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PORTAL PARTNER PRESS 2001

JANUARY 2000

  • January 5 - Letter from the Heart
  • January 12 - SCAM: PRESSURE TACTICS AND YOUR DOMAIN
  • January 21 - Target the Niche
  • January 27 - We've had about 12 inches of snow

January 5, 2000

Hello again portal Kids. It looks like we all survived Y2K. Whew! That was a close one.

LETTERS FROM THE HEART

This week I want to share a couple of e-mails I got from other partners. I will omit the names to protect the guilty but I do want you all to be aware of what some of us are thinking and to also give you some insight into how I make my decisions and how your comments and suggestions play a part in that.

The first is from a partner who was responding to last weeks Portal Stuff where I discussed the fees for the Portal Plus and the Portal Pro as well as setting up a reseller program.

I don't understand your reasoning at all. I have discovered your free service and it is the only one around that offers the things you are offering for free - others charge money for it and I am not intending to do so. There is a free cgi program like yahoo around that works alright, but you have to be a bit specialised to install it and use it. You should be working together with freespace providers, with booksellers and online stores to give their communities of fans a service like yours with a cut on the advertising and the sales. That is how I would be working if I were you. Instead you will have a lot of work to have a small amount of money in internetmoney. It will even cost you more to collect it and keep them satisfied. If it is free, they can't complain much. If they pay, they will complain all the time about anything.

By the way. You first will have to get much more popular than you are before you go charging money for some services. People pay for services they liked using for free for personal reasons.

So why don't you try to convince about.com that every specialist there needs his own yahoo added to his present listings without much organisation of links that is not very usable at all.

And if you do make me pay I'll leave and do other things, simple as that.

Now first of all, let me say that I am not judging this person any way shape or form. In fact I truly appreciate their time and willingness to give me their honest opinion. I encourage all of you to talk to me and be honest with me. I don't imagine I can always say what you are wanting to hear and I certainly don't want anyone to think that all I want to hear is what I like. What I like is open honest dialogue with my partners. With that said ---

The most important thing I want to make clear is that no one who already has a portal is going to have to pay anything. If I make a deal, I keep it and when all of you signed up for the portals you have now the deal was not "free unless I change it later". We made a deal and that is the way it is. The things we have been discussing will only affect the deal from then on. Not from then back.

The problem here as I see it is we are growing so fast that this person was probably not a partner back when I sent the issue of the Portal Stuff that discussed our expense in setting these portals up and the time involved. This is a very good reason to archive the issues of The Portal Stuff. I'll get to that in my spare time. (Any one who wants to do this and put it on their portal may find some degree of traffic from it, are you still planning on doing this Kira?) Anyway, in that issue, I explained the fact that the time was putting a stress on our limited staff and that we were growing at such a rate that we could see some serious problems in the future because quite simply banner ad sales just don't cover the expense of the hardware, software and bandwidth. Of course there are exceptions but as a general rule, banner ads aren't the answer. There goes the thing about cutting people in on our ad revenue, at least for now.

The other issue is the fact that the portals we are offering now are too technically challenging for too many people. We need an easier program. The problem is that the easier program just can not offer all the features that the program we have now offers or it will be just as difficult and we're right back where we started.

Finally, the thing about we're not popular enough to charge for our services doesn't seem to hold water. I don't see where popularity has anything to do with what anyone would charge for whatever service they would provide. The way I see it, everything on the net is NOT free. There are a lot of things on the net which don't cost any money, but the vast majority of them are to get you to do something in exchange for that "free" goodie (usually generate traffic). The free portal we will be offering is going to be so much more than a free homepage that I don't see why anyone would expect more for free. The only thing we will be doing then is charging for more features and more service. I learned that marketing technique from the web. All the years I've spent in sales we never gave merchandise away for free. Sure we would give a free chair with table purchase or buy one get one free, but the net is what showed me how to offer something free and then charge for upgrades. It's still a little hard for me to digest sometimes. Can you imagine Chevrolet giving you a Cavalier for free so that they could charge you if you upgraded to a Monte Carlo? I realize I'm going to extremes here, but I hope you see my point.

I'd be delighted to help in any way I can with the development of your affiliate program. I like what you're doing and the community aspect certainly shines through in your weekly messages. If you'd like a hand with deciding on suitable software, generating new affiliates and/or advice on how best to empower your sales team, please let me know.

This letter came from a gentleman that is one of the leaders in the affiliate industry and I'm just dying to drop his name but I won't because I didn't ask his permission. Out of the 15 or so e-mails I got on this topic, almost all of them were like this or giving me websites to check out that might help. Thank you all. The problem with websites is that they are all there for reasons other than the reasons we have. That's not a bad thing, it's just that what I'm looking for is something for us and not anybody else.

