6 Reasons Why YouTube Won’t Monetize Your Channel
YouTube doesn’t really need an introduction. You know what it is, and you know what a big deal it is in the everyday lives of millions of people around the world.
But many YouTube fans aren’t just watching these interesting, informative, and entertaining videos for hours on end—we’re creating them too! And a lot of us are trying to make real money with our video content—and not just #beermoney, but rent money and new car money, too.
How Long Have You Been Waiting for Ad Approval on YouTube?
A few years ago, just about anyone could qualify to have Google ads placed on their videos and make a few bucks on their YouTube channel. Even amateur vloggers with a few dozen subs had a real shot at making money online.
But eventually, YouTube began to require certain qualifications for monetization. In 2017, you needed 10,000-lifetime views to qualify for their ad partner program.
And then last year (2018) it changed again, and creators now need to have at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of watch time over a rolling 365-day period.
This came as a blow to many video creators who had their hopes up to make money on YouTube in 2019. Now the bar has been raised that much higher, and many are discouraged about the additional time and effort it will require to qualify.
But some creators—perhaps some of you reading this article right now—have hustled hard to grow your channel, have reached the new standards, and have submitted your request to join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and start making money.
You’ve been waiting and waiting for approval, but you haven’t heard anything from YouTube’s monetization team yet. The days turned into weeks, and now you might have been waiting for a few months.
How long does it take to get approved for YouTube monetization?
When will your YouTube channel get monetized?
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Now, there are tons of YouTubers trying to get monetized, so it’s not surprising that the staff at YouTube might simply be swamped with requests. So it just might take a while for some to get approved.
But some of you will probably never get approved until you make big changes to your content and to your entire approach to making money on YouTube.
So here are six big reasons why your YouTube channel might never get monetized. Are you making any of these common YouTuber mistakes?
1. Your Channel Doesn’t Meet the Current Criteria
First of all, let’s make sure that you really understand the current YPP monetization requirements. As of this writing, there are two:
4,000 hours of watch time in the past 365 days
The 1,000 subscribers is pretty difficult to misunderstand—though there might be some snags that will cause you problems (see below). But for the most part, either you have 1,000 subs or you don’t.
If you’ve submitted your YPP request before hitting that number, it’s unlikely that you will be approved quickly. In fact, it’s possible that your request could be rejected and then you’d have to resubmit and wait through the whole process all over again.
So it’s probably best to just be patient and wait until you hit 1,000 before trying to get monetized.
The part where some YouTubers get mixed up is with the 4,000 hours of watch time.
That is 240,000 minutes of watch-time over the past 365 days. It is not lifetime minutes of watch time. It covers a rolling period of the past 365 days.
If you use YouTube analytics on your desktop, or even just on the YouTube Creator Studio app on your smartphone, you can filter your watch time stats over the past 365 days to see if you’ve hit the 240,000 minutes target or not.
Now, don’t just stop putting out videos once you hit that number and apply for YPP monetization. Keep posting videos. Keep promoting and sharing your content. Make it easy for YouTube to recognize that your channel is legit and is still growing.
If you’ve hit the 4,000-hour mark and have been approved, can you lose your monetization status if your watch time dips back below the minimum requirement or if your subscriber count drops back below 1,000 subs? That’s a good question too, and thankfully YouTube has already answered it with an official, “Nope.”
2. Your Content Is Not Original
Another problem area that is rampant on YouTube—and on the internet in general—is the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials. You’ve likely seen tons of YouTube channels out there that upload video clips of TV shows, movies, business conferences, and other content that someone else created.
Maybe you do that yourself.
Many creators are under the impression that all they have to do is include a Fair Use Act disclaimer in the video description or in the comments section, and all is good.
But all is not good.
The Fair Use Act
The Fair Use Act is commonly misunderstood and misused all the time on YouTube. You can’t just put up a clip of someone else’s video and make money from it. In fact, monetization has nothing to do with it at all. Monetized or not, that content is not yours to upload without the owner's permission.
You are literally stealing people's content.
The Fair Use Act does generally allow for video creators to use clips of video content for purposes of commentary. This is what you might see on a TV news channel or a YouTube channel that uses a short clip of someone’s video and then spends a few minutes talking about it.
But putting up someone else’s video without a huge amount of your own original commentary isn’t going to cut it.
The owners of that content might not be pursuing every offender right now, but if they decide to start suing YouTube and Google for allowing it to happen, they will likely win the case or win a settlement out of court. That would be a huge financial loss for YouTube and Google, so that’s why they are tightening up their restrictions against such channels.
And the same goes with gaming content.
Technically, screen captures of live video play is trademarked material, and video game companies can sue YouTube and individual creators at any time for unauthorized use. Nintendo has actually done this, or at least threatened to, and so YouTube seems to be more hesitant to approve new gaming channels for monetization than in the past.
