Before you get all riled up, let me write my own hate mail:

You idiot! The eBay Partner Network doesn’t pay per click anymore! They only pay a referral per sale.

You are 100% correct. They do only pay per sale.

Well, then focusing on clicks is a waste of time! This blog post is stupid!

That, my learned chum, is where you are wrong. I have seen a lot of blog posts and Twitter comments from people complaining that they’ve never had success with the EPN and that it’s a waste of time. I’m going to be straight with you. I make a good chunk of change with the eBay Partner Network and I can tell you that it is definitely not a waste of time and can make much more than the much loved Amazon Associates if you know what you are doing. I’m going to spread my tips out over a bunch of blog posts but let me lay a big one on you right now: Sometimes the best way to succeed with the EPN is to focus on clicks.

True, eBay doesn’t pay for clicks, it only pays for sales. But the success of this strategy lies in two things:

  • Cookies
  • eBay’s in-house cross marketing

When someone clicks on an EPN link, eBay knows this because of a tracking cookie. Once they get to eBay from your link, you get a referral credit for anything they buy once they are there. Anything they buy, not necessarily what you sent them there to look at. This is important.

When you focus on clicks, you shift how you use EPN links. You aren’t trying to make your readers buy something, you are just trying to make them go look at it. Because once they are on the eBay site, anything eBay later cross markets them to buy, you get a referral credit for.

Let me give you an example:

What you see on the left is the biggest money making banner ad across all of our websites. (It’s just a screenshot so I can talk about specifics without it changing on me but you can see the thing in action over at Let’s take a minute to talk about why this box works and works well.

To start with, nothing about this ad is trying to sell anybody anything. It asks, “Did you see this?” a sociable query from one collector to another. I’m not asking you to buy it, just to look at it. If I were asking people to buy an $8k pony, I bet not a single person would click. People don’t like to be told what to do.

Once you do look at it, you’ll notice everything on this list is very expensive. To be specific, it’s customized through keywords and other sorts to be the most expensive vintage My Little Pony items listed on eBay worldwide. This isn’t my best performing box because people are buying these very expensive items (I know this for a fact since three of those listings have been up for months). But the most expensive items are always going to be the ones that everyone is most interested in.

If you were a My Little Pony collector and you saw those listings to the right, you may scoff and say, “Too rich for my blood” and walk away. But most collectors would click for a variety of reasons like:

  • “Jeez, I’ve never even seen one of those before!” That person clicks because they want a better look (more pictures, info, etc). Greek ponies are very rare and even if a collector doesn’t plan to buy it, you better believe most will click just to go drool over it.
  • “Are they out of their mind asking 2.5k for Sweet Pop? I sold mine for under $100. Is it a weird variation or something?” That person clicks because the number and the picture don’t add up and they want to know if this is something they’ve never seen before or if the seller is just an idiot. (Collectors like to feel smugly superior to sellers, it keeps us young.)
  • Or they click to see if they know the high bidder. Or to just see the picture bigger. “Is that a mail order exclusive baby in that lot of 28?” You get the idea.

Collectors do this all the time on message boards anyway. We share listings we think are overpriced, we drool over items we’ve never seen before, we talk about the stuff we would never bid on but wish we could. I know this because I am a collector and this inside knowledge is how I was able to create such a powerful little banner ad.

Because, as you have hopefully figured out by now, the reason this box does so well even though no one is buying any of the items it advertises is that it’s a click magnet. You can’t help but click on these if you are a My Little Pony collector. (I click on them myself all the time and I’m aware of my own psychological tricks.) But once they click, the cookies and eBay’s cross marketing take over. After they drool over the big ticket item I sent them to look at, most end up buying something else while they are there. And that’s where I make money.

By the same token, after looking at such a big ticket item, many don’t feel as bad about making a smaller purchase or two. With my cookie still in their browser. Again, making me money.

The example above is very specific but you can easily adapt this to things that have nothing to do with collecting. You fine readers of The Whine Seller made me $15 in 24 hours because of this post. The lone referral link in that post is for something I was making fun of. You didn’t click the link because you thought I wanted you to buy it, you clicked it because you were with me on mocking it and just wanted to look at it. But no matter why you clicked in the first place, most of you then turned around and bought something else or I wouldn’t have gotten paid. 🙂 (Thanks for that, by the way.)

Are you starting to see the power of the click? Just get people onto the eBay site and most will turn around a buy something once they are there.

So, the next time you want to make a little extra cash with the EPN, instead of saying “Buy this item on eBay!” why not try something more like “Who the hell would buy this stupid thing? Just the idea of it grosses me out!” 😉

Not sure how to adapt this to your business or blog? Ask any questions below!