Reflections upon my last project

So, I have come to the realization that I may not have the best ability to pick projects that end up being significant sources of income. In light of this realization, a few months ago I decided it was time to try and to a few “speed” projects rather than invest monumental amounts of time on a single project that more than likely will have lackluster resulted. While in theory this idea seems to make sense, in practice I am afraid once again I fell short of the mark.


While trying to find some decent rates for a personal HSA (health savings accounts) accounts, I found that useful online resources were few and far between. I decided that this might be a perfect niche opportunity to not only track and compare the interest rates offered by different custodians (something I was doing anyways), but also hopefully create a quick little site that others would find useful. I imagined the adsense keywords related to a health savings account site would be higher paying and the structure/layout of the site could be extremely simple and easy. All in all I judged it would be a lightning quick sprint of a project that would have some income generating potential.


I judged wrong (at least on the “lightning quick sprint of a project “ part). If you like, take a look at it here: While I am extremely happy with the final product, I logged about 66 hours so far getting it up and running. I started out using a Google doc spreadsheet as the database as I believed this would be fairly easy to maintain. Realizing that the maintenance of such a site would be significant, as an afterthought I decided to try and integrate with Amazon Mechanical Turk to try and crowdsource a lot of the nitty gritty upkeep. But I failed to account for how long this integration would take, and then how much I actually would have to pay to get the quality upkeep I was looking for. So, in the end, after taking all the time to integrate, I decided that the original spreadsheet idea was a much better idea and switched back (of course I deleted most of the previous versions so I had to rewrite much of it from scratch again). This took much longer than expected. In short, some of the takeaway lessons from the project are: I need to do a better job planning out my projects from the get go, and also I need to keep all of the past revisions (even if I don’t think I am going to end up re-using them).


So despite being disappointed by the much longer than expected time frame, I think the site turned out looking pretty good and could be quite useful for anyone looking to compare rates on HSA account. If by any chance you are looking for for a HSA account check the site out here: HSA Rates  As of yet there is next to no traffic to the site and of course this means as of yet it has not produced any real income. I am hopeful however that as the site gets indexed and gets some backlinks it will help improve income rate and bring me closer to my goal.

Time to call it quits with Adbrite and Project Wonderful

For several months I have been trying out two different small time ad networks to see if they were viable methods to produce extra income. The first one (Adbrite) went out of business after about ($10 of income over about a year). The second one (Project Wonderful) I really did like the idea and service, but after about a year of having their ads run on a few of my sites, my total income from them is around $8. So in the end It looks like they were not even worth the time I spent installing their ads.

Also, just for archival purposes, (as I am not actively tracking the changes in my overall income per hour) currently I estimate I have earned about $0.91 per hour I have invested in this experiment.

Memoirs on a project that took too long (way too long)

So, I have finally completed my upgrade of my Diablo 3 Calculator site. I am very happy with how the final product turned out I feel like I greatly improved the tool. On the outset I thought that since this site was my most successful project to date that it would be worth it to polish the whole thing into a even better, bigger, badder tool. However, I am afraid that from a economical perspective and in regards to my ultimate goals, I think I made some pretty significant errors. I would like to get down on paper what I feel I did wrong so I can hopefully be more efficient in the future.

First: I spent too much time on the project. Way too much. It took me like 5 months or so. I probably put in a good 300 – 400 hours or so to polish everything up. Since I am still new to the world of web entrepreneurship I think this is the equivalent of putting all my eggs in one basket. I could have done 3 or 4 smaller projects and maybe could have come up with something that was even more successful, but instead, about half a year later I have pretty much the same in terms of income producing web property as I did before.

Second: I don’t know if I an going to see any extra return on my time invested. The site was already reasonably successful in the first place and ranking well. While I know I greatly improved the tool, I don’t know if from an economic standpoint I will make any more money from the site than before. So far I have seen little change in the adsense income coming in and it seems unlikely that will change. I probably should have never started the project upgrade in the first place. I think before starting future projects (or improving existing ones), I should take the time to try to judge if the potential increase in income can justify the time I will invest in the project.

Third: My Market/Niche I feel was a really poor choice. Diablo 3 has been a fairly unpopular game. I doubt it will maintain a very large player base for very long. I knew all this before I started the upgrade. I want to build things that will be viable for years to come. I think it would be far better for me to focus on markets niches that will hopefully be profitable for decades or more.

