Earning money on Youtube

Youtube offers the option to place advertisement on videos and lets the video owners participate in the earnings. If you want to make money out of Youtube there are some things you need to know that they do not tell you directly.
Your videos are not allowed to contain any copyrighted material. To be more specific you need the permission to commercially use all content in the video. By default everything is copyrighted by the one that created the content. This is not something that Youtube invented but is legal copyright law. If you infringe someones copyright you may not only banned for life from youtube you furthermore can be sued by the copyright holder.
A violation of copyrigth is for example if you use footage from a computer game, music from a CD you bought or pictures you copied from somebody's homepage. So basically you have to create everything in the video on your own. If you need certain content someone else created you can directly ask him for permission for commercial world-wide broadcast but this one might request a huge amount of money from you. This applies usually to big companies.
Buying a film, music title or game is not sufficient. This usually only allows to use it in a private manner and Youtube definitley is not private.
Relying on "fair use" is also a dangerous game. While the use of short pieces from copyrighted material might be legal it will get you into big trouble in practice. Youtube just don't wants to get into the trouble of deciding which content is still "fair use" and which not. This is something only a judge can do.
Writing "I don't want to violate anyones copyright" inside the video or its description is not sufficient. You violate the copyright even if you don't want it. It's like driving around in a stolen car and putting a sign on it saying this car belongs to someone else. It only applies for e.g. CC BY licensed content.
There might be many videos which use copyrighted content but just because others use it you need not be allowed. Your account will be evaluated separately from all other accounts. Others might either have bought a license, their network did or thy have just not been caught yet. It's like asking a police officer not to give you a fine because others were overspeeding, too.
Furthermore does recomposing a work not remove the copyright. So modifying for example the speed of a certain piece of music or remixing several tracks also needs permission.
Some people think that once a video is uploaded or monetized it is safe but it is not. Youtube checks some videos for copyright issues on upload and some not. That is one reason for which copyright issues might not ge detected at once. That means that copyright might be claimed even after a video has already been monetized.
Fortunately there are some great people out there who allow using their content for free. What you usually want is royalty free content. That is material for which you don't have to pay fees if you use it. Some content of this kind is in the public domain, open source or has an explicit permission like e.g the computer game minecraft.
Several websites ofer music which is free to download but this does not necessarily mean royalty free use. Search for e.g. KsTBeats or look at the following websites: These offer music published under a Creative Commons (CC) license. Note that you might only be interested CC BY and CC PD licensed music. "BY" means that you have the written right to commercially use the content if you credit the artist. "PD" is just public domain which offers you all rights to use it.
But also CC licences have some traps. Keep away from CC content that is prohibited to derivate (ND). This not only means you may not remix it. Sometimes it is intepreted as if it is yet forbidden to use it as background music if you put other sounds e.g. voice above or cut it. Maybe also don't want to apply content that forces you to publish your work under the same conditions (SA) which is similar to the GNU license. Furthermore stuff that is prohibited to be used commercially (NC) is worthless for you.
So what can happen to you if you use content without authorization? Maybe nothing, when neither the copyright owner nor the automatic detection system find your video. The won't be any consequences either when the copyright holder finds your video but doesn't care about the violation. If the content is found by the automatic system and the copyright owner has an agreement with youtube advertisements might show up on you video (or it is muted). The money from these will be paid to the copyright holder and furthermore might the video not be available in some countries. Another option is that your video will be blocked and in severe cases when the copyright holder filed a complaint under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act you will receive a strike. When you collected three strikes you will be banned from youtube and all copyrigth issues will prevent your account from being available for monetization.
Do not put URLs with ads into your video's description. Some people try to earn extra money by using sponsored redirection links but Youtube does not allow this. Any direct links for example to you homepage are fine.

