Making Money on YouTube as an Influencer and Affiliate – An Interview with Apple Crider
- Last Updated: December 12, 2023
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If you are looking to make money on YouTube as an affiliate, keep reading to learn about some important tips for managing brand partnerships.
No matter how big or small your YouTube channel is, one common challenge faced by content creators is landing brand sponsorship deals. With all the options available between flat fee ads, ongoing affiliate links and no industry standards for rates, a lot of negotiating and relationship management is typically required for every brand deal you make.
That’s where experts like Apple Crider can help. Apple is the founder of Solidate, an agency that helps financial YouTube influencers manage their brand partnerships and negotiate fair agreements, so that they can focus more on producing video content. Leveraging the skills he learned from rapidly growing his Instagram page to 100,000 followers in a short time, Apple first set his sights on the niche of financial literacy in 2016, producing content for top financial influencers Graham Steph, Ryan Scribner and Financial Education.
Today his company Solidate manages brand deals for over 30 of the largest finance YouTubers. Here’s what Apple has to say about being a financial influencer on YouTube and how aspiring influencers can set themselves up for success.
Elise: When you first started, did you have to work for exposure before you were paid?
When I initially approached [Graham Steph, Ryan Scribner and Financial Education], I told them that I could produce some great Instagram content for them for free to help them grow their following to the same level they had on their YouTube channels. Two of them ended up hiring me and that became my first gig working with influencers. So I started out for free but proved myself quickly and then started making money from a couple of them.
Elise: So how do YouTubers know where that turning point is where they might have started doing things for free, but now they want to start getting paid?
That’s a great question. I am very much a numbers focused person and so I really like to rely on data. If I’ve been getting a company free promotion for a period of time, I need to have tracking for that. The biggest tip I have is to set up custom tracking links for everything you do so that when you approach a brand about a paid partnership, you have something to show them. Once you have valuable numbers to show a brand, you can start negotiating paid opportunities. In my experience, I find that companies are willing to work with creators that that can prove that they can send traffic towards their company. If you can show them the quality of content you’re putting out alongside the data, they’ll be more confident when bringing you on as a paid affiliate.
Elise: That makes a lot of sense, especially with what I see in managing our brands, too, where I can say, “Look, this publisher was able to get this number of quality leads,” and the numbers speak for themselves.
Elise: A lot influencers just starting out are considering flat-fee ads as a paid opportunity. What types do you suggest?
In general, there are three main buckets that I think about when putting together proposals for brands: a standard integration, a semi-dedicated video, or a dedicated video.
- Standard integration – A standard integration is your typical cutaway to an advertisement that’s not intertwined with your video’s topic, but gets the message across about the brand. You may say a thank-you to the sponsor for the video that outlines the product service, and then return to the rest of the video. This is a good place to start.
- Semi-dedicated video – With a semi dedicated video, the brand is more intertwined into your video’s storyline. For example, if you’re talking about how to research stocks and a brand you’re partnering with is a stock research app, you can integrate that into your content. You can refer to the app multiple times and show it in action in a way that’s still going to appeal to your audience.
- Dedicated video – A dedicated video is one that focuses solely on the product/service of the brand you are working with. This is going to be a review, product walkthrough or something where you’re exclusively using the product and showing how it works. These tend to be the most expensive for brands because they require more effort and planning from the affiliate.
Elise: I know that a lot of influencers struggle with determining rates for these flat fee tactics. How can they make sure they land on a rate that’s fair for everyone?
One of the biggest reasons influencers struggle with this is because they tend to undersell themselves. They have the mindset of “I’m already doing something that I love, it is just a bonus that I am getting paid to do it”. The problem with this is it can impact the industry on a larger scale. If you sell yourself short, then brands will have unrealistic expectations about influencer partnerships. Talk to your network and ask them what they are doing. While you can’t always discuss exact numbers, it’s still possible to chat with people to make sure what you’re charging is fair. Also, make sure that you’re factoring in all of the time and effort you’ve put into building up your platform. A brand can’t buy the trust that you have with your audience. Your reputation with your audience is a huge asset to a brand. And be willing to negotiate and ask for what you deserve. In most cases, brands are willing to negotiate with you rather than just walking away from the opportunity.
Elise: We’ve talked a lot about flat fee sponsorships, but what about affiliate marketing in YouTube? Do you recommend influencers use it in their YouTube channels?
Yes, because success can be found in long-term partnerships. A lot of creators that I work with want to work with brands on a long-term basis because every time they bring on a new brand, they are putting their reputation on the line and there is greater risk. However, if they can find 2-3 great companies that they work with as an affiliate on a recurring basis, it guarantees a paid opportunity and builds trust between the creator and their audience. It’s also best from the brand’s perspective because they can continue to work with an affiliate that they know will effectively represent their brand.
Elise: What is one tip that you would give to influencers who are struggling to break into YouTube?
As you develop your niche, you can figure out what works and put your own spin on it. If you try reinventing the wheel, you’re just making like way harder for you than it needs to be. Look at what works for others and find a way to create that in your own authentic way.
Want to scale your YouTube brand partnerships?
Are you a content creator that’s looking for long-term opportunities with the biggest brands in financial services? Contact us and we would be happy to get you started.