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The Ripoff Report’s business model
Jan 31st, 2008 by estreet

There are two things you need to know about earning money on the internet: 1. Getting traffic and 2. Monetizing traffic.

You already know I like to study the eBay Pulsers’ unusual methods of getting traffic. They then monetize their Pulse traffic by selling ebooks (or candy canes, holey socks, etc…) and getting eBay affiliate payments. I don’t review their ebooks. What’s the point in that? The Pulsers already state upfront that they have no accountability for the results of their system. ebooks are just a means to monetize traffic and I respect that they found a profitable niche.

Now look at the Ripofff Report who is accused of keyword spamming on the seomoz.org blog: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/ripoff-report-responds-you-be-the-judge Like, heck yeah! That’s their entire business model.

What a coincidence, they sell ebooks too! It’s a small world.
ripoffreport.jpg

The Ripoff Report is chock full of user generated spammy keywords which draw internet traffic. “Scam”, Scammed”, “ripoff”, “Jeff Paul”, “lawsuit”, etc… It’s a pretty effective traffic generating strategy:

ripoffreporttraffic.jpg

I’ve had a good experience with the Ripoff Report. I’ll leave it up to the reader to find the actual Ripoff Report articles.

Two users wrote about their experience with Paramount Marketing Online. They said they were promised xyz results, later pressured for thousands of $$$ more by salespeople and finally they fought back using their credit card companies. These folks provided excellent information to my best friend’s father who was suckered into the deal with Paramount.

Of course, I don’t know for sure that the stories were from actual people and not planted by other companies.

Conclusion: It’s clear that the Ripoff Report is exactly like every other internet company. They get traffic and they make money from the traffic. The only higher power they have to answer to is Google. Google does not like keyword spammers and will take counter-measures against them. But Google has been pretty benevolent towards Ripoff Report so far.

Must Buy QuickBooks Pro 2008
Jan 30th, 2008 by estreet

Corporate tax filings are due tomorrow.  I have 6 forms that need to be postmarked “Jan 31″.  Even though it was just 7 degrees this morning, I was happy to be headed to my accountant’s office.

I tried to get away with using QuickBooks Simple Start.  But I found out the hard way that payroll tax filings are ridiculously cumbersome to do by hand, even for 1 employee.  Upgrading to QuickBooks Pro gets you the payroll filing capability.  

Intuit’s seasonal price for QuickBooks Pro 2008 increased from $170 to $200 since it’s tax time.  Office Depot has it for $200 and a $50 rebate for a net of $150.  That’s not bad.  I’m paying an accountant $150 today for my annual filings.   

officedepot.jpg 

Two new scripting eBay Pulsers
Jan 28th, 2008 by estreet

A couple of eBay Pulsers caught my eye today.  They are not new to the eBay Pulse, but I’ve not charted them until now.   http://www.esellerstreet.com/search.php5?catID=99

Kekoa64 is in the #1 spot.  Then eBay seller, the.rich.boy, is #2.  In the #3 place is UK seller, the-new-easy-cash-system.

pulsejan28.jpg

Here’s Kekoa64 (#1) and the.rich.boy (#2) charted over the past 5 days. I think they are running scripts on the same server. Over 5 days, the number of watchers on each listing increases by ~5,500. The difference in watchers between the two listings remains constant at ~901.
kekoavtherichboy.jpg

The-new-easy-cash-system (#3) is not running on the same server but it’s pretty much the same script. It has the same start/stop and ramping patterns over time.   This chart is over the same time period as the other chart (Jan 23 – Jan 28).
thenewcash.jpg

 So I guess there are 5 eBay sellers running this script: kekoa64, MysteryGiant, jjfjq (Josh Kulp), the.rich.kid,  and the-new-easy-cash-system.  These are the top tier Pulsers.

Drew Peterson School of Marketing
Jan 24th, 2008 by estreet

Drew called into the Steve Dahl Chicago radio show yesterday. Yep, he’s been quiet for 5 weeks – time to fire up the ole Drew Peterson Marketing Machine.

