Archive for June, 2008

Create Advertising Opportunities On Carbon Fiber Gear

Carbon Fiber Gear originally started out as an experiment for myself in affiliate marketing. The idea was to highlight carbon fiber parts and products, some that utilized affiliate links, and others that did not. Through the time that I’ve had the site launched, I’ve taken it into a few different directions.

Originally it was just a blog, powered by WordPress, using a free template. I then later launched an eBay store on the blog utilizing the phpBay script. Afterwards I created a custom design, and converted the phpBans script into BANS. Now I’ve hired my first contributing writer, and the site is really starting to progress into its own real brand.

In the past I hadn’t really taken advertising too seriously on the site. I had run some AdSense, and it brought a few dollars here and there. I wanted to start selling some real advertising, so I had to setup a plan.

At first I created a 300×250 spot on the top left sidebar, and wanted to offer it up for $150/month. The spot was to be exclusive, so one advertiser would fill it, and would run on 100% of the impressions for the month. A couple of days ago, I decided to change that 300×250 spot to 2-4 125×125 spots that will cost $25/month each.

This will allow me to sell a variety of spots and not count on just one advertiser. I also will only be accepting month to month contracts as opposed to multi-month contracts at a discounted rate because the site is growing fairly quickly…and $25/month is more like an introductory price to get advertisers in the door.

Once I had everything setup, I wrote up an advertising page with information advertisers would need. All of the advertising is served using Google Ad Manager for tracking and trafficking purposes. Google Ad Manager is fairly complex, but once you understand the system it’s very nice. Shoemoney has praised it as well.

While I don’t expect advertisers to come knocking on the door, I suspect if I actually go out and try to sell the spots I wouldn’t have too much of a problem considering the low cost, amount of traffic, and very targeted carbon fiber niche. I’m still not very driven to work on the advertising at this point in time, but the opportunity is now out there. I suspect this will be a big part of Carbon Fiber Gear in the future, and I will continue to create new opportunities as the demand progresses.

Mansion Hunting In Northern Virginia Part 4

Its been a while since I’ve updated this series, but here’s the latest batch of mansions in Northern Virginia. If you haven’t seen the older articles, take a look at part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

I love the stone wall:

Mansion in northern Virginia

Once you look at the back of the houses, you realize how big it really is:

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Couldn’t get a good shot of this house, but I heard it was owned by some sort of prince:

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

Couldn’t get a good shot, but this was actually one of the biggest houses I found:

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

This is all part of one house, and was one of the most extravagant one I found. The guest house was a big house in tself. This is still being built, and I hear it’s owned by the president of AAA.

Mansion in northern Virginia

Mansion in northern Virginia

This is two different houses, the one on the right is owned by a friend of a friends:

Mansion in northern Virginia

Dining At Rat’s Restaurant

To celebrate my brothers high school graduation this past weekend, a few family and friends went out to eat at Rat’s restaurant in Hamilton, NJ. While the name is not the most appealing thing in the world, Rat’s is actually said to be one of the best restaurants in all of NJ.

The restaurant itself is very unique. When my brother and I arrived, the front desk told us the rest of our party hadn’t been sat yet, they were “walking the grounds.”? Rat’s is located on a 35-acre area that is reminiscent of a European village. The grounds are filled with a variety of sculptures scattered throughout. On a day with good weather, it’s a very nice walk.

Anyone longing for a visit to a historic European village, but without the time or means to get there, may satisfy their craving with a visit to a new restaurant with the unlikely name of Rat’s. Rat’s is among the latest additions at the 35-acre newly redesigned Grounds For Sculpture. Designed to make visitors feel they have stepped into a village reminiscent of French impressionist Claude Monet’s beloved town of Giverny, the village is the culmination of a six-year dream of sculptor J. Seward Johnson Jr.

Here’s a few pictures of the restaurant and the grounds…it reminded me of Disney World when I first drove in:

Rat\'s restaurant

Rat\'s restaurant grounds

Rat\'s restaurant sculptures

Rat’s is known for its extensive wine list. In fact my aunt (who lives in London) ordered a bottle of wine (1990 Chateau Haut Brion) that was normally around $3,000/bottle in England, but around $250 (50% off) at Rat’s. One of the things I really liked was that they had popovers for bread, something I experienced for the first time when dining at BLT Steak in Washington DC. This is by far my favorite type of bread.

