- September 9 - Partner Deals, Lynne's Design Tips, E-mail Update
- September 16 - Where Do WE Go From Here?, Lynne's Tips, Here's another deal for you to take at look at.
- September 24 - You've got Mail!
- September 26 - You've got More Mail, Here's Another Deal for you
September 9, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
Lynne's Design Tips
I usually get at least one or two e-mails a week for some kind of affiliate deal. Over the last few weeks, it seems more and more of them are from portal partners.
I usually don't respond to these, not because I don't think they are good or don't have the potential to make money. I usually don't respond for the simple fact that my plate is full and I just don't have the time to check into them. The work I'm doing with Searchking and the entire portal program keeps me very busy and although I know there are a lot of really good affiliate deals out there, I just stay focused on what I'm already doing.
This week it occurred to me that by not paying any attention to any of them, I may be doing all my partners a dis-service. So, I've decided to simply pass these offers along to you all and let you decide whether there is value in the deal or not. I want to not only help my partners who are offering a "deal", I of course also want to see all my partners making money and it's not really my place to decide what is right for you.
Keep in mind that by me publishing these deals in the PPP, it is in no way an endorsement of either me personally or of Searchking. I am just passing them along. Whatever decision you make is strictly up to you. I would like to mention though that you have a tremendous opportunity to make a success out of just about anything you would like to do simply by using the power of the portal program. You have a very unique networking opportunity by being a portal partner. We have portal owners in our forums everyday discussing just about every aspect of running a successful portal. That gives you the chance to meet and develop relationships with people who are interested in the same things you are and one of those things is very likely how to pay the bills with their portal. My advice to you is, use that power. Get to know the people that can help you make a buck or two and then return the favor by doing the same for the next person.
Anyway, here's the first "deal" for you all to consider.
Hello Bob, I have just been reading your post on the warriors site. I meant to email you earlier.
We started last week with a brand new java-banner system that guarantees 10 cents per click. Plus we have built the system to pay out on 7 levels of recruits. That function is built into every banner code and everyone hosting the banners can signup more people into it and get paid on the 7 levels
We have reserved a spot for you if you want it with the ID Lucky #.
If you want it you can send all your portal partners to your link to signup. They all go into your downline and every click they get you earn too.
We have Urlsubmitter in our network as well as Chat-forums and Submitexpress.
As I said, we are brand new. This system was 8 months in the making.
In the past week we are on 175000 impressions per day, going up by 25000 per day just now. We are very surprised how popular it is and never knew it would get this big so quickly.
Your spot was reserved last week. If you are interested let me know. And I'll get all the necessary stuff done for you.
If we can provide you with more information email myself at: email@example.com
or visit the site at: www.free-dollars.com"
We also have a chatroom installed at: www.free-dollars.com/chat
Thank you for you time,
He sent me an ID # which I deleted because it was set up specifically for me. I did leave all the site info though so anyone who wants can check it out and I'm sure they would be thrilled to hear from you. Good Luck!
Here's another one I thought sounded interesting.
From: "Keith Sager"
To: "Robert Massa"
Subject: RE: Portal Partner Press
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 14:45:36 -0500
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook IMO, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2911.0)
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.3018.1300
Just read, and as usual, thoroughly enjoyed, the PPP. Thanks for the constant communication, and, particularly the new shift in focus... "possibility thinking" versus "what happened last week!" I guess most of this email is the result of my "possibility thinking."
I recall in a recent PPP that you asked us to share ideas that ALL PP's can use to increase traffic, sales and/or can be tailored to their individual themes. Well, I've come upon an affiliate program that may just meet that criteria. www.freegoldpendant.com
Because I am already an affiliate, I am almost embarrassed to point it out... but it is too novel not to share it with you. I will try to do justice to the concept, and share all pertinent benefits for PP's...
The overall concept is this...
Give away a free 14K gold pendant, in a "theme" that matches the PP's portal theme. There are 50 differ- ent designs. Recipients will pay $6.95 for shipping, insurance and certified delivery.
Here are some potential benefits to portal Partners...
1) Specifically targeted theme of the pendant
Use a banner or text ad to target, then entice, potential visitors by offering a free 14k gold pendant, showing the design that most closely matches your portal's content. Use it as a free gift to sign up for an ezine, a thank you gift for purchasing a featured item, or any number of other gift or incentive scenarios...
For instance a marine, island vacation or save-the-planet site can promote the dolphin, whale or whale-tail pendant. Here are some examples... www.divebelize.com, www.paradisevillasbelize.com/gold.html Or a humane-shelter can fund their efforts by giving away a 14k gold dog or cat pendant. Perfect little thing for "home-town portals" to share with their community's animal shelters, and it is a revenue generator! A horoscope/astrology site or newsletter could give away the zodiac series, generating a steady "monthly income." It doesn't take much for the creative ideas to start flowing here.
2) Partner makes $1.04 per pendant given away + 15% on backend jewelry sales.
Of the $6.95 certified postage and shipping insurance the recipient pays for each gold pendant, Fortunes in Gold pays the affiliate $1.04. Also, on the online order form, the recipient has the opportunity to buy a necklace for the pendant and also matching earrings. The affiliate earns 15% on any of these sales.
3) As a 2-tier program, partners can make 5% of secondary sales from others that become affiliates or distributors.
Partners with portals that cater to webmasters and/or internet business opportunity seekers will have particularly excellent results! With the built in two-tier feature, they will generate a wide base of affiliates of which they will earn a 5% commission on both free pendants and backend sales. For portals, this is an excellent "set it and forget it" type of offer that will only grow and take on a life of its own. The affiliate program is for existing websites... but there is a "distributor" package for those that do not currently have a website. The sale of a distributor package earns the affiliate $75.00. One great thing about the distributor package (among other great things of course!) is the ROTATING URL on Fortunes in Gold's main website. When a distributor signs up on their first visit, traffic from the main site will be rotated thru their affiliate link! Guaranteed traffic and income... this is a powerful incentive!