Gaming is a very controversial area of the web right now because of these messy legal questions, and I’ve seen many recent comments from small gaming channels who’ve had their YPP applications denied over this issue.
It’s frustrating because you see many larger gaming channels that are still monetized, so there’s no consistent enforcement here at this time.
But it seems that if YouTube wants to avoid lawsuits going forward, it might have to start denying monetization for gaming channels who upload screen captures without consent from the game developers.
Some game developers explicitly allow YouTubers to make videos of their games, so hopefully we’ll see more of these companies proactively supporting the gaming community in the future. But for now, it’s a gray area that could lead to YPP problems and demonetization.
3. You Buy Followers and Sub4Sub
For those who don’t know, subscribing to other YouTubers in exchange for them subscribing back to you—or with the intention of them subbing back out of courtesy—is a practice known as sub4sub.
It’s not new.
Also called followback or follow/unfollow, it’s been one of the most popular and most abused methods for growing accounts across all social media platforms for the past several years.
And YouTubers do it all the time, thinking that it’s a legit way to grow a channel and qualify for Google ads.
In reality, sub4sub is a blatant violation of YouTube’s terms of service (TOS). That means that when YouTube catches you participating in sub4sub, you won’t get monetized (or your YouTube channel will get demonetized). You will get a TOS strike against your account. And you might even get your account closed immediately.
So don’t do sub4sub.
Don’t participate in Facebook groups or forum groups where creators agree to sub to each other and stuff like that either.
If the only reason a group like this exists on social media is to boost each other’s stats, then you’re walking on thin ice and could eventually get shut down and lose your account, even if you have great content and tons of legit subs.
You also aren’t allowed to buy subscribers. This is explicitly against the rules too. Basically, any method that artificially inflates your subscriber count is against the rules and will get you penalized.
4. You Spam to Get Traffic and Ad Clicks
Just as acquiring subscribers in spammy ways is prohibited, getting traffic in spammy ways is also frowned upon and could prevent your videos from being monetized. It can even get your account shut down.
There are legitimate ways to get organic traffic such as using popular keywords and tags, sharing your videos on social media, and things like that. Many YouTubers even buy Google ads to push traffic to their videos and channel pages right there within the YouTube platform.
But if you’re engaging in spam tactics to get more views, especially by using automated methods and bots on a large scale, then you could be asking for trouble.
And never, ever tell people to click on your ads. That is against Google’s own TOS and will get your AdSense account banned in a heartbeat.
5. Your Content Violates YouTube TOS
Prohibited content is another problem that could prevent you from making money with your videos. As noted above, copyrighted content that someone else made is not allowed. But original content that you made yourself can also violate YouTube’s TOS.
Content that promotes hate or violence—and content that depicts acts of violence—can get you demonetized or deleted.
Content that promotes alcohol, drugs, and firearms is also likely to get you demonetized. Google’s own TOS for its AdSense program already forbids these types of content, so you can’t expect them to place their ads on your videos if you violate their TOS.
Content that reveals people’s personal information such as home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers could also get demonetized.
Another big offense that won’t necessarily get your account shut down but that will prevent you from being monetized is excessive profanity. The Creator Insider channel just put out an excellent video to clarify the rules surrounding profanity, so be sure to watch that one if you like to cuss a little in your videos.
6. You’re Channel Is Inactive
If your YouTube channel is inactive for six months, with no video uploads or community posts from you, then YouTube reserves the right to demonetize or even close down your account.
So once your channel does finally get monetized, be sure to keep showing some love by uploading more content, posting to your community feed, and responding to comments from your audience.
Everyone loves passive income, since you can basically set it and forget it, right? But don’t forget it for too long, or you could lose it all.
We are living at a truly unique time in history. Not only has the internet and mobile technology radically changed the way we consume content and interact with each other, but it also allows everyday, average people without any special training or resources to create video content and build a business online.
If you’re a content creator on YouTube and are waiting to see if you’ll be accepted into the YPP program, take a look at your content and make sure that you aren’t committing any of these offenses and violating YouTube’s policies for creators.
And if you are breaking the rules, delete the offending content and get busy replacing it with legit, original high-quality content that delivers a lot of value to your audience and attracts real subscribers.
I’m not an expert on all things internet, but I have been writing and creating content for a few years now on HubPages, social media, blogs, niche sites and now YouTube. I’ve made thousands of dollars across a lot of different platforms and have learned a lot of things to do and things not to do.
If you’re new to making money on YouTube and on the internet in general and have any questions about this stuff, go ahead and ask in the comments below. I’ll do my best to give you helpful answers.
And of course, the HubPages community also has many other members who have been far more successful than I have and will be happy to offer their best suggestions too.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Chris Desatoff