Dickson English House: Our New Banner


This is our new banner which we have hung up on the local wall near our school to attract attention. It’s quite colorful. I wish I could say that I designed it all, but I nearly did. With a little help from Microsoft, Istockphotos, and myself, we managed to come up with a design that was fairly attractive.

Of course, I hadn’t realized that Publisher wouldn’t create larger publications, so we had to go the vector graphics route to get the scale! But it turned out quite nicely. The most expensive part of the whole process turned out to be hiring the truck to help put it up as you’ll see in the next photo.

Don’t underestimate the benefits of offline advertising. While we spend similar amounts of money doing online advertising, we find that even where we are in one of the more wired countries on earth, traditional advertising methods do seem to get you noticed faster.


InvestorBlogger’s MoneySpinners 2009

This is the Investorblogger’s MoneySpinners for 2009… It’s simple I will tell you where I made money in 2009 on my websites, and where I didn’t.

I’ve rated the means in two ways.

By Income over the year

  • <$ = less than ten dollars
  • $ = ten to fifty dollars
  • $$ = fifty to two hundred dollars
  • $$$ = two hundred ~ five hundred dollars
  • $$$$ = five hundred dollars ~ one thousand.
  • >$$$$ = more than a thousand dollars in 2009

and also by effectiveness. In other words,

  1. was I paid promptly (one star);
  2. is it regular income (one star);
  3. easy to implement/maintain (one star);
  4. prospects for future income (one star);
  5. and no hassle factor (one star).

These are aggregate numbers and I make no apologies if I get them wrong! But I’ve done quite well in the past six months and in the first six months. I will likely post an income report for the 2H in a few weeks once the final figures are in.

Item # Means Rating Effectiveness
1 Private Ads $$$$ *****
2 Amazon $$ ***
3 Hosting $$$ ***
4 Consulting $$$ **
5 BlogRolled $ ***
6 BuySellAds <$ *
7 PayU2blog >$$$$ ****
8 Text-Link-Ads >$$$$ *****
9 Clickbank <$ *
10 InTelliLinks $$$ ****
11 Linkworth $$ **
12 LoudLaunch $$ *
13 PayPerPost <$ *
14 SocialSpark <$ *
15 Adsense $ **
16 ProjectWonderful <$ *
17 Adwidgetize $ ***
18 Entrecard <$ *

There is no particular order to these sources of income, rather I posted them as I thought of them. It’s worth noting that things vary:

1. Izea and Payperpost Properties

Payperpost was initially a very good way to earn money online but in the past year just became a waste of space. Socialspark never had any potential for me at all. I barely made payout, then quit because it was so hard to find opps. For me, the death knell of Izea was the increased use of regional segmentation which ruled me out, not because of my audience (largely US) but because I was based in Asia. The final convulsion was their ‘experimental’ changes at the beginning of 2009. I was very thankful though because I met some great bloggers, discovered some good opportunities and learned how to blog. For that, plus earning nearly $2000 with PPP, I will always be thankful.

2. Entrecard, Adsense,

Entrecard, both as a means to attract traffic and earn money, wobbled seriously several times in 2009, such that many bloggers left the system, and removed the widget. I was sorry because it did bring me some good traffic, but it just became too troublesome with the rules changing every week, as well as the feature set.

Adsense also produced relatively little, as I removed the ad boxes from almost all of my sites. I was being smart-priced by the Adsense system, which I thought was unfair. In my opinion, it’s best to cut losers early, and go with the winners, so I started using my private ad sales to generate income.

3. Amazon vs. Clickbank

Amazon worked much better than Clickbank, though commissions were quite low. I never did break into the 6% range. But I’m increasingly interested in Amazon as a possible source of income, because of its leverage and familiarity to users. On the other hand, the niches I picked for Clickbank just did not work. I ended up being my only purchaser! Even Amazon did better than CB on the niche site I started.

4. The Big Winners

The big winners for me in 2009 have been Text-Link-Ads on several sites in my network, Intellilinks on several sites, PayU2blog on one site, and my own private ad sales on several sites. Each of these has chalked up quite a bit of cash, even though IntelliLinks came on the scene quite late.

And 2010, well, who knows? Literally, I expect the big winners will start off 2010 strongly, but I’m already planning for the next phase as I move away from Blogging to running standalone sites. I’m using SBI (as some of you may already know), because of its keyword research tools.

Investment Discussion: Your money could be gone in a Flash

After my post on Tyler’s business development, I read today that Tyler has recently provided an update:

I received a lot of criticism for the investment opportunity I put forward, but I still stand behind it. In fact, I think it was actually a very generous opportunity. But I’m fine with how things turned out, as now I can now reap all the rewards (if any) myself.

There is a lot of risk though – I’ve never developed a game before, so this is a completely new venture for me. Together with Movie-Vault, this will have been $20,000 that I’ve invested into my projects during the past 6-8 weeks, which is the most I’ve ever invested at once before.

I still have a mortgage to pay, so this really is quite a risk for me. But few people get anywhere by always playing it safe.

My response: So we really begin to see what is going on.

First, Tyler needed the cash. It’s likely he didn’t have all the cash up front to invest, so he decided to tap these loans. Unfortunately, taking out a loan to fund an investment isn’t usually a good idea if the investment has no assets, no income and no known market. Risk for the lender is high, so a conventional loan would have had a punitively high interest rate, if one had been available at all.

So to raise the capital, he then tried to create a deal where the risk was on the shoulders of the lender, rather than the recipient of the loan. Which he then framed as an ‘investment’. The problem with calling it an investment is that he has capped the upside and offers a deal where the lender can lose upto 100% of the initial investment.

In other words, if the site does well, he buys out the lender; if the site does poorly, the lender could lose his share of the cash (if the site is pulled totally) or could be paid back very slowly indeed (increasing risk because of technological development and game fatigue). But other variations are also possible: what if the site needs more money (many investments do become money pits); suppose he brings a co-owner to shoulder the costs and development, what happens to the upside; what happens if the site is never finished because he encounters intractable developers or serious development issues; what happens if the game becomes outdated so fast that no-one wants to play it;… and so on.

I’ve already gone over the rest of the details in the other post, why I think any ‘investor’ would have to work hard to get due diligence done. The real issue is that while he’s never developed a game before, he clearly also has never had a business partner before either. I wonder what he would say if I offered him a similar deal for one of my projects. But that’s what concerns me the most: he never admits that the deal is a problem for the other investor, never actually discusses the alternatives to this approach, only pushes forward his confidence in his deal and his abilities.

Yes, it’s a risk. Of course, it is. That he’s putting up the money himself will highlight the concerns of the other potential investors. The odd thing is that he revealed so much of the project, yet didn’t reveal the most important details at all, avoided the hard questions in the discussion, refused to refute many of the points raised, and then went about claiming "I think it was actually a very generous opportunity". Well, it was: it was very generous to himself, …

The facts that the people he talked to would also have shared these concerns and that he is now funding the site himself both highlight how ill-conceived the financing arrangements were in the beginning. I only hope the development for the site itself shows more sophistication than this. Don’t get me wrong, I wish him well in this project, and all of the others he has, though I cannot help but feel that this bravado will prove ill-founded.

Oh, and if Tyler didn’t want someone to critique his investment opportunities, then why on earth would he advertise so openly, leave the comment thread open, and then post again later? He may stand by his ‘deal’, but I stand by my criticisms, too.

The hardest thing he did, to which I give him credit, he is trying to create a new project, he is trying to find his value, he is trying to do something that he is challenging himself to do. That is the huge upside for him, come success or failure. He will walk away with experience that he will be able to use later.