(the cynical look at making money online flipping websites)
So, I’m thinking of flipping a website or two, you know, ’cause it seems like everyone is doing it, and I really hate to be left out making less money online than I should be. Not like I’m really “in” anyway. I mean make money bloggers tend to be pretty clicky and even though I can’t say I’m in the mainstream by any means, it’s obvious my sychophantic rantings about the make money online industry underlie a desperate longing to be an A-list blogger scaming you out of your money with useless product after useless product.
Yes sir! I want it all. Hustle-influenced-Mickey-Bricks-style. Speaking of which, have you been watching Hustle on BBC 1? It’s great isn’t it? I mean I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’ve got a soft spot for Hustle. Why? Well it is all about the Underdog isn’t it? Some may not like the fact that a TV show glorifies criminals….grifters…..con men, but Mickey Bricks (played by Adrian Lester) is a grifter with a heart. He doesn’t go after the average joe. He targets people who are already bent and so, in a way, he is a modern Robin Hood, righting the wrongs of society….just as I am writing the wrongs of the make money online world (okay that went a little too far, but I couldn’t resist the pun)! Anyway, most of the online money making websites and blogs you find are nothing better than a good old fashioned con. Yes sir! That beautiful sales page that goes on for miles promising untold riches? It’s probably a con. You probably won’t make money following their methods.
Before I go off on another tiradal tangent, let’s get back to the tirade at hand.
Today, I’m going to insult website flippers. I would love to flip a site that isn’t a good old fashioned con. That rare website on sitepoint that would actually make someone some money. I’m sure everyone gets into it with scruples though, and pretty soon they are eroded away when the cash rolls in. So I’ll probably list my site while I’m drunk and in a “fuck the world” kind of mood so I don’t suffer from some sort of guilt induced “here, have it for a fiver + seven quid for the domain name ’cause that’s what it’s really worth” sales listing.
First up when entering a new arena of making money online is research. I’m looking through auction listings on a bunch of sites…..checking out the competition. What sells, what doesn’t…….there are a few things I’ve noticed. It’s pretty appaling what passes for a good niche in the “startup websites” category. There are tons of sites there that just won’t make any money. I’m not the hottest niche finder in the world, but I figure a lot of the people who purchase websites (or at least start up websites) must be amateurs who’ve been sold a pipe dream of easy riches on the internet rather than a marketable niche.
How do I know? Well, follow me down the rabit hole of logic for a minute. Say you find a listing, you like the look of the blog. You like the niche, you think – hey I can make money online with a blog about fishing. After all, I like to fish. It fits in with my personal outlook of retiring early an’ spendin’ mah time down by the river. Chillin. I’ve got lots to say on the subject. So, your eye is caught and you read on. It’s pretty convincing is the sales spiel. I mean, I’m convinced. This site will make me money! After all, it says the site ranks first for the long-tail phrase “cunty the sardine”. And further more,it even tells you how to monetise the website you are about to purchase. Yeah? Yeah! It says:
“how to make money from this blog once you’ve purchased it”
(or something similar). And then the magic word that holds the hopes and dreams of every fledgling internet marketer in the world…….
Yes! That’s my ticket to quittin’ the day job. Adsense + Blog = Profit! Simple! I rule! So nice of the site builder to tell me. Dude’s practically handed me money on a plate.
But wait. Ever the cynic, if I were you, I would ask myself (when presented with such convincing deal closing sales speak); “Why isn’t the person hanging on to the site if it is such a hot niche?”. Put it another way. If this site is simply going to sit there, rolling the dough your way, why isn’t the guy who built it hanging on to it?
So then I would go and do a little research. Type in that long tail phrase. What was it again? Oh yes “cunty the sardine”. Type that into google and search baby! Now check to see if anyone is actually bidding on that phrase. Nope? Didn’t think so. If there are no adsense ads on google’s own search results, how the hell do you think you are going to make money with adsense on the site that ranks top for that long tail phrase? It isn’t! So, why is it being sold? Because it is a deadend niche mascarading as a potential goldmine. It is in fact, not a sardine, but a red herring! And I hate herring. Damn those Norwegians and their “cuisine”!
But wait you say, I’ve looked at the actual site and there are adverts being displayed. Oh, say I, but what are those adverts for? hmmm? Read ’em, go on. Are they even related to the blog’s subject matter? Nooooooooo. They are adverts for “how to set up a blog” or general service announcements from google. Do you think people will click those when they are actually looking for a whaling harpoon? Uhhuh. Okaaaaaay, whatever. Good luck.
(You know what else I love at sitepoint? Learning the sales lingo. You know when the listing says “super duper heavily customised premium theme never to be sold again”. What that actually means is “I changed the background colour on this theme I have, and added a logo that I found on a free image site”. Next time I sell a site, I’ll make the background ochre instead of peach. mwahahahahaha I can make money online with my wordpress theme forever. Still, you gotta talk the talk – I’m gonna use that in my listing so watch out.
