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PORTAL PARTNER PRESS - APRIL 2000

APRIL 2000

  • April 6 - YOU'VE GOT MAIL, TO BID OR NOT TO BID, HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU
  • April 13 - AUTO SUBMIT PROGRAMS, WELCOME HOME KIDS, KEYWORD TEXT BANNER ADS
  • April 20 - LET'S MAKE A DEAL, THE PPP IS FOR ALL OF US, PASS THE AMMUNITION
  • April 27 - ATTRACTING ADVERTISERS FOR YOUR SITE, SPEAKING OF VALUABLE HELP

April 6, 2000

Another day, another dollar --- out of petty cash : ) Another pretty good week. Wow, that makes like four in a row. The big step forward this week has been getting the affiliate program off the ground. I think, (since yesterday), we have it lined out and working properly. We've had right at 30 partners sign up and we've already had five sales from affiliates. Congratulations #3, #12 and #22. Good job kids!

I'll list the affiliate sign up link at the bottom of the Portal Partner Press along with all the other pertinent info. Anyway, on with the show.

MY WEEKLY PORTAL DIARY

Well, this week has been lawyer week. About a month ago I had some legal questions I wanted to speak with an attorney about. The legal internet talent pool in Oklahoma is a little shallow so I asked a client of Magic-city's, who is a local attorney, if he could recommend someone. I told him about Searchking as it was Searchking business I had the questions about. He called me back a few days later and told me he had set an appointment with a local law firm. Of course it was just about the most expensive firm in town. What a co inky dink huh? To my surprise, he offered to attend the meeting with me at no charge, which made me start thinking about what exactly his agenda was.

My meeting was Tuesday and after meeting with my the first lawyer who had offered to "help me out", who happened to have offices in the same hi-rise, we rode the elevator to the 22nd floor. We opened the 12 ft. oak doors and entered the reception area furnished in some type of French antiques. A timid looking man came out after our presence was announced via intercom, and introduced himself as this firm's IP, (intellectual property), specialist. I was a little impressed that any Oklahoman law firm even had an IP department.

This lawyer walked us to a conference room and seated us a 20 ft solid cherry conference table that I figured cost more than I made the last three or four years. He then started telling me about how much I needed some contracts concerning IP in a lot of the aspects of Searchking. (I was wondering how he knew so much about what Searchking was doing when I had never hired these guys and I had never expressed any concern over intellectual property with anyone). He mentioned how a lot of internet business is being conducted among programmers and site owners kinda like cowboys in the old west with no marshal in town and how this was a big mistake. He was adamant about how having an attorney to write contracts and agreements was crucial. Pretty much what you'd expect an attorney to say.

Then another lawyer came in and introduced himself. Without hesitation, he said he had looked at Searchking last night and it looked good. A subtle round of wink-wink, nudge-nudge seemed to sweep around the room between all three attorneys. Without me ever asking a question, he launched into a presentation about venture capital. At this point I had not asked a single question, they just assumed I was there to find out about getting VC. Actually, I was there to ask one lawyer one specific question.

I have a person that has offered to buy stock in Searchking and my question was what the process for selling stock privately without going public was. I wanted to know what kind of contract was needed and what it would cost to have this contract drawn up. Which, by the way, I left the meeting without ever getting an answer to that question.

Lawyer #3 told me he had contacted his brother who works for some investment firm in Austin TX the night before and had a deal ready to go to get our first round of funding of approx. $350,000 to $500,000. He implied that it would take no more than a phone call to make the ball start rolling. I got the impression that it was never a question of IF we could get the funding or not, it was only a question of when I wanted to do it.

I am basically flabbergasted that all of this was happening without ever hiring anyone here. How did they know so much so fast about me and my business. I decided my best approach at this time was to just keep my mouth shut and let them assume I was totally ignorant as opposed to speaking and removing all doubt. Not to mention, I found this whole conversation fascinating because I have spent many hours over the last few months checking out websites and reading books trying to learn how the whole going public thing happens and to be honest, have not gotten much farther at understanding it than I did before I started. So, this guy had my full attention.