I posted in the "free for all" forum just today to give you all that would like to voice your opinions a place to do so. I read each one and take them all seriously and once again, I need your help.

MOVING ON

I am getting the feeling that this whole SK portal thing is about to go through the roof. Our traffic is starting to move upwards rapidly. My e-mail box is full everyday with someone else wanting to partner with us. My phone is ringing off the wall with yet another deal. I've got people calling wanting stock, wanting to take us public, wanting to link to us, wanting to cut us in on their great program that would be perfect for us, etc, etc. Everyone seems to think I've got something here and I agree with them.

I don't have any idea where this is all going to end up. I feel like that is completely up to us. Where this goes is going to be determined by where we want to take it. I see this community shaping up into a lot of opportunity for a lot of people.

I had a phone conversation with one of our partners yesterday who is making a pretty good chunk of change setting up these portals for other partners. They were feeling a little guilty about making money off of this without me getting a cut and they had called to offer me that cut. I told them that I didn't deserve a cut. It was their time and expertise that got them the job and all I did was offer a program. The deal with that program was that they could use it any way they like to help them be successful and that was exactly what they were doing. That is also by the way, exactly what I was hoping would happen from day one.

Coincidentally, the client that the first partner had e-mailed me today to tell me he had met that partner and how excited he was about it and what a great person that portal partner was. He then went on to say that he was not that good at running and setting up websites so to him it made more sense to pay someone for that part of it so he could get on with his business. He continued by telling me that his business was setting up affiliate programs and asked if I could find a place for him in the organization. WOW! To me this whole little process has been fascinating. One partner makes money by making another partner a website so that the first partner can make money by making other partners money. That's the way it is supposed to work. I find that exciting.

My point to this little story is that I am starting to realize that I am not the only who sees a potential in all of this. There may be some of you reading this that have an interest or a desire in a certain area that you feel you could contribute. I want you in if you want to be in. There are a couple of things I need right now that I would like to offer. I need someone to handle PR. Write and distribute press releases of course would be one part of it, but more importantly, someone to take on the job of getting us some press in e-zines and newsletters. There are so many e-zines out there that if we could just develop some type of procedures for keeping track of the ads and who and when they were distributed to, we could really make an impact within a few short weeks. This could be two people, one person or several people, BUT whoever did it would have some knowledge that would be of extreme value to at least some of the portal partners. You would have a product and/or service that you could sell or rent.

This may sound a little mercenary to you at first but think about this. When we have 100,000 portal partners, do we want them going somewhere else to spend their money? Don't you think there is an advantage in dealing with other portal partners to get the goods and services you need? That to me is networking and building a successful community.

Anyone interested in taking on a job like this either post it in the forum or e-mail me directly. Just don't get mad if you don't get what you want right now. Remember we're growing really fast and the opportunities will keep coming.

Remember the Portal Stuff where I discussed the idea of local portals? Well, we've had like 80 sign up. Then we talked about the people making money from setting up portals and now we're talking about putting somebody in the PR business. Keep your minds open and try to think of ways to make this work for you. If you get an idea GO FOR IT! You'll be surprised at how much support I'll throw your way.

LYNNE'S PORTAL TIPS

But I Like Royal Blue and Fucshia: choosing colors that won't give your visitors eyestrain

I'm sure that every graphic designer has had at least one customer who wanted everything done in color combinations that give anyone with normal vision a headache. Maybe you were one of those customers. Of course, any good designer will try to talk the customer out of those colors, and suggest a palette that is more pleasing to the eye, but what if you really, really like those colors, and absolutely must have them? Is there a way to use unusual color combinations effectively?

The answer is a qualified yes. You can use just about any color combination, if you don't go too crazy with it. Fuchsia text on a royal blue background will have your site visitors pressing the back button in a hurry, but the same colors used as highlights on a white or pastel background can be very pleasing.

Coordinating Your Palette:

Sometimes it's easier to pick colors that work well together if you have a logo or other graphic to which you can refer. If all of your "unusual" colors are in the graphic, they should work together on your page because they're all "pre-loaded" into the visitor's brain.

If you want to use a variety of strong colors that seem to be unrelated, try creating a "focusing graphic" that uses all of them. Then use your graphics program to select individual pixels of the colors you want to use, and match them exactly in your page.

Using Complements:

No, I'm not talking about sweet talking your visitors into accepting whatever colors you decided to use. I'm referring to complementary colors. Black and white are complements, as are green and red, and purple and yellow. What are complementary colors? There are a couple of definitions, but the easiest to understand says that complementary colors are those which are opposite each other on a color wheel. Color wheels are something that real world artists and designers use for choosing and mixing pigments (you should be able to get an inexpensive one at any art supply store), but the principle applies to web design too. When you mix complementary colors, they "tone each other down"; when you use them side by side, they make each other appear "stronger". If you mix them in equal amounts, you should get a neutral, muddy grey.

