5
Oct

BANS Is For Sale For A Mere $500,000

Owners of Build A Niche Store just got word that the eBay affiliate store builder is going on the auction block. Yes, BANS is for sale. Actually it’s already up for auction at Flippa.com and you can own it for a Buy It Now price of only $500,000. Or if that’s a bit too steep for you and you think you can get it for cheaper through the auction process, the opening bid starts at just $200,000. I’d sure like to collect an affiliate fee on that sale.

Not only is BANS for sale, but everything related to BANS including N1Way (which was honestly a bit disappointing) and 27 related domains in various stages of development go along with it. It does seem kind of odd that the developers just came out with the new ebook or e-online-whatever, The N1Way or The Number 1 Way To Make Money Online only 3 months ago and they are now selling the whole show. Actually when you see that the total revenue generated from the ethingy N1Way was only $16,926.59, it’s not quite as surprising.

It’s a pretty interesting read at the auction page to look at the profit generated from BANS and all the domains that go with the sale as well as how the profit from BANS took a serious nose dive late last year and into this year. Profit for 2008 was $267,985 and profit so far for 2009 is right around 20% of that at $54,009. In reading the auction page you see the revenue drop off beginning in July or August of 2008 where they state:

At this point BANS was starting to get a bad reputation as being used by spammers so we re-developed the sales presentation and user forum accepting a significant cut in revenue so that it would have a legitimate shot as a long term project.

It was about that time that several people including myself started seeing some of their version 3.0 BANS stores getting deindexed by Google. I’ll take part of the blame for that in that I was putting up too many stores and not having enough time to fully develop them, while a lot of the blame goes to eBay affiliate spammers who used BANS for hundreds or thousands of garbage sites with no content and only auction listings. The general consensus was that Google didn’t like this and identified something in v 3.0 that was a footprint and removed many, many sites from its index. Some of my eBay affiliate income has returned since taking a big dive around the end of 2008, but it’s still not where it was at its height of around $1,000 per month.

While BANS is for up for auction, it in no way changes what I’m doing with it. Since the glory days, I’ve continued to work on a couple of my sites with one taking up the majority of my BANS related time. Getting backlinks and working on a blog added to my primary store has made somewhat of a difference and that will be the direction I’ll continue to head in for the time being as far as BANS relate affiliate revenue. I also have several other sites with eBay auctions and the good news is that my Quality Click Pricing Report last month was significantly more than twice the actual revenue earned. As long as that holds, I’ll have nothing to complain to eBay about its new click pricing model. If it doesn’t, well then, it will be suspect.

BANS will still continue to be a great product regardless of who owns it as long as you develop your stores and treat it like a business.

Popularity: 38% [?]

Tags: , , ,

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my full RSS feed or you can have posts send directly to your inbox if you subscribe by email.

Bookmarks: | del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | reddit | StumbleUpon

11
May

How Much Content Should Your BANS Store Have?

I haven’t written much lately about Build A Niche Store, but I still do come across those stores that have little or no product descriptions and absolutely zero articles for content. And since I’ve been working quite a bit on my gold coins BANS store I thought I’d discuss how much content you should add to your store and a couple things you can do to get better rankings and more traffic.

Besides product descriptions of at least 2 paragraphs for each and every one of your products pages you should treat your BANS store as an on going project and continue to add pages to it on a fairly regular basis. I changed my philosophy back several months ago as did many BANS users, because of sites getting deindexed, in that the general consensus had been to build as many stores as possible and add content as you could. Now, I wouldn’t recommend working on more that one or two BANS stores at a time until you can add at least 30 or 40 pages of content to each one along with appropriate descriptions for each page that features auctions. You also want to get 30 or 40 articles to start off with placed in article directories for those all important incoming links.

Now, don’t think you’re going to get away with picking up a few articles from an article site and throw them on your store along with nonsensical product descriptions and poof, you’re done with that store. I’ve never been one to advocate the easy way of affiliate marketing and anything other than serious treatment of your content by giving your niche audience the quality information they’re looking for just isn’t worth doing.

Once you have your 30 to 40 pages, the same amount of articles and relevant product descriptions, congratulations, you now have the beginnings of a BANS store. I’ve read on the Build A Niche Store forums that some people have put up 10 or 15 pages of content on their sites and now they can’t think of anything else to add to their site. If you can’t think of more than 10 pages of content to add to your BANS site then either you need to change your niche or, more than likely, you need to expand your thinking.

