How Did I Make My First Passive Income?

How did it start

My first passive income came by surprise.

In my previous post, I wrote about how I started to dabble with video editing. Since I am a musician, I started to make music video of me playing the guitar on Youtube. Once I got married, I thought it was fun to start a weekly vlog to document our life together. So the vlog got me shooting video and editing them weekly.  I started to get comfortable shooting and editing videos.

Then one of my friend introduced me to an idea of making money on Youtube.  He is a dad and he was making videos reviewing all the toys he is buying for his kid.  He told me is making enough money to pay for toys he buy.  This really opened my eyes. I didn’t know if something like this was even possible.  I never knew anyone can make money doing product reviews in Youtube.  So I decided to try for myself.  I was already making videos weekly so I already had cameras and editing software to get it started.

What product to review

First thing I need to figure out is what product I was going to review.  I figured easiest way to do this is reviewing a product that I’ve already own and using.  Luckily enough, I just bought a new camera accessory to help with my weekly vlog.  It was Gorillapod for DSLR.  So it was good opportunity for me to make my first review video.

I didn’t jump into making review video right away.  I wanted to take some time to use the product and evaluate the product.  My goal is to make a really good review video which mean I really have to know the product.

My First Passive Income-01Overall, it was a great product but upon evaluating closely, I did find some problem with the product.  Gorillapod has two parts to it.  One is the actual Gorillapod and other is the Ballhead which sits on top of Gorillapod. But no matter how much I tighten it, it sits very loose. That wasn’t how it supposed to be.  So I decided to spend some time investigating it.  Good thing I did because I found a solution for it. At the end, I was able to tighten the Ballhead nicely on top of Gorillapod.  But most importantly, I thought this was good things to put it in the review video.  So when the someone has similar problem, they know how to fix it.

What to include in your review video

Before you make your review video, you want to take some time to think about what you are going to talk about in the video.  It is important to think about who is the audience is going to be.  The audience are those those are interested in purchasing the product.  So your job is help them decide if this is the product for them.  You need to think about some of the question that they have and answer them in the video.

Really good product review video should have all the components below:

  • Start the review video by doing unboxing.  People love to see what is inside the box.
  • Everyone wants to see how the product works.  If the product needs installation, it is good place to show them how to install the product.  Also show them how to use the product.
  • If there is a problem with the product, talk about it in the video.  If there is solution how to fix it, it’s even better.
  • If there are some useful tips and tricks about the product, talk about it, even better, show them.
  • Talk about what you really think about the product.  Don’t just try to sell the product because the viewers can see right through you.

About Amazon Affiliate program

You might say, how do you actually making money from the video?  You are making money through Amazon affiliate program.

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Those of you who doesn’t know anything about Amazon affiliate program, Amazon affiliate program is a great opportunity for you to make money.  When you sign up for Amazon affiliate program, they will give you a special link.

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These special link know who you are so when some one click on the link and buys a product from Amazon, you get a small commission.  The commission is between 4% to 10%.  Amazon commission is lowest of all the different affiliate programs out there but it sells better because everyone trusts Amazon and feels comfortable buying from them.

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Another benefit of Amazon affiliate program is that anyone can pretty much sign up for the program. Many of other affiliate programs out there require you to have a website in the similar niche and have some kind of traffic coming to your website already.  Another words, many affiliate programs out there aren’t easy to signup.

If you haven’t sign up for Amazon affiliate program, you can sign up here.  They will ask you for social security information from you for tax purposes, so they can pay you when you start selling products.

How to make money using Amazon

After you upload your video, you need to take some time to work on your description. You have to write good production description in the description section of your Youtube video.  Most importunately, first line of your video description should be your Amazon affiliate link for the product. This way, when the viewers scroll down to see the description, Amazon affiliate link is the first thing they see.  Make it easy for viewers to buy the product if they like the product. Also it is important that you talk about it in your video to look in the description to get more information about the product.  Encourage the viewers to look in the description to find more information about the product.

