Pound Coins

Today an Asian "gentleman" demonstrated to much amusement how not to sell me something.

Now readers of my geek blog "The Fantastic Site of Lord Matt" will know that I am a very sarcastic person. I am also not easy to sell stuff to.

I have written a few times about the Windows Support Scam. I have spent some time playing with them in order to waste their time and save other people from their lies.

The thing that the Window's Maintenance Department Scammers miss is that I run Ubuntu Linux on my PC.

When the gent tried saying my "windows PC was sending them error messages" I responded that putting software on my PC was illegal. He of course tried to correct me and get back on the scam and said that he was getting error messages from my "windows PC" and that he was "just trying to help me".

Here is lesson one - when selling something be honest. I knew that he was not telling the truth because I know this scam very well and like to mess with them. I knew that this "help" would result in him asking for money. If you want to sell me something be sure to know that you can offer me something of value. If I agree then I am very likely to pay for it but do not pretend to be something you are not and then expect me to trust you.

» Keep reading Three ways to not sell me a service.

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 21/04/2014 · [permalink] · 1 Comment

Over on Thanet Star I have been looking at the need Thanet has for more innovation. I have made the case that innovation creates jobs that last. I have made the case that starting a company is a matter of opportunity. I have not made the case that the opportunity already exists to some degree but it does.

Let us take Margate High Street as an example. The High Street has a lot of empty shops - this is an opportunity to negotiate a preferential rent. Having spoken to a number of businesses in Margate I know that it is possible to run a business even in Margate High Street. I'm not just talking property development, rental managment or a seasonal business (although those are three valid options).

As Richard Branson apparently said Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.

» Keep reading How to Start a business in Thanet

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 30/01/2014 · [permalink] · 1 Comment
Pound Coins

Is a blog post realy free to write?

There is a lot that goes into my writing this blog post. Until a few moments ago I saw writing the post as a free activity but actually I have hidden a lot of cost into the mix. I am sat here with a cup of English Breakfast Tea (because I am that sort of gent) in my favourite leather computer chair and typing on an old familiar keyboard that has outlived four computers and three monitors.

  • Why did I buy the PC I am using rather than another one?
  • Why Ubuntu over, say, Windows?
  • Why this text editor?
  • Why this ISP?
  • Why that monitor, keyboard and mouse?
  • Why did I choose the electricity provider over any other?
  • Why the server provider over, say, shared hosting or some other geographically closer server?
  • Why this desk?
  • Why this chair?

These are part of what Trent Hamm calls The Decision Stack (picked up via Life Hacker) and these choices all add up to the choice at this moment to write this blog post.

But could I have done without this PC? Could I have taken less money from the pot by using a different OS? (In my case no as I am using Ubuntu which is free).

Am I using the most efficient energy provider? If I am not then I am wasting resources that I could be investing into my development pot.

One thing is for sure. This blog post is not free - it's costing me server, energy and hardware depreciation. So I had damn well better make sure it is worth my money.

Trent Hamm's Decision Stack is an intriguingly expressed idea and one that I think deserves further consideration.

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 10/01/2014 · [permalink] · Add comment

Do you remember that I wrote about an idea for a company that would buy any blog run it, build it up and sell it on for a profit. I want to revisit that idea and look at the actual viability of that idea.

The priniciple if We Buy Any Blog is simple. Any blog that is self hosted (not blogspot etc) that is of a certain age (say six months) and has a minimum content level is purchased. Some of these are close to junk while others are solid gold.

How many staff would you need and how many jobs can you do yourself? Once we know that we can figure out our start up costs.

My desk, while writing a paper

» Keep reading How we could buy any blog

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 09/01/2014 · [permalink] · Add comment

I may be offered a job for more money than ever before and I am not sure if I should take it...

Last week I was approached by an agent offering me a chance to interview for a job that would see me commute about two and half hours door-to-door each way. It's not a hard commute and I could definitely handle it moving closer once I was settled in to the role.

But for reasons that I cannot put my finger on I am unsure if I want to be earning that much money that way.

I can do the job with my eyes closed, I can do the commute, I can definitely handle the money and the stress level would be quite low. On paper this is the perfect employment position for me at this time.

Am I just nervous about getting back to working for someone else after a year of being unwell?

Perhaps my ambitions are no longer so focused on the amount of money but the quality of time I have as a result of said money?

Or am I just making crap up to counter the fact that sometimes change is scary.

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 08/01/2014 · [permalink] · Add comment

It seems that not a week goes by without someone I know asking for help with some aspect of setting up a profitable online business.

NYC Marathon 2008 - the winner! Brasil
As I find myself giving the same advice over and over. I have decided that it is time to share this with everyone.

