Category Archives: house of rave

Weekly Quota Fill

In order to meet one of my Oct 2010 goals of making two photo/video sets on House Of Rave per week, I figured I may as well just stamp that out immediately for this week.

This morning I posted edited two sets:

Glow in the dark necklaces:

Phaser Light Ball:

These were product samples I had laying around the apartment, and I filmed/photo’d these all when friends came over.  It’s actually pretty fun to get friends to play with stuff, I take pictures, and I make profit!

With 42 minutes to spare….

WHOA….I was just shy of having to give away my bike to a filthy bum right now.

One of my October 2010 goals was doing two HoR pic or video reviews per week.  What I didn’t realize was these first two days of October are kind of a half-week (those sneaky little bastards):

I figured a half week = half work….so at least ONE HoR review should be done in that time.

Well it’s Saturday night, and since I’m such a good boy I decided to finish my obligatory work before I go out.

I did a quick and easy picture set (and video…but decided this product didn’t need it) and posted it on HoR:

Nev = 1
Bum = 0

Mixing Business and Pleasure for Profit

I enjoy: Being productive.

I also enjoy: Hanging out with friends.

What if I COMBINED those two??  GENIUS!

Fortunately I currently own a rave company, so that often isn’t hard.

Just recently we scouted out a spot in Austin to have a little nighttime picnic (always one of my favorite thing to do), and I happened to have an LED Frisbee in my trunk.  It was a product sample I’d been meaning to take videos and pictures of.

It lights up at night, so naturally we started tossing it around, so I started snapping a few pics to post them on House Of Rave:

It’s fun to have fun AND be productive at the same time!  Click on any of those pictures and they take you to the HoR product page….these pictures help sell more Frisbee’s, and we had fun doing it.

I did however find out the limitations of an LED Frisbee…apparently they CANNOT get run over by a truck and survive in one piece.  I was  overly aggressive in a throw, and it went in the street.  A few moments later traffic started driving over it, and one lucky truck hit it.

The result:

With the exception of a partially-broken side….the thing still worked!

However, tossing a fast-spinning disc with sharp plastic edges isn’t always safe…so I decided it was the end for this Ole’ Yeller.

Like any male under 30 who’s about to throw something away, I thought it be MORE fun to first COMPLETELY DESTROY it…then throw it away!

Let me tell ya….that was one tough Frisbee.

I’m feeling adventurous

I’m doing something right now that might be really fucking stupid:

I’m going to publicly name something I don’t like.

I’m going to publicly denounce something that might be totally my fault.

I’m also going to say something that MIGHT be better just left unsaid.

Posting something like this has been on my mind for a long time, but I think it’s sudden re-emergence is a combination of being a little ballsy from having to blog everyday, and re-reading a fantastic post Adam McFarland wrote.  <– Go read that and the comments.


Let me jump right in then explain (before I start getting rational and cancel this post):

There are two companies I do not like.  One is called RaveWorx.com and another is RaveHaven.com.

These companies were both started because of me. Not BY me….but because of me.

I love to share information to some extent.  I enjoy it because it gives me something to do, and in the process it often helps people.  So a while ago I created a six part series about how a business I created called HouseOfRave works.

Now there’ve been MANY clones of HouseOfRave, but most of them never get fully setup.


RaveWorx.com:

This was started by a guy named Karl Weinmeister who lives in Austin, TX. (which is funny because I live here too).  A few years ago I saw this “rave products” website sprout up (nothing wrong with a little competition)…but a little research showed that the same Karl Weinmeister who owned the website WAS ALSO A VISITOR TO MY BLOG.

Innntteerresstting  ::strokes beard::

I dug a little deeper and noticed he’d been involved on NevBlog through the comments and through direct email correspondence with me (he asked questions about how I setup my drop shipping business).  Now he “all of a sudden” had the exact same type of business.

I rang up Karl (someone I’d never directly spoken to) and told him over the phone, “Hi, this is Neville.”  He was stunned…but knew exactly who I was.

