- Personal Finance
Dumb Ways to Make Money
Dumb Ways to Make Money Online
Money has no IQ. Your fortune doesn't need to attend college or hang out at the library in order to be spendable. You can be lucky and dumb, like Joe The Internet Millionaire. Certainly you can enroll in Rocket Science school to earn impeachable credentials, but either way you can get rich online.
There's an old saying in sports that also applies to money: they don't ask how, they just ask how many. Keep it legal and ethical, but don't worry about style points.
Many folks continue to demonstrate innovative techniques for earning online fortunes. Not every strategy earns Nobel Prize consideration, but dumb money spends just as well as internationally acclaimed prize money. No Mercedes dealer offers discounts to brainy customers or penalizes Internet fortunes earned using less than brilliant techniques.
It's OK to be smart. The world still needs baldness cures, mag-lev trains, and new Gatorade flavors, but we also need web sites that help Elmer's Glue collectors find each other.
Here are a few example of dumb ideas that pull in big money. Let your brain run wild.
Are All the Good Domain Names Taken?
Not every entrepreneur with a great idea for a web site has the imagination to contrive a memorable domain name. Many left-brained thinkers can dream up a wildly successful service or product, but when the time comes to match it with an appropriate "Dot Com" address, their neurons stop firing.
As hard as it may be to imagine, making up domain names can be a difficult task. Some experts assert that all the good names ending in ".com" may be already taken. Should your domain name fall back onto a lesser known suffix such as ".net", ".org", or ".ca"? This decision can cause many sleepless nights for would-be web millionaires. Some other experts, and a few of the previously mentioned experts, suggest that a poorly chosen domain name can cause a business to crash and burn.
Thankfully, the enterprising folks at pickydomains.com developed the concept of making up domain names for people.
That's it, that's all.
You give them money and a brief description of your business concept. They present you with a set of possible domain names, as concocted by their online group of experts. You get to pick. If you don't pick one, you get a refund.
Is this a dumb idea? Can't the average person on the street make up a domain name? Evidently not, because online millionaires flock to PickyDomains.com searching for naming assistance. It might not be nuclear physics, but it seems to work.
Can Monks Do It Better?
Running out of printer ink typically means a deep reach into the wallet. Office supply stores accumulate huge profits from immense mark-ups of these consumables. Everyone eventually uses up the free ink that came with their printer, at which point they are faced with a painful trip to the retail store or a long wait after an online order. Either channel has its' advantages.
The Laser Monks at LaserMonks.com (how much trouble did they have concocting that domain name?) have set up a profitable business supplying customers with printer ink. They started out refilling laser printer toner cartridges as a way to support themselves and their ministry.. They have since branched out into refill kits for many brands of inkjet printers and laser printers. They also understand that some customers prefer name-brand products while others are willing to take a flier on generic products. They offer both.
Their marketing hook might seem dumb to some, but it's probably no sillier than an entrepreneur who fancies himself as a janitor in order to sell Internet Affiliate marketing strategies.
Does the North Pole Have Internet Access?
Automating a visceral process hardly ever succeeds. Electronic greeting cards rarely carry the same level of emotion as a manually-addressed Hallmark Card from the local stationary store.
On the other hand, when your target audience still believes in Santa Claus, perhaps a niche does exist. It might seem like a dumb Christmas idea, but it has been proven to work at SantaMail.org. This site will generate and mail a personalized letter to a child, ostensibly from Santa Claus. Yes, it costs money. Economies of scale have shown that it doesn't have to cost very much in order to turn a decent profit.
Not all voluntary activity requires scientific evidence. This site survives as a result of faith. When the online world stops believing in Santa Claus, profits will cease. Dumb? It's certainly not a Nobel Prize winning concept, but it can be explained in about 13 words. Venture capitalists prefer single-sentence business plans.
We All Get Dressed Anyway, Might as Well Get Paid for It.
Very few segments of polite society condone running around shirtless. Shirt stores have built-in markets. Very few shirt wearers conceive of making a living from covering themselves. Most of us are simply satisfied when no one makes fun of our clothing (to our face), but the good folks at IWearYourShirt.com came with the dumb idea of selling advertising and then paying everyday humans to wear it.
When's the last time that Nike sent you a check for sporting their logo? They probably expect you to pay for the privilege of advertising their products. Shirts, socks, shoes, hoodies, and water bottles usually cost extra when they include a popular product emblem.
Dumb idea? Perhaps it is, but we wonder if there are a few highly paid executives on Madison Avenue who wish they'd thought of it first. At IWearYourShirt.com, they don't care.
A pixel, or picture element, represents one dot of color on your computer screen. A typical screen these days has almost a million pixels. A typical web page has even more because it scrolls up, down. left, and right.
An individual pixel has no value: it's so small as to be almost invisible to average human eyes. A burned-out pixel on a computer screen may or may not be noticeable, based on where it is and what is being displayed at the time. Many monitor manufacturers actually consider a few 'dead' pixels to be part of a functioning product and will not honor warranty claims until several or more pixels stop responding.
Anyway, all this computer science means precious little in the context of dumb ideas. The geniuses at MillionDollarHomepage.com were somehow able to sell the pixels on their homepage individually.
They marketed each dot one at a time. And it worked.
Would it work again? Perhaps you are the next Internet pixel-selling entrepreneur who will devise a simple and subtle twist on this scheme. Perhaps you will need to register the domain titled NextMillionDollarHomepage.com, or even contract with PickyDomains.com to come up with a new and exciting name for your concept. It could happen!
A Dumb Conclusion
Don't let your dumb ideas go to waste. Legend has it that Fred Smith, who founded Federal Express, was given a grade of "C" when he submitted his business plan to his economics professor. That prof lived comfortably within the tenure system but Mr. Smith developed his concept into a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Nurture your dumb ideas. Remember to:
- Describe your idea in one sentence or less,
- Keep the price down, and
- Appeal to a wide segment of online customers.