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YouTube Affiliate Marketing: What It Is and How to Get Started


Last Update: Nov. 1, 2023

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So you want to make money with your YouTube channel? Well, affiliate marketing on YouTube might be the way to turn your passion for creating videos into a lucrative side hustle.

As a YouTube affiliate, you earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products to your viewers.

You don’t have to create the products yourself or deal with shipping and handling. All you have to do is share products you genuinely like with your audience.

If viewers purchase through your affiliate links, you get paid. The best part is anyone with a YouTube channel can sign up to become an affiliate.

All you need is an engaged audience, great content, and the drive to make your channel a success.

If that sounds like you, keep reading to learn exactly how YouTube affiliate marketing works and how you can get started today. This could be the start of something big!

What is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?

YouTube affiliate marketing is when you promote other companies products on your YouTube channel and earn a commission for any sales you drive.

Basically, you join affiliate programs for brands you like, get a special affiliate link to share, and if any of your viewers use that link to buy something, you get paid.

It’s a great way for YouTubers to monetize their channel without relying on ads. All you have to do is mention or demonstrate products in your videos, and then provide an affiliate link in your video description.

If people click and buy, you earn money. Some programs pay up to 75% commission on sales.

The key is to choose products you genuinely like and would recommend to your viewers. Some of the most popular affiliate programs for YouTubers are for tech products, beauty items, clothing, and gaming gear. But you can find affiliate programs for just about any industry.

By creating engaging content that resonates with your target audience, you can leverage YouTube to persuade viewers to explore or make purchases through your affiliate links.

The key lies in striking a balance between producing entertaining content and subtly marketing the affiliate products.

How does YouTube Affiliate Marketing Work?

YouTube affiliate marketing involves four primary steps:

  1. Join an affiliate program: Choose a program based on factors like commission rate, product relevancy, and brand reputation. You review the offers and choose products or services you genuinely like and want to promote.
  2. Get your affiliate link: Once a part of the program, you’ll get a unique link that tracks the referrals from your YouTube content.
  3. Create engaging content: Next, you create dedicated reviews, tutorials, or product demo videos featuring those affiliate products. Be authentic and provide useful content for your viewers. Include affiliate links in your video descriptions, end cards, and pinned video comments.
  4. Promote your affiliate link: Insert your affiliate link in video descriptions or within the video itself. When viewers click your links and buy the products or services, you earn a percentage of the sale as a commission. The exact percentage depends on the specific merchant and product.

Types of Videos for YouTube Affiliate Marketing

  1. Product Review Videos: Create in-depth videos reviewing the features, pros, and cons of a product. For example, the Marques Brownlee channel excels in creating comprehensive reviews on electronic gadgets.
  2. Tutorials and How-to Videos: Create content that educates viewers on using a product effectively. By showcasing the practical value of the product, you will likely persuade potential leads to make a purchase. A great example is the Tasty channel, which creates recipe videos and occasionally includes affiliate links for kitchen tools.
  3. Unboxing Videos: Share the experience of unboxing, setting up, and using a product, offering a first-hand view of what customers can expect. iJustine is a prominent YouTuber known for her unboxing and tech review videos.
  4. Top Pick/Recommendation Videos: Curate lists of top products within your niche, offering insights on why you recommend each product. Think Media does this well, often creating videos like "Best Cameras for YouTube" that include affiliate links.

Essential Tools for YouTube Affiliate Marketers

To get started as a YouTube affiliate marketer, you’ll need a few essential tools.

YouTube Channel

The first thing you’ll need is your own YouTube channel. This is where you’ll upload videos to promote products and services as an affiliate.

Make sure to brand your channel well and be consistent with your content.

Video Editing Software

In order to make high-quality videos for your YouTube channel, you’ll need video editing tools.

Many YouTubers use software like iMovie, Adobe Premiere Pro or Camtasia.

These help you edit raw footage, add transitions, insert images and text, and more. Look for an option with an easy learning curve that fits your budget.

Affiliate Links

Once you’ve chosen products or services to promote, you’ll need to sign up as an affiliate to get your unique affiliate links.

These special links allow you to earn a commission each time someone makes a purchase after clicking your link.

Provide affiliate links in your YouTube video descriptions, pinned video comments and video content.


Eye-catching thumbnails are key to getting people to click on your YouTube videos.

Use tools like Canva, PicMonkey or Photoshop to create custom thumbnails for all your videos.

Thumbnails should feature product images, text and an enticing overall design.


Complete video descriptions, including your affiliate links, are important for YouTube SEO and conversions. In 2-3 sentences, describe your video content, include keywords, and place 1-2 affiliate links at both the top and bottom of the description.

This makes it easy for viewers to make a purchase, earning you commissions.

With the right tools and strategy, you can build a successful YouTube affiliate marketing business.

How to Get Started with YouTube Affiliate Marketing

Pick a Niche

Getting started with YouTube affiliate marketing is easier than you might think.

All you need is a YouTube channel, an affiliate product to promote, and the motivation to create content.

Unlike traditional promotional channels, YouTube is built for creative and engaging content.

