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December 22, 2010 / zachfarley

You Make Any Money With That?

The most common question people are asking about my website’s are “You Making Any Money With That?”

Money

So, what attitude are they taking when they ask this question? Here is a little QBQ analysis from me (Question Behind the Question)

Some people’s tone with the question is a negative one. Where they are saying – Cool site, but I’m a lawyer making 6 figures and you blog out of your parent’s basement. So, you might be making money, but not more than me.

Some people have a happy tone because they think the work is easy. Cool, you play video games all day and make money? The get the wheels turning in their own head about screwing around all day and having a big pay day. They are excited to hear, yes I am making money with that.

Adults seem to have more of the …people will really pay for value online reaction? They seem to think the internet is get rich quick schemes and basement bloggers.

Younger adults seem to be resentful due to actually seeing someone doing what they want and following a passion. “You play video games while I slave away in corporate culture from 9-5 for the next 40 years.”

So, yes I am making money, but that is not the point. It’s more about doing something that I enjoy and have a passion for. It doesn’t cost much to maintain a site and live inexpensive.

The best is when someone genuinely wants to know and its not the first question that they blurt out. Then you have the ability to teach them and find out about what they love. Once they get talking and you can show them how to help people, they can be on their way to “making money with that”

What are people asking you and what are you making money with?

December 15, 2010 / zachfarley

The Technology That Allows Me To Be Me!

If you are ever struggling for topics or motivation, check out this great post by Chris Brogan!
(Its like Rocky for Bloggers)

Is the Medium Still The Message?

Technology has allowed me to create a side business and continue to develop the skills that I am passionate about.

This post is less about the tools (twitter, wordpress, google docs) that I use and more how technology has influenced my life path so far.
Palm prototype

Cloud Computing – The ability to work from a desktop, laptop, work computer, cell phone or ipad has given enormous flexibility to my location. If someone purchases a product or has a quick question, I can access the web to give them a response ASAP. The question can come in from multiple platforms in the form of a tweet, email or text message, but the fact that it gets to me quickly and efficiently is more important. My ability to respond from nearly anywhere or access the information I need to respond is the biggest technological advantage I wouldn’t have had 10 years ago.

External Servers and Hosting- This is the basic idea behind cloud computing, all my information is stored elsewhere. Godaddy provides me with hosting while wordpress lets me log in and blog almost anywhere. In the future as I look to minimize my possessions and have the freedom to work from anywhere, this ability will be my greatest asset.

Quick devices – Think beyond the iphone, ipad, droid or samsung tablet. These small handheld devices have encouraged people to take their work on the go. Netbooks and the Macbook Air have given the user the ability to get work done quickly. Think about 4 years ago and the cell phone that you had, would you be able to get the job done with it? Think about your first laptop, how long did the battery actually last? When I look at old technology, I am grateful…grateful that newer technology has come out to replace it.

Yes, the first laptops were amazing, but imagine this thing at Starbucks?
First PowerBook

Wow, I wouldn’t forget the most important piece of the puzzle right?

The User, Community and Individual that I am producing this content for. Insert the tree falls in the forest quote here…

Your community and the people who give a crap about your voice are by far the most important thing that technology has brought. Forget working from anywhere, how about being able to access people from anywhere? You used to be limited by location and who you knew. Know you can access anyone, and open doors to meeting people so easily.

The greatest asset of the internet and technology as a whole is the spread of rapid information with incredible reach. This has made the cost of information less expensive, while increasing the value for those who know how to package and reach a specific audience.


Think 5 years back, what has changed for you?
Where will you be in 5 years?

December 6, 2010 / zachfarley

New Site? Here Is How To Spend!

Many of my friends are looking to get into the “web game”  or “blogosphere”

Now, considering the follow through rate of websites is extremely low and how many people have limited resources, here is how I would spend.
Dirt Cheap

Domain name 10/yr – Register your “million dollar” idea on godaddy! I currently own 8 domains, although some how I don’t have 8 million dollars.

Beware – Extra charges on Godaddy, when initially registering, you hardly need all the upgrades they offer. You can always add that on later and who knows if your site will takeoff, stay basic.

WP hosting – 5 bucks a month

WordPress is the easiest way to actually have something show up on your domain name. Godaddy will install wordpress onto your site and you can log in and edit your site. It is very inexpensive on the basic level and one of the most user friendly ways to create a website. There are so many people creating plugins and forums talking about wordpress, that help is usually a few click away.

Beware – Overpaying for too much hosting. You probably aren’t getting to much traffic early or storing tons of videos or audio so stay basic.

