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This is the first in a series of how to build a datafeed site. I’m building the site right now, and will share the experience with you.
This will be an intermediate to advanced method of using datafeeds to build a site. If you’re looking for a simple way to get started, go check out Pop Shops or Datafeedr. What I’m going to show you is how to build a high-quality site, driven by a datafeed, for free.
The absolute first thing you need to do is pick a niche. I’m not going to help you here, but because I’ve been talking with Deborah Carney (aka Loxly), I’m going to build a tea site. Loxly manages the American Tea Room affiliate program, so I’m going to use their feed, along with Art of Tea (both ShareASale merchants). After the site is “done”, I’ll look at adding a CJ merchant feed in there.
To find merchants in ShareASale that have datafeeds, login and look under “Find/Join Merchants” and click on “View those with Datafeeds“. To keep things simple, pick a merchant (or two, or three) with a couple hundred products. If you choose ecampus, with 2.7mm products, you’re on your own.
Choosing a domain name isn’t extremely important, but as Vinny O’Hare reminded me, have the keyword in there. So I’m building out GreenWhiteAndBlackTea.com. Just make sure you keep the domain under 35 characters, so you can use it as your AdWords display URL.
Set-up the hosting, and make sure you create a MySQL database when you do this. We’re going to save the datafeed in MySQL, to make a dynamic site. Don’t worry, I’ll give you the products table structure… all 41 fields!
Themes from Free CSS Templates include a single index.html file, but I want you to break this into 3 php files: header.php, index.php, and footer.php. Index.php should include header.php, then have the content unique to the index page, then include footer.php. My index.php file is simply:
<!--?php include('./vars.php'); $bNavHome = true; include('./header.php'); ?--></pre> <div class="post"> <h2 class="title">Welcome to GreenWhiteAndBlackTea.com</h2> <div class="entry"> This is <strong>Begrimed </strong>, a free, fully standards-compliant CSS template designed by FreeCssTemplates for <a href="http://www.freecsstemplates.org/">Free CSS Templates</a>. This free template is released under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/">Creative Commons Attributions 2.5</a> license, so you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want with it (even use it commercially) provided you keep the links in the footer intact. Aside from that, have fun with it :) Sed lacus. Donec lectus. Nullam pretium nibh ut turpis. Nam bibendum. In nulla tortor, elementum ipsum. Proin imperdiet est. Phasellus dapibus semper urna. Pellentesque ornare, orci in felis. Donec ut ante. In id eros. Suspendisse lacus turpis, cursus egestas at sem.</div> </div> <pre> <!-- ends class="post" --> <!--?php include('./footer.php'); ?-->
Don’t worry about vars.php right now.
That’s enough for one day. Next, we need to download the datafeeds, and get them into MySQL.