Monthly Archives: June 2006

Write Whatever You Want!

I always like experimenting with cool little widgets. I was thinking of putting this one on FacebookProfile.com as kind of a gimmick, here is a LIVE test version which can be freely written on by anyone:

I like this little widget because it allows visitors to instantly post comments, links, insults or any funny thing they can think of. It’s also funny and interesting to see the ridiculous things people write when they are completely anonymous!

View the history of the messages here:
http://www.nevblog.com/yshout/yshout.php?history

Curb Painting Part 2

(See Curb Painting Part 1 if you haven’t already)….

…$15!  Checkout the screenshot of the self-checkout line I went through:

The stencils I bought were the bendable cardboard kind, which are good for when the curb you’re painting is curved.  However I wanted the inter-locking brass stencils for flat curbs.  I also wanted these because they inter-lock and stay in place, rather than having to tape each number together (see how they snap together?):

Next I tried a practice run on some more newspaper using the new materials I bought and the new brass stencils.  It came out pretty descent:

If the police, fire department or ambulance service was looking for this house at night, it’d be VERY hard to see this address label.  So next, I wanted to prove how much better a raggedy old curb address looks when painted over. I purposely used a smaller border to show this was the same curb, just painted over it for dramatic effect:

Look at the difference!  You can still see the original outline I left as a comparison.  THIS is why people will buy this service.  Over the years I’ve also refined some secret tricks I use to sell more.  I’ve also learned what NOT to do that will leave you struggling to find jobs.

To see the video I made about this (and where I pretty much hold someone’s hand step-by-step to show them how to do this), enter your name and email below:

Painting Address Numbers on Curbs

I’ve seen people do this all day, charge up to $40 per painting and do whole neighborhoods:
Re-painting the address numbers on curbs of houses.

I always thought this was a cool and easy way to make some extra money. So in some spare time this week I bought some plastic stencils (About $8) and some black/white outdoor spray paint (About $10) and decided to see how hard it could be.

I took the materials outside and gave it a rough shot on some newspaper:

It was a little messy, and I had to end up cutting the stencils apart, but my first painting came out alright. Not perfect, but alright.

I then started using tape to seal any loose areas of the stencils together, and I successfully made a semi-neat spray of the numbers. This isn’t hard stuff, but it takes a little trial and error testing.

I’ve seen lots of neighborhoods around Austin where I couldn’t find a house because of the lack of address numbers, think of what would happen if a police car or ambulance couldn’t find your house number.

Perhaps in the next few weeks I’ll give this a shot. I tried it out on some old curbage at my apartment complex, and it turned out decent….very rough….but nothing a little practice won’t clean up.

This would be an awesome way to make a good $100+ a day for a couple of high school kids or Boy Scouts. Actually, anyone could setup this little curb painting business for themselves and make a quick income!  It involves an easy service you can sell door-to-door that people will gladly pay for.

It seems everyone nowadays is talking about “Making money doing nothing” …..which is great….but making money from good old manual labor is sometimes very rewarding!

My first tries of the curb painting were a little rough, and I wanted to actually DO this door-to-door, so I bought new materials and made my own custom curb border out of cardboard I had laying around the house.  I was surprised how cheap everything was!  Altogether my total at Home Depot came out to less than……

GO TO PART 2 –> of the experiment (I did a much better job on my second tries)!

Using a Flask

I am really cheap, and hate spending money. However, I also like to go out and have lots of fun, which generally costs $$$.

After I turned 21, I realized the sheer amount of money people waste at bars. Here in Austin, TX. we have a thriving Downtown nightlife, consisting of several streets of busy clubs and bars…needless to say there are tons of places to throw away your money.

From about 9pm till 2am, the main product being sold all over Downtown is alcohol. Clubs/bars make almost all their money from alcohol, restaurants make much of their money from alcohol and even cruise boats make much of their money from drink sales. It’s actually pretty ridiculous how much money is made from alcohol sales.

To combat these high prices (and allow me to be extremely cheap), I will sometime bring a flask out with me. This thing cost me $20, fits perfectly in my back pocket and holds roughly 5 oz. of liquor.

What I can’t stand about drinks are their extremely high margins. Liquor is ridiculously marked up almost everywhere. Another thing I begrudgingly have to do every time is tip. If someone simply opens a bottle of beer for me, does that warrant even a $1 tip?? I tip, but don’t like it. After a tip, an already expensive drink becomes even more expensive.

If I know I’m going out, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, I’ll fill the flask with a liquor of choice, for example, rum. This way I can ask the bartender for JUST a Coke with ice. I’d say about 70% of the time they’ll give it to me free. I can then secretly mix in some rum, and have a Rum & Coke.

Ghetto? You bet!

The most I’ve ever spent on a single drink was at an upscale club in Miami – $17 for a Vodka & Red Bull. Imaging my surprise when I pulled out a $10 bill to pay, but was quoted $17….and then I had to tip $3!! TWENTY DOLLARS for a small drink in a plastic cup filled mostly with ice!! OUTRAGEOUS. I can buy 20 Double Cheeseburgers from McDonalds for that money.

