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How Many Subscribers Do You Need To Make Money On YouTube?

Think you need a massive following to earn money on YouTube? Think again! We reveal how small channels can start cashing in.
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How Many YouTube Subscribers Required To Make Money
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Starting a YouTube channel with dreams of making it big can feel a lot like showing up to a potluck with just a fork—eager to get started, but not quite sure if you’ve brought enough to the table. 

For many budding creators, the question isn’t just about creating content but how to turn those creative efforts into cold, hard cash. 

With subscriber counts that might currently be more on the ‘cozy gathering’ side than a ‘blockbuster premiere’ audience, the leap to earning money can seem like a mystery. 

We’re going to shed light on how many subscribers you actually need to start generating income on YouTube, breaking down myths and providing actionable insights for those ready to grow their channel from a side hustle into a significant source of income.

…but don’t quit your day job just yet.

How Do Creators Make Money From YouTube?

YouTube’s Monetization Requirements

Creators can monetize their YouTube channels primarily through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), which allows them to earn money from ads placed on their videos. 

The YPP is a gateway for creators to access various monetization features, but it comes with a set of prerequisites:

  • A minimum of 1,000 subscribers on the channel.
  • At least 4,000 watch hours over the past 12 months.
  • Compliance with all of YouTube’s policies and guidelines (should be easy to do).
  • Having a linked AdSense account to receive payments (takes less than 5 minutes).

Beyond the YPP, there are several other avenues for creators to generate income, even if they’re not part of the Partner Program:

1. Sponsored Content: Collaborating with brands to create content that promotes their products or services.

  • No YPP requirement.

2. Merchandise Shelf: Selling branded merchandise directly through YouTube. 

  • Requires YPP membership.

3. Super Chat and Super Stickers: Earning money from fans who pay to highlight their messages in live chat during streams.

  • Requires YPP membership.

4. Channel Memberships: Offering exclusive perks to subscribers who pay a monthly fee. 

  • Requires YPP membership.

5. Affiliate Marketing: Earning commissions by promoting other companies’ products and including affiliate links in video descriptions. 

  • No YPP requirement.

These opportunities provide multiple streams of income for YouTube creators, enabling them to use their audience and content in diverse ways to grow their earnings.

How Many Subscribers Do You Need To Make Money On YouTube?

To start making money on YouTube through ads, you need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers. This threshold qualifies you for the YouTube Partner Program, unlocking the ability to monetize your videos with advertisements.

Although, you can still make money from your YouTube videos with much less subscribers. 

Can You Make Money With Zero Subscribers On YouTube?

Yes, it’s technically possible to make money on YouTube even with zero subscribers. 

While a low subscriber count often implies fewer viewers or a less dedicated fan base, which in turn could mean less revenue, there are still opportunities available to you with low subscriber counts. 

The key lies in leveraging content that can generate income independent of subscriber numbers.

1. Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Money With No Subs

Affiliate Marketing

One of the most appealing opportunities is affiliate marketing. This involves promoting products or services within your video content and including affiliate links in the video description. When viewers click on these links and make a purchase, you earn a commission. 

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that it doesn’t require you to be part of the YouTube Partner Program, nor does it rely on a certain number of subscribers.

Consider a scenario where you create a video that unexpectedly goes viral. This video could be a detailed review of a popular product, a tutorial using a specific tool, or even a unique take on a trending topic that captures the audience’s attention. 

If you’ve included affiliate links in the description of this viral video, you could potentially earn thousands of dollars in affiliate revenue, all with minimal to no subscribers. 

The viral nature of the content ensures it reaches a huge audience, thereby increasing the chances of viewers clicking on your affiliate links and making purchases.

2. Sponsorships Are Another Way To Make Money With Little To No Subs

Sponsorships on YouTube serve as a direct collaboration between creators and brands, where companies pay creators to promote their products or services within their videos. 

This form of monetization allows creators to earn income independently of the YouTube Partner Program and does not rely on ad revenue

Sponsorships can be highly lucrative, especially for channels with a dedicated and engaged audience, regardless of size. And yes, while extremely rare, this can even include small EXTREMELY niche channels with as many as 100 subs. 

Brands look for creators who resonate with their target demographic, focusing on the quality of engagement rather than just subscriber numbers. 

Successful sponsorships involve integrated product mentions or dedicated reviews, ensuring the content still aligns with the creator’s style and audience preferences.

But keep in mind that without a huge fan base, you’ll need to have an insanely active and responsive community to get sponsorships from brands. And sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

3. Additional Ways To Earn Without Many Subs

While affiliate marketing and sponsorships are the two biggest ways to earn money outside of the YouTube Partner Program, there are a few additional ideas that are often underutilized: 

  • Crowdfunding Platforms: Use sites like Patreon to get financial support from viewers in exchange for exclusive content or perks.
  • Selling Merchandise: Create and sell your own branded merchandise to fans, even with a small but dedicated audience. Several platforms enable creators, including YouTubers, to design, sell, and distribute their merchandise easily.
  • Offering Online Courses or E-books: Use your expertise by creating and selling online courses or e-books related to your content.
  • Freelance Services: Use your YouTube channel as a portfolio to offer freelance services in your area of expertise, such as video editing, graphic design, or consulting.

While such instances are rare and not a consistent revenue strategy, they highlight the potential to earn money on YouTube from the get-go.

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