First, let’s revisit the DP School of Marketing lessons from 2007:

  1. Kill wife #3
  2. Kill wife #4
  3. Launch popular website for financial gain

At the DP School of Marketing, we can’t rest on our past accomplishments alone.  No, we must look to the future and leave nothing to fate.  Write these steps down:

  1. Create an outrageous statement.
  2. Use radio and TV personalities for publicity.
  3. Launch popular website for financial gain. I see this one coming soon – DateDrew.com.

The dynamic Drewul called into the top Chicago radio morning show to proclaim Drew is ready to date. Joel Brodsky, attorney and oracle of missing persons theories, participated in yesterday’s on-air publicity stunt.
dpsom.jpg

Like clockwork, Joel was featured on the Today show with Matt Lauer exactly 24 hours later (1/24). Paraphrasing the Today show ->

  • Matt: Stacy’s been missing for 3 months.  Is Drew ready to date?
  • Joel: He’s open to it since Stacy dumped him. He’s ready to move on.
  • Matt: How can you say that she left him?
  • Joel: She took $25K and she did what her mother did. She just left.
  • Matt: How could a 23 year old mother, housewife and most famous missing person in America pull off such a mastermind disappearing act? If she left with another man, why isn’t he missing too?
  • Joel: mumble, mumble, mumble….

Outrageous is as outrageous does. That’s our motto at the Drew Peterson School of Marketing.         

How many watchers does it take to make the eBay Pulse?
Jan 24th, 2008 by estreet

Zero, if you use a script. But seriously, how many watchers does it take to make the eBay Pulse?

The eBay Pulse has some filtering criteria other than just the number of watchers. The most watched items in a category are sometimes not shown. I don’t know why. Flickr.com imposes controls over their top photos of the day too.

Also, the number of listings shown on the Pulse varies from 0 to 10. This Pulse page for the Health & Beauty category shows no listings.
ebay Pulse Health & Beauty

However, the watcher data from the eBay API shows a different story.

eSeller Street Pulse

So, I’ll use eBay API watcher counts to show what it takes to be Pulse worthy.

Antiques: #1 most watched item has 162 watchers
Books: #1 has 90 watchers
Clothing, Shoes & Accessories: #1 has 164 watchers
Consumer Electronics: #1 has 270 watchers
Dolls & Bears: #1 has 206 watchers
Jewelry & Watches: #1 has 179 watchers
Musical Instruments: #1 has 184 watchers

Everything Else category: #1 -> 75,000 watchers and increasing by 1 watcher every 90 seconds.

BigCrumbs now saves you more than FatWallet
Jan 22nd, 2008 by estreet

Vince at BigCrumbs.com brought this to my attention. In my previous post comparing the two savings sites, the numbers I used for BigCrumbs must have been CrumbEarner rates, not CrumbSaver rates.

BigCrumbs.com CrumbSavers save more than FatWallet.com users on 5 out of 6 randomly chosen online sites.

Here’s the apples to apples comparison – revised today 1/22:

  1. SharperImage.com
    • BigCrumbs 7.2%
    • Fatwallet 6.6%
  2. BestBuy.com
    • BigCrumbs 0.9 - 2.7%
    • FatWallet Not Offered
  3. Dell.com
    • BigCrumbs 0.9%
    • FatWallet 3.0%
  4. BarnesandNoble.com
    • BigCrumbs 4.5%
    • FatWallet 3%
  5. Borders.com
    • BigCrumbs 5.4%
    • FatWallet 2%
  6. Target.com
    • BigCrumbs 2.7 – 9.0%
    • FatWallet Not Offered

Of course the appeal of BigCrumbs is that you can sign up as a CrumbEarner to earn money on other people’s purchases. FatWallet has relationships with 553 online merchants, but notably, eBay is not one of them. BigCrumbs.com offers savings at 227 merchants.