So, choosing a niche based on your passion and interests can immensely help create engaging content.

For example, if you love gadgets, starting a channel reviewing the latest gadgets could be a great idea.

The key here is to choose a niche that you are passionate about, audiences are interested in, and has related affiliate products available.

Create a YouTube Channel

Once you have a niche in mind, the next step is creating a YouTube channel.

Remember to keep it professional and attractive, as this will be the face of your online presence.

Define a channel name that is catchy, relatable to your niche, and easy to remember.

Optimize your channel's SEO by strategically using keywords in your channel description.

Join Affiliate Programs

Once you have a niche, be it tech, fashion, gaming, or cooking, it's time to join an affiliate program. Some of the popular affiliate programs are:

  • Amazon Affiliate Program: Amazon's extensive product range makes it one of the most popular affiliate programs. The program's commission rate varies from 1% to 10%, depending on the product.
  • ClickBank: This program offers high commissions, often ranging from 50% to 75%, on digital products.
  • CJ Affiliate: CJ Affiliate connects advertisers and affiliates, catering an expansive collection of products and services.

Note: Always ensure the products you promote are congruent with your content and are of quality and value to your audience.

Create Engaging Content

The core component of YouTube Affiliate marketing is high-quality video content.

Focus on creating content that provides value, whether it’s through educating, entertaining, or advising your audience.

Your content should seamlessly integrate the product without compromising its entertainment value.

Be authentic and share your actual experience with the product. Viewers will be able to tell if you’re being disingenuous.

Insert Your Affiliate Links

After creating a video, promote your affiliate link in the video's description, in your channel's "about" section, and in the end screen of your videos.

You can also pin your top affiliate video to the homepage of your channel to increase visibility and referrals.

Besides, you can mention these links in your video verbally or as text overlay, politely urging your viewers to check them out.

Optimize Your Video for Search

An important aspect of SEO is using appropriate keywords, titles, tags, descriptions, and effective thumbnails.

This will lead to better visibility and ultimately drive more traffic to your video's affiliate links.

Once your video is live, promote it in various platforms. Share it on your social media handles, blog posts, newsletters, and more.

The goal is to direct more traffic to your video, which in turn will lead to more views on your affiliate links.

Track and Analyze Performance

Regularly analyze your YouTube analytics and affiliate reports to gain insights into your performance.

Track your affiliate link performance to see which videos and strategies are most effective.

Look for trends so you can optimize your content and increase your affiliate revenue over time.

Keep learning from the data and adjust your strategy accordingly to maximize your earnings.

Tips for Succeeding in YouTube Affiliate Marketing

Focus on high-quality content

Provide useful information, reviews, tutorials, or other content that will resonate with your audience.

Viewers are more likely to click affiliate links when you establish yourself as an authority.

Offer Value and Be Authentic

The primary goal is to create videos that genuinely help your audience, addressing their needs and pain points.

Don’t just promote products for the sake of making money. Only endorse and link to products you genuinely recommend based on your actual experience and belief.

Focus on building trust and credibility by providing honest recommendations.

Be Witty and Consistent

Choose products that match your audience. The products or services you promote should closely match the interests of your viewers.

If you focus on cooking videos, promote kitchen tools and ingredients. For tech reviews, link to the latest gadgets. Relevancy is key.

Besides, consistently upload new videos at regular intervals to maintain viewer engagement and grow your channel.

Place Affiliate Link Strategically

Don’t just paste a bunch of affiliate links in your video descriptions.

Seamlessly weave select affiliate links into your content, such as when discussing a product you recommend.

You can also suggest viewers “check out the links below for more details.”

Collaborate with Other Creators

Collaborate with other YouTubers within your niche to leverage the power of both audiences, thereby increasing traffic and conversions.

Collaborate with Brands

Once you’ve established a loyal following, consider collaborating with brands through sponsorships or product placements. This is a great way to monetize your channel in addition to affiliate links.

Build Your Email List

Don’t just rely on the traffic from your YouTube videos. Encourage viewers to sign up for your email newsletter or mailing list.

You can then promote affiliate offers to your email subscribers to generate more sales.

Promote Your Videos

Share your content on social media platforms, forums, and other websites to gain more visibility.

Prioritize Quality

The quality of your videos elevates your authority in your niche. Invest time and effort in creating polished presentations that bring value to your viewers.

Track Your Metrics

Keep tabs on important metrics like views, watch time, click-through rates, and most importantly, conversions and sales.

See which kinds of content and affiliate offers are performing the best so you can produce more of that type of content. Make data-driven decisions to optimize your earnings.


So there you have it, a complete guide to getting started with YouTube affiliate marketing. While it does take work and consistency, the potential payoff can be huge.

Focus on choosing products you genuinely want to promote, build an audience by creating helpful content, and be authentic in your recommendations.

The key is providing value to your viewers. If you do that, the commissions will follow. What are you waiting for? Start that channel today and begin creating videos.

In a few months, you could have a solid stream of income from the comfort of your own home. The possibilities are endless if you put in the effort.

Now go hit record and start sharing your message with the world!

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