Getting started with YouTube can be an exhilarating and daunting task. Your mind is racing with ideas, and you’re excited to share your knowledge with a bigger audience. Plus, let’s be honest. Who isn’t totally mesmerized by the YouTubers who pull in five and six figures a month from their channels? Of course, there’s a lot that takes place in between your launch as a YouTube noob and becoming a channel sensation. A big part of that happens when you start to grow affiliates and sponsorships on YouTube.
Joseph Hogue from Let’s Talk Money stops by to discuss how YouTube can boost your blog, stand alone as an asset, and why (and how!) you should monetize the minute you post your first video. He also shares a formula that anyone can follow to start producing consistent video content today.
Joseph Hogue initially started his YouTube channel in 2015 as a secondary platform to complement his blog. He viewed YouTube as a way to do blog post summaries. However, he started to realize that YouTube itself could be a platform. In December 2017, Hogue made the decision to move from viewing YouTube as a video hosting service to something more. Within six months, YouTube became a top 5 income source and he realized that it was possible to make more money on YouTube than on blogs.
He started posting content regularly by releasing one video a week. Now, he produces three. Still, he’s quick to point out that blogging isn’t dead. But for some people, it can be a real challenge to connect and reveal your personality through writing only. By using video, you can connect face-to-face with your audience and use visual branding to build your relationships.
YouTube’s reach makes sense for another reason, Hogue says. YouTube is the second largest search platform in the world. That makes YouTube–and YouTubers!–unique. Not only can you use YouTube to leverage your blog, you can use YouTube as an asset in its own right. With the right strategy, YouTube can be a powerful source of income and a vital part of your online strategy. To find out more about making YouTube part of your online presence, check out our podcast interview with John Sonmez.
How to Set Up a Channel
So you’re ready to give YouTube a shot. Where do you start when you’re first looking to establish a YouTube channel?
Hogue says it’s important to not get bogged down in the details. Get started and go from there. You can also watch popular channels and join a mastermind group for YouTubers. Even so, Hogue says your first videos are likely to be terrible. Don’t sweat it. That’s how it is for just about everyone.
But by making those first videos, you get in front of the camera and work on find your groove. That’s the only way to get better.
Most people can get started with everything they need for under $500. Hogue suggests using a DSLR camera versus a phone. Even though your videos will naturally get better over time, you do want to prioritize quality video and audio. He also suggests picking up a simple ringlight for $30 or less. You can also invest in more equipment as needs arise and as your channel starts to generate income. Find out more about how to start YouTube as a noob from our article interviewing other new finance YouTubers.
Consistent Video Content is Key
Eventually, you want to aim to create three videos a week. By putting out three videos a week, your audience has more content to explore, plus they know they can and should check your channel regularly and often.
This content creation task can seem daunting, but Hogue says that there is a way to make this content creation more manageable. Specifically, YouTubers need to make three kinds of videos:
- Content videos
- Interview videos
Each video serves a different purpose and requires a different level of time commitment.
Your content videos are like traditional blog posts–lists, how tos, or challenges. These require several hours of time to create because there is pre-production work, actual filming, and editing. Snag more content ideas for YouTube from our interview with Chelsea Fagan from The Financial Diet.
Instead of creating three content videos a week, YouTubes should try to incorporate an interview. That only requires the amount of time spent on the actual interview and some light editing afterward.
To round out the week, Hogue also suggests a livestream. That is an opportunity to connect with the audience and build community in a really raw format. The time commitment is minimal but the impact is huge in terms of relationship building.
The Model You Need for Affiliates and Sponsorships
So how do you make money on YouTube? Hogue says the best strategy to grow your YouTube income with sponsors and affiliates is to use a blended business model. A lot of blogging and content creation in general right now uses an amateur model of business. Anyone with access to the technology can create it. Nonetheless, Hogue says it’s important to be more deliberate than that.
By incorporating some old-school marketing techniques with the 21st century model, he says you’ll find a lot of success.
