(Well, technically day 2… but the first day of actual earnings data…)
So I started out this month extremely excited to see what the new EPN QCP payout structure was going to be. It’s been a turbulent year for me with EPN, and affiliate marketing in general. I started the year out on fire, thinking I finally had this IM thing completely licked. By late April, my ACRU Quality score tanked for no apparent reason – seriously – and I also started to see chunks of my niche site empire get deindexed by google, a few each month, all the way up to August.
Luckily, I got started with The Keyword Academy back in June, and totally shifted my entire paradigm on making money online – this was key, as I was quickly able to replace my bad web properties that had stopped generating revenue with new, solid properties, thus keeping my overall earnings the same, if not a slight bit lower. But considering the amount of my sites that got hit, and I also lost my 2nd best earner overall, I came out of July feeling good, which led me to conjure up my 100 EPN Sites in 30 Days Challenge. About 2 weeks into the challenge I woke up to find an email from Ebay in my inbox, announcing their new Quality Click Pricing structure. At that point, I figured I could either get really pissed off about it, or make the best of it and continue my challenge. I chose the latter. September was a good month for me. My EPN earnings were up about 20%, I completed all 100 new sites, and my earnings just from the new sites was probably near $300, not bad for the first month, and especially considering I did not finish all 100 sites until mid-September, nor did I do nearly any linkbuilding.
So I was feeling great about everything, and looking forward to the new changes with a positive attitude. After recoding a solid amount of clicks yesterday, I literally couldn’t wait to see what my first EPC would be. For the entire month of September, I checked my EPC daily. I had days as high as 0.40, and a couple as low as 0.05. Mostly, I was between about 0.08 and 0.12 per day on average, fine by me considering the volume of clicks I’m dealing with.
When I refreshed my EPN stats and the EPC had finally been updated, I was shocked by what I saw. My account level EPC had been set at 0.06 for Oct 1… Totally fine by me. The curious thing, was the earnings per campaign. On Campaign view, I could see that one of my sites was listed with a 0.23 EPC, and was showing earnings, the same earnings showed on my account level report. All my other campaigns showed an EPC of 0.00 and earnings of $0.00 for October first. Now I’m still not freaking out about it or anything – I still made some nice money on the first, although modest, but earnings nontheless. The strange thing was that all month long during September, I checked my QCP preview almost every day and what I would see was basically the same thing – my EPC for the day would be set at the account level and every campagin would receive payment for each click based on that account level EPC. So every campaign would have the same EPC for that day listed on the Campaign report, and there would be earnings shown for that EPC x # of clicks that campaign received that day. The only cases where this was different was if there was an unusually large amount of clicks for a given campaign on a given day, which were obviously bot clicks – then the EPC would show 0.00 for that campaign on that day, but this literally happened less than 10 times total I would estimate – the entire month. So somehow, the report I saw today was completely different than what I had been seeing the entire month of September.
I spent some time checking out some other EPN related resources today and found a couple people with similar problems, however there really aren’t that many great EPN resources out there these days, so who the hell knows? Funny, you can’t even comment on the EPN official forums anymore unless you link your Ebay account, which I personally don’t feel like I should have to do, because my Ebay account has absolutely nothing to do with my EPN activity in any way, shape of form. So I believe that that has led to less activity on the EPN forums than there normally would have been had everyone been allowed to participate. Funny how that works…
Anyway, the main thing I have seen is a lot of dissatisfaction from EPN affiliates for a variety of reasons – even people who’ve benefitted from the changes so far are still complaining. I think everyone can see how fragile this program is, and how things can shift on a whim and leave top affiliates with their pants around their ankles.
Overall, I’m a little disturbed by the first day of reporting. I really went into it with a positive attitude, but I’m not happy about the fact that the report I saw today was not the same as the report I was previewing for the last 30 days. I just cannot wrap my head around that one yet. I have a strong feeling that things will even themselves out – there could be a variety of reasons for the discrepancy – the program may be calculating the data from scratch for these first couple days, which could for some reason lead to not every campaign showing an EPC, or maybe I just plain misunderstood the whole thing from the beginning – but that still doesn’t explain how I was literally physically seeing something different on the same reports when comparing September to October.
The positive thing to take away from this – for me – is that at least I still received a modest amount of earnings for Oct 1, regardless of how it was displayed on the report. It could have been a hell of a lot worse. I’ve been hearing from countless other EPN affiliates who are extremely pissed talking about blowing off EPN completely and going another direction. Let’s face it – all of us who are EPN affiliates right now are so because we want to be. We want to be EPN affiliates because, at least at one point, EPN was a perfect format for product related affiliate offers, and in the past the payouts have always been excellent compared to other similar programs, like Amazon for example. Even when I was getting jacked around with my quality score early this year, I never really thought about jumping ship. There just isn’t a great alternative – at least nothing that will be that close. So to all the pissed off affiliates out there I say, shit, give it a month, let’s see what happens. In fact, give it a couple of months. The holiday season is coming up, it can’t possibly be that bad. If your shit tanks during the holiday season, then you know it’s time to jump ship, but you can’t pull all your Ebay ads after 2 days under the new pricing structure because your numbers are down X%. It’s not like Ebay is going to change what they’re doing because some publishers are pulling their ads, there’s people out there desperate to get an EPN account right now that can’t, so I highly doubt Ebay is going to feel the loss of a handful of affiliates – large or small. There’s always going to be more people who step up to take your place, and are happy with getting jerked around by changes to the rules every few months.
Personally, I’m going to keep my head down and continue working as if nothing has changed – I’ve got 100 new ebay snipers that I’m actively working on linking and fully expect to be making big money off them before the end of this year. Although I’m a little disappointed in the stats I saw today, I can’t say I’m surprised, and I’m not going to let it get me down. Worst case scenario, I’ll sell off my shitty thin EPN sites, and convert my 100 new quality sites to adsense… But there’s a lot of time left to make a lot of money this year, and I don’t intend to go down without a fight.