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Archive for September, 2008

I Wonder How Often this Works?

We’ve all gotten the emails from some rich heir that’s in exile but has millions in a bank they can’t access. And if we help them, they’re going to share some of their riches with us. We all know the email, we’ve all seen it a hundred times (most are Nigeria based).

If you’ve been under a rock and you haven’t seen them yet, well you should really watch Ze Frank’s Ted Talks speech just below. It’s pretty hilarious (specially starting around the second minute – although the whole talk is really good):

This is a scam known as an advance-fee scam. The basic idea is that you’ll send them money in advance of getting a large payout, which of course never comes. You would think that this scam being as famous as it is today wouldn’t work anymore, but for some strange reason it still works. Don’t ask me why, I don’t get it. But for whatever reason, some people still get caught in this scam every year.

Of course these aren’t the only scams going around. Recently an email made it through our spam filters here at LandlordMax which I found interesting enough to comment on. Now I’m sure few people will fall for this particular scam, but imagine if you’re a small one person business (even smaller multi-person businesses have been known for falling for these types of scam), wouldn’t the following email look somewhat interesting. Especially if you were on the verge of running out of money during tougher economic times.

We are a software development and marketing company in Kuwait (Middle East). As part of our software portfolio, we would like to market and sell LandLordMax to our real estate and property management customers in the Kuwait market.However, we would like to brand the product as one of ours instead of LandLordMax. This would require a complete removal of all links that point to LandLordMax or your website, your license etc and be replaced with material suitable to our porfile. Also the logo will need to change.

We will market it and sell it and of course pay you license fees per installation.

Do you have any such reseller program that we can participate in. If not how do you suggest we take this forward.

The first thing to note is that they took the time to put in our company name several times. But what really sticks out, at least to me, is that they must have used some sort of keyword searching algorithm because they included “real estate and property management” in the email. This makes it look a lot more authentic. It makes it look like they’re in the right field. It’s no longer a generic email blasted to millions of random email addresses. At least it doesn’t obviously appear that way.

The other appealing thing in the email, for many businesses that is, is that they just want to market it. They want to “resell” it. They even go so far as to ask if there’s a “reseller program”. Although we all know this is bogus, I can see it further reducing the defensiveness of a more susceptible person.

Of course that’s never their intention. If it was, why would they later ask “However, we would like to brand the product as one of ours instead of LandLordMax. This would require a complete removal of all links that point to LandLordMax or your website, your license etc and be replaced with material suitable to our porfile. Also the logo will need to change.”

Basically they’re asking for a full version of the software, that’s completely de-branded, and has a no licensing implemented! If that doesn’t scare you as a business, I don’t know what would. Why not just go ahead and ask for the source code straight out? Generally, unless you’re acquiring a company for it’s assets or intellectual properties, you want to leverage the existing brand name because it has value. Not here.

You gotta love these types of requests. Normally I just dismiss them, but I had to comment on this one because of the higher than normal level of sophistication. Now maybe I just never noticed it before, but this is the first time I’ve seen such an email that includes matching company name with relevant keywords (not optimized keywords, but at least their relevant). I have to wonder how many businesses will be caught in this one versus the 419 scams (the initial email scam mentioned above).

By the way, as I was doing some research for this post, I came accross this interesting list of the top 10 email scams of 2008. Not exactly educational reading, but fun to go through. And they offer exerts of the different emails.






LandlordMax 5 Year Anniversary!

Actually it’s a belated anniversary, it was last month but I was just too busy trying to get the book to theĀ  printers, combined with everything else, to post about it. So here it is. LandlordMax was officially incorporated 5 years ago! The company was of course around before that, but it was just me working on the first version. Seems like only yesterday…

Which leads me to think, it’s time for an update on everything that’s been going on around here. The last update on LandlordMax, and everything I’m working on, was on June 8th. Wow, has it already been 4 months???

Well I can tell you it’s probably been the 4 busiest months in since I started LandlordMax! It’s been so busy that over the last 4 weeks I’ve only posted once on this blog where I usually post 1-3 times a week. So without any further ado, here an update on everything:

Blog Blazers

As many of you know, I’m in the process of publishing a book called Blog Blazers. Well the book is finally off to the printers. I’m sure like all other books, it was quite a dash to the finish line. The book is now officially scheduled to be available for November 1st. Which is why the last few weeks have been a whirlwind! If I hadn’t gotten it to the printers before now there’s no way it would be available on time.

For those who’ve been following my story of publishing the book, the cost is already over $15,000. Above this you can add the costs of printing (which is dependent on the number of copies), followed by all the marketing and promotional costs. Which means the original $15,000 will in all likelihood be quickly eclipsed as my marketing efforts starts to ramp up.

