Publisher Stories

Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing: Real-Life Stories, Part 3

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In the third post in this series, we’re sharing stories about how some of our partners got into affiliate marketing. We asked members of our Insiders community how and why they began, how they got up to speed, and what they wish they’d known then. Here’s what they had to say: "I didn't set out to be an internet marketer and still don't think of myself as one. I started off as a vintage clothing seller and blogger. My readers and customers loved my taste and the items I'd pick out, so I decided to start doing more of that by "curating" the eBay vintage clothing auctions each week and doing a post of my favorite items.

“Eventually, it became more profitable for me to just do the curated post than to actually go out and buy vintage clothes, clean them, post them on eBay, package them, ship them and handle customer service. When I saw the success I was having with the Vintage Fashion Roundups, I expanded and now do a Vintage Home Roundup and Vintage Jewelry Roundup as well. In 2011, I was recipient of the ‘Rising Star’ award from eBay!"

-Mary Kincaid, Zuburbia

"I started in affiliate marketing and other internet ventures in 1998. My first go was a search engine similar to Yahoo, and I built it to millions of visitors a month, and was even featured on CNN. I sold advertising and banners on it along with affiliate offers from different companies. But a trademark issue with the domain name killed it, which shows you that you need to do your research on your domain name before you use it to build a business! My mistake cost me millions.

“Next, I sold hosting for a few years and made niche search engines for different topics and monetized the sites with affiliate marketing. I first became an eBay affiliate with Commission Junction, then migrated to EPN. I have participated in many different affiliate programs over the years and eBay has been the most profitable by far."

-Shane Dolby

"I started in affiliate marketing around 2005. I was in the very early learning phase and quickly discovered the learning never ends. I was selling a lot of information products at that time, and that sort of led naturally into affiliate marketing, though it was never that successful in terms of making a lot of money.

“I was introduced to EPN when the Bump Sites became popular. They were pretty simple to set up and the return was not too bad at all. Of course, then Google changed and eBay changed, as is the case in any niche you happen to work in. Monetizing blogs is a great use of affiliate marketing and social media has increased the reach exponentially. I've decided that I'm in it for the long haul and it's time to step up my game."

-Kathy Keefe, sassyssavings.com

Check back on the blog for more publisher stories and if you have a story to share, let us know in the comments, or apply to join Insiders for more opportunities.

Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing: Real-Life Stories, Part 2

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In the second post in this series, we’re sharing stories about how a few of our partners got into affiliate marketing. We hope this offers a bit of encouragement and insight for affiliates who are just getting started. We asked members of our Insiders community how and why they began, how they got up to speed quickly, and what they wish they’d known then. Here is what some of our affiliates had to say:

"I started off as a deal blogger in August 2011, during a time when we were struggling to make ends meet and couponing our way to make things work for our family of six. Now we run successful lifestyle blogs and use affiliate marketing through eBay and several other programs to help become a resource for our loyal followers. I wish I had known about monetization."

- Daisy Teh, TheItMom.com

"I started by looking for ways to cover the cost of running a startup. I went down the route of Google ads on my site, but while looking for more ways to monitise the site, I found an article about EPN. I soon realised that EPN and other affiliate programs provided a better revenue stream than the business model I was building. I'm still building my EPN model and I'm only 9 months in."

- Nigel Brookes, www.motoringdeals.co.uk

"When I was 15 years old, I created my first website/blog and my first radio station, where I promoted music that I found interesting on YouTube (with no profit). Later, I got into web design and created a design office, partnering with a few friends. Today, I'm an undergraduate Computer Systems Engineer.

“I started affiliate marketing about two years ago when I started to search for ways to monetize all the time I spend on social media (and the internet in general). Now I'm a web designer, an affiliate marketer and a radio producer!"

- Theo Palios

“I used to work at an advertising agency where I managed the PPC department. I was first introduced to affiliate marketing through one of our clients, as we handled their daily reporting. It was then I realized the potential of affiliate marketing.