4) Excellent conversion results!
The Fortunes in Gold site has an incredibly high sales to visitor ratio. For instance, my promotion campaigns have not been targeted to specific themes to match specific pendants... I have only advertised "generally:" in a jokes+freebies ezine and in the "Profit Jump" ezine for net entrepreneurs. My sales to conversion ratio is 9%... that's 9 out of every 100 visitors ordered at least the free pendant and sometimes a backend sale was made as well. Targeted campaigns are closer to 15% to 30%+ conversion.
Bob, I guess by now you have enough of an idea what Fortunes in Gold at www.freegoldpendant.com is all about. The question on my mind is: "Do you think this has enough merit to share with all the partners?"
If you do, may I pay you for advertising or promotion in lieu of your becoming an affiliate? Reason being, if you become an affiliate, then all the partners become your affiliates. Thus, I will only generate income from your personal sales, and zero income from the partners' sales. In essence, rather than creating multiple income streams, I've created at least a couple of hundred competitors.
Do you recall my earlier comment that this email is the result of possibility thinking? I guess I dared to think it possible to help myself by helping other partners. If you have an idea to make this a profitable idea for the partners, yourself and me (the proverbial win-win-win situation) please reply with your idea... I would like to see everyone benefit here.
BTW, my main search engine at www.jewelryseeker.com is coming along, slowly, to be sure, but it is taking shape. Stop by if you care to have a look.
Again, thanks for the tools you've provided and the help along the way. The guy that wanted to list you on the 100 biggest rip-offs was simply immature in his internet business knowledge and I suspect in a few other areas as well. :-)
As I said, while I found this idea very interesting, I just don't have the time to look into it closer. I'm hoping some of you will have the time and I'm sure Keith is too!
LYNNE'S DESIGN TIPS
Some of you old timers may remember back in the beginning, we used to run a great little tips section every week that was supplied by one of the best graphic design people in the business. Luckily she happens to be a portal partner and moderator of a couple of Searchking forums. She has graciously agreed to again start providing us with some weekly advice on designing our portals. This is a reprint from an article almost a year old now. An oldie but a goodie!
CREATING MOOD WITH COLOR
"I was so angry I saw red!"
"She has such a nice, sunny disposition."
"That color 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 color affects the way we feel. The effect is so strong that colors 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 colors and the emotions they invoke, but I think you get the picture. The question is, how can you use this information to choose colors for your website?
Designers generally break colors into three distinct groups, and choose their palettes according to the effect they want to create. Almost all colors 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" colors (deep greens, blues, purples, wood tones)
Excitement Colors: reds (the strongest), pinks (strong to mild depending on depth), oranges (strong to mild), "hot" colors (fluorescents, etc.), yellows (the weakest)
Comfort Colors: 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 color groups.
Knowing this, you can choose your website colors 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 colors from the comfort palette, and add in a little bit of yellow.
Want to incite your visitors to action (like BUYING something)? Use colors from the excitement palette. Be careful, here, though. Over use of excitement colors can make your visitors agitated or angry -- not the effect you want to create.
Of course, most designers will use colors 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 color selections, and carefully noting the way your site visitors behave with different color combinations, you can create the effects you want, too.
I just noticed that the sig tag is missing from this article. Sorry, but if you'd like to speak with Lynne this week and can't wait for next week's PPP, you can find her just about everyday in the Searchking forums.
Just to let everyone know, the vanity e-mail program is almost finished. We have the mail program running on all servers and the upgrade site just needs some finishing touches and by this time next week, anyone that wants to can be offering their own e-mail from their own domain to their own visitors. This is VERY important to the success of all our portal partners. It has not been easy but it's done. I'm very proud of this little accomplishment and I would like to say thank you to all the people that have contributed so much for so long for so little to help me get this finally to become a reality. Good jobs kids!
I'll announce the url where to go to get your domain set up just as soon as possible in the forums this week. Then of course, I'll announce it again in next week's Portal Partner Press.
Well, that's enough for another week. Remember kids, the PPP is for you. I WANT to publish your success stories, your ideas and even your "deals". Send them my way and I'll be happy to pass them along.
This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
September 16, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
Where Do WE Go From Here?
Here's Another Deal For You to Take a Look At
This is a long one folks but this time, I make no apologies. It has taken me three years of hard work to be able to provide the information in this issue and if it is not worth 15 minutes of your time to read it, then I'm just letting you know ahead of time.
Where Do WE Go From Here?
I often use the Portal Partner Press to share my strategies for Searchking with all of you for the simple fact that I feel it may help you to use some, or all, of the ideas that the Searchking team has developed to implement on your own portals. While our goals may be different, many of the strategies we use to accomplish those goals may be very similar.
I have been criticized by a few for disclosing "my business" so openly. I still feel that it is "OUR" business and not just mine. I'm the first to agree that certain things should be proprietary information and is best used in private, but in the case of Searchking, I don't see anything but good for all concerned coming out of me being so open with all my partners as to where we intend to go over the next few days, weeks, months and years and how we plan to get there.
Basically, Searchking was built for the simple fact that I was a very disappointed in the way the major search services were operating. Not in the way they were developing their own algorithms and search technologies, (in fact I have always been extremely impressed by how accurate most services are in actually getting relevant information to the searchers from huge databases), but more in the approach they took to serving the internet community. My biggest complaint has always been that they all, without exception, seem to have developed an "us against them" attitude about webmasters. Too large a portion of the money for research and development has been spent on developing search services with the primary objective being to stop spammers.
