Making Money with Micro Niche Finder

As I mentioned in my previous article, The Thin Affiliate Site Experiment using Micro Niche Finder, I recently purchased Micro Niche Finder and I wanted to crank out some thin eBay sites and see if they would convert.  So, in August I bought ten new domains and I cranked out 10 eBay Niche Stores using phpBay and the wordpress Search2Post plugin.  I'll talk more about Search2Post in a coming post, but let me just say right now that it's seriously changed the way I create Niche sites.

My goal with these sites was to target small niches that would require NO BACKLINKS.  I'm freaking tired of making backlinks for all my niche stores.  I just want something I can crank out and leave it there.  Sure, it's not going to make buckets of money, but as long as it makes enough money to pay for the domain registration and compensate me for my 20 minutes of time, then I'm fine.  I expect all of these sites to be profitable after 2-3 months of being indexed.  The best part about this strategy is that I can just rinse and repeat and not look back.

So, with the help of Micro Niche Finder, I found 10 keyword combinations that I could easily rank on with absolutely no backlinks.  I put a little bit of Adsense and maybe some Amazon (using phpZon Pro) and then moved on to the next site.  These sites all got indexed in late August or early September and at the end of September I've made $47.32 total on them.  That averages out to 4.73 per site per month.  And, keep in mind that many of these sites weren't indexed at all at the start of September.  So, what we are looking at here is a worst case scenario.  I fully expect these sites to make $10-15/month for quite some time with out any more support from me.  So, now it's just a case of how many I can crank out.  And, with a site taking me roughly 20 minutes, things are starting to look pretty sunny.

What's so great about this is that there a loads of ways to make money using Micro Niche Finder (in fact, check out these videos which shows your 5 different ways to make money), I just picked the one I was most comfortable with and went to town!

The Thin Affiliate Site Experiment using Micro Niche Finder

Well, I haven't posted in quite some time and, for that, I apologize.  I forget how busy the summer can get.  Whew.  Anyway, this grand affiliate marketing journey is going well for me.  The eBay Partner Network is definitely my big bread winner, Amazon is next (although, it's about 1/10 of the profits of EPN for me and Comission Junction is pretty much neck and neck with Adsense.'

I had a bit of a scare in June when all when of my sites took a nose dive.  I just wasn't getting search impressions or unique visits anymore.  I'm starting to think it was related to a lag in my twitter activity, but I got worried that my sites had been negatively profiled by Google (which is still possible).  It was a bummer because while many of these sites could technically be considered "thin" sites, they took me hours of work.

So, thus begins my experiment.  I've been reading about Micro Niche Finder and I like what I heart.  Also, many other Internet Marketers have told me how well it works for them.  So, my plan is to crank out 10 (count 'em, 10) thin EPN sites next week utilizing Micro Niche Finder and I'll report the results back to you.  I have a new method where I could conceivably created an EPN site (using the magic of phpBay Pro) from start to finish in less than an hour, so we'll see how that works.  I know I'm coming to this party a little late, but I think there is still money to be made.

If you don't know much about Micro Niche Finder, then check out these 5 videos that show you 5 different ways to make money from Micro Niche Finder.  You'll be chomping at the bit to buy it.

Ok.  Well, I better get to work.  These sites aren't going to write themselves..... yet.

PhpZon – Search Return Problem

So, as I mentioned previously, I upgraded my phpBay Pro license to also give me access to phpZon Pro.  So far, I'm really digging phpZon Pro.  It basically enables me to both feature a single Amazon item in a blog post (by just knowing the ASIN) or I can create Niche Stores of multiple items using keyword searches.

There is, apparently, a new version of phpZon Pro coming very soon, but the version that I currently have supports both SearchIndex and BrowseNode searches, which is pretty helpful.

But, I was  having a problem with search on a particular Niche Store site of mine.  Basically, the site is a Jewelry Niche Store and I notice that when I did a phpzon tag and included a SearchIndex and BrowseNode that I was only getting a single item returned.  It didn't really make sense to me.  So, I posted on the PhpBay Pro Forums and got my answer in a jiffy.  (The phpBay Forum community is fantastic!)

