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The First Rule of Having More Money: SPEND LESS, and salvage/recycle what you can...
Don't scoff or dismiss this one out of hand folks. It can have a profound effect on both the happiness and wealth of many of us-- especially those raised in conspicuous consumer societies like USAmericans of the late 20th century.
Think about it: how much plain old junk have you got cluttering up your house/attic/garage? Or even costing you money in rented warehouse space somewhere? Or cluttering up the homes/attics/basements of friends or relatives who perhaps are too tolerant of your eccentricities?
How much of all that junk did you buy and never use, even once? How much did you use once or a few times and then discard? How much of the stuff you don't use are you still paying for in credit card bills? YIKES!
So how can you break your personal conspicuous consumer cycle, thereby improving your life and increasing your future financial independence? Here's some suggestions:
#1: Get smarter. Read more. Try to keep more abreast of the news, both national and local. This can help you avoid scams, learn about products/services that should be avoided because of poor quality or safety concerns, get an edge on competition at work, and lots, lots more. Another benefit of learning more about everything that's going on around you is that you'll feel less helpless than those who are not reading this way. Your confidence and self-esteem will tend to stay higher than non-readers. In short, you'll feel better about yourself. And folks who feel that way suffer far fewer compulsions to indulge in over-eating, over-spending, and many other unfortunate habits.
#2: Read still more. But for pleasure. Reading can be a pretty low cost form of entertainment/recreation. Tons of great reading material has long been available at public libraries for the asking (in developed nations), and now there's an exploding quantity on the web too. Even better, lots of the novels on which hit films are based are actually far superior to the films themselves-- so you can get far more satisfaction and get it for a far longer period of time with a novel than with the movie version. I've personally seen tons of films after I'd first read the original novels-- and ZERO of the films were even 25% as good as the books. If I had to make a choice between the book versions and the film versions to last the rest of my life it'd be a no-brainer: I'd choose the books, hands-down. Another plus is when you're reading things like this your spending is at negligible levels-- which leaves you technically a little richer than you would otherwise be. Then there's the wonderful condition of being lost in another world within a book, taking a break from your own life for a few hours a day, sometimes for a whole week at a time with a hefty tome. These escapist vacations can be far more satisfying than trips to Disneyworld or visits to a movie theater-- and yet cost virtually nothing by comparison!
In its best moments, reading a truly good novel can be at least as good as sex, folks. So if you're not reading a good book on occasion you're missing out on lots more than you realize.
#3: Be highly suspicious and critical of any impluse you feel to buy something. Keep in mind that big corporate advertisers and retailers are getting slicker and more sophistocated all the time at manipulating you into making impulse buys across-the-board. Ask yourself, realistically, will you really use that combination massager/fruit juicer if you order it? Or will it just drain your bank account and end up in the closet?
10-12% of all grocery items bought by Americans are unneeded, and never used. 16% of these items are bought due to test purchases, advertising, discount sales, and impulse buying. 70% of buyers of unneeded items say they bought them for specific anticipated future circumstances, which never seem to come about. 20% of buyers say the lack of use of such items stems from inconvenience in doing so (too much time required is usually the more specific complaint). And, of course, in some cases buyers simply forget they have the item.
-- One of every 10 grocery items people buy goes unused, EurekAlert!, 1 DECEMBER 1999, Contact: Mark Reutter, Business & Law Editor email@example.com 217-333-0568 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Heck, oftentimes there's ways to get for free many of the things others want to sell you. For instance, recently I fielded a phone call from a telemarketer for a major US retailer, trying to sell me a bundle of services for a monthly fee which included several items I knew for sure I could get free elsewhere-- such as phone consultation with a nurse for medical or health concerns. Heck, lots of places already have an "Ask-a-Nurse" telephone service available locally for free! It's in the phone book and other references! But here this major retailer was trying to get me to pay for the same thing.
A pretty safe rule of thumb is to NEVER buy something from anyone who called, emailed, or visited you UN-invited-- 90% or more of those cases these days seem to be either awful deals or even outright scams on the part of those making the offer to you.
#4: Turn inward, and learn more about yourself. If you can discover what your real personal priorities and values are, it will be much tougher for others to manipulate you to their own ends, whether those others be advertising executives, co-workers, bosses, or family members or friends. Plus, you'll be able to find your own true happiness and satisfaction much more easily and quickly as well, once all inner confusion has been dispelled.
You'll be amazed how much more money, free time, and extra energy you'll have at your disposal just after learning how to say "NO THANKS" to lots of the people trying to sell you something or persuade you to do something you'd really rather not.
#5: Exercise regularly-- like at least three to four times a week (unless your doctor says not to). Working up a little sweat is good for you. Not only can exercise make you healthier and stronger than you'd be without it-- it can also make you feel better about yourself. Higher self-esteem makes for fewer wasteful impulse purchases. Plus, it's usually harder to spend money at all while you're busy exercising.
#6: Use the web to your advantage to get the best possible bargains available for those times when you do buy. Some options here include:
The USAmerican legal system and/or government bureaucracy can be a pretty hefty hassle to deal with. So why not let some experts do it for you instead? Up to now folks often endured the hassle themselves because such services could cost $100-$300 per hour.
But now hope may be on the horizon. At least where the job is nothing more than completing paperwork of various types, such as copyrights, incorporations, and wills. How does included delivery of the paperwork to the appropriate address, guaranteed work, flat fees, and 48 hour turnarounds sound? With reasonable prices to boot?
LegalZoom is the place.
|-- Zooming the Legal System By David Lidsky; FORTUNE.COM; April 20, 2001|
#7: Consider new cutting edge ways the net might help you save and/or make money as a consumer/employee. For instance, as of 1999 there were these options...
