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Is eBay Partner Network a Good Affiliate Program for Your Blog?

A guest post by Dee Barizo

_wp-content_uploads_2010_03_epn-logo.jpgeBay’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 Overview

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.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Aaron T says:

    Well i think it really depends on if your blog can really sell things on eBay. I don’t know, and I’m just saying, but what can your blog sell on eBay if it’s focused on Blogging, or Politics? Also, I don’t like the idea that you have to SELL the products for you to get paid, with the eBay Affiliates. Wouldn’t it be better if it was a pay-per-click? I don’t know, I just don’t think it’d be that good of an Adsense alternative.

    I also disagree with them rejecting blogs that are SET UP (like yours) just because they weren’t designed to sell eBay products. Just saying.
    Good post, Dee! Thanks for the informative article :)

  2. I think I might look into this. Since I often write about vintage photography equipment, I don’t get many opportunities to link into Amazon affiliate products. However, everything I write about is usually available on eBay. This might be a great fit for my blog.

  3. Mike says:

    The good thing about Ebay is that everyone has an account with them, Ebay is very respected worldwide so these clicks will turn into sales. Also the profits your sites will make from the Ebay affiliate program are much more than from Amazon’s affiliate.

  4. I know about ebay affilate marketing but still thinking to promote ebay on my blog or not.
    As i have banned by google adsense will looking for ward to other sources to generate revenue from my blog

  5. I have had a lot of success with eBay’s affiliate program. For me it definitely does better with vintage themed niches. However, like Mike said everyone has an eBay account. I have read before that most people only use eBay for one or two categories and by exposing them to listings on your blogs they realize they can get other items as well. On my sites the editor kit gets the best results. I also use the “New to eBay?” banners for those you aren’t familiar with it.

  6. David says:

    Thank you Dee Barizo for this valuable info!

    I think DROPSHIPPING is even a better way for making money from ebay…

  7. alamin says:

    I have not tried. but honestly said i don’t like ebay to earn by blog

  8. Dee says:

    @Suzanne

    Great point. And thanks for sharing your experience. I have only used text links since they’ve been effective so far, but I will have to test the editor kit to see if I get better results.

  9. Julius says:

    I appreciate how you explained clearly this option for blogs, but I have to agree that it may not be for everyone.

  10. Tyler Davis says:

    I’ve heard great things about e-bay. I like Amazon because you can guarantee quality products but e-bay has a longer cookie. Some niches like say food don’t lend themselves to used products though.

  11. i-Blogger says:

    I don’t know how well their Affiliate Program would work on my blog. It’s probably the the best idea for every niche, but if you have the right product on your blog it could be a profitable one (Affiliate Program)

  12. Mario says:

    Since I read the Super Affiliate Handbook, I finally stopped joining the next bing thing that popped up. Even though it’s from a big player like eBay.

    AdSense is going so slow that it takes a long time (if ever) to get paid. I know there are bloggers that tell different stories but I guess for most website owners who don’t have 10.000+ visitors a day it just takes a year or two to receive your first payment.

    I see better results with Chikita than with AdSense, though the commissions are slowly dripping in as well, but at least they don’t take your commissions hostage.

    GoViral has at least the same results as the two mentioned above and it has the advantage that the visitors stay at your site.

    What I really like is Project Wonderful. You can let the advertisers website open in a new tab and they don’t take your commission hostage. As they pay commissions per day (per second actually) instead of per click it is also a good alternative for the AdWords Content network.

    This are my two cents on this kind of advertising networks. The real deal is in my opinion to promote products where you can stand behind for the full 100% and/or to have your own products.

    Have a nice day!
    Mario

  13. EPN is a great program if you can get in. It is not easy, eBay won’t tell you why you are rejected, but research and refine your site plus content, content and more good content is a must. eBay don’t like other ads on your site, so take them off before applying, once you’re in you can put them back; don’t forget to have a contact page and privacy policy too. More info: google search “How To Get Accepted To The eBay Affiliate Program”

  14. Jen says:

    Thanks for the info on the eBay Network. I had heard it was hard to get accepted into it, which is why I haven’t tried yet (plus my traffic is pretty minimal still). I have one blog that does great with Adsense and Amazon, but on my other blog, Adsense wasn’t showing relevant ads and Amazon wasn’t converting, so I think eBay would be the way to go, given the nature of my blog.

