Monday, April 1, 2002


=======April 05, 2002===========
Subject: Portal Partner Press 4-5-02

Date: Friday, April 05, 2002 6:02 PM

From: bobking

The Portal Partner Press is sent each week for the education and entertainment of the people who own and operate a SearchKing hosted portal. It is intended to help you learn to better operate, maintain and market your own portal. Anytime you have a question about any item in an issue of the PPP, please visit our forums at and feel free to ask any questions or post any comments about your portal, about SearchKing or about internet marketing in general. 
• Defining an Independent Portal
• Why Isn't Anyone Building

If we don't define what it is, who will? It is our responsibility. It is our honor, our privilege. It is our opportunity. It is our job.
We are getting very close to releasing a new portal software package. This software package was designed for the sole purpose of building and supporting the SearchKing Portal Network. The network that I believe is going to become the new DMOZ.
Most of the issues that have come up in the development of this package over the last 6 or 7 months, I've had to refrain from sharing with all the portal partners because the PPP and the forums are public. It didn't make good business sense to disclose all the features we were planning on building to the partners and our competitors at the same time. While we have discussed most of the features in our weekly chats over the last few months, at least superficially, in the chats we pretty much knew who we were talking with. Tain't so with the Portal Partner Press and the SearchKing forums. Starting with the last issue of the PPP, that is changing.
Last issue I announced our plans to feed certain features and programs to the portals such as games and news. I asked for discussion on the topic in the forums from the partners to help give staff a little more direction in where to look to add to the menu of value features to feed to the portals. While I was a little disappointed at the response in the forums, (That really surprised me - I thought there would be a lot of feedback on that.), I was very pleased to see that we had at least one partner ask for the news and about 10 or so ask for the games. Very good! It works!
This issue is a kind of continuation of that topic.
It's time to start putting the templates together that will be offered in the new SearchKing PCP, (portal control panel). Now, the thing with templates, as many of you already know, is that a lot of people pretty much use whatever the template has. Some people are perfectly happy using the template that comes with a program and change it very little, if at all. That makes how those templates look and what those templates do VERY important. So important that in my opinion, if we were going to define what a local or topic specific portal was, we would do it with a template.
I am asking again for discussion in the forums or even by emailing me about what should be on the front page of a local or a topic specific portal. News, weather, stocks? What else? I could use your help here. This is important.
I'll try to get the ball rolling with at least a few features that I think a local portal needs.
The obvious stuff would be:
• search engine
• free branded email
• free branded websites
• chat
• forums
• classifieds
• calendar
• movie listings
• Other stuff that may not be so obvious or so important:
• world and local news
• weather
• stock quotes
• games
• horoscopes
• jokes of the day
• What else? What am I not seeing?
As for the topic specific stuff, I need a lot of help. My focus has always been just a little right of center leaning towards the local portals, so I could use all the input I can get on the topic portals.
So, I hope to be getting some responses in the forums and in my mailbox over this next week or so. It's important. Not to just to me, but to the entire SearchKing Portal Network of which, you too are a very important part. So if you don't pitch in and help now, don't come crying to the rest of us later that we don't have what you really wanted. 
The world is on the verge of changing. Changes are coming that are of biblical proportions. This isn't just about countries and some border disputes. It's not just about the haves and the have-nots. It's not about technology. It's about all that and it's about the sons of Abraham.
The eyes of the world are about to start searching like never before in the history of man. Searching for freedom, security, family, God and maybe even a place to hide. At least a place to hide from the sins of their fathers.
I'm not using the PPP to spout off a sermon. The PPP is not about religious beliefs. The PPP has always been, and always will be, about one thing. Portals. SearchKing Portals specifically.
Portals are about a doorway to information. SearchKing is about supporting the information those portals provide very quickly.
With change comes opportunity. Opportunity to teach, to lead, to prosper.
I'm asking you today to take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and think. Think about what effect the events in the world are going to have and what you are going to do to ensure that you and yours have the best chances of coming out winners. Think about what information people might be looking for that you could contribute. What are they going to want to know? What are they going to want to buy?
Get my drift? ************************************
Publisher -- Bob Massa