How about auctioning off your own talents and skills in the job market, to see if you can improve your present income/benefits and/or satisfaction levels? It's possible at Monster Talent Market and elsewhere.
|-- "Entrepreneurs, Take Note" By Don Willmott, PC Magazine July 14, 1999, URL: http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/opinions/0,7802,2293625,00.html|
Still other ways you might benefit could include getting a low cost PC/NC and/or discounts on internet access. To see what sort of deals are coming available in this vein check out my J.R.'s Dirt Cheap PC, TV, Internet, and Killer Deals Page.
#8: Salvaging/recovering some of the money you erroneously spent in the past:
Try to determine if you have anything remotely collectible in your stash that you don't intend to go to extremes preserving for the next 30 years as a retirement investment. Do some research. Then put them on an online auction site like eBay-- but be sure to do your homework to make a nice presentation for it first-- examine the presentations for hot sellers already on the site and model your offering on those as near as you can, and dig up some tantalyzing details about your own pieces via your research which can be applied to the spiel.
Next step: big ticket items you don't want or need (cars, computers, refrigerators, etc.). For some of these some free online classifieds sites might do. If those don't work, try buying some classifieds space in local newspapers. Yeah, that's more of a hassle than online, but what are you going to do?
When the big ticket stuff is gone, collect everything else for a major yard/garage sale effort. It'll save you lots of trouble if you can have the sale at the same place all the stuff is stashed at, but if you're too rural it'll be difficult to get anyone to show up, even with plenty of local classified ads pre-announcing it and road signs helping them find it on the day/weekend in question (yes, a successful yard sale or swap meet sale can be quite a bit of work). If you're too rural, try to arrange to have the sale at a friend's or relative's place that's more centrally located and easy to find in terms of the local population. Keep in mind you may have to borrow a truck or van and strong backs to move things like furniture-- including sometimes loading it into customer vehicles and maybe even helping deliver it yourself (what are you going to do if that frail old lady offers you an extra $100 to deliver?). And it may take you several trips and a day or two to move stuff between sites. So don't wait until the morning of the announced sale to transport your goods unless you have only one load worth and it can easily be thrown in and out of a vehicle. Sales tend to do best on the first of the month as lots of folks are flush with government social security checks and corporate pension checks.
#9: Exploit pension, Individual Retirement Accounts and 401k plans for long term wealth building and security. Folks, you wouldn't believe how much money lots of folks are LOSING by not doing their homework in this area. Yeah, it requires considerable research and digging to implement properly, but half that work is upfront, and the other half at the far end, maybe decades away. Inbetween those events you can enjoy a tidy nest egg accumulating on your behalf automatically in the background for years or decades to come. You can also retire early with little or no penalty in many cases (unfortunately, if/when you decide to 'roll over' such accounts, or else begin drawing upon them significantly, that's where the other major work becomes necessary-- since tiny, innocent mistakes like having a check made out in your own name for roll over purposes rather than the destination institution's name can trigger $thousands in losses from your nest egg. So be careful! Read the paperwork!). We're talking eventual totals of $100,000 to $500,000 cash being possibly accrued by relatively modest incomed wage earners here, over many years. Those with higher salaries might triple that or better.
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Local publishing/graphics/web site creation and maintenance
There's $thousands to be made in creating original artwork and layouts for local businesses or events, which they can then turn over to print shops or silk-screeners as templates to produce hundreds to millions of related novelty items.
Though for many things you might need some artistic ability, a computer can help a lot, and in some cases you may be able to turn out material that's little more than carefully chosen clip art off the web or CD ROM (be careful about copyrights though, folks).
You'll probably have to learn about color separations, and need a relatively good color printer (I know of folks who used an old 360 dpi Apple Color StyleWriter Pro with their Mac to make $thousands this way, part-time; I've made some similar monies myself too).
You can also make a living creating/maintaining web sites for yourself or others as well. Get proficient first by assembling and maintaining your own web site for a while, then buy a classified ad in the local newspaper and start building additional sites for paying customers; in many cases you can learn as you go (I'm speaking here of straighforward, relatively simple web sites; advanced ones may require expensive software/hardware and expertise beyond what a first or second year webmaster can muster). You don't have to have your own internet servers; but you may want to make things easier on your customer by handling the logistics yourself with the local Internet Service Provider (or others). Be sure to work out all the details of cost, etc., and then tack on a suitable living wage for yourself atop it all. The easiest thing for beginners is probably to charge by the hour of labor required, wage-wise.
Note that mistakes many beginners make include severely underpricing their work (unwittingly at $1 per hour, etc.), or failing to consider ALL the ACTUAL costs involved in a particular job. If you don't get a good handle on actual costs quickly, you will fail miserably at being an entrepreneur. Too, if you can't justify yourself earning at least $15-$20 per hour at an entrepreneurial stint (where health and other benefits usually don't exist, and you'll have to pay income and social security taxes out of the check too), then you better stick with regular employment until those figures become plausible to you.
After you've been successful at your chosen self-employment for six months or more, you should be able to justify twice the rate above ($30-$40 per hour), or else you're omitting something or doing something in a dumb way in your operation. Maybe you're not expensing out stuff to reduce your income taxes correctly? Maybe you're paying retail prices for materials you should be getting at wholesale? Maybe you could advertise in a more cost-effective manner? Always be on the lookout for ways to increase income and reduce expenses WITHOUT harming your competitiveness.
|-- "Web salaries skyrocket" by Margaret Kane, ZDNN April 20, 1998|
National or international organizations like About.com are also receptive to working out cooperative profit arrangements with self-employed folks creating and maintaining high quality content web sites. However, working with some co-ops of this nature can be as demanding 'rules'-wise as working a regular job, and therefore unappealing to someone looking to 'be their own boss'...
