Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

YouTube Affiliate Marketing Guide | 6 Steps To Earn Commissions By Promoting Products With Videos

April 1, 2024

The 6 steps to start YouTube affiliate marketing are:

  1. Choose a YouTube affiliate marketing niche
  2. Create a YouTube channel
  3. Sign up for affiliate programs
  4. Publish YouTube content on a consistent schedule
  5. Place affiliate links in YouTube video descriptions
  6. Qualify for and join the YouTube shopping affiliate program

YouTube affiliate marketing is promoting affiliate products with YouTube videos. With YouTube affiliate marketing, you can either promote products from external affiliate programs or promote products directly through the YouTube Affiliate program. Many beginner affiliates don’t qualify for the YouTube Affiliate program because it requires that you are eligible for monetization on YouTube. You can do affiliate marketing on YouTube without monetization by signing up for external affiliate programs like Amazon Associates. In fact, many YouTube content creators start earning their first money online through affiliate marketing while they grow their channel enough to qualify for YouTube monetization features, like enabling YouTube Ads through AdSense. 

You can use YouTube for affiliate marketing. In fact, YouTube is one of the most popular digital marketing channels for affiliate marketing, with 36.9% of affiliate marketers using YouTube, according to data from Authority Hacker. As of the latest data from 2022, YouTube affiliate marketing is responsible for approximately $500 million in annual product sales, according to WeCanTrack. Furthermore, YouTube is the most trusted social media platform for finding and purchasing products, according to a 2022 consumer trend report Jungle Scout.

This article will guide you through the steps of starting YouTube affiliate marketing, including some bonus tips to help you optimize your YouTube affiliate marketing income. We’ll also weigh the pros and cons of YouTube affiliate marketing to help you decide whether YouTube is the right platform for your affiliate marketing efforts. 

1. Choose a YouTube affiliate marketing niche

The first step when starting YouTube affiliate marketing is to choose a niche. Choosing a niche is essential to your success as a YouTube affiliate because it allows you to specify your target audience, create relevant content for them, and promote the right products that they are most likely to buy. The make money online niche is the best niche for YouTube affiliate marketing because it’s one of the highest paying niches and it consistently has immense search volume. 

make money online niche search volume youtube

According to data from YouTube tool suite Tubebuddy, the most profitable YouTube niches are:

  • Make money online
  • Digital marketing
  • Personal finance
  • Education
  • Tech, cars, and gadgets

Although these niches offer the highest income potential, they are not the only niches you should consider. One affiliate marketer on Reddit suggests choosing a niche that you're passionate about because it's more likely that you'll follow through on your channel idea if you're interested in the topic. Additionally, the niche should be trendy because it's easier to attract views and subscribers. 

youtube affiliate marketing niche tips reddit

2. Create a YouTube channel

Once you know which niche you want to publish affiliate content for, create a YouTube channel with a relevant channel name. You can either create a personal YouTube channel that displays your own name and profile picture or create a branded YouTube account if you want to use a different name from your Google account. For example, Greg Gottfried and Isabella Kotsias are two affiliates making content around the online business niche. Greg Gottfried operates his business under a personal channel, while Isabella Kotsias uses a branded YouTube account called Baddie In Business. 

personal vs branded youtube account online business niche example

3. Sign up for affiliate programs 

To make money with YouTube affiliate marketing, you need to sign up for affiliate programs. Affiliate programs, such as Commission Junction, provide you with affiliate links that you can use to promote an affiliate product. An affiliate link is a custom URL that a brand uses to track your performance in promoting their product so they can compensate you for your marketing work. Affiliate marketing platform Authority Hacker created a list of the best affiliate marketing programs for YouTube based on factors like commission rate and cookie duration. The best affiliate programs for YouTubers are:

  • Amazon Associate (Amazon affiliate program)
  • eBay Partner Network
  • Etsy Affiliate Program
  • Shopify Affiliate Program
  • Clickbank
  • ShopStyle
  • ShareASale
  • RewardStyle
  • MaxBounty

Enroll in affiliate programs that are relevant for your niche so that you can naturally promote products in your content that your audience will be interested in buying. 

4. Publish YouTube content on a consistent schedule 

To start getting views and subscribers, start publishing YouTube video content on a consistent schedule. Although there’s no set rule, most YouTubers recommend posting at least once per week for long-form videos. YouTube Shorts typically perform best within the first 24 hours, so e-learning platform Teachable recommends a posting frequency of at least 3 videos per week for these short-form videos to optimize reach. 

The types of content that are most effective for affiliate marketing on YouTube are:

  • Product reviews - Video content that focuses on reviewing a specific product. 
  • Tutorials - Video content that shows the viewer how to use a specific product. 
  • Unboxing - Video content that involves opening a new product and providing first impressions. 
  • Best of videos - Video content that compares or reviews a variety of similar products to help the viewer make a purchase decision.

