YouTube Affiliate Marketing: How to Get Started in 6 Simple Steps

By Pete McPherson

January 21, 2021

youtube affiliate marketing

As an Amazon affiliate, we sometimes use affiliate links in our content. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

written by Pete McPherson

What if you could make more money, faster, with less effort?


There’s a massive opportunity right now in YouTube affiliate marketing—BUT there are definitely some key differences (from blogging) that you need to be aware of (or else, you’ll be wasting your time).

  • Does YouTube work like blogging? Do all the same principles apply? (No.)
  • Why exactly is this an “opportunity,” you say?
  • How can I get started TODAY and set myself up for sweet, sweet, affiliate marketing revenues? 💰💰💰

Don’t fret! I got you!

Over the past year, I’ve tripled my affiliate marketing income from YouTube alone (and honest-to-goodness, I am NOT a world-class YouTuber. You can totally do everything I’m about to share with you)

…and I’m going to lay out my best tips for getting started below.


First, What is Youtube Affiliate Marketing, and How Does It Work?

If you are a blogger already, I have good news for you!

Affiliate marketing is affiliate marketing, no matter where you’re promoting links.

In a nutshell…

  1. You sign up for affiliate programs (with brands or products that you’re audience will possibly buy)
  2. You’ll grab your special affiliate link(s)
  3. Produce content (on your blog, YouTube channel, podcast, social media), promoting your affiliate links
  4. Your audience clicks these links, and if they purchase, you get a little referral commission!

I don’t want this article to be a full beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing; you can get started with that sorta knowledge right here in this article.

But the takeaway?

YouTube is just a new platform to introduce affiliate products to an audience. The general process is the same as blogging.

However, there are a few key differences. Keep reading.

Do I Need to Be a Full-Time YouTuber?

Absolutely not. YouTube is still, still, still a massive opportunity to reach a new audience, even if you don’t plan on vlogging every day (or even putting out a new video every single week).

The time has never been better to “dabble” with adding video content to your marketing game.

That being said, let’s jump into the tips.

1 – You Can Put Affiliate Links Everywhere!

Aha! This is one of the coolest opportunities that YouTubers have—that bloggers don’t: You can quite literally have affiliate links under every video.

The YouTube video description area is meant to be a place for resources, and that’s exactly what affiliate products are.

  • Specific, product-focused videos
  • Topic videos that are related to your affiliates
  • Literally any video you produce

Doesn’t matter. Put your top recommend affiliate links in alllllll the videos.

Pro Tip: If your video IS specifically covering an affiliate product, then you should put your link at the top of the description. 

If your video is not related at all, then assemble a “best of” handy resource list. (See below.)

2 – What Content Drives Click-Throughs (and Conversions)?

Ok, I know I just said you could insert affiliate links under every video (and you should), but there ARE certain videos that tend to drive more clicks than others.

Let me throw a fancy word at you: “buyer journey.”

Basically, there are several steps that people take when they want to buy something:

  1. Become aware of their problem.
  2. Become aware of solutions.
  3. Find a specific product/solution.
  4. Research it.
  5. Find reviews (the more social proof the better).
  6. Make a purchasing decision.

The best YouTube videos to drive affiliate marketing income are targeting the last few steps of the buyer journey.

👆 Re-read that.

Those audiences are really close to making a purchase; they’re just looking for creators like you to help them bite the bullet and buy. 🙂

The top two types of videos for me personally have been review videos and comparison videos.

Real video examples from my own channel:

  • PODIA REVIEW 2020 – The best online course tool for creators?
  • Podcasting Equipment For BEGINNERS – The best (and affordable) tools!

I rank #1 for both of those videos, and they are targeting people “about to buy!”

3 – You MUST Have Lots of CTAs in Your Videos (but Not Necessarily to Your Affiliate Links)

First, CTA stands for “Call To Action,” i.e. asking/telling your audience to take a certain action.

There are a few CTAs most YouTubers use:

  • “Like, comment, subscribe.” (Yada, yada, yada. Don’t do a lot of this, please.)
  • “Watch this next video.” (DO this for the YouTube algorithms.)
  • “Check the description below this video.”