(A), Keep your individual page content reasonably small and widely compatible. As of late 2006 net bandwidth is still miniscule for many users at around 56k, and many net technologies remain in their toddler years so far as reliability and widespread deployment are concerned. So your site can easily get bogged down with too many graphics or too much animation (making it super slow to visit), or downright risky for visitors (crashing visitor computers by use of cutting edge internet technologies). Your site should also be easy and straightforward to navigate-- people will just go elsewhere if they can't find what they want on your site fast.
(B), remember your best bet for getting attention for your web site as of late 2006 still remains the old fashioned media outlets, like magazines, newspapers, television, and radio, of which even the smallest may have a bigger audience than 99% of web sites on the net.
(C), actively promote your web site by listing its URL on businesscards, letterheads, ads, and in all the email you send out, as well as in news group forums and mailing lists where it might be relevant. Registering with the major search engines is also important. As of late 2006 Google, Yahoo, Msn.com, and Ask.com seem to be the top four engines in importance (and in that order) according to my own site statistics. Online Publicity And Promotion Resources and Best mailing lists on the Net may also be handy for getting the word out about your site.
(D), put value into your site, to give folks a reason to visit. Something that's hard to find elsewhere, or that you can put an entertaining or extra useful spin on yourself. Specialize if possible in areas you yourself are most interested in, for maximum cost-effectiveness.
(E), get your own domain name. Though this adds to your annual costs, it helps you get listed in the major search engines which often discriminate against domains like "members.aol.com", can facilitate folks finding you with an easier-to-type and remember name, lets you switch web hosting services with a minimum of lost users (since your web site address doesn't change), offers greater long term email flexibility and reliability, and still more benefits (as of late 2006 I have the domain names jrmooneyham.com and jmooneyham.com). RegSelect's impartial domain registrar comparison may be helpful here.
Some additional relevant info here: According to Businessweek circa 12-16-96, costs for an official business/commercial site included $100-$1000 a month to rent server space (depending on the traffic, etc.), and $50-$100 per hour for the work of an ISP to actually put your site together or update it. Your own domain name cost $100 per two years and required two weeks to become valid. It could take two months for your site to show up in search engines with which you registered it (registration is essential).
12-13-06 UPDATE: In 2006 domain names are available for as little as under $10 per year, and may go live within minutes of registration. Decent hosting packages for as little as $10 per month are available too. END UPDATE.
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I sometimes have jobs I never have to leave home to do; some of the stuff I've done was retouch photos using photo-editing software to help create business presentations for folks 1000 miles away. My customers would Fed Ex me stuff, I Fed Ex them stuff, and inbetween we used the phone, email, and faxes to work out details. If you're competent at it, you could make $25-$35 per hour (plus expenses) easy at stuff like this, circa 2000 and later in the USA-- and probably lots more, depending on the circumstances (it doesn't hurt to have both a color scanner and color printer for this, as well as a net connection, all attached to your moderately well equipped computer).
Of course, for this to work you need some office folk somewhere to know you exist, and what you can do-- so some human-style networking and maybe a portfolio of sample work can be necessary here.
Another variant on working via the 'net without leaving home would be as a global troubleshooter/consultant as opposed to the local tech support person described later in this piece. What do you require for this? Some real competency in such matters, plus a high profile web site associate to provide you with customers, collect the monies, and send you your share.
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Perhaps the biggest disadvantage for an entrepreneurial book writer here is that you definitely wouldn't want to have to print and bind all the books you sold yourself; it'd only be practical to use a service bureau/print shop for that (even in tiny runs, too). About the only self-printing jobs you could stand would be one-off custom jobs for customers (or yourself) to be used as a master copy for a printshop or xerox machine later, or prototypical/draft material created during the development of the manual/book.
Plus, you can publish a book/manual several different ways now: traditional hard copy, web/HTML, and Adobe Acrobat PDF, to name a few.
Of course, the same distribution/marketing that bedevils other avenues must also be contended with here....
So far a book is concerned, you need to begin the project with distribution/marketing details included among the first priorities. For if you can't market it, there's no use in writing it.
Notice how I and that other fellow above wrote 'niche' how-to manuals that instructed people on how to use a certain company's specific tools and supplies? And then those companies sold the manuals for us? That's your meal ticket. Finding a company that could sell more of its stuff if only they had better documentation for it. Or manuals that detailed how to use their equipment in a whole new way not covered in present manuals. Find your niche first, then make up a preliminary outline for the manual, and send it and a proposal to the niche manufacturer you've chosen. Or show up in person to make your pitch. It helps if the company is a small to mid-size organization, family-owned, etc. A mom and pop operation of this sort is almost ideal to do a deal with.
The beauty here is that you can learn as you go in many cases too. There's often no need to be an expert when you begin the project, so long as you are one (expert) at its end. You take notes as you go, then write the manual, and viola! New income source...
Of course, you can always try the old fashioned fool's lottery to get a book published...i.e., submitting manuscripts via snail mail to countless publishers who reject you time and time again until finally you perhaps find one willing to give you a pittance for years of work. This route is much like entering a big sweepstakes (except involving about 50,000 times more work for entry). Why? Because one person out of many millions of hopefuls will find fame and fortune via this route, while everyone else just wastes their time and money. But if you're a glutton for punishment, the best guide for that route I'm aware of is a book called the [insert current year here] Writer's Market (look for it at major bookstores), created by the same folks who publish Writer's Digest magazine. It offers contact info for publishers, how to structure your material, do's and don't's, OODLES of stuff. It's an excellent investment for anybody serious about the traditional and most widely recognized route to getting published. Writersdigest.com is the web site of these same folks, I believe.
