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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

Don't kid yourself...

You want to get rich with your blog? Maybe you think Adsense will let you retire? Sorry, it's not going to happen.

Archive: Not Making Money

You Can’t Get Rich if a Zombie Eats Your Brain During a Class 2 Outbreak Scenario

I love zombie culture.

Books, movies, video games, everything. I’ve read the Zombie Survival Guide cover to cover, I’ve watched countless zombie flicks, and I’ve played through Resident Evil 4 somewhere around a dozen times. I have an emergency escape route planned in case of zombpocalypse. We have a very strict ‘no fake zombie’ rule in my apartment, the punishment for which is severe bludgeoning, usually to the skull. In short, zombies are cool.

Why do I bring this up? Well, I found an interesting thread on Wickedfire yesterday. It looks like one of the forum’s members made a low-budget zombie film, and is looking for ways to promote it. He’s even looking into starting an affiliate program. The thread itself is a fountain of useful ideas, but there’s one thing in particular you should look at.

Specifically, the movie’s trailer. For future reference, if you have one of your movie’s characters shove a chainsaw through a zombie’s face, you get an instant plug on my blog.

Anyway, I thought the whole thread was pretty interesting, mainly because it puts modern advertising into perspective: You don’t really need a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to spread awareness. Forget expensive TV/radio advertising, all you need is a few flyers handed to the right people and a handful of blogs. If you happen to get lucky, you can rely on viral advertising to get the word out.

For example: I read Wickedfire. I like zombies. My roommate, who reads this blog, also likes zombies. He may write about the movie on his blog. A lot of his friends like zombies. They write about it. The dominoes continue to fall until the producers are buried in order requests.

Back to the thread. As usual, HarveyJ is a veritable goldmine of useful information. He suggested something that I never would have thought of, but can definitely see catching on: Leak your own movie. Take a low quality version, leak it onto the P2P networks, and let it spread itself. Pretty soon, you’ll have people searching for information about the movie, writing about it, and even buying it (low quality versions suck).

The most important piece of advice in the thread, however, is one that I hope most of you have figured out by now: Don’t be afraid to simply ask for help. It was suggested that the producer simply ask zombie bloggers to give him a plug. It’s a good idea, and it can work for any number of situations (including podcasts). Aside from getting a little free advertising, you also get the added bonus of establishing contacts within whatever niche you’re looking to break into. I just can’t stress this enough: Always go out of your way to network with people in your niche.

Also, always keep a sword or spear in your house (in case of zombies). Blades don’t need reloading.

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My Thoughts on SocialMedia

A few weeks ago, Matt introduced me to SocialMedia. At the time, it seemed like a good idea: I place my ad on hundreds (thousands?) of applications on various social networking sites, and I get a billion cheap clicks. Well, it’s true. You do get a billion cheap clicks. The thing is, none of them convert (at least for me). It’s a great system in theory, but I just can’t get it to work in practice.

What is SocialMedia?

SocialMedia is a neat little tool that partners with the owners of applications on social networking sites. It’s kind of like Adwords: The publishers place the ad blocks on their applications, and the advertisers pay (per click) to display ads on them. Simple, right? Like anything, the system has it’s pros and cons.

One of the things that I really like about SocialMedia is that they don’t overcharge you. If you specify $0.10 per click and budget $50, you’ll pay $0.10 per click all the way up to that $50 (or 500 clicks). The thing is, the system won’t immediately yank your ad, and if you’re getting clicks very quickly, you’ll end up getting a ton for free (or, if you want to look at it a different way, your $0.10 CPC becomes $0.05, etc). Whether you get 500 clicks or 1,500 clicks, you only end up paying what you specified. I’ve gotten $0.02 clicks this way before.

On the other hand, they system is incredibly clunky and tedious. For starters, it can take anywhere from half an hour to two days to get your ads approved. The ad creation system is fairly limited, and there’s no way to automatically duplicate ads with different URLs if you’re doing split testing. On top of all that, they only accept Paypal payments.

My problem’s really not with the system though. My problem is with the audience.