Flip cam– Saw one of these for 99 bucks! (affiliate link) Gives you the ability to create content and create a youtube presence. So many people have these, it could be as simple as borrowing it on a Sunday and taping a bunch of stuff to edit!

Laptop– Your home base! Every bloggers dream is to work on a beach (right?) and this is your first step. You likely already have a laptop and most models are sufficient ($500 is enough for sure) No need for a home studio or a macbook pro yet, the key is to just get started! Your basically able to access your site from anywhere (friends computer, library, work computer) because everything is online in the “cloud”.

Twitter, Youtube, Google Analytics – Free. People get hung up on twitter, should I tweet, how do I tweet, what do I tweet, does anyone care? The important thing is to build a presence on multiple platforms to help bring traffic back to the main base (your site.)  If you make great video content, youtube is important, if you live stream video, ustream is important. There are so many free platforms and channels to reach people that it is more about finding the right one and not worrying about it. If you are actively engaging people that is all it takes!

Start typing! Even if your first passion doesn’t materialize, you won’t be in the hole. The key is to keep the costs low so you can sustain for a long time while you build up. I used to stream with a webcam (free) before eventually upgrading to a 200 dollar HD PVR stream. I needed to build up an audience and make sure people would show up, so why drop the 200 when I didn’t need to right away?

In this age, if you can provide great information and help people, your website will succeed. The lower you keep costs and less crazy gadgets you buy, the easier it will be to survive!

Good luck with that million dollar domain!

November 24, 2010 / zachfarley

Lessons From Enron – “Smartest Guys In The Room” Documentary

Quick money is dangerous.
GM building

Things that feel great in the short term, usually don’t lead to long term prosperity. When you have short term vision and partake in poor habits you will not win long term.

Bad Eating, lack of Exercise = Poor health
No Budget, lack of planning = Poor Finances
Not listening, lack of caring = Poor relationships
All of these things are easier than the alternative!

Sacrifice is painful, but often its the only way you know your doing it right.
Trust me, nobody enjoys sacrifice. Giving up fast food and not buying the latest gadgets isn’t fun for anyone. However, if you seek long term success and have it pictured in your mind, you can get through the pain and into the gain!

Please don’t get rich quick, please dont get rich quick.

November 15, 2010 / zachfarley

5 Leading Factors in Minecraft’s Explosion!

Minecraft is an indie computer game created by a Swedish developer named “Notch” .  It gained huge popularity and has now sold over (update 12/3) 700k copies and registered2.27 million users!  Think about Microsoft and their marketing campaign for Kinect. They took over Times Square, brought in Burger King and even gave units away on Oprah. Minecraft didn’t have any of these luxuries, but has still spread like wildfire throughout the internet. Castle

Here is how Minecraft became huge!

1. Youtube – How did I even find out about this game? Youtube! Users have been creating content and worlds within minecraft and many have gone viral. If you like (update, star trek not star wars! Props to Eulogy1337 on twitter for noticing this gaffe!)  If you like Bioshock, someone created content for you. If you like Roller Coaster Tycoon, someone created content for you. All these spinoffs have huge installed user bases and once you see the world of minecraft, you think, wait, what game is that?

2. Freemium – Minecraft has a free version which you can play in browser for nothing. It is an addicting game and you get to try it out! While the full version (still in alpha) only costs 10 euro, its always nice to see if the game will work on your computer and you understand it before diving in. This has led to 30+% of people buying the game who play it, that is an extremely high conversion rate. Notch did an amazing job giving people just enough and offering them more for a small cost!

3. Passionate Community – The minecraft forums are an amazing place. You can learn, read, talk with other fans about the game. Every world is so customizable in minecraft that its a great place for everyone to show off their work. The people who bought the game and posted content about it are truly the games biggest marketers. People are excited to be on the front end of something remarkable and love to tell friends they found it. The community is also very helpful, so if you are just starting out they will answer any questions you have! Users also have created big multiplayer servers and its great to hop on and interact!

4. Creativity – Gaming has become so scripted and cinematic in recent years that it is nice to play in an open world. Even sandbox games have become stale in recent years with similar missions and the need to travel across the map. In minecraft you really have nothing to do other than survive. Some people may not like that you are free and say, “Well whats the point?” However, as soon as you get your hands on it and create a little world, you will understand the beauty.

5. Developer who listens – Notch has done an amazing job of being responsive to his community. They recommend items and he legitimately decides if they are good for the game.  He is now working full time on the game and even has a small support team in place to help him out. He doesn’t force you to download a license to play and lockdown his game. His attitude has no hint of arrogance, just an honest want to make the game better. Now that he has the time and resources to develop full time, it will be amazing to see what other additions are added to such a young game in development terms.