On my gold coins BANS site I currently have 78 pages of content in several sections such as alternative investments, buying gold coins, the financial bailout, gold bullion, rare gold coins and more. These are all subjects related to gold coins that will eventually draw in the kind of visitor that could possibly be interested in either collecting gold coins or investing in gold coins. It’s not really that hard coming up with stuff to write about related to your niche. Just go to Google News or Google Blog Search and search for the top keywords in your area of interest. You’re bound to find lots of ideas for content and articles for article marketing.

As you continue to build your BANS store, the more relevant, quality content you add, the more your site begins to look like quality site to the search engines and your visitors. As far as some of the other things you can do to get better rankings are remove auctions from your home page and start a blog on your BANS site. I’ve seen my site completely disappear for some top keywords in just a couple of days when turning on home page auctions and then have watched that totally reverse itself in the same amount of days when flipping the switch again. I don’t have a clue why this happens, but Google just doesn’t like to see BANS sites with auctions on the home page, so get rid of them.

Also, blogs normally only take a few days to appear in the search engines and the gold coins blog added to the BANS site, while it only has 8 posts, it is indexed and starting to get traffic. The blog covers some things related to gold coins and other economic news and gives me an outlet to rant about the current state of financial affairs in this country while giving people access to alternative investments in gold if they choose to do so.

Yes, building a quality BANS site is still a lot of work, but having a successful affiliate business is all about work and quality these days. There are certainly smart and easier ways of building your affiliate business and a BANS store, but there aren’t any short cuts to easy money any longer.

Popularity: 27% [?]

Tags: , , , ,

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my full RSS feed or you can have posts send directly to your inbox if you subscribe by email.

Bookmarks: | del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | reddit | StumbleUpon

2
Mar

eBay Partner Network – Committed To Quality Or Only Saving Money?

eBay recently released a report entitled, The Coming Evolution in Affiliate Marketing: A Focus On Quality that as its title suggests, reports on how online businesses are starting to look for more quality traffic, leads and sales from their affiliates. While the report does offer some insight into what is producing a quality customer for online businesses, it is much more about the eBay Partner Network than anything else.

Affiliate marketing is no doubt going through a revolution. The days of garbage affiliate sites filled with banners from 30 different merchants making any money are a thing of the past because of much more diligence in search engines cleaning up their indexes. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to become a member of certain affiliate networks such as EPN and some CPA networks because they either want to see an already developed and quality looking website actually owned by the applying affiliate or know that you have some experience generating revenue online. Also, it must be somewhat of a burden for businesses to keep a lot of dead weight in their affiliate programs, which is why you see companies such as eBay periodically purge their programs of non-producing affiliates.

In combing through volumes of data that eBay has gathered since bringing their affiliate program in house with EPN, they have come up with some interesting results. eBay is finding that incremental sales (sales that would not have happened if it were not for the affiliate) are often much higher from small affiliates that build quality content sites, than from large volume affiliates that send tons of traffic and produce a huge amount of sales. This tends to explain the often frustrating ACRU (new eBay sign-ups) payouts experienced by some eBay affiliates.

While I’m sure the data gathered by eBay in the last several months as outlined in the above mentioned report has been helpful in peering into the activities of affiliates and helped them better adjust their pricing structures in paying these affiliates, it is woefully incomplete and somewhat flawed. I say this for several reasons but the biggest is that they have not been running their affiliate program and gathering data long enough to really understand what’s going on.

The eBay Partner Network has only been in existence since April 2008 and all affiliates that had links going through Commission Junction had to have everything changed over to EPN by June 1, 2008 (Their original 30 day deadline was extended by an additional 30 days). Couple that with the fact that there was probably an additional month of wild swings in clicks due to spidering activity from search engines needing to be filtered out and assuming data gathering ended by Jan 30th to be able to write this report, and you have only 7 months of good clean information.

How a company like eBay can make such decisions about buying trends through affiliates and payouts for those affiliates when they haven’t even gathered complete data for an entire year, makes little sense. Not only that, it lacks long term thinking that could come back to hurt them. It is especially short sighted when you take into consideration the extraordinary changes in the US economy and on Wall Street starting back in October 2008. Traditional buying patterns may have changed or stopped completely since people have lost their jobs and much of their savings and their investments in the market. A simple example would be that people still shop for merchandise and click-through from affiliate sites to eBay, but are much less likely to buy. They are in effect, window shopping on the web.

The biggest problem many affiliates now have with eBay is with their payouts of new eBay sign-ups or ACRU’s. The way eBay reports these ACRU’s within the affiliate’s EPN interface is the thing that has most affiliates bugged. Affiliates don’t know how much they will be receiving for these new eBay members until the 10th of the following month that they are created in. This makes it difficult for the affiliate to keep track of their revenue actually earn from eBay. For example, in my January Affiliate Income Report I stated my earnings from eBay were $401.92, yet when I received the payout from EPN into my PayPal account towards the middle of February it was $70 less because my ACRU’s were adjusted down from $28 to $10 for each new sign-up.