I've also heard that publishers sometimes prowl internet newsgroups looking for folks who seem to know what they're talking about on various subjects over weeks and months (answering lots of questions from other folks). When the publishers find such people, they then approach them with deals (this may work just for technical writers though?).
Writer's Resource Center may offer help for those with writing ambitions.
Lastly, there's xlibris.com and 1stbooks.com. New opportunities to get published for profit? Or just new high tech versions of vanity publishers? At this early stage of a networked world, lots of people and companies are throwing every idea they can at the net to see what sticks. Nobody really knows which will take off, and which will be money pits (though entropy insures the vast majority will be pits). In my opinion though it doesn't hurt to at least examine various new efforts like these, and if you come across one that looks legit, for reasonable cost, and offering a reasonable chance of profit for the author (you) as well, go for it! I expect that something like today's vanity publishing might actually become mainstream (and even profitable for authors) eventually.
Other relevant links to all this include Warnings and Cautions for Writers--Vanity/Subsidy Publishers and the Science Fiction Writers Association.
Still more resources:
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There's eleven year old kids doing this for profit, for goodness sakes!
So how does your computer/web site fit into this? As places for you to learn your trade, solving your own problems, downloading related software and documentation, performing other support tasks for your customers' presently crippled machines, and also doing research on the web for those things you're personally stumped by.
How might you hang up your shingle for computer trouble-shooting? Ads in the local newspaper; start with small classified ads first. You might also put signs on the side of your car, and set up a cheap booth at local computer shows and/or swap meets on occasion. Have some business cards printed up to hand out to folks and post on supermarket and church bulletin boards, etc. Heck, you may even be able to get a free article write up in the local paper that'll net you more business than you can handle! Brochures listing the top five things to try first when problems arise can be a GREAT freebie to hand out to visitors (If you make sure to list your contact info too, as an "sixth" option to try when the first five don't work). One caveat though: in some places you may run into pretty harsh zoning restrictions and other problems about working out of your home...so try to prepare for it.
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Small-time Web site tie-ins to big-time retailers and others (affiliate agreements)
Lots of us like to review CDs, books, software, consumer appliances, etc. Why not get paid for it?
There's quite a few ways to do this, circa early 2000. The Affiliate Programs - Affiliate Marketing Guide and Associate Programs Directory - commission and affiliate programs might be good places to check out for this.
There's also the option to turn your website into a store (you get a cut of all the sales of other folks' products/services which go through your site), via Bigstep.com - Making ebusiness everybody's business.
The affiliate game looks to be getting easier to do as time goes on...
Want still more options in this vein? Well, you may be able to either obtain new major brand name content for your site or else distribute your own content over a wider audience for a profit via sites like iSyndicate - The Internet Content Marketplace and Content-Exchange.com.
|-- "Affiliates Programs" (Sidebar to the section on Web marketing in Jakob Nielsen's column on Web research); Alertbox July 1999, useit.com|
Other possible leads here include:
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Web site advertising (on your own site or others, including e-auctions) and related items
A far more fertile field for self-employment may well be the booming world of online auctions, which seems to be shaping up as a hybrid combination of old fashioned community flea market and thrilling virtual amusement parks for many participants.
Having dabbled in the old fashioned physical flea markets of the USA myself in the past, I can tell you there definitely are opportunities to be had in such efforts-- if that's what gets your chair a'rocking. Like many other things the inexperienced, unwary, and/or unlucky will encounter many disappointments in the flea market/swap meet world, while those who embrace it wholeheartedly and work hard at learning the ropes can often do quite well.
Perhaps some of the worst aspects of physical flea marketing and/or auctioning is the manual labor of loading and unloading inventories and traveling long distances to different marketplaces. And face-to-face negotiation can be daunting too, for many.
Now the web is transforming and expanding the flea market/swap meet/auction world, with virtual auction web sites. And suddenly many of the worst aspects of and obstacles inherent to the physical events/processes are falling away for participants.
One thing helping fuel the phenomenon is plain ridiculous prices being paid in many online auctions for the most surprising things. Apparently the old adage that one man's trash is another man's treasure is especially true in online auctions-- at least in early 1999, at its earliest stages. I've been amazed to see what sellers were getting for things like basically worthless and obsolete computer systems, for example. In many cases it appeared you could buy a pallet of obsolete Macs from an established second hand dealer at one web site and then sell them at an online auction for several times what you paid for them(!)-- often getting bids roughly the same or higher than what much better, brand new Macs could be purchased for(!)
Don't ask me to explain why this is so-- all I can figure is that either many buyers just aren't very smart, or else get carried away in the bidding.
Of course, in the case of other items a 'collectible' mentality may be present-- and where collectors are concerned almost anything might be considered valuable, from old bottle caps to strange looking bird feathers.
The Wards of Columbus Ohio were surprised to get $400 on eBay for a sugar bowl bought for 50 cents from a yard sale. Now they work the yard sales and eBay full time, bringing in as much as $5000 in a single month.
Don't get the impression that online auctioning is all fun and no problems though. There's still certain ropes to learn here, and commissions on sales must be paid to the auction host, among other business expenses. But overall this kind of auction/swap meet/flea market is probably easier and less problem-prone overall than the physical sort, and offers more opportunities-- at least so far.
|-- "Going, Going, Gone -- `Bay Traders' Sold on Auctions People are making a living off of Internet trading sites like eBay" by Jamie Beckett, Chronicle Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle Page B1, Monday, April 12, 1999|
Here's some sampling of ad rates over recent years: Excite Live and/or Reuters reported around 3-4-97 that Yahoo was getting 2-6 cents per ad view on its site. Its specialty pages commanded a higher price though; pages specially designed for investors, children, and markets outside the USA were getting 4-7 cents per ad view (keep in mind this was probably the CEILING price for such things, and for one of the top web sites currently in existence at the time). ZDNet Anchordesk reported around 3-26-97 that the going rates ranged from $6.00 to $120.00 per 1000 ad banner views (this is a count just of how many pairs of eyeballs an ad banner downloads in front of on your site folks-- NOT how many times the banner actually gets clicked by the user). Only the hottest sites could get up near the top price range at that time. Businessweek reported around 9-25-97 that the average price charged by web sites to display an ad banner 1000 times was $17. What was the price for 1000 viewings on TV then? $5-$6. For a major women's consumer magazine? $35. The web price was higher than TV's because of the better potential for ad targeting on the web.
