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1. Move back in with parents
2. Get a job at burger king
Now, you might be thinking to yourself that, while not particularly appealing, niether of these options is really all that terrible. And you would be wrong. I won't go into why this is the case at this point, but for now it should suffice to say that I would rather sell my body to complete strangers. And before anyone tells me to just go ahead and do that, I'm far too ugly to make anywhere even close to $100 a day, so don't bother.
Believe it or not, the mere thought of either of these things is enough to get the hair on the back of my neck to stand up on end, and as the complete financial meltdown gets closer, my psychological state is deteriorating ever more rapidly. Whilst only a few days ago I could push the thoughts of impending doom to the back of my mind, now I wake up with cold sweats on a regular basis. Yesterday my girlfriend told me I started hysterically screaming 'do you want fries with that?' and 'you can upsize that for 70 cents' at random intervals throughout the night.
To save my sanity and avoid emotional castration, I had to come up with a plan. Unfortunately, as well as being lazy, I'm also not the sharpest tool in the shed, so my plan is really not all that good. Basically, it goes something like this:
Step 1: Start up a website
Step 2: Find a related affiliate/advertising partner
Step 3: Get hits and sell stuff
Step 4: Bring in $100/day on a regular basis within 3 months time.
Step 5: Avoid asylum
So yeah.. that's, uh, pretty much the master plan...
Now I assume at this stage most of you are either shaking your head or laughing at me (or a combination of the two).
You're perfectly justified in doing so, but I'm still going to try. Although the odds are stacked against me, I do have a few factors working in my favour.
First, I've got lots of time on my hands. Theoretically, I could work 8-10 hours a day for the next 3 months on this.
Second, I've got reasonable web design skills. While I don't have any official qualifications, I'm decent at HTML and Photoshop, so I can at least create semi-professional looking sites.
Third, I've got about $400 that I can use as a marketing budget - pretty much what's left of my savings after I budget for 3 months of rent, food & misc. expenses.
Fourth, I have a basic understanding of affiliate marketing and SEO, since I occasionally read WW when I see something interesting.
And finally, I really, really, really don't want to move back home or work at burger king.
Now the purpose of this thread is to doccument my quest. Every day I will post a status report that details what I have done as well as how much money I have brought in. I'll also write a breif reflection on anything I've learned, and probably rant on about various unrelated things as my emotional state continues to deteriorate.
I hope you come along for the ride and whether I succeed or fail I'm sure it will be quite entertaining and I hope that you'll leave me a little tip, some encouragement or a scrap of advice once in a while.
Day 1 of 90 starts tomorrow - I hope to see you then.
hehe...thats what makes it interesting....we all need a break from the online business and this thread just proved to me that everyone LOVES giving advice!
I personally wish it was okay for Jleane to post more often. I find it interesting to hear about Jleane's saga and everyone else's experiences and advice.
Plus, having kids not move back home after going to college is a subject near and dear to my heart from a different perspective. :)
[edited by: Jane_Doe at 5:43 am (utc) on Mar. 11, 2008]
Jleane was asked to post fortnightly, as he already told you above - therefore an update isn't due yet.
Yes, I can read. That doesn't change the fact that the entire thread has lost it's purpose. February 28 was the last "fortnightly" update, so we aren't due for several more days. That means there will be more "chit chat" that was dicouraged above. What else is there to talk about? So, I agree with Moderator eljefe3 that the thread has run it's course :)
$100/day in 3 months. If you achieve this, I'll quit my job. Seriously. Actually, I won't... $36,500 wouldn't be worth it, but I will look into taking my side projects a little more serious. I have a bunch of GREAT website ideas, but not the time.
For you, the hardest part here isn't content, it's traffic and in 3 months that is generally a tough thing to do.
That's not the only time either, but it's mistakes like that can really put some bumps in the road starting off.
submission to Google generally takes a few months
If you mean getting serious traffic in a competitive area, I'm sure you're right. I don't know anything about that. But as for simply getting indexed and added to the "search list" (haven't heard that term before), I don't think that's true. In fact, I've learned not to put up "beta" versions for any time at all because I usually have a trickle of visitors from Google within a couple of days even without a single inbound link.
forgot to mention ignorant.
