Monthly Archives: September 2006

Removed the Pixel Sale

One year ago I got the idea from MillionDollarHomepage.com to sell pixel squares on the site. This was a complete fad, and people were buying pixels to benefit from curious clickers and the search engine benefits of having more links.

I put them in the right hand corner of the site for a year, and so far here’s what happened from this little experiment.

  • A total of $2,300 was made from 46 squares sold.
  • 17 different people bought space on the site for $50 a square.
  • I learned that taking advantage of a fad makes people actually pay $50 for a little square.
  • The more people buy squares, the less value they have. People will only click a few squares out of curiosity.
  • There were 110 comments on the pixel square post, a lot of them along the lines of, “I once thought this guy was legit, but now he is coming off as a slimy used car salesman!”
  • The only person who made A LOT of money from selling little squares was the MillionDollarHomePage.com guy.

A year later, I’m taking these pixel ads down. The last pixel order I got was in May 2006. It was a fun little experiment, and the only real money I’ve ever made from this blog.

So goodbye Pixel Sale! Thanks for the money :-)
-Nev

Worst Purchase EVER – My Phone

Once in a while we all just “HAVE to Have” something. I do this mainly with electronic stuff, and generally it works out well and I’m happy with the purchase.

However 5 months ago when I got the Treo 700w when it first came out from Verizon Wireless, I had made a terrible mistake. Unlike my “Have to Have” cameras or tablet pc, this phone came with a contract.

I’ve had my phone for about five months now, and here is what I’ve paid so far for the phone and phone bills:

Because I just HAD to have this phone immediately, I irrationally accepted the high monthly fees, high starting costs and the expensive low-end service plan. The high overages were part part Verizon’s fault for screwing up an order for a larger plan, and part my fault for being irresponsible. However in the end I’m paying the (very expensive) price of an emotionally driven purchase.

I went from loving this phone to hating it, as graphically portrayed here:

I don’t actually hate the phone itself, just what it represents. I rank this as my WORST PURCHASE EVER.

LESSON I LEARNED:
“Have to Have” purchases aren’t always bad, but when irrational thinking muddles the details of a contract, beware.

Money Update

I’m keeping a careful eye on my general accounts because I’ve been (and will be) burning money at a crazy rate:

Currently my general accounts look like:

General Account: $4,002
Spending Account: $194
Spending Account 2: $304
Investment Account: $2,605
Bill Account: $79 <-- !!! At least I don’t have to pay rent.
Permanent Savings: $3,768
Charity Account: $338
Stock Portfolio Value: $11,066
Roth IRA: $6,912
Emigrant Direct: $5,015
Total Liquid Assets: $34,283

Credit Card Balance: $0
Business Holding: $6,657
Total On Hand: $40,940

As the old saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” Right now it’s pouring expenses:

-New laptop hard drive
-New laptop bootable DVD drive
-New car on the way + Registration + Insurance
-Need new camera (Screen half whited-out after being crushed)
-Traffic tickets
-Unexpected $500 phone bill
-Paying programmers
-Buying sample products for photographing
-Defensive Driving
-Food (I haven’t had a proper meal in about 2 1/2 weeks).
-Incorporation
-Trip to Boston
-Spending money – I still gotta have fun ;-)
-etc. etc. etc.

Luckily these costs are still manageable, but still….lots of expenses!


(I had to make this picture with PaintBrush….no Photoshop on these Law School computers!)

I was checking back to September 2005 in my blog to see what was going on, and I would have completely forgot about this stuff had I not written it down!

Sept 2nd: I tried to make more $$$ from House Of Rave.
Status: HoR is now making about $2,000+ a month. Thanks again Rob for hitting me over the head with the obvious.

Sept 7th: I tried to Get a picture with the Dalai Lama.
Status: Didn’t happen this time. I did however get to see the Dalai Lama sport a visor.

Sept 18th: I was mentioned in the New York Times.
Status: That was pretty nice to have. I’ve got three copies of the Sunday Times rolled up in my archives. My parents found out about this website after the article (Hi!!). My photo shoot was supposed to be the main image on the article, but apparently Jim is more attractive.

Sept 28th: I sold pixel squares on NevBlog as an experiment.
Status: So far that sale brought in $2,300 (minus 2.40%) in one year. I’m taking them off the site in a few days. That whole pixel thing was the epitome of a fad.

Advertisments on Site?

Perusing websites, I see ads all over the place. They usually don’t bother me if done tastefully, and provide the site owner with a source of income. Nothing wrong with that.

If free television stations didn’t interrupt their programming with advertisements, they wouldn’t be around. So it’s a bit of a trade off.

Taking a look at some personal finance websites, I noticed everyone has all sorts of cash-generating items on their site, which are relatively un-intrusive. I’m just curious of the average total amount everyone makes from their sites. For example, I was looking at Consumersim Commentary and took a good look around his site to see where cash comes from.

Just looking above the fold (meaning not having to scroll down), I noticed SIX different pieces of cash-generating website real estate.

At the very bottom of the page, I noticed FOUR different cash generating avenues including lots of text links for PageRank purposes. Based on the requests I turn down everyday for these, I’m guessing these go for between $50 and $100 a month.

I won’t even mention if there’s anything in the middle, as there is unlimited potential for that, especially on long blog pages.

Based on the Adsense Experiment I did a little while back, I could probably make about $500/month from a simple banner above the fold on the left side of the page. Not bad.

NevBlog originated late one night whilst working at the easiest job in the world as a way to track financial progress…not as a tool to make money. Now I am more open to the idea of it bringing in money….sort of.

I’m not going to slap a bunch of advertisements up immediately, but I’m stroking my chin thinking about it. A far cry from my previous anti-Adsense stance!

