Lost opportunity

Well it has been a while since I have posted.  Ok, so now that you are thinking that that is the understatement of the year, I can move on.  Yeah, it has been a while.

While it has been some time since my last posted, one thing that has not changed is my addiction to Starbucks.  I would not consider myself a heavy user, but I am sure some would.  I usually have at least one a day, most days two, some days more.  Which means I hang out a lot in a Starbucks.  While I am waiting for my drink, I am a captive audience, and Starbucks takes good advantage of the opportunity.  They have small signs, large banners, and posters all trying to temp me to try something new.   While most of the time I simply ignore their pitch, their newest promotion got me thinking.   The poster was promoting their new lunch sandwiches, and it got me thinking about the amount of money that a company puts into promoting new products, not to mention their brand.    A company can spend huge amounts of money, but if they are not on top of their game every day and they screw up, it does not matter how much they spend.   They will have lost the opportunity forever.  Yes I am referring to my previous post.  (You can find it here).

Four years later I still can not get the picture out of my head.  So while Starbucks has expanded into offering breakfast sandwiches and soon lunch, I will never try one.  I can not even get myself to try the free samples they give away at times.  It is important to be on top of your game everyday as  a negative customer experience can have a lasting effect long into the future.  Hopefully it will not be long into the future before the next post.

Ever thought you made a mistake?

I am starting to think the last forum I setup was a mistake in more ways then one.  I offered to take it over after it had been hacked a couple of months back, not realizing that one of the moderators had setup his own forum in the meantime and had used the Private messaging system to broadcast the fact that the site was hacked and that everyone should move to the new forum…his forum.  So after spending a couple weeks recovering the forum, converting it from phpbbs to Vbulletin, and customizing the skin, it is basically a ghost forum and worst yet, I have lost interest in maintaining it.  While I am currently into the forum for less then $400.00, the good news is that I can use the licenses I purchased to start a different forum or sell them if I shut it down.  The only really loss will be the time I spent in getting the site back online.  A major cost, but one I am prepared to live with at this point rather then put more time into the project.  Time I could better spent on other projects.

Has it been a year already?

A year has passed since I started this blog, and I am quickly losing the desire to do something constructive with my life. I keep thinking to myself that I only have 18 more years till I can retire. Which is three years earlier then I had originally though, due to the fact that I was able to buy 3 years of optional service, but even with purchasing the additional years of service, It is still 18 more years. It has been just over a year and I am no closer to escaping from my cubicle then I was when I started, and worse yet, I am becoming complacent. At least that is how I feel.

I currently run a couple e-commerce, directories and forum websites. While the e-commerce sites and directories are running in the black, the forums are a long way off. Of course I knew that going in. I figured it would take at least a year or two to build them up to where I could monetize them. I look at them as my pet projects, but they are taking way too much time for pet projects and I am starting to wonder why I currently run more then one.

So begins a new year

Over the last couple of months, I have started this post at least a dozen times, but for one reason or another I ended up just deleting it rather then posting it.  Looking back now, I now realize why.   I was trying to come up with posts that other would find interesting or useful and without any suggestions, I found it a daunting task.  So rather then post for others, I plan on posting to document my progress for myself.  So if some of the posts do not seem to make sense that would be why.  If you have any questions, just ask.  I will be more then happy to explain what I was talking about.

Falling Star(bucks)

I hate to admit it, but I am a Starbucks junkie. A day without Starbucks is a rough day indeed. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I even have the Starbucks Duetto Credit Card. Before my recent experience, I had the highest respect for the company and its chain of stores. I am not referring to their recent coupon fiasco either. Story here in case you missed it. While that has cause nothing but PR problems for Starbucks, my experience was more personal. One so bad, that after a couple of weeks I still think about it every time I walk into a Starbucks!

What made the experience so bad that I would blog about it you ask? Was the service particularly bad … well yes, now that I think about it, but that was not the reason. Did they screw up my order … well actually they had to remake both drinks due to the fact that baristas did not know that a Grande should have 2 shots of espresso, but that was not the reason. So what was the reason you ask?  Hold on-I am getting to it. It was the pastries… How could those sweet treats that they sell behind the counter scar me for life you ask?  Was the dessert stale? Were they moldy? Don’t know, I didn’t have one, but the lady in front of me ordered one and that is where it all started. It was not until the baristas reached in to grab a square that I noticed the dozens and dozens of red fruit flies in the case. Once disturbed the flies were everywhere. So many that a person could not help but notice. I guess I can’t say that since the person behind the counter did not seem to notice or care, but the lady in front of me did and so did I. Now I think about it every time I walk into a Starbucks. It is amazing that one bad experience halfway across the country can affect the image of every single Starbucks location, but that is just what this experience has done for me.