The lawyer went on to explain that, typically, on our first round of funding, I should expect to give up about 40% of my stock. On the second round of funding we would go after about $1,500,000 and I should expect to have to give up another 30%. Then on our third round I'd be looking at giving up another 10% for about $3,000,000 and then we would take it to investment bankers and they would be the ones to take it public and of course that would be when money would flow like water. Of course, those percentages come out to 80% and since I only own 80% that would leave me with nothing. What surprised me was that they seemed to know so much about Searchking yet they didn't seem to know that 20% of the stock is unavailable.

He told me that with the first round the more important thing than money was that this "angel" would set up a management team consisting probably of a CEO, (chief operating officer), and a CFO, (chief financial officer). The money provided would not be as important as the expertise that would be brought to the table. This I would agree with. I don't know how to do all that stuff by myself and without those two key people, going public is a long shot to say the least. He also told me at that time to remember that 5% of a publicly traded company is probably going to be worth a lot more than 100% of a company that is not. (This part I'm not sure I agree with).

Basically, the whole time, I felt I was wading neck deep in a shallow pool with some very hungry sharks. That is not to say I don't think these men knew what they were talking about, I definitely do, I just felt that there was a lot of wink-wink, nudge-nudge going on in the room and there had already been a little strategy meeting that had not involved me. This is not necessarily a bad thing. My gut feeling is that these men are extremely capable lawyers who feel a little left out that Silicon Valley lawyers are making billions while they are not. I got the impression that they would LOVE to find an Oklahoma company that they felt could do the same for them that so many companies in California have done for those Silicon Valley lawyers. Actually, I was a little flattered that they saw my little search engine as a potential candidate for that purpose.

The meeting lasted about an hour and a half, (which I'm sure I'm going to be billed for at the tune of about $400). I've condensed the whole conversation here to hilight the "meat" of the meeting. Remember, I'm only telling you all of this because as I've said before, I fully expect some of you portal partners to be walking down the same road I am now at some point in the future. For those partners, I thought this little experience would be good for my Weekly Portal Diary, so that when you are sitting at that 20 ft cherry table maybe you'll remember something I said that may benefit you and make the whole thing a little less intimidating.

Good Luck!

YOU'VE GOT MAIL

Well, everybody but us it seems. I'm having a heck of a time getting the mail installed on the new server and getting it to work right. As I've said before, the mail is about the most challenging aspect of this whole project. It just takes a lot of coding to make a web-based e-mail program work. I've got people working on it and we will get there very soon, I promise.

I honestly think that as soon as I can get this on your portals, you're really going to love it. It has a lot of features that should prove to be invaluable to you. I know it's frustrating having to wait, but you definitely want me going through the hassles of getting it set up as opposed to you having to do it yourself.

TO BID OR NOT TO BID

Remember the keyword text banner ads on Searchking that I spoke about a couple of weeks ago? Well, while bidding may be the best way to capitalize on a program that will place your text ad at the top of a keyword search result, it is not going to work like I wanted it to. We are going to do away with the bidding aspect for now and simply devise a price schedule based on categories. Curt is working on the page now with the pricing and we should have it up within about a week or so.

In the meantime, I am offering all the portal partners the top spot out of four available for $10 per month. We are still small and until the price page goes up, this offer is available on a first come - first served basis. Any keyword, the top spot for $10 per month until the price page is put up. If you ever wanted to advertise for about 30 cents a day here's a good chance to do it. I will not cheat you and even after a year or so from now and we're doing a million page views a day, I will still let you keep that top spot for just the $10 per month as long as you're paying it. Are you a gambling kinda person? What would web design being the first thing anyone sees be worth if Searchking was getting that kind of traffic? How about promotion? web hosting? Not to mention adult stuff, (yuck!) Anyway, if you don't mind throwing a few bucks Searchking's way and maybe making a few bucks yourself, contact Holly Nelson at ecomm@acninc.net give her a 10 word title, a 25 word description and a url to link to, oh yeah and credit card stuff and you got it!

