Funny Shirts Changed My World

Nov 12th, 2012 | Filed under Interesting, Opinions and Perspectives, Shirts, Work

I don’t know if you have visited the retail part of this website yet, but I happen to have what I feel is several hundred of the funniest shirts ever created. I know that not everyone shares my sense of humor, some will likely be offended, and some people will just not get it, but to me I have the greatest collection of funny shirts in all the world. Believe it or not though, when I first started selling funny shirts, I was not the type of person who would actually wear them, in fact my original idea with this website was not to sell any funny t-shirts at all, but to sell a line of great tribal shirts I used to buy and wear. However by the time I was ready to sell the tribal shirts, the manufacturer of the shirts did a ridiculously stupid thing, he fired his artist, and stopped printing his great designs. I had already built the website and had to sell something, and so began my quest for really funny shirts.

As time went on, the website grew, and with it my collection of funny shirts, at the same time my own tribal t-shirts were becoming old, and my girlfriend used to laugh at how I was this great internet t-shirt retailer that wore old shirts with holes in them. I did see the humor in it, and having such a large collection of shirts on hand at any one minute, it was very easy just to toss the shirt in the trash and grab a new one. So one summer day, I tossed out my old shirt, grabbed one of my fresh beautiful funny shirts from my collection, a shirt I like to call Hypno Monkey featuring a chimpanzee wearing headphones in the middle of a yellow swirl, and stepped out the door to the public.

Hypno Monkey Shirt

I live in a very large and busy city that has a great public transportation system, so have not owned a car in years, it is not a matter of money, it is just to me cars were supposed to be a convenience, and the transit is so good here, to me they are actually an inconvenience. So after thirty seconds or so waiting for the bus, it arrived and I stepped on. Unfortunately no seat was available so two or three of us were forced to stand.

The bus left the stop and I was looking out the window enjoying the view, and looking around a bit at the other passengers, there was a young kid smiling at me, that was nice, and a very pretty brunet smiling at me, that was nice also, I of course smiled back at both of them, and the bus continued down the road. I looked around the bus again at a few people and noticed most of them were very friendly towards me. This seemed to continue with me all day long as I went to the mall and ate some lunch. I was feeling particularly handsome this day, since I must have had smiles and eye contact from about ten or so women by this time, and also a couple of men smiled at me, that was uncommon, and a bit mysterious. I didn’t really put two and two together until I went to wash my hands and looked in the mirror, which of course reflected back to me not only my face, but also that of the silly chimp on my shirt.

Wow I thought, if you smile the world smiles back at you, but if you wear a good funny shirt, the world smiles at you first, and then you smile back. Now that is something cool. I can’t believe I never knew this before. Also I found that I was actually walking around with a smile on my face more, not just because of the motion of smiling back, but because I was actually happier.

I wear funny shirts now most of the time, and my son does also, because of this we live in a happier world than we did before, people around us are all very nice to us, occasionally laughing can be heard around us, and sometimes people that normally would not talk to us strike up friendly conversations.

I understand the world was not changed by me wearing  funny shirts, but without a doubt, wearing funny shirts changed my world.

What Should I Sell On The Internet?

As most of you know, I sell products on the internet to make a living these days, recently a friend of mine also expressed an interest in starting a similar type of business, so he asked me what I though he should sell to make some money. I gave him a few suggestions and explanations for my reasoning which I have put for you below.

I sell t-shirts, but I would not recommend this to others, had I understood the amount of stock I would need on hand and the work I would have to do to sell a few shirts for such low profit, I probably would not have quit my day job.

Click To Enlarge

91% Failure!
Click To Enlarge

What I recommend is that if you are going to sell stuff on the internet, and going to build up a new website from scratch as I did, due to a lack of visitors, you will find yourself lucky to make a single sale each day for the first year or so, therefore it is best to sell items that will not become quickly outdated. If you sell products you need to move quickly through, such as electronics, which become outdated, devalue quickly and have a low profit margin even at the best of times, you will soon find yourself stuck with a lot of stock that nobody will buy from you at a profit, also you will need to be updating the website faster than you can probably work alone and will need to hire a team of expensive professionals just to keep up.

Apache Helicopter

Sell Used Helicopters

I believe you should sell the most expensive items you can afford to, the reason for this is you have the opportunity to make the most profit per item purchased, or package sent. For example, I remember one time last year where I needed to get someone a particular color and size of shirt that we had run out of stock on, due to a high number of unexpected complications, it must have taken me about nine hours of my time to fill the order, this is not normal, but it does happen, and for my nine hours of hard work, I only received about seven dollars profit, if you compare this to people who sell helicopters online, yes you can buy helicopters online, who make a few hundred thousand for the same amount of time, you can see that my shirt business is not necessarily the worlds best idea, but it was all I could afford to start with.

