eBay Category Selection for BANS

eBay Category Selection for BANS

Vic had a good vlog post called 100 BANS Sites where he talked about selecting the product ID for your BANS store. I thought I’d throw together a quick post to compliment his that might help you find your way around eBay and the category selection strategy I’m using. This method should work well for BANS or simply building RSS Feed and eBay Sniplet sites like I mentioned earlier. It actually isn’t that different from the pattern I followed when I was looking for potential products to sell on eBay a few years ago. It’s just for a BANS site you’re looking for a category that is served well rather than being underserved.

What To Look For

It starts at the category listing page on eBay:

eBay All Categories

This gives us a big huge list of all the top level categories on eBay and how many items are currently active in that category. Now you can break it down further into a category that looks promising to you. In this example, let’s use “Rubber Stamping & Embossing” where we see a healthy 25000+ items listed. This means there are probably a good number of sellers and buyers in that area. Plus it’s a hobby area, one of the better niches to be in when selling on eBay as an established seller.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

Narrowing Things Down

Narrowing the Results

As you can see we have the option to narrow down our search further into sub-categories. We see that “Rubber Stamps” has a large number of listings at about 21,000. Is this a good category to use in your BANS site? I’d say, probably not. Here’s why.

When we look at the listings we see that the price of rubber stamps is rather low, typically a few dollars and almost always under $25 except for large lots. These items aren’t that profitable to sell on eBay and the potential eBay commissions will be lower too. So, let’s dig around a bit more and see what we can find.

“Stamping Tools & Equipment” has just over 300 items listed. When you look at the price most of them fall into the $25-$150 price range. This is one of the ’sweet spots’ for profitable selling on eBay because it makes enough money to be profitable but isn’t so expensive that it rules out the impulse purchase or bid. Of course, some categories will be a bit higher than this but this is a good average range. More expensive categories will result in higher commissions but won’t come as often. It’s a trade off that you should bear in mind.

Will it Sell?

Next, do a search on completed auctions to see if items in that category are selling well. Go to the “search options” on the sidebar and check the “completed listings” checkbox and then click the “show items” button below.

Completed Sales

It looks like things are selling well in the “Stamping Tools & Equipment” category since there are close to 1000 auctions in the past few weeks and most of them sold. The green price on the completed auctions listing indicates a completed sale while red indicates an item that didn’t sell. This indicates that this would be a good niche to build a BANS site around so far as eBay is concerned.

Of course, there still is the matter of getting enough Google traffic. There are some very good search terms in this niche but I’ll let you look for them if you want to try it out.

What if a niche isn’t a good performer? Back up and work down another query path. Remember that you’re looking for sub-categories where the selling is in a ’sweet spot’ price range and the items are selling well plus where the items will break down even further into sub-categories. Also remember not all of the categories drill down to as low a level as in the example above so you may need to identify them yourself using search terms. As Vic says though, don’t overthink it. It shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes to determine if a category niche has good potential.

What do you think? Let me hear from you if you have any thoughts or questions on picking out niches on eBay.


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Comment by Vic
2008-04-07 23:50:39

Hey buddy for reasons I do not know the last 2 times that you have linked me I have not got a trackback I only know you linked cuz of the admin dash where it gets the google blog search links.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-08 00:10:28

Thanks Vic,

I hope this info is helpful.

I think some of my trackbacks are being Akismeted still.

Comment by April of Scotland
2008-04-08 03:48:46

Generally I’ve been looking at fairly high priced items like exercise equipment but haven’t been so fussy now as I’m trying to register 100 domains. Last night I bought 28 so I’ve got a lot to do to find all these other domains.

Even if you do promote cheap items that person might also buy some more expensive items too or be a new ebay buyer. But in general going for more pricey items is better and not necessarily more difficult to rank well for.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-08 06:41:09

Hi April,

The nice thing about the higher priced items is that you naturally get a higher payout when something sells. The problem is that, at least in my experience, sales happen a lot less often. I found this kind of frustrating so that’s why I started going for the mid-priced items that might still be impulse buys/bids. Of course, that might just be a factor in the particular niches I’ve tried.