Speaking of e-consumerism, check out the workmanship on my new DeMarini Diablo softball glove.

img_8761.jpg
Demarini Softball Glove
This Pulser lost watchers
Jan 17th, 2008 by estreet

OK, this one wins in the “very annoying gallery image” category. Right after Heather48IQ.

mostdisturbingvideolisting.jpg

Their watchers are actually decreased on the last 2 days. Hmm… Each count on the x-axis is 15 minutes. This graph covers Jan 6 to Jan 15.

Most disturbing video

They have a slightly different implementation of the “force affiliate cookie” trick.  (update Feb 5 – I understand the official term is “cookie stuffing”.)

First they entice you to click on this link:

mostdisturbingvideoentice.jpg

When you click that link, it takes you to
1. http://www.sh0pvictoriously.com/
which includes a frame of this:
2. http://robertaugustine.com/shopv/
which includes this frame:
3. mostdisturbingvideorover.jpg

Basically, you get an eBay affiliate cookie on your machine when you visit their site.

This site is kind of unique – even the stolen eBay images are unusual. Usually the 2nd tier Pulser sites are all the same.

Chocolate Chip Cookie on the eBay Pulse
Jan 17th, 2008 by estreet

Yes, there’s always interesting stuff happening on the eBay Pulse.  Here’s a cookie from eBay seller ID auction-promotion.  This is the seller who won the candy cane auction.

chocolate.jpg

Auction-promotion is not a “script kitten” like the top Pulsers.  Thanks Ray – love the term!  Their eBay watcher acquisition pattern follows natural traffic patterns for the US timezones.  eBay traffic is highest from 6 to 10 pm PT.  The chart is in ET.  But as always with the eBay Pulse, there is definitely something weird going on. 

The listing and me page has multiple links to www.auction-promotion.com which contains the “MakeTrack” trick. In fact, the auction-promotion home page has MakeTrack twice. Overkill – but there’s a typo in the first instance anyway.
MakeTrack

Jan 17, 2008 eBay Pulser

You can see the watcher count on almost any eBay item.  Use this link and enter the eBay ID.  http://esellerstreet.com/search.php5?keywords=290196790022

or search by keywords or by category:  http://esellerstreet.com/search.php5?catID=99

The perfect business
Jan 16th, 2008 by estreet

My quest for the past 2 1/2 years has been the perfect business. I’m giving myself 6 years to build one. AshBo, a 17 year old, already has one with Whateverlife.com.

Whateverlife.com

What makes a perfect business?

#1. The perfect business makes money when you are sleeping. Money has to be coming in the doors whether you are working that day or not. If you only make money when you work, then it’s a job. Some people mistakenly call this “passive income” but it’s not. It’s a revenue stream from an asset.

Examples of Perfect Business models: Any smart dot com – eBay, PayPal, Whateverlife.com, Flickr, MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and yes – the eBay Pulsers’ eBook sales.

#2a. Minimal expenses. The business only needs a few servers and a couple of fast, efficient, smart people. No office, no furniture, no waste.

#2b. No inventory costs. Think of the risk when you hold inventory and the cash it ties up. This eliminates the sales of all physical goods. This eliminates Amazon and eBay sales of hard goods from the perfect business list.

#3. Scalable. You can serve thousands to millions of people.

#4. You can quickly respond to market changes. Think: morph the service to the next hot social networking scene.

#5. You can sustain your business even if someone quits. And no employees, just contractors.

To get started, get your domain name from GoDaddy for $6.95. Host your service on a shared server for $4.95 a month at Glowhost.com. Learn some basic HTML and CSS – it’s not that hard. Find someone who knows PHP and MySQL -> like, email me.  I love to help people.

Blog Stats
Jan 14th, 2008 by estreet

Here’s the weekly number of hits to this blog.
Blog Stats

The week over week growth is promising. The dip is due to Christmas. Statcounter.com is my preferred traffic analysis tool. Here’s a screen shot.

visitor statistics

The Statcounter stats on this blog are not perfect because Wordpress disables JavaScript. JS is required to capture referring URLs and track visitor paths.

I like subscribing to blogs by email better than RSS. I use Feedburner to manage the email list for my blog. The only negative of Feedburner is they take up to 24 hours to send an email on a new post.

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