Long story short, it was because the items that Amazon was returning have a choice of size.  What I found out is that if you are going to be using phpZon to search items that have a choice of size or color, you need to un-check the global option 'Filter Items that are Currently Unavailable' because Amazon can't check to see if the item is available until the selection has been made.  I unchecked that and we were off and running!

phpZon Pro and phpBay Pro – The Combo Deal

Howdy all. This is going to be a short one, but I wanted to post something because I'm pretty excited. See, here's the deal.   When I bought phpBay Pro, I didn't really know anything about ReviewAZON or phpZon or any of that. I have a free amazon-niche-store plugin for WordPress that is ok, but not really that stellar. But, at the time I wasn't really doing anything with Amazon.

Well, that all changed around Christmas time. I suddenly saw the potential that Amazon's Affiliate program could have when it seemed like virtually the whole world was already headed to Amazon to do their Xmas shopping. So, all during November and December I was working like a madman to create as much Amazon Affiliate-related contest as I could. However, with all the cut and pasting of my Amazon links, and the description and the image and then adding my own original content it was really shaping up to be a pain in the ass.
Well, I talked to Hanji at money-code.com and he pretty much swore by ReviewAZON.  But, I was trying not to spend any more money on Affiliate Tools.  I was trying to earn some "sweat equity", if you will.  But, then I learn about phpZon Pro (from the makers of phpBay Pro) and I see that it's only $49.  Hmm.. that sounds enticing.  But, then I see that for $99 you can get both phpBay Pro and phpZon Pro.  Well, now I'm kicking myself for not shelling out the extra $20 and buying both when I bought phpBay Pro.

So, I decided to take a chance.  I sent an e-mail to Wade at phpBay Pro and asked him if I could get a discount, since I had already bought phpBay Pro.  Within minutes I had a response from him telling me that I could just pay the additional $20 (phpBay Pro is $79) and get the combo package for both products.  Freaking awesome!

So, I've just downloaded phpZon but you can expect I'll be talking more about it in the coming days.  I'll also let you know if I find any good mods or customizations for it as well.

PhpBay Pro Keyword Search Tricks

<Rant>
Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again.  PhpBay Pro RULES!   If you haven't already, check out my post where I talk about the great free PhpBay Mod I use for keyword tracking, “MUST Have PhpBay Pro Mod (FREE)“.  And, if you are still trying to create eBay niche stores with something besides PhpBay Pro then stop right now.  Forget BANS or any free eBay plugins that you might have found.  They are junk.  Go, check out PhpBay Pro now.
</Rant>

So, assuming you have PhpBay Pro now, let's talk about doing searches.  PhpBay Pro let's you narrow your search by many different ways.  One of the helpful ways (that many of the free eBay niche store plugins dont' do) is that it allows you to search on categories.  However, what if you need to search across multiple categories, but you want to return very specific items?

Here's an example, let's say there is an eBay category of 99999 (Random->Random Parts, let's say) under that are two other categories, 99111 (Random->Random Parts->Widgets) and 99222 (Random->Random Parts->Sprockets) and let's say you want to return both Widgets and Sprockets that are in Fine condition.  Well, you can't have multiple categories in PhpBay.  Well.. not exactly, but you can set 99999 as your category to search in and it will search through the child directories 99111 and 99222.  But, what do you put in your keyword field in the phpbay bbcode tag?  Well, this is where you get tricky with parentheses and pipe symbols.  Check this one out:
[phpbay] (widget|sprocket) (fine), , "99999"[/phpbay]

That will find listings that have the words widget or sprocket AND the word fine, in any order.