Another thing I do when going out is use CASH ONLY. I NNEEEVVERRR charge drinks to a card. This way you can SEE how much money you are throwing away, and I can control my spending much better this way. A $20 bill can generally cover an entire night (Generally which I end up spending mostly on Pizza :-) and leave me with some money the next day.

Outsourcing Lesson & Examples

Outsourcing has been a thing big companies have been using for years, the main reason to slash costs of manual and intellectual labor. However, there is probably even more benefit to outsourcing for smaller companies, yet a lot of people have no clue how to utilize it.

I’ve outsourced projects before, but thanks to a mentor of mine, I’ve been exposed to several projects and shown the CORRECT way to do it.

There are three major tips I’d give:

1.) Be
specific as possible.

2.) Include non-lengthy descriptions.
Make sure you write where everything should go, how it should work and what it should look like.

3.) Use visual aids.
Photoshop will be your best friend in making a design project go smoothly. If you already know what you want, the best thing to do is make a Photoshop representation of it, then the programmer will do their thing and make it work. These are especially important if you’re using an offshore programming team, as subtle language differences sometimes spoil directions.

4.) Always bargain.
Outside the United States, especially in less developed countries, bargaining is a typical part of buying stuff. Programmers will often quote you way too high, so you just have to bargain down the price. If you stink at bargaining, go to RentACoder.com and set your own project price.

I’ve learned if you don’t a put a lot of effort into planning the project, it will come out terrible, take a long time and cost a lot of money.

If you spend a lot of time initially spec’ing out the project, it will go extremely quick, come out great and cost less since the programmers know exactly what to do.

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TWO OUTSOURCING EXAMPLES:

1.) This is a spec sheet I made recently for my online business House Of Rave. It outlines for a Shopsite programmer what I want done using visual aids and short descriptions in an outlined form. This way if there’s a problem, I can say “Section 1.c has not been done yet.”

You can view a snapshot of the Word document below:

2.) This spec sheet is from my recent FacebookProfile project I did a few weeks ago. I knew EXACTLY how I wanted it to look, so I created a visual representation of the site using Photoshop and then marked up specific sections and functionalities.

I didn’t already know any WordPress designers, so I posted this project on RentACoder for $220. A few hours later I selected the highest rated programmer to respond and the project was done in no time.

What was great about this project was the very little communication involved, as I had already so specifically stated what I wanted. Generally there is a lot of discussion back and forth between customer and programmer if it’s not clear what is wanted.

You can view a snapshot of the Word document used for the FacebookProfile.com specs:

Medium to large projects get much harder, and the important part is staying on top of the project and documenting progress.

FINDING A PROGRAMMER:
If you’ve got a project, first spec it out so you know exactly what you want. Then go to any of the following sources to find someone to do it:
1.) RentACoder.com – You can set your own price here, view other projects by the bidders and read their feedback. Basically an Ebay for any sort of project. Also try eLance.com.
2.) Craigslist.org – Simply post your project in your local city (or better yet, a big city like San Francisco or NYC) in the Gigs –> Computer section. You’ll be surprised at how many responses you can get locally and from abroad.
3.) Forums – If you’ve got a very specific project you’re working on, go to some popular forums about that subject/software/hobby and post the job.

FacebookProfile Stats, Entpr Year, New Apt

The condo I was living in with two rommates was sold, and we have now moved to a college-based community of apartments like I used to live in. These apartments are great because everyone living there is a student of some sort, they have lots of great amenities, and best of all individual leases. This means if you have four people living in an apartment, and three of them move out, the last person is not stuck paying the full rent….just their share. This way I can be very flexible about my living arrangements.

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I recently followed an idea for starting a Facebook based site which offers Facebook Tricks etc, and it’s coming along nicely. I’ve been getting some decent traffic, up to 350 unique visitors a day and growing.

Right now the site is making less than $1 a day from the one Google Ads, but it’s not even been online for two weeks….so I’m not worried yet. A problem with Google Ads is they base the ads on page content….mostly Facebook talk. Needless to say the pay per click rates are low, even though I’m getting a lot of clicks.

It’s sometimes getting above 1,000 impressions a day, so I’ll start looking for other ad systems that pay higher rates for page impressions. Here are the stats from the last few days:

This is actually turning out to be a fun little project!

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Thanks to “Bob”, I was tipped off about the Austin Entrepreneur of the Year awards last week, and I attended the event with Kunal of Grade-A-Books. It was one of the better events I’ve been to, with a great pre-event, event, and after-party. Then later out to Downtown!

This picture is a good sum-up of the night!

Getting Things Done

I’ve being doing enough work to get by.
I have NOT been doing enough work to set myself above the rest.

Quite frankly,

This has to stop right here, right now.