An Update on my Various Projects

June 7, 2010 Posted by Tyler Cruz
Paid Advertisement

I’m ashamed to say it, but it’s true: I’ve hardly worked at all the past few months. Sure, I’ve been doing some blog posts, toying around with affiliate marketing, tending to e-mails, and managing my existing network of sites, but I haven’t done much to actually grow. I’ve basically been doing the bare minimum of what’s needed to keep my sites alive.

A number of issues brought this about: my weight loss challenge took up a lot of my time, I have been rather lethargic (despite losing 17 pounds), and I overburdened myself with too many projects and websites to run. In fact, I got up to nearly 400 unanswered work-related e-mails the other day because I simply have too many things going on at once.

But at the same time, I also have myself to blame. I simply haven’t had the desire to work lately. I think I’ve been too stressed from having too many projects under my belt and not enough time to dedicate to each of them. I’ve been procrastinating by playing a lot of games and spending too much time on sites such as CollegeHumor and TodaysBigThing.

Fortunately, I seem to have found some of my lost passion for working, and have put in some decent hours during the past few days. In fact, I got quite a lot done today, and as I write this post I am on my 4th hour straight during this work session. I am now down to 181 e-mails and actually feel great. I only hope that this lasts and I am able to continue putting in some decent work hours.

Since I own so many sites and have so much going on, I cannot list everything here, so here are the most notable updates of my projects to mention. I am also going to keep things as to-the-point as possible as I don’t want this post to get too long to read:

RobotWarz.com

In all the online projects I’ve ever done in my entire life, developing RobotWarz.com has got to be the worst experience out of all of them. Second-worst was with Replayer.org, when my programmer just disappeared without a trace halfway into the project.

I won’t go into details here, but I’ve just had so many issues with the programmer I hired for RobotWarz that it isn’t funny, and goes beyond ridiculous. He seems to be somewhat back on track now, but is still very slow to respond.

Also, the freelance designer I had hired ended up getting a full-time job at a game design studio and wasn’t able to continue with the project. I don’t blame him though, as he was waiting alongside me for months as the programmer disappeared and slacked on the project.

The good news is that I have since hired a new designer, and he is awesome! He speaks great English and is extremely good at keeping me up to date and responding to me. He has game design experience and understands what we need, and best of all is very fast! He’s just what we need to get caught up in the development of this game and get it completed once and for all.

He just started working with us a few days ago so still has a lot of work to do, but has already made great progress and is on a Usain Bolt pace to help us finish RobotWarz.

Below is an image of what he has come up with so far. As you can see, we ditched our previous robot designs, partly because we wanted to keep the new look consistent throughout:

136

The images aren’t final, and I’ll be requesting some modifications here and there, but overall I’m very happy with this new designer so far. He actually made me optimistic about this project again.

Movie-Vault.com

I’ve been doing a fair bit of work on Movie-Vault, especially over the past couple days.

We have a new volunteer content writer who has been great – he has a true passion for movies and is very set on helping contribute and grow the site. I haven’t seen passion and help from a volunteer in years… back in the golden age of the site when I had a staff of 2 dozen.

I also just gave a list of new features to Interberry to add to the site. They’re all small improvements to the admin area as well as 2 bug fixes, but they’re still improvements.

Later, I plan on adding a Twitter and Facebook button to the left side and possibly adding a Facebook “Like” button to all news posts in order to help grow the site.

I’ve had my final straw with a private advertising agency that I signed a contract with for Movie-Vault.com. They promised me eCPM’s of $6-15 but have delivered only $0.50 and under, which is disgraceful. I was very patient with them and tried them for around 3 months or so, but am done with them now. What a waste. I just finished replacing my ads with AdSense for now, and applied to the Break.com ad network.

We’re attending the UK red carpet premiere of Killers, starring Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck, and Katherine Heigl in a couple days and will have video footage from the event. I asked our interview host to try to get Ashton Kutcher to say “I love Movie-Vault.com” on camera, as I feel he might just do it, but I’m not sure if she’ll remember or feel it’s appropriate :P

If he does though, that’ll be cool and then I’ll be asking her to ask everyone to do that, lol.

