Lost and Confused

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Vaelor, Jan 6, 2005.

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  1. Vaelor

    Vaelor New Member

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    111
    I have to say I disagree (for the first time so far, it seems) with zkiller on this one... me, I have several site concepts, some are sites I would run for "fun" - ie. more for my casual enjoyment than as a serious profit generating endeavour, and others that are strictly business. For example, for a while I ran a bulk email business, even though I am an absolutely avid spam hater and can't stand marketing, because it was highly profitable for me to do so at the time. If I can profit from my "relaxed" sites, or enjoy myself running the "business" sites, then great, but that's a bonus for me, not a prerequisite.

    As for "hang in there", I'm more at "hang myself" now. I started my business in 1998 people - that's coming up to SEVEN YEARS of "hanging in there" and "waiting for my big break". I'm quite about ready to give my PC to the Salvation Army and take up mowing lawns for a living. I don't need any more moral support, what I need is a kick in the direction of the pot of gold that has to be out there somewhere!

    (And by that, I don't mean to imply that I've spent seven years looking for a get rich quick scheme, although I've trailed my toes in a few share of those along the way too! I'm ready and willing to work for my dough, I just don't know HOW!)

    Ian, your advice is solid, but it steps straight over my first basic hurdle - what kind of site will make me money, and what can I do to get it started?? Since 1998 my company has dabbled in everything from hardware tech support, to web hosting, to web design, to affiliate programs, to MLMs, to the leads industry and bulk email marketing, and pretty much everything in between. And you know what? I've made maybe five grand tops in those seven years - and that's total income, not net profit. I don't want to THINK about what I've spent in that time...

    At the moment, I just want to find somebody who can help me finish setting up my miserable server so I can at least get one or two of my "relaxed" sites back online... at least then I can get my name back into the search engines, get a little traffic up, maybe work in some Google AdWords and a couple of affiliate programs and draw in at least SOME money while I'm trying to work out how the hell to actually make a living on the internet!! =(
     
  2. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    "Since 1998 my company has dabbled in everything from hardware tech support, to web hosting, to web design, to affiliate programs, to MLMs, to the leads industry and bulk email marketing, and pretty much everything in between."

    Essentially, I can see your problems just from this. Every market you have tried is glutted to the point of bursting. When competition is fierce, you aren't going to make much money the first year, sometimes not until the 3rd year will you start seeing anything so basically you do have to just hang in there... concentrate on one or two of them at a time, build them up, and hope that what you are doing will eventually put you in the top ten.

    While everybody who is doing their own website work needs a good webmaster forum in their bookmarks, you need to hang around sites where your type of business is discussed frequently. There's a site called ryze.com which is business networking as well as others of the same type... they aren't good for some types of business but work well for other types... There are all kinds of networks there for anything from technical skills to selling Avon.

    Another one, although it's geared toward work at home moms is http://www.mom101.com The first owner of this site built a small bit of business from it, then sold it. I don't know the new owner but the site seems to still be doing very well, under its new management. Not all the people around there aren't moms nor even all female so it might be worth your while to spend some time there, picking up tips and advice in the forum and reading some of the articles on the main site.

    If any one of the businesses you set up is taking more time than you are receiving in reward (monetary or otherwise), you can either kill it or put it on the back burner and concentrate on one that is giving you back as much or more than you are putting into it. The first rule of making a successful business is enjoy what you do, rather than make loads of money in a short amount of time.

    Our first year of business we didn't break even, the second year we made a couple hundred, third year I don't know the exact amount yet but we've more than doubled what we did last year. We planned for this in our business plan so we are where we expected to be, if not a little ahead of schedule. We entered a very saturated market and knew it would be uphill going. But we have worked from a solid foundation and that is paying off over time.

    reason for edit: typo although I probably missed half a dozen others.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2005
  3. zkiller

    zkiller Super Moderator Staff Member

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    very good post, stephanie.

    i would just like to add one thing to the above, you say you hate marketing, yet marketing is the key to any successfull internet business. on the internet, the phrase "build it and they will come" does not apply. it doesn't even matter how great or innovative your idea is, if you don't market it well, it won't sell.
     
  4. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    Thanks, z and i totally agree with your addition, too... there are different types of marketing which produce different results.. if one type doesn't suit, try another but be prepared by understanding that some types will take you a long time to build a business into what you want it to be versus some others that can give you a viable income in a short amount of time.
     
