It’s confession time.
Yes, the affiliate marketing bug has struck you. You salivate when you think about the sumptuous possibilities of a fat referral income.
Sweet freedom from the shackles of your 9-5 awaits.
You imagine your dream car parked in your yard. You see yourself enjoying that holiday you’ve been putting off for years. All that’s left is for you to pick the best affiliate network to join and promote some high-paying products.
But there’s a problem:
You have so many options. You don’t know where to start. You feel overwhelmed.
What resources can you trust? Is the information still up to date? How do you simplify the many moving parts of building an online business?
eBay Partner Network is a well-known affiliate program for the global auction website, eBay. It’s a program that has been around for a while and gone through some significant changes over the years.
The question is:
Is it still worth joining the eBay affiliate program?
In this piece, I’ll share the TL;DR on becoming an eBay partner and cover why we feel it’s not worth joining anymore. I’ll also present some superior alternatives so you can compare and make an informed decision for your affiliate marketing future.
Let’s get started!
What Is eBay Partner Network And How Does It Work?
eBay Partner Network (EPN) is a popular affiliate marketing program founded in 1995. It’s part of the behemoth eBay Inc — an American multinational e-commerce corporation based in San Jose, California in the US.
We all know about eBay — they’re one of the largest e-commerce auction sites on the internet and you can find some awesome deals on their site for a range of products.
eBay has all kind of sellers, from multi-national corporations to dropshipping business owners and everything in-between.
eBay sells items in three ways on their platform:
1. Fixed-price items
Fixed-price items have a distinct “Buy It Now” button next to them. You can buy these goods instantly by clicking the “Buy It Now” button. You will pay the displayed price.
2. Flexible price auction items
These items have a “Place Bid” button next to a bid box. The “current bid” price is shown. Auction items are open to bids for a set time- 3, 5, or 10 days. When the clock has wound down, they sell the item to the highest bidder.
3. Dual-price items
Some auctioneers on eBay opt for using both a Buy-it-now price as well as putting their product up for auction. These items can be sold either way. If nobody uses the “Buy It Now” button, the item goes to the highest bidder when the auction ends.
How their affiliate program works
You can promote products listed through all three above selling methods as an affiliate. eBay rewards you with commission whenever someone buys through your special referral link.
And when you spend some time checking out eBay’s numbers, it’s easy to see the affiliate program’s initial appeal. With over $22.6 billion in gross merchandise going through the auction site, there’s plenty of opportunities to promote products.
But the problem lies in eBay’s commission structure and cookie duration (more on this later).
Affiliate Resources And Support
As far as support resources go, eBay partner network does a satisfactory job at helping you get up to speed. As an eBay affiliate, you get access to the following resources:
They cover the basics, but really nothing worth shouting about here.
If you need to reach out to someone, EPN offers support in two ways:
- Through a contact form — you can reach out and get a response within a few hours, usually not beyond 24 hours.
- The Help Section — you’ll fine detailed guides and plenty of videos to help you get up and running. They address most of the common questions in this section.
However, there’s no phone or live chat support available at this time.
How The Commissions Structure Works
Because eBay is primarily an auction site, the commission structure works much different to your average affiliate program.
For the majority of affiliate programs, you earn a set commission percentage for the total value of the product being sold.
Affiliate partners on eBay earn between 50% – 70% of eBay income.
This means you get paid through the eBay partner network from auction-fee commissions, not the total sale price of the product. This makes sense given that most listings are for physical products listed by third parties — so high-percentage commissions are pretty much impossible in this program.
So on average, you take around half of eBay’s standard 10% final value fee for listings. The exact amount differs based on the category. Here’s a sample list of them to give you an idea:
Collectibles (50% commission)
- Toys & Hobbies
- Sports Memorabilia, Cards & Fan Shop
- Coins & Paper Money
- Pottery & Glass
- Dolls & Bears
- Entertainment Memorabilia
Fashion (70% commission)
- Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
- Jewellery & Watches
- Health & Beauty
Home & Garden (60% commission)
- Home, Furniture & DIY
- Pet Supplies
- Garden & Patio
- Home Appliances
Lifestyle (60% commission)
- Sporting Goods
- Musical Instruments
- Tickets & Experiences
- Gift Cards & Coupons
- Holidays & Travel
On the face of it, these commissions look great — until you realise they’re from the meagre 10% fee of the listing price.
