KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays

KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays

by Joel Comm

ISBN: 9780470597675

Publisher Wiley

Published in Calendars/Business

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Book Description

Make Your Virtual Cash Register Go KaChing!

The Web is a powerful "money button" that can connect you with vast networks of customers, solidify your business image, and create continual growth. The key is in knowing how to install that button effectively. In an era of blogging, social networking, message boards, and websites for every subject under the sun, it's difficult to figure out which Internet tools are the ones that will make your virtual register go "KaChing!" It's also important to create an overall strategy with these tools that will maximize your time and web usage.

Fortunately Joel Comm, one of the world's leading experts in making money online, delivers tips, tactics, and commonsense guidelines to customize your Internet approach with KaChing. From walking you through the best blogging tools for your needs to exploring the many avenues of Twitter, Linkedin, and web networking, Comm demystifies the many options the Web has to offer - and helps you clarify your business strategy to better reach targeted audiences.

KaChing will show you:7 web content types that work togetherPeople who can help you generate content that gets hits, mailing lists, and merchandisingAdvertising strategies that connect you with contacts, partner sites, and customersYouTube, webinar, and other online video toolsBranding approaches that speak to your customer baseSearch engine optimization (SEO) tips that get your web site and business more attention


Sample Chapter

Chapter One

The New Web Order-How the Internet Has Brought Opportunity to Everybody

My first KaChing moment was not a pleasant sound. It was more like a thud than a ring. It wasn't the tinkle of a bell, and it wasn't even the pleasing sound that the cash drawer makes as it opens.

It was the sound of a cardboard box landing on the kitchen table.

But to me it was sweet music.

The year was 1994, and I'd already been playing around with computers-the simplest kind, the type that are less powerful than today's MP3 players-since 1980.

Of course, when I say "playing around" what I actually mean is "playing."

I'd had all the right intentions when I bought my first computer. I'd looked at the manual that explained how to create BASIC code and tried to write a few simple programs. I even got the screen to show "Hello world!" and felt very proud of myself. But I also discovered that to play a game all you had to do was stuff a floppy disk into a slot and wait for the program to load. That was so much easier and so much more fun.

I never did learn programming. In fact, I can't code my way out of a paper bag. I leave that to those who are far more knowledgeable and talented in that arena. However, I have always had a love for computer games.

Games cost money, and back in the mid-1990s, I had the sort of income that meant every penny had its place. My career until then had consisted of a mixture of disc jockeying at weddings and bar mitzvahs and selling encyclopedias door to door. I couldn't really justify feeding my hobby with every new game that came out. That was when I spotted my first computer-related business opportunity.

It happened while I was reading reviews in a computer games magazine. I realized that the reviewers were getting their games for free. They got to play all the new games, and they didn't have to pay for any of them. I liked the sound of that. I was all for getting free games, especially if all I had to do was write my opinion of them afterward.

But I didn't have any writing experience then, and I couldn't see a magazine hiring me to write reviews-even in return for free games-just because I liked playing them. So rather than hit the phones and hear a series of rejections, I created my own games magazine.

The Dallas Fort Worth Software Review was never the most popular publication in the world. Some of the early editions might even have had a readership of ... one. Two if a friend came over and happened to pick it up.

But when I called the software companies, told them I was a writer for the Dallas Fort Worth Software Review, and asked if they'd like to send me review copies of their new games, one question they never asked me was how big my readership was.

In fact, the only question they asked was, "What's your mailing address?"

When that first game was delivered to my door, and I laid the box on the kitchen table, I knew I'd had my first success. It wasn't money. I still hadn't made a dime. But I had a plan, the plan had worked, and I was off and running.

Soon games were pouring in from all the major software companies, and I didn't have time to play them all, let alone review them all. So I put an ad on an Internet bulletin board system-there were no forums back then-offering free games in return for reviews. That meant the games could continue to come in and I could continue to produce my little games magazine without breaking too much of a sweat. The small readership, however, was a problem.

That problem was solved by the Internet. When the Web really took off, I was ready. Playing with computers made me aware of its growth-and its potential-so I took all of the game-related content I had collected and put it on a new web site called I also invited other writers to come in and submit content on any subject that interested them.

Today, WorldVillage is still going strong and continues to enjoy hundreds of thousands of visitors each month.

That's one Internet success story. As you'll see, it's not without its stumbling blocks-no business story ever is-but it has two key components that are essential for understanding (and duplicating) online success. They sum up the opportunity that the Web has brought to anyone with even a hint of entrepreneurial spirit.