If you haven't seen this keyword text banner ad thing at work yet just go to www.searchking.com and do a search for log homes. See that little red dollar sign next to the first listing? That is what it is.

HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU

Well, as always, I've enjoyed writing this weeks issue of the PPP. I hope you enjoy reading it as well. Or at least I hope it doesn't make you mad. If it does, just let us know and we'll make sure you're not subjected to this torture again next week.

Don't forget to sign up as an affiliate. I want to see you kids making some money. Portals are getting to be a hot topic and it's just starting. By joining now, you will be one of the very few places offering a portal service on the net. Do it now and avoid the rush! www.searchkingportal4u.com/affiliate.htm

Love Y'all
Bob Massa

TURN THAT RADIO DOWN!! I CAN'T EVEN HEAR MYSELF THINK

Publisher -- Bob Massa

April 13, 2000

Hi Kids. Spring is just around the corner and I'm excited. I'm the original internet hillbilly, (in fact I own www.internethillbilly.com). I live about 15 miles from the nearest town and I enjoy looking out my office window this time of year. Everything is starting to turn green and come alive. I hope all of you get a chance to enjoy the great outdoors at least every now and then. Nature really is amazing.

MY WEEKLY PORTAL DIARY

I've had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life this week regarding running my portal, Searchking. Ever since the hard drive crash back in January, Searchking has simply been a disaster. Virtually none of the custom features were working. I have been plagued with nothing but ihtml errors, 404's and mis-directed pages.

My philosophy on running a search service has always been that you are better off to have one feature that works right, than a million really cool features that don't. Well, I have always felt that SK had a lot of really great features, especially for webmasters, but since losing over 80% of my data with the crash, I have not been successful at all in getting those features restored.

The programming team that was responsible for building and maintaining SK are not actually employees of mine. I simply contract them to do the work. I have worked with them on a daily basis for going on three months now and have just not made much progress. No matter what I've tried, I just can't seem to get "it" done.

I started SK over two and half years ago and I have spent literally 10's of thousands of dollars over that period of time and to have to face the possibility of admitting failure at this point was very difficult. I came to the decision that what I was fighting so hard for, doesn't actually even exist any longer. Without someone being able to add a site or edit their site or even vote on a site, in my opinion, Searchking was already gone.

This hit me petty hard because in spite of all the problems I've been faced with since starting the portal project, Searchking is looking like it will actually break even this month. Black ink for the first time in over 2 years! So, throwing in the towel was not an option. So what were my options?

Continuing working with the programmers I had was not an option because that is the one I had been taking for the last three months and the time had come to find another solution. Oracle, who I've been in talks with for over two months, is not an option at this particular time either. While I am extremely confident that Oracle could very well make everything work the way I want, I'm looking at a price tag of about $80,000 to $100,000 which is simply way beyond my grasp as of today. Hyperseek is another option, and the one that I am going to take.

I know the hyperseek engine. I know it's stable, fast, effective and feature rich. All that had to be done was download the SK database into a file and then upload it to the hyperseek engine. Fast, cheap and easy. It works for all of you, and I know it will work for me as well. In fact, I intend to use this engine in a lot of ways that maybe some of you hadn't thought of yet and be able to provide you guys with some options that you may not be aware of. Searchking will definitely put it through it's paces and push it to it's limits.

While I'm disappointed to have to shelve SK for the time being, I'm excited about having SK simply work again. It will actually improve the spam problems I've been plagued with for the last two years. Reviewing submissions is fast and easy and now we will be able to stop a lot of spam problems at the submission level. The biggest thing is that webmasters and searchers will not be getting errors when searching or submitting. In my opinion, the key to becoming successful with any search service is #1, returning relevant results to a search query and #2 having the engine work the way people think it should work. The thing that has been holding our traffic back is that when people see a link that says click here and then it doesn't take them where they expected to go or they get an error message, they ain't coming back. So for months now, we've seen our traffic go up one week only to drop the next. In fact, this month, we are on track to do worse traffic wise than we did last month. I honestly believe that will change dramatically once we get the hyperseek engine installed and you go where you think you're going to go and it works like you think it's going to work.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted.