Comment by April of Scotland
2008-04-08 14:19:46

I had trouble with getting my clickbank receipt so I could download the latest version of BANS. Just got it today so it’s just a matter of waiting to see if I have been making good choices.

Two of the domains I bought last night are relating to boats. The ones I saw listed had several bids and the prices looked pretty high. I suppose you’ve just got to “suck it and see”.

At 99c per domain you can afford to give different niches a try!

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Comment by YC
2008-04-08 12:15:06

Frank, you mentioned ‘SMC’ in your comment in Vic’s post. What is ‘SMC’?

I wish you’d have written this earlier before I got my 100 sites. I’ll build another 100 with this. ;)

Comment by jfc
2008-04-08 12:47:34

Hi YC,

SMC is the Speciality Merchandise Corporation. If you live in the US and watch very late night TV you’ve probably seen their infomercial with Happy Days actor Tom Bosley telling people how they can make a lot of money selling these crappy products. The thing is that they’re much worse than the “Make Money Online” bloggers Vic rails against when it comes to taking advantage of people wanting to make money online.

You’ll find certain eBay niches, mostly in gifts and home furnishings, overrun by people desperately trying to sell these products. The problem is that they’re mostly worthless crap and consumers don’t buy them. Why pay $30 for something you can buy at WalMart for $3? You’ll identify them by looking at the completed auctions as I described in the main article.

Comment by YC
2008-04-09 01:29:05

Thanks for the explanation, Frank. Didn’t know about this - I better go through some of the stuff I picked out to see if they fall into this category. Damn.

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Comment by Denise
2008-04-08 17:18:52

Frank, Nice post!

Thanks for drilling this down farther. I am just trying to figure out some domains to get and this is a big help in picking those out.

Would you go with the rubber stamping as your domain name or would you use rubber stamping tools?

I assume rubber stamping in case tools did not work out then you could alter your keywords.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-08 18:21:51

Hi Denise,

Not being too locked into a particular sub-category is good. Too broad and you’ll have too much competition, too narrow, you might not get enough traffic. Leaving enough room to change course slightly has worked for me on some of my Adsense niche sites.

Of course, many purely “rubber stamping dot” domains are taken, even at the .info level. My strategy, if a domain isn’t available for my keyword, is to go with either a starting or ending modifier like “rubberstampingforbeginners.info” or “goodrubberstamping.info”. You can use various tools to see what people are searching on like “rubber stamping ideas” or “rubber stamping projects”

(Grab ‘em quick, all four are available as of this writing!)

2008-04-08 19:03:47

[…] are Hubpages? eBay Category Selection for BANS How eBay and PayPal Fees Play Into Your Profit Picture Popularity: unranked […]

Comment by Niche Blogging
2008-04-09 06:32:56


Great writeup! One of the things I have found with the BANS sites is to not forget keyword research for the niche you are thinking of setting up.

This will help you figure out a domain name possibly and show you traffic, and potential for what people are searching for on the search engines.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-10 06:23:16

Hi ‘Niche’,

One thing I’ve been look at has been the number of long tails in a category. For example, the ‘rubber stamping’ category has several underserved long tail searches that get between 10-50 searches a day. Add a few of those together and you should be able to make a nice profit from a niche like that.

Comment by Dinheiro
2008-04-10 03:54:19

Frank, this a great great great post. I say it again GREAT post. You give excellent tips here for using ebay and bans. After this post, the ones that are trying to use bans, they just need to follow this post and that’s it. More easy it’s impossible. I used other similiar methods in the past, but i tried the method you described in this post, and i’ve found a niche that i thought it was not possible!! Thanks frank

Comment by jfc
2008-04-10 06:24:44

You’re welcome Dinheiro. I’m glad to help.

Comment by Hock
2008-04-11 21:32:44

Good points regarding niche selection. The most difficult part for most BANS owners is, in my opinion, driving traffic to their sites. Also, in niche selection, you should try to find a niche where people don’t already go directly to eBay to find the products. Another thing is to do a quick check on the SE results to see if eBay already ranks on the first page. If not, you may have a chance at the long tail/product model type keywords.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-12 00:24:45

Hi Hock,

Traffic is the tricky part, especially when you’re talking about a new domain. Vic, of course, has had some good hints on this and you might also want to check out Court’s recent post on this topic too.

