If you’ve stumbled upon this article, chances are, you’re familiar with YouTube affiliate marketing.
If you’re not, here’s the gist: You get paid when you make recommendations for other people's products and services and they purchase.
Need an example? You generate a unique Amazon affiliate link for a product you recommend and drop it in your video’s description. (There are more affiliate programs out there than Amazon, but that’s just the most popular.)
Then, when someone clicks the link and purchases something (anything!) within 24 hours (it’s all about the cookies), you earn a commission.
Voila! Easy enough, right?
Well, if you really want to make the big bucks with YouTube and affiliate marketing, there are a few more things you’ll need to know.
I caught up with Jesse Lakes, the genius (or CEO and co-founder) of Geniuslink. Geniuslink is a tool I’ve been using for probably five or six years now. It requires almost no extra work, but it can really bump up your YouTube income.
Jesse shares his insider tips on how to make more money on YouTube with affiliate marketing. For full disclosure this article contains affiliate links but rest assured I never promote anything I don't use personally and there is no extra cost to you for buying through affiliate links.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
- Check out the Geniuslink tool
- Hear more about YouTube SEO in Episode 9
- Hear more about retrospective YouTube optimization in Episode 17
- Check out Kit.co to see what tools people can't live without
- Check out Tom Martin's Book on YouTube Optimization
The YouTube easter egg from the start of today's episode is this little gem.
The Pro Channel Manager Academy is our incredible community full of incredible video courses and some of YouTube greatest minds to help you grow the YouTube channels you are working on.
A HUMUNGOUS thank you to our incredible sponsor and my favourite YouTube tool vidIQ. I use it on every single video I upload and has helped me generate BILLIONS of YouTube views. Get a free trial of one of their incredible paid plans by clicking here.
6 Tips to Maximize Your YouTube Affiliate Marketing Revenue
Wondering how to do affiliate marketing on YouTube the right way? It’s almost as easy as dropping a unique link into your video description and calling it a day. But not quite.
Use these strategies to really leverage YouTube affiliate marketing.
1) Monetize Your International Audience
YouTube is obviously a global platform, right? When you dig into your audience analytics, chances are, your viewers aren’t just coming from one country.
Well, here’s what you might not know: If you’re using Amazon affiliate links, you could be missing out on revenue generated in other countries. Amazon has 18 public storefronts it uses for its affiliate programs (with plans for more). For instance, in the U.S. there’s Amazon.com. In the UK, it’s Amazon.co.uk.
Why does that matter? If you set up an Amazon affiliate account in the U.S. but someone in India clicks your link, there’s a disconnect because they can't or won't purchase from that store. This means they don't buy and you won’t earn your cut of the commission. (I’m not using super technical language here, but you get the point.)
“Fundamentally, know what your international traffic is — make sure your affiliate links work for that international audience — because if you're not doing that, you're leaving money on the table,” Jesse says.
And that’s where a tool like Geniuslink comes in handy. It allows you to localize your international traffic by routing them to their local store, so you’ll make money no matter where your viewers convert.
Jesse says it makes the most sense to use Geniuslink when at least 10% of your traffic is international. He says for every 10% of your audience that’s international, Geniuslink can boost your bottom line by 5%.
That means if 50% of your traffic is international, you should be able to boost your bottom line by 25%. If you’re making $1,000 a month from affiliate marketing, that’s a nice passive $250 bonus. Not bad, huh?
Pro tip: Although we’re talking about using Geniuslink for YouTube, you can just as easily add these links to your website, newsletter, podcast episode description — you name it.
2) Make Sure Your Links are Working Hard For You
If you’re using affiliate links to make money on Amazon, it’s important to make sure they actually work. Is the product still in stock? Does the link redirect to a 404 page?
“You want to make sure your affiliate links are always working as hard as they possibly can for you,” Jesse says.
It’s not realistic to go through and check all these on a regular basis. Sure, you can use Amazon’s link checker, but, again, pulling each link is super time-consuming.
