 million dollars.

These are just a few examples of the many top-earning creators on YouTube who have achieved tremendous success from their hard work and dedication.

But how hard do you really have to work? How many subscribers do you need to make money on YouTube?

Well, all of these people have millions of subscribers. If you want to make millions, you’re going to need YouTube views in the millions. But let’s dive a little deeper.

How Many Subscribers Do You Need to Make Money on YouTube?

Typically, you need to have at least a few thousand subscribers to make money on YouTube.

For one, you have to have at least 1,000 subscribers and join the YouTube partner program in addition to a certain amount of viewers’ watch time (more on that when we discuss specific eligibility requirements in the next section).

Anything less than 1,000 subscribers means that you’re not likely to get enough views to get enough clicks and conversions on your ads, sponsorships, or affiliate links.

But every YouTube account and channel is different. Here are some interesting facts about our experience running our three YouTube channels (one of which we have sold).

Our Experience With YouTube Subscribers and Earning Money

The first YouTube channel that we started featured a stick figure that taught viewers more about their health based on science-backed facts. This channel was up to 400,000 subscribers right before we sold it.

But even with that high level of subscribers, the fact that we would post regularly, and how much YouTubers loved that channel, we could never really make a lot of money with it.

With our linked AdSense account, we averaged about $1,000/month in ad revenue – not much for 400k subscribers.

Paid ads often don’t amount to much in the health and fitness space – even with an engaged audience. We were earning money from product sales, but that also only amounted to another $2,000-$3,000/month.

Our other YouTube channel, in the online business and blog space, has helped us earn 5x that with 1/3 of the subscribers — because it’s in a niche where we can sell more expensive products (our own and as an affiliate marketer).

And lastly, we started a travel video YouTube account with some incredible videos on it. Despite getting shared on Facebook and reaching over 2 million Facebook views (with their native video player), it only reached 8,500 subscribers on YouTube and wasn’t able to be monetized with ads becuase it featured music that we didn’t own the rights to.

The truth is, anyone can make money on YouTube with any number of subscribers. How many youtube views you have doesn’t always translate into earnings. You have to be intentional with how you set up your channel and monetize it.

There are success stories everywhere, but most YouTubers make nothing, a lot make some money, and far few make millions.

One thing we’ve learned is that having other monetization strategies (like starting a blog) can help supplement and complement your YouTube income. We simply use YouTube to drive traffic and supplement the main business (this website).

What Types of Videos are Eligible for Monetization?

In order for YouTube video content to be eligible for monetization, you must adhere to certain requirements set by YouTube’s Partner Program.

YouTube Partner Program Rules for Eligibility

Here is an overview of the basics:

  1. Live in a country that participates in YouTube’s Partner program
  2. Have no active strikes on your YouTube account
  3. At least 1,000 subscribers
  4. At least 4,000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months

You also have to follow YouTube’s Partner Program rules regarding your content, copyright laws, ad policies, and more.

Content-wise, videos must comply with all relevant laws and must not contain any adult or explicit content, hate speech, or anything that violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines.

In addition to this, videos must not contain any third-party copyrighted content without the necessary permissions.

Make sure to read over all of YouTube’s Partner Program rules before applying.

What are the Steps to Start Making Money on YouTube?

Once you’ve determined that your videos are eligible for monetization, it’s time to become a YouTube partner!

1. Verify Your Account and Set Up Monetization

Before you can apply for the YouTube partner program, you first need to verify your account. This can be done by visiting “Account Settings” and selecting “Verify Now” to receive a verification code via text or email and complete verification.

The second step is to enable monetization on your channel. This can be done by visiting the “Monetization” tab in YouTube’s “Account Settings” page and clicking “Enable Monetization”.

2. Connect to an Advertising Network

Before you can start making money with ads, you need to connect it to an advertising network. You can do this by signing up for a Google AdSense account and linking it to your YouTube channel.

Once your account has been approved and linked, you can start displaying ads on your videos.

Note that different networks offer different requirements and payouts. It may be beneficial to sign up for multiple networks in order to maximize potential income.

3. Create High-Quality and Engaging Videos – Consistently

We already mentioned this before, but this is the key to success on YouTube. Ideally, you create longer videos that keep people engaged until the end.

When you’re uploading videos to YouTube studio, make sure to add the right tags and keywords to your descriptions to help them get found in search. Include any affiliate links or links to your website or other social channels.

Ask for subscribers at the end of every video and make sure to post regularly and consistently to help your channel grow.

4. Monitor Your Channel’s Performance

YouTube analytics monetization

The final step is to monitor your channel’s performance. Check YouTube Analytics for views and revenue data as well as audience engagement on each video.

Pay attention to see which videos are performing better. If you can create a viral video, it will help you get subscribers a lot faster. Consider networking and outreach to try to increase the reach of your videos.

If you have a blog, embed your videos in your blog posts.

Getting Subscribers on YouTube

I hope we helped answer the question of how many subscribers you need to make money on YouTube. As you can see, it really depends.

If you take away anything from this article, it should be this: No matter what, more subscribers and more views will only help you grow and earn more on YouTube.

So on that note, I’d like to leave you with a few quick tips on how to get more subscribers on your channel.

  1. Ask your viewers to subscribe at the end of your videos.
  2. Change your end screen to display a subscribe button and link to watch another relevant or popular video. You can also add a link to a website or email opt-in here.
  3. Publish videos often and consistently to help your channel grow.
  4. Add your YouTube videos to your blog posts and cross-promote them on other platforms when possible.
  5. Pay attention to your analytics and do more of what’s working.
  6. Use keyword research tools to find good keywords to use in your videos.
  7. Utilize your description for keywords, affiliate links, and links to your website or products.

If you liked this article on how many subscribers you need to make money on YouTube or have any questions, please feel free to leave them below!