YouTube is the most popular platform in America according to Pew Research, and the statistics behind it corroborate this. Nearly 74% of adults in the U.S. use YouTube, more than that of even social media giant Facebook.
Then, we have the rest of the world. And that makes for an even larger number of people using YouTube.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of opportunity on YouTube to reach a large audience of worldwide viewers.
So how does one actually leverage the platform in order to make money with YouTube affiliate marketing?
As a fellow YouTuber myself, I’ll share with you the formula that has worked best for me in earning daily YouTube affiliate commissions.
- What is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?
- How to Monetize YouTube Videos with Affiliate Links
- Money Making YouTube Affiliate Marketing Formula
- PROS of YouTube Affiliate Marketing
- CONS of YouTube Affiliate Marketing
- YouTube Affiliate Marketing Course
- YouTube Affiliate Marketing Conclusion
What is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?
YouTube affiliate marketing is a form of social selling, where a creator builds interest in a recommended product or service, and sales are tracked through affiliate links attached to those videos uploaded to YouTube.
A YouTuber earns income from those sales in the form of affiliate commissions.
Videos such as tutorials, product reviews, and round-ups can all serve as helpful content for your audience, as well as earn you affiliate income in the process.
Similar to blogging, when someone clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a cut of that sale.
The only difference here is the platform the content is being hosted on, and the format being used to deliver that content.
How to Monetize YouTube Videos with Affiliate Links
YouTube is one of the few platforms that openly allows affiliate links to be posted onto the site. According to their external links policy, as long as you aren’t “massively posting affiliate content,” then you are good to post your links.
Basically, don’t be spammy with your content and keep the number of affiliate links in your content to a reasonable amount. That way, you’ll avoid any policy violations and stay on YouTube’s good side.
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Where to Put Affiliate Links on YouTube
The placement of your affiliate links is important.
Because you want them to be found. Otherwise, if your viewers can’t find them, then you’ll be out of luck in making affiliate sales with your content.
The most popular area on YouTube to place your affiliate links is in the description area of your video, above the fold. These links will be the first thing your viewer sees after the initial SEO-based short sentence description.
In my video on How Much YouTube Paid Me, I have what is known as cloaked affiliate links in the description area.
Cloaked links are a way to have more professional looking affiliate links, as opposed to spammy looking links with a slew of letters and numbers in it.
But if you prefer to use naked affiliate links, that’s ok as well. These are permitted by YouTube, and many YouTubers including those promoting Amazon affiliate products, use them.
The video above for instance on the ‘Best Checked Luggages’ has a handful of naked Amazon affiliate links in the description. It does the job needed, but there is a lot of debate as to whether naked links are clicked on fewer times than cloaked affiliate links.
The consensus online seems to be that the less spammy looking cloaked links lead to higher click-thru rates. If more people are clicking through to your affiliate links, then the more potential affiliate commissions for you. This is the main reason, I use cloaked affiliate links on my YouTube Channel.
Another area where you can place your affiliate links is in the comments area. There’s a great feature on YouTube that allows you to ‘pin’ your comment to the top. So, even as viewers begin to comment on your video, your affiliate link won’t get lost in the shuffle.
YouTube annotations was also a popular place for YouTubers to place affiliate links, but the feature was discontinued in 2017. This feature allowed creators to place hyperlinks throughout their videos, but unfortunately the feature didn’t work on mobile. Not to mention, most viewers found YouTube annotations to be annoying and not helpful. So, there went that option.
Thankfully, it’s not really a loss since viewers weren’t interacting with the feature anyway.
Add YouTube Affiliate Link Disclosure
Next, and most importantly, affiliate disclosures are needed on videos you upload to YouTube.
This is not only a YouTube requirement, but the FTC also requires there to be affiliate disclaimers on YouTube videos. Some affiliate programs require you to have specific language in those disclaimers.
For example, as an Amazon Associates affiliate you must include the below sentence, or something substantially comparable, in a visible place wherever Amazon affiliate links are being used:
“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
ClickFunnels Affiliates on the other hand, need to include this in specific language their disclaimer:
“I am an independent ClickFunnels Affiliate, not an employee. I receive referral payments from ClickFunnels. The opinions expressed here are my own and are not official statements of ClickFunnels or its parent company, Etison LLC.”
Many YouTubers use the bottom of the video description box as an optimal place to put them.
Graham Stephan, a finance and investments YouTuber with over 3.5 million subscribers, has the following affiliate disclaimer on his videos:
So make sure to check what affiliate disclosures are needed for the affiliate program you promote. Then place those disclosures in a visible location on each YouTube video upload.
Money Making YouTube Affiliate Marketing Formula
Now that we covered what YouTube affiliate marketing is and where to place your affiliate links, let’s go over the success formula.
YouTube affiliate marketing success is not as simple as uploading an engaging or visually appealing video. While that is one aspect to it, there are other key ingredients needed to increase your chances of YouTube success.
Below are just some of the key ingredients to get you started.
