Ok, this is the first installment in my series on how to develop an Ebay Partner Network Affiliate Blog from Start to Finish series. This is going to be an incredibly comprehensive series, and I’m going to break everything down as much as possible, so this post may not necessarily contain any information you don’t already know, but I’m trying to include as much helpful info as possible so that this series will be helpful for beginners to advanced bloggers.
Before we can get into all the fun stuff like finding a niche, choosing keywords and putting up the Blog, we need to make sure we have the basics down. Creating a WordPress blog is really not very difficult, but to make it as easy as humanly possible, you really need to make sure you have all the resources you need before getting started. Here’s a breakdown of everything I use for my own projects.
Email is so important if you expect to make a career out of making money online. If you think your hotmail, aol or yahoo free mail address is going to cut it, you’re sorely mistaken. Sure, there’s nothing really wrong with hotmail or yahoo, and millions of people use their services. If you expect to be a professional, you need to use professional tools. You don’t need to be logging into Yahoo 25 times a day to check your email account. The emails should come to you. I personally use an email address associated with my webcontempo.com site. If you have a portfolio site,personal site, or some kind of “main” website, I would recommend creating an email address using that site and using it as your main email address. Otherwise, I strongly recommend using a GMail address. Google Mail is used widely by professionals, works great with mobile devices, is free, and is compatible with Outlook and similar services. Which brings me to the next key thing you need – Outlook or Thunderbird. Outlook is an email manager that you tie your email address to, and it automatically downloads your emails. It runs in the background on your computer and provides a small email notification whenever you receive new emails. You can tie as many email addresses to Outlook as you want, so it’s great if you use more than 1. Thunderbird is an open-source version that is made by Mozilla. I personally use Outlook, but I’ve tried Thunderbird as well, and highly recommend it if you need an open source solution. The last important point here – try to be at least slightly professional when choosing an email address. It should be something that you wouldn’t be afraid to include on your resume.
Web Office Tools
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. These kind of office tools are NOT vital to running a successful WordPress blog, but you should still be familiar with them. I use MS Office all the time, every single day. It’s another one of those things you just have to have if you expect to make a career out of making money online. Learn your way around Word and Excel, you’ll be glad you did. If you need an open source alternative to Microsoft Office, try Open Office. I’ve used their word processor and spreadsheet program quite a bit, and they really aren’t bad at all. I think Google may have similar services available online, so you could check that out as well.
Web Development Tools
Even if you don’t plan on doing a lot of heavy editing of your Blogs, you still should consider learning the basics of a few staple web development tools. There are two key things you need – an image editing tool and a web editing tool. For image editing, there is no competitor to Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop provides the tools you need to do any kind of image editing imaginable. There’s definitely a learning curve if you’ve never used it before, but if you take a little time to get familiar with it, it will pay off many times over. A good way to get started would be a simple google search for “Photoshop Tutorials”. If you need an open source alternative to Photoshop, you could try GIMP. I have personally not used it, so I can’t say for sure how it stacks up.
The second vital web development tool you need is a web page editor. I personally thing Adobe Dreamweaver is as good as it gets. A web page editor like Dreamweaver is a great tool for opening up pages in your site and making updates. It’s also great as an FTP client, which will allow you to quickly upload files to your Blog. You’ll need to use FTP to upload things like themes and plugins, and I think Dreamweaver is a very efficient way of doing this. Dreamweaver is fairly easy to learn quickly, and I personally think it’s well worth the investment. If you need an open source web editor, try HTML Kit. It’s free, and although I’ve only used it lightly, I know of many people who swear by it.
You may be a little surprised to see PayPal on this list. I’m not exactly the #1 PayPal fan – I’ve been burned by PayPal several times, and while they certainly go to great lengths to protect buyers, they really lack in the area of seller protection. That being said, I feel that an active PayPal account is something you will absolutely have to have at some point. For one thing, it’s the best way to receive your monthly Ebay Partner Network commissions. You’ll also need to buy a few things here and there – you’ll need a copy of PHPBay, you’ll need to register domains, and you may want to purchase some design and SEO services here and there from places like Digitalpoint. Once you have monthly stream of revenue from commissions coming into your PayPal account, you’ll probably want to start rolling it back into your business. Paypal is a great way to manage all this, and you’ll wonder what you ever did without it.
