Category Archives: Body Monkey

BodyMonkey – Sell or Kill?

I’m leaning towards kill.

I’m at an interesting place with this one. BodyMonkey.com, the online store I started over a year ago has been stagnant for a while for one reason: Me.

I’ve successfully grown HouseOfRave.com to a new level, but have neglected BodyMonkey. It started out with promise, but never got the attention it deserved. I’ve talked to many people who’ve tried maintaining two separate (but related) businesses, and it’s always tougher than expected (don’t say anything until you’ve tried it).

Some quick background info:
If you don’t know how House Of Rave works, you can read here.

Body Monkey and House Of Rave are both based off the same supplying company. HoR is more of a specialty light-up novelties shop while BodyMonkey was intended to carry all the other mainstream products the supplier carries.

I have drastically cut down on the amount of different projects I dabble, and it’s the best move I ever made. With every new project I get a little more distracted, and this results in having several just-mediocre projects.

So I’ve decided this: I’m going to get rid of BodyMonkey.com. I can either sell it, or kill it. I really don’t care which one and just want it ended (at least for me).  The fewer things I have going on simultaneously, the better.

Bringing BodyMonkey to a good level will require a little work. Mainly keeping the site fresh and doing all the things I did for HoR the last few months. It’s on the Yahoo Shopping platform, so it brings in of orders just based through that without even marketing. Not to mention the site is already SEO’d quite well.

Sell It:
If I sell, the buyer gets a complete business in a box. The business has a very low cost structure, is easy to operate, everything is already done and it is already accepting (and making) orders.

However if I want to properly sell it I have to make a sales ad, tabulate profits, write about how it runs yadda yadda…I don’t want to do it. The site makes roughly a few hundred dollars a month (despite not being updated for a year…that’s not bad), and honestly I don’t keep any accounting for it. It has no debts and is ready to run and be updated. What it makes right now does not justify the asking price, but having the business ready to go with a good supplier does.

This site can easily be making several thousand dollars a month within the next few months (especially with the holiday season rolling around).

I think the ideal buyer is a reasonably competent computer person looking to buy a small business that already has a foothold, works well, requires little investment and no actual physical work or inventory (everything is drop shipped).

So why don’t I just sell it cheap? Well…look at BodyMonkey and then look at HouseOfRave….see a few similarities don’t you? In fact, the sites look exactly the same. Since both sites use the same supplier, there is the possibility that BodyMonkey will take away from HoR sales. They look the same, AND the product lineup will be similar (except BodyMonkey will always have a lot MORE products). For this reason, I’d rather forgo getting several thousand dollars for the business.

Kill It:
I basically pull the plug and it’s gone (actually, it’s more like a mouse click). I don’t get any money for it, but it’s already made back what I paid to make it and then some….so I’m not losing anything either.  I say good riddance and move on to my other projects with one less thing to worry about.

THE ULTIMATUM:
So unless I get an offer of at least between $5-$10K for the business, I kill it by months end. I think $10,000 is still kind of a pittance, and even if I get it, I won’t be happy about it.

However the growth of other projects is more important than dabbling around on this for any longer.

SO. Any offers? Give me a shout

P.S. If you need more information, here’s all the posts I’ve written about BodyMonkey.

Killing The BodyMonkey?

I’m not sure what to do, so I’ll write it out..

I’ve got two very similar online businesses:
HouseOfRave.com and BodyMonkey.com

Aesthetically they look identical, but they are geared towards different markets. I have HoR which is a niche website that caters to light up stuff, so the items sold are generally things that glow, blink or light up.

BodyMonkey goes through the same supplier as House Of Rave, but focuses on a broader product range. On BodyMonkey you can find all sorts of toys, games, decorations and things that appeal to a larger audience. The broader range of products is good, but online specialization is sometimes BETTER than selling items you can often find elsewhere. This has been a key to HoR’s success.

House Of Rave has been the steady producer over the years which only recently I’ve been taking more seriously. BodyMonkey makes a small profit every month with a large potential, but I don’t think I can maintain both stores. I’ve tried with very average results.

So my problem is should I keep both businesses or focus just on one? I’ve struggled with this question for a while now, and in my opinion I should get rid of BodyMonkey.com.

