New E-Commerce Payment System

December 30th, 2011

Mark Fischer, CEO of InspirePay, took the time to talk to me in detail about his website, which officially went online Dec. 20. You can read the article on AuctionBytes here. InspirePay is ideal for people like graphic designers who want to be paid online but who don’t have their own e-commerce website, shopping cart, etc. And they want something they don’t get from PayPal or Google Checkout: an invoice.

Fischer says InspirePay is for “people that want to be paid online, but not necessarily tied to a fixed product like in a shopping cart system. Many of our current customers operate 100% online, such as graphic designers. In this case, they just tie the payment request to the invoice being sent in an email. It’s very simple. Others, such as B Corporation, exist online and off, but love our system for simplicity in invoicing. Dojo4, our developers, have been using the technology for “coffee money” for their wednesday morning code and coffee gatherings. There are many users.”

I love this: an aerospace worker is laid off, and responds by setting up an online travel website. Dean Pettit received a $500 grant from a local municipality to set up a website called Space Coast Outdoors, a guide to travel on Florida’s coast. Read the story here.

A reader writes…

December 22nd, 2011

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that people actually read what I have written. This might seem hard to believe, but it’s true. I’ve been reminded, a couple of times this week, of all that I have accomplished, and I am very thankful for it. Here is one comment i just received:

“Mr. Holden,

I was fortunate enough to be given The Booklover’s Guide to the Midwest by the librarians at my school. In one of my administrative swoops through the
over-crowded library, I mentioned that I would be taking my girls back to the Midwest in July of 2012 to visit my home and some potential universities. Your work will provide me another opportunity to “nerd it
up” with my children (a pleasure about which they often complain). Reading your bio and pithy quips brightened my day-before-winter-break
craziness. Thanks -you’re a hoot!”

Happy holidays!

Going Mobile

December 21st, 2011

My interview with Mobify CEO Igor Faletski is online on ECommerceBytes. Mobify helps businesses create mobile versions of their e-commerce sites so customers can shop and make purchases using smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. You might think (as I did) that companies like Mobify are only for big businesses. Not so, the company assures me. They have a free version that anyone can use. According to their v-p of marketing, James Sherritt: “Mobify is free for anyone to try, but those using the free version will need to have some technical skills with HTML and CSS to progress. We have a number of clients who use the free or few-hundred-a-month options to run their mobile sites with great success.” This might be a good way to expand to new markets in 2012.

A “platform” is a devoted following of people who know you and want to find out more about you. You build a platform through email, your website, by handing out your business card, social media, blogging–anything that gets you before the eyes of potential readers or customers.

Here’s a recent example. Popular comedian Louis C.K. makes his own comedy video, sells it on his website (only his website) for $5, and makes his $200,000 investment back quickly, then turns a profit. How did he do it? He already had a platform through his television show and his comedy performances. It’s true, not everyone has the “platform” to be able to go completely independent, avoiding publishers or producers or even conventional distribution channels like Amazon or retail stores. But with a modest platform you, too, can have success selling online. Read about it here.

I always thought if you open multiple stores, it’s good SEO to link one to another. The more links you have to valid, well-maintained sites, the better off you are as far as placement on Google, right? The other day I interviewed Joel Lederhause of DiscountRamps.com, who said it’s not a good idea to link his 25 niche sites to one another. he says Google doesn’t like this. He puts his SEO efforts into maintaining unique product listings on each site–with 11,000 products he has lots of content to maintain. Is that true about Google links–when you have multiple sites that sell similar or related products, Google doesn’t like it if you link one to another, and might even ban you from doing so?