For more in-depth tips, check out this free webclass from YouTube influencer, Sean Cannell. Sean has helped countless YouTubers increase their affiliate earnings, including YouTuber Cherie Vicera. Cherie’s affiliate income grew by 600% in one month after implementing Sean’s tips.
1 – YouTube Channel Ideas for Affiliate Marketing
It starts with choosing a topic to discuss on your channel.
Now, while there is a business aspect to choosing a YouTube affiliate niche, that shouldn’t be the driving factor to choosing a channel idea. You should have some interest in the topic you plan to cover on your channel.
If not, there’s a good chance you’ll find the work of putting together video content tiresome and boring. And if that’s the case, then you may give up before you start making money with YouTube affiliate marketing.
Thankfully, these days you can earn YouTube affiliate income on virtually any topic out there. As long as there are good affiliate programs to promote within the niche, then you can start a channel on it.
Though if you are keen on making the most amount of affiliate income with your channel, there are specific niches that attract high ticket affiliate marketing buyers.
These niches have evergreen demand as well as raving fans willing to spend top dollar for products associated with the niche.
Some examples include:
- Finance Niches – Stock Market Investing, Bitcoin, Real Estate
- Health and Nutrition Niches – Weight loss, Strength Building, Keto Diet
- DIY Tech Niches – WordPress, Filmmaking, Software
- Lifestyle Niches – Dating, Luxury Travel, Fashion
If you prefer channel ideas that don’t require you to get on camera, then check out these faceless YouTube channel ideas.
2 – Find Low Competition Keywords
As a beginner, one of the fastest ways to get views on YouTube is to find low competition keywords within your niche to create content around. These keywords are hidden pockets of traffic that are less saturated and can help you quickly grow your channel.
So if you’ve ever wondered how small YouTube channels with only a handful of videos get thousands of views, there’s a good chance they are creating content around these low competition keywords.
Nowadays, there are plenty of software programs to help you find low competition keywords within your niche. One such program that I use is vidIQ.
VidIQ will not only help you find the best keywords for your channel, it will also show you the search volume and competition difficulty for that search term. In addition to this, they will also recommend long-tail keywords to create further content around.
You can sign up to vidIQ for free by registering here.
This process of finding low competition keywords will help you plan out your content, and map out a strategy to drive more traffic to your affiliate links.
3 – Create Videos that are Discoverable
Discoverable videos, as per the Russell Brunson Traffic Secrets book…
“…are based on keyword phrases that you publish as hooks to rank for the keywords with the goal of grabbing the people’s attention, pulling them into your channel, and turning them into subscribers.”
There are two parts to creating these types of videos – Metadata + Video Format.
Metadata such as the title of your video, description, keywords and video tags are all important pieces to making your video discoverable on YouTube.
For example, the title of your video is a prime place to include keywords you wish to rank for on YouTube. Adding keyword phrases within your description box is another way to rank for important keywords.
But that’s just the surface level stuff of what you can do. Other YouTube metadata to include in your video descriptions are timestamps. These hyperlinks can be found in Google search, which gives you an added layer of free traffic to your videos.
Also, attaching tags to your video prior to uploading it onto YouTube is another way to include metadata for YouTube SEO.
The actual format of your video content will go a long way in viewers finding your videos and clicking on your affiliate links. This includes creating a compelling hook, trailer, intro, content and offer.
Why is this video format so important?
Because YouTube videos that are naturally being watched and engaged with are the ones that YouTube recommends to its other users. Videos that people quickly click off from get less traffic and eventually fall off YouTube search results.
If you are fortunate enough to get recommended by YouTube, then your video can show up on the front homepage of YouTube search results. When this occurs, your video views can literally skyrocket overnight.
So create an engaging hook that draws viewers into watching more of your content. Follow this up with a great trailer, intro and content, for a powerful formula that attracts more traffic and buyers to your affiliate offers.
4 – Create Videos that Offer a Solution to a Problem
No one likes to be sold, but that’s not to say that people don’t like to buy. Understanding why people buy will go a long way in helping you create content that sells.
When it comes down to it, people like to buy things that help them solve problems. Ideally, your video should serve as a solution to your viewers’ problem. Your affiliate offer should be an extension to that solution.
For instance, someone with no technical experience interested in learning how to build an e-commerce sales funnel, may not know where to start.
An example of a YouTube video that would help solve that problem could be something along the lines of, “How to Effortlessly Build an E-Commerce Sales Funnel with Little to No Tech Skills.”
Within the video tutorial, you share how to use ClickFunnels to create beautifully designed e-commerce funnels. And at some point along the video, you offer a free professionally designed done-for-you ClickFunnels e-commerce funnel.
As a ClickFunnels affiliate this would potentially earn you a monthly recurring affiliate commission. For your viewer, you gave them something invaluable that helped them overcome a problem they faced.
Create videos that help solve problems, and you’ll quickly begin to generate YouTube affiliate income.
5 – Design Clickable YouTube Thumbnails
The YouTube thumbnail is the first thing people see when deciding whether to click-thru to a video or not. If no one clicks over to watch your video, then everything else mentioned in this YouTube affiliate marketing formula becomes irrelevant.