Now you're wondering what on earth pigment mixing has to do with choosing colors for a website, where colors are based on light, not pigment. Well, it has nothing to do with mixing colors for your site, but it has everything to do with choosing those colors. Simply put, complementary colors work well together (try to imagine Christmas without red and green). They make each other stand out, adding richness and depth to your work.

This does not mean that you can get away with using a green background and red text for your entire site. The red color would stand out very nicely against the green, but the text would be difficult to read if the scheme was carried on for an entire page. You can, however, use complementary colors to frame a page, or draw attention to a particular segment. Add in a coordinating background color, and you've got a great attention grabber.

All of which brings us to using color to create specific moods or effects . . . but that's a whole different article.

Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Manitoba based graphic design house. She also operates the Graphic Design Portal, and writes a variety of newsletters and articles for publication. graphicdesign@opticalresolution.com

CLOSING

One last thing. I could also use some help from some of you more experienced newsletter publishers. As you can easily see, I'm not a professional newsletter putter outer. Any tips or advice would sure be appreciated. I know nothing about list servers, remove lists or etiquette. In fact I would very easily entertain the notion of letting someone else publish the Portal Stuff and me just contributing articles.

I got an e-mail last Friday that had three words. STOP SPAMMING ME! since Searchking has over 60,000 members and I have never once sent an e-mail to more than one of them at a time, I'm assuming they are a portal partner and this was their way of asking me to remove them. If that is what it is, that is my first complaint ever after some 8 issues of the Portal Stuff. Bummer! Anyway, if you don't want me sending you this weekly update just send me an e-mail at bobking@searchking.com and at least give me the subject of the e-mail I sent you and I will do my best not to bother you again. (Personally I think you'd be shooting yourself in the foot if you don't read these things but that's just my opinion).

You kids are doing some great work and I love you all!

Bob Massa

Searchking, Inc.

YOU BEEN IN THAT BATHROOM FOR A HOUR. WHAT'RE YOU DOIN IN THERE?

Publisher -- Bob Massa

January 12, 2000

Hellooo Portal Kids. This week we have two really great guest articles. One from our friendly forum administrator, Curt Dunmire and one from Lynne Scott, Lynne's Tips. First I would like to let you in on what's been happening this week.

Ok, the big news this week is that we now have the web pages and order form up for the Power Portal, (free), the Portal Plus, (one time set-up of $29), and the Portal Pro, (commercial portal hosting for $49 per month). You can get the details and view the site for yourselves at www.searchkingportal4u.com Please take a look and feel free to give any comments or suggestions or ask questions by posting them in our SK forums at www.searchking.com/ubb/Ultimate.cgi

Our forums are getting over 400 hits per day so if you're not checking them out, your missing out on a lot of really good stuff. Please feel welcome to join or at least visit and read even if you don't like posting. You can learn a lot and you can teach us a lot as well.

Our next big step is getting the reseller program together. Shane assured me that we could have it up and running by this Friday BUT, I found out just today that it looks like he's caught the flu. He's a trooper and says that he will keep working but I don't want him to have to work with a temperature of 104 so we may need a little more time. So far we have established some basic guidelines based on the input from portal partners in e-mails to me and from posts in the forums.

Only portal partners will be allowed to participate in the reseller program. There will not be any kind of two level payment program. Each reseller will get paid on their results only. In other words, your job will be to encourage people to become a portal partner and not to try to talk other people into talking other people into talking other people into selling the program. One sale from your site = one paid commission to you. We will pay $10 for every portal plus sold from your page and we will pay $10 for every month paid for the portal pro sold from your page. The portal pro is intended to help you build a residual income. One sign up from your page could have you making $10 per month for years and years to come. We still have some work to do as far as accounting procedures and tax issues but we're not too concerned with these because there are thousands of affiliate and reseller programs on the net and if they can figure it out, so can we! All rightee then, on with the show!

SCAM: PRESSURE TACTICS AND YOUR DOMAIN

While, you, the webmaster or net savvy person may not be easily fooled, your clients or friends who are on the net, may fall victim to this scam. It's up to us experienced net surfers and webmasters to inform unsuspecting victims.

This has happened again to one of my clients. It caused them to become concerned about it and they called me to get some reassurance as to whether not the claim was real. This sort of thing can cause some real anxiety for clients who are not aware of their Internet rights. In this day and age of lawsuits, it can be scary to be threatened with one. The first time this happened, it was late last year. It has happened again just today (01/06/00).