AUTO SUBMIT PROGRAMS

I got an e-mail this week from one of our partners telling me they had been contacted by a company that sells auto submission software asking them if they could add their portal to their list of engines they submit to. She told me that she saw this as one way to get her directory built up really fast as the company told here that they could be adding as many as 5,000 sites per day, and then asked me what I thought of this strategy.

It's true that almost any auto submit software, (even the small obscure ones), can send you a LOT of sites fast, the problem is that you don't want the vast majority of them. My experience has been that out of 5,000 sites added from this type of software, very rarely were there 50 that were worth allowing into my database. I would venture to say that 90% of my problems with spam, came from allowing these types of submissions.

Now I'm sure there will be some of you thinking, it can't be all that bad. My response is HAH! That is exactly what I thought when I first went this disastrous route. I was wrong. It can be all that bad and it is! The key to success with any topic specific search service is in being able to control the results so that they can become a valuable enough asset to people interested in your topic to justify them taking the time of bookmarking your site and using it as a tool over and over again. You don't do that by allowing thousands of sites a day to use your resources with little or no regard to your business. You do it by knowing that you have spent the time and effort to provide a quality resource. Remember the internet golden rule. The more you give, the more you get.

WELCOME HOME KIDS

Remember the free portals I was offering to kids and seniors a few weeks back? Well, we got two kids to sign up. I'm thrilled and wish them the best of luck. I'm sorry no one went and got their Mom or Dad in but I'm really tickled about some Mom and Dad getting involved with this internet thing with their kids. I only see this as a positive thing and I'm very glad to see Searchking being a part of that.

Thank you.

KEYWORD TEXT BANNER ADS

I want to thank all of you who took me up on the $10 text banner ads. You guys grabbed some pretty good keywords! Curt couldn't believe I made a deal like that but it's just that if anyone is going to benefit from this program, I want it to be my partners.

His question was how I'm going to handle the situation of someone offering more than the $10. The answer is simply that I made a deal and I will keep it. That script will run a total of four ads for every keyword, so if someone offers to pay more, they simply get the #2, 3 or 4 spot on a first come first served basis because that top spot is already sold.

We will set up a price page with prices broken down by category. The top spot will be, (only an example here), $25, the 2nd $20, the 3rd, $15 and the 4th $10. So, for all of you who have the top spot for $10, that just means that all that is available will be the 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots at the regular price. Not that complicated.

Remember this offer is good until we get the price page online, (which I thought was going to be by now), which should be any day now. Until it is up, we are still accepting portal partner keyword text banner ads for $10 per month for the top spot. If you have a hot keyword you want, remember, we must have a 10 word title, a 25 word description and a url to send the traffic to and send it to Holly at ecomm@acninc.net

Here's a few more ads that you can check out.

  • hotels
  • cars
  • cruises
  • debt consolidation
  • small business
  • home business

THE PPP IS FOR ALL OF US

The last thing I wanted to mention this week is that I want to make sure that you all realize this is your Portal Partner Press. If any of you have any kind of articles or stories that you wish to share with the other portal partners, please feel free to send them to me and I will be happy to include them. I especially love success stories and unique ways of solving problems.

Also, if any of you don't want the PPP, again, no need to get upset just let me know and we'll remove you from the list.

NOW YOU KIDS GO ON OUTSIDE AND PLAY

Love Y'all
Bob

Publisher -- Bob Massa

April 20, 2000

Hello kids. I'm a little sad today. Not my usual cheery self. As some of you probably know, yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and we dedicated the new memorial. President Clinton attended as well as a lot of press. It is naturally, a pretty big deal around these parts.

