These days the competition to secure a job has increased tremendously. On top of that government jobs are hard to secure.
As those of you who read my articles and updates on a frequent basis know,I enjoy building out niche sites on various topics. The makers of EasyAzon, a plugin I use on my Amazon based niche sites, introduced another plugin recently for eBay called EasyBay. I thought I’d try it. I ended up building a whole new niche site for it…
In 2009, I had some great success with ebay building out niche stores, but Google all but killed off the whole niche store concept by deranking and penalizing them. So I moved onto other things. I was earning around $1,500 – $2,000/month in eBay Partner Network and Adsense income from one single niche store for a good 6-8 months, the the bottom fell out. But there’s one thing I learned: what works one day on the internet, doesn’t always work the next – but take advantage of it while it’s working.
As a result of this little lesson, I made a strategic effort to diversify my income sources. I decided to try out EasyBay and bought the plugin. My initial intention was to add some eBay listings to the end of posts on my current niche sites. But my experience with mixing income sources on Amazon sites has shown that it decreases Amazon revenue, and the decrease isn’t offset by the new income source.
Instead, I decided to try it out by building an Ebay based niche site. While I’m not going to go into specifics on the niche just yet (I will later, once is ranks), I will walk you through the process I used.
This will be the fifth niche site I’ve built in the past year or so and part of my overall strategy to build out 10 sites earning at least $500.00/month. I would then build an 11th site, grow it to $500.00 and then flip the lowest earning site of the 11. Then start another one.
Building an ebay Niche Site
Before you go any further, for this strategy to work for you, you’ll need to be a member of the ebay Partner program. If you aren’t already a member, you’ll need to apply. ebay’s partner program can be a bit difficult to get accepted into. If you aren’t already a member, I would suggest building out the site with content, then once you have traffic and a good amount of content out there, then apply.
So I’m ready to build out a new niche site, using eBay as the product source … Now what niche should I target?
This is always the tough part. Once you decide on a niche, building out a site is really pretty easy. The trick to finding a topic is really just to pick one that you think you can do well with, pull the trigger, and don’t look back.
For those of you that have used ebay, you’ll know that the product options there are generally larger than Amazon. Why? Because eBay not only sells new products, but used and handmade products as well. As a matter of fact, finding used items is one of the big attractions with using eBay. Thinking through that actually narrowed down the options for me a bit. I decided that for new products, Amazon worked well, so my new ebay niche site would promote used or handmade products.
Next, I skimmed the product categories on ebay, along with taking note of some of the more popular items up for auction. This led me to remember the ebay is a popular place for collectors to both buy and sell collectable items, and that collectors items, especially rare ones, can sell for a lot. But what collectors items would be good? This is where keyword research came into play.
I like to pick niches that I have a personal interest in. I’ve found that if I don’t, I lose interest and I’m guilty of not keeping the site updated like I should. Now part of that is due to me doing most of the writing on my sites. If I outsourced all of the writing, it probably wouldn’t matter.
With keeping my personal interests in mind, I wrote down a list of collectable items I like. The list included old photos, Nascar memorabilia, coke products, cigar boxes, old computers, and a bunch of other items. Once I had a decent list, I moved onto keyword research.
I don’t care what all of the “experts” say about “semantic web”, keywords are still a huge factor in how successful your site will be. In the past, I’ve focused on finding one keyword phrase that gets around 3,000 – 5,000/month US search hits per day. The site is built focusing on that keyword phrase, and then finding lots of longer tail key phrases that are used to build supporting content. What I’ve found is that those longer tail keywords often add up to be larger amounts of traffic that the primary target keyword.
Given this, I decided to take a little different approach with this eBay based niche site. I decided to focus on 5-10 lower volume and longer tail keywords. I looked for keywords in the 800 – 1000/month global range. I’m not really sure if this is a better or worse approach, but I wanted to try so I could learn and find out.
I pulled up Market Samurai and Long Tail Pro and began researching. I like using both tools, as they each provide a little different data. Although if I had to pick just one tool, I would go with Long Tail Pro.
I spent a considerable amount of time doing my research over the course of a few days. I ended up choosing a collector’s niche that met the goal of having 5-10 keyword phrases that get 800 – 1000/month searches. They are also “buy keywords”, meaning they should convert well.
With my niche selected, I began building out the WordPress site.
Building out my ebay niche site
I first chose a domain name. I kept it simple and directly related to my niche. I’m not going to disclose the domain name or niche, but as an example, let’s say I elected to go with Nascar products, a good name would be something like “nascarcollector.com” or “thenascarcollector.com”.
I checked and the domain was available, so I bought it for 2 years at MyDomain.com. Namecheap is also another great domain registrar. Fortunately both the .com and .net were available, so I booked both of them. Never hurts, considering how inexpensive domain names are.
Next I followed my standard process of starting a blog. Blogs and niche sites are very similar under the covers, the difference is the content and layout. I elected to use a new favorite theme of mine, Jarida. I’m pretty decent with Photoshop, so I did my own logo and color scheme. If you aren’t good at graphics, just use Fiverr to get an inexpensive logo done for you.