I’ve already hired a PR agent to get us in the media (he did very well in getting LandlordMax in the papers – we had appearances in at least 6 major newspapers). I’ve also hired another PR consultant who’s going to be working with me on a part time basis. She’s already started 2 weeks ago, so that ball is already rolling. And that’s just the beginning, I haven’t even started talking about my efforts. But have no fears, I’ll share more of my promotional experiences as I go through them. I already have a few big posts planned.

Above all this, I’ve also had to get the website up and running to get credit card approval for the company (the book will be managed by Levac Publishing House). Yes I could’ve gone the PayPal, e-junkie, etc. route, but I chose to go the professional route. After all, we’re already all setup for LandlordMax so I can leverage a lot of this effort. Plus it looks a lot more professional. And based on the volumes of sales I expect, it makes sense.

In any case, the website is already designed and we’re in the process of properly completing it right now (it’s currently faked with images for those of you who’ve already checked it out). The good news is that a lot of the work behind the scenes is completed. Other than the actual implementation, we’re already well into the process of getting approval from our credit card processing company, which takes at least a few weeks assuming we pass all the checks (SSL certs, proven shopping cart system, privacy policies, security validaton, etc.).

Please note that the book isn’t just going to be available on the website, it’s going to be available on Amazon and so on. So that work is already in progress above all this. And technically I could have limited purchases of the book through bookstores, but I prefer to give people the option of buying directly from us. Actually, to be honest, I’ve really been thinking about creating an optional bundled deal with my ebook How to Generate Traffic to Your Website exclusive to the Blog Blazer website. But I’m still in the air on that one. So we’ll see what happens.

As well, the book Blog Blazers will be available in both softcover and ebook formats (it will no longer be available in hardcover). In the ebook version, all the URL’s will be linked. So for some people it might be advantageous to buy both the softcover and ebook. I often myself buy both books and ebooks as I like the tangible book for reading and the ebook for referencing and searching – especially if the ebook is bundled with printed book. I also now understand why they charge a few more dollars for the bundle, it does costs something to manufacture the ebook, and to sell it. But it’s not much, so I suspect the bundle will be something like an additional $5 or so. I’m still working on the ebook pricing. By the way, the book will be priced at $16.95 USD.

And before I move on, if you have a blog that gets respectable traffic and you’re interested in reviewing my book Blog Blazers, please feel free to give me a holler.

LandlordMax

An amazing amount of work has been going on with LandlordMax. We’re moving forward with the new major upcoming release. Generally I don’t like to publish the upcoming features, but today I’m going to share some insider knowledge. There’s some benefits and liberties to being the founder of a company.

We’re planning to integrate email within LandlordMax, as well as offer support for Outlook (so that you can import and export certain data such as your contacts).

Another major feature is the ability to generate graphs and charts for the relevant reports as you can see in the screenshot below:

LandlordMax Property Management Screenshot: Graphs and Charts on Reports

Please note that these graphs will appear in the generated and formatted PDF’s. So now not only will you have all your data, but you’ll also be able to quickly analyze the results of your reports!

Something else some of you might have noticed in the above screenshot, there’s two new workareas. The hint is the two new buttons on the left side of the screen. These are the “Contacts” and “Synchronize” buttons. Contacts is a place to store additional contacts that don’t really fit under tenants, landlords, vendors, etc. And Synchronize, well this is part of the work being done to support Outlook right now.

If you can make it out, there’s a new third button on the right side of the screen. Although it just says “Print” (there’s two Print buttons), it should really say “Email” (we’re using print as a placeholder). This is where we anticipating putting one of the new “Email” buttons. You’ll be able to quickly click on this button to email the generated report right from this screen. You’ll no longer need to export the report to then email it. You’ll be able to do it all in one fall swoop!

Of course it doesn’t end there, we’ve added several new features, like the ability to associate the accounting entry to an “Account” (generally a bank account but it can be more open ended). And it’s not all new features, we’re also working on enhancing the current usability of the software. As much as I’d like to just add new features, I also strongly believe we should look at what we already have and enhance it even further. So lots of work is going on in this respect too.

I also promised in June that I would post an update on our sales revenues, so here is the monthly sales revenues graph, followed by the 12-month trailing average graph:

What’s really exciting for us is that as the real estate market is collapsing our sales keep increasing!!! It just goes to show that as the market gets tight, people really start to look for value in their purchase choices. And I like to think of us as the Honda or Toyota of cars. We’re not necessarily the luxury model, but we sure do offer an incredible value in terms of bang for the buck. Just wait until we have our networked/browser based version available!

How to Generate Traffic to Your Website

Above the book Blog Blazers and LandlordMax, I’ve also written an ebook earlier this year called How to Generate Traffic for Your Website which has been very well received by the online community (you can read some of the very positive reviews here).

