After just over three years, my YouTube channel is back in the Partner Program.
To recap, after YouTube changed the Partner eligibility requirements in early 2018, my channel’s partner status was suspended. I didn’t have 1000 subscribers and I definitely didn’t have 4,000 annual watch hours.
In July 2018 I resolved to regain my status. Now, after years of work, I’m back, baby!
Read on for my story, especially my lessons learned at the end.
A Good Start
Getting to 1,000 subscribers was relatively easy – I hit that around the end of 2018. At the same time, I reached 1,000 annual watch hours.
It was a good start… but there’s a long way to go from 1,000 to 4,000 watch hours.
I kept uploading videos, engaging with commenters, working on my tags and keywords using basic SEO techniques, and the watch hours slowly grew.
In calendar year 2019, I had 1,800 watch hours.
In the 12 months before May 2020, I had 2,100 watch hours.
Then things took off.
A Step Up
I uploaded a fairly long video on May 1, 2020 – and it took off. I wouldn’t say it went viral – it certainly didn’t – but people seemed to like it. That one video was responsible for a big step in my watch times.
Today it’s had over 30,000 views and is still a very strong performer.
I tried to figure out why it was popular, and produced a few related videos that also did well. After producing several of those, it became clear to me that based on that series of videos, and my large existing library of videos, I would reach 4,000 watch hours within the next 12 months… assuming they stayed popular.
Crossing the Threshold
I kept a close eye on my stats, and by mid-January 2020 I saw that the last 12 months’ worth of watch times had reached the magic 4,000 hour mark.
On January 21st, YouTube sent me an email inviting me to go to the monetization section of YouTube to apply for monetization. I went through the steps there and was told my channel was under review.
Based on what I had read, I expected the review to take a week or two.
The next day – January 22 – I received another email.
That was quick!
I turned on monetization on the most popular videos, and now I’m earning some money again. I’ll share my experiences in the partner program later, once I have a few months under my belt.
Here are a few of the lessons I learned on the route back to YouTube Partner status:
- Try something different. If your current content isn’t drawing enough traffic, mix it up a bit. It doesn’t have to be radically different from what you normally post, but try a different angle and watch the analytics.
- Double down on what’s working. Watch what video or videos is getting traffic, and do more of that.
- Work hard on your SEO. YouTube is a search engine, so many of the normal search engine optimization (SEO) techniques apply. Good and appropriate descriptions are key. I used the Vidiq plugin to get recommendations on my own videos and to examine how others’ videos were getting traffic.
- Keep uploading. It might be frustrating when you’re not moving the needle much, but you’re not going to get more traffic if you stop uploading. Keep at it.
- Subscribers don’t matter much. I have 1500 subscribers, more or less, but 95% of my views and watch time comes from non-subscribers. I enjoy the engagement and I do like the people who subscribe, but they’re a small drop in the bucket of watch time.
I hope this helps those who are seeking to gain (or regain) their YouTube partner status.