The 3-step system I used to make 7-figures of Affiliate Commissions in my first 3 years as an affiliate marketer.
Making money on YouTube is literally one of my favorite things to talk about. Here's why?
Well the biggest reason is because it's something I'm both extremely qualified to talk about, and something I love.
In fact just last year I won my dream car almost exclusively using my YouTube channel of less than 10k subs.
But there are plenty of other reasons I think YouTube is the easiest place to make money online, even in 2019.
Here are the big ones.
- Making money on YouTube is vastly easier than people realize once you understand the concept.
- YouTube rewards people that area relatable and real.
- One 5-minute video can make money for years with zero additional work.
- YouTube traffic often comes prepared to buy something.
Now before I start rambling, check out the outline if you want to click to somewhere specific in the article and learn more about that specific money-making method.
Am I qualified to teach this?
Alright let me introduce myself for just a few sentences so you know you aren't reading some vague blog post written by a copywriter with no actual experience making money on YouTube. Welcome to half the internet.
I made a YouTube video about some stock chart basics that I could send people to watch from Instagram. Because I'd had some past experience with SEO I searched “YouTube SEO” in Google and spent about 20 minutes applying the basic regurgitated crap I learned.
Three months later I'd completely given up on my terrible Instagram strategy (I still suck at Instagram). One morningI hop into the YouTube account I'd created and am literally blown away to find thousands of views on that single video.
How often does that happen?
Come to find out my video had started in rank in YouTube. Even better, Google had picked it up and I was taking up almost the entire front page of Google when someone searched (still ranking by the way).
I spent the next few years mastering the YouTube algorithm with multiple channels. Like I mentioned above, I used my YouTube channel to win a car using affiliate marketing (yes, we will teach that method later on in this post).
I am not a huge guru that has 60 million followers and tells you to just make videos, people watch them, YouTube pays you, and everything is easy.
I have two YouTube channels of about 10k subscribers each. I make a full-time income off them despite the relatively small number of subscribers.
It's absolutely NOT about number of subscribers. It's about how effective your channel is at monetizing.
And I'm about to show you how to be wildly effective.
So let's dive in.
I told you we would get to this above. We are going to start with this method because affiliate marketing is the easiest to get started with, and has the most profit potential.
Admittedly, I'm really biased.
If you aren't familiar with affiliate marketing I have a post about it where I go in depth, but here is a basic definition.
Affiliate marketing is when you, the affiliate, promote someone else's products and get paid to do so. It's that simple.
Typically they pay you when someone actually buys their product, meaning you don't get paid unless they get paid.
The process of affiliate marketing on YouTube looks like this.
1. Find products
It all starts with the right product to promote. Here is what I'm looking for when I look for products to promote.
- Niche specific – your products need to match your audience. If your channel is about cats, then the products you promote should be geared to benefit that audience.
- High ticket or recurring – if you choose a product to promote that costs $3 and you get to keep 2% of that, it is going to be nearly impossible to make good money. Choose products that are $50 or more and that offer a minimum of 5% commission. Personally I choose products that can cost thousands of dollars and offer up to 50% commissions.
- Evergreen – some products are only available for a limited time. Since your videos will live on YouTube forever, you want the product that they promote to also be available forever.
Typically I start by looking for products I already know and use in the niche. Hopefully whatever niche you are in is something you already have a little knowledge about so you can do this effectively.
After I make a list of products I could promote, I start to research their affiliate programs to see if the other criteria makes sense and are met.
2. Apply to promote products
This is easier than it sounds. Almost every company out there has an affiliate or referral program. Many of them can be joined in less than 2 minutes.
A Google search or the company's website is always the best place for this.
I literally just go to the company's website and use Ctrl + f with the words “affiliate” and “partner”. Usually one will yield results and you will see something in the footer like this.
Typically they will have you fill out an application and approve you (or disapprove you) in the next 24 hours.
Once you are approved the company will give you a special link to their product page. Now anytime anyone clicks your special link and purchases the product, the sale is attributed to you.
It's that simple. Find, apply, get link.