There is nothing wrong with search services building in filters and various components to protect themselves form people who would attempt to use their service for personal gain to the detriment of the benefit of the service to the public. The world being what it is, it would be the foolish man indeed who was blind to the dangers that selfish people of low moral content can subject any business to. The problem to me was -- what about the majority of people who weren't spammers? What about the honest people who simply wanted a fair shot at having their business represented without having to spend their valuable time and money learning the ways of the spammer just to be able to compete?
The major services seemed to me, to adopt policies to police the few to the point of making the many become the very thing they were trying to stop in the first place. The more processes the search engines used to stop spamming, the more it became that the only people who could have a chance to be seen were the best spammers. The whole thing seemed bass-ackwards to me so I determined to offer an alternative. A search service that took the opposite approach and instead of assuming everyone was dis-honest, I would set it up so that we assumed everyone was honest. Hence, Searchking.
Well, that all sounds fine and noble and one of the things that I am most proud of in my entire life so far is that I have proven, (at least to myself), that in theory, it does work. That assuming all people are basically honest is just as valid an approach as assuming all people are spammers. Where my competitors believe that people will cheat if given the opportunity, Searchking believes people will act honestly if given the opportunity.
Now to the problem. Profitability seems to be beyond the reach of the vast majority of search services. Searchking too has been unable to generate a profit following a strategy of generating enough income from advertising alone to become profitable, the same as most of my competitors. The simple fact is that it is extremely difficult to make a profit form ad sales on the internet. I have done many, many cash flow studies based on ad income and it just doesn't work out with the stats available now. When you figure in your cost for staff, hardware, software and bandwidth and compare that with the current ad rates, the money is just not there.
In theory, the more traffic you get the more ad income available to you. In fact, the more traffic, the more your cost goes up in staff, hardware, software and bandwidth. Now factor in the millions and millions of web pages all offering advertising, the fact that banner ads have very little value to the advertiser due to extremely low click-thru rates and the fact that an industry standard has developed which sets the "normal" price of ads way below what it needs to be to make a site profitable strictly from ad income and the fly in the ointment becomes brutally apparent.
I realized all this of course AFTER spending all the money and time getting Searchking developed and online. So now what? Well, my answer was that to become profitable in a search service there needed to be alternative income streams that encompassed more than just advertising revenue. After spending some time looking at the situation, I determined that there was a market for providing business solutions to other businesses. I found that most netpreneuers were struggling to overcome the same problems that I had discovered, which the main one, of course, being how to become profitable. Some of the first things that came to mind naturally, were web design, web hosting and providing turn key software solutions.
Once I established a market, I set about the task of trying to run some numbers. My projections were at worst, wrong, and at best were a shot in the dark. There is VERY little data available to a guy like me on how much capital investment it takes to lay the foundation for a business model like I described above. I had no idea of how to figure programming cost, (the number 1 expense in an endeavor like this), man-hour cost for staff, co-location fees, (which vary widely from service to service), etc. The one thing I did know was that the expense was sizable. I saw this as an opportunity.
I have many years experience in the TV rental business. As a very young man I was fortunate to get involved in this industry because it taught me a lot of things about business and an option to buy something for a dollar and selling it for two. It taught me that buying a product or offering a service that a certain segment of the market wanted yet could not actually justify the entire cost of and then offering that product or service for a "small", (relative term), monthly or weekly fee, made a lot of business sense. It made enough business sense to me that by the age of 24 I owned 3 TV rental stores and became a millionaire.
Don't be too impressed though, because in all but the most exceptional cases, a 24 year old self made millionaire is a lot like a big bag of money with a hole in it. I lacked the maturity, experience and just plain old common sense to know what to do with that kind of money. By the age of 28, the business was gone, my wife and family were gone and of course the money was gone. I went from riding around town in flashy cars holding my hand out the window so everyone could see my jewelry, to standing on street corners waiting for buses while I waved to lawyers that I had paid, riding by in fancy cars flashing their jewelry.
The fact that I went broke was in no way a reflection on the validity of the "little now and little more later" business model. I went broke because of me. I had proven that the business model worked and worked well. So as the years fly by and with each consecutive attempt at world domination, I have always employed the techniques I learned as a young man in the TV rental industry simply because I understand the concept so well and the fact that I KNOW it works. Now, the question may very well be, why does it work? The answer is perceived value.
If we both knew that a TV costs $600 and I asked someone to pay $1800, we could both assume that a rational person would think I was crazy and never even consider paying me that much money for a TV. However, if that person, for a variety or reasons such as lack of education prohibiting him from getting the kind of job that would give him the resources to have the $600 available, or for past financial commitments, or from simply wanting the TV AND something else at the same time, was not in a position to pay the $600, by offering an alternative, there comes into play, perceived value. Now when I offer that person a TV for $15 dollars a week, he realizes that he CAN afford the TV now and begin using the benefits of that product without having to save money, or wait until his other bills are paid off, or wait until he gets a better education so he can get a better job, or wait until he learns what makes a TV work so he can build one for himself. He starts seeing, what to him, is value. This is the concept of perceived value as it relates to the "little now and a little more later" business model.
Applying this concept to Searchking is now much easier for me to explain.
The things I'm going to mention for a while now, I will be talking about as if I had made some discovery in regards to the internet and internet marketing. The fact is I realize that most of my "discoveries" are nothing more than common knowledge around just about anyone who has had an online business for more than a few weeks. I use most references in the first person for the purpose of illustration only.
The internet is going absolutely nuts! It is growing with more velocity than any thing in the history of human experience. There are close to one billion websites on the web and the majority of them commercial in nature. The net offers an opportunity to all mankind like nothing before. We have all seen many high profile examples of people becoming very wealthy very fast. The net has put a whole new twist on old cliches such as "rags to riches" and "get rich quick". It has fostered an environment of creativity and invention. It has provided mankind with a motivation to create, produce and succeed. The bottom line is that it has created almost as many new markets as it has created new products to provide to existing markets.