“I participated a lot on forums such as phpBay and other private forums and discussed strategies a lot with other folks. I've learned a lot from testing different SEO methods, PPC strategies, and from hearing how others manage and monetize their own portfolio. I think participating in communities has been key in my own success.

“I wish I knew about affiliate marketing way back in the early 2000s, when SEO was much easier. And of course I wish I knew about the value of domains back then!”

- Sarah

We’ll continue to share more publisher stories in upcoming blog posts. Do you have a story to share? Let us know in the comments, or apply to join Insiders for more opportunities.

Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing: Real-Life Stories

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We’ve been asking Insiders how they got their start in affiliate marketing, and have been blown away by the responses! All paths are different, and offer inspiration for newer affiliates who are looking to dip their toes into the industry. We asked how and why our affiliates got started, how they got up to speed quickly, and what they wish they’d known at the beginning. Here is a sample of our affiliate stories:

"I had been helping others with their blogs and websites, and decided it was time to create a viable business via EPN for myself. After a few (well, quite a few) false starts, I think I nearly have my site ready as I have been relying on social media to drive traffic... this has been a good experience. Admittedly, I am only a month in, yet I have been experimenting and have managed to hit my first monthly target."

-Adrian Cole

"I've been an antiques dealer specializing in Asian Art for over 35 years. We also have a fairly active account on eBay as sellers. We created a site designed specifically to feature only sellers who sell genuine antique Chinese-Japanese-Asian items on eBay. Collectors and dealers began using the site and asking us to feature their listings as well, if they checked out we included them and kept building.

“We then heard about eBay's affiliate program and opted to join at the suggestion of an eBay rep. A few years ago, we added a weekly newsletter page featuring auction format items of merit closing in the next week, as well as a newsfeed and other information. Today, the newsletter is ranked by Google, Yahoo and Bing as number one in the world under our key terms, which seems to draw more and more people each week."

-Peter Combs, bidamount.com

“I got started in affiliate marketing mildly around 2005, then more seriously over the following few years. I had a strong drive to develop a work-at-home self-employment situation, and I could see that affiliate marketing would probably play a central role in that, and it eventually did.

“I'm mostly self-taught, as I would imagine many online marketers are. Ya kinda gotta dive in and figure out a lot on your own.

“If I could whisper some tips to my earlier self, I'd probably focus on following my own insights more, and following the crowd less. When you're new at anything, it's only natural to begin learning based on conventional wisdom. But eventually it can really help to find your own path, disagree on things with some of the popular talking heads, and ‘go deep’ in your various business strategies.”

-Helios825, helios825.org

We’ll continue to share more publisher stories in upcoming blog posts. Do you have a story to share? Let us know in the comments, or join Insiders for more opportunities.

Publisher Stories: Ziff Davis

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We recently sat down with Jessica Spira of Ziff Davis to chat about her company’s partnership with ePN, and her take on opportunities in affiliate marketing. Ziff Davis publishes properties across the tech, gaming and men’s lifestyle verticals, including PC Mag, TechBargains, IGN and AskMen. TechBargains was an ePN partner before Ziff Davis acquired the site at the end of 2013, which led the publisher group to look into leveraging ePN opportunities across its other sites.

In this Publisher Story, Jessica speaks about the increased importance of mobile in the near future, with buyers now using tablets and mobile devices to do everything from browsing to buying. In addition, Jessica names content as king in 2015, as marketers, merchants and end users seek more contextually relevant experiences.

Jessica mentions how eBay has evolved over the years, citing the availability of great Buy It Now deals. She says visitors may not know about all the new opportunities, so she recommends evangelizing a bit in order to build a successful partnership. From there, Jessica says it’s key for publishers to form and grow relationships based on trust and understanding, and she’s pleased that Ziff Davis has that with ePN.

We hope you enjoy this inside look, and we thank Jessica and her team at Ziff Davis for participating.

Publisher Stories: Offers.com

offers565 From time to time, we like to take a deeper look into what our publishers are up to, going behind the scenes to share how they’re working with eBay Partner Network to build their businesses. We recently sat down with Howard Schaffer, Vice President of Partner Development for Offers.com, a coupon and deals website.