Approach those auctions (mine included) with caution. Don’t believe the hype. Many of the sites listed for sale promising instant internet cash probably won’t make you any money at all. It’s all a big con, a big salespitch. And it isn’t even a modern-day-robin-hood-Hustle-like con that catches evil naughty people at their own game. Nope, it’s a con aimed at the average joe or joesette, who is fed up with his or her job, and worried about rising unemployment. The average joe just wants to make a few honest bucks from a website on the side. That’s who you are selling to. Scruples? Hah. Fuck scruples. Fuck ’em to high hell. It’s always easier to justify something when you de-humanise the person on the other end (aside aside aside aside I say….that’s why armies de-humanise the enemy, it makes them easier to kill…why do you think they code name ’em? charlie? gi joe? etc etc). That’s why it’s so easy to be what is essentially a bastard con artist on the internet, because you don’t see the innocent young lady with 2 kids to feed and mortgage that’s fucked up beyond belief because the banks didn’t manage the impossible task of manifesting money out of thin air……
Eh, who am I kidding, you guys doing the buying aren’t reading this. Even if you were, you wouldn’t listen to me, because so many other people sing a different tune. And anyway, who am I to disillusion you, my potential buyer? Go to sitepoint buy buy buy. Because you can make money on the internet buying a website.
(it’s free….no it’s not….yes it is)
Now then. So…..despite the fact that I’m not on a self hosted wordpress install here, I like to tinker….and I’m pretty sure I mentioned that I was playing with writing my own wordpress theme for fun and profit a while ago. Then of course there was the coup d’etat when Brian Gardner’s Revolution Themes went open source. So, I though….hmmm easier to take someone else’s theme and hack it about to fit what I want than to start from scratch. And to be honest, I quite like the look of some of the Revolution themes. They are pretty solid. So I wondered over to the old revolution site and found…..nothing! Well nothing for free anyway. Bleach. I mean the themes are GPL so the code has to be available if you ask for it (erm I think, I haven’t actually read the GPL ’cause I’m lazy and life is too short). Now, you have to pay. Apparently, the themes were available to download for a while…and looking at the source code for the website, there is still a div set up for a free download link sans support, but there is no link anymore….poooo. This is pretty cunning. I mean announce to the world that your themes are open source…..get a load of traffic and then fwoooooosh remove the free link and leave only the paid options. A lot of people would link to a site offering free stuff but won’t link to a site offering paid for stuff, so it’s always a winning link-bait strategy. Talk about how to make money online selling wordpress themes……with some great link juice thrown in for free! Anyway, I know the themes are out there somewhere. I know they are free. I know it because they are released under GPL. There must be a way to find them….
Never content to take the easy way out (like reading the GPL and then emailing to request the source code if that really is an option), my mind begins to work. First up is the Internet Way Back Machine…..maybe the original page is cached there and we can get a link to the downloads. Nope. Oh well, worth a try. Next up Yahoo for a little site exploration (I find the Yahoo site explorer is better than the old google for some things)….maybe it’s cached there. Missed as well. Hang about, what about the actually support forums for the site itself. The old support forums on the RevolutionTwo site are, for the most part, only available to those who have paid for the themes (actually, since the themes are free, you are really paying for support). There are a few free sections of the forums and looking through them I find a link to Brian Gardner’s cop out……so it seems as of the 1st of this year, if you haven’t dowloaded the themes, you are SOL. Pathetic. Obviously, people were simply not paying for support when they could get things for free…..so they up and change the business model. Bollocks I say. And I’m not entering into a discussion about it. This is just bad business practice if you ask me. Not entirely dishonest, but after all the hype and link love, screwing people like that is just wrong. At the very least, have the balls to email all the ping-backs they got and tell people it is no longer free so they can adjust their blog posts accordingly and not mislead their own readers. Oh but wait, I could sign up for their affiliate program and lead you on and send you over and hope you buy (out of frustration maybe?). But I’m not playing that game.
Now then. WordPress is a peculiar beast. If you are a bit savvy with the old code, you can re-create a theme from scratch by viewing the source files, downloading the stylesheet and then hacking a bit of wp-code. It isn’t that difficult, but it can be a bit time-consuming. Really though it is as simple as it sounds – find out what they name their divs, change up the default WP files to use those div names and point to the stylesheet….hey presto, you have hacked the theme. Basically, design and layout on the internet is so simple to swipe if you want to that it’s pretty much ridiculous to delude yourself into thinking that you can keep your work proprietry. Anyway, I’m lazy. So I’m not going to hack it together. Luckily, google is made for lazy people. In fact google has pretty much removed the need to think. And I find a nice handy little link right here…..erm I mean here….nope missed again, where did I put it……aaah wait here it is!
Anyway, according to the GPL, there’s nothing to stop me changing up the themes a bit, and selling them on myself. That’s it! That’s what I’m going to do! I’m going to make money online selling wordpress themes. So, if anyone would like to buy some very cool premium wordpress themes, hit me up……underdogblogger at the old gmail. I warn you, you will have to haggle…me with a poor dying grandmother!
What? Oh. I already gave you link where you can get ’em for free? Damnit! I really need to keep my sources to myself. 😦
Now, I believe today that bloody idiot is kicked out of the White House at last. How the USA managed to keep him in power for 2 terms is beyond me.