Creating and uploading content for YouTube can be rewarding in a number of ways. It’s a great way to reach new people and expand your social network and/or brand awareness. There are also several ways to make money as a YouTube content creator.
As your YouTube channel grows, your videos start getting a significant number of views, and your channel gets over 1,000 subscribers, you can join the YouTube Partner Program. This means you will earn money based on the number of views your videos get.
But you don’t need to wait until you reach your subscription and view thresholds to start making money on YouTube. You can make money from your YouTube channel straight away, regardless of the number of subscribers you currently have, with affiliate marketing.
In this short article, we’ll take a look at some of the factors and decisions you need to consider when getting into affiliate marketing on YouTube. Some of the tips and topics we’ll look at are specific to YouTube, but many of the practical steps we’ll address can also be applied to making money from your blog.
Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell
Essentially, you recommend a product, and in the description box of your Youtube video, you leave a link to where the viewer can purchase the product. This is your affiliate link provided to you by the retailer (or, in some cases, by the manufacturer). With no additional cost to the consumer, you get a small percentage of the sale you’ve generated.
Is Affiliate Marketing the Same as Advertising?
No. Unlike with advertising, when you use affiliate marketing, this should not interrupt your video content or distract from it in any way. Generally, it is enough to leave affiliate links in the description box of the video and mention their presence either when you talk about the product (for example, in a product review video) or in your sign-off: “Please, like and subscribe. Check out the affiliate links in the description box below.”
Effective affiliate marketing strategies on YouTube do not involve selling, promoting, or advertising. Instead, they simply complement the video content you are providing, and the affiliate links offer your viewers the opportunity to further engage with your content and/or support your channel. Affiliate marketing links should not be any more invasive or distracting than a link to the best online job portal in the US found in a how-to article.
Is Affiliate Marketing Passive Income?
In a strict sense of the word, affiliate marketing is an example of passive income. What this means is that once you have created your YouTube video and provided the appropriate links, you will earn money without the need to take further action. (You can be passive and still generate an income.)
While it is technically true that affiliate marketing is an example of passive income, that may be misleading. In order to make any considerable amount of money, you will need to put in a considerable amount of work.
Furthermore, the lifespan of a product’s popularity is relatively short (especially if you are dealing with tech products). This means that you will need to update your content on a regular basis.
1 – Choosing The Products
What products do you want to recommend?
There are a few factors you should take into consideration:
- How much will you earn from the purchase of a given product?
- How well does the product fit with your image, with what you portray on YouTube?
- How long will the product or service be desirable? The YouTube video in which you recommend the product will likely be around for years, but is that also the case for the product?
What Products Work Best?
Since with affiliate marketing, you are earning a small percentage of the retail price, you will earn far more money if you are affiliated with high-ticket products such as laptops rather than books.
Additionally, subscription services such as the gift of the month or subscription boxes can be good for affiliate marketers as many such services pay their affiliates for the first few months of what a new subscriber spends. When looking for which subscription box affiliate programs are right for you, pay attention to the cookie duration. This corresponds to how long you earn money from what a new subscriber spends.
But you can make money with any kind of product. So the products that will work best for you are products that you are passionate or excited about and those that fit in seamlessly with your YouTube content.
What Type of Video Content Works Best?
The good news is that when you use affiliate marketing as a way to monetize your YouTube channel, there is no type of video content that does not work to some extent or another.
You do not need to alter the current focus of your YouTube channel to take advantage of affiliate marketing opportunities.
Your video content, regardless of what it is, can feature the products you wish to recommend. Consider the following options:
- A product review video or product comparison (with affiliate links to all products featured in the video)
- A personal video or vlog (with affiliate links to the gear you use to make your video, e.g., microphones, lights, cameras, etc.)
- An informative or entertaining video with no product placement (with affiliate links to punctual promotions suggested as a “way to support the channel”)
- All, or a combination, of the above,
If you haven’t yet developed your YouTube channel and would like to know what type of content works best for affiliate marketing, consider the following factors:
- Regardless of the video content, the YouTube channel that is most effective at earning money from affiliate marketing is the channel that attracts the most subscribers and whose videos attract the most views.