If you are really low on cash, and have even less then what I started out with, which was approximately fifty thousand American Dollars, you can try some drop shipping companies. If you put “drop shipping companies” into a search engine, you will find all sorts of companies that hold all the stock for you to sell, and you can simply buy one item at a time from them, after your customers have already paid you, and then get them to send directly to your customers. This is a great alternative to holding stock, but I gave up on drop shipping in the first year myself, due to my lack of traffic, by the time I actually sold stuff, they were already out of stock on the items.

The biggest problem for any web based business will always be getting enough traffic to stay afloat, too many people subscribe to the “If I build it they will come” philosophy, which is probably a good reason why nearly one hundred percent of all web start ups fail. You really would not believe the competition out there that you have to deal with, you really have to be the best of the best to survive these days.

After four years of sixty hour weeks, and being fortunate enough to have most of the best shirts in the world available for me to sell, I am now almost making the same as what I used to make at one of the crappier day jobs I quit a decade ago, so you have to be seriously committed to do what I am doing. I heard someone say recently that to create a successful commercial website in today’s market you needed to have blind ignorant faith equaling that of many religions.

The Author Made Some Money

There is a constant push on the internet and in the news about how starting a web based business is a good idea, but statistics prove otherwise, it is a bad idea, in fact the only people that seem to really be making any money online are those that create websites for hopeful “entrepreneurs” or offer paid services to market their businesses for them. This reminds me of how a long time ago in the Klondike gold rush, the people who sold the miners supplies made much more money than the miners themselves. These are the people telling you it is a good idea, don’t listen to them too much, I would suggest never listening to anyone that is trying to get money from you.

If you still want to start an online business, you may as well get started, it doesn’t matter if it succeeds or not as long as you don’t invest too much into it. I started three websites before the one I have now, never made a penny off them, but this one does pay the bills. You should not think of the internet as a great place to get rich quick, these days the best you can hope for a chance to get rich eventually.

Those That Have No Chance – The New Internet Reality

I started this website about four years ago now, and although it took a good six months or so for things to get going, after some time, thanks to websites like StumbleUpon, Digg and especially Google. We eventually started to receive some highly anticipated visitors that were excited at what we had to offer, they linked it to their friends and liked it on the social media. Everything was going well for a while, after my first year of 80 hour work weeks I was already making a living on the website, and things were looking up. I showed a friend of mine a chart of visitors coming to the website, at this time a chart of its seemly exponential growth, and he said to me, “Just make sure those numbers keep going up.” and I said to myself, “This is simple, I will just keep doing what I am doing.” I wish it were that simple.

I ended up having a few unexpected problems along the way, some of which were caused by a combination of me trying to change the world, and my big mouth. I found that each time I spoke up publicly against a major power’s evil doing, my website suffered greatly. My first real hiccup came when I was very outspoken on this blog about something that China did, and was attacked by hackers so badly nobody could access the website anymore for days, I ended up forced to take down the post and within a day or so, all the hacking stopped.

The next great hiccup was from Digg, a website we were very quickly successful on, I am not sure if it was because I was selling a shirt that competed with one of their major advertisers, or because I became very outspoken against a different one of their main advertisers plans to rip down every sign of theirs across the word in order to change one of their major colors from yellow to green, in the hope of seeming more more environmentally friendly, this had bothered me because it would have meant destroying the already perfectly good signage and then creating more, my comment “Why don’t they just change the colors of all their packaging to green also so it blends in better at the side of the highway.” earned me about 10,000 Diggs up in a couple of days, but then suddenly and without warning or explanation, Digg banned me. No amount of e-mailing to Digg ever received a response, I tried making another account and resubmitting the website, but found that doing so would no longer allow us to be displayed in their search results, many other previous Digg users called this the “auto bury” list. So far the signs for this company in my neighborhood have not changed colors.

StumbleUpon and Facebook, kept us going on the social media side for the next couple of years, occasional someone would submit something of our to Reddit and things would pick up as well, thank goodness for these websites. On the search engine side, Bing and Yahoo always provided us with a few visitors, but Google continuously provided us with the majority. Google was a wonderful proponent for us little guys, and in my opinion what made the internet an interesting place to be, without them how could a website like Wikipedia, LOLCats, or Craigslist ever get started, and of course how on earth would anyone ever be able to see our selection of amazing t-shirts.