We met up for dinner a few times and talked.  At least if I have a competitor I’d rather be on good terms with him.

I was glad my post had helped fuel Karl’s foray into starting his own business…but flat out copying my model…not cool in my book.
Did he do anything illegal? Technically no.  I freely posted all that information out there for free.

RaveHaven.com:
A guy named Haroon Saleemi (who also was a reader of my blog and asked questions through the comments) popped up with a website called RaveHaven.com one day.  I dug around and found out he had a blog.  His blog was documenting him starting some businesses.

His 1st business: RaveHaven.com = Based off my HouseOfRave.com

His 2nd business: PartyRhino.com = Based off my BodyMonkey.com

It was almost HILARIOUS to read his blog posts about “How he came up with selling rave products online” without mentioning me.  After I left a few comments on his website, he stopped blogging.

When I called Tarun, he pretended he didn’t know who I was, but quickly dropped that charade.  He then said, “Well, you shouldn’t post what you do online.” Maybe he was right. Perhaps I should just hoard all my useful information to myself?

Anyhow, he was moderately cooperative with me (although not as much as Karl).  I made it very clear that he was not to use any of my original photos or videos or copy.  To his credit, I’ve never seen DIRECT rip offs of my site….although there has been been VERY obvious “renaming” of his products to reflect mine, and he once did a re-design of his website that used the HouseOfRave slogan “Light Up Your Night”.  I called him about it…and to his credit, he changed it right away.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. Whether it’s rational or not….those are some people that kind of ruined blogging for me.  There have been a BUUUNCCH of HouseOfRave copycats….and probably the ones I should be most worried about I’m not naming.
While I’m being all honest here, I may as well try to list my subconcious fears of some of these copycat businesses:

  • I probably fear them a little
  • I don’t want them to make them more motivated to improve their businesses
  • I don’t want to reveal any big secrets of mine that have improved sales
  • I don’t want to reveal time-sensitive secrets that give me a competitive advantage

Here’s a little excerpt from a comment I left on Adam’s post that inspired this post:

I admit I put up a guide which essentially shows you step by step how I built House Of Rave….however it’s meant as a LEARNING tool, not as a “How to copy me” series. The VAST majority of people who email me about that love the post because it inspired them, and they went on to create a similar MODEL businesses, but in a totally different industry. That’s FANTASTIC that a small series of posts I did helped someone start a new chapter of their entrepreneurial life.

I hate making up blog post titles

Well I’ve certainly been a lazy bastard lately.

It seems I’ve got the Tim Ferris “4 Hour Work Week” down for my business House Of Rave, because I swear that’s about as much effort I’ve been putting in lately.

I say this in a BAD way.  Just because I only have to work on it for 30 minutes a day, doesn’t mean I SHOULD.  It also means that I can GET AWAY with only 30 minutes per day, but it doesn’t GROW without a little more effort.

While I tend to be productive in other areas throughout the day, I remember seeing a video….I’m not sure who said it, I think Eben Pagan, but it said something to the effect:

What actually “makes you money” in your business is the thing that’s actually interacting with your customers.  This could be web page content they see, or a shopping cart they use, or a video you made…..

… etcetera etcetera ….

I realized I’ve been slacking off in that department, so I dusted off the ‘ole camera and did a little content creation:
http://www.houseofrave.com/led-mood-tea-light-candles.html

Have Sales Gone Down In the Poor Economy?

Here’s a question I’ve been getting more and more geared towards my business House Of Rave:

Have your sales gone down in the poor economy?

It’s actually a fantastic question and relatively interesting to hear different answers from different business owners.

So, have your sales gone down in the poor economy?

MY ANSWER:
YES…..but not in the traditional sense. Let me explain:

Most people expect that sales simply stopped coming in after the economic downturn, this hasn’t been true even though House Of Rave sells things people buy only on disposable income.  In fact, if you never told me there was a “recession” going on, I probably wouldn’t have noticed too much….people still order all the time (although I’ve seen a very significant drop in big orders from large corporations).

