Pressing play on YouTube affiliate marketing

Ruth G. | August 10, 2020
12 mins

You’ve used it for years and heard people can make money from it, but how? Not all of these people are using crowdfunding to make their videos, are they? There’s got to be more to it than those 30-second ads that you reflexively skip over whenever possible.There is, and it’s called YouTube affiliate marketing.

What is YouTube affiliate marketing?

YouTube affiliate marketing is creating videos to be hosted on YouTube with links and information that lead to the products being promoted. The content you create for YouTube encourages viewers to buy products from third-party websites that will earn you the commission.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, and one of the top five most visited websites with over 2 billion logged-in users per month.

As the affiliate marketer, you have the potential to earn a good amount of commissions if you are dedicated to creating YouTube content people want to see. An affiliate does not need to manufacture, stock, or ship products. The barrier to getting started is relatively low compared to that of the actual businesses you are promoting.

If you have another job that occupies most of your time, affiliate marketing can be used as a passive form of income to supplement your existing salary elsewhere.

There are a few things to be aware of before entering the world of YouTube affiliate marketing as some tend to pitch this as a get rich quick scheme. A certain amount of dedication and quality is required to make this endeavor work. It takes time to generate traffic that turns over into profitable income.

The time between launching and earning money depends on various factors. The popularity of the products you’re pitching, the frequency of your uploads, the promotions via other social media platforms, and engagement are all to be taken into consideration. Anywhere from four months to one year can be expected before your first dollar is earned via commission on an affiliate link click.

It is also very important to do your due diligence on the products and services you intend to promote. If the business you’re referring to has a poor reputation or a sudden problem with their quality control, your reputation is also on the line. Therefore, before creating content, it’s important to do a deep-dive into the companies you will be relying on for your commissions.

There are many forms of YouTube affiliate videos; the most popular are:

How-to guides

Creating useful content with links to the products demonstrated is one of the most effective ways to be an affiliate marketer. These examples all have a few key elements in common: They’re experts on their product, they are engaging personalities, and they are fun to watch while offering information that is valuable to the audience beyond a simple ‘click to buy’ link.

Makeup tutorials are some of the most-viewed videos on YouTube. Daisy Marquez has over 1.4 million subscribers in the competitive world of beauty product videos. This example of her demonstrating a trend-setting makeup application has over 1.5 million views:

Joshua Weissman teaches viewers how to season and restore cast iron cookware, while adding the description useful links to products and services:


The affiliate marketer chooses one product to focus on and do a deep-dive into the product. Delving into the details of a product is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Be the person who has read the manual, used the product, and has something to say about it. If there are little details or technical quirks that are easy to miss by a novice, assert yourself as an expert.

Here, Shane Starnes gets to the point right away without too much pre-amble

Kai W gives a charismatic ‘man on the street’ review of Canon products. With high energy, London scenes, and a good sense of humor, he holds the audience captive:


One of the simplest videos in terms of content is that of an affiliate literally removing a product from a box and explaining what they encounter as they show the audience. The popularity of these videos has baffled tech journalists. When millions of viewers eagerly watch someone taking a product out of it’s wrapping and narrate what they see, the appeal can appear quite strange. In practical terms, it is usually the first time viewers will see a new product outside of a highly managed marketing campaign. The presenter is just like everyone else, sharing in their excitement over acquiring a coveted item in real life. Watching a real person in a casual setting take a new item out of a box brings the product into a real situation, and can inspire them to purchase it for themselves.

There’s an element of excitement and birthday-present vibe when done in an entertaining way, such as this video from DJ TLM TV. He creates a charismatic presentation of media player equipment with a lot of links and options in his captions:

Sony PlayStatio n Unboxing from The Relaxing End takes a broader approach that is still well-presented while making it easy to find the affiliate purchase links:

Gear lists

Putting into video what sites like Wirecutter, Kinja Deals, and The Strategist do in the written form, gear list videos can keep an audience’s attention to see what the next product will be throughout the whole clip. This format is a good way to promote a number of items in one video, a listicle of recommended products for a specific topic, such as Teck X’s camping gear:

The Endless Adventure demonstrates while listing favorite travel cases. Their affiliate strategy offers coupon codes and referrals:

Fitness gear

Part motivation video, part product recommendation, these videos have an upbeat vibe that motivates the viewer to buy products and get moving.

