Archive for May, 2007

Get Sponsored…For Shipping

DHL and AEO logosI’ll bet you’ve never heard of the DHL Advancing Micro-Entrepreneurs Award Program. The program, a partnership between DHL and AEO (Association for Enterprise Opportunity) provides microgrants for low to moderate income entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who are awarded a grant receive $1,000 cash on top of discounted DHL shipping services.

The program was started in 2005 by selecting three grantee organizations to select 30 entrepreneurs to be awarded with grants. The program was a huge success, and in 2006, the numbers were doubled. Six grantee organizations in different target communities were chosen to select 60 entrepreneurs to receive microgrants from DHL.

One of the microgrant winners was Derrick Miller of Chameleon Candle, a $29,000/year candle business based out of Miami, FL. The grant raised his profits by 400% because it allowed him to buy and ship in bulk (most of the products come out of Malaysia). This raised his per-candle profit from $1, to $4.

Resourceful Links:

Prediction: The Future Of eCommerce Is Smaller Niche-Specific Sites

My prediction for the future of eCommerce is that we’ll be shopping at more niche-specific sites that concentrate on certain smaller markets. This is bad news for sites like Amazon, which try and sell everything and anything. I think all of it comes down to product experience and knowledge.

In the real world, it’s difficult to have a storefront for lets say a shop that specifically deals with only Honda dirt bikes. In a local market, there is more than likely not anywhere near enough of a market to sustain and keep a business afloat.

From a customer-perspective, I have a Honda CRF230 dirtbike that I need some parts for. I don’t know too much about the bike, and what’s out there. It’s not so easy to just go on Amazon and search for parts, I really don’t know what I need, what’s out there, what’s the best, etc. My local Honda dirt bike shop specializes in my bike, and knows exactly what I need for it. I have a much better experience, and I continue to be a loyal customer to that shop.

Enter eCommerce, where 10 years ago somebody who wanted a storefront to specialize in Honda dirt bikes would not last a month…they can now open up shop, have the entire world be their “local” market, and do so on a much cheaper budget.

This works out great from both a business and a customer level. The business knows the complete ins and outs of the products that they sell. This can better help them sell, market, and up sell their products. A customer can now go to the business and get the answers and solutions they are looking for, and not get bombarded with a billion other products that they could care less about.

When I was first launching ActiveTuning with my business partner, we talked very many times about the type of market we wanted to develop products for. We could have just done parts for any manufacturer, but we really wanted to know as much as we could about specific cars, and use that information to better sell our products. We decided to stick with just parts for Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. Even more sub-classified, we wanted to put an emphasis on some of the cars that were generally neglected by the aftermarket (Ex: Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima) and become the company to deal with for those cars.

We chose our niche, and I feel we’ve definitely been successful in it, and made the right choice to stay so targeted. As time goes, I think we’ll see more and more of the super-niche sites that specialize in something very specific. With that in mind, a company can one-up on me and specialize in just the Nissan Altima for example, but the market may be too narrow. One has to identify how “low-level” they can go and still be successful.

This same concept can also be used for blogging successfully. Pick your niche and stick with it.

Don’t Forget To Check Your Credit Report For Free Once A Year

Credit report logosThe Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the three credit agencies to provide a free copy of your credit report on a yearly basis. The only thing you have to do is ask for it. The three companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) setup an official website where you can grab your report from the three agencies all at once, you can access it at AnnualCreditReport.com.

There are a lot of sites out there offering a free report or your credit score for free…be weary, they may be trying to steal your personal information or they may sell your info to spammers. I highly recommend getting your reports through the linked site, as they are 100% legit.

As an entrepreneur you have to make sure that your credit report is good, and that any mistakes are disputed. You never know when you need to do something like invest in a new business, or take a loan out to expand your own business. You’ll want to ensure that there are no rocky roads when doing so. I just ran my report, and everything looks good this year!

How To Get Rid Of Duplicated Content In WordPress Automatically

John Chow spoke earlier this week about how big a difference it may be to get pages out of Google’s supplemental index. The methodology included adding a ton of stuff to the robots.txt file, blocking crawlers from seeing pages like WordPress’s archives and categories from seeing duplicate content.

