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Jul 7, 2008 | The Meaning of Wealth (or Why My Right Hand Still Hurts)

I learned a lot this past week, and sadly it had little to do with the research I currently am doing at Drexel University.

It all started last weekend when I decided to make a bit of income and get rid of some websites that I had created but done basically nothing to. I figured, if the domains were going to expire, why not pass it along to some other person who might have more of a vested interest in developing it? I knew that one of the most popular destinations for website-related transactions is DigitalPoint (DP), as is Sitepoint (SP) and, to a lesser extent, Webmaster-Talk (WT). While Sitepoint required money to post and advertise, DP was free, and so off I posted and off I sold, netting a tidy $180 in the process.

Now one of the problems with me and money is that if I have some hanging around that I know I’ve gained, it tends not to last very long. I figured I could reinvest the money in another website, perhaps one with some form of revenue, traffic and income. I would hopefully be able to sit back and reap the benefits of well-placed ads and a good redesign.

The epitome of failure

That is how I took the reigns of a Paid To Click website, BuxToClick. The potential benefits of a 3000-strong membership and promises of $70 in income per month were just too difficult to ignore.

The premise of a PTC site is that members sign up and get paid a penny for every advertiser link that you provide that they click, as long as they remain on the site for 30 seconds. Your income comes from interested advertisers who want lots of traffic, and who will hopefully pay for more than 1 cent per visitor. Members can earn a fair amount by referring others or upgrading their accounts to earn more from each click, and the user base can grow exponentially. As it happens, members also do tend to be from third-world countries.

As it dawned on me as time passed, it’s terribly difficult getting advertisers. Firstly, advertisers are not always keen on lots of traffic. They want visitors who will stay, who will return, or who will bring more people to visit. If you’re being paid to click, basically all you want to do is earn the money. 80% of the 3000 members I had were from China. I was being prompted to pay out the members at a rate of $15 a day. All with no foreseeable means of income. I began a paranoid quest for advertisers on forums, despairing at competitors offers of well less than the penny required to break even per click. The late hours of the evening lapsed into sleepless nights, and I could hardly focus – how could I, given that I was losing money on a daily basis, without fresh income? I had no functional business model, and I realized I could very well end up spending all the money I had gained by selling my other sites.

And so I decided to sell it, in hopes that someone else may have a better way to manage the site. Luckily I was able to pass it along, pay every member who needed to be paid, and still end up even. But I learned a lot in the process:

  1. If the story sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.
    There is rarely income without upkeep, effort or initial investment – if a functional business model exists and a solid web base is formed, the effort spent per dollar of income can decrease rapidly.
  2. It is an unfortunate truth that people from the third world will do work for little or no money.
    Consider that I paid to have my site manually listed in 100 reputable online directories for $2.00. I’m torn between considering such work for $2 as exploitative or beneficial (they earn the money, I get what I want). I even have screenshots taken from every submission as proof.
  3. If you have just a bit of knowledge in an area, you can earn well online.
    I was asked to put up a banner for $5 (chance the stylesheet, upload the image, done in a minute) and to modify a textbox to accommodate another character ($12). Blog code cleanup? $40.
  4. There are some things with regards to online income that you just don’t ask.
    Consider that I earned $40 just by submitting a few sites to a directory – I paid the amount I needed to submit the site ($10), and got $15 in return. Strange, but I dare not ask. I’m sure the directory owner is either investing in my efforts or getting money by some other way, but I really don’t care.

Anyhow, at the time of this writing I’m off to take care of a new arcade site I bought. *laughs*. Coincidentally, my hand still hurts because I’ve been typing pretty much all day.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008 at 11:09 am, EST under the category of Coding, Life, Oh Life, Web design. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.