Do's and Don'ts - Youtube's New Monetization Rules
At this point, the new monetization rules for YouTube are practically old news, but that doesn't mean people aren't still reeling from the changes. If you haven't heard, here's the quick version:
YouTube recently changed their requirements for channels to be able to monetize their videos. The previous standard was just 10,000 public views, a small hurdle for most. But now a channel needs to have 1,000 subscribers AND 4,000 hours of overall watch time. For a lot of small channels, that might seem impossibly far off.
The truth is, it's entirely attainable. But because many are impatient and want to see changes right now, they are taking to some not so great tactics to try and hurry towards the goal line. There's a right way and a wrong way to go about this and I'm here to help you from digging your channel an early grave.
DO: Collaborate With Like-minded Creators
Reaching out to people in your niche, industry, or that overlap in some way is a great way to bring in a new audience and reach potential new subscribers. Even the biggest of YouTube stars do this not just because it's fun (because it is) but because it's a way to see continued growth, by appearing on a channel with an audience who might not have heard of them quite yet. It also brings people to your channel if you partner with someone they are interested in.
Not only are you now getting eyeballs from more people, but creating partnerships and a network with people looking to grow as well, which can be useful to call on in the future when you might need their expertise or help on a project.
DON'T: Sub 4 Sub. Ever.
"Sub4Sub" is the shorthand way of saying "I'll subscribe to your channel and you subscribe to mine!" and it is the worst way to grow a channel, period. Sub4Sub ends up in two ways; you gain subscribers that never watch your videos, so you don't actually gain any watch time (the most important metric currently) or in 2 months, 2 weeks, even 2 days, they unsubscribe from you because they just don't care about what you're doing.
It's pointless and it hurts your channel, and YouTube is cracking down on it. You are better off with a small number of subscribers who truly care for your content than a high amount that never start watching a video.
DO: Be Consistent With Your Content
Consistency is key and it applies to two main aspects, the amount of content you put out and the type of content you put out.
Being consistent in how many times a week you post helps with both YouTube recognizing you are an active, engaged channel, but it also gives your regular viewers assurance of a schedule. They know when to come back time and again every week for new content. Ideally, you'll want to have at least 3 videos a week, and even better is if you can publish daily. But never let quantity overshadow quality.
Consistency with your content itself is important. It's fine to experiment within your niche, or touch on topics that are parallel to them, but it's not the best idea to be a travel vlogger who suddenly teaches how to cook (unless, of course, you're teaching how to cook while traveling, which might just work out). Keep your content consistent so your subscribers get what they came for.
DON'T: Buy Subscribers
I am honestly still surprised when someone asks me if they should buy subscribers (or followers or any platform).
Don't do it. It's not even worth remotely considering. You cannot ensure who those subscribers are, but I can guarantee they aren't your target audience. They aren't going to watch your videos, like them, or comment on them. All they will do is inflate your numbers and make it really easy for others to spot that you're fake, when they realize your subscriber count doesn't seem to match with your actual views and engagement.
Not to mention, in most cases these accounts are fake or generally inactive and will get shut down at some point when YouTube catches them, causing you to lose those subscribers and waste your money in a best case scenario. In a worst case, YouTube does have the means to shut down channels that seem to be blatantly buying subscribers, views, or anything else. You may try to fly under the radar but you're always at risk to get removed from the platform.
DO: Add Value With Comments
Commenting on other people's channels is a great way to get your own out there. Being an active member of YouTube and even better, your niche community, will earn you a positive reputation if you're adding some value with your comments. It helps to, you know, actually watch the videos you are commenting on so you can give honest opinions and thoughts in regards to it.
On the flip side, the worst thing you can do is comment a bunch of "great video!" comments on a variety of channels in a short amount of time. Brownie points if you include a "Check out my channel!" CTA. It's spammy and YouTube's bots are great at finding and flagging these comments so they'll end up in the spam section of a channel's inbox, letting them delete them or report you (or both).
You are just going to anger the owner of the channel and likely push yourself away from those who otherwise could've been potential positive relationships to help you grow.
DO: Study Your YouTube Analytics
Too many people neglect their YouTube analytics and man, do they give you so much good information. YouTube is owned by Google, after all, so the data is robust and powerful but you need to use it. Study your watch time, your traffic sources, your demographics. Keep track of which content does well and which, not so much. Which video are triggering the suggested videos section? Which are gaining the most subscribers? It's so important to inform your content strategy based on the actual numbers, so stop overlooking them.
Really, it's going to be OK. There's a reason YouTube made the changes they did but the goals are not outside of your reach, you just need to be willing to put the work in to hit them. And remember; AdSense revenue is really not all it's cracked up to be. You are better off diversifying your revenue streams than worrying too much about the few cents per view you'll get on ads running on your videos.