Here are some pictures of some of the food we ordered:

Roast leg of lamb with new potatoes, minted pea puree, roast baby Vidalia onions and jus

Roast leg of lamb

Pan roasted Barnegat scallops with wild mushrooms, crispy artichokes, polenta cakes and verjus reduction

Barnegat Scallops

Pairing of free range veal: braised breast and medallion with potato cake, roasted early onion stuffed with mushrooms, creamed spinach and sherry vinegar and foie gras sauce

Free range veal

Griggstown chicken cooked under a brick with sage flavored bread sauce, Spring vegetable ragout and natural jus

Griggstown chicken

Pan roasted halibut with chanterelles, pommes fondant, wilted pea shoots and avgolemono

Pan roasted halibut

Double cut Berkshire pork chop with buttered fava beans, pioppini, creamy farro and strawberry ketchup

Berkshire pork chop

Molten chocolate cake

Cheesecake sundae

Cheescake sundae

I personally had the pork chops and molton chocolate cake, both were excellent. For an interesting dining experience, Rat’s is a great place to go. It’s a very quiet and romantic setting, it would be a perfect place to take a date.

Download Firefox 3 And Be A Part Of Download Day

You may or may not have heard of a little thing going on today, dubbed “Download Day”. The newest version of Firefox was just released today, June 17th, and there is an effort to make it the most downloaded item in one day. An official site is being dedicated to the event, and can be found at SpreadFirefox.com.

Firefox is a great browser, and version 3 only makes it better. One of the biggest improvements, no more memory leak! Among that, there are also more than 15,000 improvements which make Firefox faster, more stable, and smarter. For the amount of time we all spend browsing, little improvements add up to a big difference.

Download Day - English

From a designers perspective, Firefox follows web standards, and makes things much easier for us to get websites we make looking the way we want. While IE8 takes a big leap into helping with this, it still won’t be near as good.

To “pledge” your download, simply head over to SpreadFirefox.com and submit your pledge. So far there are over 1.6 million pledges.

Make sure and upgrade your Firefox version to 3!

A Little Design Love

As you may know, I’ve been pretty busy on a few new designs (This blog, Carbon Fiber Gear, and dpitMedia). All of these designs were custom created from the ground up by yours truly. Many many hours of work is spent on these designs, so it’s always nice to get any sort of recognition for the work. All three sites were just featured on a couple of design showcases:

We Love WP

We Love WP is a showcase site that features the best WordPress powered sites on the net. They recently featured both this blog and Carbon Fiber Gear!

My blogs featured on We Love WP

One Page Love

One Page Love is another showcase site, but specifically features sites that are only one page. dpitMedia was a perfect site to fit that need.

dpitMedia featured on One Page Love

A buddy of mine owns FullSingle, which is the same idea other than the fact that they only feature one site at a time (although you can see the archive of sites)…except he hasn’t added yet :)

What’s The Deal With Mint Crisp M&M’s?

I was watching TV when I happened to see a commercial for limited edition mint crisp M&M’s. It’s apparently a promotion in conjunction with the new Indiana Jones movie. I have to admit, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and I’m a HUGE fan of mint-flavored candy. The commercial worked on me, and I immediately had a craving. I had to go to the store anyway, so I ended up going to Target, Wal Mart, Exxon, and Bloom (grocery store) which were all in the same shopping center…none of them had it there.

Mint crisp M&M\'s

That was about three weeks ago, and every time I’m at a store that would carry M&M’s, I look to see if they have them. No dice. So finally I went over to M&M’s website, and contacted them asking where I could possibly buy these. I get this canned response back:

In response to your email regarding M&M’S MINT CRISP LIMITED EDITION.

Thanks for contacting us about M&M’S MINT CRISP LIMITED EDITION.

Because we are reviewing our marketing strategy, this product is unavailable at this time. Your comments will be shared with our Marketing Staff.

The product cannot be purchased via the Internet nor directly from us.