Focusing on just House Of Rave would allow me to improve it to awesome status, while focusing on both sites might leave me with two mediocre sites.


OPERATIONAL COSTS:

House Of Rave costs roughly $350 per month to keep running.

  • $100 – Dedicated server. Not bad, because I also host a slew of other websites from this server paid for by HoR.
  • $95 – Merchant account fees.
  • $20 – Google Checkout fees.
  • $50 – PayPal Fees
  • $45 – Vonage phone bill.
  • $5 – American Express acceptance fee
  • Other additional yearly fees which I amortize into monthly billing.

BodyMonkey costs roughly $85/month to keep running.

  • $40 – Yahoo Store fees
  • $45 – Merchant account fees


END GOAL:

The end goal for HoR and BM is to provide me with a steady monthly income so I can dabble in other projects while still having my bills paid. With the additional burden of BodyMonkey on my hands, maintaining the two stores almost becomes a full time job.

With this said, I think it only makes sense for me to kill the monkey. Sad, because I think it has lots and lots of potential.

Now the questions is, what do I do with it?

  • Sell it?
  • Let it sit there and generate a small income till it becomes obsolete?
  • Let someone else take over, share profits?

If someone takes over BodyMonkey, they would be sharing the same relationship with my supplier. This makes it very important that I can personally vouch for the person who takes it over (if I choose that route).

Any suggestions?

BodyMonkey Work Schedule

So BodyMonkey.com was officially launched on 4-20-2007, and two days later I got my first order. Since then it’s got 3 orders through the web and 2 orders through the phone thanks to the Yahoo Shopping Network.

If you visit the website and click through the sections, it’s easy to tell the site is not “there” yet as you can tell from the lack of images on the products. The products are also not properly SEO’d (Search Engine Optimized) which is a large concern for an online business of this type.

So in an effort to properly restructure the site the first time around, I have to do everything over again. It’s relatively simple work, but VERY time consuming and monotonous.

For each product I must:

  1. Delete the old product entry.
  2. Create a new product ID.
  3. Re-enter the price, description, additional options, images, sub-images and SKU.
  4. Re-index the product in the proper section.

This sounds pretty simple, but there’s always steps along the way that take up more time. Usually I will change the product description on the spot or add images I took with my own camera which usually involves some sort of photo editing and size cropping. I also re-name the products with SEO friendly words.

I want to just work on this all day, but I also do other stuff, so I must dedicate at least an hour or two per day to get this done in reasonable time. There are ways to streamline this process but it still involves lots of very boring work, and there’s no way around that!

To keep myself accountable for the work I must do in the next few months, I created a schedule for this month’s work:

I’ve also placed this schedule in the top-right calendar section of NevBlog so I am constantly reminded of it. Well, cheers to hours of boring work!

New Toys Toys Toys

The week has been like Christmas morning, but instead of Santa Clause the UPS man delivers the goods!

My new home workspace now looks like this:

NEW DELL COMPUTER
I was thinking the main thing that will help BodyMonkey sell stuff is the shopping experience where you can view custom images and videos for most products. I’ve been doing most of the photo and video editing on my trusty Tablet PC, but that computer wasn’t designed for such process-intensive activities such as simultaneous photo and video editing….so I needed an upgrade.

I bought a 64-bit AMD Dell with a big hard drive and high performance graphics card. I probably could have built a better machine for slightly less money, but I’m in no mood to build a computer. The Dell so far has been perfect for the job. It set me back approximately $750.

NEW MONITOR
Photo editing and video editing generally takes up a lot of screen real estate, so I wanted a widescreen for a nice work area. I needed something with good resolution and a bright screen. I ended up buying a 22″ Acer widescreen monitor from TigerDirect for under $300.

I’m actually VERY pleased with how the monitor turned out to be, especially for that price!

WINDOWS VISTA AND OFFICE
I have a friend who works for Microsoft who gets MS products for deep discounts. So I ordered Windows Vista Ultimate and Office Ultimate. I usually just download pirated software, but Microsoft has become exceedingly efficient at verifying your Windows copy is legit before you can download updates.