While I whole-heartedly believe that the net may very well hold the solutions to problems that have plagued mankind for several millennia, such as disease, poverty, and even war, those are not the things the internet offers that I have decided to focus my attention on. Because of my sales and marketing background, I am only focused on the internet in terms of what it can do for business. That is not to say that I have no interest in seeing the net used to cure AIDS, it is only to say that the net is so huge and widely varied that I don't have time to pursue all my interests on the net so I have decided to focus on just net marketing.
One of the things I discovered about the net was that this creative environment was producing a lot of very good ideas in terms of net marketing from people who had a sincere motivation to implement their ideas for the betterment of themselves, their children, their group, or community and for the world in general. The problem was that having a good idea wasn't enough. A great concept is great only when it is functioning. Concept without function is a theory and a theory does not put money in your pocket. Sales put money in your pocket and that requires turning your concept into a procedure - function.
Now we've got this great idea that we know would work, but we need software developed. Oops what about a server? What about bandwidth? DNS numbers, IP numbers, MX records, cgi, order forms, secure servers, perl scripts, java, ram memory, OC-3's, routers, megabytes, petaflops, and on and on. A lot of stuff to have to know just to be able to apply function to our concept.
In addition, we have the more traditional stuff as well. Recruiting and training staff, customer service, credit card acceptance, bank charges, payroll, employee taxes, employer ID #, workman's comp, building leases, equipment leases, depreciation, office supplies, utility expenses and on and on. Again, quite a bit to learn about just to be able to make a few sales using our great idea.
You'd think that this alone would dissuade the rational person from even pursuing the net promise of "rags to riches", but it hasn't. More people today are starting their own businesses than ever before. In spite of all the things I mentioned above, the perception is that it's never been easier to start a business than it is with the internet now. That tells us there is a market for making the function of a concept become a reality. The less a person has to focus on the function, the more they can focus on the concept. I have found that the concept is what is most appealing to most people while the function is the least appealing. Again, this tells us there is opportunity in providing function and that is what the Searchking strategy is based on.
Realizing that ad income alone would fall short of allowing me to reach my goals, we developed a two prong approach to generating income. Advertising and providing function, in less complex terms, specialty web hosting.
By Searchking being a generic search resource, (as opposed to a topic specific portal), we knew that we could not target a specific market like our topic specific portal partners could. In other words, our market was much more general which means in theory, that we would have to charge less for our ads because our traffic was less specialized and not as targeted but as we have a larger market, we should be able to generate more traffic which means it would all equal out. In theory!
For ad revenues to increase, we needed to increase the traffic to Searchking. Now, with Searchking having a smaller database than most of our competitors, why would any one want to use Searchking instead of Yahoo? Our answer was to develop a system of loosely integrated portals that we could develop a symbiotic relationship with. We send traffic to them and they send traffic to us. This increases our traffic and enables us to also sell inventory on our "free" portals as well. The problem of course was, as I said, the numbers were proving themselves out and it became apparent that we would not be able to generate enough capital to support ourselves to the point that there were enough of these portals to generate enough traffic to make the ad income alone make us profitable. Once we have a million portals on our servers generating a million page views a day, then yes, the advertisers will come to us and be willing to pay us our price, but the quandary remains that you can't get a million portals without the ad income and you can't get the ad income without the million portals. So how do we get from here to there?
We provide function. We focus on offering solutions to the problem of applying function to concepts. Based on our objective of increasing traffic using a strategy of developing integrated portal partners, in order to get more traffic, we needed more portal partners. The question now arises, why would anyone want a website hosted with Searchking when there are so many competitors with more money, bigger servers, and more staff? The answer, a search engine.
This feature alone graphically illustrates my "concept to function" sermon. Many of you reading this now became portal partners for the simple fact that you had an idea, (a concept), but in order to turn you're idea into a working business model, (function), you needed a search engine. You did not know how to program one, you could not justify the expense of buying one and you did not see the value of using someone else's search engine because that was providing function for their concept and not yours. You needed a search engine that you control. Along comes the Searchking concept and bingo! I've got another portal partner and you have a search engine.
So far we have formed this symbiotic relationship with some 300 portal partners, (not counting the over 2,200 power portals which I don't even count yet), with 20 percent of those upgrading to portal pros which of course provides that additional income stream I referred to earlier. Of that 20%, another 35% of those have now upgraded to additional portal pros. This shows that once they saw the value, justifying the expense was easy. This 20% pushes our average income up to a point that when combined with the advertising income that Searchking generates, we can now calculate the average income and the average expense of each portal whether it's a plus or pro.
After a recent phone conversation with one of my partners, I started running the numbers again, (which is the reason for the PPP being late this week). The calculator sounded like a little dog with long toenails running across a linoleum kitchen floor, but with each passing hour I became more and more excited! I can now state publicly that this is going to work assuming that the numbers remain constant with no more than about a 15% margin of error. If we have 20% of portal partners finding enough value in the upgrades we offer to justify the expense of those upgrades to themselves, all we need is more portal partners to become not only successful, but at some point, one of those high profile rags to riches stories we've all heard about before. IT WORKS and it is gratifying indeed to finally be able to know that it works on paper and in the application of function.
Now, we finally get to the good stuff. The "what's coming next" stuff. Well what's coming next is just the natural progression of this strategy. As I said, all we need are more portal partners.
I'm going to tell you now exactly, step-by-step, what we have done up to now to implement our strategies and what we plan to do to further our objectives by continuing to follow our strategies.
#1. Build a fast, quality search engine as a foundation. Searchking. We've done that.
#2. Offer a specialty web hosting service. The Searchking portal program. We've done that too.
#3. Build a custom interface for the portal program making it is as easy as possible for technically challenged people to use so that they can quickly implement and evaluate the potential value of the program. We've done that too with the world's first portal EZ Builder.