Have a great day!

Your Friends at Mars Snackfood US

First of all, what kind of response is this? Does Mars have robots working for them?

Second of all, it’s surprising to see such money being wasted. Thousands of dollars spent showing and producing commercials (on top of whatever other marketing was used that I haven’t seen), just to pull the product right at the time when the Indiana Jones movie comes out? While I trust that the marketing dollars backing these billion dollar companies can make better decisions than I can, I’m curious to know the real reasoning (or at least a more detailed explanation) behind why I can’t find these on shelves. Mint crisp M&Ms are still on the website (but then again, I’ve never seen Wildly Cherry either). Next time they should just send me a check for 50% of what they spent on the commercials, and I won’t complain :)

For now I guess I’ll just have to trust the review of one lucky person that was able to get a pack:

I however, Ms. No Like Mint, really enjoyed them.

It was kinda like, eat one, eat another, how about a few at a time, trust me they are quite addictive.

I hope they will be kept on the market after the movie is done. I think they would make a great after dinner candy or just because.

I guess for now my only option is to buy them on eBay, they seem to be going anywhere from $4-$20/bag. Unless Mars is reading this and wants to send me one :)

If you’re a mint fan, and tried them, what did you think? If you happen to see them in a store, post a comment and give the details!

Update: A friend of mine has since found a bag of the good stuff at her local Giant grocery store. She luckily read my post and got me one as well. After trying them, I’m not as impressed as I thought I’d be, but they are pretty good. I’d love to have a non crisp version though.

Ocean City, MD For The Weekend

As I went last year, I’ll be going to Ocean City, MD Thursday-Sunday. A bunch of us always go the first weekend of June, which happens to be when the OC Car Show is. Since it’s a car show weekend, there are always pretty nice cars driving around everywhere you look. Which is perfect since Jason and I will be taking the Vipers down. In fact, as you read this right now, I’m currently in my Viper driving to Ocean City.

I may or may not have access to the internet while down there. If I do, I may update the blog with a couple fun posts, if not…well…we’ll have to wait until next week :)

Announcing dpitMedia

I’ve been wanting to create some sort of umbrella/holding company for a while. The idea is to essentially have one company that is the main company for all of the sites that I do. This is beneficial for tax purposes, and just ease when launching new sites that are making money in similar ways.

Finally, with inspiration from Derek Semmler launching his own similar company (Red Staple Media), I decided to just do it. Low and behold, dpitMedia was launched. I did a pretty simple one-page design for the business that highlights some of the public projects that I have (this blog included). Although the site looks pretty simple, it was a huge pain getting it to look the way I wanted. A huge thanks goes out to these three guys for helping me figure out how to get the code looking the right way in order to work:

  • Mubs from Suffolk Software. Mubs has a ton of really cool web projects. Most recently sites like ShouldRedesign.com which is like a hot or not for websites and MyTimeZoneIs.com which is a cool application that allows you to share what time zone you are in.
  • Tom Lauck from Deseloper.org. I found Tom when he started following me on Twitter. Tom is a designer and developer, and his Deseloper blog has some really great posts if you dig through it.
  • David Blanchet from ClimaxDesigns. You may know David’s work through sites of his such as LogoPond and StandardsReboot. ClimaxDesigns is his web design/development company, and they do some really great work. Check out his site for some examples.

In the near future I’ll be registering dpitMedia as an LLC, and will be doing all of my online business under that name. In the meantime, I’m just glad that I put the effort to create the dpitMedia brand.

Luxautica: The Ultimate Car Club

The economy may be in a fairly bad place right now, but the right people still have money to spend. How about on joining a car club where membership starts around $38,000/year and goes all the way up to $100,000+? Oh, I forgot to mention the $15,000 initiation fee. Today we’ll be profiling Luxautica, the ultimate car club.

What Is It And How Does It Work?

Luxautica is a high-end car club that allows the elite to have access to an arsenal of vehicles from a $184000 Aston Martin DB9, to a $1.7 million Bugatti Veyron. They even have one of seven Maserati MC-12′s ($1.4m) in their fleet.

