How I got Monetized On YouTube In Less Than 1 Year (Without Paying For Ads!)

YouTube Monetization

Written by Agatha

January 8, 2023

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I toyed with the idea of starting a YouTube channel for years! While watching other people’s videos, I would think about how I’d have delivered the same content in a better or more exciting way. But just like most of us, I was just a critic who never jumped into the arena for various reasons: imposter syndrome and a general fear of social media (showing my face on video!) were top of my list.

A few months after launching this blog, The Wealth Tribe kept asking me why I didn’t have a YouTube channel. I ignored most of those suggestions and questions: I didn’t think I would ever master the courage to put myself out there.

By the end of 2021, this blog had grown to an average of 20,000 page views per month, so I had to start thinking about scaling it.  The Launch Your Blog Biz course by professional bloggers Lauren & Alex from Create & Go who make over $10,000 per month from their two blogs taught me that YouTube is one of the best ways to grow your blog’s traffic and sales. 

Monetized on YouTube

Despite all the fear, imposter syndrome, zero editing skills, fear of cameras, fear of tech, etc., I decided to start a YouTube channel in 2022! The goal was to upload my first video in the first week of 2022, but that didn’t happen because I didn’t know how to operate the camera  I had borrowed from a friend.

Eventually, I had to hire a videographer and editor and I finally put out my intro video on the 9th of February! My friends say that for the first five videos, I sounded like a robot 😂🤭


What does being monetized on youtube mean?


YouTube monetization is simply a fancy way of saying that you have ads on your channel and get paid for it! 

YouTube pays creators 55% of the net revenue generated from ads and keeps 45%: quite predatory if you ask me!

Over the years, YouTube has introduced many other ways to monetize on YouTube such as:

  •  Shopping: creators connect their online stores to their channels to promote products such as merchandise.
  • Memberships: fans/subscribers pay for special perks and creators earn 70% of the income generated from the memberships. If you’ve spotted a ‘Join’ button on a YouTube channel, that creator earns through memberships.
  • Supers: For example, you can support your favourite YouTuber by sending them money through Super Thanks when you click the Thanks button as shown below 👇🏾

Monetized on YouTube


How to get monetized on YouTube in 2023


There are two significant requirements for monetization on YouTube:

  1. 1,000 subscribers 
  2. 4,000 valid public watch hours within the last 365 days

Watch hours gained as part of paid ad campaigns are not included in the 4,000 hours. You have to reach 4,000 hours within the last 365 days.

From my experience, it’s easier to get 1,000 subscribers than to attain 4,000 hours!

On average, it takes between 52 and 152 videos to get your first 1,000 subs on YouTube.

It took me 32 videos and exactly 6 months, from 9th February 2022 to 8th August 2022 to get to 1,000 subscribers.

Monetized on YouTube

I attained the 4,000 watch hours on 24th November 2022: did it in 10 months!

At the time of monetization, I had 2,722 subscribers and 4,043 public watch hours.

There are thousands, if not millions, of videos trying to show us how they got monetized in a few days, weeks or a month: that’s a one-in-a-million occurrence and it’s not realistic! From watching most of those videos, they’re just spam and you should NEVER use them as a yardstick for how long it takes to get monetized on YouTube! 

YouTube is not a get-rich-quick scheme and just like any other type of work, succeeding on YouTube takes a lot of dedication. 

Other requirements for monetization on YouTube in 2023


Monetized on YouTube


How to get monetized on youtube FASTER: 5 Best Tips for 2023


I have interacted with several YouTubers, friends included, who have been on YouTube for more than 3 years and are yet to get monetized. It takes a lot of hard work to convince 1,000 people to subscribe to your channel and also watch your videos for a whopping 4,000 hours! 

Considering the amount of time it takes to:

✅ Master the courage to show up on camera

✅ Come up with content ideas

✅ Write a script

✅ Set up filming equipment

✅ Get camera ready (dressing up, makeup, hair etc!)

✅ Record the videos ( for this video, it took my friend Aahuti and me 3 days to record because our equipment kept failing!)

✅ Edit (this is the most painful, nerve-wracking and time-consuming step!)

✅ Upload: depending on how big the video file is, you can wait for over 4 hours for the video to upload on YouTube!

I figured it would be helpful to share the tips I used to monetize my YouTube channel in less than 1 year!


1. Learnt the ropes before I launched my channel!


On 8th March 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, I invested in The Launch Your Blog Biz course. Lauren & Alex included a YouTube module in the course because YouTube is one of their favourite platforms for driving traffic to their blog. An increase in blog traffic also leads to an increase in sales!

By the time I launched my YouTube channel 2 years later, I had all the tips and tricks needed to get monetized within 365 days. After going through the module, I had no ounce of doubt that I was going to succeed on YouTube! 


YouTube Monetization


If you’re a blogger who’s also an aspiring YouTuber, I highly recommend that you invest in the course: it’s better to pay for a course that teaches everything you need to succeed than waste time and wait for over 3 years to get monetized!


2. Created valuable content that’s searchable


Here’s a simple task: go to YouTube and search ‘REITs’ or ‘REITs in Kenya’. What results did you get? Yeees! My face and videos popped on your timeline! 

How did I do that? Search Engine Optimization is the name of the game! 

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your content so that you get traffic from free, organic, or natural search results in search engines.

How do I do that? Through keyword research. For example, when doing research for this blog post, I used a keyword research tool called Ubersuggest where I searched ‘YouTube Monetization’. Here are the search results:

YouTube Monetization


I used the keywords suggested as subheadings in this blog post and I’ll use the same topics when I create a YouTube video for the same.

