How to Make Money Doing Reviews on YouTube

Doing reviews on YouTube seems to be one of the quickest ways to making money on the platform.  By uploading reviews you are easily getting on to the radar of PR for companies that have Google Alerts turned on for products within their category, and reviews are LITERALLY advertising for vendors.  Doing cheap advertising to a vendors target demographic is a way to make friends fast in the industry.

When deciding to do “reviews” you have to decide whether you actually want to “review” products.  Why the quotation marks you ask?  Because you can show off products on YouTube in ways that are not specifically reviews.  When you do a review you have to end up saying what your opinion of the product is, and by doing that you put your reputation on the line and have more to worry about with FTC compliance. On the other hand you can also do Unboxing, or simple demo’s of products.  “This is what it is, this is how much it costs, this is why you might want it, and here’s how to buy one… What do I think about the product..?   You’re right a bit of coffee would be good right about now….”

A real issue I ran into on YouTube since I’m a tech professional (Got my gold stars, blue ribbons and everything) is that when I did reviews… I had to actually do a review… There are many companies that came to regret the day they shipped me product. The problem is that my reputation comes before all.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t talk up a crap product, or a product with an overly high price point, etc.  I ended up making a large number of enemies in PR for basically doing what they asked me to do. (Welcome to the reality of being a content creator.  Do what you were specifically asked and be hated for it.)

In this game the more people that like you the better.  PR folks don’t care about nuance, and how a bad review can actually drive sales.  PR people DEMAND cotton candy and fairy dust out of the people they ship product to.  By not doing “reviews” its much easier to simply side step the whole “crap product” problem.  In fairness at this point there are enough reviews from CNet, Amazon, etc that by dodging actual reviews you are not leaving your viewers high and dry.  There are other places they can go.

Now that you are ready to ask for demo items from vendors the question is n ow how you’ll make money off of the reviews.  YouTube Ad Revenue is based of of CPM, and especially as an new channel your CPM is going to be low.  At $2 CPM it will take 50K views to hit $100, and that’s a hard way to pay the rent.

The first way people think of making money off of Reviews/ Unboxing is to just ask for payment from the vendor. Many vendors will think nothing of $100 for a review, and can easily go to $500 without a lot of issues.  I would say to stay away from this.  As soon as you take payment you open yourself up to a lot of issues.  First you have the FTC looking ever closer at these kinds of deals.  Then simply by receiving payment your demeanor will change on screen. It’s just harder to be snarky when someone has written you a check, and you’d really like a few more.  Your viewers will feel this when watching your content and it’s a huge turn off.  The final reason goes back to the PR folks.  (Have I told you how much I loath PR folks?) Once PR folks have written you a check they feel entitled to tell you what to do.  An easy $100 to take a couple of hours to shoot a video all of a sudden requires approvals, and reshoots, and comments about whether this or that is appropriate. PR people generally don’t know what they want, they just want something else, and by god they paid you money so jump. My recommendation is to stay away from these deals.

Past this the easiest way to make money from reviews is to simply sell the reviewed item.  Once you’re done put it on Craigslist, Ebay or just tell your friends.  $100 items are throwaway items from most vendors so you can sell the products at a 50% markdown and still make good money.  Beyond that many vendors send far more valuable products.  In my experience NAS vendors give out servers the way I’d give out business cards. I had a pile of $1000+ NAS servers at one point. Selling those for a 25% markdown will pay many people’s rent for the month.  Companies have already budgeted to give away a certain number of these units.  It’s already spent money for them so you just have to smile, play nice, and basically not do what I did and you can make good money reselling demo items.

Beyond that you can do the Affiliate Programs.  Amazon offers good commissions for sales and is easy to setup.  Simply tell viewers to click on the link in the description and you get paid if they buy.  This can work tremendously well, and I’ve seen the metrics for creators who do this.  The only issue for new creators is that this is still a numbers game.  If you make 10% off of a $100 sale and 1 out of every 10,000 viewers buy the item then you’re making a $1 CPM for the video. At that rate it would take  100,000 views to earn $100.  Add in what you’ve made from YouTube Ad Revenue and what you’ll earn reselling the item and this can be decent money, but you should not expect to make much until you have a lot of views.

The final way to earn money off of reviews and unboxings is to try to be a reseller yourself.  If you know your viewers are willing to spend $100 for an item, and you can get it for $30 then you have a profit margin that you can start thinking about buying a house with.  This requires you to be serious about selling, and has a real risk potential.  The way to can buy $100 items for $30 is by buying them 100 at a time. If you can sell all 100 you walk away with $7000, but if no one is interested in the product you lose $3000. You also have to worry about customer service issues, fraud, defects, etc.

These are some of the ways you can earn money fro doing reviews and unboxings.  Be careful not to seem like you’ve “sold out” to your viewers, and be careful not to piss off the PR folks. You need both sides to make this work, but the good part is that if you find a neutral way to talk about products you can make both sides happy relatively easily.  Make sure to say in the video itself that the item has been given to you by the vendor, and make sure to write something about this in the description.

When you start paying attention to YouTube content you’ll notice stark trends with the videos being created by the successful creators. A huge number of the successful “tech” channels are simply unboxing channels and there’s a very good reason why.


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