Looking to have a channel financially support itself is a natural step for YouTube creators. There are five main ways that creators can make money off YouTube: ads, sponsorship, patronage, directly selling something/merch, and affiliate. In this video, we are primarily going to cover affiliate marketing as a revenue model. We will go over Amazon’s affiliate program, how to stay compliant with the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement, and best practices to earn you more money.
Let’s dive in!
Making Money On YouTube with Affiliate Marketing
As we mentioned, there are various ways to make money on Youtube, we are going to dive a little deeper into the affiliate marketing method.
Most YouTubers will include affiliate links in the descriptions of their videos for products that fall into one of two groups:
1. The specific product(s) or service(s) you recommended in your video. For example, an unboxing or gadget review video is perfect candidates where you would include an affiliate link for the viewer to then go buy the product you were talking about.
2. Links to the products and services you use to create the video or regularly use and swear by. A typical example here is to see the list of cameras, mics, and other gear used, with affiliate links to buy them (or even a link to the YouTuber’s “kit” of filmmaking gear).
The Amazon Affiliate Program provides links to both of these, which is why we recommend getting started with them. They have a vast product catalog, market share, and “halo” commissions.
The Amazon Associates program works for all channel sizes and can help you to understand what your audience is looking for. Additionally, Amazon Associates has global storefronts all over the world, so if your audience is from different parts of the world then you can still cater to them.
How to stay compliant
No one wants the dreaded account ban email, and there is a lot of confusion around what is and is not okay as an Amazon Associate. For more on this, check out our Amazon Affiliate Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Account Banned. Here, we will just clear up some confusion around a few commong reason Associates get their accounts closed.
Cloaking Links – There is a large misunderstanding around this, but put simply Amazon allows link shorteners. However, it is important that when doing so, you are clearly disclosing the destination of your link. If you mention Amazon in the vicinity of the link, it helps to build shopper trust (which is better for conversions) and makes the Amazon compliance team happy. Additionally, make sure to list all of your social media channels (along with websites) that you’ll be using affilate links on when you sign up as an Associate. If you are sharing somewhere Amazon is not aware of, then you might find yourself in a sticky situation.
Incentivized Clicks – Another way to find yourself in hot water with Amazon is by asking or encouraging (directly or not) people to click on your links- or asking people to click on your links to “support” you. It is best to suggest that you may earn from purchases. We always suggest phrasing it:
“As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.”
“I may earn commissions for purchases made through the links below.”
If you list those in close proximity to your links then you should avoid Amazon’s wrath, but there is also another workaround we will cover more of in best practices.
It seems obvious, but you attract what you emulate. If you are genuinely excited about a product that you have tried and can personally recommend it, your viewers can sense that. Just recommending random products is often not a good method, especially as you are getting started.
Having a standardized description makes it super easy to stay organized, and change broken links if necessary. Jeven Dovey does a great job explaining how building out a standardized format for your video descriptions and having that template can make adding, tweaking, and removing affiliate programs (and affiliate links) super easy in his recent video: Maximize Your PASSIVE INCOME on YouTube
Kit allows you to use your Amazon affiliate parameters so you can earn commissions on referred sales. You can build out a Kit of recommended products for an activity – for example, a backpacking Kit would contain all the materials that you personally recommend for going backpacking.
Global affiliate links
Amazon is a global brand, and while Amazon.com can ship worldwide, Amazon has spent billions of dollars to build out regional storefronts to support sales in different parts of the world. Currently, there are 17 different Amazon stores around the world (eg. Amazon.ca for Canada, and Amazon.in for India, etc.), with each storefront being fully optimized for its audience with the local language, currency, fast and affordable shipping, etc.
What many YouTubers don’t realize is that Amazon’s affiliate program is storefront specific. For example, the Amazon.com affiliate program only rewards you for commissions for sales in the Amazon.com store.
So, if you have international traffic, you should be sending them to their local Amazon store, via the appropriate Amazon affiliate program, or you are likely not converting nearly as well as you could be and are leaving money on the table.
Geniuslink and Choice Pages
In the last couple of years, the Geniuslink team has teamed up with a number of YouTubers and has been focused on taking affiliate links to the next level. The result is something we call “Choice Pages.” They are mobile-optimized landing pages, specifically designed to promote a specific product with multiple retailers/affiliate programs, and have a few distinct benefits.
Over 11 separate tests, we saw an average of 2.2x improvement in earnings-per-click with some clients seeing as much as 4.2x lift when they used Choice Pages. (Details on our experiment.)
Additionally, Because the Amazon affiliate links live on the landing page, all of the compliance concerns with having an affiliate link on your YouTube channel are taken care of – the cloaking and disclosures concerns are eliminated with an automatically added Amazon button and the FTC and Amazon disclaimers included.
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