All of these factors have  made Minecraft the quickest exploding indie game of all time. Notch didn’t care about profit or squeezing money out of his customers, only creating the best game possible. Once he put that product on the market and gamers understood what it was all about, they chose to support an amazing effort. In the end, minecraft is all about creativity and I believe notch has also created a new way for indie games to explode!

November 10, 2010 / zachfarley

25 of the Best “Wire” Quotes to Reinforce Blogging Principles.

The Wire is an all time great show, the contrast between the police and dealers, good and evil, rich and poor is amazing. It creates a “believable” world that portrays the struggle of urban communities.

Here are 25 quotes that have correlation to blogging and starting a business online!

1. “Why are you wearing that suit? Its 85 degrees out here and your trying to look like Pat Riley”.

“Look the part, be the part” – Prop Joe

Proposition Joe is an amazing support charecter. He is rarely given focus on the show, but seems to always pop his head in during big moments.  Joe always looking to make “deals” and really has the perfect nickname.

They are simply talking about a basketball game here, but this quote reminds me of when I first started to believe in my business. If you are looking to be respected and taken seriously, you must “be the part”. If you want to be a web entrepreneur, it involves creating content, marketing yourself and staying up to date with the latest tools and trends. You need to market yourself to be the part you want to be, if not nobody will take you seriously!

2. “A man must have a code” – No doubt – Bunk and Omar

These two characters contrast each other perfectly. One is a well respected and hard working detective. The other is a lazy criminal who only robs drug dealers.

These man personify different traits but both understand “the code”.

What is your site about, what do you stand for, do you believe in authenticy? My site is about helping people become better and working hard to achieve that goal. If we suddenly switched up our code to try and sell every person rather than help them, we would be breaking our code. Changing what we stand for could turn our members against us and we worked so hard to earn their trust.

3. “If I hear the music, I’m gonna dance”. – Detective Greggs

Many people are using the web as an opportunity to work for themselves, while some still think it isn’t an option. They are so conditined to believe they must work 9-5 positions for the man and work the corporate ladder. They hear the buzz of web 2.0 and have side passions but ignore the sounds because of the fear.
These people are hearing the music but are afraid to dance, they don’t have to abandon anything yet and can simply start working on side projects. They need to start dancing though and convince themselves its not weird, even if people look at you like your are crazy.

4. “The Sunday truce is as old as the game itself, you can do some crazy stuff but NEVER on no Sunday”. – Avon Barksdale

Avon is my favorite charecter on the show, after one of his own members makes a mistake by starting a shootout on a Sunday (on the way to church!) he realizes his crew has broken its code.

You must make time for yourself to be away. It doesn’t have to be on Sunday, but if your wife asks you to put your phone away, be respectful. It is very easy to lose track of time and be tweeting while you should be watching your kids soccer game. Carve out some time to have a truce from your business and spend it with people close to you. Always try and disconnect, I constantly find myself laying in bed, hearing a tweet and then rolling over. Let it go, it will be there in the morning!

5. “I’ll take any persons money if he giving it away” – Clay Davis

This quote is from a corrupt politician on the show. These actions may make you prosper in the short term, however Senator Davis doesn’t do so well in the long term. Taking advantage of people is never a good option. When you actually help someone and deliver value, you end up with a long term relationship that is good for both parties. There is no reason to take money just because, always make sure you provide something in return.

6. “I thought I might legalize drugs” – Sgt. Bunny Colvin (Colvin in elevator with high ranking peers who chuckle)

While this story line was the most far fetched, when SGT. created “New Amsterdam” it certainly was a unique strategy. He was attempting something that had never been tried before rather than just maintaing the status quo. What is already being done in your industry and how can you innovate on that? How can you be different from the competition?
Colvin ended up getting removed from his duties, however his strategy did produce results. Some were negative (created a scary place after dark) Some were positive, (quieter corners in non-designated zone, health clinics)
It is just a tv show at the end of the day, but Colvin did think outside the box and implement something he thought could possibly help.

7.”I’ll do what I can do to help Y’all, but it is either play or get played” – Omar

You can have a mentor and take time thinking of great ideas, but the bottom line is you have to get started. Every day people are creating great content and not worrying about what their twitter handle should be. You need to get writing and creating rather than sitting around and thinking of the next big idea. Web 2.0 is taking off and even if you don’t have the skills yet, start to jump in and learn it. You WILL be able to pick it up as you go along. Start playing the game!

8. “Either do it or don’t, but I got some place to be”. – Marlo Stanfield.

