Posts by "Peter"

Sibling Rivalry Determines Child’s Success?

This is a bit of an oddball post as it doesn’t tie in with everything else that I write – but I’ve been told I should start commenting on interesting/offtopic news stories more…so here goes.

I’ve just read an article on MSN (click here for the article) that says the pecking order in which you were born has a strong link with how successful you will become and your type of personality.

It claims that first born children are more ambitious, agressive and successful (they want to rule the world), middle children are better at communicating and building bridges to other camps, but don’t always have the drive for success, and the last born child associates with the underdogs and will rebel a lot more as they strive for attention (they want to change the world).

click here for the article

Now taking this theory, and applying it to my own family, I’m the eldest of three siblings. I run (or at least walk) a successful online business and have great ambitions to be successful in this world.

My brother, the middle one of the three, he’s currently at University studying to become an architect. While growing up, he was always the quiet one who was pushed aside as I strove to be the center of attention.

Now my little sister is the black sheep of the family. Where my brother and I grew up, sailed through our teens, excelled at academic studies and popped out the other end relatively unscathed, my sister has quit school (because she hates teachers), goes out drinking, and generally has caused my parents more aggro than my brother and I put together! She’s a very arty, rebellious and independant young lady.

So it seems to me, that the article has got the pecking order just right, and me and my siblings fit into the pigeon holes they have created for us perfectly 🙂

If you have read the article, and can identify with it, or think it’s utter rubbish, I’d love to hear your comments (that means you too, mother!)

The Stormpay Saga (scam?!)

Stormpay is a online payment processor, just like PayPal. Unlike PayPal, they allow their services to be used for multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, gambling, and until recently programs known as Auto Surfs.

Auto Surfs are like traffic surfers, where you surf through a number of other peoples websites, building up credits to have your website viewed by other people doing the same thing. Obviously this is incredibly tedious work, and the quality of traffic is zero (it won’t make any sales).

Auto Surfs differ to traffic surfers because you can minimize your browser window and leave it surfing all the sites over night while you are asleep. That makes the traffic credits you are building up worth zip, because no one actually has to look at your website.

So what is the point of the Auto Surfs if the traffic is worthless and a waste of bandwidth? Well, if you pay the company some money to “upgrade” your account,then you can receive commission on all your surfing. So you might upgrade your account to a $100 level, and earn $10 commission for each day of surfing you are doing for 15 days. So for your $100 “upgrade” you get $150 back in commission.

It doesn’t take a financial genius to realize that this is just a money moving scheme akin to a ponzi, masquerading as a legitimate webmaster traffic tool. No such investment can pay out the interest rates promised by these companies in the time periods they offer.

The money does infact come from other members “upgrading” their account. So when you boil down to it, these programs are ponzi’s, which are illegal.

What’s the point of the above information? Well, in Stormpay’s terms, it explicitly states that ponzi’s, pyramid schemes, gifting programs and other forms of financial fraud are not allowed to use their services.

So…these autosurfs are in the wrong if they are using Stormpay as a payment processor? Well, yes, technically they are. But on the flip side, Stormpay knew that autosurfs were using their services for months and months. They even verified the identity of several owners of autosurfs.

Because Stormpay charges extortionate fees due to the high risk industries they serve, they made a small fortune in fees collected from all the money flying around.

At the start of February, they froze the accounts of various auto surf companies, on the pretense that they were operating against the terms laid out in their Terms & Conditions – which technically they were. But why did it take them almost a year to decide to take any action? In the meantime collecting thousands of dollars a day in fees.

So, with the accounts of these autosurfs frozen, people suddenly realized that they could stand to lose a lot of money (when the ponzi collapsed, I don’t know what they would have done), so in their thousands, they started doing chargebacks on their credit cards. Unfortunately the credit cards honoured these requests and took the money back that Stormpay had accepted.

Now the fallout from this situation is just making itself felt. Stormpay is following the money trail of all the people that profited from the autosurfs (with other peoples money) and returning it to the main autosurf accounts for “redistribution to the rightful owners”.

The knock on effect that this is having is tremedous. I run a membership site that charges $47 per year or $97 for a lifetime membership. Last week I started to notice that dozens of chargebacks were appearing. Soon my account was over $1000 in the red. Fortunately for me I didn’t have a bank or credit card account associated with my Stormpay account or else I’m sure I would have been charged the difference.

My Stormpay account is now frozen and I cannot login due to it being suspended.

In total, I have lost over $6000 due to the actions of autosurfs and Stormpay – whom I think are both to blame.

The entire chain of events that I have described above was a disaster waiting to happen. Once the autosurfs collapsed (ie. there’s not enough new money coming in to payout the older ‘upgrades’), people would have started doing charge backs. By intervening when it did, Stormpay simply speeded up the process.

