To get monetized on YouTube, you need 1,000 subscribers (across the lifespan of your channel) and 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months on your long-form content.
Reaching 4,000 watch hours for some creators is simple - but for others, it may require additional effort, time, and patience.
Some of the factors that determine how quickly you can enter the YouTube Partner Program will be discussed in this guide.
But more importantly, we will try to show you what is the secret to getting 4,000 watch hours, what your focus should be, and how you can find your magic pill.
Let's dive in!
How To Speed-Through To YouTube Partner Program
As of 2023, you can also get your channel monetized through views on your YouTube Shorts.
In the case of YouTube Shorts, you will need 10 million views in the last 90 days to enter the YouTube Partner Program (with of course, a minimum of 1,000 subscribers).
Once you get your channel monetized, you will be able to place ads on all of your short and long-form content, regardless of how you managed to achieve monetization.
What our analysis revealed, however, is two very important things. First, it is extra hard to hit monetization with shorter long-form videos.
Those videos are the ones that are in the range of 1-5 minutes. They don't belong in the Shorts category, and you need a total watch time of 4,000 hours across these videos in 12 months.
With an average view duration for new creators trending below 50%, you stand to get less watch time per video. That means you likely need more videos, and more content ideas to get your desired watch time necessary for monetization.
Second, mixing YouTube Shorts with long-form content can be a viable solution for many niches, but it still fails to work for some.
Certain niches and certain audiences simply work better with short-form and quick-to-digest content. That means that the audience you generate through Shorts may very much not convert to regular watchers of your long-form content.
This all plays into a bigger picture and relates to your overall goals for the channel.
And that's why many who struggle to get 4,000 watch hours for a longer period of time need to look into the direction of content and value improvement.
The number of watch hours is there for a reason. If you are having trouble hitting 4,000 watch hours for a long time, then there won't be much use in getting monetized.
However, whether you are just starting out, or you've been in the creator's shoes for quite a while, this guide is your best bet to fast-tracking your way to 4,000 watch hours.
Let's Break Down 4,000 Watch Hours
4,000 watch hours may sound like a lot, so it might be a good idea to break it down a bit.
To reach 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months, you will need 334 watch hours a month on average. To break that down further, you will need 4k views each month, where each view should be at least 5 minutes long.
You can also have 240 videos that are 10 minutes in length, with each getting 100 views.
However you want to break it down, you are likely to realize 2 things:
- 4,000 watch hours is not a small number for a new creator.
- You need a strategy focused on fewer videos with better quality, value, and retention time.
Generating 240 videos in a year is something that is not doable for the majority of creators - even if you make this your full-time job for the next 12 months, you are not going to dedicate enough time to each video to satisfy the taste for the quality content of today's users on YouTube.
Below's tips and hacks will help you in your endeavor to reach 4,000 watch hours quickly - but they will also lay a foundation for the stable growth of your channel in the long term.
How To Get 4,000 Watch Hours - Fast & Furious
Stay with us for a second. While this "advice" sounds so simple and obvious, we are all often stuck in analysis paralysis. We tend to overanalyze and over-plan before we start putting in any sort of effort.
And while planning has its place, when you are just starting out, the data you can get from getting your first videos out will be so much more effective than any guide you can read (including this one).
The only way to know if YouTube is the right thing for you, and what you need to do to achieve success with it is to get your content in front of people's eyes.
Once it's out, YouTube will provide you with plenty of data points:
- Average view-duration
These data points are incredibly valuable in providing you with context on how people feel about your content, and what your further steps should be.
This is the best way to start getting your first 4,000 watch hours that are necessary to enter YouTube Partner Program.
Optimize Your Videos
The over-repeated advice of optimizing your videos you likely heard all around the Internet - but there are many intricacies related to video optimization.
An average small-time creator is very likely to neglect plenty of these. While the above advice of "just start" is very effective, you will do much more damage if you:
- Put your content in front of the right people by optimizing your video for the relevant keywords, aka, SEO.
- Add chapters to your videos to further improve SEO & visibility.
- Once the video is in front of the right audience, you need to make sure people actually click on it. And the best way to do that is to apply the science of psychology to your thumbnails and titles.
Use Trends Wisely
One thing that many people neglect is the importance of trends.
Whatever is trending now is exactly what people need the most.
It's also something that a lot of creators tend to miss because they get stuck in the tangles of their existing content strategies.
They fail to recognize when a topic is hot, and how to jump on a specific trend, in order to reach a new audience that is hungry to find more about the topic.
Tools that we use to watch out for trends are:
- Google Trends - It will give you some data on how a specific keyword or a topic is trending.
- Exploding Topics (Pro subscription available) - It will help you discover specific topics, niches, and products that are trending. They are doing analyses based on a high number of data points and monitor chatter all over the Internet.
Viral Videos Are Your Best Bet
Let's not beat around the bush anymore. If you want to get to those 4,000 watch hours overnight, your best bet is to try and make a viral video.
But going viral without an audience can feel downright impossible, especially for new creators.
However, there are plenty of reasons why videos end up going viral, and there are plenty of reasons why specific creators can tap into this, and continue to reach new audiences over and over again.