  5. ian

    ian Administrator Staff Member

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    Money can be made in all of those fields if you work hard and stick to it, dont know about bulk email marketing though. But you know if you know making money is not all that easy to do on the internet, well it is not as easy as it used to be. It takes hard work. What is your main site about? Fifthdimensioncomputing.com looks like just a parking page with a redirect to a gaming affilate page. You have to actually get something up, have lots of content pages, get those pages indexed in search engines, and as you work on things, you will learn what does and what doesnt work. I am learning every day, especially from all the problems I encounter and there have been quite a few lately.
    And like zkiller said, marketing is very very important.
     
  6. Vaelor

    Vaelor New Member

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    111
    You're not kidding there! That was the most useful, helpful reply I have ever received on this topic! Thanks Stephanie!

    I said I hated marketing, I didn't say I couldn't/wouldn't do it, or wasn't good at it. =) I'm only hating marketing right now because of being directly in the marketing business (ie. not marketing my own products/services, but actually running a marketing business promoting other people's crap) for the last year or so, and I'm sick to death of it. I'm good at it - I just don't want to do that for a living forever. I can quite happily and successfully market my own projects, though.

    This leads me to problem #1: What industry/area/niche is NOT already glutted to bursting? I need a fresh idea, or at least an idea of an area that still has room for improvement. I can't just be another one of a billion fish in the sea - I'll never have the resources, the intuition, the money, or even the patience, to actually stand out from the crowd in any of these industries. Frankly Stephanie, I'm amazed and impressed that you're still making a buck in web hosting - possibly the most oversaturated IT area there is!

    As for the "hang in there" aspect, I can't afford to spend three years on a project that I don't know is going to make something eventually. If I was working on a project that I had a fairly solid guarantee would eventually turn enough of an income to live comfortably off, then yeah, I'd slog it out in the trenches for as long as it took. But I can't waste three years only to find out something doesn't work, only to try something else and spend three years on that instead, and so on!

    zkiller said the same thing earlier, and even though I know the old adage "If enough different people tell you the same thing, it's probably true!", I still have to disagree. I don't enjoy work - any sort of work - and I never will. That doesn't mean I'm not good at it, or dedicated to it, or able to make it profitable though. There are types of sites that I could happily run for fun without expecting a profit, and other types of sites with which the only enjoyment would BE the profit. This is not a perfect world - we will not get paid to only do things we enjoy. Sometimes you just have to do something you hate to benefit in the long run.

    My first year of business I ran at a loss, my second year I ran at a loss, my third year I ran at a loss. And so on. Last year was the first year I made any money over a hundred bucks at all, and that was barely enough to pay a few months rent in advance and keep my creditors off my back. And not even close to break even how much I'd put into it since the beginning. And this year is turning out to be another catastrophic nothing.

    FifthDimensionComputing.com is just a redirect page at the moment - it's supposed to be a portal page and central corporate site advertising my various other projects. Unfortunately, I don't have the skills to set it up the way it's supposed to be, nor the capital to hire a designer for it. Hence it's just the company logo and a redirect to the only active site I have left currently.

    Look at www.vaelorskeep.com, www.undiscoveredlore.com, www.socialdeviancy.com, and so on. See a recurring pattern? Every site is "Coming soon!", and a link to that stupid gaming page (an affiliate program). It's all part of the curse, you see. I need to make some money online. To make money online, I need to get some websites online. To get these sites online, I need to either hire somebody to do the things I can't do at this stage (as mentioned in my other posts in the Requests board earlier), or learn to do them. To hire somebody, or study, I need money. To get money, I need sites online. This is the mantra that keeps me awake at night...

    So here's the big picture:-

    Problem #1: (As stated above) What kind of site would be unique, or at least new/fresh enough, to have an edge and not just be the newest bottom rung in an industry that already has literally thousands if not tens of thousands of competing sites/companies?

    Problem #2: Once I have an idea, how can I implement it, without the skills to set it up correctly entirely myself, or the money to outsource what I can't do myself?

    Problem #3: How do I get traffic to that site? (This is the LEAST of my concerns - as I mentioned, marketing I can do, and I can brush up on SEO techniques and other promotional methods just by keeping active forums like these.)

    I'd just like to make one dollar online. Just one. And then have a sure means to reinvest that dollar and make two dollars out of it. You know the dream. Where I am now, you could drop a turnkey million dollar "eBusiness" in my lap and say, "There you go! Just transfer this domain to your ownership, put this site on your server and activate it, and the money will roll in!", and I'll be stuck not being able to afford the domain transfer fee, and my server will still be riddled with functionality holes which will prevent me from having the site working.

