When you come across an amazing new channel on YouTube, one of the things you’ll find yourself wondering about is if its creator actually makes money off their content. Is it a passion project? A side hustle? Or their actual job?
Fortunately, there are a couple of different ways in which you can tell if a YouTube channel is monetized. Here’s why you should care, and which signs to look out for.
Why Should You Care If A YouTube Channel Is Monetized?
As a casual viewer, you might just be curious about whether a YouTuber earns money off the content they create. However, in many cases, it’s also worth knowing in order to assess the information creators share.
For instance, you may find that a particular YouTuber is pushing a particular brand of makeup, sports gear, or electronics. Before you decide to follow their advice to buy the products in question, it’s a good idea to check whether they have an official sponsorship by that brand, or whether they earn money from affiliate marketing.
In most cases, creators only recommend brands they truly trust, but for the full picture, this is an important bit of information to have.
If you’re an aspiring creator yourself, checking out which channels are monetized has a much more strategic importance. This way, you can gain insights into which of your favorite YouTube creators actually make money off the platform – and how.
This is key information to help you pick the right niche for your own channel, develop a well-founded content strategy, and find brand partnerships.
How to Tell If a YouTube Channel is Monetized
There are different ways a YouTuber can monetize their channel.
The first and most frequent is to join YouTube’s Partner Program. You can do so once you fulfill a basic set of criteria, such as having 3,000 public watch hours (or 3 million recent Shorts views) and 500 subscribers. Once you’re a member, you get to use YouTube’s fan funding features.
With either 4,000 watch hours or 10 million recent Shorts views, plus 1,000 subs, you also become eligible for a share of YouTube’s ad and Premium revenue.
This means that just the fact that a video has ads isn’t enough to verify if it’s monetized. It’s absolutely possible that 100% of ad revenue goes to YouTube and all the creator gets out of the deal is the satisfaction of sharing their passion.
However, as members of the Partner Program, YouTubers get a share of the ad revenue and they gain access to direct monetization features such as Super Thanks. Icons for the latter will appear directly under videos or in the comment sections of live streams.
Extra earning paths like this are one reason why it’s so hard to guess how much a YouTuber actually makes if, say, they have 100 k subscribers.
Another place to check if a channel is monetized is in their video descriptions. Many YouTubers use affiliate links to recommend products they trust. In that case, there is usually a disclaimer in their video description letting viewers know that they earn a commission.
Video descriptions of monetized channels also often contain links to tipping and subscription platforms like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee. Here, viewers can leave tips for creators, or get a monthly subscription for premium content.
Finally, a sure-fire indicator of monetization is merchandise. Many creators link to their stores on platforms like Spreadshirt. Some also use YouTube’s built-in merchandise feature.
Most of these indicators can be found in video descriptions. However, many creators also use video cards to highlight their avenues of monetization during videos. And, of course, many tell you straight-out who their sponsors are at the beginning or end of videos.
The Only Exception…
Finally, there is one case in which it’s impossible to tell if a channel is monetized or not. A creator may be part of the YouTube Partner Program. But if they pocket only the ad revenue and don’t use other monetization features, viewers won’t be able to tell.
However, there are a few basic checks you can carry out to see if this situation could apply. If a channel has fewer than 500 subscribers, they don’t qualify for the Partner Program, and it’s highly unlikely that they’re monetized.
In contrast, if they have over 500 subscribers and are uploading content regularly, the chances that they’re monetized – or working towards monetization – are high.
If you want to tell whether a YouTube channel is monetized, the best place to start is to look at video descriptions.
Check for affiliate disclaimers, links to tipping platforms, and highlighted merchandise stores. Keep an eye out for cards during videos and sponsorship disclaimers during opening and closing sequences.
In the vast majority of cases, this will help you verify if a YouTuber is earning income off their channel. Among the richest creators on the platform, of course, that’s a given.
In many cases, yes. However, if a YouTuber is only part of the platform’s Partner Program and earns money off ads and nothing else, there is no direct way to tell.
Start by checking video descriptions. Many creators who monetize their channel do so via links to tipping platforms like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee. Other indicators are affiliate links and related disclaimers, as well as links to merchandise in video descriptions. Plus, YouTube recently introduced direct tipping systems, such as “Super Thanks”, that appear directly under videos.
No. YouTube will run ads on most of their content, even videos by creators who aren’t part of its Partner Program. In that case, 100% of the ad revenue goes to YouTube, none to the creators.