Offers.com launched in 2009 to serve consumers who were looking for ways to save time and money while shopping online. In the site’s quest to access a wider selection of product deals, they began working with ePN over a year ago. Howard says the team likes working with ePN because of the variety of products and brands available, in addition to the technologies available to access deals.

Howard also talks a bit about the goals Offers.com has for the rest of 2014, which include growing to be a top deals site, working closely with ePN to source quality deals, and improved seasonal and holiday planning – anything they can do to give consumers timely access to the best deals online. They’re also focusing on mobile, going after consumers who browse and buy from their phones.

As far as tips for new publishers, Howard’s advice is just to jump in and get started. From there, publishers can explore all the different ways to find deals on eBay, which include ePN communications such as emails and blog posts to tools such as product feeds and the API.

We’d like to thank Howard and his team at Offers.com for letting us peak behind the curtain of their day-to-day business.

Publisher Stories: Skimlinks

skimlinks We love catching up with our partners and being able to share their thoughts firsthand with the rest of our community. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Skimlinks, which was originally launched in 2006 as an online destination to help make group buying decisions. In 2008, the company decided to expand their services to publishers and partnered with eBay Partner Network.

Skimlinks’ audience includes publishers who want to get involved in content commerce without having to devote significant resources to it — whether it’s a small blogger or a large media site. In this video, Skimlinks’ VP of Sales and Business Development, Buck Smith, talks about why the company’s relationship with ePN works and the tools they find most valuable — including ePN’s Transaction Download Report and data feeds.

Smith also offers a piece of advice for new publishers: Focus on the content. He notes that developing engaging content will not only help grow your audience but will also play a pivotal role in all facets of a business.

Watch the video below to hear more about Skimlinks’ upcoming plans and tools as well as industry trends the company is seeing, including native advertising and programmatic ad buying.

We want to thank Buck and his team over at Skimlinks for helping us put this project together. We wish Skimlinks an amazing year and we’re excited to have them as our partner!

Publisher Stories: VigLink

VigLink565 In a recent eBay Partner Network survey, many of our partners told us how fond they were of our Publisher Stories series. It seems that sharing common experiences and working toward continued growth and success is universal among publishers on our network. With that in mind, we’re excited to share the story of VigLink.

VigLink maximizes earnings for tens of thousands of publishers and works with more than 30,000 merchants, processing billions of page views and over three hundred million clicks every month.

Recently we sat down with Founder & CEO, Oliver Roup, to talk about how they work with ePN, the value of the true enthusiast customer and where he thinks the opportunities are in affiliate marketing.

We want to thank Oliver and his team for assisting us with this segment and sharing their story. We wish VigLink continued success through the rest of this year and into 2014!

Publisher Stories: TechBargains

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One of my favorite parts of my job at eBay Partner Network is getting to know our partners on a deeper level. I love it when I have the opportunity to sit down and chat with our publishers to get to know their business. What are they excited about? Where are their pain points? How can we work with them in a more efficient way?

Recently we got a chance to speak with Yung Trang, President of  TechBargains, about their history with ePN and why our program is a natural fit for their business.

We want to thank Yung and the rest of the TechBargains team for opening their offices up to us and sharing a bit about what makes their company and their culture so fantastic. We’re excited to have them as a partner in the program and we wish them continued success throughout 2013 and beyond!

Publisher Stories: Slickdeals

slickdeals A few weeks back our team traveled to Las Vegas to attend Affiliate Summit West. While we were in town, we made arrangements to visit one of our longtime Publishers, Slickdeals, at their corporate offices.

Founded in 1999, Slickdeals is a free, user-driven deals site that helps consumers make informed shopping decisions about the products they love. With a strong focus on the user and the larger community, Slickdeals has long been a premier destination for electronics, games and travel.

While touring their offices, we got a chance to sit down with CEO, Bryant Quan, and talk about their experience with eBay Partner Network. What’s worked well for them in our partnership? What opportunities are we missing? How do they integrate with our platform? What do they see as the biggest growth areas for 2013? We covered it all:

We want to thank Bryant, as well as Gregory Kim, Chief Revenue Officer, and Alex Craig, Business and Legal Affairs, for taking time out of their Sunday to show us around and discuss their business with us.

