Everyone Uses the Internet for a Reason

As the year starts, here is an absolute GEM from DoshDosh:

“It’s the first month of a new year and at this time I’m itching to start new web ventures both for fun and profit. I usually do up a list of possible startup and site ideas and narrow them down into those with the highest potential. But success depends on execution and not just plans so I tend not to be too hung up about having a complete vision of what I want.

A little vagueness won’t hurt. I can always muddle through and change things up in response to market conditions or personal interest. No need to be perfect from the start.

I looked at many websites to study their methods, to learn what made them a success. I started planning what specific niche I wanted to explore and suddenly realized that I was thinking about the whole thing in a roundabout way.

There’s really no need to think hard about having the perfect idea. The foundations of popular and profitable websites/services are deeply related to the basic reasons why people get online and use the internet. Let’s do some reverse engineering from that perspective.

So, why do people worldwide use the internet?

  1. To communicate and socialize
    This is very much a fundamental human need. People like to meet and talk to other people through the internet. They use it to maintain new or existing relationships. They want to communicate ideas and find solidarity with others who share similar interests. So do something which facilitates communication. Hyper-local or cross-border communities, social networks, virtual worlds, apps or services built on existing communication/social protocols and services. Bring human social activities onto the internet grid. Socialize existing web functions, emphasize on connecting people.

  2. To find information, learn new things and be entertained
    The internet is a massive archive of new and old information. It is also a source of pleasure, giving immediate gratification in the form of images, sound and interactivity. As an educational tool, the web is essential for people who are seeking to learn.

    People want to find things online. So help them. Create a system which provides information or filters existing content. Monetize the flow of data. Blogs, training courses, social news, aggregated news, paid membership sites, online journals, one-stop entertainment portals, video, image and game hubs with a specific focus.

  3. To do work, generate income and run a business
    People use the internet to make a living. It is essential to many businesses that want to increase brand exposure or sell a product/service. They also use the web to help them work better. There is a market of webmasters, entrepreneurs and small/big businesses out there who are willing to pay to boost their revenue. Consultancies, design firms, freelancers, enterprise software, business-specific tools/apps and services. Think of ways to help people work smarter and more efficiently online.

And of course, there’s the e-commerce industry and the buying/selling of products. There’s really a lot more specific reasons why people get online. Everyone of them is an idea for a product/service/website. Most likely there’s already someone out there in the same niche doing the same thing. The question is not how many competitors are there but how saturated and fulfilled are each web user’s reasons/needs.

Differentiate by presenting alternate solutions. Or stand on the shoulders of giants and improve existing services/websites even more. Learn to do some clever marketing and you should do fine. Cut your losses early by quitting when you’ve lost the passion or will to work hard. Because one rarely gets profitable or influential without interest or perseverance.”

PayPal Coming to Kenya in 2012?

Rumor has it that you will soon be able to withdraw your PayPal funds in Kenya legally and easily.

This could not have come at a better time since we spent last year going from disappointment to disappointment with all the new services and “tricks” that we had to try out in order to withdraw our PayPal money in Kenya.

That will be no more. PayPal is currently working with two leading Kenyan banks in an effort to bring us this needed service very soon.

We’ll update this when we have more information.

16 Types of Websites You Can Create to Make Money

Every website idea or type is a potential winner. None of them can be ruled out definitively because a big part of any site’s profit potential depends on how well you market the site and grow it from the ground up. If you are an excellent marketer and strategic CEO, it’s not difficult to make even the most common ideas a success.

What sites are worth developing? Most sites are, if you have time and are willing to invest time/funds and energy on growing the sites aggressively. Being an optimistic webmaster, I would say that you can turn a profit on anything if you really work at it.

The Sitepoint marketplace and Digital Point marketplace are probably two of the more popular places to buy websites of all sorts. Monitor them if you’re interested in expanding your virtual estate. You’ll find all of the site ideas below in both forums:

