YouTube is a massive platform with over 2.6 billion monthly active users.

It’s also the second largest search engine in the world after Google (who also conveniently owns YouTube… But I digress).

In other words…

It presents a huge opportunity for affiliates to tap into and make money.

Many have already tried… And succeeded.

I’ll teach you how to be one of them.

What Is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?

YouTube affiliate marketing involves promoting a product or service on a YouTube channel. You earn a commission when someone buys through your affiliate link.

Instead of a blog post or an email blast…

You create affiliate marketing content videos and place your affiliate links in the video description.

Pretty straightforward, right?

That’s why it’s the preferred marketing method of almost 37% of affiliates.

Many use YouTube as an additional source of free traffic or incorporate it with other affiliate marketing methods like blogging, email marketing, and X (formerly Twitter).

That said…

You can do affiliate marketing without a website by relying solely on YouTube.

Why Should You Use YouTube For Affiliate Marketing?

Creating video content has never been easier, more convenient, and more accessible.

People also prefer video over text nowadays when it comes to acquiring information… 

Including what products to buy or whether a product is worth purchasing.

This is why more and more marketers (around 70%) turn to video as an integral part of their marketing efforts.

What better place to do that than YouTube?

Here are some statistics to give you an idea of YouTube’s potential for affiliate marketing:

  • 82% of adults in the US alone use YouTube… And that’s only a small slice of the pie. YouTube has billions of users from all around the world.
  • Viewers generate over one billion watch hours every day.
  • YouTube is the leading platform for video marketing. 
  • 80% of shoppers watch a video review on YouTube as a part of their shopping process.
  • Over 75% of adults in the US, Australia, and the UK purchased a product after seeing a video about it. The number is even higher for millennials at 85%.
  • Over 90% of marketers agree that video marketing doesn’t only improve brand awareness and lead generation… It also increases sales and generates high ROI.

Using YouTube for affiliate marketing isn’t new, uncharted territory.

This method makes billions of dollars for marketers worldwide.

How To Do Affiliate Marketing on YouTube?

Starting affiliate marketing on YouTube is easy. 

You simply need to:

  1. Join affiliate programs and networks
  2. Choose products you want to promote
  3. Create a YouTube channel
  4. Start posting videos

I know it sounds easier said than done.

But with the right strategy… 

It’s also not that difficult.

Follow these YouTube affiliate marketing tips to get more commissions on this platform.

  1. Create Different Types of Videos
  2. Design Eye-Catching Thumbnails
  3. Add Chapter Markers
  4. Optimize for SERPs
  5. Repurpose YouTube Videos Into Blog Posts

1. Create Different Types of Videos

There are countless types of videos you can create.

But when it comes to affiliate marketing…

There are three main types that yield the highest conversion rates:

  • Unboxing videos
  • Product review videos
  • Tutorials/How-to videos

Let’s take a look at each of them.

Unboxing Videos

This type of video literally means taking a product out of the box and sharing your thoughts on it.

It’s a popular format on YouTube because viewers get to be a part of the experience of seeing a product for the first time. 

It’s like opening a Christmas gift!

That’s why over 90,000 users search for unboxing videos like this every month:

cupidbobo unboxing videoPin

But isn’t it expensive to buy products to unbox?

Not necessarily.

Many brands are more than willing to give out products to content creators in exchange for a “positive” review.

This will work best if you already have a decent following, though.

But… There’s no harm in asking.

Product Review Videos

There are three kinds of product review videos:

  • In-depth reviews of a single product
  • Product comparisons between two competing products
  • Product round-ups/best of videos

Like unboxings…

These types of videos are equally effective for promoting affiliate products.

The difference is product reviews do away with the gimmick and are generally more straight to the point.

Creators focus on:

  • Key features and specifications
  • Pros and cons
  • Usage demonstration
  • Personal impressions

Another difference is unboxings typically have a more positive feel to them…

Whereas product reviews are more “objective” and informational in nature.

People want an honest and realistic representation of a product…

james charles chipotle makeup review youtube videoPin

So much so that 96% of customers look specifically for negative reviews. 

I get it. 

Personally… I’m skeptical of overly positive reviews.  

I need to know both the product’s strengths and weaknesses to make an informed decision.

This is why it’s essential to research and only promote quality affiliate products.

No product in existence is perfect…

But a good product only has minor flaws, and its pros far outweigh the cons.

Tutorials/ How-To Videos

A third of all internet users watch tutorials and how-to videos every week.

You can capitalize on this by featuring affiliate products in step-by-step guides and adding affiliate links in the video description.