I'm 45 years old and have seen as much tragedy as anyone else. I've had to attend the funerals of loved ones. I've witnessed horrible car accidents and seen the news stories of terrible things happening to good people, but for some reason, the bombing has affected me a lot differently. To this day, 5 years later, I find myself still getting very emotional at the very thought of all those children who were lost. All the mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and grandmothers and grandfathers who were so innocently and tragically lost.

I'm not saying I'm not affected by any other tragedy, it's just that if you were to mention my father's funeral at just about the same time as the bombing, it has very little effect on me at all, while watching the dedication of the memorial yesterday, it was all I could do to keep my composure. It's strange.

God Bless America.

MY WEEKLY PORTAL DIARY

Fairly uneventful week. (Thank goodness for small blessings). Most of this week has been consumed by installing all the necessary modules on the Raid server so we can get everything moved. Of course we have been slowed a little by my decision to move Searchking onto hyperseek which requires us to upload over 500,000 urls into the database. We found so many dupes and just plain trash that we decided to go ahead and take the time to clean it up as best we could instead of just repeating our mistakes of the past.

In spite of the fact that we now have a lot of tedious work to do, everything is moving along pretty good. We are continuing to grow and it appears that more and more people are getting the hang of this thing and building some really great sites.

LET'S MAKE A DEAL

Last week I mentioned that I would like to hear from our partners with any success stories or just about any information that any of you felt had merit to the other partners. I got an offer from one partner that I thought was pretty cool so I will publish it here. Mainly to see if he gets any takers. If he does, I see a new use for the Portal Partner Press that may benefit more partners. Here is the offer.

THE PPP IS FOR ALL OF US

The last thing I wanted to mention this week is that I want to make sure that you all realize this is your Portal Partner Press. If any of you have any kind of articles or stories that you wish to share with the other portal partners, please feel free to send them to me and I will be happy to include them. I especially love success stories and unique ways of solving problems.

You might want to tell all the partners this:

I am looking to network with them. For any portal partner, I will offer the following:
I will give them ongoing coaching on making money on the internet
I will get them a FREE merchant credit card account
I will give them a private url where they can read and download hundreds of reports and programs about marketing on line.

In return - all I ask is that they network with me and also give me some help on setting up my own portal, if possible.

Thanx
Greets to all

Shlomoh - portal partner

Have folks contact me at shlomoh@kingsolomon.com

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I have spoken personally with Shlomoh on several occasions and it is my personal opinion that he could probably do a lot for you.

PASS THE AMMUNITION

I didn't get anything else really I could publish because not everyone wanted me giving away their ideas, but I did get the permission of a couple of our partners to pass information on to you without giving you their specific url. I thought this was great because I think some of you folks have really incredible ideas and I think it is very cool that you would be willing to share some of those. Please, keep 'em coming!

The first idea I want to pass along to you came from a phone conversation and I was very impressed with the idea. This lady has a portal about something totally unrelated to this idea and just wanted my opinion. She lives in a town of about 13,000 but doesn't want to devote the time she feels it would take to build a quality local portal, so she wants to get a little more specific.

She also has one other thing that she sees as an asset. A 16 year old son who is popular and has lots of friends. Her idea came from the fact that she wants to find something that her son can do for gainful employment and in a smaller town there are limited opportunities. I believe her idea could make her a lot of money and help get her kid through college in just a few short years.

What she wants to do is, start hometownfastfood.com She wants to set up an internet delivery service. Basically, she will supply the drivers at a fee of say $2 per delivery. She will then sign up fast food restaurants in her area such as Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy's and any other food place that can afford her by charging them a set up fee and maintenance fee for designing and hosting their web site. She said she would start by hitting the big boys and work her way down.

She then would have flyers printed with her web site on a menu and have all the restaurants put them in each bag as the orders go out. I thought this was a really good idea. My guess is, if she can get Wendy's to put a flyer in every drive thru bag that says something like:

ANNOUNCING WENDY'S INTERNET DELIVERY SERVICE
delivery at the speed of the internet
http://www.hometownfastfood.com

With a menu on it, he'll start getting orders that night.

