A few weeks ago I sold my oldest and most worked-on website, Movie-Vault.com.
I’ve owned Movie-Vault.com for over 15 year which is about half of my lifetime, and so I have a lot of history and attachment with the site, especially since it was my first big website.
First, I’ll explain why I even bothered to put it up for sale in the first place considering the above. There are four primary reasons:
Firstly, I’ve actually been selling off my network of sites over the past few years. For a while I was focusing exclusively on affiliate marketing and didn’t have time to run them, so it had already been my goal for a while to dramatically reduce the number of sites I own.
Secondly, I really want to focus on Votesy, and while I was hardly spending any time on Movie-Vault over the past 5 years, having it sold and out of my hands would still take some weight off my shoulders.
Thirdly, I simply lost interest in film over the years, and once you lose interest in a project it is doomed for failure. I was once passionate about movies and film, but that simply fleeted over time.
Lastly, since Movie-Vault.com was essentially "dead", I could have used the money from the sale to put towards Votesy.
Unfortunately, it only ended up selling for $1,500. I had set the reserve at $1 so I was willing to take the risk of a low sale – I was committed to selling it.
The new owner got an absolute steal on it. I can’t begin to tell you how much of a steal he got. Just the robust custom-programming of the site is easily worth the sales price several times over; the entire system could easily be rehashed to make a gaming review site, for example. Then there’s the fact that the system has 15,000+ double opt-in registered members, over 2,500 exclusively-written movie reviews, etc.
But sites these days, unless absolutely swarming with traffic, almost exclusively sell based on existing revenue, and Movie-Vault.com was making next to nothing.
I actually first created Movie-Vault.com as part of a grade 12 Information Technology assignment in which we had to make a website. I created a purple website called "Movie Planet", and after I was graded for the assignment, decided to keep working on the website. Shortly thereafter I purchased a domain for it (it cost like $150 at the time!) and the rest is history.
In fact, my decision to try to make money online for a living originally stemmed from those first few months of putting banner ads up on Movie-Vault and making $5 a month, then $11, then $15, etc. That was the exact moment I decided to do this for a living. I don’t believe I ever wrote about that before.
I have a lot of memories with Movie-Vault.com. Apart from personally interviewing people in the industry (directors, producers, film scorers, actors), one of the notable memories I have is when Lucasfilm Studios sent me a cease and desist notice after one of our news posters leaked behind-the-scenes photos of Star Wars Episode II.
We received so much traffic as a result of that, that it took down our servers for a couple of days. We were getting links from all over the internet, including the front page of Yahoo! (Yahoo! was still very popular at that time).
And of course, for a while Movie-Vault.com was attending red carpet premiere’s and interviewing A-list celebrities.
Here’s one we did with Justin Bieber:
(Note: You may need to visit the post directly at TylerCruz.com if you’re reading this via e-mail or RSS in order to see the video.)
And here’s one from the Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon premiere:
(Note: You may need to visit the post directly at TylerCruz.com if you’re reading this via e-mail or RSS in order to see the video.)
Anyhow, the sale of Movie-Vault marks an end of an era for me. PokerForums was my largest money-making website, but I invested the most blood, sweat, and tears into Movie-Vault.
In some ways it feels good to sell it though. Maybe the new owner can resurrect it back to life again, and selling it does take a bit of load off my shoulders. It’s nice to look forward, not back.
It’s actually been quite a while since I gave an update on Votesy. In fact, my last designated update was back on December 3rd, 2015, so let’s get you up to speed.
A couple weeks ago I actually did a soft launch of Votesy… talk about soft, I didn’t even blog about it!
And it turns out that the decision to do a quiet launch was sound after all, as there ended up being over 45 bugs that weren’t discovered until the site went live, including some very critical ones. No matter how much you test things beforehand, there always seems to be some bugs that you never identify until your project is already out there.
Fortunately, all but a few lingering small bugs have since been fixed and the site is now running pretty smoothly.
