Archive for March, 2007

The Big Brown Box

Some of you are aware that I was one of the two people behind SmashMyViper.com. I’ve always been a big fan of those quirky ideas to make a million dollars, and SmashMyViper was definitely one of them. I found an interesting concept (although more than likely not a million dollar idea) called “The Big Brown Box“.

Big brown box logoThe concept behind this is to collect a big brown box worth of stuff to auction off. The box already has almost $15,000 worth of stuff in it. The coolest tangible product is definitely the Dell XPS Laptop, the rest of the products are all provided by businesses, the biggest being a $10,000 web traffic package. So the way I look at it, it’s interesting to see the kind of stuff that are provided to go into the box, especially if non-businesses start submitting things. For the business, they have the chance of getting mentioned on the blog with a link, so that should provide some promotion back to them. This in turn would generate traffic and allow them to monetize the site.

I realize that Alexa is not the end-all-be-all of traffic, but according to them, the site is not generating much yet…but if it does get some press, it has the chance to get much bigger. From a business perspective, you can provide something now, and if they use it and link to it, it has the possibility of generating some good traffic back. Of course this is all based on the fact that a lot of press is generated. Remember, get in early to reap the most benefits. Advertisers on SmashMyViper.com that started out first got the most bang for their buck. The people that started out promoting AGLOCO first will most likely see the most referrals.

Let me know if you decide to donate anything, I know that I’m thinking about it.

Eating Out For Lunch…On A Time Constraint

At my corporate day job we’ve perfected the art of eating out somewhere nice, fast. This is for those days when you have one free hour between meetings, but you want to eat something decent at a sit-down restaurant.

BurgerThere are two methods of doing this, depending on how picky you are with the menu. The safest way is to look at the menu online before going to the restaurant, and choosing what you want. If you want to be risky you can look at the menu before the waiter arrives to the table, but be prepared to choose what you want quickly.

When the waiter comes, order your drinks, appetizer and meal at the same time. Make sure the waiter knows that you want your appetizer to come out first, but you’re on a time constraint, and you already know what you want to order for your meal. Telling the waiter at this time is a necessity as they will help the process move in a speedily format. Plus they know the turnaround will be quick, which means easy fast tip for them. If everybody ate like this, waiters would make at least twice their salary.

When your waiter comes to check up on you during the entrée portion of the meal, politely ask for the check. The check should arrive before your meal ends. If you are paying with a credit card, don’t let the waitress leave after he/she brings the check. Give her the credit card, by the time she gets back you will be good to go to the office.

We had a perfect example of this a few weeks ago when my team of 4 employees decided we should have our weekly team meeting at Sweetwater Tavern. The problem was a 1 o’clock meeting would only give us an hour to get to the restaurant (which was a good 10-15 min drive), eat, and get back. At 12 we all hopped in the car, and got to the restaurant at about 12:13. The tables were full, so we had to sit and wait for an open table. By 12:25 we were finally sitting down. We followed the techniques I discussed above, and were done eating and paying by about 12:43. We jetted back to the office, just in time to arrive for the 1:00 meeting…and that’s how it’s done.

Optimize Your Feedburner Feed With FeedFlare

I found an excellent tool provided by Feedburner if your feed is run through them. It’s called FeedFlare, and if you don’t already have it activated, get on it! FeedFlare is the feature on the bottom of each RSS feed post that shows you important links such as “E-mail this * Add A Comment * Digg This, etc”.

FeedFlare example

I’ve seen it on other blogs before, but I just started to look for how to add myself tonight. Login to your Feedburner admin and click on the optimize tab. On the left you’ll see the FeedFlare option on the menu. Once you click that you’ll see all of the options for the different “FeedFlares” you can have. I added the 4 above for now, as you don’t want to have too much that it overbears the reader. If you don’t see something you want, you can browse the catalog for more, or even develop your own using their API.

Something that takes just a few seconds to add can drastically improve your blog, increase interactivity with your readers, and bring in new traffic.

Today Is A Woot! Off

If you aren’t already a part of the Woot! revolution, then today is your lucky day.

What Is Woot!?