When I ordered the Dell computer it came free with Windows Vista Home Edition….I DID NOT LIKE IT. It’s made for very novice computer user, so I’m glad I upgraded to Vista Ultimate.

Retail price of both Vista Ultimate and Office Ultimate together is something like $700+, but I got them both for $130 (Office is actually more expensive than Vista).

NEW TRIPOD
I had this GorillaPod thing for taking product photos, but after I upgraded to a real camera for product photos, the GorillaPod wasn’t sturdy enough to support the big camera. It also had short legs so it couldn’t take pictures from higher angles.

I ended up buying a professional and very sturdy tripod with extendable legs, so I can take pictures from about 6 feet in the air. I can also use this if I decide to buy a larger SLR camera or video camera in the future. This set me back about $80.

NEW PERSONAL CAMERA
My last Casio Exilim I bought was crushed somewhere between when I went to India and Germany….and half the screen is now whited out, meaning I can’t change settings or really see what kind of picture I took. Also the night pictures never came out well, so I wanted a new camera before I went to China anyway.

I bought a Cannon SD750. I don’t have much time before I leave for china, so I basically went to Best Buy, asked some guy what the best compact camera was and bought it. I’m sure money could’ve been saved if I Ebay’d it, but I don’t have that kind of time and have other stuff to focus on.

This purchase means I’ve gone through one camera per year, not including the camera I bought for product photos! This camera is AWESOME when it comes to functionality and picture quality. It set me be back about $370.

———————————-

I’m very pleased with all the purchases, especially the new computer. Having a separate computer for graphics and video editing has really increased my productivity as seen here!

This Makes BodyMonkey OFFICIAL

BodyMonkey is OFFICIALLY a business….it has a shirt!
I wish that made it completely official, but it’s one step I got a kick out of.

Since I was just testing out what the logo would actually look like on a shirt, I paid $23 for one shirt to be made online. In bulk they cost much, much less.

Right now only the front says “BodyMonkey.com” while the back only says “BodyMonkey.” I’m not sure why I did that, but the next generation of the shirt will most likely include a “.com” on the back.

I also want to put the large BodyMonkey logo on the front instead of the standard small left-hand title.

The back logo looks GREAT, but I may need to scooch it up a bit.

The logo was actually just a very temporary placeholder while I got the BodyMonkey site redesigned, but it grew on me and I think it will stay for a while. It might however rotate and change with the season or corresponding holiday time.

It’s a weekend night, so I gotta get out and party….and I’m wearing the shirt!

Stereo 3D Pictures

I randomly saw these stereo images on Digg, and realized you could make pseudo 3D images without any special skills or equipment.

Part of my scheme for the up and coming BodyMonkey is to let potential customers have a fun browsing experience while going through the products on the site, and I thought these would be pretty interesting on some products. Worth a shot.

I first tried to see if it would work on a picture of my guitar…It doesn’t look very 3D right now:

So to make it a stereo 3D image, I took one photo of it, moved a few inches to the right and snapped another photo. When quickly switched back and forth, they make the picture look 3-Dimensional!!

So I figured this could be an interesting thing for BodyMonkey.com on some of the product photos. Little gimmicks like this wouldn’t necessarily provide anymore incentive to buy more products, but it will keep people curiously wandering through the site, and have some entertainment value.

Most of the items BodyMonkey will sell are much smaller than the guitar, so the effect was not quite the same when I tried to make a 3D image of the Rocket Shaker, but it still works:

It might be a little too much or provide too little value, but it’s an idea to keep in mind!

House Of Rave on a new Supplier

HouseOfRave will be going through some big inventory changes over the next few days as I switch suppliers. Changing suppliers is no small task because it will essentially be a whole new business. I will probably end up LOSING money on HouseOfRave this month, but it’s in the name of future expansion which can’t happen with the current supplier.

There are tons of different changes I will have to deal with:

ORDER PROCESS
I still will essentially get orders then forward them to the new supplier, but for now it must be done the ghetto way of manually entering each order into their website. This takes lots of time, but will be worked on as the relationship builds.

