YouTube and Affiliate Marketing – Everything You Should Know

What is YouTube affiliate marketing? Are you allowed to post any type of affiliate links on YouTube? Does YouTube have its own affiliate program? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’ve ended up in the perfect place. 

We’re answering all of them in today’s article and we’re also looking at the top affiliate programs for YouTube these days. Check it out below!

Improving your affiliate marketing with YouTube

If you’ve been in affiliate marketing for quite a while now, you might have asked yourself this question: are affiliate links allowed on YouTube? The short answer is yes — most links are allowed on YouTube so long as they don’t go against any of the social media network’s policies. 

That means that you should stick to safe affiliate programs, meaning that you should not post any links to websites in dangerous fields like adult, gambling, or anything that might be considered illegal. 

There are three main places you can post your affiliate links to on YouTube:

  • The description box
  • A pinned comment
  • The community section where you keep in touch with your subscribers

You are allowed to place links inside your videos but you can only do it to your own website or to other videos that you have published in the past (using cards). 

Naturally, you can be a little smarter than that and place a link to a landing page on your website where you basically redirect people to a specific affiliate program. 

There’s also the option of you creating a separate page on your website where you recommend the products that you have found to work best for you (and that you might have created video reviews or tutorials of). Then all you have to do is add that link to pretty much all of your videos (or relevant ones, in any case). 

The community section on YouTube is fairly new but the point is that lots of subscribers actually come across it if they’ve also pressed the notification bell. The messages you’ll write there will show up in their regular YouTube newsfeed and you can conveniently place your affiliate links there. 

The downside to adding your links to the description box is that some people might never check it, especially if you don’t make a point out of mentioning in your videos that you have linked to a specific product or service on there. 

But if your channel is getting enough engagement, chances are that people will at least want to comment, so they will stumble upon your pinned comment and therefore, your affiliate link. 

Our advice to you is to avoid overdoing it, though — no one has the patience to browse through 25-30 affiliate links. 

We’ll talk about some of the best affiliate programs for YouTube in a section below but we’d like to note that some of them, such as Amazon, give you the ability to create an Influencer page where you post all of your favorite products — as such, you will only have to add one link to the description box and pinned comment and people will see all they need after they click it. 

Tips for using affiliate marketing on YouTube

Disclosure

Depending on the country you are based in, you should know that it might be illegal for you to receive sponsorship and not disclose it in your video — but since we’re talking about affiliate links, the same rules do not apply to them. 

However, you should always be transparent with your audience just to make your YouTube viewers understand that you’re not trying to trick them into buying something just for the sake of earning you a commission. 

Label your affiliate links appropriately and mention that you might earn a small commission from every sale that you refer right in the video that you post on YouTube. 

Keep it relevant

Before you even start making videos on YouTube, you need to consider your niche. Obviously, it would be ideal if your niche were the same as that of your website, as that would assist you in creating relevant content for your audience. 

You can showcase your videos in your posts, too, if they’re about the same topics, so you will be getting views and directing traffic to and from your YouTube channel. 

Always make a point out of producing content that’s relevant to the products or services that you wish to recommend to your viewership. Otherwise, people aren’t going to click on the affiliate links anyway and you might also get some dislikes, too. 

Reviews

Product reviews are the best if you’ve joined a program like Amazon Associates and you’re planning on adding your affiliate links to your description box, comments, or the community section of the network. 

More than half of all consumers across the world right now look at online reviews before deciding on a specific product, so you have two things to can gain from this — they can find you through YouTube search and they can try out the product if they’re a loyal subscriber, too. 

Unboxings

Unboxings might not be the best way of earning commissions through affiliate links but the truth is that very few YouTubers who do actually stick just to unboxing the package of a product. 

Plus, the biggest advantage of using this way of increasing your sales is that you can get in touch with brands and ask them for free products that you can unbox and review — naturally, you do have to have a certain number of subscribers to be able to do this. 

Product lists

Although makeup and skincare are two niches that aren’t as popular on YouTube as they used to be, they’re still pretty successful. If you make vlogs and you also include your skincare in some of them, you can just put together morning or evening routines and share all of the products you use.

Product lists are particularly effective with the Amazon Influencer page that we’ve mentioned previously. 

Tutorials 

Tutorials, also known as how-to videos, are among the most useful types of content that you can create. Depending on your profession, whether you are a DIY-er or if you’re passionate about cleaning your home — it doesn’t really matter, people are more likely to check out your affiliate links if you’re doing a great job of explaining something. 

