How to Sell Using YouTube: A Beginner-Friendly Guide

20 min read

One billion hours.

That’s the total amount of time people spend watching videos on YouTube every day. It is also the second most popular social network in the world, and a common search destination for almost any topic.

For businesses, this means big opportunities. YouTube is a powerful medium for both branding and generating traffic. Countless entrepreneurs have leveraged the platform to grow sales—and you can too!

Want to learn how to sell on YouTube? In this post, we’ll dive deep into promoting a fledgling YouTube business channel. You’ll learn what you need to make videos, and how to sell products through YouTube itself.

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What You Need to Sell on YouTube

If you’re wondering: “Can I sell on YouTube?”, we’re here to answer your questions and be your personal YouTube cheerleader! A YouTube channel can be an excellent way to drive traffic to your online store. However, you do need some budgeting (both time and money) to get started.

To start selling on YouTube, you need three things:

A Video Recording Setup

YouTube is a video platform, so you’ll need a video recording setup to get started. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, you can create professional quality videos on a budget. However, your video recording kit should definitely include:

  • A camera: Pick something that can shoot at least 720p, though 1080p is recommended.
  • A microphone: A good microphone will have a huge impact on your video quality. Choose a USB microphone for doing voice overs. If you have a camcorder, buy a shotgun mic from Takstar or Rode for enhanced sound quality.
  • A tripod: Unless you’re using the webcam, you’ll need a tripod to stabilize your video.
  • Lighting: Conventional overhead light casts shadows and aren’t really the best for YouTube videos. Invest in a simple lighting setup to make your videos look more professional (check out a “ring light” setup if you don’t know where to start).
  • Video editing software: You likely won’t need any extensive editing tools for simple videos. If you’ve never worked with video before, check out simple software platforms like Movie Maker 10 (Windows) or iMovie (Mac). When you want to upgrade your video editing skills, you can swap them out for Movavi Video Suite or Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
  • Backdrop: This one is optional. Add some character to your videos by curating and changing up the background. A seamless sheet of colored paper works well, but if you want to take it a step further, you can get a photography background support stand and colored fabric to match your channel’s overall branding.

A Website or Landing Page

This one might be obvious—you need a website to link in your videos. This can be a landing page, a blog, or ideally, a product page in your Ecwid store.

Depending on your marketing strategy, you can also link out to your profiles on other social networks such Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok.

The best option is to use a dedicated page for each video. For example, if you sell travel accessories and post a video on “how to pack your bags like a pro”, it should link to product pages of the items mentioned in the video.

Learn more: How to Build an Ecommerce Website: The Easiest Way That Requires No Experience

A Willingness to Help

It might sound counter-intuitive, but to truly sell on YouTube, you must abandon all expectations of actually selling products to the people who watch your videos. Instead, you must strive to help your viewers by offering them valuable advice. Hard sales tactics almost never work on YouTube; generous advice and entertainment does.

Learn more: YouTube for Ecommerce: How to Sell Without Selling

Once you have these three requirements, you can jump right in and start making your own videos.

Don’t know what to sell on YouTube? Check out our article on the subject:
How To Find Trending Products To Sell Online

Three-Step Guide to Selling on YouTube

The process of selling on YouTube can be broken down into three steps: creating videos, getting traffic, and promoting your channel.

Let’s look at these three steps in further detail.

Step 1: Create Videos

You can’t really market yourself on YouTube without making your own videos. This can sound like a daunting task, especially if you’re not really comfortable being in front of the camera. However, once you have a decent recording setup (see above) and some ideas, you’ll find that making videos is easier than you thought it would be.

What kind of videos you should make will depend entirely on your product. Here are some video ideas you can try:

Answer common questions
Your customers will likely have a number of questions about your product (or general product niche), both before and after the sale. Make a list of these questions and answer them in a video to make your YouTube ecommerce strategy more effective. You can also monitor customers’ questions on social media and include a video in your replies to them. Think of these as a video version of your FAQs.

LaNesha Tabb walks viewers through a resource she created

Show the manufacturing process
“Behind the scenes” videos tend to do really well on YouTube, especially when it comes to branding. If you make your own product, it’s a good idea to show off the manufacturing process in detail. This will reassure customers of your product’s quality and give viewers a glimpse into your behind the scenes business culture.