Obi Vincent  has the energy and knowledge of a personal trainer while motivating the audience to buy workout gear:

Stephanie Buttermore talks to her audience like a best friend, creating a familiarity with her audience: 

Tips and tricks for making YouTube affiliate marketing videos

Study the examples shown above, then take a deep-dive into the YouTube world connected to the products you want to promote. Noticeable in these videos is an attention to detail and technical expertise. The presenters are engaging, excited about the products, and well-lit. The products themselves are clearly shown from multiple angles, without any confusion as to how they’re used.

While some affiliates have fancy animation and motion- graphics, that is not necessarily a must-have to get started. Especially when beginning on a budget and working for commission, you’ll want to have some basic tools at hand.

Keep the overall feeling of your affiliate videos conversational, friendly, and candid. The audience will want to feel like they are not watching an advertisement, but rather having a chat with a trusted friend about a product they’re interested in learning more about. When it comes to earning an audience’s attention span, authenticity is the key.

For example, if you’re promoting gym gear, having the energy of a personal trainer will create excitement around purchasing the product with the aim of using it in the near future. The personality aspect of your performance when talking about products is an important part of your channel. Practice being in front of the camera to get comfortable and ask your friends and family for their opinions before launching your videos.

The review portion of your video will combine calls to action with a friendly and knowledgeable vibe. This is where you’ll not only mention how to purchase in your monologue but also add in links within the video portion as a visual tool.

The lighting, sound, and overall quality should be as professional as possible. Take note of some affiliate youtube videos that fall short of this mark. By comparing and contrasting good quality to bad, you can easily learn what mistakes stand out, and how to avoid them yourself.

Think carefully about how long your video needs to be. Extended introductions or personal stories are not going to hold an audience’s attention so be quick to get to the heart of the matter, the product. If you’re demonstrating the product’s use, be as clear as possible in your explanations and don’t assume your audience’s technical expertise or familiarity is at your level.

Best practices checklist for your first videos:

  • Create a studio space in your home or office that is clean of excess clutter.
  • Light your studio so it’s bright enough to showcase you and the products at the same time. Natural light can work sometimes, but it’s also a good idea to invest in an affordable, simple lighting set-up. A ring-light is a very useful tool.
  • Do your best to sound-proof your studio. If this isn’t possible, shoot at times when ambient street or apartment noise is at a minimum. Sometimes this means shooting your videos late at night. Body microphones such as lavaliers (body mics) and preset boom mics are available at a reasonable cost and also reduce ambient noise.
  • Take the time to learn how to use your camera. Be it a smart-phone, a DSLR camera, or the best video camera money can buy, the more familiar you are with the tools, the more professional you’ll appear on YouTube.
  • When it comes to sound quality, use a good microphone!
  • Use a tripod. Shaky-cam never works, unless you’re in the Blair Witch Project.
  • Write a script. If you’re a little shy on speaking ‘off the cuff’, a script will keep you on track, and on-topic.
  • Editing software can be expensive, but there are usually free trial versions to be had. If iMovie isn’t advanced enough, find a trial version of Final Cut or Adobe Premiere. Once your budget allows, invest in these programs for future use.

When you’re ready to upload:

  • When uploading, go with a bare minimum of 720HD, however the higher in resolution, the better.
  • Write robust video descriptions. Descriptive captions can be keyworded and used in searches.
  • Link to the products featured in the description in the first 1-2 sentences.

Choose a strong thumbnail to feature as a still-image before the user hits play.

Can you make money on YouTube?

The simplest answer, of course, is ‘Yes’. However, how do you get to that yes is the longer explanation. In order to monetize your affiliate channel, you’ll need a lot of patience and perseverance.

