Monthly Archives: January 2006

Parlays and Picks Small Business

Some of my sports obsessed friends got together and decided to start a sports picking business as a side income.

They had a common problem many people have: they had no idea where to start. I decided it would be interesting to document their progress as they develop their business:

So these guys know their sports, but not much about how to create a small web business. They started mapping out how to sell their picks, but were stumped when it came to actually implementing the page on the internet.

I helped them setup a website on my server, showed them how to use the basic functions of Macromedia Dreamweaver, insert PayPal payment buttons and how to buy and modify a webpage template from TemplateMonster.com.

Here is what they came up with: ParlaysAndPicks.com

Now this site looks pretty amateur and unprofessional. HOWEVER…..at least they got an actual working site up and running, more than what 90% of people will accomplish. Another surprising fact is they actually get orders and make money after less than a month in business. Their only “Product” is their sports picks which they send by email. Therefore there is no real overhead for their business. They can have 5 customers or 5,000 and have almost the same overhead costs.

They tried advertising with Google Adwords, but Google wouldn’t accept their ad because their site was considered a “Gambling” site. However, Yahoo allowed them to advertise, and they spent several hundred dollars getting traffic to the site through Yahoo. In return, they made more than double their investment back in just a month.

They have already proven they can make money with their micro business, now the goal is to make more. The next step is hiring a web designer to “clean up” the site and make it more professional.

I get questions everyday concerning how to start a small online business, so I think this will shed even more insight on the subject. I’ll continue to document their progress.

Review of Live Chat Programs

In the quest to earn more from several online businesses I am a part of, I’ve been searching for ways to improve sales & service.

A piece of software that was recommended was LivePerson. It’s actually pretty amazing. It primarily allows you to offer “Live Chat” on your website, but I’ve found its website tracking features to be more impressive.

You can view in real time exactly what a customer is doing on your website. The second they click “Add to Cart” or on a new product, you can see them doing it. The software then keeps all these statistics. It also shows you in real time how they found your site or what keyword they found your site with.

I installed LivePerson on House Of Rave and it’s pretty amazing to watch people rummage through the website. I can also see what city they are from, how long they’ve been browsing the site, if they are a returning visitor etc…

I will start offering Live Help on HoR very soon. But for now, I’ve noticed a large amount of customers find the site from the free videos and pictures, then end up browsing and buying.

If it’s videos and pictures that people want, then I’ll give them even more, perhaps even enable some sort of system to discuss and rate the vids/pics. The free demo of LivePerson helped me really see how people browse HoR.

The problem with LivePerson was the price. About $100/month for the most basic package. I did some more research and found some cheaper services….the only other one I liked was BoldChat.

BoldChat has similar software and features, but was much cheaper than LivePerson:

I’ve signed up for BoldChat, and will use it for a month to decide if it’s worth it. I ordered the full package which costs $79/month.

Hopefully integrating these systems will be one more step towards boosting HoR profits to the $5,000/month level.

Russian Wall Street Journal, Despair Poster

I was recently published in the Russian Wall Street Journal/Financial Times publication called Vedemosti. The reporter who did the interview, Victorya, was kind enough to send me a physical copy of the newspaper I was in:

The problem is, I have NO CLUE what it says about me! Everything is in Russian. On the other hand, I am extremely facinated by seeing my picture and not being able to read what the text says.

I will probably frame this article just for its conversation starter appeal.
I’ll also at some point translate the interview. I know the guy who writes HowToBePoor speaks Russian.

*Update: The article was translated for me.
—————————-

A website I’ve liked for some time now is Despair Inc. They sell demotivational stuff, which I think is absolutely hilarious and brilliant.

I recently bought this poster to hang over my VoIP phone which I use mainly for business purposes. The poster is so absurd that it makes me want to do the opposite.

Surprisingly, the package the poster came in was from an Austin address not very far from where I live. I’ll probably swing by their office to see what goes on there, just purely out of curiosity.