I would say dramatic with minor inconsistencies meaning that the "90 days and $400 or disaster" is a story-telling device and one should try to stay within the storyline. The device is meant to add drama, and judging by the response, it has. When is the last time a thread in this forum went to six pages?
But obviously, everyone knows that taking a job or moving in with the parents are not true disasters. If they were, he would be doing something other than this experiment (all evidence is that he is not stupid). Saying he's ignorant because he registered for two years is a little like picking out inconsistencies in a time-travel movie. It doesn't totally fit the story line, but it doesn't make him stupid. I think it's a great thread, though if it were mine, I would have subtitled it "Based on true story."
Like most people here, I applaud jleane for his storytelling. Good on him. And unlike most people here, I don't necessarily encourage him to run off and become a freelance writer unless he also has journalism skills, which he hasn't demonstrated. Being clever and a good, even great, fiction writer generally leads to poverty in 99% of the cases.
submission to Google generally takes a few months
This is not accurate. I have seen pages indexed within a day or two. Once a link to the page is found, or a sitemap is uploaded, the page can be spidered/indexed rather quickly. Ranking, on the otherhand, is a different story. Ok, a little off topic, but it may be important information for anyone starting a website.
Of course, a keyword like "credit card" is slightly more competitive. It should only take 75-90 years to rank #1 for that term.
Granted, there are only 254 results... a keyword like "credit card"
Okay, I was going to mention this in my previous post, but didn't know if there was interest. I don't think you have to go that far down the food chain to see the same phenonenon.
So here's an example from a relatively long-tail middle ground (592,000 results)
* two-page site (how much link-worthy content could there be?)
* zero inbound links (how could Google find it? Wait did Google become a registrar?).
* domain was not even parked and had been sending a "server not found" response for the last two years (why would Google bother regularly revisiting a domain that keeps saying "I'm not here"?)
As near as I can tell, the site does have three things going for it
* reasonably obscure topics. No PPP, mortgage or whatever, but the dominant phrase in question results in 592,000 results, though that term only amounts to 20% of the actual traffic to the busiest page.
* one of the three best page on the subject (IMHO) for the one that gets 90% of the traffic. Surprising number of people dropping a line saying "thank you thank you thank you for solving my problem".
* and no doubt the biggie: runs Google Analytics.
By the second day after putting up a default install of wordpress (no plugins, nothing) and adding two articles I started getting about 10 visitors per day from Google, 90% to one of the articles, 10% to the other.
Obviously, that's a not some huge money earner and I'm not going to pay a mortgage on it, but we're also not talking about terms with 254 results just saying that getting in the index is dead easy. Though long tail, these are not absolutely worthless search terms - if I take the main thing people search for and plug it into the Google Traffic Estimator, it tells me that using PPC I would pay an average of $1.19/click and get 1000 clicks/day at that rate).
First of all, a big thanks again to those of you who took the time to post in this thread, particularly if it wasn't simply to tell me I was destined to fail.
The last couple of weeks have been fairly eventful.
The bad news first: My laptop finally died a week ago. It was a long time coming, but one can never fully prepare for a cataclysm of such epic proportions. Fortunately I had most of my important data backed up, but it has been a real inconvenience and I've been in and out of noisy internet cafes for the past 7 days.
I have to confess, I've been slacking off a fair bit lately - falling back into my lazy ways and messing around with my mates and girlfriend when I should have been working. I'm actually a little ashamed of my lack of discipline, to tell you the truth. My traffic has definitely suffered.
As I predicted, it peaked at around 700 uniques on the 4th March, and fell quite sharply thereafter. I was, however, able to keep it at around 200 uniques for the next four or five days. Since my laptop died and I started slacking off, however, my numbers have fallen to between 50 and 100 / day, and are definitely on a downwards trend.
I need to spend the next couple of weeks writing several quality pieces per day or I'm toast. One a day will go to my own site, the others will be entered into popular personal finance blog carnivals and (hopefully) taken as guest posts on other high traffic blogs. I'll also need to ramp up promotion of my site by posting intelligent comments on a number of relevant forums.