In order to create a viral video, you need to have good knowledge around:
- Creating engaging titles and thumbnails.
- Video hooks and how to get your viewers hooked within the first 30 seconds of your video (the sooner the better).
- Storytelling - without a good story, and your ability to tell one in an intriguing way, there's no way you are going to get a high retention rate. And without it, your chances of going viral drop close to zero.
Keep The Engagement & Retention High
In order to get to those 4,000 watch hours, you will need to master the art of audience retention and engagement.
It's just common sense - if you make a 10-minute video, and you have a retention rate of 20%, you are only getting 2 minutes of watch time per viewer on your video. Your goal is to increase that retention so that each view counts more.
But even more importantly, the retention rate matters for an entirely different reason.
YouTube takes retention and engagement metrics very seriously; a low retention rate leads YouTube to believe (rightfully so) that your video has no value because viewers obviously leave soon.
Given that YouTube wants users on the platform, its algorithm is set to only recommend videos that keep the user engaged. If you fail at retaining the user, you will actively be failing to climb the algorithm and get recommended more.
If you want to have a high retention rate, you need to be thinking about the following:
- Video hooks
- Video challenges
- Video endings
Study The Bigs
In the early niche research and content strategy process, you are likely to find a ton of channels in your niche that are doing quite well.
Your job is to research these channels, and try to figure out the following:
- What combination of factors makes them successful - do they publish a lot, what thumbnails do they use, what type of writing do they have, and what type of storytelling do they employ?
- What are the topics that draw a lot of attention - Between all of the competing channels, you will often see patterns of the same topics that do extremely well. Those topics can reveal a lot about what your audience desires to see.
- How can you make your content better - When researching the competition, you need to think both as a user and a creator. When thinking as a user, try and notice how their content makes you feel. What is it about their content that makes you stay or what makes you click away? And as a creator, think in terms of applying how you can improve upon their weaknesses and learn from their strengths.
Create Series & Playlists
A lot of small creators underestimate the power of content series and playlists. These can be incredibly powerful, especially in your attempt to reach 4,000 watch hours.
Well, instead of having only 1 video about a specific topic, you can create an entire series (if the topic justifies it). If you manage to do other things correctly, a content series will get you more subscribers, more engagement, and an eager audience that can't wait to binge your next content piece.
However, to pull this off successfully, you need to make a content series with immense value.
This is likely to be on the topic around your expertise. This series needs to be filled with unique value or experience - something that your audience will struggle to find anywhere else for free.
A good example would be a course on a topic that you planned on selling for a price.
Even though you'd give that knowledge away for free, in the long run, you will benefit far more.
You are likely to receive a 10x payoff once you actually build an audience that will recognize you as an expert on a specific set of topics.
End Screens Are Your Friend
Utilizing end screens can be an incredibly powerful method to get viewers to continue to watch content from your channel - and thus building your watch hours towards that 4,000 goal.
However, a lot of creators don't think they work effectively. Here's why:
- Most users tend to click away before the end of the video - users tend to feel and notice when a creator is nearing the end of the video, and they likely have another video already lined up.
- Creators tend to use irrelevant end screens - if the video you are recommending at the end isn't a good match with the topic of the current video, viewers don't have a reason to watch it.
- Creators are not "motivating" users to watch more of their content - most creators tend to use the rehashed "like and subscribe" or "watch more of my content" at the end of each of their videos. Users are fed up with that. They don't even register it anymore. You as a creator need to make your video's end engaging - you need to incentivize users to watch another video you have.
Live Streaming + Existing Audience
Live streaming is an excellent way to get to 4,000 watch hours quickly. It's a very simple method - live streaming can go on for multiple hours and you can have a lot of viewers who spend a ton of time watching your live stream.
However, to make this method effective, you need an existing audience. This audience can be an existing audience you have built on YouTube already or an audience from one of the other social media platforms.
Whatever it may be, incorporating live streaming into your strategy to get 4,000 watch hours can prove to be very effective.
What matters the most is that you can gather enough people for a live stream to make sense. If you end up having 100 people watching your 60-minute live stream, you will reach 100 watch hours with only one live stream.
Applying These Methods To Your Niche
All of the methods we discussed are proven to work. However, depending on your niche, some of them may work better than others.
It's your job to figure out how to add twists to each of these methods, and how you can make each of these work for you.
Are There Any Hacks To Get 4,000 Watch Hours?
We are confident there are many hacks that work... But they are not worth your time for several reasons.
Going back to our earlier point, monetization is not the goal.
YouTube also has an algorithm that relies on engagement, watch time, retention, and a good user experience. Those are very hard to cheat.
You are also putting your channel at risk. If YouTube does find out you are using hacks and tricks that violate their TOS, you are at risk for suspension.
It Can Be a Slow Burn, Be Patient
While everything that we discussed above is proven to work (tested and experimented with by the YouTubers Hub team multiple times), it can still take some time to grow your YouTube channel.
It can take time to get monetized and get those 4,000 watch hours. So throughout the process, try and remain patient, while always having your eye on the main goal - quality content production.
If you've got that down, success on YouTube is inevitable.