Of course there are some pretty important details to work out such as insurance for the drivers, payroll taxes and of course software issues, but all in all I thought it was brilliant! I believe there are a lot of people who have spent a thousand dollars on a computer and another $20 a month or so and would love to find a way to justify that expense. I have also thought from the very beginning of this whole portal thing that there should be some way a mom could simply go to the net and order a pizza.

Speaking of the software issues, one of the things I brought up was having to have a shopping cart. She showed me pretty quick how smart I was. She said why? All I need to do is put their menu and delivery area on a website on my portal and have it send a copy of the email order to the restaurant, to the driver and to me. I could do all that with nothing more than a secure order form and a laptop. After I thought about it, I think she's right. This is more of a hi-touch deal as opposed to hi-tech.

MORE AMMO

Another great idea came from another partner. He lives in a suburb of a major metropolitan area. He wants to put up a jr. and sr. high school sports site listing game times, athlete stats, histories, bios, etc about all the local schools' sports teams. Now this idea is not all together new, Mike Rotter has something very similar on his reddingcal.com site, but this guy did have some twists that I thought were really great!

He plans to get students from the English departments to provide content. Students from the audio/visual department to provide photos and videos. What school is not going to have students that want to be journalists someday? What school is not going to have students who want to be involved with their own school and be involved in the internet? Brilliant!

So, how does this make him money? Well, by selling sponsorships. How many ads do you see on every school sporting event? What business in the community is not going to want to sponsor their local school team? Again, he plans on making at least a large part of his money from designing and hosting websites for the businesses that don't already have websites and then charging for preferred placement on various places within his portal including the search engine.

Netcommr posted some very good advice in the forums this last week about making your portal very specific as a way to success. Personally, I couldn't agree more and then when I start hearing some of these killer ideas from some of our partners, it gets me excited. It makes me hungry too. I want more of these ideas. I want more interaction between partners. I want to see the internet delivery lady work with the local sports guy to build a portal that doesn't compete with each other and helps them both make a good living and provide quality content for their communities. Interacting and working together is the real power of a community of portal owners. The more we all take advantage of it, the more success we will all see. Come on, get involved, post in the forums, publish your ideas and deals in the PPP and let's all start being all we can be!

We are all sitting on such a golden opportunity here and I want to see us take advantage of it. We are building the world's first community of portal sites. WOW, folks whether you realize it or not, that is POWER. Let's use the most valuable resource we all have and that is each other. Send me some more, call me, send it USPS, send it by carrier pigeon, send it by covered wagon, just send it now!

CLOSING

That's all for this week kids. have a good Easter.

Love y'all
Bob

YOU BETTER EAT EVERYTHING ON YOUR PLATE! THERE'S KIDS IN CHINA STARVING

Publisher -- Bob Massa

April 27, 2000

Howdeee! Great week this week. Spring has sprung. Everything is green and blooming. Mom and Kat are both into flowers and I'm grateful. If I were single my guess is my living room decor would consist of a recliner, an ashtray, a big screen TV and maybe a lamp. Yard work. Yikes! If I weren't married, my best bet for a decent looking yard would be to live in a defunct doctor's office or something with nothing but a parking lot. I do appreciate the woman's touch around T-1, (the name we gave our little 5 acre internet kingdom), it really looks pretty good. Except of course for parts I'm responsible for like the lawn mowing.

I was supposed to mow the lawn last weekend and it rained for about 20 minutes on Saturday morning, (thank God), so naturally, that gave me the excuse to blow it off until this weekend. So, now walking from the house to the office, (about 50 yards), is more like launching an assault in the jungles of Vietnam. It's just that you're fighting off bugs, lizards, raccoons, skunks and several other varieties of insects and mammals indigenous to the central Oklahoma landscape as opposed to just fighting off an opposing army of soldiers. It doesn't require as much artillery but I'm pretty sure the risk of becoming a casualty is just about as great.

Anyhoo.