- Focus on increasing your views and use the affiliate links that correspond best to the video content rather than the other way around.
2 – Choosing Your Merchants
Almost every retailer that is active online (and many manufacturers, too) has an affiliate marketing program. There are several affiliate platforms and networks designed to help you navigate the various merchants and keep track of and pay out your commissions.
Let’s take a look at the two most popular platforms. And note that no platform is exclusive. You are welcome to try out several platforms. Though ultimately, to make your life easier, it would be best to settle on the one you’re most comfortable with and work only through them (or in conjunction with certain products you promote for Amazon).
When recommending a product on your YouTube channel, providing a link to Amazon is quite convenient. The majority of your viewers will likely be regular users of Amazon, and there is trust and comfort already established.
However, you will need to provide several different links for each product you recommend (a link for each region). For example, a viewer from Germany is not going to purchase the product you recommend through your affiliate link if the product is sent from the US (amazon.com) as opposed to Germany (amazon.de).
Signing up for the Amazon Associates program is free, quick, and easy to do.
Finding products and getting affiliate links is quick and easy to do. However, depending on the product category, you may find a higher commission elsewhere. Let’s compare.
Here is a list of product categories and their corresponding commission rate on Amazon:
Screenshot taken from this site
For example: Through the Amazon Associates program, a 2022 Macbook pro costing $1,249 would earn you a commission of $30. This is the same commission rate (2.5%) offered by Apple themselves, while their affiliate program is harder to access and harder to qualify for.
Perhaps the largest and most well-known of the affiliate marketing platforms (aside from perhaps ShareASale, which is owned by Awin). Joining Awin is quick and easy, and the requirements are minimal. With Awin, you can create several different accounts, depending, for example, on the product category or YouTube channel you wish to use.
And in addition to seeking out merchants you want to work with, you will also receive offers from merchants. These offers tend to have very high commissions as they are often associated with new products or new product campaigns they want to promote.
- High commission rates
- Easy setup
- Low earning requirement for payout ($50, as opposed to $100 with Amazon)
- Limited selection of merchants
- Relatively difficult to get affiliate links (compared to the Amazon Associates platform)
Use them both. Take advantage of the convenience and wide selection of products available with the Amazon Associates program. But at the same time, join Awin and take advantage of high commission opportunities that will invariably come your way from merchants looking to make a splash with a punctual campaign.
3 – Pitching The Products
YouTube is an excellent platform for affiliate marketing. The video content you create allows you to either feature or talk about the products you want to recommend. But this is NOT obligatory.
The viewers of your content know that the content is free. They understand that the content creator is not paid for simply creating the content but that the content creator needs to find ways to monetize their channel. This is widely understood and widely accepted by YouTube viewers.
Affiliate marketing has the advantage over advertising in that it is far less disruptive (if at all) to the video content. When directing your viewers to the affiliate marketing links posted in the description box of the channel, consider the following:
- Be up-front and transparent that the links are affiliate marketing links. Transparency, in this context, works to your advantage in two ways. Firstly, it helps establish trust since you are open about your intentions. Secondly (and perhaps most importantly), you are offering your grateful viewers the opportunity to support your channel and reward your efforts at no additional cost to them (unlike asking for a simple Patreon donation).
- Bear in mind delivery locations. When dealing with retailers, such as Amazon, and some subscription services for physical products, you may need to post several affiliate links for the same product (a link for each of the various regions or territories).
- There is no limit to the number of affiliate links you can have accompanying a YouTube video. However, you do want to make the purchasing process as easy as possible for your viewers. One important way to accomplish this is by minimizing the choices.
In a Nutshell
YouTube is an ideal platform for affiliate marketing. You don’t need to sell!
Focus on increasing views and subscribers and include affiliate marketing links as a way for your viewers to support you and the channel.
Use a combination of platforms such as Amazon Associates and Awin. Neither is exclusive. And consider products that your viewers are likely to buy, products that yield a high commission, and products that align with your personal branding.