What am I talking about? There seems to be some webmasters or other dishonest (perhaps misguided) people trying to use pressure tactics to get people who rightfully own a domain name to give it up. They say if you don't give it up they will take action either by having NetworkSolutions stepping in on their behalf or the person threatens you with a lawsuit. Most of these sorts of threats are unfounded.

These unscrupulous individuals have hit on your domain name and they want it because of the perceived value it may have. Yes, domain names are becoming valuable to some but, they do not wish to get it by honest means so they try to scare you into handing it over. Never give your domain name to anyone who says they have legal rights to it. Most of the time it is a lie.

There are only special cases where this may be true and even at that, you should consult a lawyer to see if their claim holds water. One circumstance where this "may" be true is if a competitor buys another competitor's domain name (example: Microsoft buys apple.com). Something this visible could very well warrant legal action. Most of the time this is not the case.

A small percentage of the internet is made up of scammers trying to "pull the wool over your eyes" as the saying goes. Unfortunately, these sorts of people affect the majority of us at some time or another on the net. They prey on people who seem to be new to the Internet or may perhaps be ignorant. They will try to bully the unsuspecting victim and/or trick them into falling for a scam.

Here's something I have noticed too. One of my clients had me register their domain name. My company's name appears on the domain name registration as an administrator while my client's name appears on it as the billing person. Who do you think the scammer called? They most likely didn't call me because, they figured they'd get no where with me. They called my client who they were hoping was going to be an easy target and cave into their demands. In both cases, due to concern over the problem, my clients did the right thing and contacted me to get my input.

I suspect as time goes on, this will become a more common practice among scammers until it no longer works because of people becoming aware of this scam tactic. Be on guard with claims that don't seem quite right or that you are not sure about.

For those of you who have clients, send them this article to alert them of the domain name scam going around or send them a quick note detailing what is transpiring. It's up to us to educate the inexperience people. You can be a good net neighbor and help your fellow netizen by alerting them of these sorts of problems so they don't fall prey to some malicious trickster. Many people may be wise to these scams but it won't hurt to spread the word.

Happy Surfin',
Curt Dunmire
@PAGE® Internet Services · 847-854-5179
www.ipagedir.com · helpdesk@ipagedir.com
Need help with your portal? Have me do your template design and basic portal set-up. Reasonable quotes will be provided upon request. No adult or questionable portals please.

LYNNE'S PORTAL TIPS
CREATING MOOD WITH COLOUR
"I was so angry I saw red!"
"She has such a nice, sunny disposition."
"That colour is so nice and warm."
"This room always feels cold, but the thermostat says it's not!"

Chances are that you've heard statements like these many, many times. That's because colour affects the way we feel. The effect is so strong that colours have become associated with emotions: red -- anger, passionate love
green -- envy
white -- pure love (the reason why many florists recommend that you send your mother white roses, instead of red ones)
yellow -- happiness
black -- fear and states of being:

red -- hot
white -- cold
blue -- cool or warm, depending on the colour depth
green -- cool
yellow -- warm (yellow roses for friendship)
black -- cold

I could go on just about forever with lists of colours and the emotions they invoke, but I think you get the picture. The question is, how can you use this information to choose colours for your website? Designers generally break colours into three distinct groups, and choose their palettes according to the effect they want to create. Almost all colours fall into one or the other of these groups:

Trust Inspiring: metals (gold, silver, steel grey, steel blue, etc.), stones (granite, marble, slate grey), "rich" colours (deep greens, blues, purples, wood tones)

Excitement Colours: reds (the strongest), pinks (strong to mild depending on depth), oranges (strong to mild), "hot" colours (fluorescents, etc.), yellows (the weakest)

Comfort Colours: most pastels, blues, dove greys, taupes, soft greens, "earth" tones Black, white, and some greys are "neutral", in this scheme, and can be used to tone down the effects of the other colour groups.

Knowing this, you can choose your website colours according to the way you want your visitors to feel and behave. If you want happy, comfortable visitors (ones who stay for a while and come back later), pick colours from the comfort palette, and add in a little bit of yellow.

Want to incite your visitors to action (like BUYING something)? Use colours from the excitement palette. Be careful, here, though. Over use of excitement colours can make your visitors agitated or angry -- not the effect you want to create.

Of course, most designers will use colours from at least two of the palettes, and add in a healthy dose of white, in order to create very specific moods and effects. By playing around with your colour selections, and carefully noting the way your site visitors behave with different colour combinations, you can create the effects you want, too.

Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Manitoba based graphic design house. She also operates the Graphic Design Portal, and writes a variety of newsletters and articles for publication.

graphicdesign@opticalresolution.com CLOSING

Well portal kids, that's about it for me this week. I've got work to do. One last thing, anyone that sees the potential of using video to market your service or product needs to get into the forums at: www.searchking.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000054.html I have a really pretty incredible free offer for you. Maybe some of you heard about the merger between AOL and Time Warner and see that just maybe they are thinking about something involving video.

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

Publisher -- Bob Massa

January 21, 2000


IN THIS ISSUE:

Target the Niche

Lynne's Portal Tips

Good News, Bad News

Hello again portal kids. You might notice a different name and a new look for our little rag. Curt Dunmire, (your friendly forum administrator), has taken on the job of publisher of the weekly newsletter. In my opinion, he has done an excellent job!

One of my goals with the newsletter is to let all of our portal partners see what can be done with their portals. This newsletter fits in very well with that goal. This entire newsletter was built using the same tools that all the portal plus and portal pro partners have available to them. We even used the mailman program to organize it and send it.

We realize that any kind of change, especially one as drastic as this one, is not going to make everyone happy. If for whatever reason you do not want the Portal Partner Press in html or even at all, just let us know. We are still a long way from being a real e-zine publisher and we don't have all the programs and skills that we should have to be a real publisher, we will do our best to honor your wishes. Just drop us a line and tell us what we can do for you.

Now for the really good stuff. We have a great guest article today for our portal partners and of course Lynne's Portal Tips. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. See you in the forums!

by: Bob Massa

TARGET THE NICHE

It all started a couple of years ago when I had a part time business hiring out a couple of moonwalks for kids parties. I've been doing that for a few years to earn a little extra and was getting interested in the Internet and the opportunities it provided.

Spotting that there were few manufacturers on the web, I realized that there was a great opportunity there for someone to put together a definitive web site for people thinking about starting out in the business. It's the kind of thing which you can do with an investment of just a few dollars and a few hours on the weekend, but can earn a reasonable wage with 3 or 4 units.

Anyhow I got in touch with the major manufacturers over here in the UK and struck a deal with a couple of them to get a discount and resell their bouncers over the web. I built the site www.inflatable.co.uk around a wide range of units, with lots of content such as a How To Get Started section, a directory of local operators, second hand classifieds and advice. Couple that with a passion for excellent service and a knowledge of the industry so I was able to talk to people about how to start up and what was involved, and I was away.

I plugged away at the search engines, experimenting until I had some good rankings and started to get some visitors and orders. I included some unique benefits too. I designed a web page for each client to showcase their business and listed them in the directory part of the site. Other businesses also wanted to be in the directory so we built a mailing list from their submissions, opt-in of course.

We sold units all over the world, my first order was to Uruguay and I had to learn fast about shipping procedures and exporting goods. We sold units to the US Air force, national companies and individuals. All of it driven by the web site. No real world advertising at all. I was amazed.

Our opt in mailing list grew to over 900 members all waiting for our next special offer and advice. A few things didn't work along the way, sponsorship attempts, banner swaps and some items were withdrawn because there was little interest. However the core of the site, to get people to buy our products worked great. A 3 unit Starter Package sold more than any individual unit because it was ideal for the audience I was targeting.

The down side however was that people were ringing in the middle of the night, I was working full time too and trying to establish a web promotions business. Something had to give.

One of my suppliers had just spent a few $'s on their own site which was not getting any hits. Same old story, they had a web designer who knew a little html but had no idea how to market a site. He approached me because my site is all over the search engines for words like bouncy castles or moonwalks and we were bringing in the hits which make the sales.

After a bit of negotiation I agreed to sell the site but to stay on managing it and passing leads through to him to close the sale and deal with the customers. In return I got a lump sum worth a years salary together with a % of all future sales. I also agreed to design and promote a separate site dedicated to indoor play center equipment, again in return for a slice of each sale.

Benefits were all around with the deal we struck. The buyer gets the leads to make new sales and penetrate new markets around the world. I get a lump sum and a nice cut for each sale. The key lessons here are several:

Content is King. Pretty pictures are great but the user wants information, and lots of it. Content establishes trust and confidence in the expertise of the seller. Opt-in e-mail works, build your mailing list and send out targeted information and special offers. They may not buy today, but in 6 months when they are ready to they will remember the one who has given lots of free, useful information. Promote the site on search engines, directories and with links. If it's not at the top of the search engines then you're losing potential clients. Hit a niche. Let the big boys go for the big bucks. Find your own little corner and exploit it for all your worth. The lessons learnt building the business have now allowed me to establish a web promotions business www.topwebsite.co.uk with a growing client base. Here in the UK many businesses are still at the stage of thinking about getting their first web site off the ground. There are many so called designers happy to take their money. Actually getting hits to a site is a different ball game and my new business is well placed to provide the expertise they will need to manage their sites in the longer term.

