YouTube have changed their threshold for membership to their partner program and everyone is panicking. I’m not. I did. But I’m not now. I’ve never been motivated by the YouTube dollar. I don’t monetize any of my videos. But I was concerned as to whether my channels would lose features that helped promote my content and make it more engaging. That would be a dick-move if YouTube took away the very features that aid in building an audience, be it subscribers or for just one video.

I probably get about 4000 hours of watched video per year. But I don’t yet have 10,000 subscribers. The questions I wanted to answer were simple. If I’m not interested in monetizing my videos, will I lose features such as custom thumbnails, a custom URL or cards and end screen annotations.

Custom thumbnails grab the attention of the audience passing by your post. When you embed videos, like I have done above, you’re not restricted to the 3 images YouTube choose from the frames in your video. Using a custom thumbnail gives you more control of what you want to use to attract viewers.

Adding a custom URL to your channel means you direct your audience using an intelligible link. Out of the box, your channel name can be searched from YouTube. But the URL is an unfriendly, unpronounceable link. “Please subscribe to 360 Techtorials at“.

Cards are a subtle way to direct your audience to other content on your channel. You can change the timing of when the teaser text appears. In my example for the video above, I created a card to pop up when I started talking about cards. I did this after the live stream, so I could get the timing just right.

End screen annotations are your last call to action. Add a subscribe button for your channel, links to other videos or playlists.

While everyone was worrying about monetization of videos, I just wanted to make my content more engaging and easier to find. The most useful link I found was a post on the YouTube product forum from “Marissa” the community manager.

So in my view, continue to focus on creating good content. The key features to make your content more appealing to click on, and direct your audience to your other content, will still be available to you if don’t qualify for the YouTube Partner Program.

If like me, you’re not interested in monetizing videos, the thresholds to enter the program won’t affect you. If you do want to eventually quit your day job and create content full time, keep using the key features to build and retain your audience. Don’t quit your day job till you have worked out what it takes to build an audience large enough to join the partner program AND exceed your living costs.

I’m not leaving YouTube and if you’re a creator and don’t plan to quit your day job just yet, you shouldn’t leave YouTube either.

Thanks Phil Worrell and Odd Modlin for talking this out with me over Twitter and #ThinkingOutLoud.

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