Well my triple, Venti, no fat, no foam, Caramel Macchiato is just about done, and so I guess is this rant.

Goals Update

Back in July I talked about tackling a larger project then the links directory. While the directory was an interesting venture, I thought I would take on the task of building a forum or community. While it took a couple of weeks to purchase the domain I wanted, the actual setting up of the site went relatively smoothly. Of course the hard part only started once the site went live, since a forum lives or dies by its membership. Forums require constant monitoring to make sure that people are not joining just to spam other members with ads for Viagra and the likes. I have had to ban 6 new signups already due to spam. Even as I launched the site, I was thinking of additional ideas for the site in order to attract more members, as I am hoping to grow the forum. Currently the site is just over a month old, and already has 70 members.

I now have a way greater appreciation of what it takes to setup and run a forum. It cost way more then I thought it would to get the project this size off the ground, and I am not sure that I will be able to monetize the forum for at least a year so there is no way to recoup the money at least not in the short run, but in the long run, I think the forum will pay dividends. In the meantime, I will wait and see.

Been a while

Well it has been a while since I have posted for a couple of reasons. Mostly due to my lack of time, and the misconception that I need to write lengthy articles and yes, three paragraphs is lengthy to me. :) So in order to post a little more often I plan on broadening the scope of my blog to include a combination of both long and short posts on creating “multiple streams of income” on the Internet as well as additional topics.

Funny thing about forums

About eighteen months ago, I tried to purchase a forum related to one of my ecommerce sites. I had contacted the forum owner, but he was not really interested in selling, since he had created the forum for a hobby he loved. So I made a mental note to check back in a year, since you never know. I wished him well and let him know that if he ever wanted to sell, to let me know. Well a year had past and I decided to try again, only this time to find out that he had sold the site. He had lost his job about 6 months after I had contacted him, and he had been desperate to sell the site. The only problem was he had forgotten about my offer, and sold it to someone else. Chalking that lose up to bad timing; I made a mental note to check back in 6 months from then on.

In researching the new owner, I discovered that he was a web entrepreneur, who ran websites for a living. So I thought no problem; I would just contact him and make him an offer. Turned out to be tougher then I thought, since no matter how much I offered he was not interested. I finally gave up after offering him about two and half times what he paid for the forum, but it got me thinking. Why would he want to hang on to the forum? Why would he not be interested in turning a quick profit? He had owned the forum for less then a month, and was turning down a quick profit. After some research I quickly realized that forums could be monetized and while might not be a passive stream of income, since they require some TLC, they could provide an increasing stream of income over time.

Online Forums

Now that the directory site is live, I thought I would move onto my next project. For the next project, I thought we should tackle a larger project and building a community fits that bill. Well before we can have a community, we will have to start with a forum. The great part about a community is that they can take on a life of their own in ways the original designers had not even thought of. For the next couple of posts I would like to talk about things that mostly relate to forums. From software, posting services and ways to monetize them, so if you have any areas you would like me to touch on, please leave me a comment.

Directory Startup Costs

So after reading my last post your ready to create your own directory, but are wondering about the costs.  Well I will tell you.  There are really two types of costs to a directory site.  The upfront costs and the ongoing costs.  The upfront cost includes things like the cost of the script and inital domain purchase.  While the ongoing costs would be things like the yearly domain registration fee, hosting fees and the like.

If you wanted to create a similar directory site, your only upfront cost is the $49.99 for the directory script.  There was no domain purchase price since I did not purchase the domain on the secondary market, I hand registered it. Buying a domain off the seconday market can be expensive, but might be worth it if the domain already has traffic especially if it is Type-in traffic.  I choose to use one of the domians I had on hand for the project.  I had hand registered it a couple months back, and had just had it parked since.  For being a new domain, it was still getting about 20 type-ins a month.  Not a great deal of traffic, but worth the registration fee.  Back to the costs.  My ongoing costs with be the year domain renewal fee and hosting which would be about $28.00/yr or less.  To break even in your first year, the site needs to bring in about $78.00 or 6.50 a month.  Of course once the upfront costs are covered, the site will only need to bring in $2.35/month to break even. Which should be doable, but only time will tell.