Tag Archives: online

A Smile in the Face of Haters

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Hopefully after reading my posts and watching the videos I embedded, you were curious and decided to go to my channel to check out my other videos. And then after being so impressed with the wisdom and information shared in the videos, you subscribed to my channel so you would never miss a video. Okay, so maybe you weren't quite so impressed. I said “hopefully” didn't I?

Adding videos and throwing them out there for public consumption has been an experience to say the least. It's fun to check in and watch the views counter rise every so slowly. I hit a hundred views! Then a thousand! People are actually watching what I made and uploaded. My videos aren't random funny moments I happened to film with my phone. They are actual projects and ideas that I decided to film and talk about, edit, and upload. Does that mean they are useful to everyone? No. I realize that and never expected otherwise.

It has been fascinating to see which videos are the most watched. You think you know which ones will garner the most interest, but you will be surprised, just as I have been. And then there are the videos that garner controversy. What in the world? No one is forcing you people to watch my video. And if you do happen to click on the monstrosity that is my attempt to teach you something you may not know, no one is forcing you to sit through it to the very end. In fact, in the sidebar, there's a whole slew of other related videos you could watch instead. It's even possible that what you think is trash could be valuable to someone else.

But alas, this is the internet after all and people love to drop nasty comments. You can say what you want to say without filters because you are sitting in your mom's basement in your skivvies drinking diet soda and petting your cat. See, I just did it! And it was so easy. I've found that most people leave constructive comments, even if it's an opposing opinion. And I've learned some valuable things from comments.

But how do you react to the haters? I try very hard to thank everyone for their comment and to very politely respond. Take the high road if you will. Everyone has the right to their opinion right? But there is one that is starting to really stick in my craw. Multiple commenters have said the same thing, given the same criticism. I pointed the first commenter to my video, where I explain my reasoning. The second I thanked for his ideas. The third I politely agreed to disagree. If there is another, I may say just what I'm thinking. Who knows. If I do, will it affect the number of subscribers. And if so, positively or negatively?

I want to avoid the anonymous arguing that the internet engenders, but when is enough quite enough? I guess we'll just have to find out won't we?

Check out my videos and leave some positive comments ;), or leave some in the comments section below.

 

Craigslist and Crossfit

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There are many places for you to sell your stuff. For years, Saturday mornings were for garage sales and flea markets. People always made sure to have cash on hand for that special find. You were restricted to local fads and fashion. If a particular item you wanted wasn't available in your area you were out of luck until the whole family jumped in the station wagon and you all took off for grandma's house. You gave yourself plenty of time to chase after those cardboard signs on the side of the road. You were hunting in new territory after all.

Flea markets were the best because all of those garage sales came to one place. The vendors did all of the work for you and brought those treasures down to local drive in. The fun was in the bargaining, the back and forth. Of course, there were always antique stores if you were rolling in it. They have everything all cleaned up and presentable, and you pay for that service all the way.

All of these methods were great, but left a big hole in your heart when you couldn't find the last piece to your full set of Garbage Pail Kids cards. After searching high and low, your collection still was not presentable to the world. Enter online auctions. Yahoo and eBay started out as fierce competitors. I actually preferred Yahoo for a long time. You could get better deals hands down. But eBay grew in popularity and simply had a much greater inventory. Yahoo slowly started to fade away as eBay became more and more popular.

You started by buying all of those things you had been searching for, and when your collection was either complete, or you were out of money, whichever came first, you decided, “Hey, I could do this! In fact, I could make a ton of money selling my sock monkey collection. Then I would have enough to really buy every Matchbox car ever made!” You posted your first item for sale. The pictures were crappy, taken with a 1.5 megapixel digital camera onto a floppy disk. You charged too little for shipping and realized it was a royal pain to guess the weight of the package without knowing where you were sending it yet.

But you learned and technology got better. You verified your Paypal account and didn't even realize that when eBay bought Paypal, you were getting double charged by the same company. Ebay's rates kept slowly creeping up, so you had to find things with high margins just to make a profit. It was great that there is pretty much a buyer for everything you have to sell somewhere in the world. There's always someone who wants to pay for your junk. You no longer have to waste entire Saturdays. But man, you wished you could actually keep more of what you were making. You realized you could just charge a ton for shipping to make up for your losses, until eBay caught on to that scheme and started charging you a percentage of shipping costs as well.

The big things were the killer. High shipping costs and high auction prices drove up eBay's percentage. Enter Craigslist. So you've once again limited yourself to one geographic area. But because you are online, your customer base is everyone in that area, not just the motivated people who are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn on weekends. You are still advertising for millions of people if you live in a populated area. And there are no fees. There are no Paypal processing fees or frozen funds because of a dispute. It's back to the old days of cash and carry.