For a yearly fee, members get access to points, which can be redeemed for a car. Let’s take a look at a sample scenario. Let’s say you get the Silver membership ($38,400), you are given 1,200 points. You could go for a Lamborghini Gallardo, which is 20 points for a weekday, 30 points for a weekend, or 140 points for a week. The cars in this price range should expect to be around this many points. So you could rent a Gallardo for about 2.5 months out of the year. On the other hand, their most expensive car, the Bugatti Veyron, will run you 1,000 points/day.

On top of having access to the cars, you also get a few extras:

  • Access to the private member lounge
  • Private VIP events
  • Concierge services
  • Access to premium tickets to local sporting events
  • Chauffeur services for the Maybach and Rolls Royce cars
  • Exclusive golf excursions
  • Sales and acquisition services for exotic cars

The concept of why somebody would pay such high prices for just renting these sort of cars comes behind the high cost of ownership and the little amount of time these cars are actually driven. Between the cost of maintenance, and depreciation, these cars are very expensive to own. Luxautica lets you get access at potentially a much cheaper per mile cost when you look at the big picture…on top of more selection.

The Fleet Of Cars

Luxautica has a fleet of 20 cars worth over $11 million, but plans on growing it further. They said if they have 100 memberships, they will double the fleet. Here’s what you can currently expect:

Aston Martin DB9 Volante | $183,250

Aston Martion DB9 Volante

Bentley Flying Spur | $170,990

Bentley Flying Spur

Porsche GT3 RS | $124,900

Porsche GT3 RS

Spyker Laviolette | $278,000

Spyker Laviollete

Ferrari F430 | $173,079

Ferrari F430

Ferrari F430 Spider | $201,123

Ferrari F430 Spider

Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 | $313,600

Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

Mercedes SLR | $495,000

Mercedes SLR

Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano | $264,034

Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorona

Ford GT | $139,995

Ford GT

Lamborghini Gallardo | $180,050

Lamborghini Gallardo

Bentley GTC | $193,990

Bentley GTC

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder | $206,000

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

Rolls Royce Phantom | $340,000

Rolls Royce Phantom

Mercedes Maybach 62 | $386,500

Mercedes Maybach 62

Porsche Carrera GT | $484,000

Porsche Carerra GT

Saleen S7 | $555,000

Saleen S7

Ferrari Enzo | $1.1m

Enzo Ferrari

Maserati MC-12 | $1.4m

Maserati MC-12

Bugatti Veyron | $1.7m

Bugatti Veyron

Who’s Behind The Company?

Luxautica was started by Raju Mantena, some of the cars even came from his personal collection. Raju founded a privately held specialty pharmaceutical management firm in 2003, which he sold in 2006. He sold it for almost $200 million, more than enough to start Luxautica.

The Facility

Luxautica is located in a 12,005 square-foot bulding that used to be the Millennia art gallery. Part of that space is a private lounge for members only.

The private lounge is a 4,800 square-foot clubhouse that features high-tech audio/video with 16 plasma screens, a game room that converts into boardroom, a cigar room, a private bar with world-class wine list and cigar collection, and a 1,600 square-foot patio.

If you don’t want to go for the cars, you can have access to the members lounge for $15,000/year. Gerry Mattia, an Orlando chiropracter who has a nondriving membership was interviewed in this article.

??I??ll take them over there, and they see $1.6 million Bugattis, and the club is done so extremely well, it??s very impressive to them. It??s great for me in business circles,?? Mattia said.

The social aspects are a plus, he said.

??It??s similar to a country club, but instead of it being golf and tennis, it??s cars,?? Mattia said. ??You get to meet a lot of other people. Most of these people, obviously, if you join this, are fairly successful. If you want to advance sometimes, that??s the place to be.?

No detail was overlooked, the lighting in the facility, done by Electronic Systems Design, was a $500,000 project on its own. In fact $2 million was spent in renovating the facility for Luxautica.

For us regular people that could only dream about driving these sort of cars, you can at least go look at them for $20/adults and $10/children. Here’s all of the contact info:

Luxautica
4190 Millenia Boulevard
Orlando, Florida 32839
1.877.666.6878
info@luxautica.com