To set yourself up for max affiliate clicks, I recommend CONSTANTLY giving your viewers a reason to go into your video description.

Even if you’re not specifically asking them to click an affiliate link!

“As a reminder, check the description below for more resources,” is your best-friend phrase.

Remember how we’re going to include affiliate links under each video, in a “handy list” format? 

The more people who open up your video description, the more chances you have at them seeing your affiliate links.

4 – Organize and Shorten Your Links (This is Incredibly Important)

2 things:

First, whether you’re into YouTube or blogging or snail mail, you need to have all your affiliate links in one place.

I personally use what I like to call an “AFF TRACKER.” This is one document I can open and access all my affiliate links, shortened links for YouTube, their affiliate back-end portals, and more.

Click here to grab the template (it’s totes free). 

And speaking of “shortened links…”

I recommend using a service like to shorten your affiliate links—mostly because YouTube descriptions have character limits!

(And the fact that super long links look bad, especially in YouTube descriptions, where lots of people are viewing from their phones.)

You’re welcome to use your own “pretty links” if you have those from your blog. 

5 – Create a Description Template (Filled with Your Youtube Affiliate Links and Other Resources)

The goal of this tip is to save you a ton of time.

Here’s what you do:

  • Write out a pretty looking YouTube description template.
  • Use placeholders for per-video information.
  • Create a “section” in your template for your top affiliate products, freebies on your website, digital products, or whatever you want.
  • Use a “text expansion” tool to quickly insert this template in your videos.

I can insert ALL that text with 3 keystrokes on my keyboard (I use the shortcut “.ytx” and it auto-populates).

Check out those tools—you can use text expansion for a ton of things!

6 – Learn How to Drive More Videos on Youtube (It’s Simpler than Google SEO or Pinterest)

I’d like to argue right here and now that YouTube SEO is more straightforward than Google SEO—and possibly even easier than Pinterest marketing…

And YES—entire YouTube influencers and $1,000 courses exist to help YouTubers grow their channel, but I can still give you a few quick tips here if you’re new!

Broad & Important YouTube Affiliate Marketing Growth Tips:

  • Video watch time (user retention) is a huge metric to track and get better at. Keep people viewing your videos!
  • Session watch time is also huge. Keep people on YouTube by recommending they watch more videos!
  • Titles and thumbnails are key! Watch this video from Derral Eves to get better at this.

And Here are Some Basic YouTube SEO Tips in Addition to Those:

  • Use TubeBuddy or to research keywords and topics. (Both of those are my affiliate links. 😎)
  • Include keywords in your titles (preferably at the front), and YES, I realize this sounds like a Google SEO strategy from 2009, but it works.
  • Be sure to include keywords in your description—in the first sentence!
  • Also include keywords in your tags (this is likely a small ranking factor, but it’s so easy it’s a no-brainer).

Here are Some Tips to Make Your Videos Better:

(This will also drive more YouTube affiliate marketing clicks.)

  • Keep your video intros UBER short (literally less than 10-15 seconds).
  • Be lively, happy, and engaging on camera. (Believe it or not, people watch videos that make them feel happy. No joke, there’s data to support this.)
  • Sprinkle in SHORT CTAs throughout your videos (including a call to “check out the resources in the description below this video!”).
  • Keep your outros super short as well—the YouTube end screens can only appear on the last 20 seconds of the video, and you actually WANT your viewers to make it that far. My outros last 15–20 seconds total.

If you’re a podcast listener type of person, go check out my mega-episode: How to Grow a YouTube Channel (Everything I Know).

Conclusion: YouTube Can Be a Killer Source for Affiliate Marketing Revenue (and It’s Low-Hanging Fruit Right Now)

YouTube is a hot platform for growth and an excellent place to promote your best affiliates.

If you’re looking to DO this stuff and want to stay organized, be sure to grab my “AFF TRACKER,” i.e. my affiliate marketing organizational tool.

It’s totes free and will help keep you sane. 🧠

And to be a good guest blogger—I suppose I should also promote the Do You Even Blog YouTube channel! If you’re into blogging, podcasting, funnels, and online business, go “Like, comment, and subscribe” and click my affiliate links.


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