Why Won’t I Share My Affiliate Sites With Readers?

A couple of emails and comments recently have come to me inquiring about why I don’t provide specific examples of my affiliate sites, BANS sites, etc.   While I certainly understand that it would be ideal if I provided specific sites you could click over and examine closely, there is actually a reason that I don’t.  Well, there are actually two reasons that I don’t, and I figured I would share them in this post.

  1. Niche Theft – Maybe even more so than the Make Money Online niche, Affiliate Marketers (especially upstart ones) often take each others ideas.   That is why I stressed in my previous post how important it is to find people that you trust.   If I shared on this site which niche sites are making me the most money, I guarantee I would magically see several clone sites within a few days.  This is especially true for BANS sites, as it is pretty darn easy to mimic someone else’s BANS site because most of the changes will be in the stylesheet, which people ‘View Source’ and copy on to their BANS themes.
  2. Experience – Trust me when I say that experience is HUGE in affiliate marketing.  In other words, no matter how much myself or anyone else helps you, you will only learn how to truly succeed through trial and error.   I would say 3 out of every 5 sites I launch fail, but these are the experiences that I covet the most and that motivate me to keep refining my techniques.

Though I encourage everyone just starting out to do plenty of trial and error, one thing I do recommend is once you find a niche that does well, or at least is profitable, attack that niche!   Make a cluster of websites in that niche before moving on.   An example would be if you find success in the Barbie (toy) niche, maybe launch a Barbie poster site, Barbie clothing site, and/or whatever other Barbie stuff is selling.   You could also inter-link these sites (as long as the content is similar) and benefit that way.

On a side note, I have launched a couple actual sites (not niche sites) and plan to blog about some of these sites here and what methods I’m taking to monetize them.  Hopefully some of you will have an interest in that.

How To: Researching Good eBay Niches

If you decide to pick up a copy of Build a Niche Store to increase your affiliate income, one of the first things you’ll probably find yourself doing is researching for good niches that convert well on eBay.

Because most popular niches won’t necessarily convert well on eBay, you instead need to focus on products that are in demand.   One place I’ve found success when conducting much of my research is in eBay’s popular section.  They actually go out and track trends, then let us know what is hot.

If you check it regularly, you can often find emerging niches that have a number of keyword-rich domains still available.   For you BANS users, how do you locate good niches?

Build a Niche Store Integrates the PepperJam Network

A couple of weeks ago eBay announced that in addition to eBay Partner Network, PepperJam Network will now be offering an eBay affiliation (long time BANS users will remember that Commission Junction originally housed the eBay affiliate program before it moved to ePN).

As a big time BANS user, I have obviously followed this pretty closely.   The Build a Niche Store team is one of the best in the business, and already they have released a new version of BANS for people that want to use PepperJam instead of ePN.    If you’ve purchased BANS you should be receiving an email with download instructions.

I’ve been exploring the PepperJam Network the past couple weeks as I prepare to launch new campaigns with them and already I have been enjoying what I’ve seen, but at this point I think I will be sticking with ePN as it is working fairly well for me.   I will be keeping an eye on reports from people using PepperJam to see if the results are any better, but I figure the fewer middle men, the better!

I know many of you are finding success with BANS, will you be switching your existing stores to PepperJam Network?

Make Money Online with the eBay Partner Network

In the past I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Build a Niche Store. This is because this is it has made it really easy for me to build multiple affiliate stores in a small amount of time and has proven to be an extremely successful earner for me.

If you end up purchasing BANS at some point, one of the first things you will need to do is setup an eBay Partner Network affiliate account. BANS then fully integrates with ePN, allowing you to setup stores on your own domains for eBay products and receive a share of eBay’s fees.

In my experience, BANS is definitely the easiest way to find success with ePN, but there are actually other ways to use eBay’s API to display eBay items. The only other one I have some experience with is a plugin called PHPBay, which is a WordPress plugin that allows you to integrate eBay auctions directly into your WordPress blog. There is a small cost associated with it, but it is much lower than BANS and only requires some WordPress knowledge to use (no manually setting up databases, etc.). I’ve also heard a lot of good things about this plugin, so WordPress enthusiasts may want to check it out!

What are the benefits of the eBay Partner Network?