The MAIN problem I’ve had which takes a DIRECT shot at lowering my sales is all the cool products are out of stock.  Almost all of my previous best sellers are no longer being manufactured.

HouseOfRave sells “hard to find” and “unique” products….which often means “they don’t sell it in big stores”.  This has been great so far, but a problem I’m seeing now is manufacturers are on tight budgets and don’t have the capital required to mass produce slower selling items.  I may be able to sell 10 per day of an item, but a manufacturer might need to sell 10,000 of them per day to keep cash flow moving.

….so unless an item can move HUGE quantities quick, the product might be discontinued.

This has been the predominate way that my business has been affected.  The cool part is, with more marketing and more effort I’ve been able to maintain and grow both the profit and sales of the business, but it’s required more effort than in the past (keep in mind I used to put NO effort into it at all).  Before, I would just slap products on the site and they sold….it doesn’t seem to be quite as easy anymore.

Many smaller manufacturers and product patent holders are going out of business now.  Think about it, to manufacture just ONE simple product you must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for materials and labor, store them, then find people to buy them.  Before you make even one CENT from the product, you could blow through a half-million dollars on credit.  If the product is a flop (note the importance of beforehand PRODUCT RESEARCH) you’re screwed…..and I’m just using the example of small-scale manufacturing of novelty products.

While my business doesn’t have the extreme overhead of these manufacturers, I feel their pain indirectly when a cool product of theirs goes out of stock.

Weird Alexa Rankings

Do you ever use Alexa to quickly judge a website’s traffic?  I do…all the time.

On Google Chrome tab I use an SEO extension that quickly grabs all sorts of info on a website, including Alexa traffic rankings:

In case you don’t know:
The lower the number, the higher your traffic (kind of like golf).

Google is the #1 most visited site in the world, so its Alexa rank is 1.  Got it?  Good…

NevBlog is currently ranked: 170,476 (at one point I was #75,000)!
and my business HouseOfRave is ranked: 492,856

The funny thing is, House Of Rave gets a lot more visits per day than NevBlog (it used to be the reverse a few years ago).

So here is a monthly Google Analytics snapshot of NevBlog traffic (keep in mind the number is usually higher as I don’t have Google Analytics installed on all my visitor pages):

Here is a monthly Google Analytics snapshot of House Of Rave:

You’ll notice that House of Rave gets something like TWICE the traffic NevBlog gets every day, yet NevBlog’s Alexa rank is nearly THREE times lower!  Whhaaa!?

Theoretically the Alexa rankings should be switched, but they’re not. It’s not hard to figure out why:

NevBlog draws a lot more people who might be web designers or tech people….this means they’ll be more likely to have the Alexa Toolbar installed (or some variation of it), which is how Alexa gets their rankings.  I’m also presuming the larger the site, the better stat accuracy you’ll get.  Compete.com seems to have a more accurate view:

They got the traffic wrong (although they can’t ever TRULY know without you telling them), but they got the comparison estimates pretty close.

For January 2010, Compete.com says:

  • NevBlog got 10,386 visits
  • House Of Rave got 15,202 visits

In reality, according to Google Analytics:

  • NevBlog got 14,259 visits
  • HouseOfRave 34,970 visits

    It seems the webmaster tool bar effect also applies to Compete.com…but their results seem far more accurate.

    I’m curious, do your website and Alexa/Compete rankings add up??

    Weird Holiday Products

    Over at House Of Rave it’s been busy because of the Christmas holiday shopping season. Owning a store that sells light-up and relatively unique items, I’m always tickled by the surprise hit products that seem to sell like crazy during the holidays.

    Every year I see odd products that previously didn’t really sell, then all of a sudden see huge spikes in demand. Often it’s products that are unexpected hits, the manufacturer runs out of stock, so it goes out of stock at most stores, so people flock to whatever store they can get it at.

    By far, the most demanded item I saw on HoR this year was this Lava Plasma Lamp:

    It’s basically a Lava Lamp that has one of those electricity-looking plasma balls inside. It’s a new product and actually looks like a slick little room decoration…which makes it prime gift-giving material.