There are two ways you can go about this:

You can create tutorials specifically on how to use your affiliate product…

gustav eriksson semrush youtube tutorialPin

Or you can choose a more generic topic like “how to build a gaming PC” and recommend your affiliate products as the best options for PC parts.

techsource how to build a pc youtube videoPin

2. Design Eye-Catching Thumbnails

Thumbnails make or break a YouTube video’s success.

The truth is…

People do judge a book by its cover.

Users decide whether to watch a YouTube video based on its thumbnail.

It’s essentially the first stage of your affiliate marketing funnel

The good news is you don’t need fancy edits and crazy graphics to create a high-converting thumbnail. 

In fact… Simplicity is key.

There shouldn’t be any unnecessary elements that distract viewers from your message.

Instead… 

Every element should contribute to the story or present vital information.

michael cove youtube thumbnailPin

I’ve found that the general rule is:

  • Expressive faces
  • No more than three people
  • No more than three objects

That said… 

Rules can vary depending on the niche and current trends.

The best thing for you to do is look at your top competitors and analyze the thumbnails for their top-performing videos.

Pro Tip: Regularly update your thumbnails to keep them fresh and relevant. For instance… You can redesign a thumbnail to follow recent trends or add the current year, like “Best Apps in 2023”. 

3. Add Chapter Markers

Chapter markers allow viewers to skip to specific time stamps instantly.

This is great for longer videos like this one, which is almost 20 minutes long:

iman gadzhi 5 side hustles chapter markersPin

Won’t adding chapter markers decrease my watch time?

Quite the contrary.

People are actually more likely to exit a video if they have to watch several minutes of “irrelevant” content before they can find the information they need.

The key is to mention your affiliate product/s in every chapter so viewers won’t miss it.

You can also keep your chapter titles vague enough so that viewers are incentivized to watch.

This video by Michael Cove talks about apps you can use to make money.

michael cove youtube video chaptersPin

Each chapter title sets a clear expectation without revealing crucial information.

Take the fifth chapter, “Money App,” for example. 

You know it’s a money app, but which one?

This will evoke curiosity and get viewers to watch.

And if you were convincing enough, they would be compelled to click on your affiliate links in the description.

4. Optimize for SERPs

YouTube videos are like articles in that people find them by searching for certain keywords and scrolling down the search results.

As such…

You need to use SEO practices to optimize your YouTube videos and get them to rank high on different SERPs, namely:

  • Google Search
  • YouTube Search
  • Recommended and Related Videos

Let me explain. 

YouTube videos appear in 55% of Google keyword searches

This is partly because Google owns YouTube and thus prioritizes it in their SERPs…

But also because YouTube is generally the most trusted source of video content.

To rank on Google SERPs…

  1. You must find keywords with search volume and low to medium difficulty using tools like Semrush or Ahrefs.
  2. Create videos revolving around these keywords and incorporate your affiliate products.
  3. Mention the keywords in the video title, description, and metadata.

YouTube is a search engine, which means ranking for its SERPs follows the same principles as ranking for Google.

You can use tools like VidIQ and TubeBuddy for keyword research.

But in addition to using keywords…

YouTube’s algorithm uses a few other factors to determine your video’s SERP ranking:

  • Watch time: The longer viewers stay to watch your video… The better its ranking gets. One way to optimize for watch time is to state at the start of the video that viewers can expect a surprise or giveaway if they stay until the end.
  • Views, likes, and comments: This is where YouTube functions like a social media platform. It tracks viewers’ engagement as a sign of how relevant your video content is. One way to boost engagement is by asking viewers to like and subscribe, asking them a question during the video, and encouraging them to leave their answers in the comments.

Recommended videos are videos that appear on YouTube’s home page.

It’s the most coveted position for content creators because users can see your content without hitting the search bar.

On the other hand, related videos appear in the sidebar while users are watching your video.

youtube related video examplePin

Ranking for these spaces is largely based on a user’s search behavior…

So, you need to understand your audience and what content they typically watch. 

5. Repurpose YouTube Videos Into Blog Posts

If you like repurposing your YouTube videos to tap a different audience but don’t want to use social media for affiliate marketing

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Start a blog.
  2. Format your YouTube scripts into blog posts.
  3. Embed your YouTube video in the post.
  4. Publish, rinse, and repeat.

This offers a ton of benefits:

  • Appeals to different audiences: Video is indeed the content format of the future… But many people still prefer reading articles over watching videos. With this method… You don’t have to choose. You can target both types of people.
  • Saves time: Repurposing content allows you to tap into multiple traffic sources without painstakingly creating new content for each platform. 
  • Increases video views: I’ve mentioned that Google includes YouTube videos in its SERPs. But by embedding your videos in your blog posts… You can increase the chance of people watching your video even if they search outside of YouTube and your video doesn’t appear on Google’s SERP.
  • Improves website ranking: When people watch embedded videos… It increases the time they spend on your site. That, in turn, improves your SERP ranking. It’s a positive feedback loop.