In addition to getting paid $25.00 for every person that signs up using your affiliate link, you will also get credit for each auction won within 7 days of your affiliate link being clicked. In other words, your site just needs to convince the person to click over to eBay. Once there, you can earn income on all of their sales for the next week.

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Improve BANS Sites With New BANS Themes

Last month I wrote a quick post to let you know about some templates that were released for BANS sites. I just got a heads up yesterday that Ian Fernando, the guy who created those original BANS templates, has just released a follow up series of new themes for BANS users.

Of course having the man crush on BANS that I do, I decided to check it out. I have to say that I was immediately impressed with Ian’s work, who has continued to raise the bar, and grabbed a copy of his new package for myself and immediately started playing around with the new templates. I think the theme named “Shoes” is probably my favorite yet, so I went ahead and upgraded a few of my sites, including Diamond Investments, which was a site I made specifically for showing you a sample BANS site. Coincidentally, though that site was only created as a demo, it has already generated over $4.00 since it was launched, plus some additional AdSense income! I’m not even using PPC advertising to send traffic to that site and it is a large and very competitive niche.

One thing I really like about this new batch of themes is that each one comes with 3 different stylesheets, so with the “Shoes” example above, you could also upload the same theme using green or purple. I believe if you buy the full package (which is both the original set and new set), you get a total of 18 themes (3 color alterations for all 6 themes).

If you’d like to see more examples of existing themes, I recommend you check out the new BANS templates!

How To: Optimizing Your Income with BANS

In my last post, I introduced you to Build a Niche Store (BANS), which as you probably noticed from my post, it is a product that I’m very passionate about. That post got a little long, so I decided to save some tips for using BANS for a follow up post.

First, I’d like to start with establishing a mindset for using BANS. Unlike keyword sniping where you are looking specifically for an under-utilized niche that has potential with Google AdSense, with BANS you need to focus on niches that have products associated with them. In other words, you wouldn’t want to set up a niche store for construction equipment, as people generally don’t go to eBay to purchase construction equipment (at least I don’t think they do because the shipping prices would be 3 figures!).  You also wouldn’t want to set up a store for services.  What is something that people go to eBay to buy? More specifically, what is something people would research first, then buy on eBay? You can go for a small product that will get a lot of conversions, or a big product where 1-2 commissions a day might make double  or triple figures. This is something to keep in mind while doing your keyword research.

Once you’ve gotten that part down, here are some additional tips for getting the most out of BANS:

  • Link Building Helps – Just like with keyword sniping, it can only help to generate links. Things like adding your sites to directories and leaving comments on high ranking blog posts in your niche can both go a long way to generate traffic.
  • Auction Settings – When choosing how to display your eBay auction ads, you’ll want to display lowest bid items first. That will entice bids and earn you more money. Depending on the product, you may also want to only display “Buy it Now” auctions (which you can control from the admin panel).
  • Get People to eBay – Just like how Amazon Associates works, you want to get the traffic to eBay. You make $25.00 if people create an eBay account and you can get paid if people bid on other auctions than the one you referred them to as long as they got there using your referral link.
  • Create a BANS Subdomain – Depending on the type of website you currently run, you could setup a niche store subdomain on your existing blog to help get more sales.  This method would be ideal for a product review blog or some kind of blog that deals closely with something on eBay. 

I know that some of you have been using BANS for awhile.  Do you have any other tips for those new to Build a Niche Store?

How To: Find a Great BANS Niche

In the past when talking about creating a Niche store (BANS), one of the things I have emphasized is the importance of finding a domain/niche that will be successful with BANS.   If I’m going to encourage people to give BANS a try, I need to help set them up for success, right?   Here are some things to think about when trying to find the right niche for a BANS site.

Once you’ve got the BANS software, it is time to find a couple niches to start using it.  If you were to target a niche to advertise furniture, cars, homes, or other large items you will have a much harder time finding success.  This is because people often won’t buy that kind of stuff from eBay due to the insane shipping charges or other complications that can arise.   Now, I realize they are sold there and people do buy them, but there is a very limited market for them and with BANS you are going to find more success by converting a lot of smaller sales rather than a few large sales to make your money. 