Fourth: The keywords for this site are low paying. This directly translates to lower income potential. I should probably spend some time before starting a project to research out if it is a higher paying market and how much competition there is in the market. Hopefully in the end this will translate into more profitable sites with higher paying keywords.

Fifth: I think a very useful skill to develop is the ability to correctly estimate how long a project is going to take. So far I have been incredibly poor at trying to gauge the time involved in completing stuff. Instead, up till now I just get a idea and then just throw myself at it assuming that it wont take long. If I could get a more accurate reading on how long something will take, I could better judge if it might be worth my time to try.

Sixth: I am always trying to learn new stuff. Pretty much everything I have done up till now I have been trying a new technology, different language, or some framework or something. While this is for sure a good thing as I have greatly expanded my skill set, I think it might be about time to start trying to cash in on what I already know rather than trying something new each time.

So, I guess ultimately what I am trying to say is I really need to start valuing my time more. I need to take the time to plan the whole thing out and try to see if the proposed endeavor might be worth my efforts. If I am ever going to get to $1000/month I need to more strategic with my time and not so willy-nilly.

And a few months later…

Well, I have not really worked on any of my online project for a few months as my day job (the one that pays better than $1/hour) has been really busy theses past few months. I have not had much time and not really done much in the way of progressing towards my goal. However there are a few noteworthy items to mention. I did spend some time back in Aug. working on the next revision of my Diablo 3 site. So far this site has by far brought in the most income and I think updating it and making it better should be the top priority. As of then my updated version of the site has been sandboxed and is only about half way done. I am trying to figure out how to put the next revision (and final revision) it on google app engine, so that is greatly increasing the time it is taking as I have had to learn how to program in python and learn all sorts of new stuff to get it working.

My income/month has greatly diminished over the past few months and It is mostly because of the diablo 3 site project receiving half as much traffic as it was previously. I think this has a lot to do with the game loosing a lot of its player base (it turns out it was not all that popular of a game for very long). Also, the calculator suffers from inaccuracy issues which might also be causing some of my visitors to not return. While I can not do anything about the game players loosing interest in the game, I can address the accuracy issues in the next version which will hopefully help retain some of my traffic. I would imagine that in the future updates of Diablo 3 game itself (i.e. the inclusion of PVP play) I will see spikes in my traffic which hopefully result in spikes of income.

Income from HTML5 Game portal has slowly been increasing and that gives me a lot of hope that the site will eventually become a good source of revenue. However I am realizing now that fundamentally it requires too much effort to maintain and keep updated. As of now I have to manually review and update each additional game I put on the site and this can be quite time consuming.

I am still hopeful and optimistic about this whole experiment. I have put in a lot of time and effort and I am finally starting to see some results (small). It feels pretty good to know I have not really done anything for the past few months and have still been receiving a few checks in the mail. It feels like “passive” income, even though I know it is an illusion as I have already work for the money. I guess in 10 yrs if the sites are still making money and I have paid myself back for all the time I have spent then I can finally consider it to be truly “passive.”

A small victory

After more than a year of dinking around I have finally caught a gimps of success (a small glimps that is). But hey, you gotta celebrate your small victories. My diablo 3 calculator project really has taken off and is starting to generate some significant traffic and I am actually making a little income. Up to this point my estimated income per hour has been down there at around 10 to 20 cents, but now it is showing all the way up there at 60 cents an hour. Yeah, with an income like that I wont be quitting my other jobs anytime soon, but who cares, this whole experiment just may work(just might take me another decade to up my income up to $10/hour). I think the idea of “passive” online income may be a myth. This is all taking and incredible amount of time and effort.

My first viral spike

I came home from a vacation and decided to check my google analytics account to see what kind of traffic I was getting to my sites. I was very surprised (and excited) to find that my visit count for the day was incredibly high for my site. I had been getting 20-50 visitors a day and then boom there were hundreds of visits recorded for the day. I remember at one point checking the the number of active visitors on my site and seeing that there was currently 30 and thinking that there was some kind of problem with the code. But after a while and some double checking it looked legit, my site was actually receiving some significant traffic.

Of course in the moment I thought I had made it, that the site was talking off and soon I would be rolling in money with all the advertising profit I would make. Then reality set in and I started trying to figure out where all the traffic was coming from. It didn’t take long for me to figure out it was pretty much all from google plus. And it didn’t take long for the traffic to subside either. A day or two later the traffic peaked at 2282 visitors then declined as abruptly as it started.