I’m a "student" again

College courses are extremely expensive, you have to battle to sign up for them…..yet unlike other expensive stuff, no one guards the classes.

I was recommended by someone to take a graduate level management course taught by an extremely prestigious professor who has “been there, done that” in the business world.

Instead of signing up for this class, I just looked up the publicly available class time/location and started going! I told the professor I was not paying for the class, nor was I any longer a student, and he happily agreed to add me to the class. I imagine some professors would PREFER students who WANT to take the class over those taking it as a requirement.

When I was a student I used to sit in on classes where they would talk about subjects I needed more knowledge on (Particularly computer science classes where I wanted to know how something was created). The best part is you can go speak with the professor after class or in their office hours, and they are always more than happy to speak with you.

I never fully realized it when I was a student….but the university is one of the few places where you have world-class authorities on a subject, and you can access all their expertise free of charge.

Hard Drive Crash

The hard drive crashed on my tablet pc two days ago, stuff happens.

Bought a new hard drive from ebay which after shipping cost me about $100. Now I need to find a proprietary Toshiba external CD drive so I can load the operating system to the new drive. Till then, I am using the University of Texas computers for everything….like back in the day! It reminds me of high school how I started House Of Rave from the school computers because my home computer was too slow.

I haven’t backed up the computer for about a month, so I’ve lost all my work/pictures since then……grrr…..but I’ll live.

LESSON TO LEARN: Backup more often.

On a fun scale of one to ten, this rates about a two. Tinkering with hard drives and electronics is always fun, but not as much when you just lost all your work.

Since almost everything I do is internet based, I thought if my laptop crashed it would be the same as my office burning down….but it really hasn’t been. I can still use the UT computers which have all the necessary software I need (Thanks R) and thankfully I do monthly backups, which I should increase to bi-monthly.

The main thing I miss is my email on Outlook. I’m currently back to using webmail to check all my email accounts.

Luckily, the total cost of this hard drive failure after I get everything fully repaired should be under $150.

-Nev

Signed Up For Guitar lessons

Since 8th grade I’ve played the guitar, but I’ve never LEARNED the guitar. After a few months of basic lessons I could pick up songs from guitar tabs on the internet, but all the theory behind it was skipped over.

Same thing with piano, I can PLAY a little…but I really can’t read music all that well, or understand the theory behind it.

In my haste to just play something, I’ve effectively skipped over all the theory, and for this reason I have never progressed much beyond my skill level from the 8th grade. This bugs me because I really enjoy playing music.

Obviously I need some formal help in this area, so I’ve finally started taking guitar lessons again, but this time with a heavy emphasis on music theory, re-learning to read music and the mathematical functioning behind the guitar and piano.

Now that I’ve been playing for years, the theory behind it makes SO MUCH MORE sense than when I was a beginner. It’s def. one of those “I told you so” kind of things.

The cost of professional lessons at the Austin School of Music (I didn’t want to go with an independent teacher off CraigsList) is $105/month, which includes four, thirty minute lessons a month.

This time around, I am going to properly document what I’ve learned in each lesson. Once part of that is recording what I physically learned to play. I decided to do this in video form:

I feel this will be one of the better investments I have ever made. More of a personal investment though.

—————-

These music lessons somehow relate to the ONLY plan for the future I have:

Where ever I end up living, I want to have a music room. Meaning I want one large room with a bunch of instruments in it: basic everyday instruments as well as a collection of weird instruments from around the world.

Three Best Places for an Aspiring Entrepreneur

Come 2007 I can technically move anywhere, as I have no physical ties to Austin, TX.

I had no plans to move, but I wanted to see what my potential city candidates were before I completely knocked the idea.

Asking some mentors, I was advised that any city I lived in would be most beneficial to me if it has the following things:

-Strong educational resources in the university environment.
-Strong relationship between science and business.
-A strong and established business incubator.
-High tech companies all around.

There are areas in the United States that fit these criteria:
-Silicon Valley in California (San Francisco & surrounding area)
-Route 128 in Massachusetts (Boston, MA.)
-Austin, TX.

There is simply more opportunity in these three places for a startup company than anywhere else in the United States.

Internet Retailing & Photography

Go to an internet store, any store, and it’s mostly the same thing. Click through products at different stores and with a few subtle differences, it’s mainly the same thing. It’s getting very difficult to differentiate one’s self with an online store.

I’m working on another ecommerce store and instead of being the designer/creator of the store, I’m officially becoming the photographer. I’m taking my own product photos to differentiate the store from the distributors website, but mainly to give the site personality. I have already begun the process of ordering all the products (About 20 at a time) and taking pictures/video of them.

Sometimes the promotional photos provided by the manufacturer is good enough to explain the product, so I won’t take photos of EVERYTHING….however I want a good majority of the site to have the photos taken.

FOR EXAMPLE:

In the pranks section of the site, there is a novelty fake cigar. Here is the provided photo for the fake cigar:

Now here is an “action shot” picture I took with the fake cigar:

Goofy! But explains the product much better. Notice the lack of photo editing. I’ve been purposely making these photos very amateur-ish. I’ve been taking 3 added photos of each product which will make it amusing for customers to browse the site, and give them a better sense of the product they’re buying.

I am hoping to build a popular feature much like ThinkGeek.com’s “Customer Action Shots” feature.

One problem is I’ve been finding it difficult to take unique pictures without the assitance of someone else, so I bought this awesome GorillaPod which is a tripod with bendable legs:

Since I usually take these pictures in spare time, I can’t always have someone around. However I can clamp this GorillaPod thing to the side of a door, fan, guitar…you name it and get a great shot!