Tech YouTuber Marques Borwnlee is a good YouTube affiliate to take inspiration from. He typically posts 1- 2 videos per week and creates mostly review and unboxing style videos.

5. Place affiliate links in YouTube video descriptions

On YouTube, you put affiliate links in the YouTube video description. When you promote or discuss an affiliate product in your videos, you should direct your audience to the YouTube video description to find your link if they are interested in learning more about the product. Affiliate links are allowed in a YouTube channel. However, you need to disclose that the links you are promoting are affiliate links and that you can earn a commission if the viewer purchases through the link. This is a legal requirement in many countries, including the United States and countries of the European Union. 

6. Qualify for and join the YouTube Shopping affiliate program 

To truly optimize your affiliate marketing operations through YouTube, you should qualify for and join the YouTube Shopping affiliate program. The YouTube Shopping affiliate program, which was introduced in 2023, has created a more seamless transaction flow for YouTube affiliates. The YouTube Shopping affiliate program allows you to tag products featured in your videos to generate a shopping button that appears directly on the video content, allowing viewers to browse affiliate products while simultaneously viewing the video. Instead of the traditional YouTube affiliate strategy of pushing viewers to open the video description and click your affiliate link, the YouTube Shopping affiliate program makes affiliate links more accessible by putting them alongside video content. 

When a viewer clicks on your link, they are taken directly to the merchants website, and you can earn commission on the viewer's entire purchase. The YouTube Affiliate program pays between 5% to 20% commission typically, but can reach as high as 50%. 

What do you need to be a YouTube affiliate?

  • Your channel is in the YouTube Partner Program
  • Your channel has over 15,000 subscribers
  • You’re based in the United States
  • Your channel is not a music channel, an Official Artist Channel, or associated with music partners
  • Your channel audience isn’t set as Made for Kids and you don’t have a significant number of videos set as made for kids
  • Your channel doesn’t have any active Community Guidelines strikes

What are the requirements for the YouTube Partner Program?

  • 500 subscribers
  • 3 valid public uploads in the last 90 days
  • Either 3,000 valid public watch hours in the past year or 3 million valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days

How do you join the YouTube Shopping affiliate program?

  1. 1
    Open YouTube Studio
  2. 2
    Tap Earn in the bottom menu
  3. 3
    Select Get started
  4. 4
    Click Turn on at the bottom of the screen
  5. 5
    Review and accept the YouTube Affiliate Shopping program’s Terms of Service

8 Tips to optimize YouTube affiliate marketing income

1. Test thumbnails

Testing YouTube thumbnails allows you to find the thumbnail version that drives the most clicks into your video. The YouTube thumbnail directly influences the videos click-through rate (CTR), which measures how often a video gets clicks. The more clicks a video gets, the more viewers and revenue potential the video has. YouTube offers the Test and compare thumbnail A/B testing tool directly through YouTube Studio so you can easily test different thumbnail versions and make an informed decision about which to use for your video long-term. 

However, YouTube’s Test and compare tool isn’t the only way to test YouTube thumbnails. Steve Bartlett, a YouTuber with over 5.5 million subscribers on his channel TheDiaryOfACEO, uses Facebook Ads to test his YouTube thumbnails. 

Andy - Facebook Ads


Steve Bartlett is a genius YouTuber with over 5M subs.

He uses this weird way to test thumbnails...

We all know a thumbnail can make or break a YT video.

Because higher YouTube CTR = more views = more revenue.

Most Youtubers use a tool to pick the best picture after they share their video.

Steve does something clever – he uses Facebook ads to test their YT Thumbnails

He runs all the thumbnails as ads with a little money for about a week before the podcast comes out, asking people to sign up for his YouTube.

They want to see which picture gets the highest CTR. The best one gets picked.

They might even get some new subs, but that’s just a little extra.

Right now, they’re trying out over 50 thumbnails for the next episode, with different faces and phrases from the show.

I’ve never seen anyone choose a YouTube picture this way, but it's a really smart idea.

This is why Steve’s channel is getting more and more popular.

5:43 PM · Mar 24, 2024

2. Perform YouTube SEO

YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing a YouTube channel and its videos to achieve greater organic reach. YouTube SEO entails tasks like renaming your video file with your target keyword, implementing relevant keywords into video titles and descriptions, and adding cards and end screens within the video content. When done correctly, YouTube SEO can help compel the YouTube algorithm into increasing your visibility on the platform. 

3. Leverage YouTube Shorts

Leveraging YouTube Shorts allows you to expand your reach beyond long-form video content. Although YouTube has stopped allowing clickable links in YouTube Shorts to avoid spam content since August 2023, YouTube Shorts can still be a useful tool in driving traffic to long-form video content where links are allowed. 

