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How to Monetize Your Channel with YouTube Affiliate Marketing

As a content sharing platform, YouTube has become a haven for creative folks to produce and distribute dynamic and engaging content for the world to enjoy.

But to continue producing content, YouTube creators need to rely on various monetization methods, such as YouTube Ads, to earn revenue.

Fortunately, YouTube Ads are not the only choice you have to monetize your subscriber base. You can also consider doing affiliate marketing.

If becoming an affiliate has sparked your interest, then you are at the right place as we are going to figure out its benefits, the types of video content to produce, and more.

What is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?

YouTube affiliate marketing is the process of presenting or directly/indirectly advertising products and services in your videos and prompting your viewers to purchase them. After the purchase, the company whose products you promote will pay you a commission for helping them with their sales.

The companies that want to increase their revenue with affiliate marketing open a so-called “affiliate program” (e.g., Amazon has Amazon Associates) where they offer commissions and incentives for creators like you to advertise their products.

After joining an affiliate network or an affiliate program of a company and selecting the product you want to promote, you will get a URL with a unique ID. When your viewers click on it, they will get transferred to the company’s page where they can buy the product. The unique ID serves as your “signature” to tell the company that it was your viewer that made the purchase, and it is you who they need to pay a commission.

Essentially, YouTube affiliate marketing looks similar to video marketing, with the only difference being that you are “outsourcing” it to YouTubers.

Now that you know what affiliate marketing looks like for YouTubers, let’s dive into the main reasons you need to consider it to monetize your YouTube channel.

Benefits of YouTube Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a very popular approach for both sides involved in it (80% of businesses and 84% of creators do it).

On one side, we have the companies that want to get more of their products or services sold. It can be eCommerce stores or SaaS products that want to add an affiliate program into their digital marketing stack. This is great for them as it drives highly relevant traffic to their websites.

On the other side, there are the WordPress bloggers, podcast hosts, and creators who are actively producing content on YouTube (with over 694,000 hours of content made in August 2021 alone) and have built a sizable following that they want to monetize.

And why is affiliate marketing a great choice for creators? Here are four reasons why ‌you, as a creator, should consider this marketing channel when thinking about how to make money online and build your passive income stream.

Benefit #1: Low ongoing costs

If you have decided to start doing affiliate marketing, we have great news for you! There are very few upfront costs that you need to cover.

First‌, the time and effort you spend on content creation will not change too much. You might need to make slight changes to your content to fit in the product promotions organically, but that’s pretty much it.

As the changes in your content are inconsiderable, you will not need to upgrade any of your recording equipment and accessories either. You will most likely continue creating content the way you used to before joining an affiliate marketing program.

Other than that, you do not need to buy any SaaS tools to start. All you need is to register for a given company’s affiliate program, get the link and place it on your content. Please note that you might need tools later on when you have many links from different companies to track them. But, as a beginner, you can do just fine without them.

There is one case when you might incur costs with affiliate marketing, though. It is when you consider investing in ads, keyword research, YouTube search optimization (it’s the second-largest search engine, after all), search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing (e.g., LinkedIn). But, this is more common for experienced affiliates, and you do not have to do it as a beginner.

Benefit #2: Low risk

The business model of affiliate marketing dictates that content creators get paid commissions only when the purchase is made (there is also the model for click payments, we have it covered here). And this model is great in terms of risks and safety.

From a business standpoint, companies do not have the risk of spending money and getting no sales as the payment occurs only after the purchase is confirmed.

On your part as a content creator, there are no risks with:

  • Having sales targets set by the business that you need to meet. If people click and buy their products, you get your affiliate commission. If there are no clicks, you simply don’t get paid, and there are no negative consequences for it.
  • Losing your credibility in the eyes of your audience. As long as the affiliate products you promote fit into your content naturally, your viewers will not consider it intrusive advertising and unsubscribe from your channel.

Thus, if you try affiliate marketing and fail, you will lose neither money nor your audience.

Benefit #3: High ROI

Another great advantage of affiliate marketing is that it allows you to earn quite a bit. The reason is simple – affiliate marketing allows you to generate relevant traffic with great product-market fit.

When a company starts an affiliate program, they prefer to work with the creators operating in a niche and having a target audience for which the company products are relevant. For instance, Columbia Sportswear will prefer to work with snowboarding channels as the audience there is likely to buy winter coats.