    Unfortunately the Lava company didn’t anticipate such a high demand for it (likely because this tight economy doesn’t permit companies to easily extend huge lines of credit for large manufacturing runs). Or maybe there was a fire at the warehouse and they all got burned up. Who the hell knows. The end result was EVERY store was sold out.

    I opened my orders one day and found 20+ orders for JUST this item, all from new customers…it was a little odd. For a while I could send them out, but of course my supply dried up also. I of course immediately cancelled and refunded all the orders since I couldn’t fulfill them….but kept the item up for a while in order to grab new customer info (so I can send them my email newsletter later). Kind of sneaky actually….

    I eventually put the “out of stock” status on the item because so many people kept ordering it and the customer service required for canceling and refunding got a little tedious….plus it pisses people off when they order something so close to Christmas then get an email their order has been cancelled.

    Another funny runaway product line this year was BACON stuff. Yes, bacon. These are some of the items that recently came out and started selling REALLY well this holiday season:

    Bacon Bandages:
    There’s a whole lineup of these novelty bandages, and by far the bacon strips sell the best.

    Bacon Gumballs:
    Why bacon flavored gumballs sell so well is beyond my understanding.

    Bacon Toothpicks:
    I’m not even kidding…

    Who would’ve thought the American public has such a fascination with BACON products?? Like the popular Lava Plasma Lamp a lot of these bacon-related products sold out quickly too.

    Another weird item that really took off and I had to keep canceling orders for was this Gravy Fountain Gag Gift Box:

    It’s a fake gift box you put a real gift inside to fool your unsuspecting subject. I presume this gag box is great for White Elephant gift exchanges, hence the popularity. What’s weird is there are other gift boxes like this, but by an exceedingly large margin the gravy fountain box was the most popular. Baffling and kind of hilarious.

    Most of these small items don’t have a huge margin, so even if you get lots of orders per day for them it’s not a huge amount of profit. However you gain new customers, some of them buy a lot of other stuff, and it’s always fun to see the weird products that hit a nerve with the buying public!

    I Ended Up On A German Book Cover

    That’s right, I’m famous. Uber famous!

    A few months ago someone from a German publishing company contacted my business House Of Rave to possibly buy some of the wallpapers featured on the site. They wanted to use one of the pictures on the cover of an upcoming book about the techno club scene in the 1990’s till present (or something like that)…

    They offered to pay me a nominal fee for the rights, but I declined (in order to keep the full rights) and requested a copy of the book plus photo credit if it was published using pictures I own. I figured since I own a rave company, I should probably help support the rave community in whatever way I can…and it seemed like it would be decent publicity too.

    So I provided them the original high-res files to a few of the pictures they requested, and didn’t really expect anything to happen.

    Just recently I got a package from Germany with two copies of the book, and they happened to use a picture taken by me, of me demonstrating a product! While you can’t clearly see my face, you can see the silhouette of my face (so excuse the opening line…my SILHOUETTE is Uber famous)!

    Front Cover:

    Back cover:

    Side-by-side:

    That white line divide near the bottom quarter of the picture is actually a giant dry-erase board in my upstairs living room.

    Photo credit on inside jacket:

    Here’s the German Amazon link to the book.

    So a picture of my hands are on the front cover of a book. This reminds me of when The New York Times did a full photo shoot with me, then just used a picture of my nose…but they used a full picture of Jim!

    Ok, I finally get what everyone’s trying to tell me:
    I’m too good looking to be printed.

    5 Seconds to Vote

    Update: Voting closed. Thanks to all those who voted!!
    ————————–

    Hey…can you please take 5 seconds to click the image below and click “Vote for Me” on the page?

    It literally takes 5 seconds or less, doesn’t require entering a lick of information, and would make me very happy!

    I entered HouseOfRave in a competition and want to see if NevBlog visitors can sway the vote higher!

    Very much appreciated,
    -Neville

    P.S. If you’d like to find out more about how House of Rave works you can see the whole series here.