=======April 16, 2002===========
Subject: Re: Portal Partner Press 4-16-02
Hi Bob,
I did just have to comment on this weeks PPP. First off you are right and wrong, at least in my opinion. There are people, who at least started the portal thing with SK that ARE making serious money. We have made in excess of 6 figures ( not counting the change :) ) in the last 6 months. We run a network of 'topical portals' or sites if you will, more than 25 right now with more coming. I have affiliate managers and marketing pukes calling me daily and I get a 1/2 dozen offers a week for some new 'thing' they want me to promote for them.
We just received 2 cases of wine as a 'thank you' for just carrying one place, and at $100 a bottle, its makes even Pizza Hut taste good. We were also given a cruise and a long list of other things that show up here unannounced because it does work.
I do not follow 'your' way, but I did start out that way and did follow some of the advice and discarded the rest. You have always said, that you just can't fill a portal with affiliate programs and make $$$, well I am here to tell you that part is wrong. My portal is 95% affiliate programs and it makes money. Enough that I quit my job and my wife will quit hers soon and just teach and write. You just need to market it, and market it, and market it, and do this all day every day. My days are longer but I am much happier.
Yes I am very disappointed in the progress, or lack there of that SK has been making but I couldn't wait on it to catch up. I have closed 1 portal, another will close this month and I will be closing the Pro very soon. I needed 24/7 support so I found it necessary to get my own Hyperseek license ( this part you were dead on with) and set up a new system. Sort of SK in the early days and how I figured it should or would evolve.
Almost 2 years ago you and I had about the same vision. We just see different roads to get there. I think I turned around when I stopped worrying about where I was going and how I was going to get there and started looking at where I was. Once you know where to start, the rest comes with good old fashioned hard work.
Now don't take this that I am knocking your way, it's just that I found a different road to the place you pointed me too. There is more then one road to every destination.
Thanx and enjoy the journey. 
My reply:
Thank you for the letter Rick. I have always appreciated and respected your honesty and pull-no-punches approach. I have to agree with just about everything you said. No one is more disappointed in the progress of SK than I am. That is not your fault and I don't blame you or anyone else for not waiting on me. I fully accept that I will likely have to start all over again when I finally do get the programming I want done.
Anyway, I'd like your permission to publish at least some parts of your letter. I wouldn't use your name or url unless you asked me to, but I do think the "good old fashioned hard work" part needs to be heard by the portal partners coming from someone besides me.
Best of luck to you Rick and your more than welcome to stay in touch. I'd like to see where we both are in the next few years.
One more reply for the partner:
Subject: Re: Portal Partner Press 4-16-02
Good. I was more then a little concerned that you may take it the wrong way and I didn't want that. You are very very good at what you do but in all honesty, I think you are a bit ahead of your time. Right now, in your face, guerrilla marketing works. While I would like to see a net where everything is relevant, low key and 100% honest, I believe we are a long way from that. Just a quick look at society now tells you that. Sure everyone says they want smaller, non polluting cars but what do they by? SUVs, trucks, etc. It will take the same type of change on the net to bring about your visions as it will to get people to cram their fat lazy butt into a small non polluting car.
A core change that is long term in coming. The net moves faster so it may happen first, but it is still a very long range goal and people who try to make their living on the net have to eat today so you do what works today.
I guess someone has to be the 'voice' in the back of your head on the net telling you what you know should be, but until people are really ready to listen, the 800 pound gorilla is always going to win.
And if you want to know when I made my final decision, it was when you/Mike, whoever made the SK page change to a Google clone. To me that was a sign of desperation and bode poorly for the future and I couldn't allow myself to get caught in yet another dot bomb. SK was always supposed to be different and that's why it was supposed to work. The style change to one of the big boys was an indication to me that the basic premise was wrong and wasn't going to work and people were starting to grab at straws.
Feel free to use whatever you want out of my letter as it was meant to give you a bit of insight as to where I am vs where I started and if it gives someone the hope that the net can be worked for a living then it's worth it.
We will still be in touch. Lets get real here :) I still will have to Pluses that would be insane for me to give up now. 
So, there you have it. A partner who has made over 6 figures in the last 6 months!!! Pretty cool huh?
The partner said:
*You have always said, that
you just can't fill a portal with affiliate programs and make $$$, well I am here to tell you that part is wrong. *
I still stand by that statement. The misconception is that this partner seems to think I meant you couldn't use affiliate information as the majority of content on your portal and make money. That is NOT what I meant. What I was saying is that you can expect to just put a bunch of affiliate buttons and banners on your portal, (or any site for that matter), and expect people to start sending you money. What I was saying is that success takes focus, dedication and work. Mostly work.
The partner and I actually agree totally and the main reason I wanted to share this exchange with you is because this partner has discovered the key to success.
* the rest comes with good old fashioned hard work.*
*You just need to market it, and market it, and market it, and do this all day every day. *
It's easy for me to see how this partner thought I was saying not to build a portal focusing just on affiliate programs. My goal is to get this network of portals rolling and for that to happen someone has to build something other than another affiliate program portal. that's what I want so that's what I focus on and what I talk about. Your goal is probably not the same and that's the way it should be.