These three things alone have been a huge undertaking and I am very proud of what we have accomplished just with these first three things. I'd venture to say that we may have very well just gone down in history as having built the most complex hosting system with the least possible resources in the history of the internet!
Now for what's coming.
#4. Develop, create, build, purchase and install custom software for the purpose of offering to our portal partners as free and paid upgrades. Dave is working on the finishing touches of that upgrade site as we speak.
#5. Eliminate the set up fee for the portal pros and make them completely free thus greatly expanding our customer base. Again, the new sign up website is being built as we speak.
#6. Promote the concept as a free web hosting plus in as many ways as Searchking can afford, (in our case we will focus on articles and ads in internet newsletters and e-zines).
I'd like to expound on #6 for just a moment. In the late part of last year I spent considerable time and money doing just what #6 said and I learned that I was doing something wrong. The ads never brought the kind of response they should have for the simple fact that I was promoting a free portal and very few people I was advertising to even knew what a portal was. Educating the public can be very expensive and I now know that selling something is much easier when the potential customer understands what it is you're trying to sell. This time, we're going to be advertising free web hosting plus. Get a free website with your own search engine! Once we get them to the site, then we can show them the value of a portal.
Well, that is very condensed version of the entire Searchking strategy for the short term. "Ok Bob, but what does that have to do with me?" It has everything to do with you if you want it to.
Many of you, in the process of building your portals, have faced doubts, disappointments and rude awakenings. You found out at some point that your concept didn't work like you thought it would. You found out the program you wanted cost 10 times what you thought it would cost.
By the same token, you have experienced elation, joy and a sense of real accomplishment. You found evidence that your concept was a good one. You found that installing some cgi script was easier than you expected. You were thrilled to find that some program you wanted was a fraction of the cost you expected. You found that the answers you were looking for were no farther away than going to the forums.
Do you think it has been any different with me? I have experienced many, if not all, of the same things you are experiencing. The only difference is that when I was going through them there was no PPP for me to read. What I am doing is trying to give you all the benefit of my experience in the hopes of making your goals easier to reach.
The whole point of this issue is to show you the similarities between my portal and yours. You can very easily print out this issue, tack it to your wall and if you follow the same exact steps, you can expect the same results. I'm offering you the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and take advantage of some of the things I've learned without having to spend the time trying to figure them out for yourself. I realize that I am not the only person on the planet offering programs to the internet business community. I realize that I have competitors in the portal industry. I also realize that I may very well be the only person on the planet who is willing to not only offer the programs, but also offer virtually every aspect of using the same programs for the purpose of making a profit. I have never come across anyone on the net offering ANY program who has been as open as I have with their customers, whom I call partners. Whether you realize it or not, you are seeing history being made.
I'm sure that as you are reading this you may be a little unclear of exactly how this strategy I've exposed is going to make you money and how trying to duplicate it is going to help. I'm going to give some illustrations now to try to make the process a little more clear. These illustrations are only examples for the purpose of explaining the concept.
All right, last month Searchking generated right at $5,000 in income. My expenses for the month ran about $7,200. In the most basic terms of accounting, we can take the total income or expense and divide that by the number of portals and that gives us an average cost and average income per portal, (there are many, many factors that go into getting specific numbers for specific areas of income and expense, but for all intents and purposes, this is how it works). Ok, taking the numbers from above, with 300 portal pluses and pros, that gives us an average income of $16.66 per portal. Now we still do not have our ad network up and running so I am not able to get any benefit form our advertising income yet. Once I get the ad network finished, (which by the way, everyone that is using the bannermaster program has their ad network finished), in theory, my impressions will go up and so should my income. By not increasing the cost of our ads and then by adding more impressions, it only increases the value of our advertising.
Also, we do not have any upgrades available yet to the portal partners so my income is limited to only the hosting fees from the pros. Once we start adding the features we intend to add as upgrades, again our income will go up. I want to focus on the upgrades for just a moment. Let's say for example every portal plus is now free but of course we limit the features so basically we offer a website with a search engine. Now the forums become an upgrade. When the partner decides to upgrade, we still offer the forums for free, BUT, we also offer other forums that are paid upgrades. More features, easier installation, more power and things like that are just a few of the examples of what we would offer in paid upgrades. So, let's assume that out of 100 portal pluses 99 WANT to upgrade their site to include a forum. Out of the 99 that go to the upgrade page, let's say that 89 take the free one BUT, 10 of them see enough value in the paid ones to justify the expense. That's 10 people now that had a program for free that now are happy to pay let's say, $20 per month, because they now see the value of paying for a better forum for their site. They see this value because they see that by having a better forum it increases traffic to their site, which gives them more page views which brings in more ad income. We make a little money, they make a little money.
With just 10 people paying an extra $20 per month, that increases our average income per portal. Now when you start running projections and figuring the income for 100 portals, then times 2, then times 10, then times 100, then times 1,000, you can see how this projection thing works. If we had 10,000 people sign up for a free website with a search engine, (what we all call a portal), and 10% of them went with a paid upgrade for $20 per month, that would be $20,000 per month.
Now let's look at expenses. Based on what I've shown you so far, it's obvious that if all the numbers stayed constant, we would go broke very quickly. With expenses at $7,200 and with 300 portals, that puts our average cost at $24 per portal. So where is the profit? The trick is that it costs x amount to lay the foundation for offering the function to the concept, this is what is known as an investment. We have employees, we have servers, we have bandwidth and all those things necessary to be able to offer the program in the first place. Now that the foundation is in place, we can start shifting those numbers from increased expense to increased income which of course equals profit. Another way of seeing this is, with the staff and the equipment we're paying for now, we could add another 300 portals without increasing cost other than the transfer charges. In other words, if we doubled our number of portal partners and the income numbers remained constant, (which they have for almost a full year now), that means that we now have 600 portals generating $10,000 an increase of 100%. At the same time, the only increase in expense has been the bandwidth charges which would increase our expenses by about 5%. So now our income is $10,000 and our expenses are $7,560.