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YouTube SEO

In order to maximize your Amazon affiliate program, you need to get many views as possible. More people watch the video, more likely they will click on the link and buy the product.  In order to get more views, you need to be on first page of Youtube search.  This is what we called Youtube SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  If you get on the first page of Youtube search, you have so much better chance of getting more views. There are simple things you can do to increase your chance of your video being in first page of Youtube search.

I learned about Youtube SEO early on.  There are tones of free information out there if you look for them. Initially, I was pretty skeptical about it.  But I was surprise how easy it is to rank your video on first page.  It is definitively much easier then ranking your website in Google search engine.

Here are things I am doing on every video that I upload to Youtube to optimize the video for SEO.

  • Each video should have targeted keyword.  In review video, the targeted keyword is your product name plus review.  For example, when you review a Canon camera, your targeted keyword is “Canon Camera Review”.  This is what we called Primary Keyword.
  • Your title needs targeted keyword in it.
  • Write detail description much as possible in your description section.  Be sure to have your primary keyword is in your description. You need to write detail description with lots of words.  Because more words you have in your description, there are good chance that Youtube will find and rank other related targeted keywords for you automatically. More targeted keywords you have, more chance of being discovered by the viewers.
  • Fill in the tags in the tag section. In the tag section, I don’t just put random tag words there.  I use Google Keyword planner and get some ideas of other keywords that is related to the main keyword. Also Google Keyword planner tells you how much these keywords are being searched on Google.  So I use only the highly searched keywords. Since Google and Youtube are same company, you get the general idea of what keywords are popular.   If you don’t have Google Keyword Planner, you can signup for free.

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  • Create Close Caption for your video. This is optional. I know creating close caption file is lots of work but it will definitely helps.  Luckily, Youtube can generate the close caption for you, but they are not perfect, so you just have to go back and fix whatever is not right.

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  • Create playlist with other popular videos with same topic.  For example, if you make Canon camera review video, look for other popular Canon camera review video.  Put these video in your playlist along with your video.
  • After you upload your video, open multiple windows on your browser and start playing your video all the way through simultaneously. This will help you get it started.
  • Not sure how effective this is but it is something you can try.  Go to Pingler.com and ping your URL. This supposed to help you with Youtube SEO. It’s free service and it is done in few seconds.
  • Make sure you create a thumbnail of every video. Thumbnails have to be catchy and has title of your video.

Promoting your video

Promoting your video is probably the most important thing you can do for SEO. Unless you have millions subscribers to your channel, chances are, no one knows about your video you just uploaded.  It is your job to tell other about your video.

First thing you should do to promote your video is let your friends and family know about your video.  Let them help you promote your videos. Use email or social media to tell them about your video, and ask them to help promote it by telling others about it.

Telling your friends and family isn’t enough.  You need to tell the world about your video.  That is where social media comes in.  Social media is easiest way to promote your video all over the world.

Everyone should be using Twitter to promote your video.  If you are serious about your Youtube channel, you should create a Twitter account to just promote your Youtube channel. The reason why Twitter is best place to promote your video is because it is only social media where you can grow your followers easily.  I wrote an article on how to grow your Twitter followers while back.  It takes time to grow your Twitter followers but once you do, it is a great way to promote your video and your channel.

Everyone has Facebook account, and it is great way to tell your friends and family about your video.  Just create a Youtube link in your Facebook account.

There are many Facebook groups out there in many different topics.  Facebook group is great way to promote your video.  Your audience is already in the group.  Be sure to join the proper group relating to your video topic.

Another great way that I use to promote my Youtube video is through Google+ community. There are many different Google communities that are out there for you to join.  Just join the group that pertains to your topic and start promoting your videos there.  There is even communities for just promoting your videos and your channel.

There are other social medias you can use to promote your videos:

  1. Instagram is another great social media.  You can create small clip of your video and post it in your Instagram account.
  2. Reddit is very underused social media.  Reddit community is very big. It has many different communities you can join to promote your video.  Search the Reddit and see what kind communities are available for you to join. Even there is community where you can post your latest vlog.
  3. Pinterest is growing social media. It has over 70 million users. Pinterest’s audience is engaged and active. It is worth looking into.
  4. Snapchat is also growing social media where you can promote your video.
  5. Yelp works well if your video is about reviewing restaurant or some kind local business.