Then simply insert your affiliate links as per normal.

Pros and Cons of YouTube Affiliate Marketing

YouTube is an excellent source of free traffic for affiliate marketing.

But it’s not the end-all, be-all solution for all affiliates.

Let’s take a look at some of its pros and cons.

Pros Of YouTube Affiliate Marketing

  • Massive audience: Almost half of all internet users visit YouTube every month.
  • Evergreen content: YouTube videos stay visible and searchable for years. This means every video can generate long-term ROI.
  • Minimal investment: You can start with a decent smartphone camera and use free editing apps. 
  • Monetization: Qualified accounts can make money from ads that play during their videos. This means you earn regardless of whether your viewers click your YouTube affiliate links.

Cons Of YouTube Affiliate Marketing

  • Subject to YouTube’s rules: Unlike a website where you have 100% ownership and thus full control over your content… You have to follow YouTube’s rules, which can change at any time. 
  • Tight competition in some niches: Tech, gaming, beauty, and fashion are the most popular niches on YouTube, and they’re oversaturated with content creators.

YouTube Rules on Affiliate Marketing

YouTube removes millions of videos and channels each year for not following community guidelines so it’s important to familiarize yourself with what’s allowed/not allowed.

Here’s what they have to say about affiliate marketing content:

youtube rules on affiliate marketingPin

You can put your YouTube affiliate links in the

  • Video description
  • Community tab
  • End screen
  • Pinned comment
youtube affiliate links in pinned commentPin

You can also add a Linktree or your website URL to your bio.

iman gadzhi linktree in bioPin

The important thing is to follow FTC guidelines and add an affiliate disclosure.

According to the FTC…

“If you disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously on your site, readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement.”

Note: YouTube also doesn’t allow content about regulated goods.

Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for YouTube

What’s great about YouTube is its user demographics are relatively evenly distributed across all ages and genders.

This makes it a profitable platform for just about any affiliate marketing niche.

But most would start with the Amazon associates program.

Here’s an overview of the most profitable YouTube niches and the best affiliate marketing program for each niche:

Gaming

Gaming videos regularly get millions of views on YouTube.

You can create different types of gaming content like game reviews and gaming PC builds.

These affiliate programs offer the highest commission rates for affiliates:

  • Razer is a manufacturer of a wide variety of gaming products. Some of their gaming laptops start at $1,500 and they offer a commission of up to 20%.
  • Zygor Guides is the go-to in-game guide for World of Warcraft players. It works on a monthly subscription basis. This means you earn a 50% commission upfront and an additional commission for each month the customer keeps their subscription.

Lifestyle And Fashion

Lifestyle and fashion YouTube channels are among the most subscribed to on the platform.

Here are the two best affiliate programs for this niche:

  • ShopStyle is a massive shopping platform for fashion and lifestyle products. Over 20,000 influencers and marketers use ShopStyle to monetize their YouTube channels. It offers two affiliate programs — One for beginners and one for creators with a substantial following.
  • Honey is a free browser extension designed to find the best online shopping deals. It’s promoted by some of the most popular YouTubers like Pewdiepie. The only drawback is it only works on desktop so there’s no way to receive commissions from mobile users.

Travel

Millions of people watch travel-related videos on YouTube every day.

It’s one of the earliest niches to become popular on the platform, and it has only gotten more popular since.

The two best travel affiliate programs are:

  • AirBnb is the leading app for finding accommodations for vacationers who don’t want to stay at expensive hotels. The company offers two types of affiliate programs: guest or host affiliate.
  • TripAdvisor is rich with travel-related content, including restaurants, hotels, and tourist spots. Their affiliate program lets you earn up to 50% commissions when customers book with TripAdvisor’s partner sites. 

Personal Finance

There’s still relatively low competition in the personal finance niche, but profits can skyrocket because of the pricy nature of finance-related products and software.

Some of the best affiliate programs in this niche include:

  • Binance is the biggest cryptocurrency exchange on the international stage. Many affiliates are attracted to its affiliate program since it offers lifetime commission rates as high as 50%.
  • eToro is a massive online trading platform that lets users trade ETFs, crypto, commodities, and more. They have a very attractive affiliate program that offers commissions of up to $250.

YouTube Affiliate Marketing Examples

Countless affiliates flock to YouTube to promote their affiliate offers to billions of YouTube users.

Let’s look at a few big and small YouTube channels and see how much they’ve made from affiliate marketing.

