…but ideas don’t always translate into money.
This is a subject that I have touched upon before, however it always bears repeating. I can spend my whole day having a brainstorming session, idea after idea after idea, and at the end of the day I can have 100 new ideas on new websites to start. Yet often, all 100 of those will not make me a dime.
This was a topic that came up at a dinner I had tonight with two friends. They look at me, a full-time affiliate, and think I am “living the dream”. Believe me – if you’re a full-time affiliate this happens often. And to be honest – part of it IS living the dream – however anyone who has been in the affiliate business for even one month knows just how hard we all work. I don’t sit around all day playing Xbox and drinking Pina Coladas – I work my ass off from dawn till dusk many days, and find it hard to take an hour or two off let alone a day off.
But I digress. So my friends a week ago told me that they would love to get into the internet marketing business, specifically online poker. I asked them what they knew about poker? “Nothing” they answered, “but how hard can it be?”.
So I gave them the advice that I tell any new affiliate – only promote what you know. If you don’t know something, learn it, THEN promote it, but never attempt to promote something without knowing a thing about it, because you’re destined for failure.
So after confirming with my friends that they want to run a website and get into online marketing, I told them to brainstorm and come up with ten ideas for websites when we next have dinner, and we’ll discuss it then and go from there. However they didn’t do that – “we didn’t have to” was the exact quote – because they had came up with the perfect website – a website that recommends music based on what you like.
Now I’ll be honest – I have no idea if there is a site out there that is like this or not. I do know however that sites do this on a small basis(If Joe buys a Phil Collins CD and a Bruce Springsteen CD from Amazon and Jack goes to buy the same Phil Collins CD, there is a strong chance Amazon will also recommend the Springsteen CD).
I’ve also studied Ipod Genius and the feedback for it, and see that there really is consumer interest in a product like that. So on the surface, it definitely is an idea worth thinking about.
So I let my friends talk. I let them talk for over 20 minutes, telling me all about the site. They’d even figured out how it would work. It would quiz people on a list of songs, and their thoughts on them(the user would give a rating from 1-5 on each song).
The site would keep track of peoples thoughts on songs, and use them to recommend songs to other users. So if 9 people like SongA and also SongB, if someone says they like SongA, then the site will recommend SongB. Pretty simple, right?
So for 20 minutes they basically gave me a virtual tour of the site, trying to sell it on me. And I had to admit I was impressed – they were able to visualize their site and present it in a way that I could too. However there was one thing I couldn’t visualize. So when they finished talking, I told them I only had one question:
How will this make you money?
They were as quiet as a mouse.
Now I’m not saying a site like this WOULDN’T make money, but when you come up with a website idea, you shouldn’t sit around and plan out the content and design, or the mechanics of it – you should ask yourself: How will this make me money? How am I going to profit off this site?
Especially a site like this, which is going to require a lot of manpower. “Manpower?” they asked. Yes, manpower. You’re going to have to input pretty much every song in existence, to appeal to the widest demographics. You’re also going to have to update the database on a daily basis. You’re going to have to come up with measures to stop people from filling in false ratings just to mess up the site.
You’re probably going to need capital to get a userbase in there and get music recommendations all prepared. And most importantly – you’re going to have to make money, and you’ve already started preliminary designs and ideas on this site without any idea how you’re going to do it. That is just the wrong way to go, period.
To make things worse, they’re planning on doing this in the music industry, an industry rife with piracy. There are also a lot of smart people that try and make money off music too online, that they’d have to compete with.
You know that some websites actually charge you $39.99 for “all the free music ever” – and it ends up just being a download of freaking Kazaa or Limewire? The things people do online never cease to amaze me. And the thing is – that actually works! Because people are stupid enough to think if they are paying money it must be a legitimate service, and are trained so that when something is free, they ask “Where’s the catch?”
That’s why, when I have affiliates who write ebooks asking me if they should give them away for free(with affiliate codes in them), I be sure to tell them to charge money for them because you’re more likely to get more customers that way.
When you get an idea, don’t immediately rush off and follow through on it. Sit back and think about it. Talk to other people about it. I love talking with people about their new ideas. I don’t want to ever stifle someones creativity – but there are “good ideas”, and there are “good ideas that make money”. The latter is the important one when it comes to this business – hell, any business. It’s a really simple 3 step process:
(1) Get an idea.