Creating Content and Adding ebay items using EasyBay
With WordPress set-up and running, I began creating my content which consisted of:
- An About Page, Contact Us page, Privacy/Disclosure Page and a Blog page
- A Main landing page which provided and overview of the topic and why collectors enjoy it. I also overviewed all of the various items in this niche that are popular with collectors. These will link to my pages.
- I picked the top 6 traffic keywords, and created a page for each.
I added each page to the menus, and began writing the content. I spent about a week, off and on, writing and researching content.
Here’s a tip for using EasyBay. The widget it comes with only lists the text names of the items, and doesn’t show a picture. Text listings don’t covert well. After a bit of trial and error, I figured out how to get around this.
Install a plugin called the short code widget. Create a new post, and generate the EasyBay short code by pressing the EasyBay button at the top of the post editor. You can use whichever output type you want. I general use “Most Watched Items”. Copy the generated EasyBay short code, then add a Short Code Widget into your sidebar. Paste the EasyBay short code into your widget, press save, and your items will now be listed with pictures.
One feature I really like about EasyBay, is that their listings contain a realtime countdown of time remaining on auctions. This creates a sense of urgency for the browser/buyer.
My plan is to add ebay item listings into the content pages as well. But I plan to do that later once the site starts ranking.
I also created a Facebook page for the site using my recently published Facebook page strategy. I share 3-4 photos related to the niche each day. Fortunately this niche is very photogenic. I’ve been using FPTraffic to find and publish the photos. I add the site’s URL to each of the photos. I also:
- Joined a few groups dedicated to the niche, and have been active and have included posts in the group I shared on my Facebook page. I also share group posts on the page as well.
- I feature a “Collector’s Daily Pick” each day or every few days that highlights a really good buy I find on eBay. The link I share is an eBay affiliate link.
- Using FPTraffic, I also throw in a few videos and Amazon items.
The Facebook page has grown quickly (almost a 1000 likes), and is the primary source for the website traffic right now.
Right now the site isn’t ranking for any keywords. The site has been in the Google sandbox now for almost a month. Prior to this site, I was ranking with other sites in as little as two weeks. Definitely a sign of the new Google Sandbox changes that are in place. I’m really hoping it doesn’t take 4-6 months to rank like I’m seeing some experts say.
Currently I’m getting clicks on the eBay items, but no buys just yet. Not surprising considering the low level of traffic. I have received commissions for a few Amazon items, but only small change. Again, not surprising considering the low levels of traffic.
I have about 10 different blog articles I’m going to write, and plan to start on those this week. I might end up outsourcing some of this content using iWriter. Depends on how much time I have this week and next.
My goal is to get the site to about 15-20 pages of content, and then just let it sit until it starts ranking. Then I’ll begin building some back links using my PBNs to boost the ranking.
In the mean time I’ll continue to grow the Facebook page, as honestly it’s kind of fun and I’m enjoying it.
I’ll keep you posted on how the site’s doing. If you decide to try out an ebay based niche site, let me know and keep me posted on your progress. Oh, and let me know what you think of EasyBay.
This post is going to look at over 100 affiliate web hosting sales I generated to multiple hosting companies and answer the question of who has the best web hosting affiliate program.
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday web hosting promotion I ran gave me a unique opportunity to review multiple hosting affiliate programs at one time. (more…)
There are numerous ways to make money with a blog. I’ve already discussed a big one, monetizing your blog with Adsense. Another option that will further diversify your income sources is: affiliate programs.
Affiliate programs for me have generally performed second to Adsense, but I know a number of bloggers where affiliate programs are their number one earner and I would suspect that may be the case for me here on Side Income Blogging as well. Regardless, affiliate programs are a great way add additional income to your revenue stream and provide value to your readers by recommending products and services to your readers.
What are affiliate programs or affiliate offers?
Affiliate programs (or offers) are marketing/sales arrangements where the service or product company offers website owners and bloggers payment in exchange for marketing their product or service. An example will help:
Let’s say that I develop a premium WordPress plugin and the sale price is $199. I set-up an affiliate program so that whenever a website or blog sends someone to my plugin sit and the visitor purchases my plugin, I pay the website or blog $50.
Think of affiliate programs as sales commissions, as they are very similar. Some affiliate programs pay a percentage of the sale, others pay a fixed amount, while others scale up based on how many purchases have been made from your site.
How to find affiliate programs
Affiliate programs are offered by product and services companies directly, but the majority of programs are handled by a third party affiliate networks. These affiliate networks are the best way way to find good affiliate programs for your blog.
To use these affiliate networks, you just have to register. Once registered and logged in, you can then use the network’s search features to find suitable affiliate offers for your site and apply for them. Some companies approve you right away, while others will need to review your blog first. Overall the process is very simple.
Once approved for an affiliate program, you can then get the special link code that you’ll use to link out to the affiliate product or program. In most cases, link code for both banners and text links are available. This special link code has to be used so that you get credit for the purchase if it’s made.
Good affiliate networks to use
There are many different affiliate companies on the internet, and new ones seems to pop-up almost everyday. Here are the few that I’ve found to be the most popular and that I use the most frequently (some of these are affiliate links):
- ShareASale – One of my personal favorites. They have a ton of great programs and the site is easy to use and navigate. This is the network that I currently make the majority of my affiliate income from. They also have the Thesis affiliate program.