Marlo is one of the softest talking charecters on the show, but he is all business. This quote represents how much time we spend talking about things rather than doing what we should. I love talking about the next steps my company plans on taking, rather than doing the day to day little things to make sure they occur. Tomorrow will come whether you work for it or not, so either do it or don’t.

9.  “Your gonna help, your gonna look out for me? Randy

Poor little Randy gets caught “snitching” and only after he is beaten up does someone offer to help. It shows how, someone can get you started and help but in the end you are responsible for yourself. If you count on others to take care of you, you will get caught in some tough situations. Learning about your site and niche all fall back on you and unfortunately it can be hard to trust people to follow through.

10. “Worrying about you is like wondering if the sun is going to come up” – Omar

Omar has a rival who he knows will be coming after him much like businesses have competitors. If you spend your time looking over your shoulder at your competitors and what they are doing, you lose focus on your own company. Your competition is going to keep coming at you and you have to stay focused and not react to them, you need to keep innovationg on your own and being authentic in your own way!

11. “Did he have hands? Did he have a face? Then it wasn’t us” – Russian

Every business puts their own touch on things. Each site has its own identity and calling card known as branding. When you brand something, make sure its something you want to be known for and be very delibirate about it. The more authentic and unique the item is, the more value it will bring in the marketplace.

12. “This is my corner, I ain’t going nowhere” – Bodie (Eerily similar to newspapers not going to online format)

During Bodie’s last stand, he tries to defend the corner he spent so long earning. If you are sticking by an idea or opportunity that is dying, why not get out? Bodie ends up dying for what? Perhaps you are the last person on myspace because you originally got started there, why stay on a dying platform? Always be innovating and don’t be stubborn to change.

13. “You juke the stats enough and Majors become Colonels”. – Prez

Stats are an important way of measuring your progress as a site and business. ROI in social media is a common cry from more business minded people who think tweeting is useless. However, there are easy ways to gain big amouts followers and none of them are better than the sheer act of interacting which is very hard to scale. Yes, you can juke the stats to earn 3,000 followers on twitter, but if they aren’t real people who care and respect your brand, what good is it?

14. “What do you do for a living Mr Little?” “I rob drug dealers” – Omar

People may laugh at Omar’s non traditional profession, however he is making quite a bit of money doing it. When people ask you about your work and you respond with blogger, do they also chuckle? Do they laugh when you tell them you are doing what you love? Something that challenges you daily and you have a passion for unlike your 9-5? Do they laugh at your freedom to work from anywhere?

15. “The game is the game, period”.  “Same as it ever was”. Avon and Stringer

Whether back in the 1800’s or right now in the age of technology, business concepts still apply. If you are a butcher now or  back then, you still rely on word of mouth marketing and interacting with customers. Yes, the tools you use may have evolved over time, but the straight business behind the sale has been the same forever.

16. “Boring ain’t it? Man I do what y’all do every day and now all I wanna do is get high” – Bubbles

Bubbles is the addict on the show. He follows the police as an informant for just one day and has already had enough. The police illustrate how long it takes to set up a wire and how monotonous it can be. Same with blogging and running a business. Not every post is a homerun or makes it to the top of Digg. There are days that it is a grind, but you have to hustle through. Those looking for quick wins or who don’t have the ethic, like bubbles, wont last.

17. “I love the first day of school, everyone is all friendly and stuff”

When your first starting out, you have the ability to ask questions and get legitimate feedback. People are always willing to help newcomers to the scene. It can seem like other companies and sites are miles ahead of you, but remember the all started there and you can find a mentor who will guide you along.

18. Look, any man standing at the end of a round, you can’t call him soft. Thats a rule. – Cutty

Business is hard and even if one venture or site fails, you must keep moving. Nobody can put you down if you give it an honest effort and keep trying. You aren’t going to win every round and as long as you stay on your feet, people will respect you for getting in the ring.

19. “Meaning no disrespect, but I a’int cut out to be no CEO”. – Slim Charles

Small Businesses are very unique because their are so many roles people must take on even if they aren’t cut out for it. Some days you might have to be the CEO, other days the secretary and some days even take out the trash. Try not to put labels on the job and just focus on getting the task done. You have the entrepreneurial mindset for a reason and should always look to expand your skill set no matter what the job requires.

20. “I think you play in the dirt, you get dirty.” McNulty

Be careful what other companies and sites you associate yourself with. If you get lumped in promoting or working with a untrustworthy site, people will think of you as one. Always think about your brand and what your members needs are, rather than a quick opportunity to make some money.

