As of right now, 94% of adults in the United States watch YouTube at least once a month.
But YouTube also has 2 billion users worldwide.
And between them, they watch 1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day.
One billion hours!
What I’m getting at here is that this is a huge potential audience for you to tap into.
So, of course, affiliate marketing on this platform is a thing.
But is it actually worth your while investing in YouTube affiliate marketing?
Let’s find out.
What Is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?
YouTube affiliate marketing is an online business model where you generate revenue by adding affiliate links for products or services you recommend to videos you create and upload.
These links are placed within annotations, or beneath the video in the ‘Description’ area.
So it’s very similar to traditional affiliate marketing in terms of how you make money.
The only thing that changes is the platform.
You still put together product reviews, tutorials, etc. that link out to a given affiliate marketing program.
Except you do it with videos.
But the monetization process remains the exact same – you earn a commission if a viewer makes a purchase through your referral link.
It’s as simple as that.
Where can you put affiliate links?
One example is you could create a video demonstrating how to install WordPress, and then include an affiliate link in the description:
The above is an example of a cloaked link – one that’s redirected through whatever domain is associated with your channel.
But YouTube has no problem with you placing naked affiliate links in your video descriptions:
Another place you can safely add affiliate links is in the ‘Pinned Comment’ of a video:
Just maybe don’t overdo it here – the above example has 25 affiliate links in total, which is overpowering.
Your ‘Community’ tab is a location many affiliates forget about when it comes to link placement.
But if you actually engage with your subscribers then this is a great place to drop a link:
You might also have noticed that this creator added an affiliate link disclosure just beneath the link itself.
This is a short statement that informs your viewers that you will receive financial compensation if they make a purchase after clicking on this link.
You should include an affiliate link disclosure wherever you use an affiliate link.
You can also add affiliate links to the end screen of a video.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
But promoting affiliate links in ‘End cards’ is tricky.
Because you can’t direct link to an affiliate offer from your ‘End cards’.
You can only link to your own website and one that’s associated with your YouTube channel.
But you can add up to 5 ‘End cards’ to each video.
The first placement is right at the end of the video, as illustrated above.
But when you click on the “i” symbol you can view additional cards.
Whatever methods you use, the goal is always the same – make money by redirecting your traffic to affiliate programs.
Or redirect your traffic to an email sign-up form if you have a sales funnel set up for a specific affiliate program.
These “i” cards can be viewed at any point during playback.
So you have multiple opportunities for cloaked links to be placed both throughout and right at the end of your videos.
Whatever linking method you use though, the goal is always the same – make money by redirecting your traffic to affiliate programs.
So make sure whatever landing page you send them to is finely tuned towards conversions.
Or just redirect your traffic to an email sign-up form if you have a sales funnel set up for a specific affiliate program.
Why use YouTube affiliate marketing?
Basically, because it’s a natural extension of your current affiliate marketing efforts.
You’re already publishing content in the form of blog posts.
So you can simply repurpose those as YouTube videos.
But also because YouTube makes it incredibly easy to become a content creator.
All you need is a microphone, a webcam, or some screen recording software.
The YouTube Studio takes care of the actual heavy lifting.
Simplicity and the opportunity to repurpose content aside, this platform gives you access to something that’s rare in the world of affiliate marketing.
You can build an audience of millions without spending a single cent on advertising.
Or building any links.
You can then monetize your loyal following as often as you want.
And, generally speaking, YouTube will leave you alone to do just that.
How can you make money with YouTube affiliate marketing?
Create videos that people want to watch.
And share with their friends.
I know that sounds like the world’s biggest case of stating the obvious.
But it’s not.
For instance, the Canadian Prepper YouTube channel usually shares survival and prepping advice.
Even people who aren’t survivalists enjoy this type of content.
So this style of video has a very broad appeal.
In some, they just provide informational content and links to related videos.
But in others they recommend a whole list of survival items:
And then add a list of affiliate links to the ‘Description’ area beneath the video:
This process can be replicated fortravel, weight loss, SEO, or just about any other niche you could build a site around.