(2) See if there is an actual market out there for this idea.
(3) Ask yourself how it will make you money.
Those are the three toughest parts of any new website or concept. Once you get those down, everything else will start to flow. And when you get to #3 – don’t give up if you can’t think of ways to make money off it immediately. There is usually ALWAYS ways to make money off things, directly or indirectly. I think I spoke awhile back about a gambling affiliate who started a site on “Haunted Casinos”. It was stories of ghosts and goblins or whatever that would reside in places like the Bellagio. His only idea for making money from that was “ad banners”. Not even relevant ad banners either – I’d visit that site and be reading about a ghost at the Tropicana, while a flashing ad banner on the side advertised a 25% bonus at Pacific Poker. How is that ever going to get any conversions???
However there ARE ways to make money off the “haunted casinos” niche, and when someone comes to me with an idea, I always tell them “here is how I would do it”. So here is how I would make money off a site dedicated to haunted casinos. As with every site I do, I write up a random bullet list which has ideas. These aren’t really sequential, just the results of a one hour brainstorming session specifically for this article. I will also share the link to the website now – http://www.hauntedpoker.com – and if the affiliate wants to take any of these ideas or contact me for more advice then go for it:
- Directly, I can’t see the site making much money affiliate wise. I would rather go the indirect route. A site like this has the potential to get many visitors to it. If it makes money via any marketing on there then great, so bet it. However the plan is to build this site up, get lots of links via Digg and other social networking sites(which is easily doable) and have it rank extremely high in search engines, then set myself with one way links off it that will help my other network sites. I should also be able to get this to a pagerank of 4 or 5 within 12 months, at which point I’m able to increase ad rates and sell links on it.
- I focus the site 100% on haunted casinos. I don’t include news about poker, updates on poker bonuses, poker book reviews etc. People want to read about ghosts, not why Sklansky thinks reraising AK UTG+1 is bad!!!
- * For each article, I go extremely in-depth. The issue with a site like this is there isn’t going to be much content. So when I write about a casino that is haunted, I don’t want to have just a picture of the casino, and then a few paragraphs describing the ghost or whatever. I want pictures of where these ghosts appear. Not just any pictures either – I’m not bringing my Nikon D80 to take these pictures – I want fuzzy pictures, preferrably cloudy pictures that are a bit dark, pictures that make people stop, look and think “Hey, that COULD be a ghost over there”. Videos could go well here too, especially if done at night.
- * Readers thoughts when finished reading the article: this is a big one. Think about it for everything you do – what should the reader be thinking when they finish one of your articles? If they read a Party Poker Review, then goddamnit they better be sitting there at the end of the article thinking “I want to play at Party Poker”. So with these articles, the intent is to get people to finish an article, want to read more, and most importantly – SHARE the article with others. So have at the bottom a link to instantly e-mail the article/website to a friend.
- Interactivity. People LOVE sharing ghost stories and all that. Lets get that on there. This is where an actual forum might work out well from the beginning, and it doesn’t even have to be based on casinos. Just a generic “share your stories” forum. Also comments at the end of each article because you’ll get tons of comments from people that have been at that casino and want to share their story.
- Radio shows etc. There is shows out there that focus strongly on the paranormal. Get my site out there on those, go on for interviews, become an expert in casinos being haunted by freakin’ Slimer!
- Ebook. Easy to sell an ebook with additional hauntings etc. No idea if there would be big market for that but you never know until you try! Hell, there could be a real book deal out there for something like this.
- Building a community – touched upon this, but this is big. Build a community, and if timing is right do a one-off special Halloween Freeroll. Test the waters, see if there is interest in regular poker league etc.
- Halloween Slots. There’s at least 15-20 Halloween themed slots as of this writing you can push on to the visitors.
And that is just the beginning. Knowing nothing about the demographic that is being targeted, I would also be putting a ton of research into it to see what these people actually buy, or perhaps what else they like. Maybe they like books/DVDs on ghosts etc so can sign up on Amazon. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Hopefully I’ve got everyone out there who is thinking about a new site to do the only thing I truly recommend – think harder. As for my friends? They’ve been given the much needed reality check, and are going back to the drawing board to see what other ideas they can come up with.
One of them even mentioned a site based on haunted casinos!