Publisher Stories: Pascal Wegner of wusoma GmbH

The ePN Team is always looking for effective ways to support the work of our partners. In order for us to gain deeper insight, we met with Pascal Wegner, Managing Director of wusoma GmbH, and asked him about his work with our program. In the interview he looks back at his early days in affiliate marketing and talks about what makes his offers unique. He also provides some useful tips on how to be successful in eBay Partner Network.

When did you get involved in affiliate marketing?

I started to do affiliate marketing at the age of 13 and at that time I wasn’t even aware that I was involved in affiliate marketing. In those days I was running Scherzbold.net, the biggest fun website in German. Apart from managing editorial content I also brokered picture text messages and “mobile phone logos” for phones such as the Nokia 5110.

How did you learn about the eBay Partner Network?

At first I was focused on other more “classic” partner programmes, i.e., affiliate programmes with affiliate networks. But then, at one event, my affili.net Account Manager persuaded me to join the eBay Partner Network in 2009. I happily agreed and it has turned into a success story for both sides.

Tell us something about your pages and what makes them special.

Despite some editorial content traffic, most of our traffic is generated using the shopping comparison business model. Our largest pages manage billions of products and offers, making them available to millions of interested visitors each week. We put in a lot of effort to provide a superior shopping experience to our users and to offer them exactly what they are looking for. We gather products from a number of data sources – such as eBay – and consolidate them using automatic systems. Our system automatically learns from the searches of our users and tries to offer even better results to the next user searching for the same or a similar product.

What do you do to increase traffic sent to eBay?

We are constantly working on our search engine ranking and we are expanding our business to all countries where the eBay Partner Network is available. At the moment, we are focussing on serving the mobile market. That’s an area where the eBay Partner Network is a pioneer in the industry.

Which ePN tools do you use? Are there any obstacles to overcome when using these tools?

Obviously, the primary tool we use is the API. But for editorial content we may also make use of the Link Generator or Custom Banners. I find all these tools to be very efficient and intuitive to use.

For Publishers that are new to promoting eBay, what are the advantages of the tools you use?

The API is incredibly versatile and flexible, which is very important for us. Obviously, you have to work a bit to become familiar with it. The other tools offer the advantage that they can get you started even if you have little knowledge.

Do you have tips for other eBay Partner Network Publishers?

I often get questions about our EPC. For me, the EPC system is a real success story. You can greatly influence your EPC – but only by influencing your own traffic. The EPC is really no more and no less than a success indicator of your traffic. So, all you need to do is to direct valuable visitors to eBay – and the EPC will confirm your success. I’d also recommend to take a close look at your website or blog and to find ways to generate value for users by incorporating eBay items.

Looking at the eBay Partner Network, what do you like most?

eBay is one of the most important shopping platforms on the Internet. The eBay Partner Network gives us a chance to increase our success – and to join in. There is a tool for virtually any website operator which helps them to successfully promote eBay.

In addition to Germany, where else do you do business?

We started in Germany and then moved on to Austria and Switzerland. In the meantime we’ve also successfully launched our business in the UK, the US, France, Spain and Italy. Later this year we are going to start in a handful of other countries – and we are hoping to be able to serve all ePN countries by the first half of next year.

Working internationally, what do you think are the biggest differences between the countries in which you are active?

There are huge differences in the purchasing behaviours from country to country – in all aspects. It starts with the browsing behaviour. Traffic peak times in Germany are fundamentally different from the ones in France or the UK and so are the clicking, buying and bidding behaviours.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Fellow publishers who have questions can contact me. I’m happy to assist beginners and I don’t regard them as competitors. We are all fellows in an exciting industry – and I am looking forward to having a beer or two with you.

We thank Pascal for sharing his thoughts with you and us. We hope that you find some of the information and tips in the interview useful for your own business. As always, please feel free to leave your questions or comments below.