An Update To: So I’ve Invested In An iPhone App

3 months ago I wrote a blog post titled So I’ve Invested In An iPhone App which was picked up on Hacker News where I asked for advice on an issue that was affecting the company. Essentially what happened was that I had invested in an iPhone application where 2 of the co-founders were being head-hunted by Apple, Google & Facebook. I received some great advice from members of the Hacker News community however unfortunately 2 members of the team have now departed and we’re down to 2 people (myself and 1 of the original founders).

While this did initially set us back and have the companies fate in limbo, we’re now moving forward faster than ever with a lot of the applications design completed and a landing page already up (see: www.capptureapp.com). When I originally invested in the company my role was fairly simple and could be compared to as a silent partner: I would provide capital and advice if needed. Since the departure though, I’ve taken on a bigger role and while it does eat up a lot of time, I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going. Granted we’re without the original developer & a designer, it’s not something that will stop the progress of the app.

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So I’ve Invested In An iPhone App

There are over 500,000 iPhone apps in circulation right now with hundreds, if not thousands added every day. Trying to stand out amongst the crowd has proven to be a nightmare for a ton of hopeful entrepreneurs who’ve sunk their time and money into creating an app they think people want only to see it slaughtered in the App Store. Meanwhile achieving success in the mobile space I can imagine would be an incredibly stressful and eventful feat that very few have encountered. So naturally this is where I’m heading.

A few months ago I decided to invest in an idea; an application that has yet to be built. I was lucky enough to secure 20% equity in the company which overtime will hopefully pay off. While I won’t go into detail about what the app does or how much I invested, I can say it’s in the photography related area and I can see it being big. Over time I’ll be writing more about the app and its progress and documenting the app’s success or failure – hopefully the former. I’m confident in the team who will remain nameless for the moment which includes 2 talented designers and a top notch developer.

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The Whole College vs Starting a Business Debate

There’s been a great deal of commentary lately on the technology industry, and whether its biggest players and hottest companies – Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon – are overvalued. It’s a fairly easy topic to look at, given the mediocre revenues produced by most of today’s tech giants and their low levels of potential growth.

But despite the appeal of this bubble, whether it’s true or not, dangerous or exaggerated, is a fact that most of today’s top reporters are ignoring – there’s a much bigger bubble going on, and it’s a far bigger one than the technology industry is experiencing.

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Uh… Where Have You Been?

Good question. It’s been a while since I last posted here and I regret letting this blog take the back seat. As you can imagine it gets hard to find time to write when Dan is off at Uni and I’ve only recently launched my new venture. It’s not as if I haven’t got anything to write about, it’s trying to find the time to put pen to paper. What is strange however is that while traffic is down, it’s steady. I think it’s a combination of our search engine rakings for long-tail keywords and referrals that’s been keeping us afloat. A Google PageRank update which put Sofa Moolah up to PR3 would have helped also.

So anyway, I’ve got a few really cool ideas about upcoming posts. Majority are case studies on making money online however their is one which takes things offline. I know, this blog was setup as a make money online site, but fuck it, if you can make money offline using the Internet as a hub then do it. The idea arose after I got sick of seeing threads on forums where people are asking for help to make $1.00 a day through AdSense and then seeing this thread on Hacker News. Put two and two together and you can work out what I’ll be doing as a case study for this blog.

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My (Poor) Experience with CPC Platform Bidvertiser

I can definitely file this experience under amateur move. In an act of desperation I decided to try the cost-per-click platform Bidvertiser. Essentially you setup a text or banner ad and your message is shown to a selection of Bidvertiser’s network of publishers and you’re charged on a per click basis. I decided to give it a go to advertise my new website to try and drive some sales. This turned out to be a massive waste of time and money.

I want you to do a quick Google search right now for “Bidvertiser”. What I see on my local Google is 4 results saying the service is a scam. Not wanting to rely on a few individuals’ results I signed up and took a look around. What I like to do, and what others might, is look for new traffic sources. While Bidvertiser has been around for a while I hadn’t heard of many people making bank off of it – probably a good reason why. The only thing that drew me in and the reason why I didn’t go straight to Adwords was the ability to fund your account through PayPal. I had a few dollars in my account and figured what the hell.

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Please Don’t Make Me Choose A Website Name Again

You’re business plan has just been written, you’ve gone through your launch checklist and you’re almost ready to go live. There is 1 problem though: you haven’t thought of a name for your website. I personally think that choosing a domain name is one of, if not the most difficult parts of starting a new website. Dan and I had this exact same problem last year when we were thinking of a name for this blog. We obviously landed on Sofa Moolah, but how did we get there? What do you do when all of your favourite names are taken by existing businesses? Let me give you some tips. Quick note, I apologise for the terrible formatting in this post.