Who’s to blame?
Answer: Everyone involved in the autosurf arena.

Autosurfs are to blame because they were operating ponzi’s and allowing a payment processor which could be funded by credit card, and could therefore be charged back.

Stormpay are to blame because they allowed the autosurfs to operate using their services with full knowledge of what was going on – PayPal wouldn’t have allowed it for a second.

Members who ‘upgraded’ are to blame for putting money into a high risk financial scheme by using their credit cards! If you haven’t got the money to waste in pie in the sky opportunities, don’t go taking out a high interest loan which must be paid back no matter what.

Unfortunately for stormpay, they may have thought that they were doing the right thing, but they have f%&ked up big time, because they’ll never recover from this 🙂

How Was Your Day?

These four words irritate the hell out of me whenever someone asks me about how my working day has been.

You see, working at home is totally different to having your usual 9-5 job. For one thing it can be a lot more stressful because if you don’t put the work in, you don’t get the money! Also, there are no fixed hours of work, so when people are knocking off at 5 o clock in the evening, there’s a good chance that I’m still working. So coming in to my office and asking ‘how my day was’ is a surefire way to get a short and curt answer. If you did ask how the day was, you probably wouldn’t understand the answer anyway!

The other thing you’ll find is that people are obssessed about how much money you’ve made. When things are going great and you’re pulling in thousands a day, I’m sure this is not a big issue, but when sales are slow and all you have to show for your day is $15 in your adsense account, asking someone who works from home ‘make much money today?’ is a direct route in to that persons enemies list.

The way I see it, if I’ve had a good day I’ll tell you that I’ve had a good day, if I’ve made lots of money, I’ll tell you I’ve made lots of money. If I’m not talking about my work, assume that I really really don’t want to talk about my work so don’t ask!

While I’m on my soapbox, I may as well continue with some pet hates…

‘So what is it that you do on this interweb spider thing?’

If you can’t understand the internet, don’t even ask! If you use the internet to check your email on hotmail, and you use your email to forward stupid emails to your mates, you use Google to do all your searches and amazon to do all your shopping, then I’m afraid you’ll never ever understand what it is us internet entrepreneurs do. You might think that you are ‘taking an interest’ by asking questions and trying to understand, but you are just being plain annoying and irritating. Trust me 🙂

(SIDENOTE: one friend of mine somehow thought I did ‘templating’ on the internet and told their friends that I was a ‘templater’. They came to this conclusion because I showed them TemplateMonster.com which is where I buy a lot of my website designs from and they picked up on the word ‘templates’)

So if anyone is reading this that I know personally, here’s the top 3 questions not to ask. Ever.

1. How was your day? (“Fucking awful, my servers been ddos’ed, my websites have been hacked, my software is being sold by some bastard for 10% of the price, adsense clicks are down 50%, an e-currency has just taken $5000 from my account, webdev costs are spiralling and I’ve just had my major website delisted from Google. Happy now? Oh, you don’t understand any of that”)

2. Made much money today? (“No, and reminding me about such things reeeaaalllyyy doesn’t make you my friend”)

3. What is it you actually do on the internet? (“I look at porn all day along with developing websites, coming up with new website ideas, creating project requirement documents, invest in high yield investments, manage the customer service across a dozen or so websites, teach myself new programming languages, research new business opportunities” – hey, at least people will actually understand the first answer)

Ahhh, that’s my rant over. It feels good to get it off your chest and into the world wide web 🙂

A New Website

Actually, it’s three new websites, I’m just putting the finishing touches to them all.

The first one is a Finnish website for a client from Finland (fancy that?). She runs her own natural/alternative therapy business and needed her own website to show to prospective clients. She was referred to me by another client on the basis that I was really good. It just goes to show that word of mouth is a powerful business tool.

I remember working at a supermarket when I was 16 and we were watching a corporate video and they reckoned that if someone had a bad experience with a company, they’d tell 10 of their friends about it, however if they had a good experience they’d tell just 1 person. So obviously the message was give good customer service to everyone so that they all tell just one person.

I was really pleased with the way the website turned out, it’s actually quite a challenge creating a website in a language that you don’t understand, you have to keep asking for translations of text and link names. Finnish is also possibly one of the hardest languages ever, no word is less than 600 characters in length! You can check out the website here: HoitavaKosketus.com. Of course, I’m always available for small projects like this so drop me a line if your looking for a new website (blatant plug, but hey, it’s my blog!).

The next website I was working on it the new ‘hub’ site for mine and Paul’s business. I recently discovered a fantastic CMS called Xoops so decided to use it on this new hub site.