It all comes down to one thing, turn off the TV, and do it. I've been thinking about my own business for years. Take the plunge, there are so many people out there who know little about the web that those who are learning now are a few steps ahead. The portal program is another opportunity to establish yourself as the authority in your own niche market. Use it, put some time in and like Bob says, "Give and you shall receive".

One other thing, get a bigger desk and a comfier chair before you start and thanks to all the folks at www.virtualpromote.com for their encouragement and advice. Lynne, I think you were one of the first to offer a review on the site in the early days, remember?

Simon Conroy portals.searchking.com
Acorn Internet Web Site Promotion
www.topwebsite.co.uk
simon@topwebsite.co.uk
by: Simon Conroy
LYNNE'S PORTAL TIPS

Subject: Finding a designer.
"Okay, I Give Up, I Need a Designer."

That's the message I've been getting in a lot of e-mails sent to me in the last couple of weeks. I've also had quite a few people ask me what it should cost to have someone design their portals, and what they should look for in a designer. Well, I can't tell you what any other designer might charge you, but I can tell you what you should be looking for, and what you shouldn't be paying for.

The first thing you should to do is honestly assess what you need. Do you need a graphic or two to put some polish on your portal, or do you need someone to tackle the layout for your templates while you figure out how to run the programs? Do you need someone to set up your forums and classifieds, or will you do that yourself? All of these things go into the equation when a designer is figuring out what the work is going to cost you. Once you've done that, it's time to scout out the possibilities.

If you have a skill that you can trade for some design work, you can post in the SearchKing barter forum. Chances are that someone will be able to do at least part of what you want.

There are at least 3 good, reputable designers who have portals and are experienced with the programs in the package; you can contact them and be sure that you'll get good work at a fair price.

You can go designer shopping: If you decide on the third option, you can protect yourself by following these guidelines:

First and foremost: your next door neighbor's 16 year old probably CAN'T do this for you (some 16 year olds can, but don't count on it).

Meet with the designer you are considering, and ask to see his or her personal portfolio. If you cannot meet face to face, have the designer send you samples of his personal work.

Ask for customer references - don't accept anonymous testimonials. Get an actual list of customers with addresses and phone numbers. Contact several of these references and get honest opinions.

Visit web sites the designer has created. Everything should work properly and look like it belongs. Check the spelling, punctuation and grammar. Errors are evidence of slipshod work.

Contact the site owners and ask for their opinions of the designer: If the design house or individual designer will not provide you with samples or references, do not allow them to work on your project. Now, what should all of this cost you? As I said earlier, I can't really tell you what another designer will charge for any given service, but I can tell you what the going rates are, and how long it should take a competent designer to do a basic set up.

Freelance designers and small design houses typically charge anywhere from $40 to $150 per hour of design time. Large design houses can charge $250 per hour, or more. Design time is the time actually spent working on a project, not clock or calendar time. A project that takes several calendar days to complete may only use 5 to 10 hours of design time.

Having said that, basic set up for your portal should take a competent designer anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of design time. That should include layout and installation of your major Hyperseek templates, matching layout for your internal pages (getlisted.htm, etc.) a good graphic or two, set up for your forum or classifieds, and a reasonable number of changes (let's face it, you're not going to like everything your designer does, and he knows that). Some designers include a layout template and/or a period of free consultation after work is completed. You will have to supply the content for the templates.

Remember, this is a guideline for BASIC set up. Complete custom design is another story altogether, and only your designer can tell you how long it will take, or how much it will cost. Remember too that the most expensive designer is not necessarily the best, and the least expensive is not necessarily the worst. by: Lynne Scott

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GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

Ok, the bad news first. The SearchKing e-mail program is the most expensive program I have ever bought. I wanted a custom web based e-mail program bad enough that I was willing to pay as much as I did for it. The biggest reason I did that was because I wanted to be able to offer every portal partner their own vanity e-mail program that they could administer their own banner ads on. I think that an e-mail program with user@yourname.com is very important to building a community around your chosen topic. Well the program did that. I was happy.

We then started getting portal partners wanting the e-mail I had paid for. All of a sudden, problems. I was getting things like, "we didn't know that's what you were going to want it for", and "it wasn't really built for that". Well include those statements with the fact that all of a sudden we're signing people up like crazy for our free e-mail, (we have over 4000 users now), and the bottom line is, it fried. For the last 8 weeks it has just been one problem after another and getting worse everyday.