So anyway, in late 1997 10,000 'unique' hits on your web site per day could have been worth around $170 a day to you, or $61,880 a year before taxes. Not bad for a part-time hobby! Add that to your day job and you could have been getting into some impressive tax brackets there. Of course, '10,000 unique hits' may translate to 50,000 gross hits, by the simple tabulation method some counters utilize. So 10,000 unique hits a day is no easy target by any means.
|-- The Future of Advertising By Gerry Khermouch and Tom Lowry; Business Week Online:Commentary; MARCH 26, 2001; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.|
12-13-06 UPDATE: Revenue-generation opportunities for small-time web authors have ramped up the last few years. See Wild about Google Adsense: Pure Adsense tips, tools, tricks, secrets, and know-how for tips regarding the largest vendor in this field. END UPDATE.
Want more info here?According to Bruce Stewart of Web Review a site requires a minimum of 10,000 visits a month to be attractive to advertisers
The 10,000 number is actually an absolute minimum for most sites wanting to earn money via advertising. A more realistic minimum may be more like 40,000 per month. At least according to Ray Owens, of the Joke A Day mailing list and Web site. So the real key to selling ads on your site is first to get your visitor traffic up to a respectable level.
|-- "Deciding to Sell Advertising; When and how to accept advertising on your site" by Bruce Stewart April. 17, 1998, Web Review|
How hard is it to reach thousands of hits per day? Fairly difficult.
So how do you increase your hits? Original content. Specialized content. Regularly updated news content. Announcements of your URL to every different search engine and web directory you can find (but especially the biggies like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask.com, etc.). Notify user groups and associations as relevant to your content too.
Be SURE to do some preliminary work before emailing your announcements: for example, different engines/directories have different requirements for listings. You need to have ready descriptions of your site in several different lengths: one sentence, one paragraph, etc. You also need a list of keywords that fit your site content. Create these things BEFORE visiting engines/directories to announce your site (also remember to try to make your descriptions accurate but also enticing or intriguing to readers).
Notify appropriate news sites when you make a significant addition or change to your site. Also email the BIG media about your site too; learn about creating PR announcements like a pro to increase your effectiveness there.
Automatically include your web site URL in all your email (there's often 'signature' utilities and browser features available to you which can help with this).
Want still more visits to your web site? Already notified all possible web search engines and directories, and want still more hits?
Well, there's always a slew of smaller and sometimes more specialized web directories and search engines you can try registering your site with. Unfortunately, it seems 98% of the effort you expend on those will amount to negligible hits on your site, as they often are languishing in the low visit region themselves. If you can think of nothing else to do, and/or have lots of spare time on your hands, you could try it anyway-- and who knows? You might accidentally register with an obscure site which a couple weeks later explodes on the net because of a high profile news article or something (but don't count on it).
As for other, possibly more hopeful channels....have you considered notifying your local newspaper and/or other publishing concerns about your web site? After all, those folks have a grinding daily schedule that's always demanding something new to write about, AND usually like to brag on locally generated resources in many cases. So find them and tell them about your site, and you may get a nice write up!
OK, OK, so you say you live in a small town with only maybe a few hundred web surfers, and don't feel this tactic would be worthwhile? Well, consider this: Often stories in small newspapers get picked up and published in slightly larger regional papers too-- and stories in those regionals sometimes find their way into state papers-- and state stories might get onto national and international news wires, etc., etc....
So that little write up in your 'off-the-map-egyptian-village' local newspaper might take your site URL a lot further than you expect.
Of course, the content of your site IS relevant here. I wouldn't expect too many newspapers to do a big write up about a site that's essentially just a family photo album or genealogical log pertaining to just one family of folks nobody's ever heard of. Or a site that's just a badly written autobiography of an average non-celeb. There has to be something at least a little different or noteworthy about your site, but also possibly appealing to quite a few people too, for a newspaper to want to write you up. (Heck, even if all you do is regularly have your cat taste test a wide variety of cat foods and post the results onto the web, that might be unique enough!)
I also wouldn't expect many newspapers to tout an overtly offensive site either. So if your site's pornographic, or pushes a "KuKlux Klan" theme, etc., don't expect much help publicizing it from the mainstream press, until possibly AFTER you've completely overhauled it into something much more generally acceptable and interesting.
OK, so let's assume you've gotten your site visits up to a suitable level to attract paid web ads. What next?
See Wild about Google Adsense: Pure Adsense tips, tools, tricks, secrets, and know-how for more on this possibility.
On the other hand, you can also sell your web site ad space on your own, directly. While this may be more difficult and inconvenient than joining an appropriate cooperative, it may also be more profitable, and less restricting (if you're a talented and/or determined entrepreneur and networker, anyway).
The trick in either case here is the number of visitors you get to your web site. Because you only get a small payment per visitor whichever way you go, the resulting payments probably aren't significant until you get into thousands of visitors per day.
To be able to sell ad space (and know what to charge), you need to have a way to track the number of visitors your site gets every day. Joining cooperatives may sometimes give you suitable counters for this (though with membership often come cross-advertising obligations too). You may also have access to counter devices on your web site host's servers. If you don't have local counter capability and don't wish to join a cooperative, you can try using other third party counters over the web-- a web search for "free web counter" should show you some options there.