Although it’s not finished yet, there’s a lot of text and information to add, you can check it out here: JuicySolutions.com. I think it’s going to look absolutely fabulous when it’s finished and a great showcase for our projects, websites and products.

The final site I’ve been working on is a little pet project of mine. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I ran a site called todays-webmaster.com back in 2000. This time the site is called WebmasterAdvice.net and like JuicySolutions.com it’s powered with the Xoops CMS.

I believe that with the right SEO and article marketing I can make WebmasterAdvice.net absolutely huge, everything is in place, articles, reviews, forum, directory, scripts, it just needs some visitors 🙂

One great way of ensuring that people don’t click the back button is to hire a forum poster that will flood the forum with tonnes of posts every day for 1 or 2 months in an attempt to generate replies and responses. If people see an empty forum it’s like having a big sign saying “go away! no one wants you here!”, but if there are hundreds of posts for people to read through, hopefully at least one will catch their attention enough to take the time to register and post a reply. Well…we’ll see shall we?!

Munich

Just been out to see Munich with one of my lovable housemates. It’s a pretty slick film, and unusually for a Speilberg film it doesn’t try and pull the heart strings, however he does fall into the trap of slightly over doing it when it should be finished (remember the half hour of pointlessness at the end of AI, anyone?!).

Overall, I quite enjoyed it, I wouldn’t say I was blown away by it, but its definitely an indepth, thought provoking piece of work. In places it does seem to drag on, but the action soon comes back…and in places it’s very gory, for example you see someone sweeping up the brains of a dead on a TV screen within the film.

I’m still in two minds about whether it portrayed the Israeli’s or Palestinians in a bad light. It concentrated quite heavily on why the Isreali’s were doing what they were doing and it showed all the gory details of the Palestinians killing innocent Israeli’s, but there’s only passing reference to the 200 or so Palestinians killed by Israei air attacks shortly after the Munich massacre.

Incidently, if anyone is interested in knowing why there is so much tension and conflict between Israel and the Arab nations, check out this link Israel Information.

Basically the Israeli state was created in 1945 at the end of the war. The land was “given” to them by the British, in a move that angered the Arab nations.

Will Yahoo Sneak Ahead of Google?

Talking to various webmasters, it is apparent that Google Adsense program has not been paying well this month. Pennies are being earned where once it was dollars. One unfortunate fellow tells me that he is seeing a 1/3rd less Adsense earnings in January than for all other months.

Even on my sites I’ve noticed a definite down turn in earnings. The funny thing is, I’m getting more clicks and impressions than ever, but the click value has plummeted, sometimes to 5 cents or less.

This is not good for Google, when they have the likes of Yahoo Publisher snapping at their heels. For those that are not aware, Yahoo Publisher is Yahoo’s version of AdSense. You put Yahoo code on your website (the code looks pretty much the same as Googles) and it servers up contextual ads based on the website content.

Seeing how Yahoo have a good two years catch up to do, the obvious way to achieve this is to pay webmasters more than what they would be earning if they used AdSense. Us webmasters are fickle fellows, if company X is paying more than company Y for the same thing, we’d head over to company X in our millions.

So, is it worth signing up to Yahoo Publisher? I have a friend who certainly thinks so. She runs the incredibly popular Halo 2 movies directory called Halo 2 Spy (don’t ask me where the ‘spy’ comes into it). It basically is a massive directory of movies that gaming nerds have made of themselves playing the xBox game: Halo 2.

It’s incredibly popular and receives thousands of page impressions every day. When she was using Google Adsense she was recording hundreds of clicks a day but only earning a handful of dollars.

She heard about the Yahoo Publisher program and decided to give it a go, and what do you know? Her impressions and clicks remained the same but her earnings went up 3 fold. Is it because Yahoo was serving up better ads or are they just paying more per click? I couldn’t tell you the exact answer, but the fact is, they are paying more. Much more.

Unfortunately at the time of writing the Yahoo Publisher is only open to US residents (for payment), but it should be around soon for those of us in the rest of the world. So probably we’ll start seeing less of “Ads by Gooooooogle” and more “Ads by Yahoooooooo”.

Tedious & Mundane Tasks

I think that there are few things more tedious in this world than website design and development.

Sure, it has it’s highs – the first sale for instance. But actually sitting there hour after hour doing things like checking the links are all working, or adding images or creating a list of products is just so boring and tedious.

I have spent my day doing the latter as part of the members area on megatoolkit.com. There are well over 150 products in the members area for download, and each product has to have a small image 70 pixels in width which links to the corresponding zip file for that product, a title which also links to the zip file, information on how big the zip file is, what kind of rights the product has (user, resell, master resell or private label), and a short description for the product.

