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The Pros and Cons of YouTube Affiliate Marketing

Become an Affiliate

YouTube is a massively popular video site. And if you’re looking for some online income, there are many YouTube affiliate marketing opportunities available to you. These vary in their payouts, but many YouTubers are making at least a solid side income from their videos.

If you’re just starting in affiliate marketing online, YouTube might seem like the perfect place to get your feet wet. But before you get started with this type of business venture, it’s important to know the pros and cons of YouTube affiliate marketing.

After you know what they are you can make an informed decision. You might find that, with the right knowledge and approach, this could be a great way to earn an income while doing something you love.

What Is Affiliate Marketing on YouTube?

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. In this arrangement, the online merchant only pays the affiliate a commission on a successful sale – one that occurs as a direct result of the affiliate’s marketing activities.

In affiliate marketing on YouTube, the idea is to upload videos that relate in some way to a product or service being sold by another company. Then, once you’ve created a video, you can include a link in the description section of your YouTube account giving viewers information about how they can purchase what you’re selling. In turn, you get a commission on each sale that these viewers make from your link.

This is the natural way of promoting your products and increasing revenue by advertising affiliate links. It is quite common amongst the bigger YouTube creators, and users tend not to mind it at all. One of the most common ways of doing this is including links to various equipment that links to Amazon or other retail shops on the web. These links are not regular links, they are special affiliate links that give the YouTuber some percentage-based commission from each sale. 

If you have a following that you can use to earn a bit more money off, then you should consider doing YouTube affiliate marketing as it just makes sense. It is a natural extension of your marketing efforts. You will create videos, promote them and the content within, and include mention of products that you want to sell/help sell. 

The Benefits of Being a YouTube Affiliate Marketer

There are several benefits to affiliate marketing on YouTube. These include:

  • Creating a new income stream
    YouTubers who opt for this type of affiliate marketing find that there is a huge audience available to see their videos, and many customers looking for products and services through which they can make money online.

  • Building your audience
    If you’re just getting started with affiliate marketing, one of the many benefits is that you can build your own audience on YouTube before transferring them over to your main blog or website.

  • Working from home
    With this type of business venture, you don’t need much in the way of overhead costs to get started. All you need is a computer and internet access, as well as your creativity and enthusiasm for whatever it is that you’re promoting.

The Drawbacks to Being a YouTube Affiliate Marketer

While there are many benefits to YouTube affiliate marketing, you also need to think about the possible drawbacks. These include:

  • Building an audience takes time
    It can take months or even years before your videos start bringing in steady viewers and customers. You will need to promote yourself on social media sites, build up your subscriber base, and interact with other YouTubers before you start to get results.

  • Frustratingly low commissions
    You’re only likely to make a few dollars per sale, which will be frustrating if you’ve spent hours working on the video itself. Also, many companies running affiliate marketing programs don’t pay out commissions until the customer has made 3 or 4 purchases over a set period of time.

How You Can Be Successful as a YouTuber and an Affiliate Marketer at the Same Time

If you’re just starting as an affiliate marketer or looking to diversify your income streams, it can be tempting to cash in on the high viewership of YouTube. However, it is important that you don’t let your need for quick results cloud your judgment.

You should only promote products and services with which you genuinely believe in and endorse. This isn’t just about increased income: it’s also about sending the right message to your audience.

If not, you risk losing their trust, and will therefore lose potential customers. You can expect a long-term boost to your earnings if you spend time building up this relationship. Use common sense and do disingenuous things that will give you profit short term. Do what is best for your channel, audience, and bottom line. Play the long game and work hard so that you don’t have to worry about any potential disruptions. 

Tips for How To Succeed With Affiliate Marketing on YouTube

Building a YouTube audience takes time. You can still be successful, but you need to go into the process with that understanding in mind. That way, if it does take months or years before you get your first sale, then at least you won’t be left disillusioned and disappointed.

Speaking of which: while it may seem like you’re earning in the short term, you only get paid after your customers have made several purchases. Therefore, if 3 or 4 months go by and they don’t buy anything else, you won’t be receiving any commission despite having spent hours building up their trust and interest.

Be sure to check out YouTube’s terms of service to find out just how much you’re likely to earn with any given affiliate program. While many YouTubers have had success with this type of marketing, it is important that they also have some other sources of income in order not to become reliant on their channel for income.

Examples of Successful YouTubers Who Also Do Affiliate Marketing

Many YouTubers who have been successful in affiliate marketing on YouTube rarely do it as a full-time job. Instead, they make the videos as part of their content creation for their blogs, websites, and other types of online business ventures.

For those looking to make money from affiliate marketing using YouTube as a platform, there are some examples of YouTubers that can be followed to help you reach your goals.

Marques Brownlee
Marques known as MKBHD is a popular tech YouTuber that has a large following on the platform. He uses links that promote certain products, his merch, as well as Amazon affiliate links in the description of his videos. 

This is also one of the bigger tech YouTube channels on the platform. Similar to MKBHD, Lew from UnboxTherapy uses sponsored links, merch links, and Amazon affiliate links in the description of his videos!

Sentrel Media
This channel dedicates most of its content to affiliate marketing. They promote their website, sponsored links, and links to their blog that then further link you to affiliate offers. 

These are far from the only ones most big YouTube channels do some sort of affiliate marketing on the side. The best video types for such links are review videos, comparisons, how-to videos, best of videos, lists, DIY, and much more...


Final Words

As you can see, YouTube affiliate marketing has its advantages and disadvantages. So, before you choose to go down this route as part of your online business venture, consider these factors so that you know what to expect.

Also, keep in mind that there are other ways to make money as a YouTuber without resorting to affiliate marketing. These include sponsorship, donations, and product placement. By diversifying your income sources like this, you don’t risk putting all of your eggs in one basket.

With the rise of online marketing over recent years, there has been a corresponding increase in affiliate marketers on YouTube. While this is not necessarily considered cheating, any YouTuber considering this path must spend as much time producing content for their audience as they do trying to sell products and services.

Have you tried affiliate marketing on YouTube? What is your experience with it? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!