To use YouTube shorts to promote your long-form videos with affiliate links, YouTube marketing agency Feisworld Media recommends creating 30 - 40 second teaser videos of your long-form content. Just 1 or 2 of these shortened videos can make a difference in driving more traffic to your channel and videos.

4. Create a loyal audience with authentic content

Authentic content can allow you to create a loyal audience that will be more likely to interact with your video content. In fact, 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor when deciding which brands to support, according to a survey by commerce experience platform Nosto. Therefore, you should aim to create content that is genuine instead of promotional to give viewers your real opinions about the products you’re promoting instead of just promoting any product just to receive a commission. 

5. Be transparent about affiliate links

Being transparent about affiliate links is not only a legal requirement, it can also cause more viewers to actually click into the video description and use your link instead of trying to search for the product themself. Don’t be afraid to call on your audience to use your links in exchange for your time in creating the content that is helping them to make their purchase decision. 

A YouTube affiliate marketer on Reddit notes that one of the major reasons YouTube affiliates miss out on sales is because the audience simply isn’t aware there is a link to click on unless you explicitly state it in your video content. 

6. Create related playlists

Creating related playlists allows you to recommend more of your relevant content to your audience by grouping videos together. Related playlists can help viewers discover more of your content and spend more time watching your content, as videos in a related playlist play consecutively. As viewers watch more of your content, there is more opportunity for them to become interested in the products you are promoting. Furthermore, the YouTube algorithm is more likely to make your content more visible on the platform as it recognizes viewers are spending more time with your content, increasing the perceived value of your content in general. 

7. Embed YouTube videos into blog content

Embedding YouTube videos into blog posts allows a content creator to expand organic video reach beyond just YouTube and reach audiences that typically prefer reading over video content. In fact, a study by the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative found that 30% of people prefer consuming written media. Furthermore, a study by Hubspot found that approximately 60% of internet users read blogs. As such, repurposing your video content into blog posts and embedding your YouTube video can attract more viewers from search engines like Google and potentially drive more clicks into your video content.

8. Add chapter markers

Adding chapter markers can help viewers to quickly find the sections of your video that matter to them most. Travel YouTuber Maurice Moves does a great job of implementing chapter markers to help his viewers hear his opinions on the products that matter most to them in his video How to travel with just one bag. He even adds his affiliate links alongside his timestamps for seamless clickability. 

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing with YouTube

YouTube affiliate marketing pros

Massive audience base of 2.7 billion people, according to Global Media Insight

Easy to sign up and start making content

Over 11,400 affiliate programs in the United States alone to promote, according to Refersion

You can start YouTube affiliate marketing with minimal startup capital

YouTube affiliate marketing can earn passive income

YouTube affiliate marketing cons

You'll usually need to spend money to buy a product in order to promote it in your video

Many affiliate programs require an established audience to get approved

Payouts can take time to hit your back account, such as the YouTube Affiliate program paying commission after 60 to 120 days

You must follow YouTube's rules or risk getting your videos removed or account terminated

Creating YouTube videos is a time consuming process, with YouTube affiliate Cathrin Manning disclosing it takes her around 7 hours to create content

Is YouTube a good platform for affiliate marketing?

Yes, YouTube is a good platform for affiliate marketing. YouTube has billions of active users, many of which are looking for real user experiences when deciding which products to buy. Furthermore, YouTube videos stay on the platform indefinitely, so you can continue earning passive income from your affiliate links years after posting. YouTube also has the advantage of subscribers. When you publish a new video, your subscribers can be notified directly so they are more likely to view and interact with your content. 

Super affiliate Matt Voegtli brings up another valid point in a Quora answer for someone trying to determine if YouTube or blogging is better for affiliate marketing. Matt says that YouTube has a big advantage in ranking on Google. Google often ranks YouTube videos towards the top of the first page for relevant search queries.

Is YouTube affiliate marketing profitable? 

Yes, YouTube affiliate marketing is profitable. Creating YouTube videos that promote affiliate products doesn’t require much capital, aside from purchasing affiliate products, and YouTube affiliates can earn anywhere from 1% to 50% per sale. If you promote products that you already use naturally in your daily life, your YouTube affiliate profit margin can reach upwards of 100%. For example, YouTube affiliate Bryan Guerra was able to generate $62,528 in YouTube affiliate revenue in a year by promoting software products that he was already actively using for his Ecommerce business. 

How can you effectively track the performance of affiliate links on YouTube?

You can effectively track the performance of affiliate links on YouTube by using the default tracking dashboard of your affiliate program or using an affiliate marketing tracking software, like ClickMagick. 

Many affiliate programs provide basic metrics for performance tracking. For example, YouTube affiliates promoting affiliate products from the Amazon Associates program can access data like items shipped, total earnings, clicks, and conversion rate. 

