From gamers and vloggers to media companies and YT celebrities, YouTube Play Buttons have become the hallmarks of success for all kinds of creators on YouTube.
First introduced in 2012, YouTube Play Buttons are now one of the most coveted awards for a YT creator. If you’re looking to earn your first Play Button but don’t know how, we’ve covered all the bases in this extensive guide.
But, before we jump into the details, let’s first understand what a YouTube Play Button is.
Given its rapidly increasing number of creators since the early 2010s, YouTube introduced a reward system to acknowledge its creators’ contributions—the YouTube Play Button, a series of awards you receive after crossing a defined milestone of subscribers and a thorough assessment of your channel.
Receiving this award is a sign of recognition and acknowledgment of the creator’s hard work.
Furthermore, it significantly boosts their brand, bringing them more subscribers and enhancing their visibility beyond just YouTube.
Now, you know what a YouTube play button is. But, how do you actually get a Creator Award? Here are the basic criteria in a nutshell. Keep in mind that even if you meet all these requirements, YouTube still will need to review your channel and make a decision.
The basis to receiving a Play Button begins with the number of subscribers your channel has.
Besides the number of subscribers, you also need to have the following:
Once you reach the given milestone of subscribers, YouTube will carefully review your channel to determine your eligibility for the Creator Award.
The YouTube Creator Awards is a way to recognize the millions of creators producing content on the platform. For this, you need to grow your audience and stick to the platform’s guidelines while creating spectacular content.
What started with just one award in 2012 is now divided into multiple tiers—silver, gold, and diamond. As recently as 2021, YouTube introduced three more levels of graphite, opal, and bronze. While these are beyond the Creator Awards, they incentivize creators in many ways.
Let’s take a closer look at the criteria to earn a YouTube Play Button, so you can pave your way towards it.
The most crucial parameter to bag a Creator Award is your subscriber count. Until you reach the defined milestone of subscribers, you’re not eligible to apply for these awards. Now, we’ll break down some main criteria other than your subscriber count you should look out for to get your hands on a Creator Award.
YouTube has extensive community guidelines which detail and regulate the code of conduct and content on the platform. These guidelines bar creators against producing content that:
Before you start your YouTube channel, or even if you’re a regular YouTube creator—it’s a good practice to stay updated with the latest YouTube content guidelines so you don’t fall into the grey area. If you violate any part of the guidelines, you might end up with a strike and hit your chances of getting a Creator Award, so best stay safe from it.
YouTube also punishes creators who violate its content and YouTube copyright guidelines in the form of strikes. You will receive a copyright strike when you publish videos using somebody else’s copyrighted content. The platform will take down your video immediately after they receive such a request.
With every copyright strike, you get a ban from accessing some features of your creator account. A copyright strike primarily affects your ability to monetize on YouTube. It also restricts your live streaming feature. But if you reach three copyright strikes, then the platform will terminate your account.
It’s easy to set up a YouTube creator account. But the challenge begins when you start creating content and have to constantly gauge your audience’s needs and pain points to create super-targeted and high-value content which drives more eyes to your channel.
Now, if you’re looking for some best practices on how to get a Play Button for all your hard work, then we have done the legwork for you. Follow this detailed framework to boost your YT channel and receive your first Creator Award by following these tips to the T:
Nothing beats consistency when you’re creating content for social media. Maintain a level of continuity in your content publishing process to improve your discoverability, especially when you’re starting. This will help you get in the good books of YouTube, provide consistent high-value content to your audience and give you more opportunities to get discovered on the platform.
But consistency doesn’t come easy.
You’ll have your low creativity days, streaks of busy times and holidays, and other events when you’re busy. While you should always give yourself a break, it doesn’t mean your YouTube channel should take a break too. Here, a great way to maintain consistency is to batch-create your content and schedule it for publishing.
Besides, here’s a sustainable framework you can use for consistent content creation and publishing on YouTube:
Consistently pushing content on your YT channel will simplify your journey on how to get a YouTube Play Button.
Once you’ve published a decent number of videos, focus on improving your viewership. There’s no straight road to secure more subscribers and ultimately win one of the YouTube Creator Awards.
Your active viewership ratio will determine your success in the long run. Now, how exactly can you increase this percentage? By optimizing your videos for the YouTube algorithm.
Here are some tips to optimize your videos for improving your viewership:
Optimizing your content through these strategies can significantly boost your watch time and increase your viewership count.
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If there’s one lesson to remember while aiming for a YouTube Play Button, it’s that people will subscribe to your channel only when you add value to their lives. Whether you make them laugh or educate them, it all boils down to the impact you’re creating for your audience.
So, find what’s working best for your audience—what they enjoy, love, and don’t like. Jot down these ideas into a word cloud to identify your subscribers’ preferences or pain points. Once you have this data, ideate relevant video ideas to publish more relatable content. You have to essentially position your content as a solution to their problems, whether it’s a broken pipe or a broken heart. Jump on popular trends to make engaging content and make your channel viral.
Creating relatable content is not the only way you can grow your channel. Quality matters equally. The definition of quality content can differ for different creators. But take a look at some of the tried-and-tested tips to improve your content’s likeability:
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A copyright strike can severely affect your shot at the creator awards. Not only does it restrict your account’s features, but it also hampers your chances of securing a plaque. So, before hitting the publish button for any of your videos, check for copyright infringement without fail. Including even a 5-second clip of copyright-protected content in your video can lead to strike one and upset your chance to get the YouTube Creator Awards.
