What is the YouTube “Sponsor” Button & Do I Need One?

What is the YouTube Sponsor Button?

Have you noticed that new feature beside the red “subscribe” button? On one side there’s the bell symbol to sign up for notifications and on the other a box that says “join” or “sponsor”. But, it’s not on every YouTube video. What is that and what happens when you click it?

YouTube has rolled out a new initiative to connect creators with subscribers who want to support them. It’s well known that ad revenue has become a more competitive income source for creators. The guidelines that must be followed for a YouTube creator to get their video monetized are strict. Many creators have found for one reason or another, their content isn’t right for many brands. Thus, they lose out on ad revenue. YouTube wanted to implement a new way for them to earn money for their content. Although there are popular membership sites outside of YouTube, like Patreon, this feature is in-house and keeps the creator on the same platform as their content.

When a viewer clicks the “join” or “sponsor” button, they’re shown a pop-up that explains the benefits of sponsoring this creator and how much it’ll cost. Creators can choose the perks they offer; most offer exclusive access to videos early, access to Live Chats, chances of winning contests and giveaways, and more. Memberships are $4.99 USD. However, the entire membership fee doesn’t go to the creator. The creator gets 70 percent of the cost and YouTube gets 30 percent. So, this new feature allows creators to make more money as well as the platform itself.

Subscribers and fans are given the opportunity to support creators whose content they consume freely. Many viewers become attached to the creators they follow; YouTube provides entertainment, support, community, and education. It’s common for subscribers to want to show their appreciation monetarily. Having incentives or perks will also inspire these followers to contribute.

There’s been some confusion about the difference between the “sponsor” button and the “join” button. Both show up in the same place on videos, beside the subscribe button. Essentially, they’re the same thing. This initiative from YouTube was originally called Sponsorships. In June of 2018, they changed the program to be called Channel Memberships. This ensures the initiative doesn’t get confused with brand sponsorships that creators often source income from. The Channel Membership program is still in beta testing and new developments are added regularly. You may notice that some channels still have the original “sponsor button” but they will all slowly be converted to say “join”.

Does Your Channel Need One?

There are so many benefits to joining this new program on YouTube. You give your subscribers a new vessel to support you financially. And, in return, you give them access to special perks. This transaction of money for rewards strengthens the bond between creator and subscriber.

The income you can make from Channel Memberships varies. It depends on the number of subscribers you have and how many are interested in joining. Then, there are some differences between countries. For example, a creator in Italy charges $5.97 per membership and creators in Brazil charge $2.55. The countries that charge the most for memberships are Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway. Since the amount you can charge is based on the US dollar, $4.99, the currency equivalent varies from country to country.

Regardless of your country, you can make lucrative money through this program if you can garner enough memberships. If 100 subscribers join a channel membership in the US, that will result in $349 USD per month (that’s after giving YouTube 30 percent). 1000 memberships would result in $3493 USD per month. Of course, not every subscriber will join the membership program. But, knowing how much money it can bring in motivates creators to incentivize subscribers to join.

What Are the Benefits of Sponsoring a Channel?

Let’s explore the incentives that motivate a subscriber to become a member. If you want them to join your membership, they need some amazing perks! Down the line, this feature may allow different levels of memberships where the more expensive the membership, the better the benefits. It’s best to have a handful of potential perks you could divvy up among the levels of membership. To start, you could offer early access to your scheduled videos. Many popular creators gained their status by posting consistently at the same time for years. Loyal subscribers wait for that time each week to watch their newly uploaded content. Offering early access to that content is a huge perk for loyal fans.

Another idea for incentives to join would be behind-the-scenes content. Members could be sent an invite to join a private Facebook group where you post extra content. The page could include live streams, bonus footage, or casual check-ins with your followers. It’s also a place for you to interact with your most dedicated fans. Create polls and questions then respond to comments. Build stronger relationships with your members.

Most creators are familiar with the contest/giveaway method of marketing. When you have an awesome prize to give away for free, people jump to enter. Why not use this method for your memberships? For every person that joins, enter them in a contest. If you offer a service in your business, perhaps the winner could get a free consultation. If your channel specializes in a niche industry, like beauty, offer a gift basket of makeup goodies. Your subscribers watch your channel for a reason; they find value in it. Offer prizes that align with your channel and the reason people love watching it.