Create topical content for your industry
“Behind the scenes” and Q&A videos have limited audience potential. Industry-focused content, however, can reach a much larger viewership. These videos should aim to help viewers understand problems that are common in your niche and find solutions. It can also focus on entertaining them with trivia, facts, and other tidbits of knowledge that you might have as an expert in the field.

For example: if you sell travel accessories, you can make videos on how to pack your bags more efficiently, or share a list of top things to pack for specific destinations.

Kent Rollins shares cooking tips on his channel about cooking outdoors

Feature user stories
How do actual customers use your products? Interviewing users and sharing their stories can be a great source of video content.

Get in touch with frequent customers and ask if you can feature them on your channel. Many will be excited by the opportunity (especially if you offer to promote their business/blog in the video). Either ask them to come into your studio, or interview them in their home/office. This is a great branding tool and also works well as a customer testimonial. This type of content is the backbone of YouTube ecommerce-based content.

Share reviews made by others
Your YouTube channel shouldn’t be limited to your own video content. It can also share and promote content made by others, particularly video reviews made by influencers. You can usually find such reviews by searching for your product’s name on YouTube.

Asking influencers if you can feature their review on your channel is another way of selling on YouTube. Most will be happy to see their content promoted across the internet, as some of them are likely trying to promote their own brands and sell on YouTube themselves.

Engage your audience with YouTube Shorts
If you are interested in internet culture, and hoping to make your product go viral, you can make short, catchy videos for YouTube Shorts. These are short-form (up to 60 second) vertical videos you can record with your phone right in the YouTube app.

There are several in-app tools for creating Shorts. For example: you can add music from a library of tracks, change video speed, add filters and captions.

Shorts are great for:

  • Sharing simple tips and lifehacks
  • Shooting comedic videos
  • Any content that can be distilled into a few quick steps or data points.

Say you have a cooking blog where you sell your recipe books. Use Shorts to share simple recipes and let viewers know where they can find similar recipes.

Share updates in YouTube Stories
YouTube Shorts isn’t the only short-form content on YouTube–there are also YouTube Stories. These are a collection of short videos that users can watch on the mobile app.

Unlike Shorts (that remain on your channel), Stories will disappear after seven days. They are ephemeral and are best used for sharing updates and connecting with your audience in a casual way. Use Stories to announce a new product launch or give a quick overview of some hot industry news.

Step 2: Get Traffic to Your Site

The next step after making a video is to direct video traffic to your site or landing page.

Fortunately, YouTube offers multiple ways to let users interact with your video content. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Add links to video descriptions
If you want to learn how to sell things on YouTube, you need to get the hang of writing effective video descriptions.

YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world: people search a vast majority of topics there when they are looking to learn something, choosing a product, or scoping out entertainment. Writing unique and detailed descriptions with relevant keywords is vital because it helps viewers find your videos more easily through YouTube search.

CakeSafe links to their store to their YouTube video descriptions

Each video description can be up to 5,000 characters long. Descriptions should include multiple links to your landing page, along with an actual description of the video. Make sure to use keywords here (don’t overuse them) to get SEO benefits as well.

To find relevant keywords, use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner. Include the most important keywords in the beginning of your description. Also, feature one or two main keywords that describe your video’s content in both your description and title.

Use interactive cards
Cards are interactive elements that can be inserted into a video to do different things—show off your products or website, or link to another video.

There are different types of cards that you can use in your YouTube video:

  • Video cards to link to a YouTube video (you can add cards only to public videos). You can promote your other videos with this card or feature videos of other creators.
  • Playlist cards to a YouTube playlist (only public playlists can be added).
  • Channel cards to link to a YouTube channel. Those are helpful if you partner with some other channel or want to recommend related content to your viewers.
  • Link cards to link to an external website. Those are a go-to option for online store owners, as you can link to your store homepage or product pages. If you have a blog, you can link to that too.

Check out Google’s help section to learn how to use cards.

An example of using cards to direct viewers to an online store

Add end screens
End screens are overlays that sit at the end of your YouTube video and encourage your viewers to take action after they watch your video.

End screens can be added to the last 5–20 seconds of a video. They are often used to promote other videos on your channel or encourage viewers to subscribe. As an online seller, you can use end screens to direct people to your online store or product pages.

Here’s how to add end screens to your YouTube videos.

One of the end screens directs viewers to the store

Pro Tip: End screens are a perfect way to spotlight your merchandise and link to it. Learn how to make your branded products and how to sell merch on YouTube and other platforms.