Now for the good news. I finally made the decision to go ahead and spend more money to get the thing working right. My tech people found a program that will take care of my problems and get SK mail working like it's supposed to. I bought the program on Tuesday and it should not take more than a week or so to get everything installed and working. Once the program is working right the next step is modifying the mx records to set up YOUR mail. That takes a DNS server. I've been using the one my host has but decided to go ahead and get our own (I knew I would have to at some point anyway. Might as well be now). The gist of this little update is that right now, your SK mail sucks, but, if you'll just bear with me a few more days, the new improved mail will be here and it will be fairly easy to set you all up with your own e-mail@yourportal.com.

More good news. Shane has been working very hard on getting the affiliate site up and running. We're just days away from that as well. Watch the forums for news on this as we will want some critiques as soon as it is up and running.

More good news. Mike and Frederick have worked really hard and done a great job on improving the Searchkingportal4u site. That's our sales page that we use to get the new sign-ups. It could still use some buttoning up so if anyone would like to take a look and tell us what you think, just click on the link, take a look and then post your thoughts in the forum www.searchkingportal4u.com.

More good news. This newsletter in not intended for commercial purposes. It is however, intended to be for the benefit of our portal partners. Now with the html format we are able to display graphic banners and we'd like to be able to do that. SO, what we will do is run only banners for portal partners. Naturally we can only run one or maybe two a week but we will run them for you free of charge and guarantee your satisfaction or YOUR MONEY BACK! This will not only generate a few hits to your portal, it will also give you a chance to test out banners for yourself. Here's how you get your banner into the Portal Partner Press. Create your banner and send us the location and where to link it to, (It has to be to your portal and not some other site). The decision on who's to run will be strictly up to Curt. That's it. Good luck!

MOM, HE KEEPS LOOKING AT ME!

by: Bob Massa

January 27, 2000

Hi again portal kids. Please excuse my spelling in this issue. We've had about 12 inches of snow and Mom couldn't make it in today to edit for me.

Boy! What a nightmare the last few days have been. Since I've been posting pretty regularly in Shane's temporary forum, I don't want everyone that has read all of those to be bored with the same info here so I'll just give you the link to the forum and let you read that for all the latest info on where we stand with the hard drive crash issues and getting all our portals back up and running. www.searchlynx.com/cgi-bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi

As of late Wednesday night, Searchking is back online. However, we have not been able to recover all the programs and the database. We are virtually out of the search engine business until I can get those programs running again and get the database moved from the other server. Shane is in the process now of getting as many portals going as fast as possible and should have them all back up with your access within the next 24-48 hours.

I don't feel that this is really the best place to discuss all the problems. I think the forums and the chat room are better places for that so that you have the option of voicing your opinion instead of just listening to me rambling on. I will be in the chat room tonight at 7 pm central, (as always. Remember it's every Thursday at 7 pm). The url for the chat tonight is www.searchlynx.com/chat.

What I do feel is this is a good place for is to point out something to myself and all of you reading this as well. By Monday morning I started reeling from the extent of the damage. Basically everything gone. Nothing left. Out of business. Monday turned into one of the worst days I have had to face in my life. I spent the vast majority of Monday on the phone with anybody I could think of that would give me a glimmer of hope. The more calls I made the more I realized that no one had a good answer for me.

I think it's only human nature to start feeling sorry for yourself, start blaming other people, start making excuses and the whole while falling deeper and deeper into a mood of denial and depression. I found myself thinking about how much work and time and money I've put into SK over the last two and a half years. Magic-city has done pretty well for itself and I could have very easily afforded to have new cars, big houses, expensive clothes and big screen TVs. The fact is though that Kathi and I live very modestly. We live in a small little house, a nice little house on 5 acres in our own little world, but a small little house. We don't have a big screen TV. Kathi doesn't wear expensive jewelry and we drive an 8 year old car. Why? Because I have spent all the money that I or Kathi could have kept on building my dream of a better search service. Kathi is the best partner a man could ever ask for as she never once complained or tried to talk me into doing anything other than pursuing my dream. She even took it a step further and made it her dream as well.

I started realizing how much Kathi and I have sacrificed when SK has never made us any profit at all. I started questioning myself asking "Bob what were you thinking when you wanted to give portals away for free? How did you ever think you were going to make this work without money?"

Every thing that was happening to me on Monday was just money, money and more money. $3000 for data recovery. $3000 for a new server. $500 per month for service agreements. $65 per hour for program installation. $250 for a tape back up. $700 for a new e-mail program. $899 for another affiliate script. Then all the advice I was getting like, "you really should network all your computers Bob. That wouldn't cost much, maybe $1500 or so". The bottom line is that at that moment, the only thing that made any sense to me was to quit. Stop throwing good money after bad.

