Friday, September 28, 2007

When Opportunity Knocks, Use the Peephole

I'm looking for a few good ideas for monetizing the blogs and websites I have now, so that I can make money while developing another website or three.

Right now, Google's AdSense is working pretty well, but my traffic is nowhere near high enough for the ads to pay for the hosting costs and, more to the point, my time.

I've already found, and rejected, an attractive affiliate plan. It looked great: I use my existing artwork, add a little promotional copy, a banner and a link to the company, and I'd be good to go.

Just one problem: I wouldn't get money, I'd get credit for that company's products. I'll probably use the program, but now it's a lower-priority project. That affiliate program is legitimate: its only disadvantage is that it pays in credits toward purchases, not cash.

Several years ago, I looked into one of those work-at-home offers. When I saw how much equipment I'd need to buy, I stopped looking.

The point is, when something knocks, look through the peephole to make sure it's opportunity.

The five-dollar phrase is "due diligence." The economy-priced version is "common sense."

This is where I either put together a monograph on how to separate scams from opportunities, or give you a short list of resources that do the same thing.

A list is easier:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Crazy Judge Wins Partial Victory
Chungs Close Custom Cleaners

The Chungs, South Korean immigrants who made the mistake of opening their dry cleaning establishments in Washington, D.C.

The trouble started when Judge Roy L. Pearson said that Soo Chung and her husband, Jin Nam Chung, had lost his pants.

Those pants were worth $67,000,000 to Judge Pearson. He lowered his demand to $54,000,000 later, and dragged the Chungs through court for the next two years.

The administrative judge claimed that the Chung's "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" signs were misleading and fraudulent.

The Chungs' Custom Cleaners is closing now. They had three businesses when the lawsuit started. Now they've closed two.

Happily, the Chungs have been able to pay their $100,000 in legal expenses, thanks to fund raisers and donations.

The problem wasn't so much the monetary drain of the trials. The ordeal drained the Chungs emotionally. And, more to the point, they lost customers and revenue.

I don't know what other business owners can learn from this.

"Don't accept insane judges as customers" is not a practical policy.

Advocating some sort of control over frivolous lawsuits may be a reasonable long-term objective. We'll always have people in positions of power and influence whose heads are a giant economy size bag of mixed nuts. But in principle, it should be able to contain the damage they do.

I could be wrong about the next point, but it's worth repeating in this post. The city in which the Chungs had their business was heavily dominated by the same ethnic group as Judge Pearson's. The Chungs, as Koreans, were very much not of the same ethnic group.

The point has been studiously ignored, for the most part, but I wonder if a lesson to be learned here is: don't set up a business where your ethnicity makes you stand out. I hope I'm wrong about that.

Previous posts about the dry cleaners' legal difficulties on this blog:

And, a few other blogs on Judge Roy Pearon's vendetta against the Koreans:

Friday, September 14, 2007

If Content is King, Voice is the Ambassador

You've heard that "content is king." It's a cliché by now, but true: on a website, or a blog, if there isn't content, it's not likely that there will be visitors. The "content" is facts. Information of some sort - text, visuals, or sound - that informs or entertains.

There's something else that's important, too.

I recently read that "any blogger can beat Wikipedia" by improving writing style, being opinionated, and staying up-to-date.

Today, I'm going to argue that the first point, writing style, is very important.

"Style," in this sense, goes beyond correct spelling and coherent syntax. It's a matter of putting 'personality' in your writing.

Dashiell Hammett and Charles Dickens are both accomplished writers. Although some academic purists might dispute my assertion, I'm basing my statement on the fact that they both sold quite a few commercially successful books.

However, their writing style was very different. Dashiell Hammett's style was "raw, unadorned, 'hard-boiled.' Charles Dickens style was the sort of 19th century semi-poetic saunter that led someone to quip that he must have been paid by the word.

"Voice" is the way writing 'sounds' when it's read. Voice is one of the reasons people kept buying books by Dickens and Hammett.

And an individual, appealing voice is a reason that people come back to one website or blog, and not to another, when both have similar content.

Voice can be entertaining by itself. More importantly, it creates a tone and and helps interpret content for the reader.

So, content may be king, but voice is the ambassador.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Content Isn't King?

"The 4 Ways of Building Traffic to a Blog and Why Most Bloggers Pick the Wrong Method" is much less incoherent than many 'advice' posts. And, there are some good ideas there.

The basic point is that content is important, but so is making your blog search-engine-friendly, talking up your blog and encouraging others to do so, cooperating with other bloggers to boost each other's traffic, and sometimes pay for advertising.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why Start a Home Business?

Good question. It was raised by a member of an online community.

I'll defer my answer until I've thought a bit, and taken time to boil what I've got to a readable length.

Meanwhile, Here's a good discussion of the topic: "Home Business 101: It’s not about the money."

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Free Stuff - That Might be Worth Your Time

A post, about a listing of free and almost-free business resources: "Free, or Almost-Free, Stuff for Really Broke Small Businesses

("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Small Business Watchers