After we had the very important introduction to copyright we can focus a bit more on the video itself. Make videos which are fun for you. Don't try to always head after the current trend. People will subscribe to your channel for a certain content. If you always switch the content they might get annoyed. If you find you want to make videos of a differnt kind use a separate channel for it. Unfortunately at the moment it is not possible to start videos on one channel and transfer it to a separate one later when you have multiple ones for this topic. Thus you should consider to open a new channel before you upload videos on a completely new topic to an existing one.
Successful channels upload videos on a regular basis. Subscribers might drop from your channel if you do not offer new content.
Although tags do not show up you should choose them carefully. Only use tags which fit your content. Misleading ones will only attract people which aren't interested in your videos and skip them early. It can be a good idea to include your channel name as tag to all of your videos
Create different playlists for each topic in your channel and add your videos to them. People who start to watch one video of a playlist will likely also watch the others.
Post links to your videos in forums where appropriate. Do not spam and only chose videos that fit the forum. It is a good idea to build up a reputation there first.
Although traffic from social networks is often not considrered to be valuable you might create a social network account. Join groups that share your interests and inform them when you posted a video.
Don't reward people for likes, subscriptions and especially clicking on advertisements. This is not allowed. Even telling that (some of) your Youtube money will be spent for charity will be punished.
Furthermore you should never ever trust sites that propose to create traffic to your videos. Usually this will be detected as invalid activity even if they say it won't. Too much of these hits will endager your account of being taken down.

If your videos on Youtube reach a certain state of fame and your account is in good standing Youtube allows you to monetize them. In fact there is no definite amount of views or subscribers you need. Youtube does not tell when they enable an account for monetization and they even seem to change criterias from time to time. The program is not available in all countries and in some countries you have to apply for it separatly. The partner program first was only available for view people but now as soon as you have monetized a video you are partner.
Note that you are runinng a small business when you are partnered. Youtube will protect the advertisers who pay money very strictly. So you have to very carefully with the content you upload.

You will be paid through AdSense. If you do not have a homepage yet you aplly for an account through youtube. Another option is to apply with a website but this needs to have sufficient content. Keep in mind that AdSense is a once in your life chance. After you have banned from it there is no way back and the account is easy to loose. One single valid copyright strike will be enough to disable monetization for you forever. You can only use Youtube without monetization from then on. You will not be send a separate warning as you are warned not to upload copyrighted material when you create the account and on every single upload. The strike itself is the warning before you get sued.

After you have completely gone through the AdSense account validation which will take quite a while (some months for me) you can activate monetization on your videos. Depending on your videos content the video might have to be reviewed by Youtube's staff. You will receive an email that requires you to geive detailed information about your copyright. Your answer should look like the following:

I have the rights to use all content in this video commercially.

I used the following Software:
- Ubuntu Linux; License: GNU; License information: www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
- openshot; License: GNU; License information: www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
- ffmpeg: License GNU; License information: www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
- gimp: License GNU; License information: www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

Music I used:
- Artist: ZAck borer; Title: That's The Way; Link: http://storage.newjamendo.com/download/track/366785/mp32/That's%20The%20Way.mp3; License: CC BY 3.0; License information: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/; Attribution is in the ending credits

Text, picture and animation is my own work.

If you are unlucky someone will automatically claim copyright on your video. This is nothing personal against you and it is unlikely that someone did that manually. The automatic detection system tends to hit a lot of false positive content ID matches. If this happens you have to dispute the claim and give the claimer all information he needs to understand that the content you used is not under his copyright. Some claimers simply ignore your dispute and it will automatically be removed after 30 days. Anyway you can try to address the claimer directly to speed up the procedure. In rare cases the claimer will insist on his claim. this is then no case for Youtube any more but for your lawyer.
Never ever click on your own advertisements or watch an ad from the end to the beginning. If this happen once or twice it might not be an issue but if such invalid clicks occur more often your account will be shut down. Sometimes your friends or relatives cause invalid clicks on your videos because they want to help you. Furthermore they can come from bots or evil minded people could try to shut your account by click bombing. That is why you should carefully monitor your traffic. When you see unusual activity you have to immediately disable monetization for the video and report the issue to AdSense. This is the only way to protect advertisers from loosing money and your account from being shut down.
If your account is disabled for invalid activity you only have one single life-time chance to appeal. There is no chance to open a second account. It will be disabled, too sooner or later. The only chance for a successful appeal is to identify the invalid activity on your own and take counter actions. Write into the appeal what went wrong and what you did to protect the advertisers. Don't ask Youtube for help and don't just beg for your account being reinstantiated. Youtube only cares about how to protect the small businesses who spend their money on advertisements.
Once you have a disabled account don't try using your friend's account or one of a family member. It will probably be shut down either as Google checks (disabled) AdSense accounts for connections to other ones to protect the advetisers. The very Last chance to open a business and create an account for this. But you should only do this if you really have a business. Don't do it only for Youtube.
As it is very easy to loose your Adsense account don't build you life upon it. Search for different ways to commercialize your content, too.