Making More Money with the Ebay Affiliate Program
Getting more out of Ebay's affiliate program
Questions about making money as an Ebay affiliate come up pretty often in the Hubpages forum and since it is one of my main sources of income, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a hub on how to get the most out of your affiliation with Ebay, not just here at Hubpages, but on your own websites as well.
I'll start with a brief overview of how the Ebay Partner Network works, what I think you can do to maximize your earning opportunities on your hubs and why you should be putting Ebay capsules in every hub. Then I'll take a look at some of the tools available that can help you quickly set up niche shopping sites for Ebay if you are ready to take the leap into getting your own hosting and domain names.
This is mostly off the cuff and it's gotten pretty long *g*, but if you feel I've left anything out or there is something that could use further clarification, let me know in the comments.
The Ebay Partner Network
Ebay used to run their affiliate program through Commission Junction, but in April of this year they decided to take the whole thing in house and they now run it as the Ebay Partner Network. They have a ton of tools for promoting Ebay, including rss feeds and various widgets, so you don't need to buy extra scripts and such to promote Ebay, but they do make life easier.
One of the reasons I love promoting Ebay and am planning on making them a bigger part of my revenue building going forward is the life of the Ebay cookie. Basically when someone clicks on your Ebay links, a cookie is dropped on their computer. Assuming it does not get overwritten by someone else's cookie, the cookie will expire in 7 days if that person already has an Ebay account or 30 days if they do not.
This means that I have seven days to make money from someone who is already an Ebay user, or 30 days to make money from someone who has never used Ebay before. Compare this to the life of Amazon's cookie, which is 24 hours.
Also, Ebay pays you for active sign-ups even before a user has officially won something and paid for it. You can earn Ebay commissions of $25 each time someone signs up to Ebay for the first time and then bids on anything within 30 days. THEY DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A WINNING BID. Ebay pays the ACRU commission on activity, not wins. I usually get 7-12 ACRUs per month, sometimes more. It is a very nice chunk of change.
The other reason I love to promote Ebay is you can find virtually anything you can think of on their website. I like to dig around and look for cool stuff to promote and have done very well with some extremely micro-niche product categories.
Tips for Creating Hubs that Make Money
I posted this previously in the forums, but it bears repeating if you want to make money from both Ebay and Amazon, and not just rely on Adsense for income. I feel that it is always better to have multiple streams of income, in case one of them dries up. Adsense is great, especially on Hubpages, but Ebay works really well too.
This is my theory. Not everyone agrees with it, so your mileage may vary, but this has what worked for me.
You will make money from Amazon and Ebay if you are writing specifically about products and not just featuring those capsules as an afterthought. If you do product review hubs and "favorite stuff" type hubs you will make money with those affiliate programs from people shopping if you whet their appetite for that product in question -- whether that happens to be a specific camera or the entire dvd collection of a newly famous actor :)
Also, it helps to draw more attention to the capsules. I usually like to put a text box either above, below or beside them that encourages people to actually buy stuff. For example, in my Medifast hub -- I have a box that suggests that if the reader is curious about what Medifast products taste like, but doesn't want to commit to a full month's order, they can find some samples to try on Ebay.
Or in one of my tv show hubs --- I have a box that says "If you missed any of this season's episodes -- you can download it from Amazon or the DVD will be out on such and such a date and you can pre-order it now". Someone who read one of my tv hubs downloaded an entire season of a tv show and I got credit for all of it LOL
Not signed up for Hubpages yet? What are you waiting for?!
Using Wordpress and phpBay
For setting up my Ebay sites, I do it by installing Wordpress on my site and then I use the phpBay Wordpress plug-in. It makes it dead easy. All you have to do is plug your campaign id into the plugin options and then you can add ebay listings to any wordpress post or page.
phpBay Pro also has some additional features that are helpful for SEO purposes, such as masking the Ebay urls and doing mod-rewrite on the Ebay image files. The newest version of phpBay Pro also features an optional dropdown box to select auctions appearing on any of Ebay's international sites, which is useful now that Ebay allows you to sign up for and promote all of their programs at the same time.
It cost me $49.00 and it was well worth it.
Another thing I do to make building Wordpress sites easier is I have a couple of templates ready to go that have already been modified to get rid of all the blogging info like dates, blogrolls, meta data. And they have my Adsense id already embedded in them. So when I install Wordpress, I can just upload one of my templates and it is ready to go. That may not wind up being the template I ultimately use, but it will the job while I work on the site.
If you buy phpBay Pro through my link and need help setting it up, I will be happy to help you. Unfortunately, I cannot offer the same for BANS as I have never used it.
In order to use either phpBay or BANS you will need your own hosting and domains. phpBay and other plug-ins will not work with sites hosted by Wordpress.com
The best deals on hosting are usually through Dreamhost. I've been using them for several years and while there is an occasional hiccup, I've been pretty happy with them and they are very responsive when it comes to customer service. They also have a 3 month refund policy so if you sign up with them and decide you hate them, you can get a refund during your first three months.