What’s happening here is eBay is paying out anywhere from $1 to $50 per new member sign-up based on the lifetime value of each new member and they are determining that value by gathering anywhere from 10 to 40 days worth of data on a new member. How eBay makes this decision based on such little data is simply beyond me. Can you really determine what a new member is going to do for their lifetime with such a small slice of their activity? While they claim in the report that thousands of affiliates are receiving increased compensation because of the new pricing structure, there is certainly a buzz around the net on blogs and in forums, including their own, from affiliates that are receiving less compensation. They might want to read their own affiliate forum to see how many people are ticked about the new ACRU payouts. It is terribly unmotivating for affiliates to expect a certain payout at the end of the month only to have it decrease by a significant amount several days later.

While eBay supposedly benefits from crunching all their data and paying out affiliates based on the quality of their leads, they don’t share that data on how they determine the quality of the leads you send them. There is a report in your EPN interface that allows you to see individual campaign quality as long as you have enough ACRU’s to register in the report, but all my reports say I don’t have enough data determine my quality. Funny, somehow eBay determined the quality of my ACRU’s and it would be nice if they would share that data with affiliates so they can do something about it. Hey eBay, we can’t change what were doing if we don’t know what were doing.

I have to wonder if eBay is really committed to quality as the title of the report suggests or if they are just looking for a way to save money by paying out less to their affiliates.

You can check the eBay blog to get access to the downloadable pdf report.

Popularity: 12% [?]

Tags: , , ,

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my full RSS feed or you can have posts send directly to your inbox if you subscribe by email.

Bookmarks: | del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | reddit | StumbleUpon

27
Jan

Can’t Get Into The eBay Affiliate Program, Try This

Can't get Into EPN?It seems like the powers that be at eBay are making it more and more difficult to get into the eBay Partner Network as of late. Even those that have substantial web sites are having their applications rejected. While it may certainly seem unfair to those just getting into affiliate marketing, since eBay can make you quite a bit of money, eBay is just trying to protect themselves and the quality of the traffic going to their auction sites.

Gone are the days when a new affiliate can join EPN, put up a few links on their blog or site and start making money from eBay. In the offline world when you want to buy a franchise, having the money to do so isn’t going to guarantee you get the MacDonald’s you’ve been wanting. Franchisers want their name, image and complete system protected because that’s what makes that particular system work. So why should you expect eBay or any other large online company to be any different?

With Google not looking favorably on thin affiliate sites, article directories such as EzineArticles.com not letting you link to BANS type site pages with auctions on them and other factors, it is evident that the affiliate game is changing. It has been some time coming, but a few years ago the search engines were clogged with sites that featured every affiliate banner imaginable, Adsense arbitrage sites and so much garbage it took some time to find the results you wanted.

The point is, eBay is obviously one of the players demanding affiliates clean up their act. You saw it several months ago when they let several affiliates go who were sending them junky traffic and you see it now in the way they are selectively letting new affiliates into their program. So what’s a new and potential eBay affiliate to do who wants to join up? I’ll list a few things below, but they won’t be quick and they won’t be easy, because that’s not what eBay wants any longer.

These tips are all speculative as I don’t have a hot-line to the head honchos at eBay, but some should be pretty obvious they would help you get into the program.

1. Join eBay as a seller first and sell something – I would be willing to bet that eBay sellers will have a much easier time getting into eBay’s affiliate program than will non sellers. If you have been through the motions of selling through the auction format, you obviously understand the process and that can only translate into a better affiliate business for yourself. If you own a restaurant and want a MacDonald’s franchise, you have a better chance of getting one than if you run a lawn maintenance business or something else unrelated to burgers and fries.

I probably sold 50 things on eBay before joining as an affiliate and I’ve only had 1 item that didn’t sell the whole time while being a member. I was pretty familiar with what people wanted and how the business of eBay worked before the first affiliate sale was made.

2. Join eBay as a seller in your country of origin – As an addition to point number one, it’s probably a good idea to already be an eBay seller and have sold things on the site in your nation.

3. You should own the website you submit to eBay – this should be a no brainer, but people do submit really nice sites to eBay that they don’t own hoping that this great site will better their chances of getting in. If you don’t think eBay can figure this out, you probably don’t deserve to be one of their affiliates.