In addition to receiving perks for becoming a member, they also get an exclusive badge beside their name in live chats. This shows everyone in the chat that they’re a member. It also means you can pay extra attention to the comments with a badge because you know they provide extra support to you. Their badge will also be displayed next to their user name in the comment section. Some creators are able to create custom emojis for live chats. Members will have access to those emojis in the chat.

Is Your Channel Eligible for the Button?

Not every channel is eligible to join the membership program on YouTube. Since it’s still in its beta phase, they’ve decided to only offer it to a select group of creators. If you meet the following criteria, you can apply to join. This criterion was taken directly from YouTube’s Help page:

  • The channel must have over 30,000 subscribers
  • The channel must be part of the YouTube Partnership Program
  • The creator must be over 18 years old
  • The creator is located in one of the eligible locations (see the YouTube Help page)
  • The creator agrees to YouTube’s terms and policies
  • The creator and channel have zero strikes against them

In some cases, you may see channels that don’t meet these eligibility criteria but still have a “join” button. This is because the membership program was initially rolled out to only the gaming community. Those gaming channels that were part of the program are sometimes eligible for the button outside the gaming niche. Also, some channels with less than 30 000 subscribers have the button because YouTube is testing the program on different subscriber levels. Your best bet to get a button on your channel is to meet the current eligibility standards. Check back to that YouTube Help page for real-time updates on the membership program.

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How Much Can You Earn in the Channel Membership Program?

As mentioned above, YouTube takes 30 percent of the monthly earnings per membership. Memberships are $4.99 USD per signup or the equivalent in other currencies. Initially, a couple sign-ups won’t bring in a ton of income. However, when your members list grows to the thousands and tens of thousands, you can make a lucrative income. The key to growing that membership base is by offering amazing perks and benefits to those who sign up. If you meet the criteria and are given the button, use it your advantage. Many channels aren’t eligible but would be ecstatic for the opportunity, so ensure you take advantage of the privilege.

How to Apply for the Channel Membership Button

Before you can even apply for the button, you need to receive a notification that it’s available on your channel. Some countries and regions aren’t a part of the program yet, so channels in those countries won’t be eligible. Elsewhere, you should see a notification on your channel that Channel Memberships are available for your location and your channel specifications. If you see the notification, it means your channel is eligible and meets the requirements. Or, that YouTube has decided to test the program with channels like yours. Either way, to begin using the button on your channel you need to turn it on.

To turn on the membership program, go on your computer and sign in to your Google account. Then, go to the features page on YouTube (youtube.com/channel_memberships). Click on the button that says, “Get Started”. Follow the guidelines and steps provided by YouTube.

How to Turn Off or Pause Channel Memberships

You can always end or pause the Channel Membership program if you choose. To turn it off, go to the YouTube features page again. Select the setting icon that looks like a gear. Choose “Turn Off Memberships” and then click “disable”. This will halt all benefits members were receiving as well as their payments towards your channel. In this situation, all active payments from members will be refunded their last month’s payment. Any revenue the creator made from that payment will be removed. The reasons for ending a channel membership vary and YouTube is still working on finalizing the rules. Channels that don’t abide by YouTube’s policies and receive channel strikes will lose their ability to participate in the Channel Membership program. Some creators opt to end their program because they don’t want the extra responsibility of creating benefits and perks for members.

You can also place your channel in “Pause Mode” which means the “join” button disappears from your videos. Members’ perks are paused as are their payments. Creators can choose to put their membership on pause for a variety of reasons. However, if it’s left on pause mode for more than 90 days the channel will automatically be removed from the program and they will lose their “join” button along with their members. When this happens, members will be refunded for their last month’s payment. That refund will be deducted from the creator’s AdSense account. So, think wisely before you put your channel on pause and keep track of how long it’s on pause if you do.

Members can ask for refunds from the creator for a variety of reasons. They might not be pleased with the service or haven’t received the benefits they were promised. The ability to give them a refund is solely in YouTube’s hands and refers to YouTube’s refunds policy. If YouTube decides the member does, in fact, deserve a refund, it will be deducted from the creator’s AdSense account.

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