Beginner’s Guide to YouTube Affiliate Marketing

Andrew Moore-Crispin
February 1, 2024
YouTube affiliate marketing

YouTube affiliate marketing is a great way for content creators to make bank. We’re not talking about becoming a YouTube affiliate (though you could). But rather, using the content you create and share on YouTube to share affiliate links for products and services you think will bring value to your audience. 

What is YouTube Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when content creators (affiliates) promote products or services through unique affiliate links. When a viewer makes a purchase using the creator’s link, they may receive a discount, and the creator earns a commission. 

Affiliates often review, recommend, or demonstrate products, aligning these promotions with their content niche. Done well, affiliate marketing not only monetizes the creator’s influence and expertise but also offers viewers value through curated product suggestions. In other words…

YouTube Affiliate Marketing Can Be a Win/Win/Win

When affiliate marketing is done well, it’s a winning trifecta:

Creators win by monetizing their content and earning a commission on products and services they’d recommend to their audience anyway.

Audiences win because they’re introduced to useful products and services that can help them achieve their goals.

Brands win because they’re being introduced to an engaged audience by a creator the audience trusts… and they typically only pay when that audience takes action.

YouTube Affiliate Marketing for Creators

There are many benefits to affiliate marketing on YouTube. For one, you don’t have to wait to hit the 1,000 subscriber / 4,000 hours of watchtime required for full entry into the YouTube Partner Program. 

While affiliate marketing programs vary by brand and category, the barrier to entry is typically fairly low. Some brands will require affiliates to have a certain size audience, create a certain kind of content to qualify as an affiliate. However, because the stakes are low (affiliates typically only get paid if a viewer converts), the requirements typically aren’t too hard to meet. 

In this beginner’s guide to YouTube affiliate marketing, we’ll look at everything a creator needs to consider when starting a YouTube affiliate marketing journey. 

The Power of Authentic Endorsements

As a content creator, your audience trusts your opinions. You can leverage this trust to monetize your content with YouTube affiliate marketing. Consider viewer trust as a bank account; your withdrawals should never exceed your deposits.

What does that mean? It means only choosing affiliate products that you genuinely believe in. Products and services that you truly believe will add value for your viewers. Solve for viewers first and you’ll build trust. Solve for commissions first and you’ll erode trust. 

Solve for viewers first and you’ll build trust. Solve for commissions first and you’ll erode trust. 

This sincerity resonates with your audience, leading to more effective promotions. For instance, the TubeBuddy offers tools that many YouTubers find invaluable for growing their channel (and it works). If you love TubeBuddy, the TubeBuddy affiliate program can mean getting paid for a recommendation you’d make anyway. If you don’t love TubeBuddy (no hard feelings but, like, ouch!) you shouldn’t recommend it to your viewers.

YouTube affiliate marketing reward levels

Understand YouTube Affiliate Marketing Reward Levels

Different affiliate programs offer varying levels of rewards. Solve for viewers first, but your next priority is finding the most generous commissions. This balance ensures that your efforts are both authentic and financially rewarding.

Where Amazon offers affiliate commissions of around 1% – 3% for example, other YouTube marketing affiliate programs can offer much more. The TubeBuddy affiliate program offers up to 30%.

Play the Long Game

Many affiliate payments are a one-time deal: the creator shares their link, the viewer buys, the creator gets paid, the story ends. Some affiliate programs offer long-term payouts though. Some monthly or annual recurring subscription services will pay creators for as long as the person referred remains a customer. In other words, if the person you referred remains a customer for seven years, you get recurring payments over those seven years. Not a bad deal!

Balance up-front payment with long-term payouts to find the best YouTube affiliate marketing programs for you.

TubeBuddy’s YouTube affiliate marketing program gives creators a cut of every dollar from anyone they refer for as long as they remain a paying customer. 

Great Content is the Best YouTube Affiliate Marketing Plan

Authenticity is key. Instead of haphazardly inserting affiliate links, create dedicated content that naturally integrates products and services you are affiliated with. If that’s difficult, you have to ask yourself if you’re repping the right products for the right reason. 

Whether it’s a detailed product review, a tutorial, or a story about how a product has helped you, well-crafted content can significantly boost your affiliate marketing success.

Share your affiliate links everywhere you can. Include them in your YouTube video descriptions, social media bios, and even your email signature. If you have a newsletter, Discord server, or another way you keep in touch with your audience, include your affiliate links there. This approach ensures that your audience has multiple touchpoints to access the affiliate products.

While some viewers will engage your affiliate content and take action right away, that’s the exception that proves the rule: most people need a couple of exposures before they’re ready to whip out their wallet. Make it easy for viewers to find your affiliate link when they’re ready to take action. #linkinbio.

Affiliate marketing on YouTube brands

Use Affiliate Marketing Resources

Many affiliate marketing programs provide affiliates with resources such as images, logos, videos, talking points, fact sheets, and so on. These materials are designed to help creators integrate affiliate marketing links in their content. Use them! They can not only save you time and effort but can also enhance the credibility and attractiveness of your affiliate promos.
For example, when we launch a promotion at TubeBuddy, we provide affiliates with the information and assets they need to share that promotion with their audience. In addition, we include video, ad, banner, logo, and other assets that TubeBuddy affiliates can use to share with their audience.

Tubebuddy affiliate resources

Build a Relationship with Brands

As a successful and authentic affiliate, you can catch the attention of brands which can lead to further opportunities like increased payouts, brand deals, and so on. Whether it’s content collaborations, ambassador roles, or exclusive deals, these partnerships can elevate your affiliate marketing strategy. 

Sometimes, you’ll come to the attention of a brand organically and they’ll reach out to you to discuss taking the relationship to that next level. That said, don’t hesitate to reach out to brands yourself.

Start Affiliate Marketing on YouTube Today

Affiliate marketing offers a valuable opportunity for YouTubers and content creators across platforms to get paid for their content and audience relationship. 

By backing products you believe in, understanding reward structures, creating dedicated content, strategically placing links, using available resources, and building brand relationships, you can create a successful affiliate marketing strategy that benefits both you and your audience.

And may we humbly suggest that the TubeBuddy affiliate marketing program would make a great addition to your YouTube affiliate marketing efforts?

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