Target Audience

Who compulsively uses Facebook/Myspace/Bebo? Why, people between the ages of 13 and 22, that’s who. People who (in theory) don’t have a whole lot of disposable income. That’s not a problem though, right? You just do lead-gen campaigns, right? Well, I’ve always assumed that Myspace = moron, and so far my testing with SocialMedia has backed up that assumption. For starters, I’m led to believe that nobody on social networking sites actually reads the ad text, and just clicks around their screen randomly, hoping to get to where they’re going. Case in point: I ran a ZIP submit offer, and the ad text clearly stated “Enter your ZIP code to blah blah blah.” Hundreds of clicks. Tens of leads.

Of course, maybe I’m just picking on Myspace. After all, you don’t need little old me to tell you that its users are all a bunch of idiots. That’s common knowledge. What about Facebook? Well, Facebook users tend to convert better than Myspace users… by about 1% or less. My theory is that the Myspace users are migrating to Facebook, resulting in an average loss of intelligence as a whole.

Overall

I’m just not having any luck with this service. To me, advertising with SocialMedia is like filling a bucket with pennies and dumping them off the Empire State Building. Sure, one or two pennies might hit someone right in the forehead, but the rest will all miss and be wasted. You get little to no results from a large investment. If I were you, I’d experiment with it a little, but don’t sink too much money into it.

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I Think I’ll Stick With Physical Goods

I just haven’t had much luck with digital goods lately. While other affiliate marketers have made their fortunes from ebooks, dating services, and ringtones, it’s just not working out for me. That’s why I’ve decided to try a different approach, one mainly focusing on eBay.

As I mentioned the other day, I’m going to try to get into the affiliate niche store business. I’m testing one right now, and if I can find a good method of driving traffic, I’ll probably build 10-25 stores a month (and many more if I really start making money).

While affiliate stores are all well and good, I’m thinking of taking it a step further and actually starting an eBay store. I’ve been thinking if over for awhile, and I’ve decided to do a few trial auctions for imported items from Japan. If things work out well, I’ll start doing lots and lots of them. I have a friend over in Japan who is going to sea-mail me a big box of stuff, stuff that our research shows we can get a 300% ROI. Isn’t legitimate business fun?

Ebay has always been fascinating to me. You can sell the most mundane crap on there. Just as an example, I have an uncle who lives by a pier in New York. He used to go out to that pier at low tide, pick up snails, and sell them on eBay. Now he makes a pretty decent living selling aquarium stuff. I find it amazing that you can just pick up crap you’ve found lying around and sell it on eBay.

How can you apply this to your situation? What if you don’t live near an ocean? Well, for starters, pay attention to what’s on sale in your area. If you find a store that’s overstocked and having a 90% off sale, buy up whatever it is they’re selling and resell it. A long time ago, a store in my hometown was overstocked on Gameboy Advance games and was selling them for $5 a piece. I bought 20 of them and resold them for an average for $30 each. Huge profit.

Of course, managing an eBay store takes a lot of work when you factor in order tracking and shipping, so it’s not for everyone. Still, if you think you can find a niche and crack it, you stand to make a lot of money.

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Trying Something Old

It seems like everybody on the Internet has made eBay affiliate stores, so I figured I might as well join the party. Here’s what I plan on doing, and what I’ve done so far:

Sign up for an eBay affiliate account

I signed up with my primary email they day they switched to their new system. I never heard back from them, so today I signed up with one of my other emails. If you’re not familiar with it, the eBay affiliate system pays it’s affiliates 50%-75% of the revenue that eBay makes from auctions referred to them by the affiliate. You may be wondering why I bolded those four words. Well, put simply, a lot of people out there seem to think that they make 50%-75% of the item’s final price. This shows you that they’ve never made a single sale from their site. You only get a percentage of what eBay makes (that’s the listing fee, a very small percentage of the final item price, and any additional fees charged for special listing options). Still, that can add up.