However what if you want to also display listings of multiple sprockets and widgets? Well, you could do something like:
(widget*|sprocket*) (fine)

but I think wildcards should be used sparingly. They can slow down your search or cause it to break outright. Why not just do:
(widget|widgets|sprocket|sprockets) (fine)

Anyway, if you do have PhpBay Pro, then check out this great PhpBay Forum post that talks about keyword tricks.

phpBay Pro/ WordPress Search Mod

Alright Partner.  This is more talk about leveraging phpBay Pro to make money for you.  If, after reading my previous blog post, "MUST Have PhpBay Pro Mod (FREE)", you are still trying to create eBay niche stores with something besides PhpBay Pro then stop right now.  Forget BANS or any free-ebay plugins that you might have found.  You are just wasting time.  Go, check out PhpBay Pro now.

Now that you are happily cranking out niche stores like nobodies business you might be asking yourself, "Self, wouldn't it be great if people could use the WordPress search function on my site to actually search eBay directly".  That is to say, can we have the search results be presented from ebay auctions instead of links to pages/posts on your site.

Good news, it's wicked easy to do this.  Look for the search.php file in your theme and edit it.  (NOTE: I'm not sure how to make this work with themes that use searchform.php instead of search.php)

Now, look for the following code in your search.php:
<?php if(have_posts()) : ?>

Delete everything from this line up until (and including) the following line:
<?php endif; ?>

Now, in it the place of the delete code, enter the following:

<p align="center">Your search for '<strong><font color="#FF0000"><? echo $_GET["s"] ?></font></strong>' returned the following results:</p>
<p>
<?php
function phpBaySearch($term) {
$keyword = $term;
$category = "";
$text .= '[phpbay]' . $keyword . ',20,' . $category . ', ""[/phpbay]';
echo phpBayPro($text);
}
phpBaySearch($_GET["s"]);
?>
</p>

Save your new search.php and head over to your site. Type something in the search box and see the majesty and beauty of ebaby search results displayed real purty-like on your site!

I'm hoping to get Hanji, from money-code, into phpBay Pro and then I'm sure he can tell us how to modify themes that use searchform.php to do the same thing.  I'll also post a question in the phpBay Pro forums and I'll follow-up if I get any answers.

For what it's worth, though, if you are using a theme like Arclite that seems to use both search.php and searchform.php, then I've had good luck with

1) backing up the original search.php
2) copying index.php over search.php
3) editing the new search.php, removing the if and else statements related to have_post and replace that entire chunk with the phpBay pro code above

MUST Have PhpBay Pro Mod (FREE)

First off, If you are creating eBay niche stores and you aren't using PhpBay Pro then stop right now.  Forget BANS or any free-ebay plugins that you might have found.  You are just wasting time.  Go, check out PhpBay Pro now.  (Go ahead... I'll wait).  Ok.  Now that we are all on the same page, I'll get on with my story.

See, I was talking with Hanji (from moneycode.com) and he was asking me about the Custom ID capabilities of PhpBay Pro.  See, he's a genius who writes all his own stuff so he can do all sorts of cool tricks with PPC campaign tracking, and whatnot, using Custom ID with EPN.  He suggested that I look for a plugin or Mod for PhpBay Pro because surely someone else out there wants the functionality.  Sure enough, I found a great post by Anthony Wakefield on the PHPBay Forums.

Here's what his Mod can do for you:

  • Show you exactly which Search Engines & Search Keywords generate sales.
  • Show you what referring sites generate sales.
  • Incorporates the Previous '12th Parameter' Custom ID, so you can define this as you wish, and it's added on to the search engine and referrer info.
  • Track Adwords or other Ad Campaigns via a referring URL & 30 Day Cookie.

Using his Mod, you can download your Transaction reports from EPN (Make sure and download all events and keep it checked on All Programs) and you'll see the following format in your  Custom ID field.

[KW = Airport Express A1264] - [SRC = google] - [MED = organic]

KW is Keyword, & SRC is Source (ie. yahoo/google/msn)

If you've entered your own Custom ID field in the [phpbay] tag (although, if you had luck with this, let me know, I'm having issues) then you should see ad additional [CID = something] chunk in there.