I’ve also found that trying to build a BANS store around a service will also make it more difficult to find success.   You can find eBooks and other things on eBay, but there probably aren’t a lot of people looking to buy that kind of stuff.   You’ll want to save these domains for your keyword sniping and other affiliate marketing niche sites that you will be creating (remember, we want to diversify, not put all our eggs in the BANS basket).   In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about affiliate marketing with services and how best to approach this. 

So, how do you find a good BANS niche?   Here are a few things to consider when doing your research:

  • Scouting Niche Competition – When trying to find a niche to target, I use a tool called Micro Niche Finder.  It has a low cost associated with it, but it does a great job of helping me find those niches that aren’t being properly filled.  You simply enter a keyword and it gives you a variety of similar keywords.  You can then use it to check on how much search results there are for a keyword, how much competition there is, etc.    If you can find a niche that gets traffic but doesn’t have much competition, you’ll be in the top few search results right away.   This is a free way to get traffic to your BANS stores. 
  • Keyword-Rich Domain Names – If you can get your niche’s keywords in the domain name, this will go a long way to help your domain get a good search engine ranking.  It also helps if the domain is 6 months to 1 year old before establishing a site.   This helps build trust from the search engines.   Please keep in mind that some keywords may have trademarks associated with them and could put you at legal risk, so you may want to do a trademark search first before registering.  
  • eBay Search Results – We talked above about trying to find a niche that converts well with eBay.   How many of your item are being sold on eBay right now.  How many categories can you add to your website?  For example, for a toy site, you could add pages for clothing associated with the toys, trading cards, action figures comic books, or whatever else.   You may want to get more specific and target one of those areas, or try to get a good domain where you can try to sell all 3 areas. 

Those 3 should get you started.   Once you’ve got your niches researched and your domains registered, the BANS store can be completed in less than an hour.   Sometimes though, the research before hand can be a little time consuming.   Remember that you are planting a seed that should pay off in the long run, not a week or month from now, so research and find the right niches.   Finding success early will lead to finding success often, but finding failure early could lead to a missed out opportunity.

Customize Your BANS Store with BANS Templates

In the past few weeks I’ve talked a bit about how to easily make an eBay niche store and some tips on finding the most success with BANS. Based upon this sites analytics, it looks like there was a lot of interest in this product, so I figured I would finish covering this product before moving on to the next one I’m using to make money online. In this post I will be presenting another idea to help you customize your BANS site to look the way you want it to.

When you create your BANS sites, the first thing you’ll notice is that they are easy to setup and come with all the functionality you could possibly need in an eBay niche store, without any extra work. The one flaw they have is that they all pretty much look like. You’ve got a few templates to choose from, including two or three sidebars, but the colors, the search function, and the footer are all pretty much the same. Ideally you want to grab the web surfers attention when they find your site so they stick around and click on affiliate links, advertisements, or your eBay store’s merchandise.

One thing you can do is look into getting some unique BANS templates for your sites. I wish I would have thought to check for something like this when I first purchased the BANS software, because I put a lot of time into reorganizing the styling the theme to look how I wanted it to.   You can check out one of my top earners, my Poker Supplies store, to get an idea of what I’ve been using for some of my BANS sites.

With BANS templates, you can easily plug in a unique non-BANS look without any extra effort (though you’ll still need to do the banner obviously). So far, the best BANS templates I have found were made by Ian Fernando. Here is a sample of how they look:

The eye appeal for these themes is incredible and they allow you to easily integrate a lot of your pages and other advertisements flawlessly into the theme so they look natural. If this looks like something you would be interested in, you can find out more information on Ian’s website.

How to: Easily Build an eBay Niche Store

In one of my posts last week I mentioned that I would be writing about affiliate marketing more often on this site, and I figured where better to start than with something that I have come to rely heavily on to generate a significant portion of my online income over the past few months.

First, a little background. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve had some success with keyword sniping, which is basically locating a small niche to target and create a blog with about 10-15 posts. Then place some advertising and affiliate links on the site and forget about it. If you’ve done your homework, over time you can then create a large amount of income for no additional work.

One of the things that appealed to me about making money online with keyword sniping is the ability to “finish” the site, removing any real need for ongoing upkeep. The problem with this method is that it can sometimes take 10-15 hours initially to get the site setup and ready to roll. Why is that? Well, in order to successfully snipe a keyword, you’ll first need to do your research and locate the keywords you are going to target. After that, you’ve got to build your website, create a theme, then research and write about 10-15 posts. Add in the time it takes to locate affiliate programs that match up well with your site and you’re putting a lot of time into each individual niche site that you’ve created.