Influencers, on the other hand, prefer advertising products relevant to their niche to make sure that these promotions are useful for their audience and will not cause annoyance. For example, tech YouTubers will choose to work with smartphone manufacturers or electronics stores as these products interest their viewers.

Thus, you get the right viewers with the right interests and needs entering the company website. All of this translates to higher chances that the people who have clicked on your affiliate links will make a purchase, and you will get a commission payment.

Benefit #4: Flexibility

Affiliate marketing also comes with a high level of flexibility and a range of freedoms that you, the creator, can enjoy. In particular, you have the privilege of:

  • Creating your own promotional content that fits the style of your videos the best.
  • Choosing where to place your affiliate links – in the comments, in the description, showing it on the screen, etc.
  • Selecting the affiliate marketing campaigns and products you want to work with. You are also free to let one of these companies go if you think it is not worth collaborating with them.

Thus, to recap, affiliate marketing can serve as a high-return and low-risk channel to earn money from your YouTube subscriber base.

But before jumping into the adventurous world of affiliate links and commissions, let us give you a bit more valuable advice. We will start with the type of content that generates affiliate clicks.

3 Types of YouTube Videos Suitable for Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing works great with YouTube videos, as it is easy for creators to organically fit product promotions into their content and keep everything genuine and non-intrusive for their viewers.

But there are three specific types of YouTube content that perform the best and get you the most clicks on your affiliate links.

Type #1: Product reviews

When people want to buy something, it is common that they will try researching the product on YouTube first and watch its reviews (in fact, 61% of buyers use YouTube videos as a purchase decision influence).

It means that if you are posting a review video, your views will mainly consist of people who are considering buying that product, and if you place an appropriate affiliate link, it will get you lots of purchases and commissions.

Now let’s illustrate all of this with an example.

Example: Revolut

Revolut is a fintech company that offers digital banking services. Below we have a review video of Revolut by a YouTuber called Benas.

Benas Revolut YouTube affiliate marketing example screenshot
Credit: YouTube

Benas posts videos about investment, money management, and financial tools.

His videos also include reviews of various financial tools and applications, and Revolut is among them. In this video, Benas goes over various Revolut features, tells his audience how these features work, and highlights what he personally likes the most.

But this video is not just a Revolut review; it is affiliate content, as Benas has included several affiliate links from the company in his video’s description section. 

To sum up, product reviews are a great place to fit in affiliate content, but there are other YouTube videos that you might consider for affiliate marketing too.

Type #2: Unboxing videos

Unlike product reviews, unboxing videos are not going over each product feature and share the author’s positive and negative experiences with that product. But unboxing videos still carry lots of purchasing value, as 62% of people watching unboxing videos are planning to buy that product. 

Unboxing videos are popular among buyers as they show what the actual product looks like when out of its retail packaging, unlike the retouched and deceptive ads.

And believe it or not, you don’t always need to buy the products to unbox them, as you can ask the producer for a sample, and many of them will ship one to you.

And regarding doing affiliate marketing with an unboxing video, we have an example for you coming up next.

Example: iPhone

Gadgets and smartphones, in particular, are probably one of the most popular items for unboxing on YouTube. The video we want to highlight is about the purple iPhone 12.

Dr Debox and iPhone YouTube affiliate marketing example
Credit: YouTube

This is content by Dr. Debox, a YouTube channel with over 600,000 subscribers that shoots and uploads only unboxing videos of various gadgets. With an audience this large, If Dr Debox places an affiliate link for this iPhone model in the video, it will help them sell many of them and earn sizeable commissions from the retailers selling iPhones.

So, unboxing videos are another way for getting affiliate clicks, but there is another option as well.

Type #3: Tutorials

How-to videos and step-by-step tutorials are the third type of content that can drive traffic to your affiliate links.

And here’s the reason‌.

As someone who teaches a new skill or helps viewers perform a task, you have a high level of authority in the eyes of your audience. Thus, your opinion about a product carries weight, and people will take it into consideration when making a purchase decision.

But what do tutorials with affiliate links look like in real life? Here’s the case of GQ.

Example: GQ

GQ is a lifestyle channel that posts news, interesting stories, interviews with celebrities, and many how-to videos. Our video in question is a tutorial by GQ about facial hair grooming.