Dreamhost offers a shared hosting plan that cost $119.00 per year which allows you to host an unlimited amount of domains with them and they give you one free domain. They also have a Wordpress installer that comes in handy. For $50 off hosting, I've set up a promo code: HUBBERS Just enter that on the sign-up page. It's good for all the 1 year or longer plans.
If you have any problems setting things up with Dreamhost and you've used my promo code, let me know and I will help you get going. They recently changed some stuff on the servers which means I had to take a few extra steps to get the latest version of phpBay Pro working, but once you've done it once it only takes a minute or two to repeat it for additional domains.
I also use Hostgator for hosting and the current version of phpBay Pro works out of the box on Hostgator (i.e. no additional fiddling).
Dreamhost will give you one free domain, but you eventually are going to want more than that. I personally use Namecheap for nearly all of my domains, but I have a couple with GoDaddy as well. You can find codes for Namecheap every single month that will give you a small discount. You should be able to find GoDaddy codes on that site too, just be aware that GoDaddy will relentlessly try to upsell you on crap you don't need... going so far as to call you on the phone. Namecheap won't and they also give you free whois privacy.
Selecting an Ebay Niche
In some respects, you don't have to worry a whole lot about niches with Ebay because the idea is to get the clicks so the cookie will be set. You won't necessarily make money from the auctions that you are directly promoting because someone can click through form your site and bid on something entirely unrelated.
On the other hand, if you pay careful attention to selecting a niche before building an Ebay site, then you have an opportunity to completely dominate the SERPS for that niche and make a lot of money directly from auctions related to that niche. I currently have about 10 auction sites. I make most of my Ebay income from two of them with very little traffic. They each get less than a 100 uniques per day.
I own the SERPS for virtually every keyword for one of them and I do very well with the other because it is for very high priced items that I make great commissions on. If you are going to build a portfolio of sites, I recommend having a mix of both high priced and cheap popular items.
First thing to do is start off thinking about the stuff that intrigues you personally. One of my best sites is for a product that I've longed for, but never bought myself because I think they are too pricey. So I put together an auction site and lo and behold it is my top earner.
After that, I just start wandering around Ebay Pulse looking for something that intrigues me. I don't bother with the front page of the Pulse. You want this page.
And then I click around categories and sub-categories and look for what kind of keywords are being searched. When I see something that has potential interest for me, I check the competition in the SERPS and the number of likely searches. If it looks do-able, I go for it.
Refining & Testing Niche Selection
A couple of things that I look for on Ebay are categories and keywords with lots of items and a high percentage of the items actually selling. If I see that at least 50% of all auctions are getting bids, then I will consider the niche to be viable. But it is no good if there are lots of listings, but no one is buying. This tends to happen a lot with items that were once hot and have now peaked, i.e. several years ago you could make more than retail for listing virtually any Disney beanie, but nowadays forget it.
You can either check "completed auctions" for this information or you can use the Free Tools on Terapeak to get some auction history info.You can find more about the advantages of Terapeak in my hub on finding the Best selling items on Ebay.
Once I've determined that something looks like a likely candidate, I will often set up a Hubpage to just test it out, but sometimes I just go for it. It really depends on my gut feeling. But if you want to see two niches that I'm thinking might have some potential I'm willing to share *g* That would be the Discount Vera Bradley Bags and the Vintage Acoustic Guitars. The sell-through on the guitars is about 60% and the sell-through for Vera Bradley bags is 65%. The average price for the bags is $34.51 and the average price for the guitars is $373.39.
And now if I do ever get around to creating auction sites for those, I will already have one backlink for each built. All I'll need to do is add a link to each hub. And since I'm really lazy and slow, by the time I get around to building either site I will probably have some pagerank on the hubs *g*
Getting Your Site Indexed & Driving Traffic
Once you have your niches picked and your sites built, the best thing to do is get them indexed quickly and then move on and build another one. I plan to have at least 25-50 of these by the time this year's Christmas shopping season rolls around. To save money, I do not always buy a separate domain for every single site. You can buy a generic shopping domain and then put several sub-domains on it.
Basically, you will make your income by going after volume. I find it is actually easier to get little bits of traffic to lots of different sites than it is to try to build traffic exponentially to one site. They will rise and fall in the SERPS so you just want more pages out there altogether. The fewer pages you are relying on for your income, the more fluctuations in income you will experience.
Get your auction sites indexed quickly is pretty easy, especially if you already tested out your niche by creating a hubpage and/or a Squidoo lens first. A link in both of those will get you indexed in a day or two, usually.
For traffic and deeper indexing, I usually also submit about 5-10 articles per site to Ezinearticles.com and one or two different articles to Isnare.com (Isnare submits to hundreds of article directories at once, NOT including Ezinearticles.com). If one site proves a particularly good performer I may spend more time on it, but after that it is pretty much time to move onto the next one.
For more on article marketing, see my article marketing hub.
Okay, I think that's it. Any questions?
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