We started thinking of names back in September 2010 and we didn’t really get off to a good start. I actually have the chat history of the exact day we started thinking of names and landing on Sofa Moolah. To avoid quoting the chat, I’m going to post the full, raw, unedited version of the chat below. This could be embarrassing but you’ll get the idea:

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Entrepreneurs: Are You Comfortable? You’re Doing It Wrong

Entrepreneurs stop right now and think to yourself: are you comfortable? If you’re not, good job. I believe that if things around you are getting harder to accomplish, then you’re moving up and making progress. This post is all about moving out of your comfort zone to achieve your potential in both life and business. As someone who is self-employed, it’s extremely easy to become unmotivated and content with your business. What’s even easier is not moving out of your comfort zone. This has personally happened to me in the past, and I guarantee it will never happen again.

I’m taking you back to my first business, ZOR. If you haven’t read about ZOR in the past, check out these two links. I mention in those articles that I was invited into the Sydney CBD for a photo shoot and video interview for one of the most popular news websites in Australia, News.com.au. What I didn’t mention was that it almost didn’t happen. If there is one thing I hate it’s talking on the telephone. To gain some insight, they (the reporters) wanted to have an hour long chat on the phone talking about myself and my business – something I did not want to do. It may not seem difficult, but ask around and you’ll see that not many people enjoy talking on the phone; especially to reporters you’ve never met. This is where I needed to come out of my comfort zone and do something as simple as take a business related phone call.

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Case Study: First Week of a New Business

Last Friday night, after 3 months of planning I launched my next online business venture. I don’t want this to sound like an advertisement so I’ll only mention the name once: it’s called GetWithSocial and I describe it as “a marketing company that ‘social media experts’ don’t want you to see”. The idea of the website is to sell social marketing services such as Digg votes, Facebook likes etc. Disregarding your view on these sorts of services I’m here to talk about how it is going, any revenue it’s generated, how I got customers – basically behind the scenes sort of stuff.

I launched the website at around midnight Sydney time on the 5th of this month which was a Friday night. I think it was a bad mistake to launch on the weekend, if you spend a lot of time on the web it seems as though weekends are dead online. Have you ever been on Twitter on Sunday? It’s like a Blockbuster parking lot. It should have gone live first thing Monday morning, ready for when people got into work. We ended up sending out an email to our subscribers that night as well and Dan granted me permission to put a bit about the new site at the end of the email.

52 of you came to the website through the email. Of course I would have liked all of our subscribers who opened the email to visit, but never-the-less it was a decent percentage. Aside from an email, a few tweets from my own account and a small advertisement on the Sitepoint Market, we’ve done literally zero paid advertising. With that said, our traffic is obviously pretty low. For the past 7 days we’ve had 308 visitors which resulted in 726 pageviews. I’m actually quite happy with that number. From those 308 visitors, 53% came directly to the site, 44% through referring sites and 2% through the search engines. What’s surprising is that my $39.00 paid advertisement on Sitepoint Market only resulted in 19 visitors which equal a cost per click of $2.05 which is pretty high considering majority of the keywords I’ll be targeting in an Adwords campaign hover around the $0.70-$1.10 mark.

I think most of you will be looking forward to the sales numbers the most. Alright, so in the first 7 days we’ve done $765.00 in revenue. I’m not going to divulge net profit – sorry! I had pretty high expectations for first week sales figure and unfortunately it didn’t hit them. What I am proud of is the fact that we only spent $39.00 in advertising – although it didn’t really work. What did work are forums. Our top referrers include: 6 webmaster forums, Facebook, Twitter, Sitepoint Market and a few classified sites. Plan on launching something similar? Head to forums!

How I Made My First $5,000 through an Online Game

I’ve written this short post to show you that you can basically make money online through anything. To start, let me take you back to 2005, yep, a whole six years ago. I had just turned 13, was still in school and was addicted to an online game called Habbo (formerly Habbo Hotel). Habbo describes itself as a social networking site aimed at teenagers but I’d call it a gateway drug to addiction and gambling. In short, you create avatars and are put in a virtual Hotel where you can interact with other users, buy furniture for your room with in-game credits and essentially waste time in a virtual world. Read more at their Wikipedia page.

So I started playing in 2005, less than a year after it launched here in Australia. Pretty soon it took up a lot of my time; I would play after school for several hours and would spend the weekends either at home playing or at my mate’s house playing. The addiction came from the trading and betting aspect of the game. It didn’t take me long to amass a small fortune of in-game items. My goal for the game (which sort of reflects my real life goals) was to increase the wealth of my avatar through trading furniture and gambling through the in-game “casinos”. This goal was shared among many of the users which ended up with a sort of underground marketplace. People would buy and sell in-game items meanwhile avoiding mentioning this in the game as it would result in suspension of your account.

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When Not To Copy the Big Names in Marketing

As someone who was interested in making money online in my mid-teens, after researching into the many various ways of generating cash, I stumbled upon affiliate marketing. All the joys of making money off of traffic sources you discover while you don’t have to deal with customers seemed perfect.

One of the first things I did that I’m sure everyone else new to a job does, was to look for established names in the business that were dishing out advice. It didn’t take me long to stumble across people like Shoemoney, Jonathan Volk, John Chow and various other affiliate marketing bloggers. Now, when you’re in to something like marketing, there is no bigger motivator than cash. Seeing these guys holding cheques for tens of thousands of dollars after only a few years in the business is all the drive you need to start working on that first campaign.

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