- FlexOffers – Another personal favorite. Their interface is incredibly easy to use.
- Commission Junction – One of the “big players” in the affiliate network space.
How to effectively use affiliate offers
If you take away anything from this article, the information in the next two sections is the core “stuff” I want you remember. What I am about to tell is the meat and potatoes of using affiliate offers successfully on your blog. Are you ready?
Far to many bloggers sign up for affiliate programs, get the banner images that the affiliate programs push, add the affiliate banners to their sidebar and wait for the money to roll in. When it doesn’t, they get frustrated and claim that affiliate offers don’t work for them. Here’s the problem: Adding affiliate banners to your sidebar is NOT an effective way to to use affiliate offers. Why not? Because they look like ads and there is no real reason to click on them.
By using this banner strategy, you might earn a little money and if you ever get huge amounts of traffic, they will convert, but compared to the strategy I’m going to tell you next, the earnings will be chump change.
The way to effectively use affiliate offers is to use text links embedded in your articles. Yes, that’s the big trick – simple, but highly effective.
There are a number of ways to use text affiliate links, and if you were paying attention, you’ll note that I used this method in the section just before this one. Using text links in review articles is even more effective. I’ll go into a little detail in the next section.
Here is the next big tip – If you want your readers and visitors to click on your affiliate links, those readers and visitors have to trust you. The more trust they have with you, the more likely they’ll click on your offer.
I have a personal policy that I put in place in 2007, when I first started using affiliate offers on my blogs – I will never put an affiliate link on my site for a product or service that I haven’t personally used. Any affiliate link you see on Side Income Blogging is to a product or service I like and either use or have used.
I put this policy in place because I saw so many bloggers recommending junk to their readers just to earn a quick buck. I refuse to do that. I also refuse to write up a “good” review just because one of the product or service companies gave me the product or service for free. When you read a review here on Side Income Blogging, it will be straight up and honest, don’t ever doubt that. As my kids say, “that’s just how I roll“.
Oh sure, if I did just recommend anything that earned me a buck, in the short term I could make lots of money. But, in the long term, my readers would slowly lose trust in me. When that happens, they stop clicking on my affiliate links, even when they were for legit and good products. Even worse, they stop reading my site.
I’m in this for the long term, and frankly I like to sleep well at night. I want my readers to trust me and value what I have to say. I want YOU to be able to say “If Larry recommends it, it must be good – I trust him.”
Treat your blog and your readers the same way. Do so, and you will be successful. Nobody ever wins in the long term by cheating and deceiving people.
Affiliate offers and reviews
Here’s the secret sauce for effective affiliate marketing using reviews on your blog:
Find a product that you either currently use, think you might like, or think your readers might like. Write up a comprehensive review article on the product. Try to include screen shots. Screen shots not only help the reader see the product, but it confirms for them that you have used it. Publish the review article. That in and of itself will be successful. To really turn up the conversations though, reference your review article from other articles.
As I said earlier, the key product for me right now is the Thesis WordPress theme (see how I seamlessly inserted that link). I use it on all of my blogs and frankly love it. I wrote up a comprehensive review article and published it. The review article contained affiliate links spread throughout. Then, whenever I wrote an article and referenced Thesis, which I do often, I link to that review article. Visitors often click the link, read the article and end up purchasing the Thesis theme. They get an awesome theme, that I use on all of my sites everyday, and I get paid $50 – $100 commission. This is a wonderful win/win scenario for us both.
Of course reviews are just one option. Just in article linking to affilate offers can be very effective. You can also place affiliate banners in articles. While not as effective as text linking, in article banners are far more effective than sidebar banners.
Affiliate marketing and the law
As I eluded to earlier, unfortunately a number of websites and bloggers were promoting any affiliate offer that paid a good commission, and many of these products were not good products or just plain scams. As a result, the US federal government, and specifically the FTC implemented guidelines on affiliate links that require website owners and bloggers to disclose affiliate links. Now, the exact best way to do this is a little gray. Some say just having the disclosure in your disclosures page of your site is good enough, while others say you have to tell your readers next to the affiliate link.
Who’s right? I honestly don’t know, but it’s just not worth it for me to jeopardize my online business based on some gray areas – So I do both. I disclose my affiliate linking on my disclosure page (feel free to copy it) AND I’ve started disclosing affiliate links directly in my articles as well. I am most certainly not a lawyer nor an expert on these guidelines – So please make sure you read them yourself, understand them and implement what you feel is required on your site.
I would encourage you to spend sometime today registering for the various affiliate networks I listed above. Then spend some time finding one or two products that you think your audience would be interested in. Perhaps they are products you currently use. If not, obtain the product, spend some time learning about it and write up a review and include your affiliate link. Keep an eye on it over the next few weeks, link to the review article and see how it does. Come back here and report how things worked for you. As always, if you have questions, just drop me a line.
For those of you experienced with affiliate marketing, did I miss any key tips? How do you guys feel about affiliate marketing in general? I know it’s a pretty hot topic for some.