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

Here is what they came up with:

Now this site looks pretty amateur and unprofessional. HOWEVER… 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.

Blog posted on: January 26, 2006

24 comments on “Parlays and Picks Small Business

  1. Cafenation

    Interesting post Nev,

    I am surprised to hear that they were so successful with yahoo ads. I have spent nearly $200 AUD on adsense, and although I have got a few sign ups, according to my statistics, I have not made a single sale via adsense so far.

    I am getting clicks, even though it is obvious from my addthat I am selling something, not giving anything away (It says ‘Buy online, delivered to your door’ on the ad) I have geographical targeting turned on too, so I am only getting Australian visitors. I don’t know what I am doing wrong.

    Any tips on this Nev? How was their add campaign so successful? Is anyone else having more luck with Yahoo than Google, when it comes to PPC text ads?

  2. personal finance advice

    Will be interesting to see the progression of their business. Look forward to hearing more about it.

  3. Jonathan Radande

    I also tried google adsense, but the conversion was simply terrible. No leads whats so ever.

    I then switched to Yahoo Sponsored Search, and that has been better. If adsense does not work for you, cafenation, you should definitely give yahoo a try.

    Nev, I don’t really understand your friends business. Do they just sell their analysis on the different games? Or is there gambling involved.

    An online business that i started is So far things have been good, but i have to say, relying on search engines for traffic can be very stressful. One day i’m on top, the next day i’m gone. I’m now trying to document the site operation thru my blog at Jonathan Radande

    Nev, we should try a venture together, i’m always up for a new project.


  4. Real People, Real Finances

    It is true that 90% of the battle is actually getting the site up. Making money from day one is a bonus. Can’t complain about that.

  5. Chris Pund

    Hey Nev- I think its a great idea to follow their progress and share their experiences with everyone that reads your blog. Also, I would be interested in talking with your friends about the new website that they are interested in getting. Feel free to contact me via my blog or email (admin[at]

  6. Andreas Climent

    Great little initiative. If all they do is send out e-mails and there is no overhead, then you can’t really loose much by giving it a shot!

    It will be interesting to see how much a nice design affects the sales.

    I’m currently working on The Lost Blog. My main weapon against the “competition” is a great looking design and an easy way to quickly find the information you are looking for. Something I felt the other Lost fansites where missing. I know a Lost site is quite a tight niche, but I’m mostly doing it for the fun, if I earn some money, then that’s a bonus.

    If your friends are interested, I might be able to help them out with the design. Send a mail to andi at if you want to talk.

  7. Anonymous

    You did them a real favor highlighting the site — I’m sure it’ll be shut down in no time now. Their “Disclaimer” carries no legal weight at all. All of the “not a gambling website” websites (partypoker, etc) can get away with advertising in the US, but they’re all hosted overseas, since the FBI can shut down gambling-affiliated sites in the US. Tell Brad to expect a visit soon. You might want to consider that you’ll be an accessory for doing their DNS hosting for them.

  8. Anonymous

    anonymous, I think freedom of speech protects discussions about gambling. Their site does not offer gambling transactions, only gambling tips. Books about how to play blackjacks and poker are legal, arent they?

  9. James

    I’m surprised people have actually paid on that site, it looks too…cheap.

    I think getting a webdesigner is a great idea and would attract others who simply leave the site because of its poor design.

    Also, to the Anonymous above, this site is NOT a gambling site. There is nothing wrong with selling who you think will win. It’s kind of like those stock picking sites that simply pick stocks they think will do well. What you do with that information is your own decision.

    Great job guys, and keep us all posted.

  10. jim

    When you consider the large dollar amounts involved in gambling, it’s not a surprise that people are willing to spend a mere $20 for some picks.

    I wonder how you guys get past the credibility issue because anyone can make up those records unless they’ve been following the site for some time. I mean you can believe the sidebar statistics but the site was registered in November of 05 and those picks go back to before that.

    I don’t mean to claim you and your friends are trying to commit fraud (I don’t think you are), just wondering if you were planning on tackling that and perhaps improve your conversions.

  11. Anonymous

    They do realize that this is illegal right? Don’t Believe me… I’ll send you the PDf of the articles that show it.

  12. jack

    It’s interesting that someone else commented on legality of this.

    There are websites out there (hosted in Russia) that sell Mp3’s for 10 cents a song. They are still up and running.. because they are hosted in Russia :)

    I don’t know if your friend’s site is legal or what not.. I got my fingers crossed for them

  13. Matt


    What are your thoughts on the Amazon Affiliate program? Sites like, which use Amazon, seems like they have quite a bit of success, though I know the commission that Amazon pays out is rather low.

  14. Anonymous

    Selling information is not illegal. I could write an ebook on how to grow and sell pot and it would be perfectly legal.

    On the flipside, this is very interesting. I have been looking to sell my options picks via the web for some extra cash, and make some other people some money too. I think I’ll start very soon after seeing how easy it was to get this sports site going

    Great work

  15. Anonymous

    to say that this is illegal is ludicrous. Open up any paper on Sunday morning and see who the guys who work for the paper recommend you BET on.

    come on dude, you have no clue.

  16. Anonymous

    In some states, the method of making money from handicapping portrayed in Two For The Money is illegal (pay us a percentage of what you win) as it is considered as an extension of a wager. That is why most companies operating in that manner are run out of Jersey.

    But selling picks is not illegal in any state.

    I do find it funny though that your friends are posting a nice solid winning record going back to the start of the season, yet their site didn’t start up until the first week of November.

    Dissing aside though, I can’t fault them for what they are doing, as I make most of my income from the handicapping business. Their best bet is to stay kind of small and under the radar because if they start taking money away from the big tout syndicates, lets just say that the industry doesn’t haven’t much in the way of ethics.

  17. Anonymous

    Sorry, but that is a bad investment for the consumer and a poor attempt to make money. “63-29″ that was the “record” maybe you should go back to the Big Ten.. The money is in the return, and how that customer can just talk about you and your company for days…. Not email sports picks, sorry for the rant…just GRow UP…


  18. Alex

    I really like this post. It is really motivational when I am struggling. I am in the process of getting my very first online business working. I am in the last process of getting the site and the merchant gateway to work.

  19. Anonymous

    wondering what people’s opinions are in using traffic exchangers like 12dailypro or stormclix to advsertise their websites?

  20. Anonymous

    With all of the things going on with the paid Autosurfs (i.e. 12DailyPro & a few others) i’d hold off for a bit before advertising with them. To the uniformed “paralegals” on the board, selling picks is not illegal in the least. Post after you get accepted into law school, not while you’re studying for the LSAT.


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