The biggest news about this ebook is that it’s continuing to sell very well. Actually in August I ran a test to see how well the book would sell at $14.95 versus the original $28.95. It turns out this was a good decision. So I’ve decided to keep it at $14.95.

As I’ve also alluded to earlier, I’ve been thinking of offering a special bundle deal with my upcoming book Blog Blazers exclusive to the website. So that might happen next month, we’ll see. If it does, it most likely means that the sales page for the ebook needs some serious updating to related it to the Blog Blazers book. So there might be some effort going on here as well. We’ll see…

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What can I say, traffic is exploding! I’ve been at it for over 3 years now with over 300 posts. I’m still going strong.

The biggest news here, other than the fact that it’s continually growing, is that I’d like to re-skin/theme this blog. Upgrade it’s look and feel to circa 2008. I’d like to do that before my book is released, but again, we’ll see. There’s only so many hours in the day, even with help. Someone still has to find, manage, and coordinate all the efforts.

GTA Stud

You would think I already have my hands full, and I do, but somehow I’ve managed to start yet another project. I’ve launched a new website called GTA Stud. This project was conceived and launched only a couple of months ago, but it’s already starting to get very good traffic with all things considered. We’re getting about 1,500 unique visitors a month, and we haven’t even begun to promote the website! Just this mention is my first promotion.

The website consists of everything GTA (Grand Theft Auto) related. The website is pretty much a blog, where one day we have an article on something related to GTA, be it a tip, trick, a how-to, a secret, basically something interesting about the game, followed by a gameplay video on the next day. So far we’ve been mainly finding the most “redonculous” videos on YouTube, but we soon hope to publish our own YouTube videos which will include full tutorials and mission walk-throughs. I’m pretty excited about that since no one’s publishing walk-throughs or tutorials that I know of.

The quick story behind the project is that I’m the silent partner under the scenes. I’ve basically hired someone to write all the content, find all the gameplay videos, as well as create all the tutorials and walk-throughs videos. My part, other than financing the project, is to promote the website. And unfortunately because of everything else going on, I haven’t really had the time to do anything. Which is why it’s great that we’re already getting 1,500 unique visitors a month within a little over a month! Imagine when we start promoting it.

The other reason I’ve been holding back is that we don’t really have a design for the website. For example, even the GTAStud logo is pretty weak. The good news is it’s being worked on right now and hopefully we’ll have something later this week. So things are moving quite fast with this project.

Misc.

I have a few other projects going on, but most of them have been sidelined for now. These include FindYourWeddingDress.com and WhichJar.com. To be honest, although WhichJar.com is generating some traffic I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to this project. It’s not that it’s not successful, it’s that I just don’t have time. I thought about hiring out, but I can’t commit myself to even managing that project. I’m over extended. So if anyone is interested in buying the website (including the domain/code/database/etc.) please give me a holler. There’s about 200 jars already loaded. The key isn’t getting the traffic, it’s adding the data to the database. The good news is that it’s pretty automated, all you need to do is submit jars (with additional fields) to a submission form and it will do all the rest for you (all username/password protected of course).

For FindYourWeddingDress.com, I’m now at a stage were I need to hire someone to help me out. Mostly because I just don’t have the time. Plus most of the work can be easily outsourced. The problem is that I don’t have time to find someone, nor manage them. So it’s going to be put on hold until I can find the time.

Conclusion

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve, well I should say, we’ve been up to. Hopefully now that the book is going to print I’ll have a few minutes to breathe. Yeah, not likely. The marketing campaign is really ramping up! Plus the website needs to actually be built, not just faked. And I want to get the new release of LandlordMax out as soon as possible. So there’s lot of work there. Actually, there’s lots of work everywhere! The good news for you though is that I’m back to posting more regularly. Hopefully I can get back to my 1-3 times a week within the next few days.






Blog Blazers Update

As I’m sure some of you have noticed, I haven’t been posting much recently. That’s because I’m really pushing hard to get my upcoming book Blog Blazers (book cover above – this is the first time I’ve publicly shown it!) completed and to the printers ASAP. The publication date is November 1st, so to make it on time for that date I need to get it off to the printers now. The good news is that it’s almost ready to go, I’m just in the process of finishing up the last last details with our typesetter Shawn. It’s been quite a sprint to the finish line as well. Self publishing a book is no small feat!

And don’t think it ends when the book is off to the printers. The website for the book needs to be completed. And the marketing effort is just starting to really rev up.

As soon as this week is over, and I’m finally able to catch a breath of air, I’ll go into more details about the whole experience and some of the people involved. But before then, I want to send out a thank you to all the people who helped make this book possible. I still can’t believe the quality of the team that got together for this book. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was amazing! If you plan on self publishing your own book, please don’t hesitate to contact me for references and contacts. I can point you to some great people.






 
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