No Mobile Support
The major drawback to Votesy at the moment is that there is absolutely no mobile support. While iOS and Android apps are planned for the future and will piggyback off of the site’s existing API system, the site currently does not even render properly on mobile devices, so there is literally no mobile support at all.
However, it’s a lot cheaper and faster to make the site useable for mobile web-based viewing than it is to develop apps, so I may have that done while the apps get developed so that people can at least use the site on their phones until then.
That being said, I am currently out of budget to develop the site any further, so it’s really up to the site to excel from this point onward in order to help pay for its continued development or justify pouring more money into it.
Right now, I’m just happy that it’s finally up and running.
With my focus over the past 2 weeks having been on tackling all the bugs and issues that were popping up (by the way, that is another reason why I was AWOL from my blog for a while), I obviously didn’t want to start marketing or promoting Votesy until most of the bugs were fixed.
So, marketing efforts on the site so far have been fairly minimal apart from a Facebook and Twitter mention or two, and a couple of threads made on Reddit (which didn’t gain any traction).
I am currently considering sending out a press release for Votesy, although I am not sure how press-worthy the site would be. I also have never had any successes in the past with press releases. I’m still considering it though.
Here are the stats of the site so far (as of January 30th, 2016; I’m drafting this post a few days in advance of publishing it):
About 10 of those users are test accounts from me and the developer, but the rest are all legitimate and verified users.
With such a quiet launch, and with numerous setbacks (some of the bugs didn’t allow people to register, create a question, or even load the site) I’m actually happy with these numbers so far. It will be interesting to compare them with the stats in my next Votesy update.
My goal now is to start getting the word out. I’m still on the fence about a press release, but I plan on contacting some websites and communities to share the news of the launch and communicate how Votesy could be of benefit to them.
It’s all about getting the word out now.
So there you have it – Votesy has launched – please go check it out!
Five weeks ago, I published a blog post announcing that I had created a Kickstarter project. I’m sure you’ll remember it.
Unfortunately, it finished as a total flop and I only ended up "raising" around $264 USD of my $50,000 USD goal. Since it wasn’t met, none of the backers will be charged though.
Now, I’m no Kickstarter expert. In fact, I actually knew very little of it apart from visiting the site on several occasions in the past. When I created my project on there, I thought that there was maybe a 20% chance that I might hit my funding goal, so the results neither surprising nor devastating to me.
What did surprise me, though, was just how little interest there was in the campaign. I had thought that I could have raised at least a couple thousand dollars in interest.
Here then, are 5 things I learned from creating my first Kickstarter campaign:
1. Easy to Launch
Having never launched anything on Kickstarter before, I didn’t know what to expect in regards to actually setting up the campaign. I had seen established companies launch products there before, often with expensive professional video presentations, and so I didn’t know what to expect when creating my fundraiser, or if I’d even be allowed to create one.
Fortunately, I found the experience and process in creating the campaign to be relatively simple. You are guided step-by-step along the way in a wizard-type interface, and apart from having to submit proof of your identity, there is virtually nothing else standing between you and having your Kickstarter put up apart from a final manual approval from a Kickstarter staff member.
So, if any of you have been on the fence about launching something on Kickstarter, I’d recommend doing so as you have nothing to lose since it doesn’t cost you a penny.
2. Forced Currency Conversion
With the USD-CAD currency exchange rate being the highest its been in about 13 years, I was frustrated to learn that, being Canadian, my Kickstarter was forced to be made in CAD currency. I simply had no option to make it in USD currency.
What this meant was that both my fundraising goal and all backing dollar amounts were displayed in CAD currency, which may have had a very negative psychological effect on Americans.
For example, I had to make the campaign goal $68,000 since that was what $50,000 USD worked out to at the time. $68,000 sounds like a lot more than $50,000.