I knew there had to be an easier way, so I decided to go out and find it. One consistent thing I noticed while reading a couple of the affiliate marketing forums that I frequent is a website software that allows you to completely generate a website in under 2 hours. Yes, you read that right. I can do EVERYTHING in under 2 hours from registering a domain to completed website.

After reading at least 15 success stories from forum posters (these were not situations where the poster had anything to gain so I felt their recommendations had considerable value), I decided to give this magic product a try. The first day I set up 3 “niche stores” using domains I had registered in the past but hadn’t found a use for yet. The first store took about the full 2 hours, but after that it was less than an hour per website to set them up. Then I basically left them alone for a week to see what happened.

After a week I hadn’t made any money, but I had sent a lot of traffic over to eBay, which I viewed as a success. If you are an affiliate marketer, conversions are great, but getting clicks in the first place is extremely important. I knew it was only a matter of time. About 4 days later I checked again and I had already made about $10.00 from these 3 sites. Based upon this success, I decided to launch a few more sites, bringing me to a total of about 8 niche stores.

Fast forward a couple months and these sites are pulling in anywhere from $2.00-$5.00 a day (individually), which as you can imagine, adds up very quickly over time. The domains are easily paying for themselves, and the income is both comparable and in many cases better than using Google AdSense. I’m now in the process of researching and locating some optimal niches to target and continue to grow my business.

So what is this magical product? What I’m talking about is Build a Niche Store (although commonly refered to as BANS). When I first signed up, I was cautious about investing the price of $97.00 for this software. Now that I have experience with using BANS, I would gladly pay more for it. It paid for itself in only two months, and I think I could have generated additional income if I had invested some more time into making more stores before today.

So, how does BANS work? In order to use it, you simply need hosting account and a domain name (or multiple names for multiple stores). The creators of BANS recommend HostGator for your web hosting because it makes a few things easier than other web hosts, but their instructions are very specific and walk you through settings up your store no matter who you are hosting with. You upload it and run the install script, then you’re all set.

Everything else you can do from the Admin panel (a walkthrough is provided while you get used to it). You just enter your eBay Affiliate Network ID (they explain how to get an account with them if you don’t have one) and set your own meta tags, titles, and descriptions. You also have full control over how things are displayed on the site. BANS will then create a complete eBay affiliate niche store on the domain for you. That is really all you have to do, but you are also able to create posts in the same manner that you would if you were keyword sniping. The idea is that you can get more pages indexed and bring more traffic to your site, which in turn will hopefully convert to more affiliate commissions.

Because I know sometimes it is easier to see the final product in action, I decided to create sort of a demo. If you’d like to see a BANS niche store in action, I took one of my spare domains and set one up for you to see how the store looks and works. This is not one of my niche stores that I mentioned above, but simply is a niche store that I set up specifically for demonstration.  You can see the niche store over at DiamondInvestment.net.  Now imagine that site with a custom made banner at the top and some stylesheet changes to give it the colors you want!

As far as site functionality goes, obviously if I was going to put some work into generating income with this site, your target audience would be people buying diamonds and jewelry on eBay. You can see from the categories in the sidebar that it covers a wide variety of diamond jewelry areas based upon the specifications I gave it. You also get to choose between a variety of 2-column, 3-column layouts, and advertisement styles so the store can look the way you want it to. You can also add a header if you want to complete the look of a full fledge store.

As you can probably tell from the above, this is not a paid post or anything of that sort. I’m very passionate about this product and would recommend it to anyone that has webhosting that supports addon Domains. With only a little effort it will pay for itself and over time I think you can make a considerable amount of passive income. I feel that for each site I’ve put an hour or two into building, I will get returns of $200.00+ over the course of the year. My hope is after a few more months to have 20+ stores making me passive income and that will hopefully be for years to come!

For my next post, I’m going to work on creating some strategies and tips to maximize your income with BANS including what niches to avoid and what settings are best. In the meantime, go ahead and check out Build a Niche Store. Probably the best investment I’ve made online to date.