YouTube is one of the most popular social media and video hosting websites out there, with nearly a million hours of video uploaded daily to the platform. Video makers cover any topic you can think of, from food to gaming to history.
If you have a YouTube channel and want to turn it into a source of income, consider affiliate marketing through YouTube.
What is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?
YouTube affiliate marketing works similarly to other forms of affiliate marketing. Creators partner with companies or brands wanting to sell products or services.
The creator will typically talk about the product in their videos, either as a short sponsored segment or as an entire video dedicated to it. Then, the creator will direct viewers to check out the product by clicking a link in the video description.
The company looking to sell a product tracks the people who visit their site through the YouTuber’s affiliate link. Every time someone referred by the YouTuber makes a purchase, the YouTuber earns a commission.
In effect, influencers earn a fee for helping a company make a sale. Other affiliate offers might pay a commission for convincing people to take other actions, like installing an app or signing up for an email list.
YouTube Partner Program vs. Affiliate Programs
The YouTube Partner Program is another option for people who want to monetize their YouTube channels.
Unlike affiliate programs, which are separate from YouTube and managed by third-party affiliate networks or direct contact between YouTubers and brands, the Partner Program is operated directly by YouTube.
To join, you must meet YouTube’s requirements. As of March 2023, those requirements are:
Have 1,000 subscribers with 4,000 public watch hours in the last 12 months OR
Have 1,000 subscribers with 10 million public Shorts views in the last 90 days
Have an active AdSense account
Follow channel monetization policies
These regulate the topics you can cover, the content of videos, etc.
If you meet the requirements, you can apply for the program. Once accepted, you can use YouTube’s monetization tools, like memberships, advertisements, YouTube Premium, and more.
It’s important to note that you can take advantage of both YouTube affiliate programs and the YouTube Partner Program when monetizing your channel.
Best YouTube Affiliate Program Offers
Choosing the best YouTube affiliate offers is one of the most complex parts of utilizing affiliate marketing to monetize your channel. Promoting the right product can convince many of your viewers to make a purchase, helping you earn large commissions.
Promoting the wrong product won’t help generate many sales, meaning you won’t earn much. In the worst case, you could annoy your viewers and decrease your audience size.
To choose the best affiliate offers, consider these factors:
Choose a product or service you’ve used. If you can speak about a product from experience, it’ll show in your videos. It also ensures you’re promoting quality products.
Find something in your niche. A YouTuber focused on fashion will want to promote beauty products and clothing, while a gaming YouTuber might promote computer peripherals. Whatever your niche, you’ll generate more sales by promoting things that appeal to your core audience.
Consider commission rates. Look for offers that have higher payments for each sale you refer. The more you earn per sale, the better your monetization.
Watch other YouTubers. Look at what people in your niche are promoting, and consider choosing similar products—they may also appeal to your audience.
Choosing the Best Conditions for YouTube Affiliate Programs
When you’re looking at YouTube affiliate programs, it’s essential to choose the right one. Consider these factors when comparing different programs.
Reputation. You want to ensure you work with a reputable program with good customer service and quality products.
How long cookies last. This will depend on the affiliate terms. Some will give you credit for purchases made as long as a month after your viewer clicks your affiliate link, while others have shorter time limits. The longer the cookies last, the better for you.
Payment style. Do you get a single payment for referring a sale, or does the affiliate offer ongoing commissions when someone signs up for their service and continues their subscription? Upfront payments may be larger, but promoting subscription services that provide continuing payments can be a good way to build a consistent income stream.
How to Become a YouTube Affiliate
One of the benefits of using affiliate offers on YouTube is that you don’t have to meet YouTube’s specific requirements for monetizing videos, such as a minimum number of subscribers or views. Even beginner content creators can take advantage of affiliate marketing programs.
However, the size of your audience is important as an affiliate. The more viewers you have, the more people you can convince to buy the products you promote.
Look around at popular affiliate programs to see if they have minimum requirements. If you meet the requirements, becoming an affiliate is as easy as applying to the program and waiting for approval.
Best YouTube Affiliate Marketing Programs
Consider these options if you’d like to sign up for a YouTube affiliate program.
Amazon is a behemoth in ecommerce, making it a strong choice for YouTubers looking to earn a commission by referring their audience to specific products.
There are two significant benefits to becoming an Amazon affiliate—people are already familiar with the site, and you can find almost any type of product to promote.
The drawback is that commissions can be relatively low and inconsistent. Some product types offer commissions of just 1% or 2%, while others can offer higher rates. This inconsistency makes predicting income hard.
If your audience appreciates fashion, ShopStyle Collective offers an affiliate program where you can promote different types of clothing.
The platform is available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, making it an appealing choice for people with international audiences.
If your audience is interested in travel, especially if you make travel-related YouTube videos, consider adding TripAdvisor as an affiliate partner.
The program lets affiliates who refer customers to hotels earn at least 50% of TripAdvisor’s earned commission from its hotel partners, making Tripadvisor a highly lucrative program. It also has a 14-day referral window and pays per click, not just per sale.
SkillShare is a service where people sign up for online classes and tutorials that help them learn anything—from how to cook to better videography skills and everything in between.
Because so many classes are available, you will likely find one that appeals to your audience. You can earn a 40% commission for each customer who signs up.
Many YouTubers make videos about media editing, video creation, and other hobbies that involve photo or video software. Movavi offers an affiliate program where you can introduce your audience to effective software they can use to make their own videos or multimedia projects.
Commissions start at 30%, and the company offers a large marketing kit to help you increase conversions.
Affiliate marketing through YouTube is one of the best ways for creators to monetize their video content. If you find the right affiliate program for your channel, audience, and marketing strategy, you can create a long-lasting income stream.