Not all remained good on the search engine front, during this spring, Google completely de-indexed us, we went from 1400 indexed pages down to 0, our PageRank went from four down to two even as we gained more organic links than ever. Google then gradually re-indexed us over the next month up to about 700 pages and then gradually over the next 8 months we lost most of our non-paid search visitor. I suspect it was just one of the many Google algorithm updates during that time, but also I wondered why the update did this to me, the goal was supposedly to get rid of link buying schemes as well as black hat trickery used to get better results in Google, but we had never done any black hat or grey hat SEO on this website, or link buying other than the Yahoo directory. We also have a very low bounce rate, high engagement, high repeat visitors, and even quite a decent closing ratio for our visitors. All of these should have told Google that our visitors were quite satisfied with the Google results that had sent them to us.

You can see in the image below that our impressions in Google Webmaster tools dropped to less than a third of what we were used to over a two month period.

April 11,2012 – July 10,2012 Impressions In Google Webmaster Tools Drop to A Third

We were not alone with our problems around this time however, the internet world shook in the Spring of 2012, and many websites experienced the same thing that we did. I would have said something sooner, but I though Google would have fixed it for us by now, and my previous lessons on the internet of speaking up always lead to severe punishment. Many small website operations such as this one disappeared in the last nine months, and I think many more will be giving up after this Christmas, here is one petition on Change.org that asked Google to reconsider, but they never did. I would like to sign it myself but the petition is already closed.

http://www.change.org/petitions/google-please-kill-your-penguin-update-l

A more technical article about Google’s recent changes, containing equally depressing graphs can be found here:

http://www.seorankings.com/4-recent-google-updates

Things changed since the nine months or so between our great deindexing till now, currently we are fully indexed in Google again, but are receiving very few visitors from them. I have waited almost nine months hoping Google would correct this, and am quite desperate that they do it before the Christmas rush, which is due start any day now.

The following is a one year graph of our Organic, non-paid Search Results from with Google from Nov 12 2011 until Nov 11 2012. It starts with our last years Christmas rush, you can see our gradual falling throughout the year. You can also see the right and left of the graph quite obviously do not line up, if it were the same as last year it would have.

One Year Of Organic Google Search Metrics

This is not quite the same story with our Google Image results which has remained pretty much rock steady throughout the year, even though we added approximately 20% more images.

Google Organic Image Search Remains Unchanged

Although I still feel some desperation about Google’s slow and painful dismissal of our website, things have started to look up. Unable to appease Google with our website’s massively decreased loading time, more accurate descriptions, and continuous freshly added content, we recently have been turning more and more towards social media for our visitors. Social media now seems to be a more reliable source of traffic for us than Google.

The new Google results seem to be less relevant than they used to be at times, at one time I would search Google for what I needed, and Google would deliver it to me like magic, sure there might be some garbage mixed in the results but I could quickly weed through them. Recently after trying a Google search three different ways for some computer programming code I needed, and each time manually reading through several pages of Google’s search results, I was forced to switch to Bing for the first time in months. Bing linked me to some great code on the first page of results using the exact same search that failed me in Google. Google kept trying to get me to go to eHow for answers, but they were not nearly technical enough for the type of stuff I was looking for, Bing however linked me to a personal blog of a fellow programmer that had the exact highly technical answer that I needed. Score one for Bing. I then switched my default search back to Google, but mentally noted that this might be necessary again in the future.

The graph below is from our server side, non Google Analytics program called Webalizer, it shows that even though Google dropped us pretty badly, we are surviving still with less of their help.

Increasing Popularity At Times Even Without Google


On top of all our other problems, recently Google discontinued Google Merchants, this once free service provided us very few visitors each day, but these visitors made up a decent share of our buyers. Google still provide a similar service, but now we are forced to pay for it, so far it is working out that we need to pay about $60 for each $20 retail shirt we sell, which is obviously a very large loss per sale. We are unsure if this is of any benefit to us, we do not know exactly what percentage will come back or recommend their friends to us, we are still testing, but suspect this will be a loss for us even over the long term.

Google used to allow us to make a living off the hundred page website I had three years ago, but now that we have expanded to 1500 pages, Goggle does not give us enough free visitors to make a living anymore for myself, let alone to support the company we have become. As thankful as you might think we should be toward Google for all the people they sent us for free, sometimes I feel like screaming at our Internet God “Why did you give us hope ?!” Sometimes I wish I had just failed in the first months of starting up, before I had invested so many years in this, as well as reinvested all the earnings, more of my own money, and some even borrowed from the bank that I need to pay back. Also we have to rent considerable more space than we used to due to the huge amount of stock we acquired. If things had not fallen apart with Google for us over the last year I would be singing their praises, but they have fallen apart badly, and it looks as though there is no hope in sight.

I can think of quite a few ways to try and advertise our way out of our problems, but we can not afford to make any mistakes with this. The idea is that if we throw enough money into advertising, it will lead to plenty more recommendations to others and hopefully create a buzz just like the big advertisers do, but we are not in the same league as the big advertisers, they make more money in a single day than we have in our four years, and we have to compete with them directly for the same advertising space.It is a risky gamble that we can only do for a short time.

