Friday, February 25, 2011

High in the clouds

So... is the world really as stupid as marketers think it is?

I don't believe so. I hope thats not a fatal error. \

An associate recently showed me a press release from a company that was totally devoid of content and asked me what I thought. I asked him "what is it?" He answered "Cloud service for Unity." At which point I simply told him he hadn't answered the question. What does it do? Why do i care? He wasnt able to answer those questions.

And then there is onlive. You can join gamefly or gametap for $8.00 a month OR you can join OnLive and get access to less content thats delivered in poorer quality for $10.00 a month. But Onlive is "in the cloud"! Lets all go "oooooh" together shall we?

Honestly, this cloud nonsense reminds me nothing more then an episode I saw of MSTK3000 where Crow is into EXTREME philately (stamp collecting) because, as he put it, "everything is better when its EXTREEEEEMEEE!"

Apparently todays marketers think you will think everything is better if its "in the cloud."

The question is... do you?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

So.... I liked Kagi more then they liked me. Apparently my ambitions aren't big enough for them as they declined to take me on as a customer.

Ergo, its back to Digital River.

With some more poking around I found out that oen of Digital River's other services also does digital distribution-- RegNow. Its more expensive then the service I was looking at (SWREG), costing me about $1.70 per sale BUT for the convenience of not having to worry about setting up my own distribution server, I can live with that.

Unlike Kagi, they take all comers so being rejected isn't an issue. The only problem I've run into is that RegNow seems to be built solely with software downloads in mind. This wouldn't be a problem except that there is no way to tell their system your product does not fit into a "software category." I've sent them an email asking for more information about that. I'll report back what I find out.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Selling Stuff Cheap 2: Digital Stuff

I decided I wanted to offer just the DVD for "These Cards Don't Count" as a digitial download for DIY types. There are a lot of advantages to that for me. I dont need to spend money on either a DVD+R blank or building the props myself. I don't have to deal with shipping. And it takes me no time to prepare. All that is worth money, so I figured I could sell the digital version for half off the hard version's price.

Both Google and Pay Pal claim to be able to handle digital merchandise, but when you dig into it all they are really able to handle is selling a code and pointing someone at a URL. All the code creation/verification and download you have to build.

Now, its not that hard to build if you know some PHP BUT that requires a server that allows server-side scripting. Google sites doesn't. Furthermore, it means development time on my part, which is a cost. So i went searching for a no upfront fee digital download service I could use. I found two, Digital River and Kagi. Neither is cheap on fees. For my product its about $1.25 - $1.50 per sale, but with my other costs reduced so far I could afford that. The decider for me was that Digital river still does not host your content for download, while Kagi says they will (for free.)

I am currently awaiting approval of my Kagi merchant account. Then I'll report on how that went....

Friday, February 4, 2011

How to sell stuff cheap

So, I've started (another) little side business.

I've been involved on and off with Magic since grade school. In high school I was semi-pro, pulling down about $5.00/hour doing street magic at a time when my friends were making $3.25/hr slaving at McDonalds. The hobby sort of dropped off my radar post-college and, while i still carried coins in my pocket and would occasionally do a few tricks when the subject came up, I wasn't really actively pursuing it. About 2 years ago however I started gaming with a very nice fellow named Jeb, who was ALSO a performing magician and I got the old itch back.

Since then I've done a handful of shows and developed a number of my own props and routines as well as become a regular hanger-on at The Magic Cafe, a wonderful online magic forum community. I've been encouraged by friends there to release my most recent little creation for other magicians.

Which is all a long way of getting to the point that I needed a sales presence on the web. This is an inexpensive packet trick however, and its my only product right now, which means from a sane-business perspective I had to watch what I put into marketing it. The magic market isn't huge to begin with and there is no guarantee I'll take even a medium share of it. Accordingly, I had to find inexpensive (eg cheap) ways of doing *everything*-- from making and packaging the product, to selling and shipping it.

Enter Google and Pay Pal. For $10/yr I got the domain and web and email service from google. All that was left was to be able to take and process orders. Both Google and Pay Pal offer payment services that have no set-up or monthly fees, you just pay them their fee for each order processed. They also make it VERY easy to place a "Buy Now" button on your web site.

I started with Pay Pal alone, but discovered one thing missing i needed. Both Pay Pal and Google have their strong points, but the big thing missing from PayPal was the ability to offer "coupons." This was important to me as part of my marketing strategy is to set my price point for retail at a place where I can still make money after distributor mark-down, but then offer my friends at The Magic Cafe a reduced "VIP" price if they ordered directly through me. Google checkout has that feature though, so I am supporting both payment methods on the site.

After a day of researching and set up, the first version of Catco Magical Effects is live on the web at

Total investment by me, $10.00