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Brush With Extinction » Setting It Up

Archive for the ‘Setting It Up’ Category

Clothing Inspector # 5

Friday, December 12th, 2008

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Now that the Wild Easel CafePress shop is up and running, I thought that it was time to check out the actual t-shirts as a kind of quality control. In particular, I wanted to see how the digital images of the artwork translated with the direct printing process used by CafePress for their t-shirts. I ordered shirts with two out of the three images that I am selling (Gorilla and the Whale Tail) and I am very interested in seeing what they look like. I have found that I am very excited to see the first tangible product of the Brush with Extinction project. I also figured that it would also be good to have a t-shirt on hand to wear when I wanted to do some low-key advertising for the project and Lauren’s artwork.

Cleaning Tag

My encounter with comment spam continued this week with a textbook meaningless question of “What do you mean?” for the Learning how to blog – Post Length and Frequency blog entry. I have to admit that my sarcastic side was sorely tempted to send some sort of surreal response to the commenter, but given the nature of spam it would probably have been an empty gesture. An interesting side note with the comment spam that I received so far is that the Learning how to blog – Post Length and Frequency blog entry is the only one of all of the ones that I have posted that is attracting all of the spam. I must be something I said!

Rattling the Tin

Friday, November 14th, 2008

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As mentioned previously, one funding option for this project is to ask the readers of the blog for donations directly. I struggle with this option for many of the same reasons given by Darren Rowse at ProBlogger.net in his post Donation Buttons on Blogs. Darren states that raising funds through donations only really works when the blog have both high readership levels and loyal readers. I don’t meet either of these criteria at the moment, but given the conservation bent of the Brush with Extinction project, I figured that it would not be a bad idea to have the option on the website, just in case. In addition, I would direct any funds that were collected in excess of the website’s expenses to the charities that are closely allied to the project. Now it was just a matter of making it happen.

Charity Tin

After doing some research online, I discovered that PayPal had cleverly set up the ability to have donations sent to an email address and they would even compose the html that would create the donate button to put on the website. A couple of clicks later, I had a proper donation button set up and linked to the email address that I created specifically for this purpose: donations@brushwithextinction.com. I will also set up a saving account with ING Direct to deposit any funds that I receive. One other thing to add to the To Do list is to add a financial page to the website to keep track of donations, t-shirt sales and expenses. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Processed Meat Product Alert

Friday, October 17th, 2008

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Not much to report this week, other than I have started to work on adding the ability to send updates to the blog by email to interested subscribers. I came across this feature on a good friend’s personal blog and enjoy getting an email whenever she has made an update to her blog instead of having to surf the web in the hope that there has been any changes. I think that an email update feature would particularly valuable given the somewhat sporadic nature of the posts to the blog. The only problem will be figuring out how to do it given my lack of programming or blogging experience.

Spam

There were two more comments this week and they certainly brought my excitement about the commenting process crashing down to earth. I had two identical comments on two different blog posts from cory at 2minutecashadvance offering my dad a speedy and smooth cash advance loan. Not especially relevant or even making much sense – why offer my dad a loan? After a little research, I turned up the delightful world of comment spam, and even started to question the first comment that I was so excited about. It turns out that spammers make meaningless or nonsensical comments with links to their own site as a way of increasing their search engine rankings. I checked and my first commenter did leave a “glad tidings and hollow compliments” kind of message that Wired mentions in its article The (Evil) Genius of Comment Spammers, but since he hadn’t actually listed his website in the comment, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

No Shirt, No Service

Friday, September 19th, 2008

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The Zero Dollars, a Little Talent and 30 Days project provided the lead for the method that I would pursue to fund some of the expenses of the Brush with Extinction project - CafePress. CafePress is a site that allows you to create shirts and other items with your images and put them online in a free online shop. The items are then produced on-demand when they are ordered and CafePress handles the payment transactions, shipping and any returns or exchanges, sending any profits from the shirts to you. Given the graphic nature of Lauren’s work, this seemed an ideal solution. I set to work and soon had created Wild Easel. To start off with I selected three of Lauren’s art work that would show up well on a t-shirt, the Gorilla, the Whale Tail and the Chimpanzee.

fossey-gorilla.jpg fragments_whaletail2.jpg freud72.JPG

I started with a fairly sparse product selection to with, with the goal being to expand it once I was both more comfortable with the look and feel of images on the t-shirts and perhaps even had some feedback on what people would like to see. I will have to order a couple of t-shirts myself to check the quality and see how the images come out. If they look anything like the mock-up on the website, they should look pretty good!

While I will keep monitoring the website statistics and report on anything of interest, I think that I will curtail my feeble attempts to enliven the distinct lack of numbers. It is like color commentary for drying paint – not very exciting.

Looking for the Midas Touch

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

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A major motivation to start this blog and reinvigorate the Brush with Extinction project was the Zero Dollars, a Little Talent and 30 Days project undertaken by Jennifer Laycock, editor of the Search Engine Guide. Jennifer’s goal with the project was to set up an online business with zero cash out of pocket and try and turn a profit in a 30-day period. I know that it will take some funds to get Brush with Extinction up and running and in front of decision makers, and my intention is for the website to generate some of those funds. However, I also want to be careful to not detract from the serious intentions of the project with loads of distracting advertisements. My sherpa in the world of blogging, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger.net, also has a series of article about making blogs self-financing, starting with one appropriately titled Introduction to Making Money from Blogs. Once I have reached a much higher level in the blogosphere I can read his articles about blog monetization (Six Figure Blogging), but for the moment will focus on walking before I run. The most important thing that Darren discusses is to keep realistic expectations, with the knowledge that most bloggers do not make a full time living from blogging and are only able to use the blog income as a way to offset some Internet access costs. For the moment, that is my goal. The current Internet costs for Brush with Extinction are fairly low (around $42.00 a year), so hopefully I will be able to cover those costs, with some left over for other administrative expenses such as postage. As covered by Darren, there are two areas of earning money from blogs – direct and indirect. The two earning methods differ as to what aspect of the blog generates the income, with direct coming from the blog and indirect coming because of the blog. Direct income earning methods include:

  • Advertising in its myriad of forms (I’m not planning on doing that yet, but may do Google AdSense)
  • Sponsorship of the blog (an ideal situation for Brush with Extinction given its ideals and goals, but I know that it will be difficult to find advertisers on my own)
  • Affiliate programs (I have already signed up for Amazon Associates - see post from June 1)
  • Donations and Tip Jars (I am not sure about asking readers for money directly, but perhaps this is something that I should consider given the nature of the project)
  • Merchandise (I am setting a shop to sell t-shirts of Lauren’s artwork that is linked to the website)
  • Blog Networks (an unexplored avenue that I might explore once I have become a more successful blogger)

For the moment I think that indirect income earning methods, such as consulting and speaking opportunities, will have to wait until I have a much higher profile as a blogger. Website statistics for week seven had its ups (unique visits) and down (page views), but I still think that the traffic is mostly down to the web designer and myself. One interesting note was that Google had three instead of the usual single referrals, so hopefully this means that they are sending some search traffic my way.