There is a much easier/faster way!? There is a new plugin out there called the Duplicate Content Cure for WordPress. It simply automates adding this line to pages which have duplicate content on it:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”>

This one line tells crawlers to skip over that page. ? One of the pages it adds this to is the categories pages…but if you still want that indexed you can do so with just a simple switch to one of the variables in the plugin code. Just change this:

$index_category_pages = false;
to
$index_category_pages = true;

You can do this by clicking “edit” on the plugin.

Installation takes two seconds, simply upload to your plugins folder and activate the plugin.

New Design Beta – What Are Your Thoughts?

Earlier this week I mentioned that I would be working on a custom design for this blog. I’ve already begun working on it, and wanted to see what you guys think about it. This way any major refinements can be made as early as possible in the process.

I started the design off with a simple sketch to get an idea of how I was going to lay everything out:

DavePit.com design beta sketch

After that I started working in Photoshop and getting a good idea of how I wanted things to look. I’ve gotten far enough that it’s close to the point where coding will begin. Here’s what I’ve got:

DavePit.com design beta

The footer will definitely be re-worked, so don’t mind that. I will also have a slightly different setup on a single post page. What are your thoughts overall though? I got a few pointers from Ryan Christensen and Brandon Hopkins as they got a sneak peak…Their main suggestions were using more gradients and some work regarding the author picture. I will definitely keep their thoughts in mind, and something I’ll definitely play around with when I have a coded version.

I would really appreciate any feedback!

I may or may not be posting until Tuesday due to the holiday, so I hope everybody has a great Labor Day weekend!

Update: I’m playing around with trying to code the site myself (or most of it). See my updates here.

 

My Home Office…And Tagging You For Yours

Update: I also made a video of my home office, make sure to check that out.

Joshua Dorkin (TimeForBlogging.com) made a post showing his home office, and asked other bloggers to show theirs. I’ve actually had a post idea similar to this in my drafts folder since the first couple weeks of starting the blog, but hadn’t gotten a chance to do it yet. Now felt like a good time.

Below you’ll find pictures of my home office setup. I’m calling out a few of you bloggers to show yours too! Here’s what I’ll do. Make a post on your blog showing your home office, and link to this post. I’ll have a running list of blogger offices (at the bottom of this post) and link to your post. To start off I’m calling out these guys specifically, but if you’re not on the list feel free to still do this:

  1. John Chow
  2. Brandon Hopkins
  3. Darren Rowse
  4. Ryan Christensen
  5. Martin Reed

Here is my home office area…If you see the black box next to the blue box over the printer, that’s my computer. I’m using a Shuttle XPC which comes in a very small but powerful package:

Picture of my home office

A better picture of my desk, the other one is my roommates:

Picture of my home office

Here’s a closer look at my setup. I have two Dell 20.1″ widescreen monitors running in dual monitor mode (once you go dual, you never go back). I have a Dell laptop that I use anytime I’m traveling.

Picture of my home office

Here is the other side of the room with my roommates setup. The Camaro pictures you see on the wall are that of my his old car before he bought a Dodge Viper.

Picture of my home office

Here’s some shelf space on the back wall. The big red thing is the hard top from my Dodge Viper. Between the two Vipers, two dirt bikes, and two motorcycles in my garage, there is no room for the Viper roof!

Picture of my home office

At one point instead of the dinky TV you see in the pictures between the desks, I had an LG 37″ LCD TV, but I decided to hang it on the wall in my room instead :) This is what it looked like:

Picture of my home office

Other Blogger Offices

Here’s a running list of other blogger offices. Link to this post with a post of your office, and I’ll add you to the list.

Feedburner Gets Picked Up By Google For $100 Million

Feedburner LogoA big congratulations to the folks at Feedburner, as it has been confirmed that Google is scooping them up for $100 million. I think I could say this for most bloggers, but FeedBurner has actually been a service that we all like and enjoy using. FeedBurner has been the saving grace for RSS feeds, allowing site owners to better track, implement, and promote their site and RSS feeds.

So what changes can we expect with this new Google tool? Hopefully nothing too drastic! It sounds like most people are expecting them to implement AdSense into RSS feeds, I’d say that’s a fair assumption. I think this would be great, as long it’s not overbearing. It would allow sites who have a large chunk of visitors that view the site via RSS to make more money if their feeds aren’t monetized as efficiently as possible.

This will be something that I’ll definitely be watching closer for updates.