  15. i personally recommend that not to use eBay because it is a restricted affiliate network, and pay only with PayPal and direct deposit to bank account (limited countries).
    That is the biggest drawback of eBay. Because PayPal is not available to all countries.

    If they add more payment options like Adsense Weston-union or Alertpay then it can be a boost to eBay because more and more publishers will participate and become a member of eBay.

    I also humbly request to eBay and PayPal owner that please please!! allow PayPal in Pakistan and and other restricted country.
    Thanks.

  16. Anwar says:

    The eBay Partner Network might not be something I care to jump on, but I can see a wide range of sites easily finding something they can promote. I am a little worried about the quality score thing. I feel that’s just some advance filter to boost profits for themselves. Never the less, their wide variety of products and large community of users should easily make it a good network to join…if anything compared to the lame results from other programs.

  17. Melissa says:

    I have a question…if one of your websites (blogs) was accepted, can you use the EPN on other sites without submitting them for approval to Ebay? Does anyone know the answer to this?

  18. Nunzio Bruno says:

    Great article about eBay. I had no idea this program existed. I can see how it would work out for a card and collectible shop but do you think there is any merit is a content based, consultative website like mine? I wish I could eBay snippets of advice lol, that would make an affiliate program like that very interesting. @Mario thanks for the heads up on Project Wonderful I’m def going to check it out.

  19. Joi says:

    When the Shopping Ads affiliate program was around, I’ll be honest – I made a killing. These ads were eBay ads and on my celebrity blogs (such as Hollywood Yesterday) I did exceptionally well.

    When Shopping Ads went out of biz, it broke my shopoholic heart! I signed up with eBay affiliate program and I’m sure that once I figure out how to generate the ads I need, I’ll be back in the swing.

    As you point out, this program isn’t for every niche, but with the right niche…eBay is golden.

    eBay items also performed well on my food blog (vintage, collectible dishes, cookbooks…) and music blog (concert tickets).

    Thanks for a great post and for reminding me that I need to log back into my account and put it to use!

  20. Noone says:

    EPN has made it such that creating thin affiliate sites pays well. Quality is a such a relative term that it’s a joke. EPN can toggle your earnings within their little black box, and you’d never know why, nor could you ever ask them since they don’t really believe in treating their affiliates with any level of customer service.

    If you have a question, the forums are a joke, and if you ask EPN directly, you get passed to another department that will never respond to you.

    My only advice, if you do plan on using them, have a backup plan in place. They’ll drop you without reason and you could lose out on any earnings. I’ve seen this happen to affiliates after they’ve hit big earnings.

    Amazon is much better since you can understand the pay model better.

  21. You left out one important question every blogger should ask him/herself, namely: “Can you trust eBay?”

    For me, the answer is that I trust eBay about as far as I can heave a grand piano unaided. Or, more tersely, Hell NO. Any outfit that screws either its customers, its vendors, or its employees will eventually get around to screwing all 3 groups plus any “partners” it might have. See http://www.powersellersunite.com/ for a view of the dark side of eBay.

    Disclaimer: My wife was a powerseller, and I briefly qualified as one myself, but declined the ‘honor’ because I could see that I was already getting burned out on eBay. Buying stuff on eBay is a crapshoot, and selling stuff on eBay means having to compete with purveyors of crap. Either way, eBay has no vested interest in keeping their marketplace clean, although they do pretend to.

  22. You should try out phpbay.com which offers a WordPress plugin for serving up ads within WordPress posts based on keywords you choose.

    In either case, I would have to believe you don’t make too much money from the card blog because I assume most of the cards (90% or more) don’t even sell for over $100 right?

