Monthly Archives: November 2014

Acquired a custom portrait painting business

18thI bought 18th.me, a humorous custom portrait painting business that fits your face into classical paintings. I bought it mostly because it’s cool, but it’s also a stepping stone to get my kick-ass, macho painting business idea off the ground.

I’m not yet sure how I’m going to market this. The product is visual, cool and unusual, so it should do well on social media. I have always been involved in “value” businesses where the selling point is pricing and convenience. I’m a bit out of my element. I recently read a very interesting guide to FB marketing. I’ll keep you updated to what I do.

Update: The Need/Want guys made a video about what’s happening to them and they discuss how and why they sold the site (Around the 11:00 mark). They reveal I got the site for quite a steal. Maybe  I should just flip the site quickly to some other buyer? I’m not sure I want to be in the painting business. Jon points out that the USP of the site is really unclear. It’s about hand-made real oil paintings but most people see it as a photoshop thing. I think I’ll change the main landing page to something much clearer.

Geeky hosting solution: Digitalocean

My prefered host right now is digitalocean.com (Use this link to get $25 of credit) . It’s insanely cheap (as low as $5/month no commitment) and you get SSD servers. You can easily launch pre made images for Magento, wordpress, LAMP stack, etc. Simpler than Amazon’s AWS. However It’s only for people who are comfortable using SSH to do the remote admin. For non-geeks I recommend Godaddy.

Business idea: Me riding a t-rex gun blazing

ronald_reagan_riding_a_velociraptor_by_sharpwriter-d55rsh7

Not a t-rex, not my face

A few months ago I was drinking beer with a friend discussing the idea of getting a custom oil painting made in Asia with my face in it to hang in my living room. There are great artist in Indonesia, Vietnam, etc, that will do great oil painting based on your pictures for ridiculously low sums of money. I thought I should try it once for myself, and then build a business making ironic or plain kick-ass painting based on people’s picture. He showed me this artist gallery featuring american presidents doing badass things: Riding dinosaurs, bears, etc. I was extremely interested in getting a painting done of me riding a t-rex gun blazing! Unfortunately I got busy with other stuff and never went thru with this idea. Did not make the painting or start the business. So please steal my idea and make it happen because the world needs more oil paintings of dinosaurs.

The business model

Select a dozen of cool or ironic paintings, make website explaining that you can get this painting with your face on it for $199. Total cost to produce would probably be around $30 for the artist, $20 for the shipping. This leaves about $150 of margin. I would hire painters using odesk, elance, etc.

How I would market this business

bill_clinton_the_lady_killer_by_sharpwriter-d5wx11hThis business has a big viral potential. People will want to share their cool t-rex-riding-gun-shooting painting on facebook, instagram, twitter, etc. I would start by offering surprise paintings to popular bloggers. Odds are they’ll be all too pleased to post about it on their blog. This should give a ton of free exposure and get some sales rolling. Once sales roll in I would make sure customers get a good quality picture of their painting with social sharing buttons to make it easy for them to broadcast their awesome painting.

Edit: turns out someone is doing something very similar!

Easy Offshore banking for the little guys

Offshore banking is usually an expensive and complex option that is reserved for the big shots with $500k+ annual income. The fees and the paperwork required make it a non-starter for the regular guys. A few months ago I discovered a very interesting Gibraltar based financial firm that provides  MasterCard debit card for individuals earning money in the USA and in Europe. You can use this card to withdraw money at any ATM or you can use it to pay for things anywhere that takes MasterCard . Even better, you can load the card by receiving payments from american and european firms using the US bank account number and european IBAN number they give you.

My review

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November 2014 goals

  • Start using VTiger, a free open source CRM software, to do Sales Force Automation for my graphic design studio. Specifically I want every email inquiries by potential customers to get tracked, produce a report of leads to sale conversion rate, then produce automatic email marketing for the dead leads.
  • Build an upsell package for my current customers of my graphic design studio. Have it integrated in a systematic sales process for each happy customer we get.
  • Write at least one interesting “How I do it” post on this blog