2005 In Review

I came out of 2005 earning around $20,000 for the year just from side projects and while still a full time student. Not too bad, but not a living wage.

I am now graduated and can concentrate full time on the game of making money.

For my own reference, here is the money I brought in for 2005:

-Online Biz – Jan. – $ 502
-Work – $ 253
-Work – $ 281
-Ebay Sale – $ 100
-Change Jar – $ 55
-Online Biz – Feb. – $ 751
-Work – $ 271
-Change Jar – $ 30
-Rebate – $ 30
-Work – $ 229
-
Lottery Experiment – $ 2
-Web Design – $ 100
-Online Biz – March – $ 946
-Syntel Dividend – $ 270
-Ebay Sale – $ 218
-Ebay Sale – $ 340
-
Water Experiment – $ 5
-Work – $ 246
-Work – $ 248
-Online Biz – April – $ 836
-Web Design – $ 300
-
Change Jar – $ 32
-Surveys – $ 55
-Books – $ 165
-
Selling Notes – $ 105
-Work – $ 297
-Online Biz – May – $ 1,024
-SYNT Dividend – $ 21
-FO Dividend – $ 6
-GE Dividend – $ 10
-
Work – $ 213
-Change Jar – $ 17
-
Work – $ 167
-Online Biz – June – $ 718
-FO Dividend – $ 11
-
Work – $ 274
-
Work – $ 261
-Online Biz – July – $ 834
-
Work – $ 304
-GE Dividend – $ 10
-SYNT Dividend – $ 11
-Change Jar – $ 35
-
Acco Brands – $ 183
-
Work – $ 210
-Books – $ 30
-Online Biz – Aug. – $ 804
-ACCO Dividend – $ 7
-
Work – $ 228
-
Change Jar – $ 76
-Online Biz – Sept. – $ 654
-
Selling Pixels – $ 1,350
-FO Dividend – $ 11
-SYNT Dividend – $ 11
-GE Dividend – $ 9
-Online Biz – Oct – $ 1,120
-Misc. – $ 1,000
-Birthday – $ 200
-
Online Biz – Nov – $ 1,630
-
Change Jar – $ 115
-
Online Biz – Dec – $ 1,801
—2005 Total – $20,021

There are some dividends and interest earnings missing, but nothing significant. I also do not publicly publish income made from partnerships I have going, as that violates other people’s privacy.

I ended the year with the following in my public accounts:

-General Account – $ 3,647
-Spending Account – $ 179
-Spending Account 2 – $ 350
-Investment Account – $ 2,234
-Bill Account – $ 1,379
-Permanent Savings – $ 3,342
-Stock Portfolio Value – $ 11,016
-Roth IRA – $ 6,680
-Emigrant Direct – $ 1,002
—Total Liquid Assets – 29,829
-Credit Card Balance – $ 0
-Business Holding – $ 1,647
—Total On Hand – $ 31,476

2006 will be the year I hope to firmly establish myself….or go really broke. Either way will be quite fun and teach me a lot :-)

Before Meeting Someone…

Before attending a meeting with someone new or listening to a speaker, here is what I do beforehand almost every time. It really helps:

1.) Google their name. If they have a unique name, you may be in luck, but John Smith will be harder to pinpoint. Try to read about them, find their address/phone and see what they are all about.

2.) Zabasearch. If I can’t find their address or phone from Google or Yahoo People Search, I can almost ALWAYS find them by ZabaSearching their name.

3.) Lookup their address on Google Maps. Depending on the situation, you might want to see where this person lives. If they are right next to a golf course or along the water, that says something. This is just a step I enjoy doing out of curiosity.

4.) Write down facts and findings. If you are seeing a speaker, tidbits of information can formulate great questions, and show that you’ve taken further interest in the speaker than others. This is a powerful method I use to help meet prominent people.

Doing this takes only a few minutes or less and can help create a relationship that otherwise would not happen so quickly. I am always impressed and slightly flattered when people take the time to research me before meeting with them.