The secret is to make sure that your content captures a progression. You want to capture people at every stage of the journey, so the content you create should reflect that. Hogue recommends looking at these three stages:
- Initial awareness
- Steps along the way
- Levels of success
The content you create should control your audience’s journey through those stages with an email series or video series for guidance. Throughout the process, you reveal your expertise and audiences see you as a credible and trustworthy source. Eventually, you can embed your affiliate product or sponsorship. The key is to make it authentic and to continuously reveal to audiences how this is useful. Find out more about affiliates and ways to work with brands in our interview with Paula Pant.
Hogue says too often people think they can drop a link in once and be done. For actual conversions, you need to be more thoughtful than that. This blended business model can help you do exactly that.
Use Touch Points for Better Conversions
Hogue stresses that a single link isn’t going to turn people into believers. This is where content creators need to pull a page from old-school marketing techniques. YouTubers who want to make money on YouTube channels need multiple touch points. Think of the last time you watched TV with advertisements. You never see just one commercial for a product. Instead, you might see the same product advertised a handful of times in the span of a single episode. That brand is building awareness and pushing their product to top-of-mind with customers.
You can–and should!–apply this same strategy to your channel.
When talking with sponsors, you want to use their language. Mention how you will weave multiple touch points into a video series that supports the audience’s decision-making process. Sponsors should be eager to work with someone who already understands that one-off videos aren’t nearly as effective as something that can meet a big audience no matter where they are in their journey.
A Sample Personal Finance Video Series
Let’s walk through an example. Here’s a topic perfect for the many people producing content in the personal finance niche: student loan refinancing.
Using Hogue’s model, you want to create three videos–one to create awareness, another to pose possible solutions and alternatives, plus a third that is focused on a specific sponsor. Here’s how it looks:
- Video #1 – The first video will be broad and based on the topic of loan repayment and finance. Essentially, you want a video that will have a broad reach to bring in as many eyes as possible.
- Video #2 – Then, your second video is more focused and starts to offer possibilities and solutions. For instance, you might cover what people can do with the extra savings from a student loan refi.
- Video #3 – Finally, in the last video, you lead your audience to a sponsor that helps them take action on the problem.
The first video will likely see the highest amount of traffic. The third video, though, is what is going to yield the most conversions. As you’ve guided your audience through the student loan refinancing process, you’ve become a trusted resource to them. As a result, they are ready to take your word and work with your sponsor.
Tips for Working with Affiliates and Sponsors
If you are looking to build substantial affiliate or sponsorship relationships, you need metrics. Hogue says that many corporate marketers are looking for partners who can speak their language. That means numbers. Capturing metrics can be a challenge when you’re first starting out–or at least it might seem that way.
One way to gather the data you need is to create an affiliate video and share those results with other sponsors. By weaving in a Pretty Links or Bitly link, you will be able to get more information about audience engagement. You can use these sites to share views, click-thru rates, and conversions with potential sponsors. This gives them actual proof and reveals what a video or video series partnerships with you could be worth to them.
When you’re pitching your ideas to a sponsor, make sure to charge appropriately. If your goal is to create a video series, make sure that you charge for that. You also want to include the pre-production work, post-production work, and editing in your pricing. That might even mean asking for a base fee to cover some of the extra costs on top of affiliate commissions. Hogue has an Excel spreadsheet that he uses to track different partnerships. He also records other data like payments, conversions, and traffic. To see how another entrepreneur tracks her assignments and income, take a look at our interview with freelancer Miranda Marquit.
When to Start Monetizing Your YouTube Channel
As a YouTube noob, you might think that you have to really take time to establish yourself before pursuing any kind of income. Hogue says this is definitely not the case. In fact, he thinks you can actually start building relationships with affiliates and sponsors from the time you hit enter on your first video.
Of course, it takes time to foster lucrative sponsorships, but Hogue says YouTubers can actually think about monetization strategies and affiliate messaging from video one. The reason is twofold: YouTube is unpredictable and it’s important to have a plan.
Dealing with Unpredictable Viral Videos
Hogue says you really never know when a video is going to hit it big. Some of his favorite videos don’t get much traction, while he has others that have 200,000 or even half a million views. If you’re thinking about your brand and your monetization plan from video one, that piece is already built in if and when a video takes off. Read about other YouTube superstars and how they get views.