There's two basic types of site visit counters: public and private. Public counters are in most cases a dumb idea. Why? First, at connections of 56k or less, they can add significant yet unnecessary delays to the download time of your page for users. Delays are not good in the web business, and can easily accumulate to a level unacceptable to visitors, making they never return again. And this is if the public counter is working correctly. Often they don't, and the load delay and inconvenience they add to the page becomes truly enormous for some users.
Two, public counters show current hit numbers somewhere on your page in a way you'll see every time you visit your page. But everyone else will see them too. Newbies may not realize this, but a low count on a public visit counter is considered downright embaressing and ugly to many more experienced web surfers. A low public counter can immediately label your site as an amatuer or unpopular effort, and reduce its perceived value in your visitor's mind.
And get this: often the counter mechanism itself will malfunction, you'll accidentally change some HTML on your page, or you'll change your page's URL, and that will cause the counter to reset, suddenly causing even a popular page to display the despised low visit counts described above. This last thing happened to me several times some years back when I was using America Online's public counter devices-- one day they'd be displaying thousands of hits on a given page and the next day only SIX. AGH!
So why would anybody want public counters? Even if they were guaranteed to always work flawlessly? (Which they are not).
Well, web novices seem to like them for a short while. Public counters on sites getting a respectable number of hits might help attract paying advertisers or other deal offers. I.e., in some instances they might possibly contribute to negotiation positions. However, as there are far more compelling substitutes for these elements available to all sides, and the potential downside is so large, in my opinion public counters are best avoided for most folks.
Private counters on the other hand, accessible only to the author of a web site by password, are an absolute essential tracking mechanism for your site; and the results can be compiled and presented ot potential ad buyers as much more substantial and detailed proof of your site's performance than public counters usually can.
But even if you can get to tens of thousands of visits per day, you also need servers capable of handling them, or else it's all for nothing. If you get 10,000 visits but only 100 of those folks actually see your page, you'll go nowhere fast.
Want more info for income-via-web site? Try How small-time web sites can make it financially on the internet.
Other resources include:
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But what if you only want inventory and not a franchise? Maybe Surplus US Government Sales could help with that and other opportunities for buying and selling. More possibilities for this section include:
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But all that's changed now.
ShareBuilder allows you to buy into any one of the top 2000 stocks in the market you wish, in the size increments you want-- unrestricted by the stock's true share price. For instance, you can buy $25 worth of a $50 share of stock. Each regular purchase costs $2.00 for adult accounts. If you've got an account for your kids, the fee is half that. One time or irregular buying entails a $5 fee. Purchases are typically not executed for several days to a week, but paying another $20 brings immediate execution.
The fees are relatively low to buy stock here, but higher to sell-- $20.00 for a transaction. But sales also execute immediately.
BuyandHold.com is another service in this field, which executes all trades twice a day, and charges $3.00 per transaction (both buys and sales).
|-- An alternative to day trading by LARRY MAGID, April 20, 2000, Nando Media/Los Angeles Times Syndicate, http://www.nandotimes.com|
Keep in mind that there's still almost no way for a small investor to get rich with stock investing. But for those who do their homework (research into companies, markets, etc.), invest for the long term (at least 3-5 years if not longer), and don't panic easily in the face of market drops, there's a good chance that they might be able to build a bigger nest egg in this manner, than many others.
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I'm unsure how well the vision business is going today, but in years past purported pioneers in hovercraft and commutor VTOL craft threw together some slick looking brochures and blueprints of supposed prototype vehicles, and then sold them via mail order out of small ads in the back of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines, among other places. Along with these information packets sometimes were included a subscription to a regular newsletter about new developments regarding the project, and even a possible sizable discount on purchase of your own craft once they ever became available (if I recall these details correctly).
Of course, once the layouts of the brochures, blueprints, etc. are created, mass production is relatively cheap. Sell at least 300 a month through a small ad costing maybe $200-$500 in a suitable publication, ask $35 to $60 for each info package, and with luck you'd realize a possible profit of $2000 to $6000 each month.
If you sold more than this (or could squeeze production costs lower), you could do even better.
Yeah, the example given is fairly small potatoes, but it could scale up to truly astronomical amounts given the right conditions. Far enough, perhaps, to actually finance for real the science fiction project your brochures might be about...
Could such a plan work? Would anyone buy the info packages? I did. From several different 'vision' quest projects actually, back in the 70s/80s or thereabouts. I believe one was from the fellow who today runs this web site. Another was from a small futuristic kit car maker. I believe there was another one or two, but I can't recall what they were at this time.
Was I happy with the packages? Yes. I hoped to someday own the items depicted, or something like them. The VTOL guy was pretty upfront about saying the info packages were financing his R&D, etc., and that was fine with me.
The main problems in your own vision quest are the $6000 to $15,000 you'd probably need upfront to get started, and the risk you'd face if you fell flat on your face and made no profits. Neither of these things are pleasant ones to contemplate-- so remember if you jump in to do so with your eyes wide open.
The major appeal of all this of course is that theoretically someone might be able to pursue their own wild contraption dream in this manner, not only making a living at something they truly enjoyed, but actually (maybe) getting their invention to work after all-- perhaps creating a whole new global industry like Henry Ford did around a century earlier.
The odds are against them rocking the world like Ford did; but it could happen. By comparison with that, the probability that they merely make some money with the enterprise is much higher...and many folks would just be happy with the money, even if their wonder gizmo never did work out.