In addition, I've received advice from a number of WW veterans on my blog's formatting - my font size is too small and too compact, and my article layout is suited more to a magazine or newspaper than to the internet. At first this seemed trivial, but the more I think about it, the more important I realize it is. We generally don't read on the internet, we skim until we find something interesting. I'm therefore going to attempt to make my articles more 'skim-friendly' without sacrificing any quality.
As far as monetization goes - still a big fat zero because I haven't put up any ads yet. Having said that, earlier today I finally applied for some affiliate programs and am happy to report my site was accepted. I was a little concerned that I might get turned down because some of my articles are hardly flattering to credit cards, but luckily my apprehension was unfounded. I'll probably try putting up some affiliate links tomorrow just to test the waters. I also still need to get Adsense up and running, if only to gauge which kinds of articles convert the best.
On the bright side, my PF Bloggers network is really taking off. The forums are getting a lot of action and nearly have 250 posts already. It's also been getting a lot of attention from GoogleBot, and is ranking on the front page for 'PF Bloggers' already!
By the way, my main blog has been indexed by Google and is starting to get a tiny trickle of traffic, albeit for obscure and often unrelated keywords.
A lot of people on WW can relate to this thread.
It's a good thing that you were able to slack off and then get back on track, with that kind of attitude there is no reason why you cannot reach that goal.
If it's not in 3 months then may be in 4 or 5 :)
Just remember that you can only fail when you give up
I'm 5'7" tall, going on 45 and want to play in the NBA. So are you saying that I can make it as long as I don't give up?
I know you're trying to be motivating and that's nice and all, and I'm sorry to make light of your comment, but I find this piece of advice, glibly handed out so often on WebmasterWorld, to be slightly dangerous. Sometimes you need to recognize that sunk costs are not retrievable, that beating your head against the wall one more time is not going to get rid of your headache, and move on.
See Seth Godin, The Dip, for a recent take on this. For me, as a mountaineer, I learned very young that sometimes the most intelligent thing you can do is give up. We have a saying: "Making it to the summit is optional. Making it back to basecamp is not." Think about it. The people who die in the Himalaya, in many cases, die because they don't recognize when to give up. In my opinion, dieing is failure. Many business go into bankruptcy and ruin the lives of their owners for similar reasons.
So often people fail just short of success because they give up. So often, though, people fail because, long past the point of possible success, they refuse to give up. Telling the difference between the one and the other is one of the more difficult things in life.
I understand and appreciate the generous spirit in which you (and many others) make that comment and don't want to sound all negative (I'm fundamentally an optimist I would say), but people need to ask themselves whether or not "keeping going" is always the good strategy because "winners never quit".
Had things fizzled out, then arguably I would have lost some time, but I hazarded that any experience gained would mean that the time had been usefully spent, even if the project failed to go anywhere.
Could I have lost money? No, because one of the key points of my business plan - the top one, in fact - was:
1. Do not invest any money in this project unless you are 110% sure that it will generate a return higher than the amount invested. If you're only 100% sure, then forget it.
I think most people here would call that excessively cautious, but I wasn't in a position where I could afford to lose anything and my business plan had to reflect that.
In a context where you can't lose anything, the worst you can do by investing time and effort is come out a little more knowledgable and experienced than you were when you started out. That's the worst possible outcome. In such a context, I'd largely go along with ildarius' idea: you can only fail when you give up.
I agree with you that once you commit to sunk costs you must take on a different perspective and recognise that pulling out is sometimes a better option than blindly pressing forward.
And I didn't want to give a pat answer either or pretend that I'm personally good at knowing where to draw the line - I truly meant it when I said that figuring out if/when to quit at anything is really tough.
Businesses, marriages, degrees - people fail at all of these by giving up too early. But I bet everyone knows someone who should have gotten out of a bad marriage earlier. I know of people who spent over 20 years in grad school and had completely outdated and useless 3,000 page theses when they were done, which is a tragic waste of 20 years of evenings and weekends that could have been spent with family. Sunk costs can be other than money.
Three months out of the life of someone in his early twenties is nothing, so it totally makes sense for jleane... but it saddens me a bit that this seems to be the default advice that gets tossed out. In the meantime, I'm shopping for some new basketball shoes. I think that might make the difference for me.