While building a YouTube empire is no cakewalk, your creativity and consistency can take you a long way forward. There are no magic beans to skyrocket your YT channel. But here are some best practices to help you scale your subscriber count:
Ultimately, the secret to boosting your subscriber count lies in creating content that your audience likes, experimenting with it and staying consistent with content creation. So, find your audience’s pulse, and create content they’ll discover, love and share—to boost your subscriber count.
All YouTube Play Buttons are awarded at different subscriber levels. Reaching such a milestone might seem daunting to a new creator, but the motivation to put a Creator Award on your wall and the recognition and opportunities that come with it will keep you going.
If you’re a new creator and don’t know what the YouTube Silver Play Button is, then here’s your chance to learn everything about it.
The Silver Play Button is the first tier of the Creator Awards and one of the first award milestones for any serious YouTube creator. You can get a silver plaque once you reach the 100,000 mark and pass YouTube’s review of your channel. The box carrying the award will contain a congratulatory letter from YouTube CEO along with the plaque.
Take a look at SpawnPoiint’s growing YT channel from 300 subscribers in 2019 to 186k in 2021.
Reaching100,000 subscribers is no easy feat. You need consistency to produce content actively and appeal to a broader audience. So, it’s best to sort out all the basics in the beginning and scale your way up.
Use these tips to build an audience from a few hundred to 100k subscribers:
While every rookie creator dreams of their first Creator Award, every Silver Creator aims for the gold. The YouTube Gold Play Button is the second tier of the YouTube awards for channels with 1 million subscribers.
Made of gold-plated brass, this Gold Creator Award is given to an elite group of creators who have worked hard on the platform for years, creating content day after day, which has helped them create a loyal fan base.
The Speedy Diver received a Gold Play Button for its unique content around everything he found diving deep into the water. Since 2016, the YouTuber has been creating content around his dumpster diving adventures and reached a million subscribers in 2019 to get the Gold Play Button.
There’s no shortcut to a Gold award. If you’re chalking out a roadmap on how to get YouTube Gold Play Button, then focus on strategizing for audience engagement, consistent content production, and marketing for your channel.
Reaching the 1M mark will require more resources and planning.
Here are some ways you can scale your subscriber base tenfold times:
The Diamond Play Button is the penultimate step while climbing the ladder of Creator Awards. As majestic as it is rare, the Diamond Award goes to creators with over 10 million subscribers.
If you don’t know what a Diamond Play Button is—it’s made of a silver-plated metal inset in a crystal resembling the YT logo.
Marques Brownlee earned a Diamond Play Button in 2020 after crossing the 10M subscriber milestone. The 27-year old content creator creates content around technology under the pet name, MKBHD.
Earning this prestigious award will take as much hard work as time commitment. Building a vast YT empire with over 10 million subscribers is a long-term commitment filled with challenges. That explains why only a few hundred channels have earned this award so far.
Here’s what you can do to travel from 1 million to 10 million as quickly as possible:
The ultimate item in the list of Creator Awards is the YouTube Custom Play Button—an award made especially for channels crossing 50 million subscribers on YouTube. This Ruby Play Button is customized with the channel’s logo and celebrates the grand milestone of building a YouTube audience that’s equivalent to the population of South Korea.
Only 27 channels have managed to secure a YouTube Ruby Play Button to date, highlighting how rare it is to reach this landmark.
YouTube’s original reward system for creators included only three tiers—silver, gold, diamond. But one creator managed to break all records and hit the landmark subscriber count of 50 million. That’s when the world’s biggest video-sharing platform introduced a new Creator Award—the Custom Play Button.
The first-ever receiver of the Custom Play Button is PewDiePie, a Swedish YouTuber. He reached the milestone of 50 million subscribers in December 2016 and received a custom award with his YT logo
You can earn a Custom Play Button only when you surpass 50 million followers. Given the massive milestone, it’s natural that only 27 select creators have managed to achieve this extraordinary feat.
But the award’s rarity doesn’t affect your chances of reaching the landmark if you are working hard on your channel. But it requires a lot of hard work, a great team behind top-notch content production, a rock-solid marketing strategy and definitely, consistency and determination.
The Kids Diana Show is a great example of this—it’s the world’s 5th-most subscribed channel with over 85 million followers globally. The channel is about a young girl named Diana, who shows her playtime activities with her brother. Since its start in 2015, the creator reached the 1M mark in its first year and is going strong even today
These are some best practices that you can take inspiration from creators like Kid Diana Show’s success for building such a huge subscriber base and getting the Custom Play Button:
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There’s no monetary value attached to YouTube Play Buttons. But since the creators reach the defined milestone of followers, they can monetize their YT channel.
You can get your hands on your first YouTube Play Button after reaching 100,000 subscribers for your channel. However, there’s no guarantee of receiving the Silver Play Button even after surpassing this milestone. This is because YouTube holds the sole discretion to reward creators who meet all the guidelines for publishing content. If your account goes against any of these guidelines, then you’ll lose your chance to receive this award.
The YouTube Gold Play Button is made of 24-karat gold-plated brass. The platform revamped the look of all its Creator Awards in 2018 and designed a new plaque in a sleeker style.
The Diamond Play Button, awarded at the achievement of 1 million subscribers, is not made out of real diamonds. It is made from a silver-plated metal inset with a colorless piece of crystal.
You can get your first YouTube Play Button within six weeks of reaching 100,000 subscribers. Once you cross the milestone, YouTube will display a redemption code on your creator dashboard. After clicking on this code, you just have to wait for the shipping process.