  23. Alex says:

    I feel very disappointed at epn, in the beginning and as soon as they left cj.com and became an in-house program, I have promoted them many times throughout the times on my blog, and because of that, their idiotic auto system for quality clicks, they have rejected (permanent) many of my readers and my self as well. When I asked for an explaining why did that happen, they did not have any idea of how it happened, then they added, but we’ll stick with our decision!
    I think the program was great with a lot of future potential, but rejecting people based on a software error?! not sure what I can say about it.
    In conclusion I think that the Amazon associate program kicks ass comparing to the eBay PN.

  24. Mario says:

    @Nunzio Bruno

    You welcome! At Project Wonderful advertisers bid on your advertising space.

    If there are no bids at a certain time you can place own ads on your this spots (for free of course).

    An overlooked possibility by many in this case is that you can then put ads to affiliate products in this advertising areas rather than the usual ‘Your Ad Here’-banners.

    So the real estate on your site is never waisted.

    Depending on your affiliate earnings you than can decide a minimum bid for those advertising spaces.

    Let’s say a product you promote earns you an estimate of $1,- a day, you automatically know what minimum bid you want to have if Project Wonderful advertisers bid on that spot.

  25. Jamie says:

    Thanks for the synopsis on the Ebay Affiliate system – it was quite a useful read.

    It seems like a solid alternative monetization system to Adsense, which really, has seen its best days.

    Jamie

  26. William says:

    I have had a lot of success with eBay’s affiliate program. For me it definitely does better with vintage themed niches. However, like Mike said everyone has an eBay account. I have read before that most people only use eBay for one or two categories and by exposing them to listings on your blogs they realize they can get other items as well. On my sites the editor kit gets the best results. I also use the “New to eBay?” banners for those you aren’t familiar with it.

  27. edgar says:

    @Dee Nice Article Dee, I too use ebP and I love them. they pay a lot more than Google adnsense. Ebay is currently paying me $0.13 per click. and I am defiantly generating more than 50 clicks per day.

    I have asked a few other people and it seems 13 cents is the most they pay, are you making more than 13 cents per click?

    Thanks

  28. Sara says:

    I signed up for EPN with my primary blog and never saw one sale. Yes, there were clicks, but – as we know – those don’t count.

    Then a couple of years ago when the Build a Niche Store software was released I purchased that and put together a few nice-looking shopping sites. They actually provide a fairly steady source of income once they get high enough in the index. I try to include actual articles on those sites that are unique and interesting, but most folks who use it just set up, basically, an Ebay clone site. The only difference is that they load it with keywords and super-target a niche. I super-target, but I try to provide value in the content as well. It takes longer to move up in the search engines that way, but in the long run it’s proven to be a good strategy for me.

    I think Ebay can work on blogs if the blog is very niche-specific. However, I think most of the sites that really make money with EPN are probably stores created to make money with EPN.

    I’ve had much more success with Amazon’s affiliate program on my blog as well as Commission Junction and random products from ClickBank. I think if you want to be a successful affiliate for the long term (using a blog) then you have to learn about your niche and make your site valuable to visitors beyond just trying to make sales. If you create a site that’s nothing more than a clone, why would anyone shop at your store as opposed to Ebay (or Amazon, Half, etc.) itself?

    There’s just no lazy way to make a ton of money with affiliate marketing as a blogger. There is an element of “set it and forget it,” but you still have to do the “setting” work at the start. At least not that I’ve found.

    Sara

  29. Wow your blog get rejected once. Then ePN must be very strict in approving their affiliate programs.

  30. Dee says:

    @Kathy Brechin

    Thanks for the tips. I agree that content is key. eBay doesn’t want thin affiliate sites in their network.

    Also, I didn’t think about cutting down on ads, but that makes a lot of sense since sites with too many ads have a low quality spammy feel.

    @Anwar

    I wouldn’t be worried too much about the quality score. There are many affiliates that are making more money since the new system was rolled out. Plus, ePN stats shows you the earnings you’ve produced for eBay, so you can see how much of the profits eBay sharing with you.