Time well-spent on creating quality content is going to be your best chance of making serious money with an Affiliate YouTube channel. Focus on presenting yourself as a trusted, friendly voice that demonstrates and educates about worthwhile products, and people will return to your channel.

Within the YouTube platform itself are many methods to grow your audience:

  • Respond to user comments.
  • Reach out to other YouTubers for collaborations.
  • Create video responses to hot products and topics.
  • Give your audience a promotion or reward for sharing and interacting with your channel.

Include calls to action in your videos with requests to subscribe, share, and go to the affiliate links. Make this easy for your audience by featuring easy-to-find buttons and links not only in the captions but also throughout your video as it plays. Adding an annotation, or clickable link within the video is a powerful tool that enables the user to keep watching your video while finding the product. Make it as easy as possible for a user to find the product!

In order to make money with your affiliate videos, you must drive traffic to your channel. People may find your channel through a number of social media platforms, so it’s important to promote your content across these sites. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are key components in promotions. They will allow you the option to post video clips, and special promos to drive traffic to your channel.

Joining and adding an affiliate network

Namecheap’s Affiliate Program tech experts and aficionados monetize their work. The high conversion rate of domain purchases, SSL, and web hosting services are a great way to refer customers and earn money while talking tech to your followers. Namecheap affiliates earn a commission when a customer makes a purchase via your referral link.

In addition to Namecheap, there are other popular choices when it comes to affiliate programs. Amazon leads the pack, but it’s best to look around a bit before deciding on which to join. All three are powerful players in e-Commerce, and whichever one you choose will depend on the products you feature in your videos.

Amazon Associates is the most trustworthy, popular network that reaches the largest global customer base. That said, eBay Partner Network is most useful if the products you’re promoting fall under the definition and type of auctions or second-hand. Another network that is growing fast is Shopify. This network is useful if you’re promoting unique products that may be off-brand or difficult to stock via Amazon.

Amazon makes it very simple for new affiliate marketers to join. It’s free and a trusted name with audiences. Simply go to the Amazon Associates homepage and follow the steps to build your profile and get started.

How much money you want to make as an affiliate marketer depends on the time you’re willing to put into the effort. It is completely reasonable to use affiliate marketing as a second or third form of supplementary income. Considering the competition out there, concentrate on growing your audience and seeing how many views come in to gauge how far you want to take the effort.

There are pros and cons to any endeavor, and weighing these will help you make the choices of how to scale your YouTube channel.


  • You’re in control! You get to choose which product to promote and why. With YouTube Affiliate Marketing, you are your own boss. With so much creative freedom, you can have a lot of fun with creating interesting and entertaining videos.
  • Access huge audiences via YouTube as the most viewed platform for streaming audio and videos in the world.
  • YouTube is a more stable platform than others. It’s subscription network, and search capabilities are not subject to random algorithmic changes like Facebook.


  • Creating new content takes dedication and time. If you do not have the space for this in your life, it can easily become an overwhelming task. Time management is an important factor when it comes to ramping up your channel.
  • Driving traffic to your channel will also take some strategy and dedication. If you’re starting an audience from scratch (i.e. complete unknown), it will be a long hill to climb.

Time is of the essence. If a user clicks an affiliate link but does not make a purchase within a short period of time, the commission will not go through. This is something to think about when creating content and pushing the urgency of making a purchasing decision quickly.


There’s no need to get overwhelmed, even if affiliate marketing is a vastly competitive arena. Keep your goals realistic, be consistent, and offer authoritative, quality information on the products you feature.

By keeping your tone of voice relatable and honest, you’ll earn the respect of viewers. By offering them information of value with links to well-reviewed products, you’ll earn commissions and scale your affiliate marketing business. Keep shooting good content, and your customers will return to see what you’re recommending next.

Audiences appreciate quality, a human touch, and, most importantly, honesty. If you combine all these things with a consistent growth strategy, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful YouTube Affiliate Marketer.

Ready to get started?

Namecheap has a highly-converting affiliate program to sell domains, hosting and SSL certificates.


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Ruth G.

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