OK, probably the best way to make money is to come up with a great, innovative, but most importantly of all, ORIGINAL idea. Like the Million Dollar Homepage (click on the link to visit the site itself or the image here to enlarge & get a better look).
First of all I’m adding this into this section because it is a viable ‘making money’ strategy. I can tell you now though, it doesn’t need much exploration to discover if it’s a scam or not. If it’s your original idea, I’m sure it’s not a scam 😉
There are a few points here which I’ll go into in more detail below. It’s not just about having a great idea, it’s not just about being innovative. It’s not only about the idea being original, but that is crucially important, it’s also about how the idea is publicised, because if you reach no-one, then you will only have a great idea.
Why The Million Dollar Homepage?
So why have I chosen this one as an example? There are lots of examples of original ideas. eBay started as a great original idea and is now massive. YouTube is another great example. This one is better though. This is a great idea because it is so simple. Because it is the perfect example of an original, innovative idea, perfectly executed. It is just a homepage. Read on to see how beautifully this idea was implemented…
BBC News – Wednesday September 7th, 2005
A first year student at Nottingham University hopes to avoid graduating with debt by selling a million US dollars of internet advertising space.
Alex Tew, 21, of Cricklade, Wiltshire, who is studying business management, has launched milliondollarhomepage.com. Companies can choose from the one million pixels on the site and buy their own for one dollar (54p) each.
“A few weeks ago I looked at my account and I was heavily overdrawn before I had even got to university,” he said.
One of Alex’s three older brothers left university owing £30,000, prompting him to make a firm decision not to slide any further into the red.
“I was up late with my note-pad when it came to me,” said Alex.
On the site is a grid of 10,000 boxes, each 100 pixels (10 by 10) in size. Customers can place advertising logos on the purchased space, linking web users to their own websites. If his site succeeds, he will leave university with $1m (£543,615). (1)
The Guardian – Tuesday October 4th, 2005
A student who hopes to emerge from university $1m (£570,000) richer has so far made £144,000 by selling pixels on his advertising website for a dollar each. Alex Tew set up milliondollarhomepage.com five weeks ago in an attempt to avoid debts while he studies business management at the University of Nottingham. The site has buyers from as far afield as Brazil and Israel.
The 21-year-old, who started lectures yesterday, said of his success: “It’s just nuts. I’m in a state of disbelief. It’s like Monopoly money but then I look at my bank account and there’s a lot of cash in it.” (1)
How Alex’s Earnings progressed
- Sept 7th 2005: MillionDollarHomepage launched
- Sept 12th 2005: £8,000 (3)
- Sept 20th 2005: £32,000 (4)
- Sept 22nd 2005: £43,500 (5)
- Sept 24th 2005: £56,000 (6)
- Oct 4th 2005: £144,000 (2)
- Jan 1st 2006: the final 1,000 pixels were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on 11 January with a winning bid of $38,100 that brought the final tally to $1,037,100 in gross income. (7)
What Happened Then?
Yes, you guessed it… shortly after lots of websites popped up trying to copy the idea, with mixed success. The originality of the idea was gone and each ‘follower’ of this idea were trying to compete with thousands of others all doing the same thing. A much harder proposition to sell.
Shortly after, Paul Smith, from London also aimed to pay his way through university by selling 1 million pixels of internet ad space. Paul recognised the potential of Alex Tew’s site and decided to try his hand at making some money to pay of his debts at university.
Paul set up millionpixelauction.com after searching the internet for ideas to pay off some or all of his university debt. Paul found Alex Tew’s site that offered advertising space for a $1 per pixel. He took Alex’s idea and turned into an auction style site where as interest grew in the site the cost of each pixel rises.
Asked whether he feels a fraud or cheat he responded: “I checked Alex’s site out and found that Alex had commented that he would be flattered if someone was to copy him. So I decided to put a little spin on it and create an auction style site that as the site grows the price per pixel grows too.” He also added: “I hope to make a little money, to help me out paying off some or all of my debt”. He believes other advertising businesses would be interested as a logo and link to their page will be displayed on the homepage. He has planned to keep the site there for at least 2 years but wants to keep it there for as long as possible. (8)
I have no idea how successful Paul Smith actually was as you will see if you try visiting millionpixelauction.com yourself.
A Piece Of Internet History
One of the most brilliant aspects of this whole idea was the simple, but very effective marketing. Alex Tew was bang on the money with his advertising approach, selling the idea of advertising on his page as buying into a piece of internet history. He assured potential buyers that the homepage (which is still there and now IS a piece of internet history) would be kept online for at least 5 years, though the aim was to have it up for as long as possible. He is quoted as saying “It will be like an internet time capsule. Once all the pixels are bought the homepage will never change,”
Inspired? So what’s your original idea?