This means you’ll need to refer a huge amount of traffic to make anything close to substantial on the affiliate program.
With that being said, some affiliates have made a few thousand dollars per year on the platform.
But this was before some major changes eBay made to their partner network in 2013. These changes have basically rendered the program a waste of time for affiliate promotion…
Related Content: What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?
EPN Cookie Duration Changes Sparked Outrage From Affiliates
Back in 2013, eBay changed the way they ran their affiliate program.
The change had everything to do with cookie duration.
A cookie (in affiliate marketing terms) is essentially a line of code used to track user actions on a website. Cookies are stored in your web browser and allow affiliate networks to attribute product sales to the right affiliates.
Seasoned affiliate marketers pay close attention to the cookie duration when searching for new affiliate programs. This is important because it determines your selling window from when a prospect clicks one of your affiliate links to a purchase being attributed to your promotional efforts.
Let’s say you’ve joined the Amazon Associates program and you’re promoting digital cameras on Amazon through your photography blog.
In this example, Amazon has a 30-day cookie window. This means when visitors click one of your referral links, any sales made on Amazon will be attributed to you for the next 30 days.
Some high-paying affiliate programs even offer 365-day cookies!
But in 2013, eBay hacked their cookie duration from 7 days down to a staggering 24 hours.
The worst part?
Most eBay auctions take seven to ten days. So this is how things typically pan out as an eBay affiliate:
You refer someone to an eBay product listing. Because it’s an auction, your referral may not bid on the same day. They’ll most likely play the wait-and-see game and bid on the last day of the auction.
Because your referral didn’t buy within the 24-hour cookie duration, you lose out on your commissions. Ugh. After all the hard work you put in to bring the person to the platform.
What a kick in the teeth.
There was an uproar as hard-working affiliates lost the majority of their earnings thanks to this change. In some cases, up to 90% was lost.
In fact, one furious eBay affiliate posted graphics showing his losses.
This first graphic shows affiliate impressions, clicks and earnings from 2011:
This marketer made $2,625.97 from 33375 clicks over the course of the year.
The next graphic shows the earnings after generating almost three times as many clicks after the changes in 2013:
And this time, he generated a measly $99.62 from almost 100,000 clicks.
Talk about punishing marketers through unfair program changes.
An irate affiliate blasted eBay on the Warrior Forum. He withdrew at once all the praise he once gave on the platform before.
But eBay didn’t budge an inch.
They insisted the change would benefit affiliates, eventually. This was “a temporary dip in sales”.
In reality, the change has made EPN one of the least attractive affiliate programs in the online space.
Nobody really knows why eBay decided to make this change but there’s no point dwelling because the internet is full of businesses with stellar affiliate programs.
Superior alternatives To eBay Affiliate Partner Network
As an eBay partner network affiliate, you’d be wasting your time on a program that simply fails to reward your precious time and effort.
You can get WAY better results from other high-calibre programs that pay handsomely for your promotional efforts. And rightly so — because affiliate marketing done well is no walk in the park.
Here are 3 fine examples of top affiliate programs:
1. Capitalist Exploits Insider
Founded by multi-millionaire businessman Chris MacIntosh, Capitalists Exploits Insider is an investment advice product comprising a team of professional money managers, entrepreneurs, and investors.
It pays a 50% revenue share for successful referrals.
Nothing earth-shattering so far — until you read the numbers.
Capitalist Exploits offer two flagship products:
One pays a commission of $788 and another a hefty $1750 per sale to affiliates.
If you land six sales a month of the first product, you’ll gross over $50,000 per year. To hit the same goal on the second product, you need to make only 3 sales a month.
These sorts of earnings make the eBay affiliate program (EPN) look like a child’s play.
Other highlights of the program include:
- An amazing Trustpilot average customer rating of 9.4/10 across all products
- A global product/service used by subscribers in 53 countries.
- A first-rate support system. You’ll get a dedicated partner manager and video walkthroughs.
2. WP Engine
WP Engine is a leading premium WordPress hosting platform. In a nutshell, they offer subscription solutions for hosting and managing your WordPress website.
WP Engine acquired a company called Studiopress in June 2018. Studiopress is the company behind the Genesis framework that powers over 1 million WordPress websites.