Once again, this is where Geniuslink helps you out. (I swear this isn’t just an ad for Geniuslink, but I’m happy to become a Geniuslink influencer if Jesse’s in the market )
It has reporting tools that allow you to keep tabs on your link health. It ensures your links aren’t broken and that they’re directing folks to legit product pages where they can make a purchase and, in turn, bump up your YouTube channel revenue.
3) Give the People Options
Consumers like choices. We all know that, but Amazon’s affiliate links don’t really allow for that. It’s Amazon or bust, and some people are tired of contributing money to Jeff Bezos’ bank account.
That’s why Geniuslink made a feature called Choice Pages. When someone clicks a link, they aren’t just shoved over to Amazon. They can instead take a look at where the product is available, compare prices and read reviews.
“When you're asking someone to buy a $100 product or a $1,000 product, if they can look at two or three or four other retailers and see that they're going to get the best price, see that it's in stock, see what the reviews are across a couple of different stores, it seems that really helps them be more comfortable clicking that final buy,” Jesse explains.
So although they may have to click a few more times, giving consumers a choice empowers them and ultimately makes them more inclined to actually purchase a product.
Not quite convinced this works? Armando Ferreira more than doubled his affiliate revenue by using Choice Pages. The Geniuslinks team also did a larger A/B test with 10 different YouTube channels and saw, on average, YouTube commissions more than double.
Plus, this is a simple way to diversify your income streams (versus solely relying on Amazon and praying it doesn’t cut commission rate incomes to 0.001%).
And here’s another perk for you: With affiliate marketing, it doesn’t matter if a person buys the specific product you’re recommending. It’s as long as they click your link and buy something on that website within a specific time. On Amazon, the window is 24 hours. However, at other retailers, that window may be longer — we’re talkin’ two to three days. This just increases your chances of earning a commission.
4) Avoid Trouble With Amazon (or, Worse, the FTC)
When you include affiliate links in your content, you have to properly disclose them. Otherwise, you’re being sneaky, and no one (especially Amazon and the FTC) likes sneakiness.
If you don’t properly disclose your affiliate links, there’s a good chance your account (whether that’s through Amazon or another affiliate marketing platform) could get shut down — meaning you’ve just lost all chances of maximizing your affiliate revenue.
If you’d prefer not to dig through your old YouTube videos and affiliate links, again, Geniuslinks has your back. It has a feature called YLO (YouTube Link Optimizer) that’ll find and convert all your old Amazon links into affiliate links. In the process, it adds the appropriate disclaimers.
All you’ll need to do is give the team access to your channel, and they’ll handle the rest. Geniuslink has done this for people who have anywhere from five to 500 videos — it doesn’t matter.
If you’re already a Geniuslink client, just reach out to the support team, and they’ll get you all set up.
5) Be Consistent With Your Video Descriptions
I’ve harped on the importance of video descriptions when it comes to YouTube SEO and retrospective YouTube optimization, and Jesse offers another layer of advice here: Be consistent with linking in your video descriptions.
With affiliate marketing, there are active recommendations and passive recommendations. Active recommendations are typically products featured or showcased in a video. (At this point, we’ve all seen plenty of FabFitFun unboxing videos.)
Passive recommendations are more, well, passive. This could be the brand of makeup you wore in your video or the lens on your camera. Fun fact: Jesse also runs Kit.co which exists just for this purpose. YouTubers can create “kits” of their go-to gear that people can shop.
Jesse suggests listing those active recommendations in your video description first and then the passive ones — but having both is fine. And then the key is to be consistent in the way you present these links across all your videos.
6) Remember: Vanity Links are Handy
If there’s a product you’re constantly recommending, I’d suggest creating a vanity link for it. That way, folks can find it more easily.
For instance, I’m constantly promoting my book (have you checked it out yet?!), and when I go on a podcast or write a blog post, I don’t want to share the traditional affiliate link, which looks like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075775DYG or even the geniuslink that can be customized. Instead, for a little more pizazz (and for ease of memory) I created a vanity URL, optimizationebook.com, which redirects to my Geniuslink which in turn redirects to the local Amazon page.
This can work well in your YouTube descriptions. If you’re always promoting a specific product, create a vanity link so people will actually remember it — versus that junky-looking Amazon URL.
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