Ok, so once we have 600 partners, now our expenses will have to increase. We need more staff and more servers and more bandwidth in order to continue to grow. So let's say I increase our labor expense by hiring two employees at a cost of $7000 per month and add another two servers at a cost of about $2,000 per month and transfer fees increase to about $1,000 per month. Now our expenses are running $15,750 BUT now we can double again without increasing expenses by more than 5% for transfer charges. Now our income is $20,000 per month.
Double that again and our expenses are about $30,000 per month, our income $40,000. Double again, expenses $60,000, income $80,000 and so on and so on.
In addition to the simple mathematics represented by the above example, we are continually increasing our per portal income by the offering of more and better upgrades and more and more expensive ad income, which throws a whole new twist to the income/expense ratio. Also, due to training, our staff becomes more efficient which again lowers the percentage of expense per portal.
All of this is extremely elementary and subject to a very wide shift from one dynamic to another. I may decide to spend $100,000 on advertising which of course would throw the expense projections way out of line. I may decide to hire 2 programmers and pay them double what I projected. I may buy a program that is much more than I projected, etc. But again, in theory, the only reason for increasing expense would be to enable us to increase income and increase the profit margin. Whether you believe it or not at this point, you are going to find that you are going to be faced with EXACTLY the same problems that I face. How to increase income without increasing expense thereby increasing profits.
A perfect example of this symbiotic relationship has presented itself just this last week. Two partners have contacted me wanting specific upgrades. They both wanted more space. They both had a concept in mind that they were sure would make them more profits. They both wanted to be able to offer the ODP database because they know that will improve service to their customer base, increase page views and increase ad revenue. I gave them both unlimited space for $89 per month. They can justify the $89 per month increase in their expenses because they see how to increase their revenue by 10 times that amount or more. They pay me $89 per month, so they can make $900. That is exactly the way this thing is supposed to work. Had I not made that upgrade available, they would have to get a server, get it hooked up, hire someone to maintain it, learn how to install the programs they needed, buy the programs and on and on. A sizeable investment and faced with that kind of investment, they could not justify the expense. $89 per month is easy to see the value in, (remember the $600 TV scenario I discussed earlier?) As a final note on this particular subject, those two upgrades alone increased my average income per portal by about 50 cents. That is how it is supposed to work! With each upgrade, the only reason you should consider it is because it adds function to your concept and enables you to make more money.
So, all you have to do is follow this same strategy for your portal. The hometown portals for example. Let's assume you already have 10 local clients you are hosting on your portal pro. They need forums too. You upgrade to a better forum for $20 per month, you then install it on 5 of your clients' sites for $20 per month and you're making a profit of $80 per month. Searchking has just increased our income per portal and you just increased your average income per client!
That's the way it's supposed to work.
Color Schemes, or How Many Totally Unrelated Colors Can I Use on My Website?
After last week's article, one of the Portal Partners posted a question about the optimum number of colors that should be used in designing a web site. I started to answer that question, then realized that I was giving away this week's article ;-)
There are differing schools of thought on the total number of colors that "should" be used in any layout, but just about any color scheme can be made to work. The key is to tie all of the colors together in some way -- a focusing graphic works well.
Typically, a company logo is used as the focusing graphic, and specific colors contained in the logo are picked for use throughout the layout. A healthy dose of a neutral (black, white, or grey) will bring balance.
Another strategy is to use a monochromatic (sometimes called tone on tone, or tri-tone) color scheme. You really need a color wheel to use this effectively. They run about $5.00 at any art supply store, and can really save you from committing the great "color sins" (eg: fuschia text on royal blue backgrounds). Just make certain that you get one that shows color relationships and harmonies, as well as the standard primary, secondary, tertiary, and their complements.
Monochromatic schemes use the pure color, along with the shade, tint, and tone of that color.
Shade = color + black
Tint = color + white
Tone = color + grey
The beauty of the monochromatic schemes is that occasional dollops of the pure color complement, or another highly contrasting color, can be used to draw immediate attention to something that needs to stand out.
An example of a website that uses both a monochromatic scheme and a focusing graphic can be found at: www.eyeonwinnipeg.com
Yet another strategy is color, complement, mid range neutral. In this scheme, the color and its complement "clash" with each other, and the mid range neutral (a color made by combining the other 2 colors) brings balance. Note: this scheme requires the use of LOTS of white space, with outside colors used very rarely, and in very small amounts. White space is the term for the neutral color used to separate elements of a layout. In print it is usually white (hence the name), but it can also be black, grey or another color that works well with the chosen color and its complement. For example, if you are using deep purple and gold as the color and complement, black is a good choice for the "white space" color, since both the color and its complement stand out well against black. The mid range neutral (made by mixing purple and gold) would also stand out well against the black, and help balance the stronger colors. This selection of colors can yield a strong, rich looking layout, that is harmonized and easy to read.
Color blocking is still another strategy. Large, irregularly shaped sections of strong primary and secondary colors are used to create a vibrant backdrop for a layout, or to break content into manageable chunks. The blocks themselves may, or may not, be separated by areas of white or black. Many children's sites and publications make use of color blocking, but it could also be used to create a funky, retro 60's, or fast paced, upbeat type of feel.
As I said earlier, you CAN make just about any color scheme work. You just have to be willing to experiment with color and layout. Learning to use these color strategies effectively is not an overnight process, but it can be very rewarding when everything finally "comes together".