Affiliate marketing link tracking software is another useful method for tracking affiliate marketing performance, especially if you want to analyze multiple affiliate programs from a single platform. Affiliate tracking software works by allowing you to create a new custom link that masks your affiliate link while also adding advanced tracking features, like allowing you to specify which specific YouTube video is responsible for driving clicks and conversions. 

What are the best online courses for YouTube affiliate marketing?

  • YouTube Affiliate Masterclass
  • RapidLevelUp
  • Affiliate Tube Success Academy

YouTube Affiliate Masterclass - Choose the right camera gear for YouTube affiliate marketing

YouTube Affiliate Masterclass by Greg Gottfried is a YouTube affiliate marketing course that primarily covers joining affiliate programs, buying the right camera gear and setting it up, and video editing tips. 

RapidLevelUp - Learn the basics of YouTube affiliate marketing

RapidLevelUp by Kenneth Fong is an affiliate marketing program that contains the YouTube Affiliate Marketing for Beginners course. It covers the basics of starting your YouTube channel and finding the right companies to promote alongside your content. 

Affiliate Tube Success Academy - Learn how to rank YouTube affiliate videos on Google

Affiliate Tube Success Academy by Paul Murphy teaches students how to promote affiliate offers on YouTube without paying for YouTube Ads. Paul also teaches his students how to optimize videos to rank on Google. 

Do you need a YouTube channel for affiliate marketing? 

No, you do not need a YouTube channel for affiliate marketing. There are many strategies to drive traffic to affiliate links beyond YouTube, including SEO blog content, paid advertising, social media, and email marketing. 

Conclusion: Is YouTube affiliate marketing worth it in 2024?

Yes, YouTube affiliate marketing is worth it in 2024. YouTube is expected to increase its user base by another 25% between 2024 and 2029, according to Statista. More internet users are turning to YouTube for real human experiences, as it’s becoming more difficult to judge the authenticity of blog content and social media posts with so much AI content spamming the internet. YouTube appears to be the best marketing strategy for promoting affiliate products because you can back up your opinions with a real human face and showcase the product more effectively over the internet with long-form video than simple images or text allow. In fact, 90% of consumers report that video helps them make real purchase decisions, according to data from video marketing platform VidYard. 

However, YouTube affiliate marketing is extremely competitive. It takes 15.5 months on average just to get 1,000 YouTube subscribers, according to a study by VidIQ. As such, most YouTube affiliates will need to put in a solid 2 - 3 years of consistent content production at least before they’ll start attracting enough of an audience to make a solid revenue from YouTube affiliate marketing. Those who want to generate online income faster should consider local lead generation over YouTube affiliate marketing. 

Local lead generation is an online business model that entails creating websites that generate leads for local service businesses. You can typically rank a website on the first page of Google in just 6 weeks to 6 months, after which you can offer your leads to a local business for $500 to $3,000/month. Like YouTube affiliate marketing, you can earn passive income from local lead generation because once you get a website to rank and you partner with a local business owner to take the leads, local lead generation websites require minimal work to maintain. This allows you more time to focus on scaling your local lead generation business with more websites. In fact, I’ve been able to generate a consistent $50K per month by scaling my own local lead generation business. You can learn how to start your own local lead generation business and generate passive income online with this local lead gen training.

Follow Me
Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. I wanted to write you a little word to help say thanks a lot as before for those marvelous tips you have shown on this website. It’s tremendously generous with you to allow freely just what a few individuals could have made available as an e book to get some money on their own, especially since you might have done it if you ever considered necessary. The suggestions also acted like a great way to be certain that the rest have similar zeal similar to my own to know the truth a good deal more when it comes to this problem. I am sure there are a lot more pleasant occasions up front for individuals that read your website.

    1. Hey Art-thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. What tips did you find most helpful?

  2. Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective strategies to earn money from your site in the long run. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it basically means selling someone else's goods to other customers in exchange for a percentage of anything you sell.

    1. its difficult to generate traffic for affiliate marketing, that’s the problem, this is why imo local lead gen for small businesses is better and easier

  3. Hey Ippei, hope you're doing well my friend.

    Just wanted to let you know that your affiliate marketing with Youtube guide is spot on. I've been a reader of your blog for nearly two years now, and your content never seems to dissapoint.

    I recently started my first affiliate marketing blog and was wondering whether you'll be kind enough to take a look at it. I mainly focus on search engine optimization, but I'm considering giving YouTube a try as well.

    The only issue I face is that I'm not a native English speaker, otherwise, I would have created my channel years ago. Youtube has been booming lately, and now, (more than ever) is the right time to start putting out content.

    Once again, thanks for the fantastic guide, and I hope we can stay in touch!

    All the best 🙂

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}