MY WEEKLY PORTAL OWNER'S DIARY

We've made a lot of progress this week. We have gotten the SK database over 50% uploaded to the new hyperseek program and should be able to go live with that by the end of next week.

We've also started moving the magic-city.net domains to the new raid server. We'll be finished with all of those within less than a week. Once we have those domains moved we will start moving the portals. One of the reasons we did it this way is to give us a chance to get familiar with the process so that we will have it down to a science when we start moving the portals. We've also started making arrangements with our host to double our ram to a full gig. This will keep all the portals running at top speed and once we get the portals off of cosmo, Searchking will be back to top speed.

Shane will also start installing the e-mail program onto the raid server by the end of next week so that it will be ready as soon as we get the portals moved. Whew! It's very nice to see things running pretty much on schedule for a change.

LET'S MAKE A DEAL

Last week I mentioned that I would like to hear from our partners with any success stories or just about any information that any of you felt had merit to the other partners. I've had a few e-mails but I'm still looking for more. Here's my deal for this week.

I want some testimonials. Send me your testimonial, your portal url and your e-mail address and I will install it on the portal sign up site. The reason I want your e-mail address and your url is because I expect people to be contacting you by e-mail and asking you questions. With your url, it will send traffic your way but the price may be that you would have to respond to some folks in regards to questions about the portal program.

Finally, after asking for articles, I was pleasantly surprised to see our own advertising manager ask for some space. I gladly gave it because Holly Nelson can do a lot for all our portal partners as far as giving advice on how to best use advertising for promoting your portal. Here's is her first contribution.

ATTRACTING ADVERTISERS FOR YOUR SITE, Part One

So you have a web site and your building traffic, and hopefully you're showing a profit from your own product sales and/or through affiliate programs. Now it's time to look at attracting advertisers who will pay you to run their banners and/or text links on your site (and in your ezine or newsletter, if you have one.)

KNOW YOUR VISITORS

The first step is to compile demographic information on your site's visitors. This is extremely important information for any potential advertiser, and is important for you in targeting potential advertisers.

There are two simple ways of collecting demographic data on your visitors. You can run a daily or weekly poll, or you can collect this information through the subscription process if you have a newsletter or ezine. For example, Listbot allows you to ask demographic information of those subscribing to your ezine or newsletter. Otherwise, simply polling your visitors works too.

Don't try and collect too much information, as most people are unwilling to spend the time to fill out a long form or survey, and may be quite hesitant to give too much information. Just concentrate on the basics:

Country
Gender
Age
Home Ownership
Education
Marital Status
Children in Household
Income

This information will be enough to give potential advertisers a good sense of who visits your site. Keep a log of information in Excel for future reference, and as your traffic and your site grows, do another poll or contest to gather the "new" stats. You can then sort the information by category in many different ways to suit your advertisers questions.

This can be a good means of understanding how to market to your actual market rather than the one you may have thought would be your visitors. Some times you can be surprised at the results, and find that you need to make some strategic changes to the content and direction of your site, because of the results that you gather.

Either way, this is basic information for inside and outside marketing.

Next Press: KNOW YOUR TRAFFIC

If you would like to learn more about MARKETING from the 'guru' on staff, Holly Nelson, please email her at ecomm@acninc.net to be placed on the 5 Minute Marketing Mailing List.

TRY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT

I've discussed with you all before my concern that we're not signing up enough portal pluses and pros to satisfy me. Especially when we compare it to the number of sign ups for the power portals, which is nothing more than a free webpage with a forum. The power portal is not going to give you access to your own database which I feel is the MOST important part of running a real portal site.

I feel that we should be signing up hundreds a week and we're only signing up hundreds of free portals. I don't mind the fact that we are getting hundreds of free ones a week, it's just that the power portal has nowhere near the features that the pluses and pros do. I think my biggest challenge is that most people don't know what it is the portal program can do.

Educating the public is always difficult and expensive, but people realizing the power and potential of the hyperseek program is my best chance of getting a lot of top quality topic-specific portal sites as partners. I realize that $29 is a ridiculously small amount of money for a program like what we offer, but I can't expect people to just know that. I need to find a way that they can see it for themselves.