I was sure that everyone could see the logic in my decision and would have to agree with me. So, once I resigned myself to just how bad everything was, I started calling the key players in SK to let them know where we stood. The first one was Mike Rotter. Now here's a man that has probably done more work and given more support to SK for less money than anyone! Mike is not a wealthy man and he doesn't do all the work for SK as a hobby because he has so much spare time. I thought he would be the first to realize that, yes, we should do something else to make a better living.

Instead, he was the first of many to make me come to my senses. He told me how much he believed in SK and what he thought it would become. He reminded me of the responsibility I have to so many people that are counting on us. He also reminded me that there needs to be someone willing to go the extra mile and not give up when it got hard. And finally he reminded me that one of the main reasons he had done all that he had done for SK was because he had believed that I was one of those kinds of people. I was feeling so depressed and so sorry for myself that I was hearing him but not "feeling" what he was trying to tell me. As I called Shane and Sarge and Mark and Travis and a few other people, they were all telling me the same thing. Thank God I've been blessed with the ability to respect other people to the point that when they tell me things I know I better listen. As I spoke with each one, it finally started sinking in. The thing that was making me feel the worst was having to tell all the portal partners the bad news. After speaking with the people I mentioned above I finally found it in myself to accept that I could survive and that the only thing that would keep me from doing that was to quit. I worked up the courage on Tuesday finally, to write an e-mail to all the portal partners telling them exactly what had happened and how bad it was. I truly expected to lose the vast majority of partners including some very dear friends. I had one phone call from one partner who was so upset he was literally screaming at me and calling me names like scum sucking pig, (or something like that - I couldn't really understand him very well) and I said to myself, "well, it can't get much worse than that and you survived". With that I sent the letter and braced myself.

I've gotten 63 e-mails as a reply to that letter so far. One of them had one word - REMOVE. All the rest were like these:

I just want to send you a cyberhug {{{{{{{{ }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Simply, thank you for your honesty in this harsh world of none.

I know I'm going to make money from this.
I know my methods will be easy to duplicate and teach to others.
I know that many people will want the best portal available because they can make money from it too.
I'm with you 100%.

This can happen to the best of us. We can just pray and hope That it will not be me :-) I have no doubt you will be back up and this will soon be just a memory in your future success.

These are just excerpts from just four of them to give you the gist. EVERY single one was just like these. Several people actually poured out their hearts to me. It made me very emotional but most of all it made me mad. Mad at myself for all the time I had wasted thinking me, me, me. I'm hurt, I've lost this, I'm a victim and on and on. I'm not a victim at all. In fact I may very well be the luckiest man alive! Remember all those things I mentioned earlier that my wife and I have sacrificed and given up? Well, that's crap! We eat, we love and we live very comfortably. We have sacrificed nothing. In fact, you can not buy the feeling I got from reading those e-mails for any amount of money. My life has been so enriched by this whole experience and I am grateful.

This has made me realize that we ARE on to something really good here, but not because of computers or programs but because of the people. I don't care a damn about cyber anything. Computers are not important. They are only tools intended to make our lives better and our lives are made better not because of programs but because of people. Computers break and programs crash. It's the people that are important and what we are building here is about people, not portals. That is our strength. I wish I could think of a way that all of you could feel what I'm feeling now. It is a wonderful thing to know that we are all involved in a community of just people. Good people. We are not spammers and rip offs. We're just regular people who want to be successful and make the world a better place. I know that from the letters I got and from just the everyday dealings I have with so many of you. All those letters and not one asked for a single thing. No one was thinking of themselves, only the other people. So many offers of kindness with no expectation of anything in return. It is simply incredible!

I have never been the kind of person to give up on anything I really wanted. In fact, I'm the kind of person that the more impossible it seems the more determined I am to succeed. Well, I'm over my little bout of self pity. After reading all your posts and letters I'm feeling stronger than ever. I feel much more like a warrior today than a victim.

You want to know the weirdest thing? I've always seen myself as a kind of father figure in this whole thing, (You may have noticed my little tag lines at the bottom of each issue of the portal press). Yet through this whole little ordeal it seemed so strange to me how the roles got reversed instantly. All of a sudden all of you became more like a parent to me. I find it fascinating how that was exactly what I needed and somehow you all knew it. It really blew me away.

All I know is that we are building something really special here. I'm not even sure what it is. I just know that with the net so full of dishonesty and greed we have something different happening here. Something better. I'm very proud and in a way, I'm glad this happened. It is going to be a challenge for the next few days but in the end I truly believe it will just make us stronger as a community.

NOW YOU KIDS SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET ----- GUNSMOKE IS COMIN ON

Bob
Publisher -- Bob Massa

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January 2000 | February 2000 | March 2000 | April 2000 | May 2000 | June 2000 | July 2000 | August 2000 | September 2000 | October 2000 | November 2000 | December 2000
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