What kind of videos to make
Hopefully you're not sick of this already because we finally made it to the fun part – actually promoting the products and making money with your YouTube channel!
There are two primary types of content that you can target as an affiliate. The first one is using branded keywords.
Essentially we are taking people searching in YouTube for more information about a specific product and we are giving them the information they need to make a buying decision, then linking to the product using our special link.
Examples of this include people searching for reviews, demos, discounts, pricing info, product comparisons, and product alternatives.
So if the product we wanted to promote was the Beach Body workout program we could make the following pieces of content.
Beach Body review
Beach Body video demo
Does Beach Body work?
Beach Body discount
Beach Body pricing
Beach Body vs Ab Ripper X
Beach Body alternatives
This is exactly what I did to win the free car last year with a software company called ClickFunnels. Once you refer 100 active users they buy you a car. Videos like this did the entire thing for me.
The second way to promote these products is a problem/solution based video.
For these videos you will need to do some keyword research. You will need to figure out what kinds of problems people are looking to solve on YouTube that your product can help with.
So back to the Beach Body example.
Someone looking for “how to lose weight” may not know they are looking for the Beach Body program, but they are! They are looking for something to help them lose weight.
So for these you can make a video showing them the Beach Body program and what it can help them do.
When people search and see your video it refers them to Beach body and BOOM – you've got an affiliate sale.
You can also head to Google and type the product into there. Once you scroll down you will see a bunch of things people are looking for in relation to that product.
How to add links
Most people don't even realize how many YouTube channels are doing affiliate marketing. Trust me – most are.
The first major place people are adding their affiliate links is in the YouTube description.
Then as they describe the product they simply tell you to click the link in the description to get access.
The other major place to add links is with cards.
Cards are those little things that pop out while you are watching a YouTube video and have links to content.
And finally, the last place to add links is in the end screen. If you aren't familiar with this, it's the screen YouTube shows at the end of a YouTube video.
You can customize these to look like however you want and more importantly, to a link of your choice.
Mine looks like this, plus it has some snazzy tunes in the background.
I'll be honest – I'm pretty proud of mine.
Notice the left picture has a link to a training? That's where I make the money!
And that's affiliate marketing with YouTube!
Find products in your niche, sign up as an affiliate, get a link, create videos around those products, add links when relevant, make profit.
Honestly I think affiliate marketing with YouTube is one of the few things that actually is as easy at it sounds. It just requires disciplined content creation, which weeds out lazy people and makes it a golden opportunity for the hard working type.
Create your own products
Most people I talk to seem needlessly scared of this. Guess what?
Entrepreneurs do hard things.
You want a steady passive income? Get over it and create your own product.
Just like affiliate marketing, this is easier than most people think.
There are two different types of products you can create – physical and digital.
I'm going to focus on digital products because they are slightly easier to create and manage AND the margins are much higher.
My YouTube channel does both affiliate marketing, and digital products. It makes good money with both, and both are completely passive. The only difference is with my own products I keep 100% of the profits.
I also hate dealing with shipping, returns, warehousing, etc. that is required with a lot of physical product sales.
Creating digital products
Digital products are things like courses, ebooks, masterminds, templates, etc. Basically anything that can be delivered digitally without much effort on your part. Sounds nice right?
The best way to figure out what digital products to create is to look at what everyone else is doing. For that, we can head over to YouTube and simply search out competitors.
So if I chose affiliate marketing as my niche, I would type in affiliate marketing.
Naturally hundreds of videos are going to show up that talk about affiliate marketing. Now I get to do something I've always dreamed of doing. I'm going to sit and watch a couple dozen YouTube videos about affiliate marketing.
Grab a lemonade and a hammock or something and do it to it.
What am I looking for?
What are they selling? Most of the big names have their own products.
Usually they are selling something the market wants because they've been in the game for awhile and are very familiar with what people need and will pay for.
So now I know what kinds of things people are willing to actually spend money on.
The other thing I do to choose a product to sell is a little research on Facebook. I'll usually hop into a few relevant Facebook groups and just make a post asking people what their struggles are, similar to this.
