Today’s post is by a new I’ve Tried That contributor, MattD. We’re big fans of BANS around here, but we wanted to let you hear from someone with a lot more experience with it than we have. You can ask questions in the comments below; Matt is a generous guy and will help you by answering them. Looking for our previous BANS review? Click here to read it.
I Was New to Making Money Online
Before I begin I think some background is in order, so that readers understand what my level of knowledge was when I bought Build A Niche Store and began building websites. (BANS is a program that allows you to create websites and earn money by becoming an eBay affiliate.) I first purchased BANS in early December of 2007. My knowledge was almost nil when it came to building sites and making the Internet work for me to generate money. The most I had done was get myself an eBlogger page. In fact, when I first purchased BANS it took me an hour to understand how to unzip the files and find the installation instructions. Yes, that is how much of a “Noob” I was to internet marketing.
The Truth About BANS
Its main source for generating your revenue is through eBay’s ePN program. For me, the software purchase price of $97 wasn’t easy to part with. I’m 49 years old and have fallen victim to my share of scams, so I’m suspicious of everything I read. I visited the BANS site and read the testimonials. I Googled “BANS” and read reviews, both good and bad.
The good reviews far outweighed the bad ones. I figured out the extra costs of buying domains, a host server, and FTP program. I calculated bare bones costs to be around $150 up front and a recurring monthly fee of $15. Remember that I had no idea how to use an FTP account, or even what a “host server” was. But I plunged ahead, believing that I could be “ready to go” in an hour, allowing for my inexperience.
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As a Noob, I was almost immediately lost. I finally figured out how to unzip the files and open the installation instructions. There was of course, the search for a good domain name. I, like most Noobs, made the mistake of purchasing a domain that infringes on a copyright— but that’s another story. I purchased my domain from Godaddy (a good reputation and less expensive than most) and had to call them almost immediately because I didn’t understand the concept of “pointing” the DNS. I also had to pick my host server plan with Hostgator (again, good reviews and not expensive). By the way, I didn’t know at the time I had to upload to my “public_html” folder. I tell you this as a further example of my lack of knowledge.
One of the first things I did, among those mentioned above, was to join the BANS forum. At that time BANS had just about 4000 members on the forum. As of this writing they are approaching 9200, which means that in 6 months they doubled the membership it took them to achieve in their first year. This may be the reason the forum is now a much different place than it used to be, but more on that later.
With all the delays of figuring out host server problems, getting the domain name, learning the FTP program, joining affiliate programs, and succeeding in uploading a working site, it took me 3 days before I had a site that looked similar to this template.
Setting It Up Is Easy; Making It Work Is Not
There was much cursing and crying along the way. Certainly not the “10 minutes” I was reading about when I purchased it. However, I was lucky. I joined at a time before it was over-sold. Before the Trolls got balls. A time when Adam and his brother Kelvin were still active in the forum and a half dozen moderators patrolled the threads. Many may have been there to sell their wares, but they contributed with help and advice along the way— including new code snippets for improvements and actually troubleshooting some sites at no charge.
Now, about 9 months have passed since I first joined BANS. I have 16 BANS sites in various stages of a build, from one with some limited tweaking and SEO, like CoffeeTweek.com, to a site that is tweaked and had its coding changed to give it a totally unique look, as I did with NostalgiaFinder.com. It was a huge learning curve for me. I didn’t know even basic HTML to create these looks when I first began. To actually go into a cPanel and change script was a heart stopping experience. This has to be done, though, as the web is now being filled with those who join BANS and other web building programs, set up an out-of-the-box site, attach an eBay feed and walk away, doing nothing to improve their website. Those who build 100+ of these sites, because of the unlimited licensing BANS offers (allowing you to build as many stores as you like) are the scourge of the internet and have given BANS visitors a bad taste in their mouth.
Even I had a concept when I started that this would be work. For the first month I spent every waking hour of my weekends and 3 hours each work night doing SEO and manipulating the two sites I was then working on. As I finally near completion of my sites, getting them the way I want them and performing the SEO they require, I am now moving onto a blog. It is in a sorry state at the moment, but The Tweak Show will become a great SEO tool for all my sites in time. Nobody should believe that this, or any internet marketing venture, is an overnight money maker. If you are new to the internet and have nothing established with social networking or existing blogs, then it will be months before real coin can be made.
Problems with the BANS Forum
When I joined the forum a Noob could ask a question about a problem they were having with getting something to operate correctly and 10 people would volunteer an answer without hesitation. When you are new to anything more than email, even reading a manual is like reading Greek. I was one of those that saw much of it in Geek, not Greek. Yes, the same question might have been asked by a half dozen people in a month, but they would either be pointed to the thread with the answer or given the answer. It was a community of helpful individuals wanting each other to succeed. In fact, my ineptness at getting my first store running had the founder, Adam, correcting a database problem I caused myself and getting my store operational. That has changed for anyone now joining.
The BANS forum has become a nasty place because of a few rogue members. One, a crotchety old man from the Netherlands, likes to call some Noobs names for asking a question. “Bonobo” seems to be his favorite tag to a Noob who asks what would be a simple question to those of us who now understand the basics. He has told new members to go away and to basically not ask questions, making them feel stupid and unwelcome. This, from an old goat who had plenty of questions when he first joined the BANS community. Some members have gone so far as to display “RTFM” (Read The Friendly (ha) Manual) in their avatars, berating those who dare ask a question that can be found in the manual, but may not be understood.
Where are the founders, Adam and Kelvin? Many of us wish we knew. They posted the fact that they were moving a few months ago, but rarely make an appearance and don’t mingle with the paying customers any more. If only 10% of those who paid for BANS didn’t join the forum that means 10,000 people bought BANS. If the founders average approximately $50 on every sale (if an affiliate sends the customer, the affiliate gets $47, otherwise BANS gets the $97). Do the math. If you raked in $500,000 in 2 years, would you want to deal with a forum filled with some real assholes? In fairness though, they do provide updates needed when eBay makes a change that affects the affiliates. Where are the old moderators who kept some order in the forums? Nobody knows for sure, but I believe they recognized that the ride with BANS is coming to an end because of the individuals now arriving. This morning I responded to a post from a new member who expected to be getting rich in a few days. Seriously.
Yes, I Make Money with BANS
My first month I recovered about half my expenses. I was more than even by the second month. I now make a few hundred dollars each month after expenses and having upgraded to an SEO hosting account, which is more expensive than a basic host plan. That amount has been steadily increasing. Slow, but steady.
My bottom line? At this point BANS is not for the Noob who has no experience with script, HTML, uploading, SEO, and everything that goes with marketing on the internet. If you are so new that your not understanding how to do the basics would cause you to ask a question on the BANS forum, then you should think about saving your money to try another venture. You are likely to remain lost if a forum member decides to derail your post in which you ask a question. It IS NOT a simple “10 minute” program for the inexperienced. I would still recommend it to the mid-level internet user who has a basic understanding of uploading files and tweaking sites, along with performing SEO.
Until the BANS forum has an attitude adjustment forced upon it by the founders, or the belligerent members move on to their next shiny bauble that catches their eye, BANS isn’t for the inexperienced, or those who can’t afford the money and time it will take to learn it on your own.
Still interested in BANS? Click here to read our past review.