PAYMENT TO NEW SUPPLIER
I used to send money at the end of the month for products I ordered. Since I don’t have an established relationship with the new vendor, I must make sure to pay them soon afterwards. This has actually worked out quite nice, because I simple pay them each day for the products I ordered. I know right then and there how much profit has been made per day, the supplier gets his money right away, and at the end of the day I don’t owe anyone anything.

MAKING MONEY
This one will be hard, as with the new supplier I currently have a straight percentage discount for products which isn’t very high right now. Topping that off, the supplier has higher shipping prices than the previous which really bites into my profit. However with this system I know that if I bring in $1,000 I just made approximately (percentage of that) in profit.

TRACKING SALES
I used to track sales in a specifically designed Excel sheet so I could compare it to the actually invoice at the end of the month to check for billing errors. Luckily the shopping cart system I’m using (Yahoo) has more statistics features than Shopsite (which I use for HouseOfRave), so this will actually be an easier job. Also with the current payment system I have going with the supplier, I can easily see my per-day profits at the end of the day.

DIFFERENT INVENTORY
This is the biggest pain of all. Since HouseOfRave sells such niche rave/club stuff, I have to scour the new supplier’s inventory for stuff that would do well in that area, and their selection of those kinds of products is relatively limited. This might be a bad thing, but it also might be a good thing. Perhaps I may stumble upon a new genre of products that sells very well on HouseOfRave? I’ve learned you can NEVER quite predict which items are a big hit. I’ll just have to continually change things up on HouseOfRave to see what sells or doesn’t.

INVENTORY PICTURES / DESCRIPTIONS
This is a big change as pics and descriptions take the longest amount of editing and creating time. Because HouseOfRave was a very rave/club niche site, so it had a lot of blinky stuff with blinky images to compliment. Some of the pages would be filled with product images that looked like this:


Now for the most part the pictures will be stationary and the products will not be as “Blinky” which may or may not be a good thing. I always thought the animated .gif images the previous supplier always used were cheesy, but after removing a lot of the current products, I quickly realized that all the cheesy blinky product pictures were a big part of the site.

They just plain demonstrated the product effects very well. It’s funny how AJAX, Flash and other in vogue technologies can help a website sell more and look better, but sometimes a simple .gif image (which has been around since 1985) can be much more effective.

I started going ahead and making .gif images for some of the products the new supplier offers and also for BodyMonkey.com because I realized how much more interesting they make the site look. With a simple .gif you can convey a lot more information in one image….like how my studying is going

The Face of BodyMonkey

A new business I’m getting ready to launch called BodyMonkey.com is starting to take shape, and one of the gimmicks is having a monkey as the logo.

I’ve ignored the stylistic part of the design thus far because the backend functions and whatnot are much more important. As most of that stuff nears completion, I’ve had to get my creative side going and get a logo done.

Unfortunately if it were up to me to draw a “Cool, badass monkey with a heart of gold” it would at best look like:

….yea….so I’ve been searching around for an artist. The hard part is describing what I see in my head onto paper…partly because I don’t even know what I want “The Monkey” to look like. So one night out Downtown I saw a guy doing portraits for people at a bar. Got his card, called him up, and met him Downtown again a few days later, but this time with a binder full of monkey pictures.

In the dark bar on a Monday night I tried describing to him what BodyMonkey was and what I wanted…..since I hardly knew what I wanted, I let him go ahead and do his thing. With his headlamp on for light, here’s the first drawing:

I didn’t like it. I thought it looked kinda scary. I also thought it was way too “Monkeyish.” I want the character to be a monkey, but not a realistic looking monkey.

My lack of direction was apparent. I further told him that The Monkey would be in different situations on different pages of the website. In the Breakdancing Video section The Monkey will be in funky clothes bustin’ a move. In the Barware section The Monkey will be dressed in a suave tuxedo drinking a martini. In the Magic section The Monkey will be pulling a rabbit out of a hat and so forth……

So the next drawing came out like this:

Not bad! Since these were very, very rough drafts, this was a great start. After some fine tuning, adding more personality traits, coloring and Photoshopping, this picture will look like a finished character ready to post on the site.

The hardest part is getting the character down, after that it’s easy for the artist to re-render The Monkey in different locations and situations. Then after Photoshopping you can make The Monkey look like anything!

One small step closer to getting BodyMonkey completed!