Update: An interesting fact to note…FeedBurner has 422,717 publishers signed up for its service. This means Google is paying about $237/publisher. That’s not too shabby, and I have a feeling they will be making much more overall per publisher. Should be a great ROI in my opinion.

Links Of Interest 5/22/07

Here are some interesting links that have caught my eye recently. I find them normally through either my feeds that I am subscribed to, or if you post comments on my blog I may find things on your site.

How to Use MyBlogLog to Successfully Build Massive Blog or Website Traffic
Josh talks about using MyBlogLog to better promote your own blog or website. He takes you through all steps from setting up your account to doing actual promotion. Feel free to check out my own MyBlogLog profile, and don’t hesitate to add me.

CSS Float Theory: Things You Should Know
I absolutely hate dealing with floats in CSS when I’m doing any sort of designing. SmashingMagazine compiles a long list of resources for things you should know…a must read for any designer.

Write a Better Blog Series In One Sitting
I have written a couple of blog series like Mansion Hunting post and my top designs for corporate technology companies post. Both of these series have yet to be completed, but I’m sure they would have, had I just done the entire thing in one sitting and set them to post with a timestamp. Glen from LifeDev guest blogs on ProBlogger discussing the very subject of writing a series at one time.

Organic links and how to get them
We all know that getting organic links is one of the most important factors for growing your site/blog and maintaining the traffic. Al from Self Made Minds makes a great post discussing some of the steps you can do to generate more for yourself.

Why I avoid blog link exchanges
Martin and I are both in agreeance that one should not accept the majority of link exchanges that you get asked to do.

WonderPizza – Pizza Vending Machine
It’s not everyday that you see a vending machine that makes pizzas! Do you think this business model can survive?

Letting go (of feeds)
I need to follow the same route! Ryan quickly talks about how RSS feeds can get out of control!

Make Money Online with Prosper
Brandon goes in-depth and explains how you can make 10+% interest using Prosper to invest your money. I’ve been a member of Prosper for a long time now, but haven’t invested any money. I plan on giving it another look sometime in the near future.

If you’re interested in having your post featured, be an active part of my blog and stay on my radar.

In The Beginning Stages Of A Custom Redesign

I’ve made the decision to do a custom design for my personal blog. This is instead of using a modified template that’s out there for anybody to use. I’ve started to sketch out some of the ideas I’ve been thinking about, and have begun laying the beginnings out in Photoshop. I should have a Photoshop prototype in the near future that I’ll share with you guys before getting into the gritty coding (which I don’t want to do!).

Hopefully you guys will give me some good feedback so I better the design before actually finalizing it.

Why Do A Custom Design?

There are two main reasons for me to make a custom design from scratch:

  1. Branding. I love branding. I love to take a brand and tie all of its marketing aspects into one identifiable project. I love when people want to wear apparel promoting and representing your brand. Having a customized design differentiates you from all of the other sites that are using templates that many others are using. By having a clean, professional look, you can also give the perception that your blog is a lot bigger than it really is. This can help generate more readers, on top of signing up new/more advertisers.
  2. Promotion. One of my businesses, Tri Megatech, offers web design as one of our core services. I will promote the new design of our blog as a Tri Megatech design, and this will hopefully bring new clients our way (as long as the design looks good and has a good UI)

I’m worried about doing some of the integration into WordPress, as I don’t know WordPress code, and never really played around with it (nor am I a programmer by any means). I hope to be able to utilize other templates to see how they pull in data in order to develop the design for my blog. I may even outsource the coding aspect of the design to somebody else (any references/recommendations?).

Trying Out The Beginner’s Guide To SEO

I’ve decided that I really need to learn more about SEO in general. I’d say that I have a lot of general knowledge, but not much in hard facts. Time to step up, and really try to increase my knowledge in the field, and more importantly utilize what I learn to my advantage.

Other than continuing to read posts from other blogs about it, I’m starting off from the beginning by reading SEOmoz’s “Beginner’s Guide To Search Engine Optimization“. There is also a lot to learn just based on this guide that explains where Google weighs its factors for search ranking. You can see what can cause a negative effect, or where to put the most effort for the best results.

I’ll let you know my thoughts once I finish reading the guide. In the meantime, if you have any book or link recommendations for things that have drastically helped you, please share.