I have the opportunity of getting actual private one-on-one sit down video interviews with celebrities, but cannot afford to at the moment. Once the site grows I’ll start our foray into that.

Marketing-wise, I have a couple of new things up my sleeve, but we did try posting to the various social bookmarking sites ala Socialmarker.com which unfortunately didn’t help at all. I also tried running an AdWords campaign targeting “movie reviews” and “movie news”, but for some reason I can’t understand, those terms got no traffic whatsoever… like just a few clicks per day… and they had no competition. I still don’t understand it.

It’s been hard growing Movie-Vault.com, but I haven’t been neglecting it and am really trying to take it to the next level.

My First SEO Test

I actually plan on writing an entire post dedicated to this, but thought I’d mention it here as well. Basically, after hearing how SEO has been working for an affiliate friend of mine, for the first time ever, I hired a professional SEO guy.

I have him working on 2 of my sites (Movie-Vault.com and my main affiliate site) to increase the ranking position of certain keywords.

I have him on a monthly basis, but am scheduled to have him working on my affiliate site for 6 months and Movie-Vault.com for 12 months as that is how long he estimates it to rank in the top 10 for the keywords I gave him.

We’re 3 weeks into the first month and so far I haven’t noticed any improvement except for 1 keyword which may have improved a bit. I understand SEO takes time, but I hope I haven’t shelled out a lot of money before I see that it isn’t working…

I think, though, that he has spent most of this time so far, on writing articles, and not actually link building, so we’ll have to wait and see. If I see absolutely no improvement by the 2nd month I’m most likely going to cancel my agreement with him.

PokerForums.org

In yet another effort to try to cut down on the number of websites I am struggling to manage due to having so many, I put PokerForums.org up for sale a couple months ago.

I had a couple people originally interested around the $100K-$125K mark, but I was set on closer to the $200K mark at that time and so turned them down, and they are no longer interested in the site.

However, earlier today I received a bid of $75K from a guy who has continued to show serious interest in acquiring the site. I have since lowered my price and am now willing to accept $100K for the site, but not $75K so I had to decline his offer.

$75K is a lot of money, but PokerForums did pull in $120,000 net profit during the past 36 months with basically no work on the site, so that was $120K net made without any real work or time put into the site, basically passive income. And after escrow fees and taxes, $75K does not account for very much and would be gone before I know it so I feel that $100K is a very fair price for the site.

Affiliate Marketing

I spent a fair bit of the time that I did work over the past few months on affiliate marketing, mainly really trying to scale my zip/e-mail submit offers.

I was on great track to scaling one campaign to $500 a day, but ended up getting blacklisted on that offer and had to shut it down. My main problem with submit offers is that they seem to get a lot of internal shaves, most likely because they’ve been promoted to death and the submit companies already have millions of e-mails and so the offers have been saturated.

My “main” offer did well a while ago, but hit a real dry spell the past few weeks, so I paused all my affiliate marketing attempts. The good news is that this has given me more time to concentrate on my other projects.

Starcraft2.net

I haven’t touched Starcraft2.net since I launched it, but am posting this update because Starcraft 2 is scheduled to hit stores on Jul 27, 2010, less than 2 months away.

Starcraft 2 is a HUGE release and if you’re a Blizzard fan or gamer of any sort, then you’ll know just how big it is. Even if you’re not a gamer, I’m sure you’ve still heard of World of Warcraft, another Blizzard game.

I won’t bother talking about just how big of a release Starcraft 2 is and how much staying power it has (Starcraft 1 came out in 1998 and is more popular today than ever, 12 years later), but am just mentioning it because once the game actually launches and hits stores, I expect for Starcraft traffic to skyrocket.

I own the domains Starcraft2.net and SC2.net as well as many other Starcraft domains, and Starcraft2.net is already ranked extremely high just because of the domain name. Check out the SERPs below:

134

As I write this, I am currently ranked #19th on Google for “starcraft 2” and #6 for “starcraft2”.

Since I am already so busy with so many projects, I am considering putting my Starcraft domains/sites up for sale on Flippa. I am curious what the “general public” deems the value of Starcraft2.net to be. I am also wondering if I should hang onto it until after the release and wait a bit for the popularity to soar, and then put it up for sale at it’s peak.

