Thursday, October 12, 2006

Domain Dashboard

I have currently removed any referral links for Domain Dashboard.

I have filed a support ticket, loads of bugs and what I feel is an unfinished interface that should have had a lot more work and testing put into it.

I have no idea how Jim a.k.a. Bud Wiser gave it a 5/5 rating.

I currently feel like I paid $150 to beta test something (I live in Europe, I have to pay VAT of 17.5%).

One of the bugs I have is a corrupt database, after just a few hrs of using it. They had quite a strange backup procedure, stating you backup all the files in a folder other than one file. I believe it is something to do with the license. Why put it inside a folder that you have to backup frequently? They said if you restore a file over it, you would break the registry....

The challenge is going to be how to fix everything. Obviously I am not going to be zipping up files to send them that have password data in them. Maybe the only way will be to uninstall, delete what remains, and start again from scratch.

Databases for this kind of program have loads of generated passwords in them. Recovering from a database failure at the wrong stage e.g. accounts created with random passwords, but no backup made of the database yet, is going to be very tricky longterm.

I have never had a problem with Roboform in 18months. All data for Roboform is stored in individual files for each site, so even if there was a database failure on one file, that is only one password gone, and it is easy to get it remailed to you.

Thus I give you fair warning...

I strongly suggest subscribing to my blog if you are interested in this product. If you own it, I would advise backing up everything, and repeat the process every 20 mins or so, especially if you use any of the mass functions.

If it wasn't for the database problems, which they will hopefully fix, it is going to be a damn powerful tool that will save me hours of work.

The list of feature tweaks I sent to them were minor irritations which hopefully would be fixed over time. It is a shame that so many of the tools seem to be half finished.

If you are maintaining 100s of sites (as I am sure Jim is), then you will live with the bigs and give it 6/6 because it has just knocked hours off your working day, every day.

I am not making as many domains. It saves me time with setup, but then I spend a lot more time on each domain.

Once the database gets fixed...

Core functionality 4/5
This is the setting up of domains - there are some bugs in it, or it is not foolproof. The interface is a little clunky but it can do the job

FTP 3/5
The simple ftp is junk. The mass ftp I can see some holes in it, but haven't tested
Stats 3.5/5
It works, it is fast, and once it has been tweaked and all the data is exportable, not just single days, it is maybe a 5/5 and will blow the free digitalpoint service away for easy of use with multiple sites.
Mass Creation x/5

Heh, the buy it before it is gone offer will last until Friday at Noon, I guess they have a little time to get back to me so I can give people a thumbs up (and a link)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Investing in your online business

This week I have been investing in a few bits and pieces which should hopefully reap some good rewards.

With so many offers flying around, major launches by big names, and a host of smaller offerings it is often hard to decide what is a good choice.

I was almost tempted by Joel Comms new Adsense package, but he blew it on 2 major accounts.

First off was when he mentioned he doesn't know much about HTML. Wordpress templates have to be 100% right for compatibility with all the plugins and widgets. They can't just be chucked together with the same CSS as other pages and get everything looking right, especially when you have lots of content in multiple child categories.
The bonuses on offer were actually more valuable than the templates, but even then many were not ideally suited for use with Wordpress sites.
In addition I sent them a support ticket just a few minutes after the site went live. I still haven't received an answer back.
It is a physical product. As you know I run my business from the UK, but I live in Poland. Shipping and importing to Poland is a nightmare if a package gets stopped for import duties.
Whilst Joel would only have charged $20 for shipping, the Polish authorities don't have to believe that fee is accurate. They can decide that $100 - $150 was the actual shipping fee.
If the paperwork isn't completed corectly, instead of paying only $5 or so in duty, I could end up paying 30-40% on the total $197+$150 - so maybe an extra $150. Add to that admin fees and a $200 purchase costs $400.

But then there is the time investment. I might have to actually travel to the customs office to sort out paperwork, faxes back and forth. Maybe shipping new sales documentation from the US because of some error etc.

You might think I am over exagerating, but I have paid $200 import duty on a single CDR beta version of a game I was once sent by a publisher. Importing CDs to Poland was my main line of business for over 10 years, often into 7 digits worth per year.

Stomper didn't attract me. I often worry about non competition clauses. I have some major plans ahead and avoid anything that might be looked on as even vaguely in the same direction. This is especially true if they have hidden features that are a secret weapon.
That is actually one of the reasons I dropped out of Portal Feeder. I might have ended up helping to shape it's future, and in some ways that would have overlapped with some of my own plans, especially smaller projects that didn't happen due to my time offline.

They don't come close to one of my major projects that even 1 year after I first conceived the concept and made some initial appraoches to technology partners, is still fresh, state-of-the-art and begging for a green light (from my bank balance... ) ;)

So what have I spent money on?

First off Affiliate Project X. That is an affiliate link but this is way after the big guys have been promoting it. I found it highly motivational for my major project which combines some of underlying concepts. The primary concepts are pre-selling and being sneaky. It isn't an ebook filled with 10 products that you simply must buy to get it working. The strategies work - I have made around 10x my investment back over the last week. It doesn't require a mailing list (which is a good job, I have never mailed my 1K+ subscribers - when it happens it will be juicy)

My largest investment this week was Domain Dashboard. It is a tool for managing domains with cpanel and whm. I am setting up a lot of new sites, and managing what is happening on each hosting account is becoming a pain. You can do it with lots of bookmarks, but even using a tool like roboform for filling in all the passwords it eventually gets too much.

Last off I purchased some Adsense backgrounds. I have sites that get 100+ unique visitors per day yet don't cover domain purchase and hosting fees. I have used a couple so far over on my Wordpress Plugins site which has recently changed domain name. (more about that on the site)
It is one of my poorer performers atm, but that will change. I have full time programmers working on some very neat wordpress plugins. Most of them will be free, so well worth subscribing to my plugins blog.

So I have invested in products that:-

1. will enhance my approach to my business (Project X)
2. will save me time and help me work more efficiently, no matter what kind of sites I create
3. Something that will help my existing sites make more money (Adsense Backgrounds)

There are lots of smaller investments you can make that will make a direct measurable change to your business. It is often better to make small purchases than buy one large training package, mentoring program etc.

The gurus all preach about the little changes you can make to your business that soon amount to big changes. Then they try to rape your wallet for something you don't need, an all in one solution.

I am only investing profit. If you go back into the archives you might recall that not much more than a year ago I was making sites on free hosting.