You could even niche down to a really granular level with your YouTube presence.
For example, this channel only features reviews of Bluehost, probably because they get paid $80+ in affiliate commission for every sale.
Their YouTube channel only has a handful of uploads.
But some of them have 95,000+ views, so you can be sure their affiliate links saw plenty of action.
YouTube’s immense reach makes it a great way for serious content creators to earn a lot of money.
Let’s take a really high-profile example of this – Marques Brownlee.
If you haven’t heard of him, he’s famous for his high-quality tech reviews.
Which he often drops Amazon affiliate links into:
Along with links to his own merch, of course.
He currently earns over US$2 million per year from all his online business activities.
Worth A Buy is another YouTube channel that reviews gaming products and tells viewers if the game/accessory/console is “worth a buy”.
The videos are of high quality and probably make great money, without being spammy.
It also helps that they publish several times per week – they’re constantly “front-of-mind” with their audience.
And the YouTube algorithm…which we’ll come to a little later.
What types of videos generate affiliate revenue?
There are almost infinite types, styles, and formats you could use for your affiliate videos.
However, there are a number of formats that have proven to be successful.
While most of these don’t lend themselves perfectly to affiliate marketing, there are a number of that do present the opportunity to promote products and services via an affiliate link.
Let’s look at what you have to work with.
Product review videos
Single product reviews are a great way for a YouTube affiliate to create content:
As are product comparison reviews:
It does help if you actually own the product or products you’re reviewing instead of just talking about them.
These types of “product” keywords also have a ton of commercial intent i.e. you can make money from them.
This also explains why 62% of consumers reportedly watch reviews online every single time they make a purchase.
And 52% of customers are more likely to purchase a product featured in a YouTube product review video.
Simply put, content like the videos above convert really well.
Which means lots of viewers clicking on affiliate links, and the opportunity to earn yourself some very healthy affiliate commissions.
So long as you link out to a good affiliate program.
How To Videos
Here’s a video showing people how to clean their gutters.
This is a perfect example of the type of video that can be informative at the same time as recommending products.
It would be easy to put affiliate links in the description for whatever tools, gadgets, or other products you recommend (and demonstrate) in the video.
Which is exactly what Jonny DIY did:
These could come from Amazon or even Home Depot.
It’s really down to whatever products you want to feature, and which affiliate programs you’re signed up to.
And if you want to drive your affiliate marketing conversions through the roof, demonstrate each product in the video.
Consumers love social proof.
That’s how shopping channels sell you a pair of slippers with a built-in espresso machine.
This style of video content literally involves creators opening up a package as part of the “review” process.
And then sharing that experience with you.
Doesn’t this mean you’ll need to spend money buying each product to review it?
Not if you ask nicely.
A surprising number of companies are willing to give out review copies of a product in return for a “positive” review.
Best Of Videos
These are basically video versions of roundup review posts.
And they work just as well.
The real value comes from building yourself as an expert on the subject matter so that your audience values your opinion.
The video featured above has over 155,000 views as of the time of writing.
And they’ve uploaded hundreds of them – most of which are monetized with Amazon affiliate links in the video descriptions.
You could just as easily do round-up videos in other popular niches such as:
Each of these has the potential to generate substantial affiliate revenue, again once you’re working with the right affiliate program.
Just do your due diligence in advance e.g. check competition levels, etc.
How do you get traffic to YouTube videos?
So now it’s time to switch over to discussing how to get eyeballs on your output, so to speak.
Because without traffic your affiliate links are going to feel very lonely just sitting there.
Google organic search
Google (Alphabet Inc) owns YouTube so they obviously give it preference in the SERPs for a whole range of keywords.
Especially informational keywords, as demonstrated below:
So, one way to get traffic to a YouTube video is to rank it in Google.
Where should you start?
You can use Ahrefs to come up with ideas for what posts you should make videos for and to find out what keywords have videos ranking.
Start by putting your keyword into ‘Keyword Explorer’
From there, you navigate to ‘View all’:
Then click ‘SERP features’, choose ‘Videos’, and click on ‘Apply’:
This reveals all…