Just like all the interesting mom and pop stores can no longer compete with the likes of WalMart in the brick and mortar scenarios, in the Internet’s current environment, we, and people like us, no longer seem to be able to compete with the “WalMart.com(s)” of the world.

I often feel angry when I read new articles suggesting others start an online business in this day and age, and feel sorry for anyone that takes their advice. I wish readers would first find out how successful the writer actually is, when they obtained their success, and what their angle is on recommending this to others, almost all of the time I find they are just trying to just sell you something, often it is an e-book, sometimes website marketing, or their website creation and hosting services sometimes of course it is a college trying to sell courses, or a bank trying to get you into debt so they can make money off the interest. It seems only the snake oil salespeople and big business are busy making money on the internet these days, not the writers, or small scale online stores.

I have come to the conclusion that there will not be very many true rags to riches stories based on the internet in the coming decade, unless miraculously Google goes back to the way they were or an alternate super relevant search engine somehow become the mainstream.

This website will keep hanging on here for a few years yet no matter what happens, the website has been paid up for the next five years or so and we have a few years worth of stock to go through before we can think about closing. I can only hope that our hard work for the last four years has somehow gotten our foot far enough in the door to survive in this current market, but this is more due to stubbornness than logic, as I do not believe the internet is fair for the little guy anymore. I am currently making plans to make a brick and mortar store out of some of my storage and office space, to keep my staff and I employed in case things don’t work out on the digital front.

In my opinion, the internet changed greatly in the spring of 2012, I feel it has been cut in halve, and I can’t quite figure out which halve I belong to.

On one side we have the “Haves”, and on the other side “Those That Have No Chance”.

I hope I am wrong.

Scream Panda Shirt

Sep 3rd, 2012 | Filed under Shirts
Scream Panda T-Shirt

Scream Panda Shirt – Click Image

Lighting flashes through the dark sky, and a cold heavy rain falls on the late night delivery truck as it lowers it’s precious cargo down from the rear. Curious zoo workers look in at the young panda, sitting very still at the back of it’s cage, facing the wall, seeming too focused on his own thoughts, to be interested in where he is, or the commotion around him.

The cage touches the ground, and the sky explodes in a blinding flash of lightning, a deafening clap of thunder follows, and a disoriented moment later, the workers notice the cage is now empty, except for a claw etched image of a ghostly figure on it’s back wall.

A passing crazy old guy begins to shout, “Evil will no longer allow itself to be contained !” and begins to slowly unbutton his trousers.

Scream Panda Shirt

Beware of Gríma Wormtongue

Aug 25th, 2012 | Filed under Interesting, Opinions and Perspectives

A couple of decades ago, I slowly but surely made my way through the trilogy of The Lord Of The Rings while I was away for a vacation with the family. I found it a difficult to read, but it was still a worthy investment of my time as the story, as most of you should know by now, is a great one.

There are plenty of nasty creatures and characters in the trilogy, from Trolls, and Ring Wraiths, to the wizard Sauramon the White, and the main antagonist Sauron, but for me, the most vile of all the evil characters, was a man by the name of Grima Wormtongue.

Wormtongue

Gríma Wormtongue Waits To Advise King Theoden In “The Two Towers” 2002

If I remember correctly, Grima did not have any true magic in the books, but was still an enchanter of sorts, if you do not recall his character, or his name Grima (Meaning Grim, or Helmet) Wormtongue, does not give it away, he, like his name implies, was particularly skilled, and practiced, at worming his insidious ideas into others minds. Wormtongue often liked to stand next to King Theodin, and whisper things into his ears, to influence his decisions, therefore leaching on the King’s power, and being the true controller of the Kingdom.

I think the reason the character Wormtongue stuck with me so much throughout my life, is because he was the most common type of real world villain, and most perverse of them all. I find him worse than Sauron, who at least was honest enough to openly declare war on people, or Sauramon, though he did hide his evil from others, at least did not pollute peoples’ minds with lies.

Wormtongue’s are so unfortunately common in real life, you can see them going into the bosses office after some difficulties with others, or going to lunch with them, they may have even wormed their way into the bosses chairs themselves. Sometimes you find them actually whispering right in your plain sight in real life, just as Wormtongue does. You don’t know exactly what they are whispering, but you can be sure by the way that they will not say it in the open, that it is not good. Most likely they are trying to align others against their antagonists, to make a team, and grab some power.

At times of course, they may come to whisper in your ears, this may make you feel like you are part of the inside crew, but there is no inside crew, you are only another tool needed to achieve the goals of the Wormtongue.

Don’t be fooled. Heed Tolkien’s warning, and beware of Grima Wormtongue.