Regaining YouTube Partner Program Status

Rejoining the YouTube Partner Program?
Rejoining the YouTube Partner Program?

My YouTube channel used to be part of the YouTube Partner Program. I monetized my videos with ads and every month, I’d get a few dollars added to my AdSense balance.

That all changed with YouTube’s announcement on January 16, 2018. They drastically increased the eligibility requirements such that you needed 4,000 watch hours over the past 12 months, and required 1,000 subscribers to your channel.

I didn’t meet that, so I was dropped.

Well, “suspended” might be a better word. YouTube’s blog post says that when channels that were earning under the Program meet the new criteria, they will be “automatically re-evaluated” and presumably reinstated, provided they aren’t spammers.

I’m not going to speculate why these changes were made. I’m not an expert in the online ad field and YouTube’s explanations seem reasonable enough.

The Pain

It didn’t hurt me a lot, since as I said, I was only earning a few bucks a month. However, I’m a fan of passive income, and I’m reasonably close to meeting the requirements, so I’ve decided to make a push to get to 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.

Where I’m At

As of today, I have 885 subscribers and 790 watch hours in the past 12 months.

I’m reasonably close for subscribers, but I have work to do on the watch hours.

What’s the plan to get back into the YouTube Partner Program?

Growth Opportunities

I’m going to concentrate on the watch hours, and assume the subscriber count will take care of itself. If I quintuple my watch hours, it stands to reason that I’ll gain at least some subscribers in order to meet that target.

I see three main opportunities for growth in watch hours:

  • More content
  • Better SEO
  • Better retention / follow-on videos

More Content

It stands to reason that if you upload more content, you’re going to get more watch hours.

I don’t just plan to upload any old content, though. I’ve had a look at my analytics to see where my watch hours are now. People seem to like a couple of types of my videos:

  • Model train layout videos
  • “How To” videos (this video in particular is popular)

I intend to focus on uploading both kinds of videos more regularly in the next few months. I have a lot of model train video now that I am editing and preparing to upload, and I am interested to see how well it will be received. It will be long – 30 minutes per video – so it may fly or it may bomb. ūüôā

I am looking for ideas for “how to” videos. I did one image editing video that got some views, and I plan to do some more.

YouTube Live

I think there is a lot of opportunity in YouTube Live. It’s easy to do – just start it up on your phone – and there’s no editing or other effort afterward. I’ve done a few sessions so far and they’ve been pretty well received. I’m going to keep doing those.

I haven’t done any desktop YouTube Live sessions yet. I’m not sure how well those will work but it might be worth a try.

Better SEO

I honestly haven’t paid much attention to search engine optimization (SEO) on YouTube. That has to change. People can’t view my videos if they don’t find them, and YouTube is basically a big search engine for video.

On occasion, I’ve added tags to my videos when I upload them, but I haven’t had any kind of system. This is in sharp contrast to my blog posts, which are always tagged and “SEO checked” using the Yoast plugin.

I am going to review all of my videos for a few things:

  • Thumbnail photo
  • Title
  • Description text (minimum 200 words)
  • Tags

I like this Brainshark post about YouTube SEO best practices, even though it’s a little old. SEO ages well.

Better Retention

YouTube allows you to put “end cards” on your video to encourage viewers to take an action, such as to watch another video, subscribe, or go to a URL. I’ve added end cards to many of my videos. So far, the analytics say that about 3% of them get clicked on. If I can get that up a percent or two, it’ll help!

I’m going to ensure all my videos have end cards, and for my most popular videos, I’m definitely going to put a¬†subscribe button at the end!

Actions to Take

Here are the actions I plan to take in the next month to work toward rejoining the YouTube Partner Program:

  • Upload more model train videos
  • Upload more content in general
  • Review existing content for SEO
  • Review existing content for end cards

Your Turn

What’s your experience with the¬†YouTube Partner Program? Did you get dropped after the January update? How do you do search optimization on YouTube? Leave a comment!

Measuring Success or Just Keeping Score?

Measuring success?
Measuring success?

How do you measure success in your side hustle? Are you really measuring success or just keeping score?

There are so many measurements available for a photography business, or any online business for that matter. Page views, post likes, number of followers; the list goes on and on. You can spend all day looking at these statistics, but are they really helping your business?


Keeping Score

Keeping score
Keeping score

I think tracking the number of followers, page likes, and so forth that you have is just keeping score. It doesn’t matter except in a very general way.

For example, I currently have 393 page likes on my Facebook page Traingeek Images. What does that really mean? How does that help me?

In a very general sense it means that potentially 393 people could see a post I make there. The reality is that less than 50% of those people will normally see a post I make, and only a handful will actually click “like” on it. Facebook’s filtering algorithms try to present the most interesting content, and unless it gets engagement early, hardly anyone sees them. It’s only when a post goes viral, or least gets engagement, that it gets seen by more people… like this one.

At best Facebook page likes are a general sense of how many people you could reach.

The same goes for Instagram. I currently have 1,874 followers (a thousand more than last month!). How does that help me?

It means more photo likes – I average 150-200 per photo now – but that doesn’t really help my business. It might help my ego, but it doesn’t put cash in my pocket.


How Do You Define Success?

Before we talk about measuring success, we first have to define it. Success means different things to different people. A quick Google search gives three definitions:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  2. The attainment of popularity or profit.
  3. A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

The common theme here is the attainment of a goal. You have to know where you want to go before you can measure whether you’re getting there.

I listed my goals at the bottom of¬†my last post. You’ll see that page likes or follower counts are not in that list.

If you’re interested in doing sponsored posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, then follower counts¬†will be important to you, because you’ll need a minimum number of followers before you’ll attract advertisers.

Like many people, I believe goals should be S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Use those SMART attributes to define your goals.


Measuring Success

Once you’ve defined your goals, you can measure your progress against them.

Let’s take my first goal, gross income of $1,200 for the year. To date I’ve received about $40, with another $80 or so pending, so I have to step it up if I’m going to achieve my goal. NEEDS WORK.

The second goal: stock photography income of $50/month. This month I’ve made USD $6.58 or about CAD $9.20, so I’m on my way. Given that I started stock in late November, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress here. ON TARGET.

You get the idea.

I do track numbers¬†like Facebook page likes, web page views, and Instagram followers for my own interest. They are great for exposure but don’t lead directly to income, so they’re not part of my goals and they aren’t measures of success for me.

I’ll report on my progress toward my goals later this spring.