Woot! is a cool concept for an eCommerce store where they sell just one item per day until it sells out. They normally have really cool deals and some neat products with hilarious descriptions. The community on the site is very strong and they have a large following. Minutes after a product is posted you will see tons of comments with helpful links such as prices online, reviews, opinions, and more.Woot! bag of crap

The most notorious product they sell is known as the “BOC” aka “bag of crap”. These literally sell out completely in a matter of seconds after going live. The bag of crap is essentially $8 shipped (They are $1 each, but it is highly recommended you purchase the maximum quantity of 3, and $5 to ship). Everything on Woot! is $5 for shipping, even if it’s a 60″ plasma TV. The bag of crap will have very random products in it, but some select lucky people can end up getting things like a 60″ TV or an expensive MP3 player. It’s always funny to see people post pictures of what they got in their BOC’s.

What Is A Woot! Off?

A Woot! Off is a day where Woot! decides to sell a bunch of products one after another. As soon as something sells out, a new product pops up. Normally they will throw in a random BOC in there, so be on the lookout.

Best Way To Track Woot!’s

WootAgent screenshotThe best way to watch the Woot! is to use the WootAgent. The WootAgent is a simple application that runs in your taskbar and will show a popup notification when a new product comes up. Especially for days like today, you don’t have to keep refreshing the site to see when the next product is up…so when something good comes on, you have the opportunity to buy right away.

Good Luck!

Good luck on the Woot! Off today, and let me know if you end up getting anything. I’ve come very close to getting the rare BOC once to the point where I had my credit card info in, but by the time I finalized my order they were gone. I will be on the lookout for another one today!

The Ultimate Google AdSense Resource

SmashingMagazine is the king of websites for building compilation lists of some of the coolest stuff on the web. Their newest guide is a list of Google AdSense facts, FAQs, and tools. For somebody like me that hasn’t had much experience with AdSense, I’m trying to take in as much as possible in order to make it as effective as possible for myself. On top of that, I use AdWords for two of my businesses, so it’s always good to see how things work from the other side of the fence.

They have compiled twenty quotes that will help you do things like place your ads on your site so that the click-through rates are higher.

??Format is important for multiple ad units, display your ad units where repeat users will notice them, place a leaderboard immediately after the last post.?

There are some other great links for other resources. For example I found a new tool that I installed for Firefox which displays your AdSense statistics in the status bar:

AdSense status bar for Firefox

There is some great stuff on the site, and will provide hours of good information.

Seeing Google Search Results Already

I am technically out of Google’s sandbox as I am seeing backlinks for my domain name in Google. This is great news because it means that Google now “trusts” my site, so I should start seeing more and more traffic from them over time. You can check your own domain by simply going to this URL: http://www.google.com/search?q=www.yourdomain.com. I’ll be doing some analytics on the amount of search engine traffic over time in order to see how it grows, so that should be interesting. In the meantime, people have searched these keywords in Google and got to this blog…keep in mind this blog was just launched 12 days ago:

  • www.nevblog.com: 8 Visits
  • david pitlyuk: 2 Visits
  • 2007 yellow dodge viper: 2 Visits
  • ted leonsis: 2 Visits
  • nevblog.com: 1 Visits
  • wii stock: 1 Visits
  • rebuilding helicopters: 1 Visits
  • media temple (mt): 1 Visits
  • new ugly lamborghini: 1 Visits
  • lamborghini alar: 1 Visits
  • double din touchscreen for car pc: 1 Visits
  • nintendo wii hard to find march 2007: 1 Visits
  • viper paint code: 1 Visits
  • in dash pc din: 1 Visits
  • 2007 dodge viper silver: 1 Visits
  • virginia’s biggest houses: 1 Visits
  • interspire problem: 1 Visits
  • heli expo 2007: 1 Visits
  • gummi bear chandelier: 1 Visits
  • mansion expensive houses images: 1 Visits
  • wordpress ajax rating: 1 Visits
  • heli-expo rss: 1 Visits
  • lamborghini alar: 1 Visits
  • first day of my blog visitors: 1 Visits
  • still hard to find wii march 2007: 1 Visits
  • picture mansion modern gorgeous: 1 Visits

I will provide more analysis at the beginning of next month, but it’s exciting to see the progression take place so quickly.

Welcome JohnChow.com Readers!