Step 3: Marketing Your YouTube Videos

Once you’ve made your videos and uploaded them to YouTube, it’s time to promote your channel.

Depending on your existing marketing skills, this might be the easiest, or the toughest part of selling on YouTube. Let’s look at some tactics you can employ anytime, regardless of your baseline skill set:

Engage with the community
YouTube comments can often be a great source of viewers. Engaging with your community and answering their questions will go a long way in promoting your brand.

Try to answer comments made on not just your own videos, but also videos on similar topics made by other creators.

For example, if you sell fitness accessories, find videos on fitness and diet related topics and respond to comments on them.

Don’t push your products aggressively. Instead, drop hints that the commenter can learn more about the topic on your channel. Remember: your first task is to be helpful. Sales come through enthusiastic organic engagement!

Invest in YouTube SEO
As we’ve already mentioned before, YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. YouTube videos also show up in Google searches.

YouTube SEO is a different topic altogether, but for a quick crash course, here are some tips:

  • Make videos on “video keywords”. These are keywords that have a large number of video results in Google (at least 2+), which lead to more sales.
    Use these keywords in your video title. Also make sure to name your video file using keywords. For example, if your video is on “how to sell on YouTube”, the file name and title could be “how-sell-youtube.mp4” and “How to Sell on YouTube — A Step by Step Guide” respectively.
  • Use SEO-optimized descriptions. The short and long description below your video have a big impact on SEO. Google uses these descriptions to understand what your video is all about. Make sure to add at least 200+ words of keyword-rich content describing the video in this section.
  • Take a look at the YouTube ranking factors to better understand what affects your video rankings. For the most part, it is a combination of the quality of your content (higher engagement = better rankings), your channel authority, and video SEO.

Promote outside YouTube
Embedding your content on other platforms (a blog, other social platforms, etc.) is another great way to develop YouTube as an ecommerce tool.

Some strategies you can use to do this:

  • If your content is newsworthy, contact industry blogs and news outlets and ask them to share your video.
  • Share your video on niche community forums and websites such as Reddit, as well as relevant Facebook groups.
  • Share your YouTube channel link on product invoices and packaging.

Promote within YouTube
While you’re busy promoting your videos on other platforms, don’t forget to market yourself on YouTube as well.

Here are some strategies you can use:

  • Create SEO-optimized playlists. These often show up in the “Related Videos” pane and can get your additional views.
  • Make a short clip where you encourage people to subscribe to your channel. Insert this clip at the end of every video with an annotation pointing to the subscribe button.
  • Brand your channel. Use a brand image in your channel header and fill up the “About” section with information about your brand. Use consistent colors, logos and messaging in each video.

If you do all of the above, you’ll find that getting traffic to your YouTube videos is not only easy, but also fun.

Run YouTube Ads
Now you know that the answer to “Can you sell stuff on YouTube?” is yes!

However, the steps listed above are great for long-term results. If you’d like to grow your channel faster, consider running paid ads.

In Google Ads, you can create video campaigns to engage customers on YouTube:

  • Skippable in-stream ads: they appear before, during, or after other videos on YouTube. Viewers can skip these ads after 5 seconds.
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads: up to 15 seconds videos that appear before, during, or after other videos on YouTube. Viewers can’t skip those ads.
  • Video discovery ads: these ads are displayed where viewers can discover them–next to related YouTube videos, as part of a YouTube search result, or on the YouTube mobile homepage.
  • Bumper ads: up to 6 seconds clips that play before, during, or after another video. Viewers can’t skip these ads.

Learn More about Selling on YouTube

Successfully selling on YouTube is a long-term process. Instead of looking for overnight success, focus your efforts on building an audience through consistent work and using YouTube as one of many channels for promoting your business.

Your main goal should be helping people (or entertaining them) with your content. By building up brand authority and authenticity with your audience, you’ll be able to generate organic sales in the future.

If you want to continue learning all about how to sell on YouTube, check out the Ecwid Ecommerce Show:

Now over to you: do you use YouTube for promoting your business?

Do you want to learn more about selling on YouTube?

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About the author

Anastasia Prokofieva is a content writer at Ecwid. She writes about online marketing and promotion to make entrepreneurs’ daily routine easier and more rewarding. She also has a soft spot for cats, chocolate, and making kombucha at home.

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