Studiopress also makes wicked WordPress themes, which are now cleverly bundled with WP Engine hosting packages.
As a WP Engine affiliate, you make 35% on Studiopress theme sales. On the hosting side, things get really interesting — you make either $200 or 100% of the customer’s first payment, whichever is higher (up to $7,500).
You read that right, you can make up to $7,500 from one sale with WP Engine…
Obviously this isn’t something that would happen often and would be the result of referring an Enterprise client with huge hosting requirements — but it shows you what’s possible. And what high-quality affiliate programs are willing to pay marketers!
As if this wasn’t enough, WordPress Engine also offers bonuses and special discounts for affiliates to pass down to customers.
If you make just 5 referrals a month, WP Engine throws in a $100 bonus, all the way up to a $1500 bonus for 60 referrals:
As an affiliate, you get exclusive access to special discounts that you can pass down to customers…
This is red-carpet treatment for affiliate marketers.
WP Engine has carefully crafted a program that works for all parties involved. They value their affiliates, offer a kick-ass product and pay some of the highest commissions in the industry.
If you have an audience whose sites run on WordPress, you can make a killing as a WP Engine affiliate.
Clickfunnels is a software product that helps entrepreneurs build and scale their business through powerful sales funnels using simple drag-drop user interfaces.
The company boasts nearly 100k users and people have built over 5.46 million funnels to date. Clickfunnels offer 40% lifetime recurring payment on plan subscriptions (that’s $118.80 for every money for each person you refer on the platinum plan).
And this is just the beginning. Clickfunnels one of the most fun, innovative and forward-thinking companies I’ve come across.
Even their ads are pretty much guaranteed to bring a smile to your face:
Clickfunnels was created by Russell Brunson — an entrepreneur that helps companies grow their profits through optimising their sales and marketing.
Russell has used the strategies he teaches through Clickfunnels to create a suite of products you can promote as a Clickfunnels affiliate. These range from training programs to book funnel bundles and even audiobooks.
This means you can earn up to $967 per sale in addition to earning recurring commissions through Clickfunnels.
Allow me to explain:
Russell Brunson wrote a popular book called DotCom Secrets. This book can be given away through a “free plus shipping” funnel. This funnel gives away the book for free, then takes the prospect through a series of upsells and one-time offers with incremental value and cost.
Here’s what it looks like:
Pretty kick-ass, right?
The Dotcom Secrets funnel is just one of many products you can promote as a Clickfunnels affiliate.
Overall, the program is powerful because they combine high-ticket and recurring affiliate commissions, so you can earn some serious money as an affiliate.
Points worth noting:
- Signing up as an affiliate for Clickfunnels enables you to promote their full-suite of products.
- Dope bonus prizes — If you sign up 100 customers, they’ll send you a cheque of $500 monthly to offset your payment on your dream car. And, if you can get 200 sign-ups, they’ll pay you $1000 per month!
- A full suite of promotional materials such as banners, email swipe examples and landing pages.
- A sticky cookie — you enjoy all future purchases made by your referrals, without doing extra work.
Related Content: Clickfunnels VS Leadpages – a Complete Comparison Guide
Is The eBay Partner Network Worth It?
The honest answer is no.
Don’t waste your time.
You’re better off joining superior options like Clickfunnels or WP Engine.
They pay more. They pay repeatedly.
And, they give you a huge window to land a sale, unlike eBay’s ridiculous 24 hours.
According to his cheeky wife, Qhubekani Nyathi aka The Click Guy is an irresistibly handsome guy. He’s an offbeat long-form content writer who helps SMBs grow their income through zingy content that ranks, drives leads, and builds authority. He contributes to prestigious blogs like Search Engine Watch, Crazy Egg, Smart Blogger, Business 2 Community, Clickz, Get Response, and The Drum.
The solution to ebay’s 24 hour tracking window is to promote buy it now items. I think overwhelming majority of ebay sales come from that. The problem with ebay is something different. Mid october they released their new rate cards and the percentages they offer for various items is abysmal. I’m not a small ebay affiliate. The average commission rate dropped from 5.5%-6% of sale to about 3%-3.5% despite their cross-device tracking. I guess the silver lining is, there’s really not that much lower it can get as affiliate programs go. Though I suspect eBay is working diligently to find… Read more »