So to maximum exposure to your YouTube video, you’ll want to create a clickable thumbnail.
Some of the important factors to creating clickable thumbnails include:
- An image that elicits curiosity or teases the content inside
- Short, compelling thumbnail headlines
- Colors that stand out from the crowd
- Can easily be seen on both desktop and mobile
Online gig website Fiverr and A.I creation app Thumbnail Blaster, are great places to get eye-popping YouTube thumbnails created. The more appealing your thumbnail is, the greater the chances that more people will click-thru to your video.
6 – Include a Call-to-Action
Ultimately, if you are uploading videos to YouTube for the purpose of making money with affiliate marketing, then you’ll want to include a call-to-action.
YouTube CTA’s are a valuable way to drive viewers to your affiliate offer and increase your chances of making an affiliate sale. Additionally, CTA’s will help you build an audience of raving fans that come back to consume more of your content in the future.
So if a viewer doesn’t take you up on an offer today, then you’ll have more opportunities in the future.
Below are the four types of CTA’s that in my humble opinion are the most important.
- Like – A CTA that asks viewers to ‘like’ your video is one form of engagement that let’s the YouTube algorithm know that people have found value in your content. The more people that find value in your content, the more people YouTube will show it to.
- Comment – A CTA that asks viewers to ‘comment’ on your video increases the visibility of your video not only on YouTube, but also on Google. The more interaction your video gets with viewers commenting, the more value YouTube’s algorithm places on it for certain searches.
- Subscribe – A CTA that asks viewers to ‘subscribe’ to your channel will boost the chances of your future videos showing up on that viewer’s YouTube homepage. This personalization effort by YouTube is one raking signal based on the viewer’s history and preferences.
- Lead Magnet / Offer – A CTA that asks viewers to take advantage of an ‘offer’ or opt-in to a ‘lead magnet’ are direct efforts to make an affiliate sale. The more irresistible your offer is, the better the chances your audience will say ‘yes’ to that offer.
PROS of YouTube Affiliate Marketing
There are many reasons to get excited about YouTube affiliate marketing. One of the most appealing reasons is that a single YouTube video can rank within 24 hours of being uploaded to the platform. Compare that to a blog post that can take months to rank on Google, and you have yourself a beginner’s paradise of instant free traffic.
Here are other PROS to Starting a YouTube channel for Affiliate Marketing:
- It doesn’t cost you anything other than your time to get started. You can use your mobile phone to create and upload videos on YouTube.
- According to Think with Google, 68% of YouTuber users watched YouTube to help make a purchase decision. This makes it a prime place to promote affiliate products.
- Statistics show that YouTube is consistently popular for everyone, no matter the age group. So no matter what you’re selling, it’s likely that your customers are on YouTube.
CONS of YouTube Affiliate Marketing
YouTube affiliate marketing does have its downsides. I’d love to say otherwise, but that’s not the case.
Below are some of the cons to doing affiliate marketing on YouTube.
- YouTube has a 3x strike rule for violating community rules. Years of YouTube video content can vanish overnight if you’re not careful. I have 1 strike on YouTube for an affiliate link that suddenly got flagged as spam content (even though it’s not spam).
- Automated bots run rampant on YouTube, despite YouTube’s best efforts to take them down. On occasion, you’ll get spam comments on your video and bots will hit the ‘dislike’ button to drive your video further down the search results.
- The YouTube algorithm is constantly changing, which makes ranking factors more difficult to keep up with. In order to keep ahead of the curve, you’ll want to constantly try out new formats and content on your channel.
YouTube Affiliate Marketing Course
If the above formula still leaves you with unanswered questions on how to get started with YouTube affiliate marketing, then you may want to consider taking an advanced course.
Sean Cannell of Think Media, offers both self-directed online YouTube Jumpstart courses as well as private coaching. His Video Ranking Academy course shares with you a proven system for ranking your videos and growing your YouTube channel.
When you enroll in the Video Ranking Academy, you’ll get access to:
- 7 Core VRA Modules (45 Videos)
- 7 Core VRA Study Guides and Checklists
- Private Access to the VRA Facebook Group
You’ll also receive $1,200 worth of FREE Bonuses including:
- BONUS ONE: Grow with Video ($197 value) Instant access to over four hours of strategic content broken up into timely and actionable video recordings you can watch on your desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
- BONUS TWO: 2 Group Q&A Sessions with Sean Cannell and Team ($997 Value) You'll have the chance to ask your question, get clarity on direction on your channel, and meet other creators like yourself.
- BONUS THREE: 51 Money-Making Ideas Download ($47 Value) This download will walk you through 52 ideas to make money with your channel TODAY.
YouTube Affiliate Marketing Conclusion
Starting a YouTube channel or YouTube automation channel for affiliate marketing can be a great way to earn passive affiliate income.
By implementing the formula laid out here, you’ll give yourself a head start to making money with YouTube much faster. I hope these tips encourage you to get started today! Good luck on your YouTube affiliate marketing journey!
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