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication. You can contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
HERE'S ANOTHER DEAL FOR YOU TO TAKE A LOOK AT
Thank you once again for including eWOMP in your outgoing newsletter. Here is the paragraph I would like for you to include (feel free to edit it if necessary):
Is Viral Marketing working for your portal? Dramatically increase your traffic using eWOMP's (electronic word-of-mouth platform) free proven word-of-mouth marketing technology. The goodwill you have generated among your users and the services you have created in the market are your most valuable assets. eWOMP allows you to leverage these assets to transform your users into marketing tools who spread the word about your site and, in turn, attract new users.
Customizable eWOMP buttons empower you to reward users for making personal, potent referrals to their friends and family. eWOMP multiplies the impact and results of any marketing campaign! eWOMP reaches over 3.2 million surfers a week, and has generated, for its partner sites, a 40+% conversion rate; whereas traditional email campaigns generate 2-10% conversion and banner ads generate less than 2%, on average. eWOMP will also never sell or lease any of your surfer's personal information. We are spam-free, PERIOD!
Simply put, we make your website better by adding feature-rich functions. eWOMP also provides your users valuable points and contest entries everytime they use your Word-of-Mouth Platform to "spread the word", making them your evangelized agents. Best of all, through our easy-to-use pop-up windows, your users can take advantage of every eWOMP feature without ever leaving your website.
And best of all, eWOMP is available for FREE from our website, www.ewomp.com! Just click on "Partners" and sign up for our standard solution. 15 minutes and cutting and pasting 3 lines of HTML code is all it takes!
For more information, please contact Jordan Wallach at (212) 279-0510 x30, or by e-mail at email@example.com. We look forward to bringing you more customers through out advanced referral technology.
If this is too long, feel free to contact me and I would be happy to shorten it for you.
Thanks again for your interest in eWOMP.
(212) 279-0510 x30
My proofreader is out this week for some surgery so please excuse any typos.
See ya next week!
This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
September 24, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
You've got Mail!
YOU'VE GOT MAIL!
Last week's PPP was a little long, (My guess is that some of you are STILL reading it.), and a little abstract. This week I'm going to keep it short and sweet. YOU'VE GOT MAIL!
I've been working on this so hard for over two years now that I am satisfied that this one announcement alone justifies an issue of the Portal Partner Press and there is nothing else I could say that could carry the weight of this one topic.
We all take e-mail so much for granted that the huge importance of this announcement may not be readily apparent, but trust me, it is huge! For the last two years I have staunchly insisted that Searchking own the mail and be able to offer it to our portal partners. So many people have been amazed that I wouldn't simply take one of the free email services available out there and make life so much easier on myself. It's true, had I done that and signed up with Everyone.net or someone like that, I wouldn't have had to struggle so hard for so long. BUT, Searchking owning that mail was the only answer.
Had I gone with another program, you would not have had control over your own mail and you would not have had a portal with your own email to offer. In my opinion, in order to make a portal instead of a website, there has to be a minimum of two special programs. One of course is the search engine or directory and the other is being able to offer web based e-mail from your own domain. firstname.lastname@example.org was the only answer. If I had gone with any other service, your portal may have been yourdomain.com but the e-mail would then had to have been something like email@example.com even for you portal pros.
Granted, for all you portal plus owners, your email address will be firstname.lastname@example.org BUT, that is the same address as your url. That makes sense, much more sense to me than sending someone from your portal to another website where you would not be able to control your visitor. That made enough sense to me to ignore the fact that I could have made this easier by using someone else's service and stick to insisting it had to be our own.
Finally, we are ready to make each and every portal partner become the postmaster for their own portal. You can now offer free web based e-mail to all of YOUR visitors. This is not free e-mail from Searchking, it's free e-mail from YOUR domain. Pros and pluses.
We had a few challenges dealing with being able to offer the mail to the pluses, but due to my determination and the skill and dedication of some key staff, we licked the problem and now, to my knowledge, we are the first hosting company in the history of the internet to include an email program with free third level domains.
Now, as I said last week, we will start offering the portal pluses for free in the next one to two weeks. We will then start doing some advertising with the theme of Free Web Hosting Plus. The world's first free web hosting service to offer every feature of any other web host PLUS your own search engine, your own vanity e-mail, your own chat room, your own forum and your own bannermaster! We expect to see some really impressive growth over the next few months and I think Searchking has every possibility of rivaling Geocities in the near future.
I'm hoping to see some of my partners posting in some forums the next time they see another one of those posts we've all seen in just about every marketing forum on the net, "Who's the best Free Host". Now you have something to tell them. Tell them Searchking!
Enough about all that, let's get you kids signed up.
Go to www.searchking.com/kingmail/upgrade.htm and follow the instructions. We are having to install each program individually at this time but we are working on a script that will install them all automatically and hope to have it functional very soon as we expect there are going to be a lot of people signing up. For now though, we will get the order and install as fast as possible. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for each installation so the time frame will depend strictly on the volume of orders. We will try our best to get everybody installed within the first 24 hours but I do need to ask you all to cut me a little slack and not start emailing us for at least two business days.
Once installed, we are confident that this program is just about the easiest to set up and maintain of any program we've seen, but if you do have some problems, use the forums. I have already made arrangements to ensure that there will be help available.
Now, go get 'em kids and let's show the world just what is possible with a feature rich topic specific portal!
This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
September 26, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
You've got More Mail!
Here's Another Deal For You
YOU'VE GOT MORE MAIL
I couldn't be happier about our new mail for portal partners. We've had a little over 30 portals sign up so far and that is enough for us to "get the hang" of getting them set up and installed. I appreciate everyone's patience in allowing us to get through our little learning curve.
I expect the forums to start picking up a little with questions about setting up your own mail and how to best approach the marketing end of being your own postmaster. We have not had a single complaint or even question about set up yet out of the 30 or so portals we've done so far. That makes me think it must be pretty easy to master. Now the marketing thing may involve a few more questions, but again, that goes in the forums.