Domain and Hosting
This is a no-brainer. The most important thing here is the hosting account. You’ll need a hosting account to be able to create a website. Choosing a proper hosting plan can be really tricky if you don’t know that much about hosting to begin with. For one thing, it’s hard to search for information on choosing a hosting company because there are so many “hosting comparison” affiliate sites out there, it makes it impossible to get an unbiased review. Hosting prices can also differ greatly. For example GoDaddy, which is a cheap place to register domains, charges around $40-$50 per year to host a single website. In contrast to that, the main hosting company I use, Bluehost, charges around $80 per year and their plan allows me to host UNLIMITED websites. Big difference if you think about it. So the $80 investment may seem like a lot up front, but you’ll absolutely want to host more than one website, and after a year you’ll see that the $80 is an incredible price for how important the hosting plan is for your business. They also have the Fantistico installer as part of the hosting package, which will allow you to do a quick one click WordPress install, something that will save you tons of time. I’ve worked with a huge variety of different hosting companies, and I absolutely recommend Bluehost to be your web hosting company. You’ll see that I don’t promote a lot of affiliate offers on this site, only ones I really use myself, and Bluehost is one of the most important services I use. If you need hosting, click here to check out Bluehost. There are other cheap hosting companies like dreamhost and hostgator, but I don’t use them so I don’t want to steer anyone in that direction. Also, many of my tutorials of setting up wordpress blogs will be based on Bluehost hosting, so you will be on the same page with me if you decide to go that route.
As far as domain registrations go, it doesn’t particularly matter where you register your domains. I register many of my domains with Bluehost, just to keep everything in the same place, but I have domains spread out amongst quite a few different registrars. It will take slightly longer to set up your blog if your domain is registered with a different company than your web host, but once you learn how to do a blog setup it won’t be a big deal. I recommend either keeping most of your domains registered with your hosting company, or find a reputable company that has very low prices and register with them. You shouldn’t ever be paying more than $10.00 for a basic TLD registration (.com, .net, .org).
Google Analytics Account
If you don’t have a Google analytics account, you’ll definitely want to sign up for one right now. This is something you will be using frequently. Sign up for a free Google Analytics account here. Analytics are vital to monitoring your progress and figuring out where you need to expand or improve. There are a variety of other free and premium web analytics services available, but I generally prefer to go with Google Analytics.
Ebay Partner Network Account
This is obviously the most vital thing you’ll need. You can sign up for an Ebay Partner Network account at EbayPartnerNetwork.com. I know some people have had difficulty getting accepted into the program, so you’ll want to apply right away. If you don’t get in via Ebay, you can try to sign up via Pepperjam, although I’ve never done this so I have no idea how it works, or if it works. As a last resort, you can get into the Amazon affiliate program instead, and use the PHPZon software from the makers of PHPBay. That should make this series relevant even if you can’t get an EPN account. Really, though, you shouldn’t have that much trouble getting accepted anyway.
There are several WordPress elements you will also need to have in order to get started including a theme, plugins and an API key. I will go into detail on these items later on in the series, when we start talking about how to set up the blog.
Your attitude is one of the most crucial parts of the whole process. For one thing, don’t start with huge expectations. There are a lot of people making serious money with Ebay Partner Network, but it’s not for everyone, and you won’t make anything without having to first invest some time, money and effort. If you follow my process down to the exact word, there’s still no guarantee you’re going to make anything. For me, blogging, developing and marketing websites, and making money online is my #1 hobby. Sure I love video games, sports, music and socializing, but I have a real passion for what I do. I hardly spend any time on the computer not working. I don’t play games on the computer, watch videos, and I don’t even read that many other blogs to be perfectly honest. My work is like a hobby to me. I enjoy doing it, and frankly it doesn’t matter how much money I make because I love my lifestyle. If you are serious about making money online, my #1 recommendation to you is to make it a lifestyle, and make it your #1 hobby. Period. If you do that, you will be a lot more likely to succeed.
I provided open source alternatives for all the tools you need to complete this tutorial, so now you have no excuses for not being able to succeed. Once you’ve got all this in order, you’re ready to move on. I realize this article may be boring to some, but believe me, you need to have the proper tools before you can expect to make a career out of making money online. Now that we’ve got this out of the way we’ll get into the more interesting stuff. The next installment in this series will focus on choosing a niche, and for the first time, I’ll reveal the niche I will be developing a blog for as we move through this tutorial. It’s going to get a lot more interesting!
As always, if you have any questions or comments about this step in the process, feel free to participate in the comment thread on this post!