And since the backing dollar amounts were in CAD currency too, it meant that I couldn’t offer quite the right amount of backer rewards that I would if it was in USD funds.
Lastly, it would mean a lot of wasted funds in currency exchange conversion fees since even if the campaign was successful, Kickstarter would have send me the funds in CAD, which I would then have to convert back to USD since all my expenses are in USD.
So for any non-Americans dealing with Kickstarter, keep this fact in mind!
3. Spam, Spam, Spam
I was not expecting this.
Kickstarter has an absolute chronic spam problem.
Within 30-minutes or so of launching my Kickstarter project, I received a notification e-mail from who I thought was a representative at Kickstarter, offering me Kickstarter marketing and promotion services to help spread word of my newly launched campaign.
I was actually strongly considering his proposal and even replied back before finally realizing that he actually, in fact, did not work for Kickstarter and was just a guy with some Kickstarter marketing service.
Although I was a bit annoyed at how he misrepresented himself, I shrugged it off and moved on. But then I received another e-mail from another Kickstarter marketing company. Then another, and another. And this was all in the first day! By the end of the week I had probably received at least 2 dozen such proposals… and not just by e-mail either – people were contacting me on Skype, Twitter, and on Facebook trying to hustle me with their promotion services.
Perhaps the most annoying part of all this was that most of those were sent to me via Kickstarter’s in-house messaging services (which e-mails me the same as well), meaning that Kickstarter isn’t cracking down on these spammers. It’s also why I was so confused with the first message I received, as I had thought it was sent from Kickstarter staff.
So if you launch a Kickstarter project, defend yourself with a shield to ward off the onslaught of inevitable spam you will receive.
4. Websites are Rare
I actually kind of knew this before I launched my campaign from the small amount of research I did prior to launching the campaign, but I think the fact that websites as Kickstarter campaigns are pretty rare is for a good reason – potential backers just don’t seem to be that willing to fund a website-based Kickstarter campaign.
In general, most Kickstarter campaigns are for physical products, games, comics, and film-related projects. This does make sense though – would you rather receive a free subscription or "thank you" on a webpage or be mailed a physical product that you backed? I think most people would choose the latter.
As a result, I think that getting Votesy funded was an uphill battle due to it being a free website. I bet it would have stood a better chance of getting funded if it was a SaaS-based website, where I could at least have offered free subscriptions.
5. Kickstarter is a Platform, Not a Community
I saved the most important thing I learned for last, and this is definitely something I had completely overlooked when deciding to launch a Kickstarter campaign: Kickstarter is a platform, not a community.
For some reason, I thought that once I created my Kickstarter campaign, that Kickstarter users would happen across my project and then decide whether or not to back it. I had imagined that there was this big group of Kickstarter users who just browse listings and back ones that interest them.
While there may be the odd few Kickstarter users who do in fact do this, the reality is that Kickstarter is simply a medium for entrepreneurs to fundraise money, and nothing else. It simply provides the platform for companies to raise and receive money. It doesn’t really have a user base that peruses its listings; it is up to the Kickstarter creator to drive traffic and promote his/her own listing.
Since I was not prepared for this, my Kickstarter campaign failed miserably. I had set a 20-day deadline on the campaign and didn’t fully realize that I had to promote it myself until there was no chance of meeting the $68,000 goal.
I knew that if Kickstarter had featured the campaign on its homepage that I would probably have stood a good chance of getting the project funded though, so in some ways it’s still worth launching a Kickstarter project for that very reason alone.
In any case, I can’t reemphasize this last fact enough. You need to have a strong promotion game plan in place if you plan on launching a Kickstarter campaign.
Once you have the ball rolling in terms of backers, then I imagine it’s likely to snowball from there (easier to get press to pick up on it, more likely for other backers to trust or be interested in it, and more likely for Kickstarter to feature it).