GQ YouTube affiliate marketing example
Credit: YouTube

In this tutorial, Matty Conrad, a professional barber, illustrates the four steps of getting your beard in the right shape. The second step is about the tools he uses. This can serve as a perfect spot for showcasing affiliate products and telling the viewers to find the product links in the description.

To conclude, YouTube content works well for affiliate marketing, but you can expect the best result if you start making tutorials, reviews, or unboxing videos. Now, with the content types clear, let’s understand where you should place the affiliate links themselves.

3 Ways to Promote Affiliate Links Through YouTube Videos

Producing great affiliate videos where you present the products and prompt your viewers to try them is only part of the job. You need your audience to actually ‌buy what you are promoting so you can get your commissions.

Therefore, it is important to place and manage your affiliate links in your videos correctly.

And if you are wondering where to place them, there are three common ways you can integrate affiliate links into your videos. Let’s go over them one by one and see how they work.

Way #1: Video description

Placing affiliate links in the video description is probably the most popular approach.

The links placed here are easy to find. To increase the chances of people noticing these links, some YouTubers also mention that the viewers can check out the description section for links to all the products they have talked about in the video.

To demonstrate the case of placing affiliate links in YouTube descriptions, let’s look at the video below.

Legit Marketing Reviews affiliate link placement example
Credit: YouTube

This is a channel called Legit Marketing Reviews, and it is reviewing an online learning platform – LearnWorlds. As we can see, there is a link in the description that prompts viewers to register for the LearnWorlds free trial and get a free course on the platform created by Legit Marketing Reviews.

Another interesting point to mention from this example is the domain of the affiliate link. It is not the LearnWorlds domain but the domain of a service that shortens your links and puts UTM tags on it. If you click on it, though, there will be a redirect and you will end up on the LearnWorlds landing page.

This is an example of a cloaked link when you replace the original affiliate link (which is usually quite long) with a shortened version that looks much better in the description section. Cloaking used to be common with Amazon affiliate links before they started shortening them.

Putting your affiliate links in the video descriptions seems like the most logical approach, but that is not the only place YouTubers have been placing them. Let’s see where else you can do it.

Way #2: Comments

The second common option to allocate links live in YouTube videos is in the comments section.

If you have comments enabled for your video, you can also make a comment yourself with a call to action and your link. Some YouTubers will pin this comment to make sure that the link does not get lost in the torrent of other comments your video might get, and it always appears on the very top of the section. 

Now let’s see what the comment affiliate links look like with the example below.

ICO Investor affiliate link placement idea example
Credit: YouTube

The channel in this example is ICO Investor. If we check thumbnails and playlists, we will see that the channel focuses on cryptocurrency, NFTs, and other digital financial assets, and the creators have made a review video of the cryptocurrency trading platform Binance.

Unlike our previous example, ICO Investor has preferred to make a comment with the Binance affiliate link in it (also a cloaked one) and pin it to the top of the comment section.

So, there is also the comment section where YouTubers place their links, but that’s not all either. You can choose to “tell about the link” approach straight up, too.

Way #3: Word-of-mouth

The final way of redirecting viewers to affiliate product websites is simply talking about them.

The word-of-mouth approach means that other than presenting the product in the video, you also explain to the viewers where to go and how to find those products. The YouTube algorithm will also make annotations and transform your speech into text, including the link you are pronouncing.

Sometimes YouTubers even show the link on the video itself (assuming that it is short enough and easy to remember).

With this approach, companies identify creators using unique promo codes instead of unique links.

There is also the rare case when creators add referral affiliate links to i-cards. It usually involves video editing with YouTube’s editing software when uploading a new video. There is also the option to edit videos you already have and add the link there.

In summary, it is common for YouTubers to place affiliate links either in the description or the comment section. Some of them also take the approach of talking about it and showing the link in the video.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing and YouTube content go hand in hand. They are a great combo for attracting relevant and interested leads to company websites, converting them to paid customers, and earning commissions as a result.

Thus, an affiliate marketing strategy is a great option for getting additional earnings from your YouTube channel.

Good luck creating outstanding content and monetizing it!If you liked our how-to guides, check out more of them in our blog.

Sona author profile pitcure

Sona Kalantaryan is a senior digital marketer with a creative past. Big fan of high cinema and well-optimized landing pages. She authors guides by sharing the best practices and does it the right way!

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