Now enter the creep factor. You have no idea who you are meeting. Are they honest? Should you tell them where you live or meet in a public place? What if the item you are selling is too big to take to a public place? Do you want to give total strangers your phone number and address? The whole system is built on trust and unfortunatley the world is full of untrustworthy people. It's amazing actually that Craigslist has flourished and grown so much. Despite the drawbacks and uncertainty, people are adamant to look for the good and trust others. That's an awesome thing in this world.

On the other hand, you have to resign yourself to the fact people have no manners. They send rude emails. They don't show up for appointments. They try to talk you down in price even after you've agreed and driven halfway to meet them. But then the next guy shows up on time, pays without complaint, and thanks you. All is right again in Craigslist land and you go ahead and do it again.

I have begun a little side business selling jump boxes for plyo metric and Crossfit workouts. Because people want different sizes, I take orders and when it is done I email them back and set up a time for pick up. Unfortunately I have found that Craigslist buyers often have cash burning a hole in their pocket when they initially contact me. They agree on a price and the time it will take, but a week later when the box is done and I text them back, suddenly they don't respond. Or they do and say they are no longer interested. That money they had last week is long gone. Well now I have an unsold jump box that cost me time and money to build and no buyer. I have to go back and try to sell that particular size, hoping someone else wants it. And with Craigslist I can't really ask them to give me a deposit up front to keep them honest. There is no rating system that gives them confidence in my honesty. People choose to trust on Craigslist, but not enough to give me money in advance. I'm stuck selling for a customer who may or may not follow through.

It's frustrating, but I don't know that there is a solution. It seems things have gone full circle. I've got something in my garage I want to get rid of and I need to find someone local willing to buy it. Maybe I should put out a garage sale sign out on the corner.

 

 

Playing the Host Game

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I'm not talking about having people over for dinner party or serving up a better spread than the next guy. I'm not talking about making the most creative Martha Stewart center pieces. I'm talking about your website or blog. For bloggers, the two most common choices are Blogger and WordPress. There is always the option to go completely free on those services, but that means your domain name will have “.wordpress.com” or “.blogspot.com” which lets the entire world know you are too cheap to purchase a domain and don't take your blog seriously. The free option is for people who want to share cute stories and photos with the grandparents.

Your first step is to purchase a domain name. I did some research and followed the recommendation of other bloggers in choosing to acquire my domain from godaddy.com. It was a very simple process and not too expensive. Once you find a domain name that no one else has registered and that is descriptive of your website identity and content, pull the plug and make the purchase. Now you have to pick a service to host your site. Godaddy offers hosting as well. I chose to go with bluehost, based on recommendations from other bloggers. They offer multiple plans and the price gets cheaper the more time you buy at once. Seeing as this was my first experience in creating a site, I decided to go month to month until I decided this whole blog thing was going to become, well, a thing. It started out at 9.99 a month, but was quickly jacked up to 11.99 a month. That is crazy expensive!! Bluehost was very easy. I installed WordPress, changed the name servers at godaddy, and I was off and running.

After a few months, I went in to bluehost to look at what it would cost to change my plan to one or two years, but there wasn't an option to do it. It said I had to call customer service. I hate calling customer service! In bluehost's defense, the one time that I did have to call them, they were very friendly and fixed my problem right away. I just don't like having to call in as a general rule.

So I started to look at other hosting services and found one with a coupon that would allow me to purchase three years of hosting for around $65! That is a great price. I googled the company and didn't find any negative reviews, so at that price, I went for it. My new hosting service is through hostmetro.com. I couldn't even get one year of bluehost for that price.

Then began the headache. I am not a software engineer or website designer. I have no idea how to design and build a website. It is my goal to someday learn. I am a pretty quick study and fairly technical, but have never had the time to really delve in. After switching to hostmetro, I decided to try and transfer my site from bluehost by myself. That was a mistake! First off, I changed the name servers prematurely, so I effectively took my site down before it was ready. When I realized that mistake, I switched them back to bluehost to give me time to make the transfer. I downloaded my site from bluehost and uploaded it into hostmetro, but I had no idea what folder to put it in or what to do with it afterward. I had a scare when I loaded a new version of WordPress on hostmetro, and it appeared I had lost all of my articles to date. That was a bad feeling!

Finally I decided to ask for help. Every time I tried to google how to do something on hostmetro, I only got results for host gator. Apparently hostmetro is new enough that there isn't much written on the web. Hostmetro has the option to chat, call in, or submit a support ticket. I decided to submit a ticket and got a response within an hour or so. I provided my bluehost login because hostmetro advertised they could transfer my site for me. Unfortunately they came back and said bluehost requires everything to be downloaded to the local machine, so I had to go and download my site from bluehost and then upload it to hostmetro via cpanel. Then hostmetro went ahead and did the rest, building out my wordpress site. They informed me when it was done and I went into godaddy to change the name servers again. It takes a couple of days for the domain to resolve to the new host, so I waited.

