Tag Archives: processes

The Dead Baby Joke

dead-baby

The Dead Baby Joke Logo

As part of running an e-commerce business, one of the most important aspects is Search Engine Optimisation.  With Google constantly pushing out new code changes, it’s important to keep ahead of the curve.  Part of keeping ahead of the curve means testing out new concepts, design changes and just general ideas.  One of the first tests I did was for a social joke site called The Dead Baby Joke.  It’s now defunct if you are looking for it by the way – I had to shut it down for a number of reasons.

The Idea

The idea came about 2 years ago at party, after a series of drinks and bad jokes.  I was introduced to the most horrible jokes in the world – dead baby jokes.  If you haven’t heard of them, just look them up yourself.  It’s pretty bad…

Anyway, the thought was – why not make a site based on the concept of voting for the worst / best dead baby jokes? It should be simple enough in cost, and it’d allow me to test some social media concepts.

The Work

Creating the Dead Baby Joke site (DBJ) was simple enough – I hit up Guru.com looking for firstly a designer for the logo.  That was easy and quite fun actually – for a minimal amount, we got the above logo.

Next in line was the actual website.  I wanted a website where you could vote on the actual jokes and have people submit it, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an off-the-shelf blog.  I ended up with a modified WordPress blog, with a number of design changes and plug-in’s which worked quite well to start.

Next step was launching the site and getting some backlinks.  That was pretty easy – there are a ton of directory sites out there for jokes and once a few were submitted we started ranking quite fast for the longtail keywords.  In fact, we were no.2 within a few months with minimal cost.

The Problem

Unfortunately, we grew too fast and really didn’t have a good set-up on the backend.  In about 5 months, we got hacked.  A bunch of malicious code was added to the site where malware was dropped onto visitors.  To fix it, I wiped the site and relaunched it – within a few weeks, we were hacked again.

The hacking saw our rankings drop off the chart with Google and we never did recover our rankings.  From generating a few dollars a day on Adsense, we stopped even ranking for the most basic keywords – we started receiving less than a 100 visitors a month.

Eventually, I just let it die rather than fight the uphill battle to rank again.  Our base code was bad obviously and this was after all an experiment.

The Lessons

Firstly, we learnt a lot about basic website links / linking information.  I played around with some spammy link building tactics and noticed what worked, didn’t work when it was going well.   Directories back then worked well; general forum work not so much.

Secondly, make sure you have good code.  Backing up the data was good, but having code that wasn’t too easy to hack would have been better.  That’s the problem with WordPress – it’s so popular, hackers all work hard to figure out what the most common holes are.  And then hit you with it – so you need to keep the entire site up to date.

Thirdly; if you do get hit with bad rankings, its viable to creep up (we did get a few rankings back before we got hacked a 2nd time) but it requires a lot of work. You are better off making sure you  never get hacked in the first place.

Lastly; with a small budget you can definitely create sites that are cool and fun and generate some revenue.  It’ll take a lot more work to generate an actual business though from this.

 

 

 

Outsourcing on oDesk

We do some outsourcing on oDesk, mostly in an attempt to reduce our costs.  So far, the results have mostly been disappointing.  Here’s the major hurdles we have faced:

  • issues with language – comprehension of the English language isn’t that great
  • issues with following specific orders – even breaking down work point by point hasn’t worked all the time, so expect to go through one or two revisions to get it done right
  • work not as advertised – let’s just say that sometimes the portfolio’s provided aren’t the same as the work you’ll get

In general, take the amount of time you’d expect a job to take if it was done properly the first time round and multiple that by 3. If you’re lucky.  Now, most of the time you’re paying 1/10th of the cost of doing it in-house or in the West, but it’s still a lot more hand-holding.

In addition, here’s a few tricks that the oDesk contractors have come up with:

  • Applying with 1 contractor profile, then after you are ready to award the project asking you to push to profile 2.  If they do not meet your expectations, when you review them normally – their main profile isn’t affected by the lower than expected work
  • Harassing you via Skype to give them a better review
  • Overstating their qualifications then bumming around on work to run up hours
  • Taking on more projects than they can handle, then providing constant excuses

Overall, there’s a few projects I’d outsource and a ton that I wouldn’t. Here’s what I’d do via oDesk:

  • basic installations & theme designs. If you’re not interested in particularly high-quality themes and just need a basic website, it’s not a bad place to go
  • basic graphic design.  Great for simple banners, posters, advertisements, etc.
  • writing help.
  • basic web-research.

Now, here’s some recommendations to working on oDesk or its equivalents:

  • always use the main profile, never work with someone on another profile
  • consider doing multiple small jobs to find a few good workers.  Then expand it into that job
  • always break down your work into parts and give the work in parts out
  • check immediately.  So if you need an excel sheet fixed, have them do 5% of it, then check. Or 50 lines, or whatever.  Then check.  Re-check during various stages
  • pay more.  Don’t work with the lowest cost producers – you want to work with those with a higher price because they’re generally better and have more experience
  • consider individuals from Eastern Europe.  They charge more, but the quality is often significantly better

 

Time dilution & letting go

One of the hardest things about running your own business is learning to let go.  Once it becomes your work, your baby – learning to release parts of your work to other people – whether or not they are better, is very difficult.  In fact, for some people, it’s impossible.

We’re facing that problem now – we’ve grown to an extent that we have to actually hire someone soon, yet finding the right person and letting them handle the business process is difficult.

There’s a few things you can do though to make it easier on yourself:

– creates policies & procedures

Think ahead, create the policies and procedures necessary and write them down.  When you hand over the job to someone else, they can then just  follow the policies.  This means it’s easier to teach them, and just as importantly, they know exactly what they need to do to satisfy your standards.

– hire good people

Kind of obvious, but you have to make sure to hire the right people.  If you don’t you’re just leaving yourself open to more heartache.

– be patient

Provide time for your employees to get up to speed, remembering that they need time to learn what you’ve known for months or years now.

– create a list of your ‘new’ tasks

You’ve now given the job to someone else; so what are you doing? Make sure to have a list of new tasks that you now tackle in that free time.  Keeping yourself busy is one way to take your mind off the old work.

– check-in regularly; but not too often

Lastly, for your own peace of mind, set up a regular check-in schedule.  Just make sure that the schedule isn’t ‘every 5 minutes’ and you can provide both the oversight and hands-off approach needed.  Generally, 10-15 minutes quick summary at the beginning / end of a day and a weekly longer meeting should be fine for most jobs.