My solution, at least for now, is TRY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT. We already do offer a complete money back guarantee. If anyone is not happy with the program for any reason, all they have to do is notify us within 30 days and we will give a 100% refund. No questions asked. That is not the same thing as free for 30 days.

Over the next few days, I'm going to change the text at searchkingportal4u to make sure that it is easily understood that you can sign up for a portal plus or pro and it is free for 30 days. We will not charge anyone a dime until 30 days after they get their ftp access. Of course if they do not notify us within 30 days, we will assume that they are happy with the program and we will then charge them. The idea is that if I can just get people set up and let them use the program for 30 days, get them into the forums and see what the potential of this program is, that many more people will start taking advantage of at least the portal pluses as opposed to the power portal.

I'm hoping that this will give a nice shot in the arm to all the affiliates. This should give us all the opportunity to increase sales by really pushing the try it before you buy it. We will start working on some new banners for all the affiliates to use and I also encourage any and all of you to submit your own banners that you think could be effective. Please send any banner you have to Mike Rotter at webmaster@searchking.com and he'll put 'em up on the affiliate page.

So, will the try it before you buy it work? I don't know. I only know that I don't see any way I could be more up front or fair about the whole thing. I had thought at one point that I could develop screen shots of the program so that before you signed up you could see the admin page. The problem is that seeing it and using it aren't the same thing and I can't let the general public just go in with access to it. Can you imagine how much time Shane would have to spend just going in and resetting the permissions???

This way, I'm taking all the risks. I can understand how people on the net have a hard time trusting someone. I also see how I don't know who I can trust either. This way, I'll take the chance the person is being honest with me and they really want a portal site for themselves. If they cancel, I'm out the expense of the set up but I honestly believe that anyone who sees the program will have to agree that it's worth far more than the money we charge and I'm willing to take that risk. Besides, if someone really does not think that they can figure it out, then there is no point in just having it sit there anyway. The way I see it, it's well worth the risk even if we only get a few more quality portals.

By the way, I got this idea from the forums. As I've said so many times before, if you're serious about you're portal, get involved in the forums. I need your input and you'll be amazed at what valuable help you can get for yourself.

SPEAKING OF VALUABLE HELP

Last week I discussed some ideas that had come to me from portal partners. Keep 'em coming! I won't go into as much detail as last week but I will mention that I had a person with an idea for a recipe portal and an arts and crafts supply portal. To my surprise, we don't have a portal for either of these subjects. I really liked the arts and crafts supply thing. Her idea was not to sell arts and crafts, but to sell the stuff you make arts and crafts with. I've enjoyed a few of the arts and crafts shows out of the hundreds that my wife has dragged me to over the years, and I always wondered where people get all those old mailboxes, fireplace mantels and antique hair for antique reproduction dolls. For all those sticks with ribbons on them, somebody had to get the sticks from somewhere.

Then I got what I thought was the most unique idea for a portal I've heard of yet. This man collects WWI and WWII photos and memorabilia. He wants to set up a portal to sell the photos. What he does is take photos of certain events that's he's collected, (for example, he has a photo of some Japanese big wig signing the surrender on some big boat while sitting next to some American hotshot, ((impressed with my deep knowledge of American history yet?)). He sells them for like $10 and I asked how do you make money selling a picture like that for $10. I felt a little stupid when he said I sell the copies. OOOHHH Copies, now I get it. Well, the reason for the portal is not just to sell inventory but to build inventory. He buys your old photos and says there is nowhere on the net to go if you wanted to buy or sell or trade old war photos and stuff. Good idea! I hope to see it up and running soon.

Anyone else have a killer idea they want to share?? Send them to me at bobking@searchking.com

YOUR'E NOT GOING OUT TO PLAY WITH ANYBODY UNTIL YOU GET IN THERE AND FINISH YOUR HOMEWORK!

Love y'all
Bob

Publisher -- Bob Massa
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