What a week! I’ve been working like crazy to try and complete my 100 EPN affiliate sites, while at the same time waiting to see what the deal is with the new Quality Click Pricing. So today, the preview reports were finally unveilled by EPN.  As I expected, the numbers were positive, but they actually far exceeded my expectations. My quality click pricing earnings were over a whopping 33% higher than  my earnings under the current system. Most notable – a site that would have only made 0.29 pulled in a cool $10.00 today (under the new system). Now I don’t want to get tooo excited, because this is still eerily similar to what happend with their roll out of tiered ACRUs, but the good thing is that, at least starting out, earnings could actually stand to increase. It definitely makes me feel good about the decision to follow through with my 100 site challenge this month, despite this bombshell being dropped halfway through.

I’ve done a few minutes of poking around on a couple of my favorite blogs, and PHPBay/TKA forums, and I really have not been able to find too many negative reactions to the quality click pricing preview reports. I’m sure there are people out there who are going to get slaughtered, and are probably really pissed about this whole thing, but I think for the most part a majority of EPN affiliates are going to come out ahead in the short term, and the people doing the right thing will hopefully benefit long term too.

Basically, EPN is still so much more unstable than AdSense, it’s not even funny. You’re earnings can get pulverised overnight due to some crazy backend “algorithm” EPN uses to gauge the engagement of traffic you’re sending, or you (or I) could wake up one day to find our account “terminated” with no real explanation or hope of appeal. This is just the nature of being an EPN affiliate these days. Of course, EPN has a huge up-side as well – the payout (in my opinion) is much better than adsense, and it’s easier to get sites earning from day 1. If you’re going to succeed in the MMO world, you’ve got to take some chances, and as long as you do the right thing and don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you hopefully won’t subject yourself to getting burned so bad that you’ve got to pack up your shit and get a job at Arbys or something. As far as I’m concerned, I’m working as hard as I can to make quality sites that search engines like, and send highly targeted, motivated traffic to eBay, so hopefully that will be enough to keep me in business for a while.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way this week went, and the promising preview report today was a nice way to cap it all off.

100 EPN Site Challenge Update

Nothing too groundbreaking to report on the challenge since my last post – except the fact that I’m now almost 100% sure I will be able to complete all 100 sites by the end of August (just 2 short days away). Here’s how it’s panned out. I was so far under water this week that I actually had to get some help from a friend to put up sites 21-40 (if I were on schedule, this would have been done nearly 2 weeks ago).  Luckily that went extremely smooth and all 20 of those sites are now live.

Keyword Research

I was able to use the time I saved to spend a full day researching my last 40 keywords. Believe it or not, I did not have all 100 keywords chosen before I started, and I would probably have all 100 sites up by now if I would have taken that approach. The good thing is I was able to see how the first 20 sites were performing as I was selecting additional niches, so I’ve been learning as I go, and I feel that the last 40 keywords I’ve chosen are extremely strong. Here’s a secret I found about halfway through: www.watchcount.com, lets you see ebay auctions in each category with the highest amount of watchers. I found this to be an excellent tool for niche hunting. I didn’t lift 40 great keywords directly from the site, but it was an excellent starting point and probably cut my research time in half, while at the same time assisting me in really uncovering some gems. A good starting point is always helpful in niche research, and especially for a project like this where I had to find 100 completely different and random niches, tools like watch count that provided a little inspiration I found to be invaluable. I also still used a fair dose of ebay pulse, amazon, a couple other random places, and of course I came up with a couple things right off the dome. I think it’s unlikely I will replicate this challenge in the future, but if I were to do so, I would probably have all the keywords prepared before hand. My original intent was to see how my first 20 sites went, then use that information when picking my second 20 keywords, and so on. I think it would have been a great strategy if I could have made this project  my #1 priority in August, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out like that. So with the insane amount of work this requires, I definitely think tackling the keyword research first is key.

Sites 41-60

I had a few hours this afternoon to set up the domains and hosting, get WP installed, get email accounts created, EPN campaign ID’s generated and get cracking on sites 41-60. I’ve streamlined the process so that I can get these things up as quickly as possible by doing everything in a certain order. For example I have 6 steps in the setup process that I do for all 20 sites at one time – this includes pointing nameservers, setting up add on domains, installing WP, etc. Once all 20 sites are ready for content, I have an individual setup process which is 15 steps, that I do for each site one at a time. I’ve noticed that the first 6 steps can be slow as shit because of things I can’t control like loading time, uploading files, etc. Once I get to the individual setup process I can bang out a site in as quickly as 15 minutes – maybe even a little less. What I’ve learned doing the first 20, and multiple niches in the past, is that by doing things in a certain order you can save a lot of time. Basically, I start with the WP configuration, then activate plugins, then configure plugins, then choose a theme, then configure the theme, then set up widgets, then add the content, then check everything for accuracy. I think by taking the time to fully document this in Word during my goaround with the first 20 sites, I’ve been able to streamline the whole process and actually save a ton of time.

So I’ve got 3-4 of sites 41-60 completely finished. I plan to do the rest of them tomorrow, and at the same time, do the initial setup process for the last 40 sites. That means registering all 40 domains, doing all the dns shit, installing 40 WPs and maybe even getting into the individual setup as far as I can – configuring everything, choosing a template, etc. I’ve been just short of being fully assured that the content for the last 40 sites will be ready by Monday, so my plan is to work my ass off tomorrow and try to get everything to the point where all I really need to do is add the articles and EPN tags to all 40 sites on Monday, and I’ll have completely achieved my goal. It’s going to be a seriously crazy couple days for me, but I’m really going to feel good if I can pull this off.

What’s really going to be nuts is promoting all these sites in September. I have a variety of strategies I plan to employ which will require even more content and work, and I’ll be doing some split testing, as well as testing a few backlink tools and services, so there should be some really interesting results coming out in the next few weeks, not to mention the switchover to quality click pricing in October. I’m really hoping that I can make most of my outsourcing costs back within 2 months and I’m considering doing a similar challenge with AdSense to diversify my portfolio of web properties.

I’ll be in touch one way or another at the end of August (or at the beginning of September if I’m too tired from working all weekend).

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