21. “The Crown ain’t worth much, if the person wearing it is always getting his stuff took” Marlo

If you are number one for a second and stop to proclaim it, someone will take it from you. You can’t stop to admire the view from the top and must continue doing what got you there. How do you think the Seth Godin’s and Chris Brogan’s got to where they are? By doing work and not admiring the crown.

22. “Business or pleasure for you? Business, always business.” The Greek

Do you look for opportunities within every day conversations to create more business? How can you leverage your current network and contacts to create more opportunity? Always keep your eyes open during your daily routine for ways to get more business.

23. You don’t ever want to be the last man to a party, you feel me? -Monk

It is very dangerous to be the last man. If you are coming in trying to capatilze on the market, than you are already steps behind. Look what happened to the last people in on the housing market? Bubble popped and many lost it all. You want to be innovating and creating the party rather than showing up late and looking for scraps.

24. “My name is not my name, and you, to them you are only the greek… And of course, I’m not even greek!”

You can brand yourself however you wish. As long as you present yourself as an expert in the field and prove to be authentic through hustle, people won’t know the difference. Perhaps you don’t want to use your real name to start, that is okay. Create a new online name but make sure that you back it up with a consistent and authentic voice to start building your brand.

25. “If anyone ask you if you in this game, you tell them you in it for life. Alright? You play it hard, you play it tight and you make sure they know you are gonna stand by your people”. D’angelo to Wallace!

The number one reason online blogs fail is because people abandon them. If you can commit to your site and make an honest effort, you will succeed. It can be hard to get traction and readership, however, once you have created an identity and voice it will be easier to attract readers. Many people don’t subscribe to new blogs because they are afraid you will abandon them. People are afraid to buy online because they are worried if the product and seller are legitimate. However, if you are being authentic and working hard on your business, people will respect that and you will earn their trust. When people know you are going to stand by your blog and whatever product you sell, you have earned the first step to suceeding in the game. Trust is earned through hard work and doing the right thing, hope you are in it for life!

-Thanks for reading!

November 2, 2010 / zachfarley

“So Many People Are Already Doing That”

Whats your excuse? You there, yes you!
Crowd

I am constantly talking with new college graduates who are unhappy with their 9-5 or not sure what they want to do with their career. I always move the conversation towards their passion, what do you do when your not working? What would you see yourself doing everyday if nobody paid you, do that!  However, too many times, I hear it’s not an option because… “too many people are already doing it”

Here are some reasons that is totally incorrect!

1. They are NOT doing “it” like you would be!

Say you have a deep interest in fashion, but can’t visualize the gap between your current dead end job and ordering models around the runway as they wear your clothes. It’s okay, neither can most people. The most important thing is getting started talking and listening about fashion EVERY DAY! You write about it, talk about it, dream about it.

Your initial effort and brand will be small and initially feel no traction. You will spend time interacting on the established sites and be in awe of their member base and readership. However, as you build up, you will recognize your unique voice in the fashion market and your type of member will emerge. You don’t need to get people to switch over, there is room for YOU. Be yourself.

2.  When you hang out online (blogs, forums, twitter etc), you only see the people who are “doing it”

Think about the last time you were at the gym, how many of those people are on twitter or thinking about fashion all day? Not Many. When you hang out in your industry’s big online community, you are in a very specialized magnified field and you feel like a small fish. But, how about when your at a dinner gathering and you start talking about fashion with your friends? You are the top dog and all the time you spend reading and listening to experts in your field really comes out. When you leave a blog or forum, you think “wow they know so much!” However, when you leave a dinner party after passionately talking about fashion, your offline friends feel the same way!

There is room for you, and if you are good enough and truly passionate about it, people will be able to tell. Remember, your not looking to fit in, your looking to create!

3. What are you doing now?

You want to be in fashion, instead you are in insurance. You know the basics, but in your mind, its just a quick stop to pay off some loans because your friends father owns the company.

How many people are doing insurance? TONS.
If you aren’t innovating in any industry, which is nearly impossible if you genuinely don’t LOVE something, you will fail. Just because insurance seems comfortable at the moment, doesn’t mean it isn’t as cutthroat as fashion. New insurance companies are forming online  and local businesses are utilizing new media tools to stay entrenched. You can make similar money as a low level employee in both fields, however in one you have an interest and that leads to unlimited growth opportunity. People are doing big things in EVERY field and they all look crowded at the bottom. However its tough to get on the elevator to the top floor if you don’t care about pushing your way on to it and asking for the top floor, knowing its where you are meant to be. Trust me, the person pressing the button will know if you really mean it by the sound of your voice. You can hear passion and confidence and see the way someone stands up straight. TOP FLOOR!

If you build it, they will come!

Also replace all the bold “fashion” with your passion and read again! Then get to work!