Planning Ahead Pays Off… Literally
Additionally, monetization doesn’t happen instantly. Hogue says that sometimes people will drop in a single link and wonder why they aren’t getting conversions. Other times, people will realize they’ve put in so much time and effort for months or years and want to monetize. The problem is that they’ve never thought through how they might go about doing that.
To combat this, Hogue suggests thinking of each video as potential for monetization. He also cautions that this needs to be done in an unobtrusive way. Viewers know how to spot spam. Instead, you might drop an affiliate link in the description box. You can also include genuine and helpful shout-outs to affiliates, tools, and resources that you use naturally as they come up in the context of your videos.
Down the road, you also want to think about developing a more formal affiliate campaign. Hogue says that for these campaigns to really be successful, it’s important to integrate video, emails, and lead magnets.
Monetize Your YouTube Channel with Subscribers
Even if you haven’t landed your dream brand partnership yet, you can still monetize your YouTube channel. In fact, affiliates and sponsorships are separate from the monetizing that comes directly from the channel.
The sheer fact alone that you have subscribers is enough to pull in income. Hogue sees about $3500 a month from YouTube ads, and he only uses before-video ads. He believes that audiences already tend to expect them, and they aren’t quite as intrusive as ads that appear throughout the video.
Take a multi-pronged approach when you set out to monetize your YouTube channel. That way, you are creating multiple streams of income through one asset with ads, affiliates, and sponsorships. Plus, you can push more traffic to your blog and also grow your email lists.
Boost Your Blog with YouTube
YouTube is another big commitment for content creators, but the payoff is considerable. Even when you are starting out with YouTube, you can use it as a traffic generator for your blog. Because of the type of relationship you can build with an audience on YouTube, that traffic that comes back to your blog is the best kind.
Hogue discovered quickly that YouTube became a top-five traffic source and that it produced some of his best traffic. These YouTube viewers became blog readers with the highest time on page and the lowest bound rates. Since he already had an opportunity to really build a face-to-face relationship with them via video, they looked at his blog as a trusted source. That means that they were willing to stick around, explore multiple posts, and interact with the blog content.
Related: 7 Ways to Make Money on Youtube
Final Thoughts on How to Grow Affiliates and Sponsorships on YouTube
Many of the most successful YouTubers have figured out how to grow affiliates and sponsorships on YouTube. Using the tips Hogue shared, you can actually lay the foundation for these partnerships from the moment you create your channel. Creating a variety of consistent videos weekly will have you building a dedicated following faster than you think.
What can you do today to make YouTube an asset for your brand?
To hear the full episode with Joseph Hogue, check out the latest episode of Money & Media podcast. Plus, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Alexa von Tobel, the Managing Partner of Inspired Capital Partners, Founder and former CEO of LearnVest, and New York Times- Bestselling Author of Financially Fearless.
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About Our Guests
Joseph Hogue worked as an equity analyst and an economist before realizing being rich is no substitute for being happy. He now runs four websites and a YouTube channel called Let’s Talk Money on beating debt, making more money and making your money work for you. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he now makes more money than he ever did at a 9-to-5 job and loves building his work from home business.
Plus a podcast exclusive interview with Alexa von Tobel
Alexa von Tobel is the Managing Partner of Inspired Capital Partners, a venture capital firm which she founded in 2019.
She is also the Founder and former CEO of LearnVest and the New York Times- Bestselling Author of Financially Fearless. Originally from Florida, Alexa went to Harvard College and Harvard Business School before launching LearnVest, seeking to redefine the American approach to personal finance. Utilizing its core planning technology, LearnVest matched clients with financial planners to create simple, affordable financial plans. The company was acquired by Northwestern Mutual (“NM”) in May 2015.
Alexa remained CEO of LearnVest while assuming a senior leadership role at NM as the company’s first Chief Digital Officer and Chief Innovation Officer. She also served as an Executive Officer, member of NM’s Operating Committee, and site leader of the company’s greatly-expanding NYC office. The companies continue to accelerate digital transformation at NM through the integration of LearnVest’s planning platform, digital tools, and personnel.
About Our Hosts
Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.
Bethany Bayless is a public speaker and emcee who co-hosts the podcast The Money Millhouse.