Anyhow, those are the five things I learned from launching my first Kickstarter campaign. I do recommend it for anyone trying to raise money for an entrepreneurial effort that could benefit backers, but just be prepared to market and promote your ass off (you should actually already have a good list of possibly-interested backers ready).
The following is a paid review for TylerCruz.com written and reviewed by Michael Kwan. It is completely of Michael Kwan’s opinion and is not influenced by being paid. If you’re interested in having your site or product reviewed, please view my advertising page.
For any number of possible reasons, many people need to borrow some money in the short term every now and then. Maybe they need to cover some unexpected medical expenses. Maybe they have some emergency home repair they need to do. Maybe they don’t have enough cash on hand for this month’s rent and just need some money to make it to their next paycheck.
The payday and short-term loan industry has been steadily growing these last several years and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. As someone who is interested in making money on the Internet, you’d be remiss to dismiss this potentially lucrative opportunity. Countless lenders are constantly searching for qualified leads and you can reap the profits from directing the right people their way.
Designed with the experience to delivered results, Zero Parallel is a lead generation platform that was built from the ground up with a "systematic ethical approach that serves all parties for the long term." And that includes you as the affiliate too.
Connecting Lenders with Borrowers
At its very core, Zero Parallel is not seeking to reinvent the wheel. It’s simply aiming to be the best wheel it can be possibly be, providing a solution that is beneficial for everyone involved.
The goal for you as the affiliate is to find (qualified) people who are looking for a short-term payday loan for whatever reason they may have. When you generate this lead, it is entered into the Zero Parallel database where lenders can then bid on it. Once a lender and a borrower connect with one another and a loan is provided, you earn yourself a healthy commission.
The actual dollar amount for this CPL (cost per lead) commission can vary based on the quality of the lead and how much the lenders are willing to pay to get it. From what I can gather, the payout level is anywhere from $2 to $200 on average. As you can imagine, a highly qualified lead looking to borrow $10,000 is worth more than a dodgy lead looking to borrow $100.
The Affiliate Experience
After signing up for an account and logging into the affiliate control panel for the first time, you will be prompted to complete the affiliate questionnaire. This will ask you about how and where you intend on promoting Zero Parallel to potential borrowers, among other basic information.
The main affiliate dashboard provides you with at-a-glance information about your current performance, including your current balance, today’s earnings, today’s leads, earnings per lead and so on. A basic line graph also depicts your generated leads, sold leads, and earnings, among other useful information.
Navigation is found along the top of the page. Clicking on your name can reveal information about your account and your dedicated account manager. To define your payment preferences, you’ll need to look under the Payments tab, which is also where you can complete your W-9 form.
By default, payments are paid out weekly with a two-week hold and holds can be reduced to one week for qualified affiliates. The minimum payment threshold for ACH and wire transfers is $1,000, while the minimum for check, PayPal or Webmoney payments is $100.
Creatives and Tools
In regards to promotional tools for generating and directing those leads, Zero Parallel provides affiliates with a wealth of options.
Perhaps one of the simplest ways is through the variety of landing pages that are available. Using search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing or any number of other means, you can direct qualified visitors to these pages where they can then request a payday loan.
If you’ve got a content site of your own, you might also make use of the many ad banners that are available through Zero Parallel too. These come in many of the most standard sizes, so you won’t have too much trouble integrating these banners onto your blog or website.
Bonus Draws and Unique Features
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For the lenders, a great feature of Zero Parallel is the direct call service. This allows lenders to receive phone calls directly from prospective leads, giving them the opportunity to speak with the consumer before purchasing the lead.
Get Your Payday with Zero Parallel
There is a lot to like about Zero Parallel, both from the perspective of the affiliate and that of the lender. The competitive nature ensures that affiliates are paid top dollar for the leads they generate and the robust set of tools arms affiliates with everything they need to attract the qualified leads that lenders desire.
It only takes a few moments to sign up as an affiliate with Zero Parallel. If you’ve got people on your list who may be interested in short term loans, this network is worth a look.