If you want your own e-mail to offer to your visitors, you need to sign up for it. Go to www.searchking.com/kingmail/upgrade.htm and we'll get you rolling!
HERE'S ANOTHER DEAL FOR YOU!
As I've said before, I get a lot of people and companies contacting me with "deals" for Searchking. Usually, I don't see the value in those deals for Searchking, however, I can see where there might very well be value in the deal for some of our partners. This is the case with this week's deal.
This deal is from another search engine called ah-ha.com.
Ah-ha uses the search engine from All the Web. Their engine, (called Fast), is extensive, rivaled only Google I believe, with some 600 million pages indexed from the web. This makes them bigger than Alta Vista and Excite combined as well as puts them way ahead of what used to be the #1 engine in terms of pages indexed which was Inktomi. Their database seems to be very similar to Inktomi in fact, as far as how they use an algorithm to determine rank for a site. (If you can dominate Inktomi, you should be able to dominate Fast as well which gives you Lycos, by the way). Anyway, at least in terms of this particular deal, all of that has very little to do with Ah-ha, so I'll get on with it here and show you the letter and let you decide for yourself if this is the deal for you.
Co-branding with ah-ha.com was only the good stuff.
This is not a sales pitch, ah-ha.com is a service provider and we want to partner with you. If you currently have, or thought of having a search engine on your site, We truly are the perfect solution for your site search or web search. Best of all its FREE FOR YOU!
Ah-ha.com has implemented the most advanced search technology, with the cleanest and most relevant search results found on the internet. By incorporating our Co-brand Search Program into your web site, you can offer complete Internet search solutions for consumer end users. This can include internal site navigation to improve customer retention.
More importantly, when your website is powered by an ah-ha.com search engine, you'll be able to take advantage of ah-ha.com's CYBERSTICK, an ingenious use of artificial intelligence which causes users to stick to your website longer. Since ah-ha.com's search engine delivers cleaner, more intelligent, more targeted results, users won't have to leave your website to access what they are looking for.
Benefits of the ah-ha Co-branded Search
- We customize the search to fit your site's look and feel
- You have the option of running your own banner ads and keep 100% of the revenue, or participate in a revenue sharing program with ah-ha.com
- Ah-ha will take care of the setup and implementation of your Co-branded Search
- You will receive a list of the top words searched from your site allowing you to have optimal customization for your users. You know what they want.
Why continue sending valuable users away with text links and search boxes for other search engines? Institute our Co-brand Search Program now, and start benefiting from the number one activity on the Internet today..searching.
Call Colby Campbell the Director of Business Development at ah-ha.com and Mention Bob King with searchking.com and we will wave the setup costs. All deals depend upon the quality of your site. No matter the size. Colby Campbell 801-418-1111 x121 email@example.com
Note that he seems pretty proud of his service in spite of his grammatical errors and the fact that he, (as do many others), thinks my name is Bob King. My biggest problem was simply the fact that he was wanting Searchking to use his engine as opposed to my own and I have worked way too hard and spent way to much to consider using anyone else's engine at this point in time. I realize that may not be the case with you and it does seem to me that his service is as good, if not better than most of the "deals" that get sent my way.
Remember that I am in no way recommending this service or even suggesting that it may be good for you or anyone else. I am merely passing this offer along so that you have the opportunity to check it out and make up your own mind. Also, you can expect to start getting deals coming your way too once your site gets established.
More on Color Schemes
Last time we talked a bit about what types of color schemes can be used to create a unified look on a web site. We touched on the major types of schemes that many designers use when creating a layout, but we didn't discuss any of the color limitations imposed when designing for the web.
Most of you know, or have heard, that the 2 major web compatible graphic file formats have wildly different color capacities. GIFs are limited to 256 colors (any 256 colors) or less, while JPGs can display literally millions of colors. This seems to open up endless possibilities for creating attractive web sites, but the reality is that there are only 216 colors that are designated "browser safe". The term browser safe means that those colors will display approximately the same way in the major browsers and most of the graphics capable minor ones.
Of course, 216 colors give us a very large number of possible color combinations, but the number of attractive combinations is considerably lower than the total number of possibilities. The question is, how do you determine which colors are browser safe, and how do you go about combining them in an effective way?
Most recent web graphics software packages include a "web safe" color palette. Some even include 2 or 3 of them, with varying layouts (the same 216 colors, arranged in different ways). Unfortunately, none of them is laid out in such a way that you can easily identify color relationships, and none of them identifies the corresponding "real world" colors so that you can recreate your color scheme in print. Well, almost none. I should note that Photoshop 5.0 + gives you the ability to identify RGB, HEX, and CMYK values for any color swatch. It will even tell you if your chosen color is in or out of the web or print safe color range (gamut), but the layout of the palettes provided leaves a lot to be desired, and color relationships are difficult to identify. On top of that, Photoshop is just a tad pricey for most non-professionals.
Luckily, there is a service that allows you to easily select web safe colors, identifies color relationships, and provides immediate read out of corresponding RGB, HEX and CMYK values. You can even pick out different colors and have them displayed together so that you can see for yourself how they will look in your layout. Cool. Now, where do you find this treasure? www.visibone.com/colorlab This url will take you to the online version of this unique palette, but that's not the only goodie you'll find on the visibone site. Go to the home page and you'll find, oh wonder of wonders, that they've created downloadable palettes for most of the major graphics programs, and you can grab them for FREE. Browse around the site a little, and you'll discover a bunch of interesting goodies that you can order, for a price.
There you have it, a quick, easy way to make absolutely certain that the colors you pick for your website will work together, and are web safe.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication.
You can contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well that's it for another week kids. See ya next week! This Bob's for you
Publisher -- Bob Massa
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PORTAL PARTNER PRESS 2000