This seemingly simple task involves unzipping the product, finding a software cover, copying it to photoshop, cropping it and resizing it and saving it as a JPG to another folder. Then have a brief read through the sales page to find out what the product is, before coming up with a short description. Probably about 2-3 minutes work per product.

After you’ve done 10 products it gets boring, after 20 products it becomes tedious, after 50 products you have seriously lost the will to live.

I don’t know why I’m writing about this, maybe I have to get it off my chest or else I’ll explode. Or maybe it’s because I want people to start appreciating how much work goes into a seemingly simple website, I don’t know.

Hopefully any other webmasters out there can empathise with my problems.

But whatever happens, megatoolkit.com will be massive so it will all be worth it in the end.

Making a start…

Today I have written a long to do list of everything that needs to be done and everything that I would like to get done.

Basically it’s split up into two different sections, Business and Personal. Business refers to the projects undertaken by myself and and another online entrepreneur, Paul Bulford, Personal refers to my own personal projects which I do when I’ve finished Business stuff. I’d class this blog as Business and Personal as I’ll be discussing both here 🙂

So on the Business front, I have to finish off the backend of our new project, megatoolkit.com. This is a massive resource and membership website which costs $297 for a membership. We’re hoping to make enough money on this one to proceed with all our other projects, so it’s like a stepping stone to bigger things. I’ll also be setting up a website called trafficbombs.com which creates unique content for search engines in order to rank highly for hundreds of keywords.

On the Personal front, I want to create a nice little “adsense empire” of 25-50 niche content websites. These sites will all have various articles on specific niches. My aim is to have them all earn at least a dollar a day from adsense. So far I have 2 of these sites but they’re not earning a dollar a day yet! My next site will be a travel site offering visitors free travel tips.

This week is going to be extremely hectic, the main priority is to finish my end of megatoolkit.com and to set up trafficbombs.com. If I get anything else done it will be a bonus.

Welcome To My World…

Welcome to my world, you can tell it’s my world because the domain is called PeterClaridge.com…and that’s me, therefore my world. And it’s not for sale.

I’ve decided to start this blog because it’s looking extremely likely that in the near future I’m going to be rich. Very very rich.

And I want to keep a journal of my path to riches online to share with others in the hope that it inspires, infuriates, shocks and motivates people.

If you feel any of these emotions, or others, when reading this blog, post a comment. Don’t be shy. I won’t bite too hard.

Tomorrow will be my first proper post.

Is Someone Having a Giraffe?!

Who’s smart idea was it to work 14 hour days?! I want a quiet word with them about it. Possibly using a large stick to make my point.

My current working day consists of getting up at 9am (oh, woe is me I hear you all saying, but just listen, ok?), getting into the office for 10am, training up the programmers from 10am till 2pm – and they need a lot of intensive hands on training at the moment.

At 2pm, we have a shift change and the designers come in for their fresher training where I’m teaching the same things to different people.

At 6pm, the designers leave and I go and deal with my webmasters who report back any problems they’ve had throughout the day and let me know about any sales and support that needs to be addressed. I spend an hour working with them on anything that needs to be done.

Then Aravind, one of the owners of Agriya will contact me and ask me how the content is coming on for the new Agriya corporate website (he figures hey, we have a Englishman in the office, we may as well exploit his language skills for free! Who said slave labour is dead?).

Half way through writing Agriya’s content, a client from latin America will come online and inform me of the latest bugs and errors he’s found in the software he’s purchased, some of which would require me to drop everything and address these issues.

Often these issues need to be compiled into a report to be sent to the full time developers for them to take care of the next day.

Around 11pm we’ll leave the office, get back home, have some food, then it’s back on the computer to plan the training program for the next day for the freshers.

I finally get to switch the computer off between 1am and 3am.

So, hopefully now you realise that when I say I get up at 9am, it is a big deal!

I also want to point out to anyone that knows me personally, that even though I’m in India, I will be returning home just as white as I left London due to working every hour Muruga (he’s the local God in these parts) sends…and I will probably be returned as freight if Aravind’s mother has her way. Apparently there is a slight language barrier so that the words “no more food, I’m full” is translated into “please pile 4 more deep fat fried pancake type things on to my plate and please do take a seat and sit and watch expectantly while I eat”.

hmm. I love rants. Am I fishing for sympathy in this post?

…hell yeah! (I’m counting on you guys to provide it!)

Oh, in other news, here’s a picture of my freshers that I’m teaching.

They are all about my age, and university leavers.

======
* Having a giraffe is Cockney rhyming slang for having a laugh. giraffe / laugh. Gedit?