John Chow has chosen my blog as the blog of the month, a new feature he just launched. John and I have very similar interests, as he mentions, if you find his topics interesting, then I think you will find what I have to say interesting as well. Here’s a few quick bullets about me so you can get a quick overview without reading my about page:

  • I started a business when I was 16, and sold it 4 years later
  • I currently own 4 companies
  • I currently work for a large corporate new media company as a day job
  • I have a passion for cars, technology, business, entrepreneurship, management, design, and investing

If you want to know more about me, stick around and read some of my posts. I put this blog online in order to share information that interests me as well as information that can help you be successful. On top of this, I’m also looking forward to learning more my readers, networking with new people, and having a journal of my life adventures.

John Chow Day – JohnChow.com Review

Today is a new declared holiday at my blog, it’s John Chow day! John Chow is a Dot com Mogul that can teach you to make money online. John is the owner of TheTechZone, a large tech site that he started in 1999. In December of 2005, before blogs got really popular, John started his own personal blog. Over the last 6 months or so, it has turned into so much more than he had expected. It is now generating a ton of traffic, and he even monetized it to the point where last month alone he brought in over $7,000…enough to make a good living on. John vowed to take proceeds from his blog and use them for charity and his daughter’s trust fund. Take a look at how his site has done over the past few months:

John Chow income over 6 months

These are very impressive numbers, but the most interesting part is how he gets there. From first glance you would guess that his site is just generating more traffic, therefore generating more money, right? This is definitely not the case. Although he does generate a good amount of traffic, he has increased income by optimizing ads and diversifying revenue streams. The blog is interesting in this aspect because John goes into detail about how much he is making and how he makes it. He discusses the various changes that he makes and how it affects revenue. If you are running a blog, or even a website, the information John provides is worth a ton. Just remember to not put all your eggs in one basket, and that goes for generating traffic as well as generating revenue.

John has come up with some fairly clever campaigns for generating traffic. One of the most successful is one where he allows site owners to review his blog. But why would a site owner want to do that? John has set it up so that he provides a linkback back to your site with whatever keyword you want as long as you link certain keywords to his site in your review. This is beneficial to both parties because John’s blog is so popular (as of writing this it is ranked #76 on Technorati) that his post linking to your review can drastically help your Technorati and Google ranking, which are key points for growing your own site. It helps John because he gets more linkbacks to his site, further helping his rankings and doing things like making the search for “make money online” on Google display John’s site as the #4 result. In fact, it was a goal of John’s for 2007 to make it into the Technorati top 100, and he made it in March…just a few months in.

John isn’t all business though. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s been into cars, and seeing the Pagani Zonda F in his header will give that away. He is also into food, as he often goes out to fancy dinners and posts about it. One of the most memorable food posts that he has made was his trip to the Lumière restaurant, where the check total came out to be $1,314.37 between 6 people. He also runs various contests (which of course benefit him somehow), the most recent was a partnership with 1234Pens where he is giving away a Nintendo Wii console.

If you run your own blog, I highly recommend keeping up with John’s blog. Either way, check it out, and make your own opinion. If you want to read more about John, check out the interview I did from back in 1999.

Google Gets In The CPA Game

Google AdWords logoToday, Google announced a new advertising format called Pay-per-action. I’ve always referred to this as CPA or cost-per-action.

What Is It?

This is going to be a major deal in online advertising from both the publisher and the advertiser perspective. Google advertising has always worked on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis where the advertiser would pay when a user clicks on their ad. With this new model, the advertiser will only pay when the user does a certain action, like filling out a form or buying something. In this new model, it does not matter how impressions or clicks are generated from the ad, as no payment is due until the action is completed. Some of the actions would be:

  • Leads
  • Signups
  • Site interactions/pageviews
  • Sales (always the same value)
  • Sales (% of sale with many different sale values)

I have signed up to be a beta tester with my automotive site, ActiveTuning, as we currently use AdWords for part of our advertising budget. I haven’t decided how I’ll use it, but as of now I’m thinking that I will be looking for sales as well as leads/site interactions. I’ll use the leads for a scenario where a user will get as far as adding a product to their shopping cart, but may not necessarily go through the entire checkout process. It will definitely be a new world in terms of tweaking and playing around with different formats to see what works the best. Hopefully I am accepted as a beta tester.