4. Don’t submit a BANS site as your only url – If you think you’re going to get into eBay with a BANS site and nothing else, it isn’t going to happen. Build a substantial niche site first selling other products from merchants besides eBay and once you get accepted you can add a BANS store to your existing site.

5. Build Your BANS site with content before you submit it – you can always use BANS as your content management system and build a substantial site before you put a single auction page on it. If your niche is cell phones for example, why not put up 40 or 50 pages of info about different phones, review and accessories available before you set up the site with auctions? You can always use Adsense and other affiliate programs to monetize your site even if you never get accepted to eBay.

6. If you have a make money site and that’s your niche, forget it! – Make money online sites and blogs are done, the niche is saturated and the party is over. If your only reason for building a site is to make money by telling people how to make money, do something else. eBay doesn’t want people selling scammy ebooks any longer (they got rid of those categories) on their site and if your an affiliate thinking there’s an EPN business there, there isn’t. Really, build something else, it’s done.

7. Make sure your niche is product related – I doubt very seriously eBay will let you in their affiliate program if your business is all about service even if you get a million visitors a day. eBay is a product driven business and they want affiliates that understand that. You stand a much better chance of being accepted into the EPN program if you have that cell phone site mentioned earlier than you do if your specialty is teaching people to speak in public or doing teleseminars.

The bottom line is that whoever is approving new eBay Partners now is going to want to be impressed by what they see you’re doing. They obviously want affiliates that understand the business of eBay, not people who are going to give it a try and see what happens.

Yes, doing the things listed above will take a substantial amount of time for you as an affiliate if you aren’t already somewhere along in the game. If you have some of these things in place just adjust and tweak where necessary and resubmit your application at a later date. Even if you never get accepted to be an eBay Partner your business will still benefit. eBay isn’t the only deal in town, it should just be an addition and another stream of income in the whole scheme of things.

Popularity: 21% [?]

Tags: , , ,

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my full RSS feed or you can have posts send directly to your inbox if you subscribe by email.

Bookmarks: | del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | reddit | StumbleUpon

26
Jan

Sound The Alarm, BANS Is Dead! Oh Really?

Occasionally I see blog posts declaring the death of Build A Niche Store (BANS) and receive comments on the blog here predicting the same. Many times when this happens I head over to the BANS forums expecting to see Hiroshima type devastation and read about all its users calling for some of Obama’s stimulus handouts. Funny though, that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

What I do find is BANS users complaining somewhat about Google’s unfairness (who doesn’t complaining about that?), but an equal or larger amount of users gleeful about new records their network of stores or usually just one or two stores are setting month after month. At least once a week some new user testifies about making it into the $1,000 per month club (Not a real club, just a serious achievement users like to point to) or some other record such as $2,000, $3,000 or $4,000 per month. Apparently BANS users making $500 to $4,000 per month don’t realize it’s no longer a good way to make money.

Where there is a problem with BANS there is a problem with just about anything else you do on the Internet. Saying BANS is dead because of what is happening to a few users is like saying WordPress is dead, or Amazon is dead, or Azoogle, Neverblue and Pepperjam are dead. Just because some affiliates spam forums, build horrid looking sites, misrepresent products or steal commissions and gets caught doesn’t mean whatever affiliate programs or tools they’re using is dead. It means those affiliates need to get into and understand, really understand the game or get out and work in a cubicle or go flip burgers for a living.

On the other hand, yes, BANS is dead. It is dead for those that put up crummy sites that have nothing but auctions, pages and pages of auctions with no content. It is dead for those that build one site with nothing but auctions and expect to get accepted into eBay’s affiliate program. It is dead for those affiliates that create 20 sites that have 1 paragraph on the home page and nothing else. It is dead for those that build a site with every category and try to make it look just like eBay. It is dead for those that build sites with 30 different categories totally unrelated to each other. How anyone can believe they can throw up, in other words, barf out, a BANS site with zero content and make money is beyond me. Have you not been reading the news that Google wants relevant and useful information in its index?

Get a grip, how do you feel when you run across crap sites when you’re looking for something? And you want visitors to your equally crappy BANS site to spend more than 1 second window shopping at your Expensive-Watches-With-No-Content-And-An-Ugly-Header.com website. Am I missing something here? Google certainly isn’t.

If you want to build a business on the net and are committed to putting together a quality portal with information for visitors in your particular niche then Build A Niche Store is still for you. However, if you just want to make a quick buck and plan on creating a network of spammy BANS sites to match your splog network, please, don’t clog up the system.

Popularity: 12% [?]

Tags: , , ,

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my full RSS feed or you can have posts send directly to your inbox if you subscribe by email.

Bookmarks: | del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | reddit | StumbleUpon