All search engines (Google, Pinterest, YouTube etc!) have an algorithm or system that determines what content is displayed in search results. To get monetized faster on YouTube, you have to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve your visibility in search results.

The higher your video ranks when a certain keyword is searched, the more watch hours and views you’ll get.

To get your videos found faster and to get monetized faster, you must include relevant keywords in your video titles, descriptions, thumbnails etc when you upload YouTube videos.

It’s also important to remember that ranking on page one of YouTube won’t happen overnight. It’ll take a few months, sometimes years! You also have to create valuable content for your audience. Otherwise, people will drop off your video after a few seconds of watching if they realize your content isn’t value-packed.  

Alex & Lauren also have an SEO blueprint for bloggers course that you can find here.


3. Consistency!


If I bump into a new YouTube channel and realize that the last time they created a video was more than a year ago, I won’t subscribe.

The sole reason people subscribe is that they’re looking for value, whatever it may be: entertainment, knowledge, life hacks etc. 99% of the people don’t know you and therefore will not subscribe or watch your videos ‘just to support you!’ I want to subscribe to channels that consistently show up!

Unfortunately, unless you’re already famous, consistency is a non-negotiable determinant of how fast you’ll get monetized on YouTube. 

A lot of YouTubers recommend that when you start, you should aim to put out 2-3 videos a week. I didn’t follow that advice because it wouldn’t have been sustainable considering my other engagements:

Financial coaching

✅ Writing

✅ Reading

✅ Fitness (swimming and hiking)

✅ Sleeping and just living!

Committing to 2-3 videos a week would lead to feeling overwhelmed which would mean giving up altogether. One video per week was a more sustainable schedule for me: after 8 videos, I had to let go of the videographer and editor because I couldn’t afford them.

Pick a suitable schedule for you and stick to it. The YouTube algorithm favours consistency! And you always want the algorithm on your side.

I’ve also learnt that establishing an expectation with your audience is one of the best YouTube hacks, especially when you’re trying to attain the 4,000 hours and eventually grow your channel. Commit to uploading on a set day each week and stick to it. Your audience will get hyped for your weekly video.

For example, I upload my videos on Wednesdays and share the link on all my social media accounts and use #WealthWednesday to hype The Wealth Tribe to watch and engage with the content.


Practical hacks on how to stay consistent on YouTube


Finding content ideas, planning out videos, scripting, filming and editing can seem like an endless amount of work that can easily take over your life! I learnt earlier on that the trick to creating videos consistently is making filming and editing as frictionless as possible.


A. Batching 


One of the easiest ways to get frustrated with YouTube is filming one video at a time: you’ll end up feeling like it’s a full-time job that pays you peanuts, especially as a beginner. 

Instead, pick a day. It could be once a week, fortnight or even once a month. Record 3 to 5 videos. This way you don’t need to keep setting your gear up, again and again, every time you want to get a 30 minutes video done. 

It’s a simple hack that saves me tonnes of time. After you have your videos ready, you can also pick a day to edit all and schedule them for weeks to come.

This frees up time to work on other things and you’ll always have videos consistently uploaded even when you’re on vacation!


B. Make videos about something you’re already passionate about


As a beginner make videos about topics you’re already passionate or knowledgeable about. It’ll make the whole experience easier, more enjoyable and you’ll get your 4,000 watch hours within 365 days or less!

I already had over 80 blog posts about debt management, budgeting, saving, financial planning, blogging, investing etc. This was already my area of interest and expertise which made my YouTube journey easier.

If I had to come up with a new niche, I would struggle with consistency because coming up with video ideas is not easy! 


C. Listen to your community 


People who watch your videos will always tell you the type of content they want to see on your channel. Listen to them. YouTube is just like any other business, your customer’s feedback is valuable and will help you improve the value you deliver. 

Apart from helping you improve your watch hours and grow your number of subscribers, consistency will also help grow your craft: repetition has helped me improve my camera presence and editing skills.


D. Authenticity


When I started out on YouTube, I tried hard to sound like a journalist. I failed terribly and ended up sounding like a robot! Be yourself, no one competes with you on that front!  

In the beginning, you have to be okay with having few views as long you’re being yourself and the people who are viewing are your ride & die. Just keep going! 

YouTube works like a snowball: the more people view and like your content, the more YouTube shows it to others. Posting regularly will also increase the chances that one of your videos will go viral (this hasn’t happened to me yet!). It’s like buying lottery tickets, you can never predict which one will be the winning piece!


E. Hype yourself!


Nobody cares about your videos as much as you do, it’s not their job to care anyway! You can’t rely on people to hype and share your content.

I post my videos everywhere where I’m allowed to! Telegram, WhatsApp groups, and even my Instagram that had less than 500 followers when I started. At one point, I messaged all my friends and confirmed that they had all subscribed: it didn’t matter that some of them don’t like YouTube, all I needed is my first 1,000 subscribers!


4. I had a successful blog & newsletter 


By the time I launched my channel, I had a successful blog with over 20,000 page views per month. All I had to do is embed my videos in my blog posts which got me subscribers within the first month of launching.

I also had an active newsletter with an email list of over 3K blog subscribers. Subscribe to my personal finance & investing newsletter here

These two factors contributed to the growth of my channel within the first year!

Use your already established channels to promote your YouTube channel.

For the majority of us, YouTube is a lot of work, for a very long time, with absolutely no reward. I made only 9 dollars 😂 from ads in my first month of monetization! But as I always say, some money is better than no money!

The difference between those who will succeed and those who don’t is giving up within that painful period.

Be patient, learn how to edit, and don’t get stuck over the fact that you don’t have the best camera (I use my iPhone XS to record and edit)  or a team like famous YouTubers have.

Do you have more questions about YouTube monetization, leave them in the comments section below!

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