One of the great things about YouTube, both as a source of revenue and as a creative outlet, is that there are so many ways to be successful.
There are wildly successful YouTubers in just about every niche and making just about every kind of content there is. From gaming videos that are pure gameplay—no commentary—to in-depth guides on how to make an amazing home cooked meal. If you want to get a feel for what it is like to camp out in the wilderness with nothing but a knife, there’s content for that.
Want to see someone attempt to build a real-life Iron Man suit? There’s a video out there for you.
This wealth of variety is a two-way street, of course. Not only does it mean that you can find just about any kind of content you want, it also means you can make just about any kind of content you want, and reviewing products is one such type of content that can be both creatively fulfilling and financially successful.
What Are YouTube Product Reviews?
Product reviews on YouTube can cover everything from a “Top 10 Moustache Trimmers” list video to an in-depth review of a cryptocurrency marketplace.
The format can vary significantly, also.
When you think of YouTube reviews, you tend to think of videos where the YouTuber lays out the details of the product, perhaps talks about the kind of use cases you would want it for, and maybe even compares it to similar products. In reality, review videos can be ridiculously over the top or unconventional.
They can even be subtle in the sense that it is not immediately obvious that the video is a review, but nevertheless gives the viewer all the information that a review would give.
Many YouTubers have found themselves becoming unintentional product reviewers as an organic result of their channel’s subject matter. For example, there is a strong niche around camping on YouTube, and many camping YouTubers have found themselves spending whole videos talking about the gear they use after being asked repeatedly by their viewers to do so. The same can be said for musician YouTubers and their gear, and any number of other niches where product reviews were never the main purpose of the channel.
There is a limit to this, of course. For example, the “Will it Blend?” format of days gone by, where various products were thrown into a blender to see if they would blend, doesn’t really tell the viewer much about the product’s capabilities beyond being blended (though it was an effective marketing campaign for the blender itself).
As a general rule, a product review video should tell the viewer any important information they might want to know about the product—such as specifications—give the viewers some basis of comparison so that those less informed about the type of product are not left behind, and, usually, give some kind of subjective opinion. If we were to apply these basics to a video of a new mobile phone, you might include the following key sections;
- The technical specifications of the phone
- How those specifications stack up next to a similarly-priced phone
- Your recommendations—who is the phone good for? Is it worth the money?
As we mentioned above, the actual presentation in which you get this information across is entirely up to you, and there is a lot of scope for creativity there.
How to Make Money on YouTube Reviewing Products
So, to the crux of the post; how to make money on YouTube reviewing products. Like the content of the videos themselves, there are many ways to monetise your product reviews.
We’re going to cover the main ones, but before we do, let’s go over some ground rules that apply to all the below.
Firstly, content is king. It sounds cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. All the tricks in the world will only get you temporary success (if any) if the underlying content isn’t up to scratch.
However you decide to approach your product review videos, you should do your best to make sure the content is the highest quality you can achieve, both in terms of the contents and the literal quality of the video.
The next universal thing you do is be honest with your viewers when making sponsored content.
This applies to YouTubers of all stripes, but even more so when we’re talking about YouTubers who review products. If you have been paid to do a particular review, regardless of whether the review is 100% honest and not flattering at all for the product, even if all the company did was send you a free product to do the review with and aren’t actually paying you, you need to tell your viewers.
It might put some people off, but not nearly as many people as it will put off if they find out you have been getting paid to review products and not been up front about it. In some situations, this can also get you in legal trouble.
Finally, as we touched on above, make sure you give the viewers the information they came for.
There is nothing wrong with making content where you throw an iPhone in a blender or drop a laptop from water tower to see if it still works after, but if you want people to come to your channel for product reviews, you need to give them the important information somehow.
A Basic Product Review Channel
With a basic review channel, you would be monetising your videos through the YouTube Partner Programme, earning revenue from the ads displayed on your videos. In terms of a pure views-to-revenue conversion, this isn’t the most effective way to monetise your content, but it is the easiest.
Your channel will need to meet certain criteria to be allowed into the YouTube Partner Programme, such as having at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours combined watch time across the whole channel over the last year, as well as some other criteria.
Relying solely on the YouTube Partner Programme will limit what you can review. For example, if you are reviewing fire arms, you probably aren’t going to be able to monetise that content using YouTube’s monetisation programme.
The same goes for things like tobacco products, adult toys, and host of other things that advertisers aren’t necessarily keen on their ads being displayed next to.
The natural next step to monetising product reviews is affiliate linking. There is a multitude of affiliate networks out there; some may cover purely electronic goods, others may focus on healthcare products, for the purposes of this example, we are going to focus on by far the most commonly used affiliate programme; Amazon Affiliates.
Amazon Affiliates enables users to get a special link to Amazon products and pages that they can give to their viewers, and any time someone buys a product through one of those links, the affiliate gets a little cut of the profit. The price is exactly the same to the consumer, but some of the money is redirected back to the affiliate who shared the link.
This system works very well for product reviewers who are reviewing things you can buy on Amazon, since almost anything on the site can earn you affiliate revenue, and the mechanism by which you earn is quite organic. You review the product as if you would, and you casually mention that there will be links to the products in the description (while being honest about the fact that they are affiliate links, of course).
First Looks and Exclusives
This is a little more indirect, but if you can build up a good enough reputation, you can get your foot in the door for first looks and exclusive content.
You may not get paid directly for these, but having a first or exclusive look at a highly anticipated product can do wonders for your channel’s prestige, boosting your viewing figures and increasing your earning potential from the other methods of monetising your content.
If you do manage to get these kinds of exclusives, it is important that you abide by any non-disclosure agreements and other restrictions placed on your content as part of the deal.
Not only are you opening yourself up to legal problems if you don’t, you are pretty much guaranteeing you won’t get those offers again.
Product review videos are an excellent way to earn money through YouTube, in no small part because a love of the subject matter is not necessary for success (though some expertise is necessary). Honesty is perhaps more important than usual in for reviewers, however, since the risk of being caught lying is substantial. If it gets out that you are being dishonest in your reviews, you can essentially kiss goodbye to any hope of making money with product reviews on YouTube.
And, like all types of content on YouTube, the better the quality, the better your chances of success. Great quality videos aren’t guaranteed to succeed, but poor quality content is almost always guaranteed to fail eventually.