The first is that online business success is open to anyone. I am a shining example of this. I'm not an expert. I still can't program. I still hire out the writing on many of my sites as well as their management to people who can do these things better than I can. I've always been interested in computers, but I'm not what you'd call a professional computer person.

The point is you don't need to complete a course in advanced programming. You don't have to know what HTML is, what a server looks like, or that Ruby on Rails isn't the name of a grunge band. Knowing those things might help-at least on the technical side. But you don't need to know them. I've met plenty of Internet millionaires who think that style sheets are programs handed out at fashion shows. It hasn't stopped them from creating successful site after successful site.

The second key component to the story of my first online success is that I still play computer games. They're fun. I might play them less now than I used to, but I still sit with my family sometimes in front of the screen as we battle monsters together. I am pleased to say that I am a Level 80 Warrior in World of Warcraft.

The reason the Dallas Fort Worth Software Review and then WorldVillage succeeded was that I was doing something I loved. I didn't set out to make money. I set out with the idea of doing something that I enjoyed. Because I enjoyed it, I was willing to put time and effort into doing it well. And because I put time and effort into doing it well, other people enjoyed it, too.

When that happens, there's always an opportunity to make money, especially on the Internet.

That's what this book is all about.

It's about what happens when you take a passion, place it on a platform that's open to anyone who wants to climb on to it, and then plug in the pipes that bring in the cash.

The result sounds a lot like KaChing.

So, Just How Easy Is It to Begin Building a Web Site?

To someone whose only experience on the Internet is reading the news, checking the sports scores, or perhaps answering e-mail, the online world can look pretty daunting.

Telling an Internet user that there's a fortune to be made online is a bit like telling a moviegoer that there are millions to be made in movies. Of course there are ... if you know how to handle a camera, write a script, find the production money, hire actors, edit the footage, and distribute the film. If you know how to do all that-and can make movies that people actually want to see-then, sure, you can make millions.

But creating successful web sites is not like shooting successful movies. Creating movie blockbusters is complicated. Creating Internet content is very, very simple. It was always meant to be simple, and today it's easier than it's ever been.

You can now be online with a new web site in less time than it takes to read this page.

And you can do it for free.

You won't hear your first KaChing right away. You'll still have to stock the site with content, plug in the systems that will pour in the cash, and let people know you're around. That will take a little time. But it won't require any skills more specialized than the ability to press a mouse button or choose an option in a drop-down menu.

It wasn't always like this. Although the Internet was always meant to be a place that anyone could use and anyone could build on, for a long time that really meant anyone who had the patience to read a programming manual the size of a shoebox.

Today, the Internet really has met its promise of being a truly democratic space. Those with a desire to earn and a willingness to learn as they go can have the beginnings of a profitable online business in minutes.

Usually, that takes one of two forms.

The traditional method has always been to create a web site from scratch. You bought a domain name from a service like, rented space on a hosting service, and placed the domain on the host's server. Then you used a special program to write the code and upload the pages. Whenever users entered the address of one of those pages in their Web browser, your page appeared on their screen.

This is still how most web sites work. It's how most of mine work. Doing it all manually provides the greatest amount of flexibility. But it's a little tricky, as it takes time to learn-or money to pay someone who already knows how to do it-and it's no longer necessary.

Web developers have made complete templates available to anyone who wants to use them. The prices vary. Some companies offer them for free; others charge thousands of dollars for a template that's unique, easy to customize, and filled with the latest Flash animation.

Whichever option you choose-and both types are no more than a quick search away-once you've bought your domain, all you have to do is upload the template and fill it with your content.

Alternatively, you can also use a content management system like Joomla! or Drupal. These are free programs that act as a kind of storage system for web site publishers. They sound frightening, but they've actually simplified web publishing enormously. Once you've taken the first leap of buying a domain and placing it on a server-a process that will take even the newest of publishers just a few nervous minutes-they'll allow you to add articles and use modules and extensions to place all sorts of preprogrammed goodies, such as RSS feeds, sidebars, and automated storefronts, on your web pages.

The first steps might feel a little strange. But once you have even a basic web site up and running, you won't be able to stop. You'll be experimenting and playing, and in no time at all you'll have become something of a web development expert simply because you're enjoying it. It happens. And it happens because it's now so simple. Web site templates might have taken the sweat out of design, but there's an even easier and faster way to get on the Web. When Evan Williams, who would later go on to help create Twitter, launched Blogger in August 1999, he continued a process of simplification that cracked the Internet wide open.

A blog (short for "web log") is a very simple type of web site. Instead of having multiple static pages, the content on blogs is updated regularly and displayed in chronological order. That keeps readers coming back to see what's new. Older content gets buried but can be recovered from archives and by using searches based on keywords and subjects.