I do know that 24 hours after obtaining Starcraft2.net and SC2.net, my friend offered me $12k for the both of them, to which I declined. As a huge Starcraft fan myself, I would like to build the site into something that really contributes to the community – for example, I was thinking of getting into the custom Starcraft maps business as Blizzard is offering a revshare deal to map designers – but I do not have the time for this, so may just put it up for sale.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: June 7th, 2010 under My Websites  

61 Responses to “An Update on my Various Projects”

  1. Tom says:

    No offence but a lot of the stuff you post on your blog is pretty boring – it’s refreshing to hear about how your sites are getting on. Make more of your posts like this!

  2. Ryan says:

    These are the points I think we all enjoy. Keep it up!

  3. I think I agree with your assessment that you are trying to do too many projects and because I know from my past experience video game niche sites never really do well.

    What can you sell someone that is a fan of Starcraft 2? (Beyond Starcraft 2?)

    So if I were you I’d sell Starcraft 2 and then refocus on other projects.

    Side note: RE: PokerForum.org you really need to consider posting in more of the poker affiliate type forums to try and build interest for it there. You may have much more luck than just posting it for sale on Flippa.

  4. Tyler,
    I agree with the previous guys about this being my favorite type of post as well. Honestly its the only reason I keep your site in my RSS reader.

    Now I see a recurring trend over and over in your projects. You seem to hire crappy freelance guys on a per project basis. Have you thought of the following options:
    hiring multiple guys to work together building your project?
    hiring full time staff overseas to work permanently for you (i.e. they won’t run off)
    breaking your project up into small segments (look more into agile development, scrum, etc.) This way you have milestones every week, and won’t have a guy walk away with a site half done. hire a project manager maybe.

    Also try sticking to verticals you know a lot about. Publisherchallenge i think was your best project yet. Take your succesful products and build around them.

  5. aggelies says:

    Really nice post and update about the ongoing projects.
    Maybe it’s better to focus on some projects and expand them even further, instead running so many projects at the same time.

  6. Wesley says:

    You claimed previously that it was expensive to hire some actual good developers or a team, yet isn’t it more expensive now that the project is long overdue, resulting in more costs
    & not earning any income, which it could have already had it been released on time?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      It’s a risk that sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn’t. I have found some great sources from outsourcing… many of which I have used and continue to use for years. For example, Interberry is a company I regularly hire for all my programming work (they just don’t do Flash which is why I didn’t hire them for RobotWarz), I’ve hired Sergio on multiple occasions for logo work, freelance writers such as Michael Kwan for writing work, etc.

      Then there are times when I run into bad apples. You also need to realize that the “good developers” were quoting me $50K-$75K… which I simply couldn’t afford even if I wanted to.

      • Wesley says:

        Well, developers are everything. If you can’t find or afford the good ones, I don’t think you should even start a big project like this. (Though $50K does seem excessive for a simple flash game, where did you look?)

        How long overdue is this project now? What was your original deadline?

        This seems a bit like a prestige project that is only sucking up your money and time and won’t have a big return anyway. (My humble opinion, I’m often wrong :)) What is your revenue projection? (I’m sure you mentioned this before?)

        Is the core gameplay for this done yet? What exactly is yet to be done? Would love to hear some more about that. The big question is of course if the game is fun (and not too simplistic). Is there facebook integration, etc?

        (No need to answer all these questions if you consider them private)

        Btw, did you receive my payment?

        • Tyler Cruz says:

          For the “good developers” I had privately contacted a bunch of actual Flash game studios who develop quality games for the web and other platforms such as the iPhone and Nintendo DS, etc.

          The project has been delayed so long that I cannot even remember when the original deadline was without looking back through my logs, but I believe it was supposed to be around January.

          I did mention how I planned on monetizing the game in earlier posts, but don’t have exact specifics in terms of dollar figures as the game hasn’t even launched yet and so I don’t know conversion rates, etc.

          Fortunately, yes, the core programming of the game is done (so I’m told). That’s the one positive news out of this. All of the hard work is done and so now we’re just waiting on the completion of the new graphics and then the game can have the final touch-ups done. Regarding is the game fun – I think that it will be extremely addicting to certain people, which is of course the core group I’m going after. Facebook integration is planned after the game goes live and has been running for a while, so that bugs can be ironed out and new features put in before it is rolled out to the Facebook crowd. I was originally also going to port it to the iPhone, but not anymore since it would have to be recoded now that Apple is all anti-Flash. A Facebook port should actually be very cheap to implement.