  1. Affiliate Review Website. Create a website that reviews affiliate products like make money online programs, web hosting services etc. Run it on WordPress and update it everyday with affiliate feeds or articles. How much you’ll make depends on how thick (amount of content) the website is.
  2. Product Fan Blog. Create a WordPress blog around a popular product and update everyday with news about the product. The iPhone is a good example of a hot product to choose. Traffic will be quite decent over time if the product/s have longevity.
  3. Auction websites. Create a website that is similar to eBay to allow users to sell and buy products from each other. You will generate income by monetizing through ads and drawing a commission through each sale. You might get some steady revenue if you sell high ticket products or go niche enough to get a loyal user base.
  4. Dating Websites. Dating websites are communities which allow users to register, chat with and meet other interested users. They can be easily setup with turnkey scripts although you’ll really need a customized template and some coding work done to make it competitive or attractive enough to get some users. Markus Frind is currently the biggest individual Adsense publisher and makes well over $10K a day from his free dating site, Plenty of Fish.
  5. Made for Adsense Websites. These are websites with a keyword domain and they come with a bunch of pre written articles around a specific topic. Examples of common topics include acne, cancer, health and finance. These are generally boring, low maintenance sites that are plastered with contextual ads. Incredibly easy to create using the WordPress platform.
  6. Affiliate Product Website. This is a salespage which sells an electronic product like an eBook. Create the product, buy an existing one or just get someone to do it. The main way to make money is to drive or buy traffic to your salespage and make money when they buy your eBook or opt into your email list. This is an easy way to generate some real income, especially if you are have a great niche product or am skilled in promoting your personal brand and salespage.
  7. Online Games/Arcade Sites. Get someone to develop an online game that is for members only and earn money by selling points, which allow users to unlock extra options within the game. Arcade sites are simply sites with a collection of flash or online games. They are monetized through display ads. Games can spread quickly if they are very well designed and appealing.
  8. Forums or Social Network. Pick a topic that is able to attract a decent amount of users and create a forum or social network. Income will not come quickly and a lot of work is needed to build the community. Create a blog on the same domain and use for promotional purposes. There is a potential to earn a good amount of money when the forum gets big or popular.
  9. Specialized Search Engines. Build a search tool that allows visitors find media of specific types. Include your adsense ads within the search pages. This sort of tools usually don’t do very well unless you provide additional value on top of search. Examples of things to add include ajax search, folksonomy and recommendation engines.
  10. Paid Membership Site. These are membership sites which provide ongoing educational lessons on a specific topic or offer a large archive of resources, along with a forum. An example of this is the Teaching Sells website. Members will pay a fixed fee every month to maintain their membership.
  11. Design/Coding Service Site. Create a website that offers customized logo or website design, alongside coding for PSD to XHTML, WordPress and Joomla. Hire freelance coders and designers and manage them. Pay them a portion of each sale and promote your website through blogs and webmaster forums.
  12. File Hosting Website. Set up a file host which allows users to upload and share their files online with other users. There’s a tremendous amount of competition in this niche so its very difficult to make some real money unless you innovate on features or market it well.
  13. Web Directories. A web directory provides listings for websites and makes money from both display advertising and sale of premium listings. Most of the work needs to be focused on marketing and branding the site. Niche directories with a good reputation might find it easier to make money.
  14. Online Web tool. This includes URL shorteners, spell checkers, picture editors, file converters and various webmaster tools (keyword volume, link popularity). Visitors will often return to your site to use these tools if they are comprehensive enough or if your site is well designed and genuinely useful.
  15. Proxies. Proxies are websites which allow a websurfer to not only surf anonymously but bypass certain filters which prevent one from viewing a site. They are popular with the Myspace crowd and will often require a dedicated server. There are many proxies on the market but they may be worth exploring. Income is largely passive.
  16. Commercial Template Sites. Basically this involves the creation of readymade website templates for sale. They can be bundled up into sales packages and traffic can be obtained through PPC advertising. If you’re not interested in producing original templates, you can run the site using affiliate feeds from the other more established template websites like Template Monster.

The ideas mentioned can all be created by yourself using an existing script or you can set up your own by hiring a coder and designer. It’s more or less DIY, although you will need to some research on the market and have some basic webmaster skills

Now for your opinion. I imagine that some readers might want to start purchasing or building up some of these websites. What do you personally think has the most potential for profit and which idea would you recommend?

Source: DoshDosh.

Interesting in investing in websites? If you want to get into this but have no idea how to search for, value, evaluate and manage a website, give us a call. We’ll work something out.

How To Price You Product/Service For Maximum Profit

Do you sell anything? I bet it was quite difficult coming up with the price, right? Trust me, I’ve been there. You want a price that ensures you make maximum profit yet you do not want to alienate your customer. What to do?

Here’s a very interesting article on: Pricing experiments you might not know, but can learn from.

The article gives concrete examples of interesting price experiments that you can learn from.

Find A Small Problem, Provide A Simple Solution

Here’s the story of a young guy in Mexico who started his own small business immediately after college and has now moved from his bedroom to his own office, bought furniture, computers and has a substantial amount saved up.

He studied mechanical engineering in uni and after graduating, he decided to start a small business since he had some experience building websites. He noticed that small business owners wanted to do online marketing but they had little idea of how to do it. So he started offering a very simple service of charging companies to handle their Google Adsense (Google’s advertising product). In as little as 4 months, he had achieved impressive sales.

Sounds nice and simple, eh? That’s the moral of the story. Sometimes we try to think up these elegant and complex business ideas when all we need to do is find a small problem and provide a simple solution.

Come on, this is something you can do, right now. What are you waiting for?

Elance, oDesk, and Making Money Online

The last time you heard from me, I had made almost half a million freelancing, and was hanging up my keyboard in exchange for a little honest work. The work was fulfilling and fun, but I’ve always been bad at marketting, and referrals will only get you so far. When I gave up the online work, I was lucky. I got a job at a digital ad agency, doing pretty much the same stuff as freelancing, except I had to sit in an office, and I get medical benefits. They still let me wear jeans every day, and they have sparkly red floors and attic-style roofing, so it’s a really cool deal.