    I'm so tired of it all..... =~(
     
  7. [tab]

    [tab] Opera/Firefox on Debian Staff Member

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    Totally off topic... but I'm glad you finally made it to WDF Moondancer :)
     
  8. ian

    ian Administrator Staff Member

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    2,153
    I never tire of it. By the way google adsense is a really good system. It is definitely worth checking out if you havent already done so, but to get accepted, you will need to get at least one content site up and running.
    A lot of the stuff you said towards the end is very negative, you know it can take over a year before a site can start to show some good encouraging results.
    One of my sites computerforum.com does reasonably well, as does my domain registration site and a few others. But for the most part, I am still just building a foundation stone for something bigger and better. Even if the sites didnt generate a profit, I would still continue to work on them with the end goal in site.
     
  9. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    1,017
    Thanks, [tab]. I found it by accident... followed a link that took me to another site that had a link for here. I'm glad I found it, too.. have missed y'all.

    They did put up some of the webmastery forums on dnforum as promised. I got grandfathered in to dnforum with a platinum membership, so I'm glad they put up something where I can contribute a little bit. There's just not that much I can say about the domain name game.
     
  10. ian

    ian Administrator Staff Member

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    2,153
    does that mean my thousands of posts have dissappeared off the face of the planet?
     
  11. Vaelor

    Vaelor New Member

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    Have you spent seven years in the game with not a single penny to show for it? =)

    {nods} Will be one of the first things I do once I get at least one of my sites up, you can be sure of it!

    I was allowing a little of my desperation to seep into my written tone to convey some of the sheer despondent frustration I'm feeling with whole situation at the moment. I was drawn into describing my situation on WMF a few weeks before they killed it - this is how I came to meet Stephanie, and hence be invited here, actually - and the best I got from there were a number of heartfelt "Hang in there big guy!"'s.

    Believe me, if I were to truly let it go and just rant on an emotional tangent about how things are, it would be considerable more negative that what you saw there! But I've learnt that people tend to ignore the more "Oh, woe is me!" posts, or just reply with their best wishes and no actual advice/assistance, than if I try to remain unemotional in my descriptions. Still, my previous post should give you some perspective on how utterly frustrating and pointless it all seems to me right now...

    I too have a long term goal in mind, a personal pet project that everything else I do before then is simply preparation for. But the days in which I feel like I'm just never going to get there at all are becoming increasingly more frequent with each passing year of having nothing to show for my efforts.

    If [tab] can help me repair a couple of the problems on my webserver, as he's mentioned he might be able to take a look at, that would be one huge step in the right direction. At least that way I could start getting SOMETHING up on the web, get listed in the engines again, and so on. But still, a couple of bucks a year from Google AdWords and some affiliate links aren't going to cover my domain renewals and hosting fees, let alone get me any closer to my goal. I need a project that will actually make some money.

    I've got nothing but time and motivation, but I've got an endless supply of both. I just need to get my foot in the door somewhere...
     
  12. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    1,017
    Although generally frowned upon in the business world, you can still make a little something doing it... Why not set up a few of those businesses with free web accounts? You know, the services that give away space in exchange for advertising banners on your site?

    I know your problems and the lack of cash... sometimes you have to compromise just to get the start you need before you sweat too much over the the stuff you want. Wants and needs don't always match. At least you can possibly make your dollar to invest in something that will make twice as much later, or even more.
     
  13. Vaelor

    Vaelor New Member

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    111
    I believe they scrapped the previous site in its entirety. I found out the hard way when I wanted to add another post to a previous thread of mine, so I clicked the link on the email notification that I still had in my Inbox, only to be taken to a thread I'd never seen before.

    Tried another thread, and got a "Restricted Access" message. So I logged into my CP and viewed all subscriptions, and it said I didn't have any at all. Only then did I go back and look at the main forum index, only to see that the entire forum as I knew it was gone, and it was DNForum there instead, which I'd signed up to previously but never used/had interest in. Very annoying.

    At first I just thought they'd just bought your domain and redirected it to their forum, until I emailed Stephanie, and she invited me here where I heard the whole story...
     
  14. Vaelor

    Vaelor New Member

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    111
    You mean like another GeoCities/Angelfire/etc? Okay, it's the first suggestion anybody's offered so far, let me consider it...

    1) How would I get the infrastructure in place? The built-in WYSIWYG editor, the file manager, the accounts system, etc.

    2) Where would I host this? I'd need some sort of feature to lock individual user account at a certain bandwidth level, I'd assume, to make sure that the amount of bandwidth a user takes up is proportional to the adspace I'm getting out of them. If one of my users happened to put a large MPEG on their site and got a million hits as it spread the web, I'd be several hundred thousand dollars in debt to my bandwidth provider, with little to show for it comparitively from the affiliate program links.