          I did receive your payment, and sent you a thank you e-mail back… perhaps it’s in your spam folder?

  7. Becky Marie says:

    Can’t wait to hear about the SEO updates! Another one of my sites hit the 1st page of google today. We’ll see how that plans out. like I’ve said in the past everything you seem to touch turns to gold, so I am sure your SEO ventures will turn to gold as well!

    The lack of desire to work comes from only one place = burn out. Sometimes if you mind and body is telling you to take a break you should. We are the ONLY animal spices that does not listen to our own instincts…..

    ~ Becky

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      I was going to mention your name in my post specifically, and link to your blog, but wasn’t sure if you wanted me to or not since you had told me on MSN (“don’t tell anyone, but…”) haha :)

      • Becky Marie says:

        Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for the plug!! You are a smart dude, you know what to say and what not to say….

        Anywho, my higher payout site hit page one in google today, #3 on the #1 page! Which is radical because it was a fairly hard keyword to get ranked. Still waiting for cash to flow in though… BUT even if the cash doesn’t flow at least i’m getting an idea of what it takes to rank.

  8. Tyler -

    Do you have any tips for hiring an SEO pro? Been struggling with this a bit – haven’t been able to get any call backs even. Did you find your guy online? Through a referral?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Don’t ask me for advice on hiring SEO guys yet, as so far I haven’t seen any results, but there are countless SEO guys on the freelance sites such as eLance and oDesk

      • The problem is that most seo guys actually only know how to do a few specific strategies. Oftentimes those certain strategies don’t work very well on their own. So you have to choose a seo freelancer very carefully.

        If you current seo guy is spending the first month writing articles, you may have hired the wrong person. Usually it makes much more sense to contract the writing out to a freelance writer. For it to take 12 months to get to top 10 either you have really lousy rankings now, or your seo guy is trying to milk you for as much money as possible.

        • Tyler Cruz says:

          Or I’m targeting extremely competitive keywords… :)

          • No I’m sure the keywords are competitive, but 12 months just to get on page #1 is long regardless. Then again, I don’t know how much you’re paying him per month. Maybe it would make more sense to target some long tail keywords first and build your way up to going after ‘movie review(s)’.

  9. Dealing with designers seems like always a pain. Sorry about the robot warz hold up.

  10. Hi guys,

    It looks like you have a lot of great websites going on Tyler. I’m a bit surprise that you want to sell Pokerforums.org since you consider it as passive income. I which that I could make you an offer for that website.

    Kind regards,
    Sam
    X

  11. Thanks for the comprehensive update. Do you have the possibility of recouping any of the money you paid upfront to the RobotWarz programmer?

  12. Bryce says:

    Robotwarz is looking really good. Looks way more refined and has its own style now, so good work there.

    As for this coder, did you set out milestones to check progress and due dates? or did you go “here is what I want, get it done”?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      I set out milestones and deadlines, but the main core of the coding is done so I just want to get it finished now since it’s so close to being finished…

  13. I was surprised that the poker site can be sold for so much money and this has indeed opened my eye for this business.

    Keep it up, Tyler

  14. Bill says:

    Does the RobotWarz developer’s name begin with J?

      • Bill says:

        Fair enough. I just know of an infamous developer that often leaves projects halfway through and you apparently know a couple of people that he does.

        I won’t mention any more though, since it’d be unfair to tarnish his name on a project he has nothing to do with.

  15. Julius says:

    I’m glad to read about these updates. Your experiences provided us with great bits of advice too. Thanks

  16. Best of luck with the PokerForum website if you do get it to sell, would be i interesting to see how you re-invest that money.

  17. It’s a great process Tyler… Keep it up…

  18. Jonathan says:

    YES! This is the kind of stuff that got me hooked on your blog. More posts like these!