This way is awesome because I can build a product I already know solves beginner's problems and it should be easy to sell once it's complete.
Hopefully I feel comfortable enough with at least one of the subjects that I can create a digital product around it.
I've seen people make literally hundreds of thousands with cheap eBooks and I've seen people make millions with thousand dollar courses.
Usually the expensive stuff requires people to work up to it until they are comfortable selling something at that price, so don't feel bad selling a cheap eBook or small course to start and learn the ropes.
I still lose confidence every time I tell someone the price of my course despite hundreds of testimonials and success stories.
Selling your digital products
I can't believe how often people claim they suck at sales so they can't just can't do this.
Selling on YouTube is literally as easy as a mention.
“Since you are watching this video I assume you are interested in learning more how to lose weight. If you are ready to really take the plunge and change your life I sell a course with way more information than a single YouTube video could ever provide. There is a link down below.”
Yeah, you could definitely sell better then that, but even that is a good start and will surprise you when people start asking questions or buying.
For me personally I use simple sales funnels.
So I offer something for free to get them off of YouTube and over to my website, then when they put in their email address to get access, the next page offers them my paid product. I'll talk more about this in the next section. It looks something like this inside the software I use (ClickFunnels).
So for this particular course I sell I send them to a free training webinar.
When they register they get instant access to the webinar, but they also get sold my course with vastly more information, templates, etc. If they click on that page they get taken to an order form. And if they buy they get taken to an order confirmation page with course access.
On the left you an see the journey each person goes through who clicks off my video to get the free training and chooses to purchase as well.
So far it's working for me.
Hosting your digital product
A lot of people get stuck on the tech side of setting up a digital product, which is totally understandable. Sometimes monetizing YouTube seems easy compared to setting up all the tech and software that goes into it.
I host my digital product inside of course creation platform called Thinkific. It allows me to host the course on my own website, but makes it really easy to do all the tech stuff like account creation, passwords, content hosting, etc.
It also integrates with Zapier so I can automate the process. When someone buys the course in my ClickFunnels funnel it automatically sends their info to Thinkific. Then Thinkific sets up an account and gives them access automatically. And that's how passive income works.
Full disclosure, I almost didn't even put this option on there. This is what all the generic trainings try to tell you to do, despite the fact that you needs millions of views to really make an income with this.
That being said, I make about $600 a month off this method, so I shouldn't completely discount it.
So here is what Google Adsense is with YouTube.
You know those slightly annoying ads that show up before videos and sometimes even in the middle of a video?
For me it's always Grammarly…
Anyway these are ads that advertisers pay YouTube to put on your channel. YouTube takes a piece of the pie and gives you a piece as well.
As I mentioned above, however, you make a tiny amount per person that views the ad. This means it takes a good chunk of views to actually make money.=
Which types of YouTube channels work?
This monetization works best with channels that focus on high-volume keywords and virality. Meaning channels that focus on funny cat videos, pictures of trains, compilations of random videos on certain subjects, etc.
Basically channels that don't really have any good product that could be associated with them, but that get millions of views.
A good example of this is trains.
There are lots of channels that actually just post videos that are compilation videos of types of trains.
Who is watching them? I honestly have no clue. But these videos get millions and millions of views.
It is kind of hard to promote affiliate products because the videos don't involve a person speaking ever. It's hard to sell digital products to these people that apparently just want to relax and watch some trains.
So YouTube ads is the next best thing.
And then it just becomes a numbers game.
-Typically a YouTube video can make about $2-$4 per 1,000 views.
-That's $20-$40 per 10,000 views.
-And that's $2,000 – $4,000 per million views.
That means to make a decent monthly income off this method a YouTube will need to get over a million views a month.
Definitely possible when you make the right type of videos, pretty hard if you have a channel like mine that focuses on serving a small subset of the population.
Choosing your content
The easiest ways to find the types of keywords that would make sense with this monetization strategy is using a tool called VidIQ.
VidIQ is a simple Chrome extension that can help you find keywords and also give you all kinds of useful information on the same keywords. If you look below you can see what I get when I type in babies (is that creepy?).
