How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Marketing and AdSense

  • Brittani Cunningham launched a travel-inspired candle business and YouTube channel last year.
  • She sold nearly $10,000 in candles and made hundreds of dollars a month through affiliate marketing.
  • Here’s how she uses passive income streams on YouTube to increase her income.

In 2020, Brittani Cunningham made her way up through the film and television industry, working in client relations and hiring on shows like Thrones, Jessica Jones and Posture. But when the pandemic brought her work to a standstill, she pursued a new passion: making travel-inspired candles and documenting her entrepreneurial journey on social media.

In March 2021, Cunningham launched her startup Lit City Candles — The candle scent is based on Cunningham’s travels around the world, including Paris and Bali, Indonesia. Seven months later, she relaunched the brand after tinkering with the production process and began documenting her experiences as an entrepreneur on her YouTube channel. today, Her community of 10,000 subscribers watch weekly videos reflecting on events she attended or a day in her life as a small business owner.

Since its launch, Cunningham has sold nearly $10,000 worth of candles, a figure that Insider has confirmed via documents. In addition to product sales, Cunningham often earns hundreds of dollars a month through additional revenue streams such as Google’s AdSense advertising program, affiliate marketing and partner deals, totaling thousands of dollars a year.

Cunningham spoke to Insider about the importance of building a YouTube community as a small business owner. This is a truthfully told story, edited for length and clarity.

YouTube can help you connect with customers and other business owners

lit city candles "Bali" fragrance

Cunningham shoots and edits photos for all brands.


Before I was in the candle business, I was interested in travel and had a YouTube channel devoted to that part of my life. During quarantine, when I started making candles based on places I’ve been, it made sense to bring them together online.

The great thing about YouTube is the community I’ve built around my brand. It helps increase brand awareness, share my story, and connect viewers with me and my products. When I show the intricate parts of running Lit City Candles – like designing my themed packaging and getting ready for the local pop-up store – the audience will see how much effort I put into my business. The encouraging reviews I’ve received prove to me that even a niche business has an interested community and customer base.

The most important thing I’ve learned from growing my channel is that you have to be truthful and honest because people can see if you’re dishonest. This includes vulnerability. If I’m talking about a pop-up event and it’s not going well, I’ll say so. If I don’t do any sales, I tell my audience and share what I’ve learned and what I’ll do differently next time.

This strategy helps people connect with me. Building that connection will not only lead to positive reviews, but more paying customers, more honest feedback, and more real opportunities.

Online presence can lead to lcreate connections

Britt by Design Homepage

Cunningham shares weekly videos on her YouTube channel, “Britt by Design.”

Screenshot, YouTube

Posting online has also helped me generate sales. For example, a former colleague of mine learned about my business by viewing one of my videos. They ended up buying my first large order for almost $3,000. When I took a video of the experience and posted it, it performed really well and brought me more sales.

YouTube also provides public relations and outreach for my brand. As a result of my online presence, brands and candle makers started reaching out to me for collaborations and sponsorship partnerships.

YouTube Gives Entrepreneurs Opportunities to earn passive income

In addition to paying partners, I also get a variety of other passive income sources from YouTube. For example, I make money with Google AdSense, or when Google ads appear on my videos. I’ve also recently started using affiliate links, where I include product links in the video description and I can earn money if followers buy the item. That way, if I’m talking about a candle product someone decides to buy, I’ll get something out of it.

As a business owner today, you will have to market your business on social media. Therefore, I recommend that all entrepreneurs take advantage of the alternative ways that the platform can help support you and your brand.

On YouTube, I have a relatively small number of subscribers, but with that small community I’ve built, I can make a fortune from my channel.

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