  19. kyle says:

    wow 75k for that poker website and you still declined? are you off your rocker. that site is literally 1 month away from being completely dead. Who ever offered you that price must be mental. And then you bring up that someone offered you 12k for those star craft domains right after you registered them? Sounds a little far fetched. I sense some self promoting hoping some bloke comes by and thinks they really are worth that much.

    But either way all i got to say is anyone who buys pokerforums for more than 20k right now your a sucker.

    • tclame says:

      He always does that.. he asks stupid amounts for crap sites and all he gets is people laughing in his face.

      Did the same thing for that movievault site. Asked some ridiculous amount and never sold it, now it is just some junk site that gets lousy traffic and no real income.

      He is just some unknown “entrepreneur” that posts junk like how much he weighs and how he spends his time playing video games as if he were 10 years old

      • Andrew says:

        id have to agree. this stuff about how much its made in the last 36 months is very carefully chosen; its on pace to make, what, like a third of what it did the year before? the previous 36 months dont matter unless theres some reason to believe it will return to that form. i dont see any reason to believe that, so the 500 a month its making now should set the price. you can add on something for potential, but you cant triple the price based on that. especially if the reveneu is coming from spammy text link sales.

  20. Don’t beat yourself up over having a few months off – that’s one of the main advantages of working for yourself online! I took a few weeks off from development etc in 2007 and have only just got back into things in the last couple of months – nearly three years later! I still worked a bit everyday to answer emails/deal with support etc as you have but an absolute bare minimum.

    That’s the beauty of the Internet and one of the main benefits :-)

  21. Doesn’t sound like you have been slacking off at all. I do like the changes to Robotwars I am looking forward to seeing it once you have finished it.

    I think it would be a great idea to add the buttons you mentioned. I know a lot of people have stayed out of the social area but it has become to big to ignore it now?

  22. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    I believe that StarCraft2 will be very popular and I think you should keep the domain and develop it. $12k is not the price, you can even get 10x higher after a couple years. Between, the design for starcraft2.net is cool!

    Regards,
    Lee

    • You are definitely right Lee, Starcraft 2 has ATON of potential if done right, and hey.. if the buyer sees that too, they will see its worth and pick it up and capitalize on it, while it is still early.

  23. teknoloji says:

    why do everyone have problems with developers nowadays geez

  24. NetB says:

    Tyler, you’re asking way too much for pokerforums.org. I’d pay 10 times the CURRENT monthly income, which is around $10k I guess? It doesn’t matter what the site made five or ten years ago, what matters is what it brings in now. The internet changes fast and you should know that.

    If you really feel it’s worth $100k, then invest some time and money and show that it can make $10k per month.

    • Yes if that forum has as much potential as you think, you should probably invest a bit more time and money into it. It sounds like you would be better off to keep this website as a long term source of passive income.

  25. Luke says:

    I don’t understand. If you could make $120k off pokerforums with zero work, why not invest into that website instead of taking MASSIVE risks on flash games etc.

    If $120k was made so easy, I am sure with some hard work it could easily earn you $300k+ ?!

  26. Kaitlyn says:

    That would be great! I just purchased 3 domains with related keyword to several games from Blizzard, I hope they’ll be popular and I could sell them with a good price, says $10k? ;) I would be happy to let go…(dreaming) ….

  27. Ev Yemekleri says:

    I am also highly interested on your updates regarding SEO. I am learning a lot from what you post.

  28. Really nice post and update about the ongoing projects.

  29. I’d like to ensure that the old URLs to content that was on the old site will actually still work, and land people on the same content in the new site. The URL layout isn’t actually horrifically different, so hopefully I can get that in place without *too* much fuss.

  30. Hey Tyler.

    I was surprised that the poker site can be sold for so much money and this has indeed opened my eye for this business.

  31. The URL layout isn’t actually horrifically different

  32. Bidet says:

    Its great to hear some update on your projects, I look forward to seeing how your SEO test is going and the progress of it. I wonder how well it will work after 12 month of SEOing.

  33. bakiresohbet says:

    Really nice post and update about the ongoing projects.

  34. vibrisyon says:

    Do you have any tips for hiring an SEO pro!!

  35. sesliserbest says:

    Its great to hear some update on your projects, I look forward to seeing how your SEO test is going and the progress of it. I wonder how well it will work after 12 month of SEOing.

PeerFly

Leave a Reply