Picking a plugin

Ah, the eternal struggle. PHPBay Pro or BANS? I say screw them both. I’m using PHPBay Lite. There’s no sense in paying for something if I’m not making any money yet.

If I do happen to start making money with this, I’ll just upgrade to PHPBay Pro. Nothing against BANS, but PHPBay Pro integrates directly with Wordpress, and Wordpress is great for SEO.

Pick a niche

There are literally thousands of niches. You can pick a product that’s in the news, popular on eBay, one that you saw at a pawn shop, whatever. It’s really not that hard. Just don’t pick something like XBox 360s or expensive cars, because everybody else is already doing that. Microniches are best, so instead of using a very broad category (Pokemon) pick something fairly specific (Mudkips).

Buy a domain

Nicheauctions.com. Replace ‘niche’ with whatever you’re promoting. If the .com is taken, see if it’s actually being used or if it’s just parked.

Get traffic

Like I said a few days ago, I’m getting out of PPC for awhile, which pretty much limits me to organic search and social traffic. Since I’m relying on organic search, I had to do a little extra research into keywords that are easy to rank for. Again, that’s pretty easy to do. If whatever ranks #1 for your primary keyword looks like this:

http://www.site.com/product/category/subcategory/niche.html

You’re in business.

I also plan on submitting my sites to free directories (myself, not hiring anybody). A few months ago I paid someone to do that for me, and now I have a list of 500 free directories. Time consuming? Sure, but I’m not doing anything else at work.

Keep building

Don’t just sit there and wait for the one site to work. Keep finding new niches and building more sites. Before you know it, you’ll have 100 auction sites each making you $50 a month. From there, you can sell the whole lot of them for $50,000-$75,000 and buy a whole lot of Jones Soda.

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Find Your Target Audience

When practicing online marketing, I find it best to throw your morals and ethics out the window. Chances are, if the offer you’re running pays well, there’s something shady about it. Maybe it’s a website that promises a free sample, but actually signs the poor sap up for a monthly subscription if they don’t cancel with 7 seconds of ordering (next time read the fine print). Maybe it’s some new diet fad that is too implausible to actually work. Whatever it is, you have to temporarily suspend guilt to market it effectively.

My technique for this is simple: Just find a group of people that annoys/infuriates/pisses you off. For me, that’s everybody on Earth except for children, redheads, and kittens. Of course, that’s still a very broad demographic, so I’ll break it down into more easily identifiable groups.

Middle/High Schoolers

I got my first email address in 6th grade. I quickly discovered that the amount of spam I received was directly proportional to the number of “OMG FREE N64″ sites I signed up at. Today, when I run email submits, I like to think that I’m teaching a valuable lesson to the younger generation. Specifically, don’t give our your personal information online.

The same thing applies to cell phone offers. I didn’t even get my own cell phone until I was 18, and by then I knew it was stupid to (a) put my phone number into some random site and (b) not read the fine print. These days, we’ve got 12 year olds* running around with iPhones and clueless parents not teaching their kids about online privacy. If you’re marketing a ringtone offer, consider it a public service.

*Tricking 12 year olds into signing up for a ringtone service is still a scummy thing to do. Wait til they’re in high school. They should know better by then.

Soccer moms

I’m not talking about the stay-at-home moms who keep the house clean and raise their kids. I’m talking about those horrible abominations that dress like they’re 10 years younger, max out their husband’s credit cards, and suck down frappacinos like they’re dying of thirst. In short, consumer whores. Go ahead and target them with whatever you want, because they have no common sense and they’re not going to change any time soon.

Dirty old men

Those 45 year old guys hitting on the 21 year old girls at the bar? Yeah, them. While I haven’t tried it, I’ve heard that posing as a girl of said age group on Myspace/craigslist and tricking those guys into signing up for online dating services works wonders.

Douchebags

“Hey brah, wanna play some Halo brah? Have you seen my can of axe brah? Wanna hit the kegga’ brah?”

College humor has this one covered.

Abandon your ethics

Just find one or two groups and exploit the hell out of them. Maybe they’ll learn something from the whole experience.

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