Commerce Social Media

6 Secrets to Affiliate Marketing on YouTube

Sovrn Commerce Team // July 12, 2023

There are tremendous opportunities to drive revenue using affiliate marketing across a variety of social channels including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. That said, getting started with a new channel can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a “Social Media Affiliate Marketing 101” series to help demystify how to get started on each channel. First up: YouTube. 

Our expert is Brian Lovett, a long-time affiliate technology professional and Sovrn employee who runs two tech-focused YouTube channels, All Your Tech 3D Printing and All Your Tech AI, with over 25,000 total subscribers. 

Here are six of his top tips for anyone looking to get started on YouTube.

1. Think of your YouTube channel as a business

Publishing on YouTube is no different from running a blog or media company. “It’s a business first and foremost,” Brian says. “You have an audience (your viewers) and you have a product that you’re offering (your content). The goal is to bring those two things together — and earn money in the process.” 

2. Start simple and build from there

Because the channel offers so many ways to earn, some YouTubers make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon. Brian tells us, “There are essentially four ways to monetize your YouTube channel, but they’re not all feasible for someone who’s just starting out.” 

  • Sponsored content can be lucrative for established YouTubers, but you’re not likely to land those deals until you reach a certain scale.
  • Monetizing ad placements is difficult until you’ve qualified for the Youtube Partner Program (500 subscribers and 3,000 watch hours). Once that threshold is reached, revenue is shared with you from ads shown across all your Youtube videos. This may be challenging to manage with limited resources — plus you won’t command premium ad rates without an established audience.
  • Paid subscribers are difficult to attract until your content has traction in the marketplace.
  • Affiliate marketing is the simplest and most attractive option for new YouTubers to quickly start earning revenue from content.

 “Regardless of how small your channel is, get started with affiliate right away,” Brian says. “It’s really the best way to monetize your channel — especially when you’re first starting out — because it’s incredibly easy to earn revenue by adding affiliate links to your product reviews, cooking demos, unboxing videos, travel vlogs, or whatever content you’re creating.”

3. Access a variety of merchants

“Getting started on YouTube is really exciting,” Brian says. “And your focus should be creating content and editing videos — not having to manage relationships with retailers.” But finding the right retailers can be challenging for those just starting out.

When you partner with Sovrn, you get immediate access to more than 50,000 top brands and affiliate merchants — all in one place — along with detailed information on commission rates, payment methods, and more. “Because of its size and scale, Sovrn has negotiated exclusive rates with many top merchants, which are much higher than a small YouTuber could get on their own,” Brian advises.

4. Leverage the right technology

You need to put just as much effort into your link-building strategy if you want to maximize affiliate earnings. Without these links, there’s no way to get credit for the clicks and sales your content drives, monitor affiliate overall performance, and maximize earnings. But keeping track of all that activity at a granular level is no small task. 

Sovrn Commerce lets you easily generate links in a variety of ways: through our browser interface, mobile app, and Chrome extension. “Once you’ve created an affiliate link, it’s easy to drop that link in a YouTube video description and share it across all your social channels,” Brian explains. “And if you ever need to edit a link (like if it’s broken or pointing to an out-of-stock product), you only need to make the change once in the Sovrn Commerce platform. The link will get updated automatically throughout your content — without you having to chase it down manually.”

5. Get creative and be direct

Even if your video doesn’t include a specific product promotion, there’s always an opportunity to monetize through affiliate marketing. “If you’re shooting a travel video, people may be interested in the gear you’re using to record it — your camera, audio equipment, even the editing software you use,” Brian shares. “So call that out in your video and drop a link in the description. Nothing could be simpler.”

Brian also finds that new YouTubers are often too shy with their CTAs. “If you’re doing a product review, call out those affiliate links. Let people know there’s a link in the description where they can check out the product for themselves,” he says. “It can feel awkward at first to be so self-promotional. But if someone takes the time to watch an entire product review, they’re probably primed to buy — so make it easy for them.”

6. Don’t wait!

No matter how small your channel may be, it’s never too soon to get started with affiliate marketing. “People often avoid monetizing their YouTube channel, thinking it will turn their audience off or negatively impact their content. The reality is, it doesn’t,” Brian says. “If you want to grow your channel into something more than a hobby, just go ahead and take the leap.”

Ready to get started?

Sovrn Commerce is the fastest, most flexible way to build an affiliate marketing program, optimize your affiliate strategy, and earn affiliate revenue — no matter what channel you use. If you’re not already using Sovrn Commerce, sign up now! It only takes a few minutes, and once you’re approved you can start earning right away. 

If you’re currently partnering with Sovrn, feel free to reach out with questions. Our support team is standing by to help you reach your audience — and your affiliate revenue goals. 

Interested in affiliate marketing on other social media channels?

Check out these guides for more tips and tricks:

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