A guest post by Dee Barizo
eBay’s affiliate program doesn’t get mentioned much in the problogger space, but it’s been the best monetization option for my collectible card game blog.
The program is called eBay Partner Network, or ePN for short. It’s been a great for my blog. AdSense was a flop because most of the ads being served were irrelevant. On the other hand, ePN earns over 10 times as much as AdSense. Also, I use simple text links to promote eBay so I don’t have to clutter my blog with big distracting ads.
I thought I’d write about ePN to give you another monetization option. It’s generally a good idea to have multiple income streams to diversify your earnings. I believe ePN can be a viable program for many bloggers.
In this post, I’ll give a quick overview of the affiliate program. Then I’ll share some questions for you to consider to evaluate if ePN is right for you. Hopefully, by the end of the post, you’ll have a good idea whether or not the program will work well on your blog.
ePN is similar to AdSense because it pays per click (although AdSense also pays on a CPM basis depending upon what ads are served). However, ePN is an affiliate program rather than an ad network like AdSense. Therefore, your traffic must generate revenue for eBay or else you won’t get paid. If your traffic doesn’t convert, then your earnings per click can go down to zero and you risk being dropped from the program.
eBay originally paid affiliate marketers a percentage of the transaction fees. But just recenty, in October 2009, eBay switched to a payout system called Quality Click Pricing (QCP). In this system, affiliates are paid based on an algorithm that takes into account several factors including revenue from sales, the long term value of new users, eBay advertising revenue and PayPal revenue.
ePN offers several tools to promote eBay on your blog. These tools include banner generators, link generators, an RSS feed generator, product feeds, and an API.
Questions to Consider
Is there an active market for eBay products in your niche?
Check eBay to see if there are many listings for products in your niche. This page is a good place to start because it lists all the main categories on eBay. Also, you can use eBay’s search box for market research. Search for common products in your industry and see if many auctions show up. If there is an active market, then ePN may well be a solid income source for your blog.
Even if you’re in obscure niche, I would still check eBay. You may be surprised at the wide range of products on the site. eBay has an active market for many things including antiques, books, clothes, cameras, computers, DVDs, industrial equipment, musical instruments, pet supplies, sporting goods, tickets, and toys. You can even buy automobiles on eBay.
Are you an affiliate marketer or willing to become one?
You don’t have to be an affiliate marketer right now, but you need to be committed to the trade to fully realize the benefits of ePN. As an affiliate marketer, you’ll have to focus on selling products and converting your readers to buyers. These skills are different from generating traffic and producing content.
Still, if you understand your audience and have a relevant site, it won’t be too difficult to get your readers to spend money on eBay. But you may have to learn different skills to make ePN a viable income stream.
Do you have a quality site?
One of the reasons why I wanted to write this post for ProBlogger is because blogs that follow Darren’s advice are often great sites to run affiliate programs.
eBay is looking for relevant sites that have unique or value-added content. These types of sites tend to do well with ePN.
The eBay team published a white paper on Search Engine Marketing Journal titled The Coming Evolution in Affiliate Marketing: A Focus on Quality (pdf file). This paper was based on their advanced tracking and research of their affiliates.
In this paper, they write:
Affiliates who take the time to create high-quality sites with value-added content tend to perform better than those who simply slap together hundreds of sites that contain very little other than affiliate ads and AdSense. It probably doesn’t come as a shock that ads crammed five or ten to a page on ringtone sites don’t capture the same quality of users as well conceived ads thoughtfully integrated into product-oriented content.
They note that small and mid-sized affiliates often outperform larger ones because they add a lot of value to their sites.
If you’ve built trust with your audience and have relevant, quality content, then your blog could be a great place to promote eBay.
Do you have a plan for promoting eBay?
I applied to ePN a couple months ago, but my blog was rejected. I think one of the reasons why my blog was rejected is because I didn’t give a plan for promoting eBay.
I thought of a marketing strategy and then resubmitted my application. My plan was simple. I would tell my readers that eBay offers low prices on the cards I write about. Then, I would link to the relevant eBay search pages. My second application was accepted.
You want to have a plan before applying so that eBay knows you’re serious about promoting their offers.
Can you send a good amount of traffic to eBay?
Traffic is important because the more click data the ePN algorithm has, the more accurate your earnings will be. If you don’t send a lot of clicks to eBay, you will receive a default earnings per click (EPC) amount that is assigned to the smallest publishers. You could be missing out on the earnings you deserve.
eBay hasn’t given a benchmark on the number of clicks that will give you the default EPC amount, but based on my experience, I would aim for at least 50 clicks per day.
Apply to ePN
If your blog seems like a good fit, you should apply to eBay Partner Network. One quick tip for the application process: Give a lot of info about your blog (like traffic, RSS subscribers, Twitter followers, etc.) to increase your chances of getting accepted. Also, don’t forget to mention your plan for promoting eBay.
Along with running a gaming blog, Dee Barizo is a project manager for affiliate sites. His newest project is The Best Degrees, an online degree site currently in the alpha state.