There’s more to monetizing your channel than simply running ads.
In fact, there are countless creative approaches to making money from the videos you publish, including: sponsorships, affiliate marketing, merchandise and more.
And in this resource you’ll learn how you can make money from your channel from selling and promoting products.
Sponsorships & Brand Deals
Sponsorships and brand deals are becoming increasingly popular now that brands recognize that YouTubers can help get their products in front of the right people.
And this isn’t only for massive channels with millions of subs. Smaller channels can be ideal for certain brands because they appeal to a very specific niche group.
Sponsorships and brand deals come in an infinite array of shapes and sizes, the most common being:
- Sponsored Videos: This is the most straightforward way to partner with a brand. You simply create a normal video for your channel. And somewhere in that video (usually in the beginning) you say: “This video is sponsored by X”. And then give a brief description of that product or brand. For example, this video from ProJared’s channel is otherwise exactly the same as his other videos… the only difference is a sponsored message in the beginning:
- Product Placements: Product placements tend to be more subtle than sponsoring a video outright. Instead of a commercial break-style intro, you weave the product into your video. This can be by featuring that product in action, an unboxing, or simply showing the product briefly in the video. For example Brooke Miccio does a great job of integrating her sponsor’s products into this morning routine vlog:
- Affiliate Deals: This is where you promote a product in exchange for a commision for each sale. That said, you don’t need to necessarily partner with a brand to become an affiliate (more on that next).
And here are some tips for getting brands interested in your channel:
- Target a Specific Demographic: Most brands want to get their products in front of a very specific demographic that’s most likely to buy from them. So the more specific your brand’s positioning, the more likely you are to land brand deals. You can see your audience’s demographics inside the “Build an Audience” report in YouTube Studio:
- Be Proactive: Unless your channel has a ton of subscribers, don’t expect brands to come knocking on your door. Instead, reach out to brands and let them know why they should strike a deal with you. The best way to find these brands is to make a list of brands that already partner with other channels in your niche.
- Use FameBit: FameBit is like a dating service that connects Creators and brands that want to partner with YouTubers. It can be useful for finding brands that might be interested in your channel:
- Track Results: If you’ve landed a brand deal in the past, you’re in a great spot. You can use the results from that campaign to convince other brands to partner with you. For the brand, a track record takes some of the guesswork (and risk) out of a brand deal.
An affiliate offer is where you promote a product using a special “affiliate link”. Whenever someone purchases a product through your link, you get a cut of that sale.
The great thing about promoting products as an affiliate is that you don’t necessarily need to partner with a brand. In fact, many companies allow anyone to sign up as an affiliate and promote their offers.
Here are some best practices for promoting products as an affiliate on YouTube:
- Use Attractive URLs: You’ll likely place your affiliate link in your video description. By default, most affiliate URLs are ugly and not very appealing to click on. Instead, use a link-shortener (like bit.ly) or a URL from your own website (like example.com/promo).
- Be Authentic: It’s important that you promote products in a way that’s authentic to you. If you’re someone who’s known for being a self-promoter, then an in-your-face style promotion might work. But if you’re more reserved, go with a promotional style that fits. That way, your affiliate promotion doesn’t stick out like a badly-timed commercial. For example, KathleenLights teaches her audience how to use the products she’s promoting, which is the type of content her audience expects:
- Promote Products that Fit: It’s important not to choose products to promote based solely on the affiliate commision. This can lead to you losing priceless goodwill with your audience. For example, the CHMTech Channel appeals to tech-savvy folks who are likely to have (or want to build) a website. That’s why they promote the website-building software Squarespace:
Selling Merchandise (more commonly known on YouTube as “Merch”) is an increasingly popular monetization option.
That’s because, unlike affiliate deals, you make 100% of the profits from each sale. The downside, of course, is that you have to actually design, create and produce a product that your audience wants to buy.
Here are some tips for creating and selling Merch on YouTube:
- Reach Critical Mass: In general, your channel has to be really, really big for Merch to make sense. Only a tiny percentage of your most loyal fans will buy your stuff. So you’ll need thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of subscribers before Merch makes sense.
- Integrate: The most successful Merch campaigns are an extension of what the channel already does. For example, SmarterEveryDay created a “Backwards Brain Bike” that was featured in one of their most popular videos:
- Run Polls: Use your Community Tab to ask your community what else they’d like to see from you outside of YouTube.
- Show Off: Make sure to actively show off what your Merch is in your video (vs. simply describing it). Here’s a great example:
- Make It Easy: Make it dead-simple for your audience to find and buy your Merch. Include prominent links in your description. You can also use a URL that you can say verbally in your video (for example: yoursite.com/merch). For example, Casey Neistat not only places his Merch links prominently in his description, but makes them easy to say and remember:
Brand Deals: Helpful starter guide to brand deals from the YouTube Creator Academy.
Paid product placements and endorsements: YouTube’s guidelines to keep in mind (like disclosures) as you pursue brand deals and sponsorships on your channel.