There is a lot of criticism behind the 4,000 watch hours YouTube demands before getting access to monetization features on your channel. But if you look at the numbers, it’s a small stepping stone in the journey towards making a living on the platform.

It’s still often the first major milestone any new YouTube content creator will set their eyes on. So how can you reach 4,000 watch hours on YouTube successfully? And what can you do to start a new career on YouTube?

Like many self-starting businesses, it’s not going to be easy. However, by following our advice, which we’ve pulled together through our own experience on the platform, you’ll be able to hit that number if you remain determined.

Why You Shouldn’t Care About Losing 4,000 Monetized Watch Hours On YouTube

Let’s break the news first. 4,000 hours won’t equal to much income. Take a look at the stats below. It’s all based on our own experience on YouTube. 

The average view duration on our channel in a one year period was 4 minutes, 7 seconds. That would mean to reach that 4,000 hour mark, we’d need to accumulate 60,000 views on our channel. The average CPM on our channel in the year was $7.16, with roughly half of our views resulting in a monetized playback.

YouTube takes a 45% cut, too, so after all of this, a total of 60,000 views on our channel earned us $117. It’s certainly a nice chunk of change, but it’s nothing massive.

So what does this all mean? Well, you’d take a loss of about $117 with the new 4,000 watch hours YouTube requires before monetization can be enabled. If you truly care about making something out of your YouTube channel, this really isn’t a loss worth worrying about.

But I Want 4,000 Watch Hours Now. How Can I Do It?

We’re going to share a really great strategy with you below that will help you to break out in your niche and capture thousands of engaged viewers. It’s a long term mission that will take you far, far past just 4,000 watch hours on YouTube. 

However, if you really care about hitting that 4,000 hour mark with the audience you have currently, we will list some cheat sheet style methods you can abuse to squeeze as much watch time out as possible.

Create 20-60 Minute Podcasts

You could consider starting your own podcast. This will allow you to squeeze as much watch time per viewer, but it will also allow you to publish videos with less effort on editing. You can press record, do your podcast, press end, and then publish the raw video.

Live Stream

Live streaming requires no editing and it’s another method to rack up watch time and it counts toward your 4,000 hours. You can multiply your average viewers by the length of your stream to estimate your watch time. So, a single 4 hour stream with 50 average viewers would equal roughly 200 hours of watch time. 

Increase Your Normal Video Length

Longer videos are becoming the norm on YouTube so don’t shy away from posting videos that are 10 minutes or longer and avoid posting shorter videos if you can.

All of these methods are successful in getting more watch time, but instead of focusing on this 4,000 hour mark, think ahead to bigger goals. Work hard and put the time in and that number will surely be reached and bigger milestones will quickly become your target instead.

How To Reach 4,000 YouTube Watch Hours & Beyond 

4,000 watch hours on YouTube isn’t nearly enough to pay the bills, so instead let’s look at how we can bring in enough watch hours and views to make something of an income. To do this from scratch, we’ll need to do a number of things to get ourselves on the radar.

Your biggest hurdle for this is the thousands of other creators that have already made a name for themselves on the platform across thousands of different niches. This means that, as a new YouTuber, your content is unlikely to be recommended amongst already established competitors in your niche. You could post videos without a strategy, and over time, you may see some success. But it would take years without a calculated approach. 

What you’ll need to do is become an expert in your niche and follow trends closely. Your mission will be to create a video on a trending topic before anybody else does. What will happen then is that your content is likely to be recommended over others, even if it’s just for a short time because you’ll be the only authoritative source on that trending news topic. We will give two examples below to better explain this.

You’re a video game content creator: A rumor circulates online that a new item is being added to the latest Call of Duty game. You research it, find the details, and manage to create and publish a video about this topic before anybody else.

You’re a sports news channel:  A rumor appears online that a soccer player is about to transfer to a new team in a record-breaking deal. You find the details and report on it. You post your video before any of the bigger channels have a chance to.

The best result here will be that your video appears on the front page of Google for searches on the covered topic, and that will boost your views on YouTube itself. Similarly, any searches within YouTube itself will lead to your video too. YouTube’s algorithm will recognize the topic in your video as a trending topic, and it will boost it to viewers that are heavily invested in your niche. 

This will include notifications sent out to YouTube mobile app users, even if they aren’t subscribed to you, your video appearing in “Up Next” and appearing on the YouTube homepage.

Of course, as soon as a bigger channel covers the topic, your video is likely to be outranked and you’ll lose that growth. But it won’t matter, you’ll already have captured enough of an audience to get some subscribers and views. 

Next time you release a video, the majority of people that watched your last video will see it in various browse features on the platform, even if they didn’t subscribe. So all you need to do then is make sure your next video is engaging and has a great thumbnail.

So if you’ve read this far, you may be wondering. How do you find topics and create, edit and publish videos before anybody else? Well, you need to be heavily invested in your niche to be able to pick up on these stories. Usually they’ll hit pages like Reddit, Facebook, or Twitter before they get reported on by the big news sites and YouTube channels. This is true across a variety of niches on the internet. 

If you aren’t heavily invested in the niche you’re covering, you won’t pick up on these stories, and at that point you have to ask yourself – are you creating videos because you like what you’re creating videos about? You’ll need to be passionate about it and the video creating process, otherwise you’ll hit burnout way before you hit success.

On top of this, you’ll need to learn how to edit fast and you’ll need a good upload speed – this will help you to publish your video before anybody else.

It will be more challenging if you aren’t creating videos about a niche that has newsworthy topics. For example, if you do more creative work like creating animated cartoons or fact-filled documentaries. If this is the case, you’ll need to be more creative about covering trending topics – once again the best way to pick up on this is to truly live and breathe whatever it is you want to create on YouTube. 

The 4,000 Watch Hour Strategy Summarized

To summarize this in digestible information you can take away with you, we’d suggest doing the following:

  • Heavily invest yourself in your niche. Read everything online about it.
  • As soon as you see a trending topic, create a video to cover it.
  • Be fast, focus on light editing, and publish as soon as possible.
  • You’ll gather views and your next upload will be recommended to these viewers.
  • The next step is crucial: Create the best content you possibly can. Make it engaging, interesting, and create a good thumbnail.
  • Repeat this process every time a new trending topic emerges.

You aren’t always going to hit success with this strategy; it may take a few attempts. When it does work, it works wonders and it’s a successful way to break into any niche on YouTube.

In the meantime, you can continue to regularly upload content and use the videos that aren’t getting many views yet to experiment on your content, practice editing, and get proficient at making thumbnails. That way, when your time to shine comes, when you finally see that trending piece, you’ll be ready to pounce on it before anybody else can.

Did this article help? Do you feel ready to take on the world of YouTube yet, or do you still need some advice? Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section.