    3) In today's world where banner blockers, pop-up/pop-under blockers, and other similar ad-killing technology are built right into the browser, in addition to being a booming freeware/shareware industry in its own right, what methods of advertising could I successfully use on the users pages?

    I own the domain FileHoard.com, I toyed with the idea some time ago of setting up a hosting business purely for file hosting, rather than website hosting - kind of like a PhotoBucket or similar sites, but for all file formats, where users prepay an account and then can share their files as much as they like until the funds run out and they need to recredit. But again, no way to build such a site with my current skills and no money to outsource the programming work.

    Well, I'll compromise on pretty much anything I can to get myself out of this rut. As I mentioned earlier, I ran a bulk emailing company for a while, legal and legit, but in a very shady industry, and I'm an avid spam hater. I wouldn't swear on my life that every person I emailed requested the information, since I bought the list from another provider, but I sent the marketing campaigns anyway because it put bread on the table.

    At my present state, I own a decent PC, a cell phone, a virtual webserver, and 24 domains. I have little else to my name - I rent a boxy little apartment in a bad neighborhood, I don't own a car, I've had to quit drinking, smoking, socialising, just to make ends meet financially. I can't think of much else that aren't physical neccesities that I could compromise on to get things happening here. I'd quit eating if I could use the money to hire a web programmer, but I wouldn't last long enough to enjoy the rewards if I did that! =)

    Remember, the problem is twofold - I need an idea that will help me turn my one dollar into two, but I also need to somehow implement it without having that dollar to my name to begin with. The viscious circle.

    You hear all the time about helping who get into online business wanting to get rich overnight and not have to work for it. They'll pay hundreds of dollars to any MLM or pyramid scam just to reach that promised easy buck. Well, I'm the polar opposite. I sit in front of my PC for 18 hours a day praying for something productive to do, but can't for the life of me come up with anything that doesn't require a hefty up front cash investment before anything else can be done. =(
     
  15. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    Sadly, yes. Although I was added as a member my post count was reset to 0. I think they salvaged some +/-1800 posts from the wmf when they migrated those few forums... other than that I'd say they are gone.
     
  16. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    Before the wmf went bye bye, there was a lot of talk about freewebs.com I believe it was. I don't have the link but it might be in the newly replaced posts on dnforum... i haven't looked at them to see what's there. If I find it, I'll post it here.

    When the changeover was made, it was done quickly, without a whole lot of warning.. maybe a day or two is all. What was said was a merger of the two. I didn't realize from the warning that dnforum was a paid membership, nor did I know that some members wouldn't be grandfathered in. JamesC lost his membership, too. Of the ones grandfathered in, they gave out two types of membership, gold and platinum. Those who were given a membership received emails about the change and the memberships within 2 hours of the changeover.

    For the ones who didn't get the membership, some sections can be read, some not and they aren't allowed to post at all. vaelor had just joined the forum shortly before this change took place so he unfortunately didn't have the post count to justify giving him a membership... which sucks since he was one of the few there who tried to help people ...

    I had been absent from there for quite awhile having gotten bored with the spammy posts. One of the supermods, Vivvy, messaged me not long before the merger happened because she said the post quality was improving since I had come back and more topic related posts were being made. Not sure if that's really true but at least I tried to answer honestly to the best of my ability (which to me is still very slight).

    Other than that it's just been a waiting game for me... I think my post count there is something in the 20's range right now. With the addition of some of the webmaster topics I'll still be around there a bit but I need a forum to learn and stay current myself, as well as help others.
     
  17. StephanieCordray

    StephanieCordray New Member

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    vaelor... sorry... they didn't transfer any of the hosting posts from the old board... i'm pretty sure it was freewebs.com or free-webs.com. If I'm remembering right at all, the posters raving about it said the banner ads were not on their webpages but other parts like the ser control panels or something like that. webhostingtalk.com might have some info on them.
     
  18. ian

    ian Administrator Staff Member

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    2,153
    Vaelor, with the sites that you have, why do you have a server which requires you to do updates etc. Why dont you have a cheaper bulk reseller account where you dont have to worry about any of that kind of stuff, like installing php, updating the operating system etc. Would be a lot easier and cheaper I would imagine.
    As to the web hosting idea, I thought Stephanie was recommending that you use free web hosting and not actually start a free web hosting service, I may be wrong on that.
    I think starting any kind of free web hosting service yourself, would NOT be a very good idea at all.
     
  19. ian

    ian Administrator Staff Member

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    2,153
    Also not sure what your situation is, but it is always better to try and work a full time day job and have the internet as a hobby. Then what it takes off, look at quitting your day job.
     
  20. zkiller

    zkiller Super Moderator Staff Member

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    1,639
    i thought that avatar looked familiar! :)
     

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