Publisher stories

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.

ePN TV: Publisher Stories: Jack Anthony

If you’ve been following our blog over the last few months you may have stumbled across our new series called “Publisher Stories.” These profiles are meant to highlight some of the amazing publishers that we get to work with here at eBay Partner Network. To date, all of our features have been blog posts written by publishers in their own words. Today we’re trying out the first video in the series with Jack Anthony.

I first met Jack in Los Angeles last month at BlogWorld. During that trip I got a chance to hang out with him and got to know a little bit about what makes him tick.

After spending time with Jack, I can tell you firsthand how passionate he is about music. Affiliate marketing has given him a unique opportunity to make a comfortable living with sites like Netbook Cave while still having lots of time to focus on his career as a musician. After spending the last hour listening to snippets from his new album, “Cue the Clouds,” I can’t say enough about Jack's talent. And that’s the amazing thing about so many of our publishers – being an online marketer has a allowed many of you to provide for yourselves and your families, while still having enough time to nurture your others passions.

If you’re attending Affiliate Summit West in January, I hope you’ll take the time to seek out Jack. I also hope you’ll check out his new record – I’m predicting it will spend lots of time in heavy rotation on my iPod during my holiday travels. Thanks to Jack for taking time to be part of our Publisher Stories series and share his enthusiasm about affiliate marketing and music with us!

Calling All Publishers Attending Affiliate Summit West

In January the eBay Partner Network Team will be heading to Las Vegas to attend Affiliate Summit West at Caesar’s Palace. This is a big event for the affiliate industry and we know that many of you make a point to attend each year. We’d like the opportunity to sit down with a few of you and shoot some video of your experiences at ePN and with affiliate marketing in general.

You may have seen our Publisher Stories series that we launched a few months back. To date, they’ve been written by publishers as blog posts in their own words. Over the coming months we’d like to try some out as video pieces. While we were at BlogWorld Los Angeles we filmed a couple of publishers to get a sense of how this might work and we were pleased with the results. In fact, look for our first Publisher Story video next week featuring Jack Anthony.

If you’re a current ePN Publisher attending Affiliate Summit West and have interest in being featured, please leave a comment below with your name and a brief reply. And while it won’t be publicly displayed, we ask that you use a valid email address (preferably the one we’d have on file for you as a publisher) so that we can contact you. The interviews should only take 5-10 minutes and be pretty painless.

The team at ePN is really excited about capturing more of your stories. We hope you’ll reach out and connect with us at Affiliate Summit!

Publisher Stories: Lance Schafer of LemonFree

In continuing our Publisher Stories series this month we're excited to welcome LemonFree to the blog. We want to thank Lance Schafer and his team for sharing their story with us.

I love cars, but my real passion lies in the car-buying experience. Before I started LemonFree.com, I was constantly hearing stories about terrible buying experiences. I knew that I could do something to change this process for the better.

Even today, my motivation lies in trying to find ways to make the consumer car experience more positive.  We do this by taking a look at all the possible variables that go into the transaction, and then analyzing and looking for trends.  From there, our goal is to be able to predict and guide the auto consumer into a transaction that would have the best possible outcome. Changing the story is what drives me.

Back in 2006, we were a bunch of Internet Marketers for hire.  We had a dream that we could use all the advice that we’d given to others to create our own web site that we could heap all of our focus and energy on.  We decided on the auto market because, to us, it was an area that was about to radically transform, and we wanted to be there to help shape that transformation. When we started LemonFree.com, we could only spend a little bit of time on it as it didn't make nearly enough money to pay the bills.  Over time, with the help of eBay Partner Network, we were able to transform it from a part time gig to a full-blown organization with a dozen committed team members!

LemonFree.com has opened more doors than I thought imaginable.  It has given our company a unified sense of purpose and allowed us to grow and expand in so many ways.  Outside of our team, I have met and partnered with so many amazing companies and people. In fact, our business was recently recognized by Ernst and Young as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year.

When we started our business back in 2006, no one was interested in working with some small-time players from Winnipeg – except for eBay Partner Network. ePN was the first partner that was willing to give us a chance. That belief in our business provided the initial boost we needed to get the ball rolling (and boy did it roll!).  Now, five years later, we are one of the top automotive marketplaces on the internet.  Almost 50 million car shoppers have used our site to find a car.  And even today, ePN remains one of our most important partners. I wonder sometimes, if LemonFree.com could have made it if it wasn't for our early efforts with eBay Partner Network and the opportunity it provided to help keep going in those first couple of lean years.

