I really had no intentions of writing an update on my 100 EPN sites today, or anytime soon frankly, but I was so shocked by how my stats have been this month, I decided to post a mini rant.
So this month, my EPN sites – from the 100 site challenge, and other – are performing fantastic – EXCEPT in terms of actual earnings passed down to me. First off, one trend I’ve been noticing for the past several months, is that near the end of each month, my EPC always seems to go way down. For example, during the last week of January I was cruising along with an acceptable double digit EPC, and all of a sudden, it dropped to 0.5 overnight, and as always, the stats gave me no idication as to why this occured. It actually dropped even more after that over the next several days, despite strong numbers for this month to date. Specifically, I’ve got almost $3000 in gross merchandise sold in just 4 days so far this month. Not too shabby.
Anyway, as I said, every day this month my numbers have looked good, despite having an extremely low EPC for no apparent reason. Today was the biggest shocker of all. I logged into my stats, hoping to maybe see myself back in the double digit EPC again, and I was floored by what I saw.
Stats for yesterday: Bid/Bin:47 | Winning Bids: 13 | Gross Merchandise Sold: 1,214.92 | Winning Bid Revenue: 104.78
My Earnings for the Day: $8.16
Now let’s be real here. First off, these numbers are good, but are still basically small potatos in the grand scheme of things. There are EPN affiliates who probably make that in an hour, and I use to see numbers like this daily at this time last year.
The disparity between winning bid revenue and earnings is truly shocking. Going back to the month of September, the last month of using a coherent payout system, the total winning bid revenue for me was $821.23, with total earnings of 703.77. Nothing to write home about in terms of earnings, BUT, you can clearly see how close winning bid revenue and Earnings were to each other.
Compare that to this month, where literally the winning bid revenue right now is over 75% higher than my actual earnings – it’s truly unbelievable. The trend seems to be more distance between the two numbers each month – it started out in October, my earnings were around 10% higher than winning bid revenue. November, they were about even. December, which is usually a HUGE month for epn, earnings were slightly below WBR, and they were also WAY down overall. January, I saw the biggest distance between the two yet, probably near 30% at the end of the month, with disgraceful overall earnings, and this month I’m already down 75%.
The worst thing of all, is I can look at my stats from every angle, and I just don’t see any real trends that support this drastic swing between WBR and earnings. That leaves me in a position where, it’s difficult to optimize my EPN sites to increase their performance.
At this point, the best thing I can really do is consider switching more sites to Amazon. If you think about it, selling $1200 in merchandise in one day on Amazon will equate to a pretty big chunk of change – at least a hell of a lot more than the lousy $8.00 I reeled in yesterday.
As far as the actual 100 EPN sites – they are doing well. Traffic is up across the board, and I am generating sales daily, although still in modest amounts – but compared to previous months, I’m doing well. I’ve got at least 5 of the 100 sites – that I know of – listed in the top 20 on google now for their main keyword. Of those 5, at least 3 are on page 1, 1 of them is in position 1 with a double listing and an ezine pointing to it in position 2, and another is in position 4 for a fairly competitive term. So overall I am slowly starting to climb out of the sandbox. Now I just have to think of the best way to benefit from these sites in the long term. I really hope EPN does something to show they actually care about their affiliates, but at this point, I can only expect that things are going to go further downhill.
That leads me to my next point – about ebay in general. Not only have I been an affiliate for eBay for 2 years, I’ve been a seller on ebay since it was first launched in the 1990s. I have also owned an eBay store for over 5 years. I cancelled in January for good. From my perspective, eBay’s problems aren’t just with their affiliate program in general, they seem to be making awful decisions across the board. I’ll start with my eBay store. I was selling mainly hair piece tape in my ebay store, in an inventory format. Late summer of last year, my inventory ran out on one of my products. I went into my ebay store – probably the first time in well over a year – and attempted to adjust the inventory. I kept receiving an error that eBay had changed their shipping policy and I couldn’t resubmit my auction until I updated my shipping policy. Only problem – they gave me no way to do so. So the only thing I could have done, was to completely cancel my auction and relist it entirely from scratch. Not only that, but eBay kicked Auctiva to the curb just about a year ago, and sadly, Auctiva was just about the only way to easily manage an eBay store. Anyone who has ever tried to run a legitimate eBay store will probably agree that eBay has one of the least intuitive interfaces of any website in existance, and trying to do the simplest things like leaving feedback can be a huge pain in the ass. Anyway, recently, I got word that ebay was completely getting rid of fixed inventory listings, probably fine because they are a pain in the ass to manage, but I realized, I’ve been paying around $40/month for my eBay store for the past 5-6 years, and for the last couple years, I haven’t even made close to that much back in actual profit – not to mention the fact that I can’t do something as simple as update my inventory levels, and the same 5 people that continue to order from me via are breaking my balls literally every day about leaving feedback for a single $3.50 item they ordered. It’s so frustrating, and I get so pissed off when I look back on how much money I sank into it for nothing but headaches. So I feel the problems with eBay are broad, and not just limited to their affiliate program. In fact, even if their affilate program were running as good as it was a year ago, I would still be concerned because the decisions they are making with their business seem to be ones that will ultimately drive away traffic, and scare people away who find a valuable old lamp or coin in their basement they want to sell. Sure it’s great if you want to buy a cheap cell phone case from China, but it’s all just peanuts, and people get sick of doing business like that after a while. I can also see that Amazon is going in the complete opposite direction, so I absolutely plan to put more eggs in that basket. eBay really appears to be a sinking ship, and the hits just keep on coming. I’m extremely thankful that I switched up my on priorities last year to focus on AdSense, because it is really paying off, and I can really see the difference now and the advantage in working with a quality affiliate program.