We used the cleaning example as it’s become a very popular niche on YouTube in the past several years and you really don’t have to do anything other than including the cleaning products’ affiliate links in your description. 

YouTube affiliate marketing

When it comes to YouTube affiliate links, we’d like to note that there’s no such thing as a YouTube affiliate program. 

The only way of monetizing your videos directly through this social media network is to join the Partnership Program if you have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of watch time. 

The reason YouTube doesn’t have an affiliate program is that it doesn’t actually sell any products or services. Besides the plans available that people can get to get rid of the ads (which they can purchase directly through their YouTube accounts, by the way), YouTube doesn’t sell anything. 

Sure, you might argue that they already make a ton of money with the ads that they show on your videos and that is true — unfortunately, your ad revenue if you start monetizing your videos using this method is going to be quite low. In fact, according to many YouTubers, even very successful ones, the revenue is extremely low and they couldn’t make any income if they wouldn’t use brand sponsorships and partnerships. 

Best affiliate programs for YouTube

Amazon Associates

Although it has become considerably less popular in the past year or so, the Amazon Associates program is still one of the best one to use if you want to promote actual physical products. 

Amazon has drastically cut its commissions in 2020 so this method might not offer the best results for a YouTuber that’s not getting a ton of traffic for now. But the point is that the brand is so well-known and so many people trust Amazon that you will have less trouble convincing people to try out products if they should buy it from the site. 

One thing we’d like to note is that before you begin adding your affiliate links to your YouTube channel, you should take the time to read Amazon’s terms of service. They can be quite lengthy and complicated and you wouldn’t want to risk getting booted out of the program. 

ClickBank

As one of the oldest and most trustworthy affiliate networks that currently exist, we’d say that ClickBank is at least worth checking out. It’s got heaps of programs that you can choose from, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to the types of products you can promote. 

Depending on the offers that you choose to promote, you can even get up to 50% of their value. Of course, it depends on each program, but it’s far easier to join the network and start promoting anything you want rather than being limited to a specific one and creating different accounts on various platforms. 

BlueHost

As one of the most critically acclaimed hosting services on the world wide web, you’ll probably have no trouble recommending BlueHost to your audience. But there are many others in the same niche, by the way, like Namecheap, HostGator, and more. 

The commission rates are fairly high, by the way, but we’d argue that the biggest drawback of joining the program is that it only works for people that can actually recommend it. 

If your channel isn’t about web products at all and you all of a sudden start recommending hosting to your audience, it might not generate any revenue. 

Airbnb

The nice thing about the Airbnb affiliate program is that there are actually two of them, not just one. That means that, for example, if you are a host, you can refer to your own listings, or you can refer to the places you’ve stayed at in the past. 

The downside is that the travel niche has a lot of competition on YouTube, so you might not have as much success with this affiliate program as you would with others (check out TripAdvisor, too!). 

We also couldn’t find any specific info on the commissions that Airbnb offers to their affiliates, so you’ll have to join the program and wait and see what they can give you in this sense. 

Skillshare

If you’ve been following at least several YouTubers for a while, chances are you might have noticed that many of them are getting sponsored by this educational platform.

Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes in a variety of fields from marketing and business to design, handmade things, and photography. It’s got more than 20,000 courses available, so the platform is anything if not generous. 

But what about the Skillshare affiliate program? Well, it is at least worth considering since the standard commission on every person that joins the free trial or pays for a premium membership is $10. 

It might not seem like a lot, but it definitely adds up, especially if you have dozens of thousands of subscribers, right?

Read more: Drive traffic to your YouTube Channel

Pros and cons to using YouTube for affiliate marketing

Some of the most significant reasons for using YouTube for increasing your affiliate revenue are the following:

  • It’s got a massive following and it’s becoming more and more popular with every day that goes by
  • You will not have as much competition as if you were to create an affiliate site 
  • You don’t have to invest in very expensive equipment – you can even create animated videos or get someone to do it for yourself

On the other hand, creating YouTube videos and posting regularly (and that’s very, very important) is not as easy as you might think. It calls for a lot of time and effort and you will have to recommend products and services that are relevant to your specific niche. 

You also shouldn’t post too many links in your description box as that would go against Google’s spam policies. And finally, one of the most important downsides is that you do not own YouTube, and if you make any mistake, you might have your channel banned (which can be quite frustrating if you’ve taken years to acquire hundreds of thousands of subscribers).

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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