If you look below you can see VidIQ will give you the highest views of any video ranking for the keyword (basically the potential of a video going for that keyword). It also gives you bar showing search volume and competition score.
As mentioned above, you want a high-volume keyword with low competition. Clearly the keyword “babies” is extremely competitive. How weird.
Luckily at the bottom it gives you some other keywords you could potentially target that are easier like “funny babies”.
Monetizing YouTube with sponsors
Full disclosure – this is a method I am just starting to get into so I wouldn't call myself an expert in the subject. Luckily it's not too complicated.
Podcasting has been using this method for years.
You're listening to a podcast and about ten minutes in the podcaster pauses to thank a sponsor, explain who the sponsor is and why they are awesome, and then continues with the podcast.
If you've ever listened to podcasts this scenario is likely familiar.
This exact same thing can be done with YouTube, and it's a lot easier than you think.
I've been using a site called FameBit.
They are essentially a broker that connects brands with influencers.
A brand comes on and enters their criteria for a partnership and if your channel meets the criteria they have the option to contact and make an arrangement.
One caveat to this is that you do have to have at least 5,000 subscribers to get started.
Fortunately getting to 5,000 can be done with just a few videos ranking for good keywords.
Build an email list
This could tie into any of the other methods mentioned above, or be its own source of income.
Making this last may been a poor decision on my part because I think it's easily one of the, if not THE most important thing you could do.
If this concept is completely foreign to you, let me explain how it works and why it is so vital.
Why you should build a list
Let's say you start working on building up your YouTube channel this year.
By this time next year you have 10,000 subscribers, you're making a decent income, and life is good.
You get an email from YouTube that looks like this:
You might be thinking, “I don't break rules. This wouldn't happen to me.”
Don't think that.
This kind of stuff happens all the time and often for reasons people never even find out.
YouTube support is about as helpful as the IRS on Christmas day.
So in this scenario you are stuck with no way to reach your audience of 10,000 people.
Your income completely shuts off and you have to start all over.
But what if you have a list of email addresses of almost everyone that subscribed to you?
You are just a few emails away from getting your new YouTube channel back up to 5,000 subscribers or more
How to build your email list with YouTube
Remember that sales funnel example I wrote about above?
The first step is capturing an email address using what's called a lead magnet.
Essentially you offer your audience something valuable in exchange for their email address.
This can be done easily with a ClickFunnels landing page.
Here's how I do it.
I created a free lead magnet for each category of video that I create.
They are all hosted on my site on the page buildapreneur.com/free
In every single video I make I bring up one of these free trainings, put a link in the description, and use a card to make it show up on the screen.
It goes something like this.
“Before I get started I just want to let you know that if you are interested in affiliate marketing I have a free course with vastly more information than this single video can offer. You can get it at buildapreneur.com/free after the video.”
Then when they show up and click get started they come to a page that looks like this.
Clicking the button requires an email address and voila!
My customer gets something for free that costs me nothing, I get an email address that I can sell future products to, and everyone wins.
I put those email addresses into ActiveCampaign. It stores them, and automates sending out emails for the next six months.
If there is one thing to gain from this article, it is understanding that an email list is the most important asset your company can have. It is the only thing YOU own that gives you access to your customers and cannot be taken away.
So what's next?
Congratulations! You've read a small novel at this point and your head is probably spinning.
Let's simplify the process for someone that is new to all this.
- Start by picking one monetization method.
- Once you've picked it figure out everything you need to learn (email marketing, landing page creation, etc.)
- Find the training you need to gain these skills. Most of them are probably available for free on my site.
- Do some keyword research using VidIQ and come up with a content plan.
- Consistently put out content and don't give up when things don't immediately take off.
Seriously step 5 kills people. YouTube channels don't typically just explode overnight. It takes time.
Once it happens though there is no better feeling than having people watching your videos 24/7 and bringing in income while on vacation.
Questions? I promise I answer every single one of them below.
And as long as you are here. Might as well subscribe to my channel.