    @Melissa

    I’m pretty sure you need to submit each website where you’ll be putting ePN links.

    @edgar

    I make lower than 13 cents per click, which is expected since the cards I write about are not very expensive.

    From the ePN Quality Click Pricing – FAQs:

    On average across eBay Partner Network, publishers make between $0.06 and $0.21 per click sent to eBay. Note that this varies among programs/countries based on the economics of each program. Publishers sending high quality, targeted traffic can make much more. We have hundreds of publishers earning more than $0.40 per click.

    @Sara

    Great comment.

  31. @Melissa
    “can you use the EPN on other sites without submitting them for approval to Ebay?”
    From my research, once a site is approved, you don’t have to get others approved, however you do have to stick to eBays terms and conditions. They do monitor affiliate sites and cancel affiliates if there is a breach. You have one affiliate account (which you can link to your ebay buyer/seller account) and all you do is add you links, affiliate code etc to apporpriate sites.

  32. Simon says:

    The eBay Partner Network might not be something I care to jump on, but I can see a wide range of sites easily finding something they can promote. I am a little worried about the quality score thing. I feel that’s just some advance filter to boost profits for themselves. Never the less, their wide variety of products and large community of users should easily make it a good network to join…if anything compared to the lame results from other programs.

  33. Karen W. says:

    Totally agree with TXCHLInstructor – in regards to trusting ebay about as far I as I can throw them. After reading horror story after horror story of quality affiliates who worked with and came to rely on EPN for years only to be left high and dry I wouldn’t touch it unless I had an excellent backup ready to implement at a moments notice.

  34. 3 months ago lost my job and am looking for some way to replace some of my income. I wanted to get started in online auctions and I’m now looking for products to sell. I appreciate your tips and pointers, and I’m now on the search for something to sell.

  35. It’s the old “curse of knowledge” dilemma isn’t it? It’s easy to assume visitors know how to comment or even that commenting is encouraged. Excellent post.

  36. Sanjay says:

    Want to move on with ePN but my blog’s traffic won’t allow it. So I will try to increase the blog traffic before joining any affiliate programs.

  37. Brilliant post, nicely done. And thanks for mentioning all that info – you have introduced to me to three new blogs and I love them all! Cheers :)

  38. Bihar says:

    I am not sure about this so called quality clicks, there is no way to get vital statistics such as wherer the traffic is coming ffrom etc. Adsense seems to be the best.

  39. Megan says:

    Hi Everyone,
    For those of you who want to get started with affiliate programs, some of you mentioned you did not have enough traffic and you have to wait a year to get paid with the big dogs, there are smaller networks with high payouts and attentive affiliate managers (like me!).

    I am happy to have a conversation with any of you that are interested in running some offers on your blogs, shoot me an email [email protected] for a prompt reply. We pay for earnings under 1000, which is hard to find!

    Have a great day. And thank you to Darren for all your insight.

    Megan

  40. auction says:

    All I can say is keep it up. Some professional bloggers post three or four times a day on their blogs, simply because this constant addition of new content helps them to get regular readers.

  41. FastCash4U says:

    This is the first time that I’ve heard about EPN, currently I am using adsense for my blog and I am also an amazon affiliate.. And yes you are correct that adsense puts up irrelevant ads. *sigh* But anyway, I think EPN is a great way to monetize our websites. I will try this out.. Cheers, and thank you a bunch!

  42. Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself earlier, though.

  43. Rino Lofts says:

    Pretty interesting post – raises some interesting points for debate. I just stumbled upon your blog this morning and wanted to say that I have really liked browsing some of the posts. Anyways, I’ll be subscribingand I hope you keep churning out good content for us.

  44. EPN is a great program if you can get in. It is not easy, eBay won’t tell you why you are rejected, but research and refine your site plus content, content and more good content is a must. eBay don’t like other ads on your site, so take them off before applying, once you’re in you can put them back; don’t forget to have a contact page and privacy policy too. More info: google search “dynamixgate wpbay”

  45. I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.