Finally, after two more days I started trying to access my website. I could access it via some browsers, but not with others. When it did load, it would load very slowly. I could access it on my phone, but not my tablet or laptop. Arggghhhhhh!!! I could log into WordPress, but couldn't access the admin panel. I went back to hostmetro, and was told I needed to clear my browser cache. I did, but no dice. I wrote back to complain and then suddenly everything started to work. It's quick, responsive, and works in every browser.

The saga of switching hosts lasted over a week, but in the end everything worked out. For the price, you can't beat it. Hostmetro was responsive and helpful and figured out whatever issues I was having for me, even though I probably created most of them. And now I know that I really need to find the time to buckle down and learn how to build a website and use cpanel. In the meantime, I'll keep writing. I have three years before I have to think about changing. Tell me what hosting service you use and why in the comments.

 

So You Want to Make Money Online

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You gets ads in your email inbox all the time telling you how much money you could make online. You see guests on the daytime talk shows you watch while filling out resumes. They talk about how they make $10,000 a day online and you can too. You’ve read blog entries and tried websites. You’ve taken surveys online and have some great ideas for YouTube videos that you are sure will go viral. Well, I’m here to exhort you to enthusiastically pinch yourself awake and get a life. Can you make money online? Absolutely! Will it be quick or easy? Not a chance.

If you were starting your own business, you wouldn’t expect to show up on your first day, unlock the door to your newly rented office spaces, and have a line of customers around the block. You wouldn’t print your own diploma, put it in a nice frame and start seeing sick patients! OK, so maybe you would, but I’m hoping the majority of my audience is made up of better stuff. So why do people think going online is any different? Why do people think it takes less effort to be successful online? It’s like the Internet makes people stupid.

I am here to tell you that it takes time, energy, and hard work to make money online just like it does in real life. I am going to dedicate a series of posts to online money-making ideas because I dabble in a few. I don’t expect to make big money and I haven’t really put in the time or investment to do so. I do it more for a little extra cash now and then. Some of them could be bigger money makers if I really invested the time, but I have a good stable job and I don’t depend on my online activities to pay the bills. If I can make a few bucks doing what I enjoy, then why not!?

I will dedicate the first entry to my Zazzle store. Zazzle.com is a website where you can submit your own designs and they will print those designs on a multitude of different items to include shirts, hats, bags, stickers, key chains, iPhone cases, speakers, coffee mugs, plates, clocks, etc, etc; you get the idea. You take your designs and manipulate them on the Zazzle template specific to each item and then post your creation for sale in your own Zazzle store. You can design and post each item separately or do a bulk creation. There are pros and cons to each. Separate creation takes time. You have to create the template for each item, choose the color, write the title, write the description, pick a store category, pick a Zazzle category, and choose tags. But each item is uniquely designed to look its best. With bulk creation, you get your design onto a lot of products quickly, but your image may not be positioned where you want it and the colors or text may not be just right. I’ve done both and greatly prefer individual creation despite the added time commitment.

You earn money by getting paid a percentage of the cost of the item. You can even choose your percentage. For example, you can increase your profits by electing to receive a higher percentage. However, the cost of the item will go up, thus potentially reducing the number of sales. Zazzle takes its cut no matter what, as it should.

The trick is to find a unique design that has wide appeal. Create a niche product so that anyone searching for your tags will be taken to your store. For example, one of my best-selling designs is of Sicily. There are a few other sellers of Sicilian themed items on Zazzle, but I spent a long time in Photoshop creating a unique and high quality graphic. Sicily may not be one of the most common search terms on Zazzle, but whenever it is typed in, my designs pop up close to the top.

Zazzle items are high quality and worth their cost. There is real money-making potential. They add new product lines all the time and it takes time to keep up. If you want your design on every available product you are going to spend hours and hours. Add a second or third design and compound your time accordingly. Zazzle submits a payment as soon as you reach the minimum threshold of $50. You will then get the money deposited by the 15th of the following month. You can also choose to keep the money in your Zazzle account or spend it on Zazzle products. Zazzle sales go up dramatically during the Christmas holiday and there are smaller peaks for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, and other special occasions.

As a member you get frequent email promotions for great discounts. I have used my earnings and discount codes to buy some awesome gifts.

I’ve had a store on Zazzle for about 4 years and have made around $1500. I have, in spurts, worked on and created a few graphics, but really haven’t consistently invested that much time into my store. I’ve also spent very little time promoting my store through connections with other Zazzle retailers or through social media or websites. I’ve selected a more passive role in just letting users find my store through search terms. If I can make fifteen hundred bucks doing essentially nothing, think what I could do if I really started promoting my store!

Check out my Zazzle store, search through the products they have available in other stores, and try your hand at creating a product to sell. Who knows, with a lot of work and time, you may just beat the odds!

Tell me what you think in the comments.


See other gifts available on Zazzle.