Comment by Houseboat Rentals
2008-04-11 23:17:57

I have been working at finding domain name from searching eBay. It is hard to decide which ones to pick. Are you looking for a certain number being searched a day? Like between 0-50 a day. Do you have a number in your head?


Comment by jfc
2008-04-12 00:52:14

Hi ‘Houseboat’ (Denise),

I’ve been looking for combinations of targetable long tails.

To go back to the previous example, “rubber stamping” gets a lot of searches, relatively speaking, at about 400-500 a day. But the competition for that term alone would be tough since there a some older domains with strong links and PR dominating the niche. Not “credit card” tough but not all that easy unless your name is Griz or Vic. But, when you move to long tails like “rubber stamping projects” or “rubber stamping ideas” or even “using rubber stamping tools” you’ll find much weaker sites, ones with fewer links in the top positions.

Just start working your way through these terms, building links, and soon your site will start working its way up through search results. You’ll pick up 5 searches from one term then 8 from another then 6 from another and pretty soon it adds up into a nice level of search traffic and, with any luck, money.

Comment by Jason
2008-04-14 14:10:01

All I can say is that this is really going to help an eBay newbie when he sets up his first BANS site later this week.

Thanks for the tips :)

Comment by jfc
2008-04-15 08:10:18

Hi Jason,

I’m glad you found the information helpful.

Comment by Dinheiro
2008-04-15 00:20:02

Frank, i would go a little off-topic here, but i’m trying to figure out how to do the right track.

I would like to ask you something more, if you can give some insights. When you make a new money site, how much days do you use to build links before you go to build another new money site?

Comment by jfc
2008-04-15 06:17:33

Hi Dinheiro,

I used to wait, and wait, and wait before starting something new. Last year it was like wait, read stats, wait, build some links, wait, add content …it was very slow going. One of the most important things that Vic mentions is not get hung up watching stats, counting links and so forth but just to keep moving.

More recently I’ve been following Vic’s pattern of starting up a site and moving on quickly to the next. Generally it’s taking me an evening or two to go from researching an area to having it fully in my site update rotation which includes link building. My main slowdowns have been getting new domains hosted quickly. I’ve had ISP delays that were annoying sometimes.

2008-04-21 06:41:59

[…] wrote an interesting article on eBay category selection for BANS (build a niche store) over at OpTempo. If you're thinking of building a BANS site, this will […]

Comment by Desty
2008-04-21 09:36:54

It’s nice to see that I’m thinking along the same lines as others when it comes to my ebay category searches. :)

Comment by jfc
2008-04-21 10:30:24

Thanks Desty,

I think that one of the best indicators is if things are selling in a particular niche. While an eBay affiliate will make money even if the seller is breaking even or losing money trying to sell low priced items, if there are no sales, nobody gets paid.

Comment by Tim E.
2008-04-26 08:54:08

The ‘completed listings’ is the missing piece for me. I went and checked a couple of my sites and will have to make a few changes. Darn! Better late than never to find out, though.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-26 10:41:23

Hi Tim,

It’s usually easy to change direction slightly in a niche to pick up products that are selling well and/or can bring in good search traffic.

However, I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time tweaking one BANS site. It’s easy to get stuck nursing an underperformer. I’ve seen a number of people do this, myself included. Instead, just move on to the next site and make course corrections later if you need to do so.

Comment by Michael
2008-05-24 17:25:44

agreed jfc.

I have more sucess with volume sites and just weeding out the underperforming ones as I go along.

Comment by jfc
2008-05-24 18:04:09

Hi Michael,

One recommendation I’d have for your BANS site is to not use Adsense on it. Building sites specifically for Adsense or for eBay affiliate or feeds usually works better than mixing functions.

Comment by Halim-Belajar SEO
2008-07-08 04:19:56

I know this sound like stupid question but I really want to know, what is BANS? I think I had read it somewhere around the net, but not too interested but here I see it had some related to Ebay and become curious. And again, what is BANS?

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