How To Monetize YouTube Videos Without AdSense (Add Annotations And Descriptions With Affiliate Links Instead)

For those of us who don’t want to spam our Youtube viewers with advertisements, there are better alternatives out there.

The easiest way is to recommend products (mentioned in your video) using affiliate links. When someone purchases a product through your affiliate link, you get a commission from the sale. You’re basically promoting someone else’s product for a commission. I make $1,000/month doing this and it’s my second largest source of income next to SEO consulting.

Through these affiliate links you can start monetizing Youtube videos without AdSense or Partnerships. It’s more personalized, less intrusive, and you probably won’t get any “thumbs down” votes since you are hopefully recommending product(s) that help solve a problem.

Here is a video I made with affiliate links:

Youtube Affiliate Marketing

When people click my MaxCDN affiliate link (either in the Youtube annotation or video description), I get a commission from the sale. Below you will find instructions to do this…


Add Affiliate Links To YouTube Videos

Step 1 – Add Associated Website To Your Youtube Channel
Sign into YouTube and go to “Creator Studio.” Now go to Channel –> Status And Features –> External Annotations. Add your website and go through the verification process. You may need to add your website to Google Search Console. Now go to the “Advanced” tab under Channel and add your website as an Associated Website. Full instructions are found here.

Youtube Associated Website


Step 2 – Get Your Affiliate Links
You will first need to learn which products/merchants are best to refer your audience too. Most websites have an “Affiliates” tab at the top or bottom of their website where you can sign up. You can also Google “_____ affiliate program” to see it it shows up here. There are many affiliate hubs which have thousands of products/merchants. Try out Amazon, ShareASale, or CJ. Once signed up and approved, you can start creating your affiliate links:

Affiliate Link


Step 3 – Cloak Your Affiliate Links
Cloaking affiliate links means you’re pointing people to a URL on your website, but it redirects somewhere else. For example, this cloaked affiliate link points to /go/maxcdn but it redirects to the MaxCDN website. You must do this because YouTube video annotations only allow you to use URLs for YOUR associated website – cloaking them is what allows you to redirect them to the affiliate link!

If you’re running WordPress, I use a plugin called Thirsty Affiliates to cloak, manage, and track my affiliate links (you have to pay Thirsty Affiliates for their add-ons if you want extra features). The free version is still good… just install the plugin and find the “Affiliate Links” tab on the left of your dashboard. Add the link name and destination URL, save it, then copy the cloaked version of the URL so you can add it to your YouTube video annotations.

Cloaked Affiliate Link


Step 4 – Add Affiliate Links To YouTube Videos
Edit the YouTube video you want to add affiliate link(s) to. Click the Annotations tab and “Add Annotation.” Fill out the required info including the time you want that annotation to appear (obviously it should be when you recommend the affiliate product). Near the bottom, add your cloaked affiliate link. Apply changes, then watch the video and test your link.

You can also add affiliate links to your YouTube video description. These don’t need to be cloaked, but I like to use a URL shortern like Bitly to make the link look prettier/shorter.

Add Affiliate Links To YouTube Videos


You’re Done, Now Go Create More YouTube Videos

Planning videos can help you use affiliate links and annotations more effectively, but go ahead and add them (where appropriate) to your existing videos. Tutorial videos are great for affiliate marketing because people are looking for a solution – which can often be solved with a product. Take a look at some examples to get ideas for your next YouTube video…

Q: How do you connect a Macbook to multiple monitors?
A: Buy an HDMI adapter (link to an Amazon product)

Q: How do you make your website load faster?
A: Buy faster hosting (most hosting companies having an affiliate program)

Q: What is the best tv for a conference room?
A: I don’t know, but I bet you can find it on Amazon!

Review videos are also common. Now that you know how to monetize YouTube videos without AdSense or other spammy methods, go ahead and start doing some video affiliate marketing. It can be more lucrative and people won’t hate you for spamming them with ads! Just be sure you are following Youtube’s video guidelines

If you have a question about YouTube video monetization or affiliate marketing, drop me a line. I’m glad to help. And if you found this tutorial helpful, please consider giving it a share.

Tom Signature

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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