-Lance Schafer

Publisher Stories: Bill Cox

This post is the first in our new "Publisher Stories" series and was written by eBay Partner Network Publisher, Bill Cox. We want to send a big thank you to Bill for sharing his story with us.

I've been an affiliate publisher for almost seven years, and a work-from-home web designer for over 15 years. Although I got off to a slow start doing affiliate marketing, I've managed to create a successful business that has grown to become my primary day-to-day job. My wife has always been my lead programmer and I'm very fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with my family. With our affiliate strategies finally paying off we've decided to become “snow birds” and build a home in Florida to live during the winter months. Affiliate Marketing has given us the freedom to develop our own electronic sites, products and services thus giving us the freedom to not be tied down to any one place.

We've decided to keep our home in Ohio because of the ties to a miniature golf course I own in the small rural town in which I live. We took this leap into mini-golf five years ago, in part because I wanted a reason to get out of the house after all those years working from home, but also because our community didn't have many fun things for families to do. I viewed it as an opportunity to get more involved in my community, to get to know my neighbors and provide a place for people to throw parties or host fundraising events and the like. That effort, along with the fact that I also owned four other businesses and employed about 25 people, earned me a Business Person of the Year Award from the local Chamber of Commerce. Being recognized as a successful business owner by my peers was one of the proudest moments in my professional career.

The big break I didn't know I was looking for came in the form of meeting my future wife in the summer of 1994 and marrying her 6 months later in Las Vegas (yes, Elvis gave the bride away). She was a software engineer for a large motor manufacturer and had a lot of business experience.

I had continued to buy comic books over the years and after a while I had complete runs on the books I enjoyed most. While at a comic convention in Chicago in 2002 I bought the last book I needed and found that I still had some cash in my pocket. As fate would have it, I stumbled upon a comic art dealer and bought a few pieces of original art – I was immediately hooked as a collector. Here I was, getting to live vicariously through these artists - something I had always envisioned myself doing while growing up.

A piece from Bill’s Original Art Collection

It was at this point that I decided that building a site for comic art collectors was my best way to meet people in the space. This was also the first time I started looking at this as a potential business opportunity.

Over the winter of 2004 I built ComicArtFans.com (CAF) with my wife and closest friend, and it quickly became popular. Today, we have more than 70,000 registered users and more than 500k unique visitors a month, delivering upwards of 300,000 pageviews each day.

My break with the eBay Partner Network came about entirely by accident. After Hurricane Katrina happened in August 2005 there were several artists that were pulling their resources together to raise funds for relief efforts to aid the victims of the hurricane, and I wanted CAF to assist as best we could by promoting the auctions. I had seen lists of eBay auctions on other sites and discovered that these Editor Kits (EKs) were part of the eBay affiliate program. So I created a few EKs to place on CAF's homepage and was relieved that it was so easy to list the auctions that way. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered the next month that having this EK on CAF's homepage for a couple weeks generated over $600.

Bill Cox with Stan Lee

The best advice I can give anyone entering EPN today - or affiliate marketing in general - is to focus first on what you know and build a site and content around that. CAF is incredibly successful and I attribute that to the fact that I love comic art collecting and am very involved in the hobby. I've dabbled with creating other collectibles related sites using similar ideas but nothing has really stuck or had the same success as CAF. You just cannot throw sites out there and expect them to be successful. Do what you love and the rest will fall into place!

Introducing the Publisher Stories Series

During my time with eBay Partner Network I’ve had the chance to chat with quite a few publishers at various conferences and events. I continue to be amazed at the stories I hear about how ePN and Affiliate Marketing have changed and impacted so many lives in such a positive way. The fact that so many of you are living your dream as a business owner, supporting your families and following your passion, is so inspiring to our team.

In the spirit of that excitement we’re excited to announce a new series on our blog called “Publisher Stories.” Over the coming weeks and months we’ll be featuring publishers that want to share their story about what ePN and online marketing has meant in their lives. How did they get started? What sort of obstacles have they faced? What keeps them motivated? You all are doing some pretty amazing work and we want to share that with our community in the hopes that your stories will inspire them the way they’ve inspired us.

In the coming week we’ll be featuring our inaugural piece written by Bill Cox of ComicArtFans.com. I met Bill recently at an affiliate event and I was inspired by his passion and enthusiasm for this industry. We knew he was the right person to open the series. That said, we know that there are hundreds of you out there with uniquely compelling stories and we’d love to hear from you if you’d be interested in sharing. Please leave a comment below and make sure to include your email (which will not be shown to the public) so we can get in touch with you.