Now I know that 2000 visits in a day is not really much to brag about as there are plenty of sites that regularly see much more traffic. But to me this was very exciting and a huge success. Unfortunately I don’t really know how to make it happen again. After traffic subsided I was quick to add social media buttons to my site hoping for a repeat, however to no avail nothing big came of it (unless you count $7.51 in adsense profit significant). While it is true that my daily visit count went up slightly to around 30-80 visitors in the weeks after the spike, nothing really significant came from it.

I guess that social media really can drive some significant traffic, however a lot of it seems like it is out of your hands. All you can do is create the best content possible and then just hope the web community deems your site worthy of sharing with their friends.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Ever see that ’90 Kevin Costner movie called the Field of Dreams? For those of you who are not familiar with the movie the catch phrase from the movie is “If you build it, they will come”. I saw this movie when I was young and this line has always stuck with me. In retrospect I think I approached this experiment with a similar kind of mentality. That if I simply built something online, people would come (and click on advertizements and make me lots of money). Almost a year later, however, I am realizing that there may be more requirements than simply building “something”. I was talking to my wife about some of my frustrations and told her that I was becoming disillusioned with the “if you build, it they will come” concept when it comes to the realm of the online. In response she pointed out something I missed in the movie all those years ago. Kevin Costner’s character in the movie wasn’t just building “something”, he was creating something very unique, special, and in high demand. He was building something that people could not find anywhere else.

 So, how does all this relate back to web entrepreneurship and this blog? Well… In an honest appraisal of the things I have built so far I am realizing that they really are not all that special or unique. My blogs and game offer almost nothing new or special. So, I guess it is not really all the surprising that I have not  made much money. I can take comfort in the thought that I have learned oodles from my efforts thus far, however the bottom line is that as of yet I have been highly unsuccessful in online entrepreneurship. Guess it might be time to update my frame of mind from “If you build it, they will come” to “If you build something special, they will come”.

HTML5 Game Portal Completed

At long last I have finally finished my HTML5 game portal. You can find it here. I have been working on it for about 8 or 9 months and I think it is finally ready to go! I included a unique ranking system that hopefully will improve the user experience. This is the first website that I have done that is data base driven, so it took me a bit longer to figure that out. I am hoping that it will be a good way to promote my future HTML5 games. If you are trying to promote an HTML5 game, please visit the site and submit your game

2/12 Update

Well, good news is I got my first Google Adsense check in the mail today, bad news is it took me several years to earn up to the minimum $100 payout. 🙁 Looking to my little chart on the right of how my income compares to how much time I have invested in this project and how little money I have made, it really is quite depressing. I have some news for anyone who whats to make easy money off of the internet – “Don’t quit your day job”. I don’t know what I am doing so wrong, but every one of my projects has an initially burst of visits and then gradually tapers off. I have spent a lot of time this past month updating my Asteroids Inc game to be submitted to a HTML5 contest where the first prize pays out $30,000. I have my hopes up, but realistically it is unlikely that will pay out. I still have an HTML5 portal I am about 75% done with that should be released here in a few weeks which I am hopeful for as well, but I guess in truth I am feeling a little defeated.

Moving forward, I guess I need to seriously look into other various forms of monetization. I bet that might help my overall income from this project. Finishing the new HTML5 portal also just may be a good priority which could add a lot of traffic and give me a place to promote my game.

Things are definitely looking down income wise (and morale wise), but this is my dream, and I am going to see this one through to the end.

11/11 Update

Nothing good to report this last month. Still stuck in a downward trend (well, I guess I have never really had an uptrend). In truth I really have not had that much time to work on anything and so I guess this is what should be expected. No worries I am not losing faith yet, I am in this for the long run and will keep on trying things until I figure out a way to reach my goals.

A search for “how to make money online” or “how to monetize websites” seems to always generate thousands of pages with people claiming to be making oodles of money online with little or no effort. Hogwash!!! Earning money online is just like anything else, it takes work and patience. However I do wonder if this is one of the reasons why my blog is not very popular because it doesn’t promise easy money.

On the bright side of things it looks as though Google has rolled out its PageRank update and I was lucky enough to receive a rank of 2 on both and which is good I guess. I am hoping to maybe leverage the improved rankings to help increase the revenue potential of my sites.

Asteroids Inc.
Visits: 1364
Adsense Income: $9.20

Infobrink Blog
Visits: 217
Adsense Income: $0.20

RoadTrip-USA Blog
Project Wonderful Income: $0.04