Sean Cannell

Sean Cannell is a lifestyle entrepreneur and best-selling author with over 100,000 subscribers.

He’s a part of a channel called Think Media dedicated to tech reviews, camera tutorials, and tips for YouTube growth.

think media youtube channelPin

In a video interview earlier this year… 

Sean said he earns about $30,000 a month from YouTube affiliate marketing. 

He uploaded this video on Think Media and earned $28,000 in affiliate commissions plus another $4,000 in AdSense revenue.

Lawrence Systems

Lawrence Systems is a YouTube channel with over 300,000 subscribers.

They upload videos focused on IT-related topics.

lawrence systems youtube channelPin

According to one of their old videos…

They earned over $19,000 in one year through their Amazon affiliate links.

VIDSociety

VIDSociety is a marketing and tech channel with almost 50,000 subscribers.

They uploaded a video at the start of the year showing they made over $600 in just one week from promoting Clickbank products on YouTube.

vidsociety clickbank affiliate earningsPin

In a more recent video…

They discuss a product that generated $1,153 in commissions within three weeks.

TipsWala Xtra

TipsWala Xtra is an Indian channel about online money making.

He made ₹50,000 or $600 in one month promoting Amazon products on YouTube despite only having 13,000 followers.

YouTube Affiliate Marketing (FAQs)

What Is the Best Niche for Affiliate Marketing on YouTube?

The best niche for affiliate marketing on YouTube in terms of profitability are:

• Personal finance
• Making money online
• Tech and gadgets
• Lifestyle and fashion
• Gaming
• Fitness
• Travel 

These niches present a high-income potential for affiliate commissions and offer a high revenue per mille (RPM) for ad monetization.

Do I Have To Show My Face in YouTube Videos?

No, you do not have to show your face in YouTube videos. Some of the most viewed YouTube videos don’t contain human faces, yet get millions of views.

You can create a faceless YouTube channel like “HowToBasic” if you want to do affiliate marketing without showing your face.

You can shoot videos only showing your hands.

Or you can use stock footage and animations to create your videos.

Does YouTube Have an Affiliate Program?

Yes. YouTube recently launched its YouTube Shopping Affiliate Program.

It allows you to tag products in your videos and earn commissions directly from YouTube without managing affiliate links.

It’s currently only available for US creators.

Affiliates outside the US can make money on YouTube through ad monetization and by promoting affiliate links from other affiliate programs in their videos.

How Much Do YouTubers Make From Affiliate Links?

The earnings from affiliate links vary greatly for YouTubers and depend on factors such as the number of views, click-through rates, conversion rates, and the commission rate of the affiliate program.

However, a rough estimate is that YouTubers can make anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per month from affiliate links, depending on their channel size and audience engagement.

Can I Share Affiliate Links on YouTube Even if I’m Not Part of the YouTube Partner Program?

Yes, you can still share affiliate links on YouTube even if you’re not part of the YouTube Partner Program. However, as a member of the YouTube Partner Program, you get access to additional monetization opportunities such as ad revenue and channel memberships.

What Are the Best YouTube Affiliate Marketing Tips To Increase Click-Through Rates of My Affiliate Links?

There are several ways to increase the click-through rates for your affiliate links.

Ensure that your calls to action are clear and compelling, and place your affiliate links strategically within your content.

You could also embed your affiliate links in your YouTube video annotations or Cards. Disclosing your affiliate links can also foster trust, leading to higher engagement and click-through rates.

Can I Really Make Money With YouTube Affiliate Marketing?

Yes, YouTube affiliate marketing is a legitimate way to earn money.

When viewers click on the affiliate links in your YouTube video description and make a purchase, you earn a commission.

The only challenge is getting enough traffic to your videos for clicks.

That comes down to SEO, delivery, content value, and persuasiveness.

To Sum Up

YouTube is a highly lucrative platform for affiliate marketers…

This is mainly due to trust being easier to build with video.

Focus on:

  • Creating the right types of content
  • Designing eye-catching thumbnails
  • Following SEO practices

You can also incorporate YouTube with your marketing methods, like blogging and social media.

Best of all…

It’s free.

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Article by

Brendan Aw

I’m Brendan, Founder of brendanaw.com, where I help individuals build a monetizable personal brand, a curious mind, and a fulfilled life. I spent 6 years as a marketing executive across various high-growth startups in E-com, Web3, Marketing Agency, Finance, and E-sports. I now run my family’s 7-figure crystal chandelier business in Cambodia and share my online creator journey. I hold a B.Com from the University of New South Wales, majoring in Accounting and Finance, and have a background in Data Science.

Disclaimer

If you buy anything through my affiliate links, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check out my disclaimer.

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