My passive income

Once I uploaded my first review video, I started to result right away.  Within day or two, my video got ranked in Youtube.  Within 2-3 months, I started to see increase in views.  It was almost like snowball effect.  As more people watch my video, higher I am getting in Youtube ranking.  Also other people starts to share my video in their social media which turns into more views.  At the same time, I started to see clicks on my Amazon affiliate link.  Next thing you know, I started to sell the product that I am reviewing. Not only that I am selling other products in Amazon and getting commission for it.  It is because when someone click on my Amazon affiliate link, the link will stay in their computer for 24 hr.  So anything else they buy within 24 hr, i’ll get credit for it.

I uploaded the video on Youtube on Nov 5, 2016. For that month of November, I got 14 clicks to from the video and I saw the result right away.  I sold one product for $2.12 commission. Interestingly enough, I didn’t sell the product I was reviewing in the video.  Most likely, the viewer click on my affiliate link but decided not to buy the product, but instead bought other product within 24 hrs.

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On Dec 14, 2015, I uploaded my second review video.

So I had two review videos working for me.  For month of December, I had 71 clicks, sold 2 products, and I made commission of $23.96.  As you can see, more expensive products you sell, higher the commission is.

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For the month of January 2016, my clicks continue to grow.  In January, I had 307 clicks from the two videos.  At the same time, I continue to see sales from unrelated products.

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Next month, on February, I finally sold the products that I was reviewing.  I continue get clicks, and this time, I sold 4 orders of the product I am selling.  I couldn’t believe myself.

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May is my best month so far.  I sold 23 different products through Amazon affiliate and sold product worth $1610.61.  The commission comes out to be $68.31.  I couldn’t believe myself.  I continue to make money passively every month.  Some months are good, some months are not so good.  But one thing is certain.  I continue to get clicks to the Amazon affiliate link and money continues to come in.

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Once I start seeing these numbers, I was encourage to continue to make more videos.  But be aware, not every video is going to do well.  There are so many factors that is involved.  First, there has to be a demand for the product you are reviewing.  If nobody wants the product, you are not going to sell much.  Second, if the product is too popular, there will be many other videos who are trying to do the same, so it would be very difficult to compete with them.  Third, the video has to be very good and helpful to the buyers.  The buyers are smart.  They know what they are looking for.  If your video is a crap and there to make money, they will skip over you right away.

Sponsoring a product

Once your review videos do well in Youtube, there is good chance that other companies will contact you to help promote their products. After little over 6 months after I created my first review video, I’ve been contacted by two companies to help review their product.  One company is Zuckerim based in Tel Aviv, Israel. They are start-up company who is making new kind of portable tripod for GoPro and other small cameras.  Second company that contacted me was Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery.  They said me if I make a review video promoting Photo Recovery software, they gave me free copy of the software to evaluate.

I know, this isn’t much, but I was really surprised how soon I got contacted by companies to promote their products.  I saw so many potential for making money from Youtube and getting many free stuffs.  It was very encouraging.

What’s my plan for the future

So you can making money by making review videos.  This is completely passive income.  Once you make your videos and upload to Youtube, it will continue to make money for you without you doing anything.  So I started to make more review videos.  Everything that I buy, I made review video of the product.

But later online I realized that Amazon isn’t the only affiliate program out there. There are so many other affiliate programs.  Click Bank is one good example.  They specialize in digital products such as ebooks or online lessons.  So I started to look into promoting products outside of Amazon affiliate program. One of the huge benefit of promoting product from Click Bank is their commission rate.  They pay up to 75% commission.  But the down side is that it is bit hard to sell then Amazon since it is not well know by the public.

Also I am thinking about purchasing a popular product to review and returning it after when I am done reviewing it.  Good place to start is checking products from Costco.  Costco has very good return policy.  Even their electronic products, they have 90-days return policy which is enough time to evaluate and make review video.

Go make your own review videos

So making money doing review video works if you do it the right away.  I hope this post encourage you to try it for yourself and start making your passive income. Good luck!

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