To use Anthony's MOD you just need to edit your auction.php file.  This should be in the root of your site (it's one of the files you uploaded when you installed phpBay Pro).

Locate the following code:

$ktv["ccid"] = $_REQUEST["ccid"];

and replace it with:

#PHPbay CustomID Mod By Anthony Wakefield - Anteck On PHPBay Forums
# String Splitter
function strbet($inputStr, $delimeterLeft, $delimeterRight, $debug=false) {
$posLeft=strpos($inputStr, $delimeterLeft);
if ( $posLeft===false ) {
if ( $debug ) {
echo "Warning: left delimiter '{$delimeterLeft}' not found";
}
return false;
}
$posLeft+=strlen($delimeterLeft);
$posRight=strpos($inputStr, $delimeterRight, $posLeft);
if ( $posRight===false ) {
if ( $debug ) {
echo "Warning: right delimiter '{$delimeterRight}' not found";
}
return false;
}
return substr($inputStr, $posLeft, $posRight-$posLeft);
}

# If 12th Parameter Set, Format For Use In Referrer Custom ID
if (isset($_REQUEST["ccid"])) {
$PRESETCUSTOMID = $_REQUEST["ccid"];
$PRESETCUSTOMID = str_replace('_','-',$PRESETCUSTOMID);
$PRESETCUSTOMID = str_replace('/','-',$PRESETCUSTOMID);
$PRESETCUSTOMID = ' - [CID = '.$PRESETCUSTOMID.']';
}

# Google Analytics Cookie Extraction & Write-Out Referrer Custom ID
if (isset($_COOKIE["__utmz"])) {
$utmz = $_COOKIE["__utmz"];
$garef = '|'.$utmz.'|';

$source = strbet($garef ,'utmcsr=','|');
$medium = strbet($garef ,'utmcmd=','|');
$term = strbet($garef ,'utmctr=','|');

$searchstring = '[KW = '.$term.'] - [SRC = '.$source.'] - [MED = '.$medium.']'.$PRESETCUSTOMID;

# Filter Unfriendly URL Characters
$searchstring = str_replace('_','-',$searchstring);
$searchstring = str_replace('/','-',$searchstring);
$referrerinfo = $searchstring;
$adsearchkw = ' - [KW = '.$term.']';
$adsearchkw = str_replace('_','-',$adsearchkw);
$adsearchkw = str_replace('/','-',$adsearchkw);
}

# Check For Ad Cookie, If Exists Then Write Into Referrer CID
unset($i);
if (isset($_COOKIE["AdwordsID"]))
{$ADVERT = $_COOKIE["AdwordsID"];
$referrerinfo = '[AD = '.$ADVERT.']'.$adsearchkw.$PRESETCUSTOMID;
}
# Pass Referrer CID onto PHPBay CCID
$ktv["ccid"] = $referrerinfo;
# End Of Mod

But, Anthony isn't done yet. He also created a system for passing a URL Referrer which then turns into a 30 day cookie. This is a Theme Mod that sets the cookie and if you want to use it you need only to edit your header.php file in your WordPress theme.

What it enables you to do is pass a Referrer ID from your PPC link by appending ?ad=ReferrerID to the end of the URL. When you do this, a cookie is set on the users computer for 30 days. Now, if they come back to the site three weeks later and buy something, you can still see that they originally came in via that ad. Also, it will add the original search keyword used to find the PPC Advertisement.