But getting back to more mundane aspects....many such vision businesses you might undertake could present many opportunities for related products and services. Like what? Kits that buyers assemble themselves, blueprints/plans, newsletters/email updates, small scale models, how-to manuals, books, software, specialized tools/parts/components, consulting services, message boards/chat/communities....
As bad as I hate to bring it up, I can't in good conscious omit it in a page covering fertile entrepreneurial fields: namely, one extremely far out opportunity now and for the next several decades is/will be the creation of some sort of UFO or extraterrestrial-based religion or similar enthusiastic fantasy organizations (including perhaps artificial intelligence themes of some sort)-- at least in the USA. The rest of the world may not be as ripe for this as we are. The Roswell flap and related items burst through the Elvis threshold as of mid-1997, and appear poised to become major mindshare elements for years to come. This presents all sorts of new entrepreneurial opportunities, so don't miss out on your share.
Remember: you don't have to believe in aliens to make a living off them. How many top tobacco executives do you think actually smoked cigarrettes themselves the last 10 years or so? Plus, alien worship so far doesn't appear quite as harmful as tobacco use...
Remember: you don't have to believe in aliens to make a living off them. How many top tobacco executives do you think actually smoked cigarrettes themselves the last 10 years or so? Plus, alien worship so far doesn't appear quite as harmful as tobacco use...
One device which might aid or empower money-making opportunities for lots of different purposes on a web site is an easy to use and secure person-to-person electronic payment system. PayPal.com might be such a system. Note that such systems might be used to sell things via your web site, or even to ask for donations for a cause.
On a related note, you could also go into the plain old predictions business; though this may be more along the lines of a long term investment/hobby that just might pay off big some day, rather than money in your pocket tomorrow.
The Foresight Exchange Prediction Market is a playground for web futurists. There you can place virtual bets on what you think will or won't happen in the future. The bets are virtual because the money isn't real. But something like this may eventually turn real, in terms of the monetary rewards. I also wouldn't be surprised if the top champions of the site get big money offers from big corporations or government for private predictions, after they've racked up an impressive record with their public bets here. The Hollywood Stock Exchange is another example-- only perhaps concentrating on which films might be hits or flops.
|-- Prediction sales new Net craze By Janet Kornblum, USA TODAY, 10/11/99|
Heck, your personal vision might even attract free or low cost money from a philanthropy of some sort (depending on lots of factors). PhilanthropySearch - The First Search Engine for the Non-Profitand Philanthropic Sector and Funders Online - Search Europe's Online Philanthropic Community can be good places to start your quest.
US Patent and Trademark Office Home Page
garage.com - we start up startups (a venture capitalist outfit that may invest in your company if they like you and your ideas enough).
Writing press releases and dealing with reviewers/journalists can be a very important activity for the small business person/entrepeneur. The link below may be a big help for such activities.
The Care and Feeding of The Press, A guide for press relations staff (or those who play them on TV) compiled by Esther Schindler, with members of the Internet Press Guild
Note folks that it's risky, tough (and expensive!) to be an inventor/innovator in USAmerica today, as $10,000 to $30,000 can be required just to go through the patent process itself (mostly in patent lawyer fees) [Nando InfoTech, on or about 5-6-97]
Could this software help accelerate the pace of world innovation and someday save YOUR life (if only all engineers everywhere knew about it ASAP)?
Lori Valigra of the Boston Globe reports that some engineers are finding "TechOptimizer" from Invention Machine Corp. in Boston to be extremely useful for accelerating the solution to many technological problems.
Anyway, TechOptimizer supposedly uses some elements of artificial intelligence to put the essential principles involved in "2.5 million international patents" at your fingertips, for application to specific difficult problems which might require cross-discipline solutions.
TechOptimizer costs around $7500, and runs on personal computers.
A potential future competitor for TechOptimizer may come from Ideation International Inc., based in Santa Monica, California.
I'd like to give you direct contact info for this company, but the article didn't provide any, and I've not had the chance to research it on my own.
However, here's a little bit of additional info: the founder's name is Valery Tsourikov (a computer scientist from the former Soviet Union), and investors include companies like Motorola and Travelers Insurance, as well as Altamira Management of Toronto and RRE Investors LLC of New York.
-- the Boston Globe (page F04, 9-21-97 date stamp)
Entrepreneurs may also find many valuable ideas for possible new products and services on which to base businesses by examining my Signposts Timeline. Other possibly useful links include:
Lastly (for this category) there's The Evidence Store. Which might come in handy not only for proving/disproving patent/copyright claims but coping with still more sticky legal problems businesses are prey to.
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Even if you overcome all the hurdles and actually come up with a working product, you must find a way to distribute and market it-- which requires completely different skills and tools than you needed to write the software.
Here you either contact relevant software developers about it, or try going your own way as shareware. If you go shareware, I strongly urge you to check out my How small-time web sites can make it financially on the internet page, and carefully study the models of what precious few shareware successes exist out there today, for tips on making your own soft money machine (i.e., time-limited software? Demoware? Full-powered apps with random, annoying delays/dialogs until a bought registration password is inserted?). Theoretically something like shareware could lead the world into an economic utopia someday. In the Real World though maybe one person in 10,000 that try actually makes a living at it (it's almost as bad as a lottery; NO MATTER how good your software is(!)).
8-20-99 UPDATE: ZDNet and other corporations recently have begun sponsering shareware-like projects in ways which might offer more certain rewards for shareware creators.
Typically this new genre of shareware is free to use, with the caveat that users must view onscreen ads as they do so. The programs also include an embedded net client which can update the ads in the background on occasion when the user is online.