You don't need to listen to or do anything I say. You need to YOUR numbers! Period. That probably has little to do with anything anyone would say. It has much more to do with what YOU do.
Also, I wanted to address the change to a Google clone.
Hindsight is 20/20 they say and looking back, the partner is right. I can see now how making SK look like Google would be seen by some as an act of desperation.
I have said many times that I am a person who likes to set and hit numbers. Most of you are aware that SK's front page has changed many times over the last two years. It doesn't change due to desperation. I'm no more desperate today than I was four years ago. It changes so I can track numbers to see which lay-out I feel is our best chance of providing quality to our visitors.
You, see, SK is still in a pre-marketing stage and I feel like now is the time to experiment.
I have a marketing plan in mind that I have had for over two years. I haven't implemented it yet because I still feel like we don't have anything to sell yet. I also feel like getting customers to your door is not that hard. I've proven time and time again that getting traffic is easy. Getting customers and getting them coming back is the hard part. Getting an unhappy customer back is ten times harder than getting them into the door the first time.
The entire internet is all about one thing. Information. Information = data. Does anyone NOT see that?
The internet is about e-commerce. The internet is about spam. It's about affiliates, webhosting, forums, chat rooms and on and on, but the one most important thing it is about, the thing it was built for, the reason it was started and the reason it thrives today is the exchange of data.
This is the primary reason that major search services are some of the most heavily, (and most valued), web sites on the planet. Their primary purpose is to exchange data.
If SK had a way that portal partners could get and review sites quickly and easily, and those portals and the reviewed data in those websites were what came up on top of SK, who would have the highest quality data on the planet? If SK had a way that the ad revenue from searches were shared with the portal network, how many people could we get running portals and wanting to review websites for their own portals? What if SK had a way to review the portals to ensure that only quality portals were what was getting the lion's share of traffic from SK so that we could drastically reduce the amount of people who would just take advantage? Now who would have the largest, human reviewed database on the planet and a network in place to manage and share the revenue from that data?
Well, that is exactly what we are getting very close to having.
So, what if I could get ten times more people to SK today? We would just lose 90% or more of them because we don't have enough data to provide results for far too many searches. This means that most of those people I could get would leave with no intention of ever coming back and using us as a search service again. Then after I do get the data and try to get those people back, they would just say to themselves and their friends, "Oh I've been there before, they suck". To win those people back over would take a lot more effort and a lot more money than to just impress them the first time and that's why I'm not marketing SK yet and that's why we all have to hang in there.
We are getting so close to having that data. So close that as much as I'm dying to tell everyone about it, our competitors would love for me to discuss and It just would not make good business sense to disclose too many details right now. All I can tell you now is that I fully intend to market the heck out of SK and the portal network as soon as we have a product to sell and that product is data.
This is one of the reasons I don't encourage more of our partners to build portals that focus just on affiliate programs. This is also an opinion and I can fully understand why someone would not agree and I also encourage everyone once again, to not listen to me, listen to your own heart, but my felling on affiliate programs is that you are not in control and that always leaves you vulnerable to the whims of someone else.
Remember about a year ago, I had told you in the PPP about a fried of mine who had joined some affiliate programs and was making in excess of $20,000 a month? Well, I had the opportunity to speak with him at length just the other day and he told me he was very dis-enchanted with the hole program.
He said while it was true that he was bringing in some 20 grand a month, he was spending some $15,000 a month with Overture on PPC and Yahoo on submitting more domains. Then when he figured in his time, his server, his domain registrations and the cost of getting free lance people to help build sites, he was only clearing less than $2,000, (which was about half of what I had paid him the year before).
He also said he decided to stop paying Overture and his income dropped to less than $4,000 a month the first month. Then when he figured in all the companies that had gone out of business while he was expecting a check, or changed their policies while he was still expecting a check, he was making even less. He is about to lose his home, he has already damaged his credit and has serious concerns for his own future.
Now I'm not saying this is what WILL happen, I'm only saying it is what happened to this person. I say this only to point out that building a topic specific portal is your data displayed the way you want. You are in control. If you decide to change your commission schedule, you already know it first before the short check comes in the mail.
The partner in the letter is doing it the smart way. Build a portal about the topic of that affiliate program and at least if that company tries to screw you, you can always try to find a company with a similar product. You at least have options. 
I guess that will do it for this week portal kids. Remember if this issue comes with some kind of weird attachment or a virus of some kind, I apologize in advance. I hate all this virus stuff!
A little off topic here, but has anyone ever stopped to think where these viruses come from. Is it really just a bunch of kids mis-behaving?
When I stop to think about who would all these viruses benefit there aren't a lot of good answers I can see? Who stands to gain the most from all these problems. Maybe the companies selling anti-virus software?
I'm the first to admit that I'm a little paranoid, but that doesn't mean they're not watching.
See Ya next week! 
Publisher -- Bob Massa

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