Setting up an online business, extending an existing business online or simply adapting a site to earn you money all require the same basic three skills. I'm going to give you some tips on how to acquire these skills for yourself.

At first glance you might think I am suggesting that you do things that are "too hard" and while some of these might require some effort the basics are remarkably simple to get ahold of. These basics will change your approach to marketing forever opening up whole new approaches that might have thought were out of your reach before.

» Keep reading 3 secret skills for online success

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 12/09/2013 · [permalink] · Add comment

Here is an idea that I am probably ruining buy kicking out there early but here goes anyway

Have you seen those annoying British adverts for We Buy Any Car the deal they offer is simple they will buy your car - guaranteed. What they don't tell you, of course, is that they have no intention of offering you the best deal as they have to sell those cars on and make a profit.

Now lets take the same idea and apply it to blogs. Any blog, aged over three or six months with a minimum content of some-level-or-other and a few other minimums and we have the formula for success. Or do we?

My desk, while writing a paper

» Keep reading We buy any blog (dot com)

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 02/09/2013 · [permalink] · 1 Comment

The summer slowdown is when people stop looking at blogs because it is nice and hot and they would rather go to the beach.

Back in 2008 I wrote and article called "40 Ways to Beat the Summer Slowdown" which I published on The Fantastic Site of Lord Matt.

One of the ideas was that I could use the summer slow down to get a good price on blogs which I could flip in the winter. The idea is simple. Find a blog that has fallen off completely and buy it for two figures. Work hard to bring in some fresh traffic and sell it (maybe back to the owner) for more later when background search traffic kicks in again.

I'm wondering about this idea.

It appeals because I could ramp up the value on such a blog with ease. It does not appeal as I have yet to sell a website ever and the barriers to sale seem to be a reasonably high amount of cash up front.

Also I am wondering if my theory is sound. A small blog is probably a labour of love and as such is unlikely to see the author wanting to part with it for twenty quid. Even the higher amounts such as fifty or sixty are hardly large incentive and yet the flip value is not likely to be much more than a few hundred and the earnings are likely to be zero.

Are cheap buys a plausible earner?

For Sale
Posted by: Matthew Brown on 01/09/2013 · [permalink] · Add comment

Recently I have written mostly about my new writing workshop and how excited I was but now that we have had a few it's time to think about what comes next.

The first writing workshop was last week and the second was yesterday. Last week we looked at creating dialogue and making it easier. This week we looked at building up an action scene. Both weeks we brainstormed over issues that different attendees were facing with their stories.

It sort of felt like this:

Writing cards
Writer's Block 1
However one thing left me feeling more like the guy on the right here.

It was a reaction that I did not expect and one that came from somewhere I could not have expected it from.

The reaction was anger and the anger was from someone who did not come. When I say angry I mean utterly furious. Blocking me on facebook serious mad and needing to vent about it. Crosser than a crossing guard on national cross day.

Were they angry that they could not come along?

I wish.

No this fellow was angry that I could have the balls to run a workshop at all. How dare I think that I could do this? What right did I have to put ideas into people's heads that they might be able to write a book? Who the heck did I think I was? Clearly I had stolen this idea from someone else, or something.

The answers were of course that no one gave me permission because innovation does not wait for permission to start something new and besides the person in question was not in a position to grant permission for anything. What right did I have to make people feel good about writing and wanting to do it? The same right that we all enjoy in the UK, the US, France, Australia and many other countries. The freedom of speech. The freedom to have ideas and share them. The right to say to other people "I believe in you."

Every last one of the people that have come to my workshops has talent. Some of them have developed it more than others but they all have that spark. They have the one thing that makes a person a writer. Not raw skill but the nagging voice that demands that they write - the compulsion to tell a story.

Given sufficient time all the workshop attendees could see publication. Maybe or maybe not with this story, the same for the next and the next and the one after that but sooner or later that need to write forces us to keep writing and the repetition of writing improves our skills until what we have is good enough to make us a bunch of cash. What defines the ability of all of us to see work published is not how good we are now but how long we will refuse to give up.

So I am going to take this person's negative attitude as a sign that I am doing the right thing about writing. I intend to show the world that every day folk can and will write stories that you will want to read. Look for my name and the workshop in the "with thanks" section of books one day because all success needs is a little faith.

Writing is My Hobby
Posted by: Matthew Brown on 31/08/2013 · [permalink] · Add comment

Just a few days to go until the first workshop

A while back I announced that I wanted to run a workshop for people interested in writing stories. The first one is this Thirsday.

I. Am. Excited.

Posted by: Matthew Brown on 20/08/2013 · [permalink] · Add comment
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