The past few months have been tricky though. Between the dollar falling and the baby growing, finances just aren’t stretching as far as they should, so I reconsidered finding a side hustle. I didn’t want it to be writing work, since I already write during my 9 to 5 [or whatever time the briefs are complete, which sometimes means 9.00 a.m. three days later.] I toyed with the idea of farming, since we kept commercial chicken when we were little. I bumped into some farming info in the days after, and I figured it must be a sign. But to be a farmer, you need, you know, a farm, and that needs money.

What followed was a few days of daydreaming and restlessness. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I decided to log on to Elance and see what was going on. I wanted to check my password and see if my account was still active. Well … it was … and everything was right the way I left it, so yay! I looked up some of my old Elance clients, and was glad to see they still wanted to work with me. One even recommended me to his wife, who has become one more happy client. She gives me work via oDesk, though it took me a while to remember that password and figure out how it worked. I opened my oDesk account in 2008, but I haven’t used it since.

So what has changed since I last worked freelance? Not much. The dollar went up and down again, and Paypal still doesn’t allow withdrawals in Kenya, except for The Kenya Red Cross Society. There are still a lot of middle-men trying to offer that service, but I prefer to get my payments via Payoneer or have a wire transfer straight to my bank. There’s a charge for it, but it’s also a convenient way to keep track of all the money coming in from side work. The gigs are still pretty small, paying between $1 and $5 per article, and I spend 3 or 4 hours a day working on them, which means I’m retraining my body to function on four hours asleep. Anyone who knows me appreciates what a mammoth task that is, but sometimes you do what you have to.

I was very hesitant about getting into freelancing again. I get home from my day job at 8 or 9 p.m. and after a day that long, it seemed unreasonable to sit at a computer for anything but pleasure. But I’ve been having conversations with my friends, the kind where they want a change in their lives but they’re not willing to make any effort, and I realized I was doing the same thing myself. I am where I am because I’m not pushing myself hard enough, and I needed to change that, so I did.

I get a lot of emails asking how to succeed in online work, how to get jobs, how to get paid. In the two or so years that I’ve worked online, I’ve made $1,400, and I know of Kenyans who have made a lot more using the very same avenues that I do. There’s no secret behind it. You just log on and keep trying till you get it right. It’s not as easy as it looks, but it’s definitely worth it.

Put in the same effort in your work, whether you’re working for $1 or $500. That’s how you build a name for yourself, that’s how you get recommended to others, and that’s how every time you walk away, you come back and find work waiting for you. That, and effective marketting, which I’m yet to figure out, but I’ll get there, someday 😉

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through www.threeceebee.com.

Six questions for analyzing a website

Seth Godin brings us this gem of an article that is very useful when you want to analyse whether a website is a good investment.

It’s tempting to believe that any website can become a perpetual motion machine of profit. But before you start one, invest in one or go to work for one, a few things to ask:

  1. What’s the revenue per visit? (RPM). For every thousand visitors, how much money does the site make (in ads or sales)?
  2. What’s the cost of getting a visit? Does the site use PR or online ads or affiliate deals to get traffic? If so, what’s the yield?
  3. Is there a viral co-efficient? Existing visitors can lead to new visitors as a result of word of mouth or the network effect. How many new visitors does each existing user bring in? (Hint: it’s less than 1. If it were more than 1, then every person on the planet would be a user soon.) This number rarely stays steady. For example, at the beginning, Twitter’s co-efficient was tiny. Then it scaled to be one of the largest ever (Oprah!) and now has started to come back down to Earth.
  4. What’s the cost of a visitor? Does the site need to add customer service or servers or other expenses as it scales?
  5. Are there members/users? There’s a big difference between drive-by visits and registered users. Do these members pay a fee, show up more often, have something to lose by switching?
  6. What’s the permission base and how is it changing? The only asset that can be reliably built and measured online is still permission. Attention is scarce, and permission is the privilege to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. Permission is easy to measure and hard to grow.

Do the math on successful companies online and compare it to those that are struggling and these six metrics will help you understand the difference. For example, if the RPM is less than the cost of getting a new visitor, you’ve got trouble. If the site is relying on fads and occasional PR but isn’t building a permission base, that’s trouble too.

The good news is that each of them can be changed if you’re alert and willing to do surgery on the business model and structure of the site.

The ideal structure is a business that’s a platform, not merely a place to stop by. Once people move in and become members, they’re hesitant to leave, they share permission over time, they tell their friends, their RPM goes up and the cost of acquiring and hosting members goes down. The real question is: are you on that path?

Interesting in investing in websites? If you want to get into this but have no idea how to search for, value, evaluate and manage a website, give us a call. We’ll work something out.