Monday, October 25, 2010

Finding a muse - CPC doesn't work for everything

...or maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

Recently read The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, and loved it. I just wish I'd read it years ago when I had the opportunity to put it into practice before things got out of hand with the busyness and the tiredness and the being grumpy and depressed and not knowing why. I learnt a new word: "procrasterbating". Living in your email and reading industry articles on RSS and checking in on Twitter for updates isn't conducive to productivity or peace of mind, but it's weird how you somehow subconsciously rationalize it. I took the book's advice and went on a media fast, set up an email auto responder and turned off my email notified, unsubscribed from most of my RSS feeds, logged out of Twitter, and even stopped compulsively checking my inbox over breakfast, weekends, etc. and you know what? The world didn't end!

I can check most of the boxes for things from the book like working from home, having the freedom to travel & work abroad, pursuing interests in martial arts and language. Why is it that it's not until I see them presented in a book as something to strive for that I really appreciate them?

Anyway, been looking for a "muse", a means of generating residual income with minimum human intervention. Some time ago, I launched a site selling wine online. It's a niche market, selling imported European wines in Australia. It would appear to be an ideal candidate for becoming a muse, except that I haven't had much luck driving traffic to it from CPC ads.

The problem is two things:
* wine related keywords are expensive
* there's very little "local monthly volume"

Expensive keywords mean is that my margins are too tight. You can calculate your maximum CPC bid by starting with your revenue per sale, let's say $100 for example, and working with an anticipated conversion rate of 1% which would require 100 clicks per sale - a CPC of $1.00 would only see you break even. There aren't many worthwhile keywords that go for less than $1...

The low search volume for relevant keywords that get any kind of click through rate much over 0.05% basically means you don't get any clicks. AdWords will helpfully recommend hundreds of vaguely related keywords, but even if they do provide more clicks, their low relevance to your product will result in a lower conversion rate, which amounts to more money flowing out of your pocket and into Google's coffers...

My theory on this, and it's one I've seen proposed elsewhere, is that the people who actually click on ads fit into particular demographics that don't necessarily cover all products, services, and industries. There is a strong online community around wine, but search volumes suggest that online buyers are mostly looking for a bargain, not a $50 bottle of rare "noble rot" wine.

It's one thing to have a fully functional shopping cart hooked up to a cash register, but "build it and they will come" does not hold true at all. Where to go from here? Printed advertising probably.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Different types of people

There are some who look at the world and see amazing beauty in nature, and to them it's something they want to preserve and cherish, something precious they want future generations to be able to enjoy.

Then there are some who may actually share a similar appreciation of the world around them, but dissimilarly feel compelled by it to stake out their claim to part of it, whatever the cost.

The prior work to preserve endangered species, rain forests, and coral reefs, they get behind projects that promise clean, renewable energy, and think long-term about how the things the do today affect those who come after them.

The later, well, they somehow find a way to rationalise things like this, and are still able to sleep at night.

I saw this photo of the aurora borealis this morning:

The green fire of the southern lights

It's so beautiful. I'd like to hope that we'll still be here to appreciate the green fire of the southern lights for many years to come.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Water & air

Air menitik - Water Drop by emrank

Imagine we are drifting through space in a massive ark. It has a limited, finite water & air supply, and organic systems that recycle and cleanse the water & air as it's used. It can support life, but not indefinitely of course.

Our attitude towards how we use water & air would be completely different. We wouldn't pollute the air with carbon dioxide, or dump toxic chemicals into the water supply. We would ensure that the recycling & filtering systems were always operating in optimal condition.

Now shift our perspective, zoom out, look at the ark which is carrying us through space - it is the earth. It is in trouble.