Here's what some example output:

[AD = ReferrerID] - [KW = refurbished iphone 3gs for sale] - [CID = 32GB iPhone]

So, to use it, edit your header.php (or equivalent file) on your site and add the following code:


<script type="text/javascript">

function geturlvar( name )
{
name = name.replace(/[\[]/,"\\\[").replace(/[\]]/,"\\\]");
var regexS = "[\\?&]"+name+"=([^&#]*)";
var regex = new RegExp( regexS );
var results = regex.exec( window.location.href );
if( results == null )
return "";
else
return results[1];
}
</script>

<script type="text/javascript">

function Set_Cookie( name, value, expires, path, domain, secure )
{
var today = new Date();
today.setTime( today.getTime() );

if ( expires )
{
expires = expires * 1000 * 60 * 60 * 24;
}
var expires_date = new Date( today.getTime() + (expires) );

document.cookie = name + "=" +escape( value ) +
( ( expires ) ? ";expires=" + expires_date.toGMTString() : "" ) +
( ( path ) ? ";path=" + path : "" ) +
( ( domain ) ? ";domain=" + domain : "" ) +
( ( secure ) ? ";secure" : "" );
}

</script>

<script type="text/javascript">

var adwordsurlref = geturlvar( 'ad' );
if (adwordsurlref>""){Set_Cookie( 'AdwordsID',adwordsurlref , 30, '/', '', '' )
}

</script>

There ya go! I just added mine yseterday so I can't wait to look at my EPN Transaction report today. I'll follow-up with you all once I do, though.

Also, as I mentioned before, this Mod is FREE, but Anthony certainly spent some time on it. If you use it and find that it's working well for you, and saving you some time, please consider a Paypal donation. Heck... just buy the guy a beer, right? "payments at anteck.com.au" is the e-mail address you can use to send a paypal donation to him. (just replace " at " with "@", I didn't want him to get spam harvested because of my post)

NOTE: If this formatting is weird for you, then just head over to http://www.phpbay.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3148 to see Anthony's original forum post.

Picking a niche for your niche store.

So, I've made a handful of niche stores so far.  At first I was using a free WordPress plugin but I got tired of not being able to search by category, minimum price and so on.  So, I finally bit the bullet and bought Phpbay Pro.  It was $79 and that's a chunk of change, but you can use it on unlimited domains and it's free upgrades for life.  Besides, my time is valuable to me.  So, if I can make more niche stores in less time then it's completely worth the $79.

NOTE: If you do buy Phpbay Pro (or you already have it) something that isn't really in the manual is that you can have multiple keywords by using the "|" pipe character.  So, if you put in "doorknob handles hardware" in for a keyword in Phpbay Pro, you are actually looking for that exact phrase.  That might not be what you want.  You are probably wanting this instead "doorknob|handles|hardware".

Anyway, on my previous niche stores, I picked things that I was already into.  But, these things aren't necessarily good subjects for niche stores.  That is to say, I wasn't doing any research, I was just picking out of a hat, effectively.  What you really need is a way to see what people are looking for on eBay.  Now, there is eBay Pulse,which is pretty cool, but it seems like you can only see hot searches one category deep (unless I'm just missing it somehow).  Also, I don't know how far back the data goes on eBay Pulse.

So, after a little bit of digging around, I found TeraPeak.  They have over two years of eBay research data and you can use it for all sorts of purposes.  That is to say, if you are an eBay seller (as well as an affiliate marketer) then you use their data to know when to sell on eBay. I recently searched 90 days worth of auctions to find the best time of day and the best day of the week to sell some of my old HP DL320 servers.  You can find the best time/date for sell-through percentage or highest price, or try and find a balance of the two.  It's great for this!

But, I think for something like $5 you get access to all the search data as well.  So, now you can look for hot categories, hot searches, hot products, etc.  And you can drill down by category.  So, yesterday I used it to search something like 5-6 categories deep to find the searches that people are most often typing in a particular category.  Then I can create pages using Phpbay Pro where I use those popular search keywords to display auctions related to those searches.  The users dig it because now they can find what they are most likely to be searching for with just a single click.

Still not convinced?  Believe me, I get.  It seems like there is so much software to buy out there.  But, in my opinion, TeraPeak and Phpbay Pro are worth it.  Your niche stores are going to be quicker and easier to build and your niches should be more lucrative if you do the research up front.  But, if you want to see it in action, check out the Terapeak eBay Demo Videos.


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