Conversions would be tracked by using Google’s conversion tracking.

Making It Work

PPA works, and if optimized correctly can make much more money. An advertiser is willing to pay more for an action rather than a click because they can pre-formulate the ROI (return on investment). For example if I have a product that costs $100 and my cost is $60. I know I have up to $40 to play with before I start losing money on the product sale. Rather than pay $1/click where maybe the ratio of clicks-to-sale end up being $20 and 20 publishers essentially made $1…I’d be more willing to pay $10 to one publisher to generate that same one sale.

The problem is actually making it work. What I mean by that is making an ad that is just asking to be clicked so that as a publisher you can actually provide leads to advertisers that convert. The best way to do this is not by your regular banner ads, but by highly targeted in-content ads. For example if I write a review on a digital camera, a link in the review directly to a vendors product page that sells the camera will more than likely have a high sales conversion rate.

This is where Google’s new ad format called “text-link ads” comes in:

What is the text link format for pay-per-action ads?
Text links are hyperlinked brief text descriptions that take on the characteristics of a publisher’s page. Publishers can place them in line with other text to better blend the ad and promote your product.

For example, you might see the following text link embedded in a publisher’s recommendatory text: “Widgets are fun! I encourage all my friends to

Buy a high-quality widget today.” (Mousing over the link will display “Ads by Google” to identify these as pay-per-action ads).Though the maximum length of a text link is 90 characters, we’ve found that shorter links perform better because they allow the publisher use the link in more places on her/his site and in different context. The maximum length is 90 characters but less than 5 words is best. Even better, just use your brand name to offer maximum flexibility to the publisher.

This new format will really help out in terms of making PPA successful for the advertiser, publisher, and ad network (Google in this case). It will be interested what other ad products come out of all of this.

Thanks to Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch, as his post made me aware of Google’s announcement.

Interview With John Chow From 1999

I was going through some old designs on the Wayback Machine of my old company l that I had sold back in 2002. I happened to find some interesting content, including an interview with one of my favorite bloggers and somebody I’ve known for a long time, John Chow. John Chow is what you would consider a “dot com mogul” (at least according to him :) ). At the time that I had met John, we both owned computer hardware review websites, he is still running his. One of the articles I had written for my site was an interview with John, but it hasn’t been online for a long time. I happened to stumble across it on my computer, and figured there would be a good amount of people, including himself, that would get a kick out of some of the responses (TTZ is John):

SL: Tell us a little bit about yourself (Age, Location, etc.)

TTZ: John Chow. Nick name “Moto”. 34 from Vancouver BC Canada. Born in China, came to Vancouver, Canada with my parents at age 7. Been here ever since. I guess I would be considered a grand dad to most of the young techies. I have a daughter name Ashley who is 8 years old. My background is in finance. I graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology with a degree in Financial Management. Computers are a hobby. Always been interested in them.

SL: What exactly got you started working on The Tech Zone?

TTZ: The Tech Zone started out as Moto’s Project 504. It was a personal home page about the first computer that I built myself. Never dream it would become what it is now. Back then, the whole site was just 6 pages long.

SL: How long do you spend working on your site a week?John Chow

TTZ: I normally spend 2 to 4 hours a day updating it. I use to have to find the news. It’s much better now that most sites send me their news to post. Most of my time is spent testing products and writing articles.

SL: How many people do you have working on the site?

TTZ: No one really “works” for me. The Tech Zone is still run like a personal site. I don’t want to get too commercial with it. Most of the articles and reviews are done by myself. I do have others write for me from time to time. Right now the site is run by me acting as Editor-In-Chief and Kahthan “Kat” Deane will be the new webmaster and CGI guy. Kat also runs SavageXtreme.com and was a webmaster at the Review Zone. I also have people working behind the scene to help make the site run smoothly. Pauline Taylor is the most important. She puts in long hours to help me out with the site. Then there’s Mick?, Mudzy? and Kincaid?. I always seem to be using their computers as guinea pigs. :-) I also have a few Tech Babes who model products for me.

SL: What do you like to review and how often?

TTZ: I would have to say video cards and CPU. Let’s face it, there isn’t much different between one 7200 RPM drive to another.

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