The benefit of blogs has always been their simplicity. While you can now upload all sorts of content, including video and real-time Twitter streams, writing a blog is not much different from writing in Microsoft Word, then saving it on the Internet so that everyone can see it. The attraction of a blog is always the content. If you can say something interesting-about any topic at all-you can build a successful blog.

Evan Williams certainly made a success of Blogger. Ten years later, Google bought the site for an undisclosed sum, and now Blogger is said to have 300 million active readers who consume the 388 million words uploaded through the service every single day (Figure 1.1).

Blogger, of course, now has plenty of competitors. provides a lot more flexibility. It's open source, which means that anyone can build on it and create plug-ins that give publishers even more options. But unlike blogs on Blogger, it doesn't come with hosting. Before you can use WordPress, you have to buy a domain name and place it on a host. You'll then need to download WordPress's blogging program from and upload it to your server. It's not difficult, but it takes just a little effort., on the other hand (as opposed to, works exactly like Blogger. Your domain name will be [yourchosenname] It's free, and you won't need to fiddle around with a hosting service. But you also won't be able to place AdSense, Chitika, Yahoo!, or text link ads on the site. As you'll see in this book, that still leaves plenty of other options, but wasn't really built for moneymaking, and the people behind it take a pretty dim view of revenue generation on these sites.

The best option is to use Blogger just to get your feet wet. I like to call it "blogging with training wheels." Then, once you have a handle on blogging, move up to or MovableType (

There's a good chance, though, that you're already online, either with your own web site or a blog. You may have created them yourself from scratch, or you may have paid a developer to create your site(s) for you. Both options are fine.

I'm not going to talk you through the first steps of launching a blog or creating a web site. That information is available everywhere (including in my previous books), and it really is so simple now that the best way to learn how to do it is just to do it. Go to, register, and start writing. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and don't be in too much of a hurry. Just enjoy the experience. That enjoyment will keep you moving forward.

At the beginning of this section, I pointed out that while you can start developing web sites and blogs in minutes, it will take you a little longer to start earning money with them. That's because you need content and readers, both of which take time to build.

Installing a system that can persuade people to give you money on the other hand is now quick and simple.

From Blogging to KaChing

Back in the old days, at the end of the twentieth century, there was a very easy and almost foolproof way to make a ton of money with a web site: You registered a domain, placed it on a server, and started writing.

You didn't write content. You wrote a business plan, and in that business plan you included the word advertising about three times in each sentence. Then you bought a plane ticket to California, met with a venture capitalist, showed off your business plan, and waited patiently while he or she wrote a check for several million dollars in return for 1 percent of your new company.

For some of those investors, that actually turned out to be a smart move. The start-up would go on to attract lots of users and would be bought by an even bigger company, making lots of money for the developer and the investor. The company that bought it, on the other hand, was often left with a big write-off.

The problem was that while everything looked good on paper, no one had come up with a reliable way to turn lots of users into piles of cash.

It was as though someone had invented the shopping mall before anyone had invented the cash register. Lots of people were coming into the stores, but with no way to spend their money, they were walking right back out with it.

Google changed all of that. It did this in two ways.

First, it created a search engine that made finding content both easy and accurate. Before Google launched in 1998, Internet users searching for Web content through sites like Yahoo! and Lycos needed to either browse categories or check results based on the number of times a keyword appeared on a page. That didn't always give them the best results. It meant that poor sites could game the system by stuffing pages with keywords, thereby sending the traffic and its benefits to the wrong people.

Sergey Brin's and Larry Page's idea of ranking sites according to the number of times other sites linked to them meant that their search engine didn't just deliver the right results, it also delivered the best results.

Suddenly, the Web wasn't just a random collection of sites that were difficult to navigate. It was a world that came with its own tour guide, who could point out the best places for anyone to visit regardless of their subject of interest.

If you wanted to know about stamp collecting, architecture, or celebrity news, Google would tell you. And it would not just tell you which site mentioned those things.


Excerpted from "KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays" by Joel Comm. Copyright © 0 by Joel Comm. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Joel Comm

Joel Comm

Joel Comm is an Internet entrepreneur who has been online for 20 years. In 1995, Joel launched, a family-friendly portal to the web which enjoys thousands of visitors each day. In 1997, him and his partner created, which was acquired by Yahoo!, and now goes by the name Yahoo! Games. Since then, his company has launched over a dozen web sites, including the popular bargain-hunting shopping site,, and Joel Comm is the author of several best-selling ebooks that show people how to make money online, and regularly speaks and teaches at conferences, seminars and workshops. Joel is the host and executive producer of The Next Internet Millionaire, the world's first competitive Internet reality show.

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