Companies like Conducent Technologies, Aureate Media, and NetJumper.com are among those facilitating the new shareware paradigm.
|-- "Advertising Comes to Software" by Leander Kahney, 29.Jul.99, Wired Digital Inc.|
Another option is to go into debt $3000-$6000 to set up a tiny booth at a good-size trade show of some sort important to your intended market, and put on a presentation of your software to the industry-at-large...in the hope that some big developer house will 'pick up' your program and market it for you, delivering you royalities on sales or one big fat check.
BUT...there's also custom software development: that is, one-off projects you create to a specific customer's orders. Here is where the real money for small software developers exists today. Small businesses are probably your best potential clients, but well heeled organizations and individuals too may sometimes order a $500 to $25,000 project as well. There's plenty of complexities to work out in this type of business, but there IS money to be made here (for reasonably competent programmers with suitable negotiating skills).
Sourcebank. A search engine for programming resources such as source code, research papers and more sounds like it might come in handy for some development ventures.
Bounty County - Coding bounties for free and open source software projects.
Perhaps one of the biggest software opportunities in years/decades to come will be in enabling, maintaining, and protecting anonymous web publishing. One of the latest and best papers concerning this seems to be "TAZ Servers and the Rewebber Network Enabling Anonymous Publishing on the World Wide Web" by Ian Goldberg and David Wagner. At last check some redundant live links included:
TAZ Servers and the Rewebber Network Enabling Anonymous Publishing on the World Wide Web by Ian Goldberg and David Wagner
www.fitug.de message board thread
More relevant info to such matters may be offered by the RISKS-LIST: RISKS-FORUM Digest site. To learn more about why this may be very important to humanity's future, check out the Signposts Timeline.
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Though the odds are usually millions to one against you, ONE person somewhere WILL get some Real Money out of legitimate sweeps...some tips though: (ONE) AVOID lotteries; paying for an entry just drains your cash and gives you no greater chance at winning than a FREE sweep or contest somewhere else will. (TWO) NEVER type into an entry blank your birthday, social security numbers, checking account/debit card numbers, annual income amount, or credit card numbers; for all these can be used to ruin your life by the unscrupleless. I hold suspect the motives of any companies which ask for this sort of info for a sweepstakes or contest. The government should really outlaw this, but they haven't yet. (THREE) Be prepared for the onslaught of junk mail (email and otherwise) that will descend upon you for every entry you fill out: for usually these companies are SELLING your info to all comers, legitimate or not, as fast as you put it into their hot little hands...
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you MUST participate in a lottery (a contest where you PAY to enter) at least pick one where a hefty chunk of the proceeds goes to a worthwhile charity...
...like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (If you visit and explore you'll find a link there to their lottery).
For more in-depth info about sweepstakes, lotteries, raffles, and more, check out You May Already Be A Winner The Facts on Sweepstakes, Federal Consumer Information Center - News and Notes, and BBB News and Alerts.
Oh yeah-- FreeScholarships.org lists contests, sweeps, and other ways you might get a free scholarship. Technically this might be a less risky way to getting funds than the above listings-- at least if there's some scholarships listed which don't involve entering contests or sweepstakes.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is offering several prizes (the largest being $250,000) for various difficult to ascertain prime numbers (prime numbers longer than a million digits to more than a billion digits). The EFF is trying to promote new distributed applications development and ideas with this competition (zillions of PCs running cooperatively around the world on the same problem). However, it strikes me that a few bright college students or hackers might cobble together a dedicated/hard-wired super computer specially designed to do only this job (or maybe several such beasts and work them together) for maybe $3000 to $15,000 or so, and grab the prize for themselves....more mature and possibly slower witted adult scientists have accomplished similar things with such hard-wired and jury-rigged super computing resources in the past...
There's also the annual $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Award Program for inventors and innovators administered by Professor Lester C. Thurow.
|-- Yahoo! News Top Stories Headlines Friday April 23 1999 Tech Guru Mead Wins Richest Prize For Inventors|
But heck, we can get riskier than this! How about trying to collect bounties/rewards by tracking down dangerous criminals (link one: Inspection Service Wanted Posters, link two: 'FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives', and link three: Most Wanted Terrorists)? Or selling your services as a mercenary to the highest bidder? Sandline International (and a second link to try) may be a good place to start to learn about the mercenary market these days. Or how about up to a $20,000 reward for discovering a new comet (The Edgar Wilson Award is divided up among amateur astronomers who report a new comet to the International Astronomical Union each year )? Or hunt for treasure among old shipwrecks (also see Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine), or via Metal Detectors?
The competitive corporate/government intelligence arena (link one) and link two) can also be lucrative (I've earned some monies there myself). Plus, how about writing a screenplay for a movie? Or proving you (or another) possesses 'extraordinary powers' for up to $100,000 reward($20,000 of this is available as a spotter's fee)?
There's also the $100,000 Thor Heyerdahl Prize relating to research into protecting the oceans from pollution.
|-- "Explorer Heyerdahl Launches Prize To Clean Up Seas", Reuters Limited/Yahoo! News Science Headlines, June 7 1999|
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Miscellaneous leads I haven't had time to organize for this page
Gebbie Press PR Media Directory Newspapers Radio TV Magazines Press releases, faxes, e-mail, publicity, freelance, journalism
Morebusiness.com -- sample business plans, sample contracts, sample marketing plans, business loans, employee manuals.
Promotions for Pennies
The Do's and Don'ts of Shareware, Part 3 [Oct. 25, 2002]
10 Legitimate Businesses You Can Start For Under $20
Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing
TerraShare.com at last check was sharing advertising profits with web authors on freely hosted sites.
Entrepreneur.com Solutions for Growing Businesses
ValueClick, The Pay-for-Results Advertising Network(new)
Daily Donation Page
Aquent Magazine: Where Independent Professionals Work and Live
MissingMoney - Free Search For Abandoned Property!
Sell Software on a Shoestring
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