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    The day I nearly gave up.

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    Harvey Segal
    Site Admin

    Joined: 23 Mar 2004
    Posts: 3150

    PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 11:00 pm    Post subject: The day I nearly gave up. Reply with quote


    Issue 136: May 13, 2007
    Harvey Segal, Editor

    Hello SuperTips readers,

    The day I nearly gave up.

    A Sunday night in October 2005.

    TRUE story.

    With some useful tips thrown in.

    It was the culmination of the tedious job which I had to
    perform every Sunday to meet the midnight deadline.

    It was having to post up the paid ads supplied by
    advertisers at my forum.

    If you have been to the ClickBank Success Forum

    you will have seen the ads posted around the borders -
    the Gold and Silver ads on the right , the Featured ads
    at top and bottom.

    By itself that was a fiddly job involving the insertion
    of the ad components in the forum code.

    But it was the administration involved in getting to
    that point every week which proved the breaking point.

    Maintaining a schedule of available ad slots, reminding
    advertisers that payment was due, deciding whether to
    cancel if payment had not been sent and another person
    was ready with their ad, sorting out wrong payment
    amounts, handling cancellations, obliging an advertiser
    by changing his ad halfway through .. and so on.

    And on a separate negative note ...

    Because of the overhead in posting a single ad it was
    impractical to allow new ads every day so I made ad
    slots of 1 week and 2 weeks duration going live each
    Sunday midnight. But this meant that I had to refuse
    customers ready to start an ad in mid week, leaving
    vacant gaps in the slots and loss of income.

    On that fateful Sunday I emailed my partner Adrian Ling
    co-owner at the forum and said "That's it, I've had
    enough. You are welcome to take over the ads yourself
    and keep all the profit".

    "Hold on" Adrian replied "I have an idea. We'll get a
    program to do all this for us.".

    "Crazy, I can't see how this can possibly work" I
    countered "How can a program handle the scheduling,
    booking, payments, ad posting and so on ?"

    I pulled rank and overruled him.


    The next day we began work on the program specification.


    When we had finished the specification we searched
    around for a programming outfit at the various
    outsourcing sites (Rentacoder, Scriptlance etc) but
    unfortunately made a bad choice.

    The system we required was a very complex one to code
    and the programmers were not capable of handling it.

    The work went on for 5 months. At times we seemed to be
    going backwards as features which worked before now no
    longer worked. Until finally - they gave up. They quit
    saying "We can't do it. Sorry - no need to pay us

    Disillusioned by the effort we had put in we lost our
    motivation and the project lapsed for about 6 months
    while we looked for a suitable programming team.

    We did find one and finally after many months work we
    completed the project and installed the system at our

    Then came the moment which I rank the same as when I
    made my first ever sale on the Internet.

    A Paypal sale notification arrived together with an
    email from the system saying that an ad had been booked,
    with all the details enclosed.

    What made this really memorable was that I then sat
    thinking - don't I need to do something now ? Shouldn't
    I be making a note in my paper files or updating a
    spreadsheet, or sending out an email ?

    But no. There was nothing more I had to do. The system
    was working on automation as planned.

    It would post that ad on the required day and remove it
    when its time was up. It would even let the advertiser
    make changes to it.

    And then came another great find.

    Our advertising income rocketed. From approximately $300
    per month to exactly $966 in the first full month

    I say 'approximately' because I would have to burrow
    through a stack of spreadsheets on the old manual system
    to calculate an average figure.

    I say 'exactly' because the system gives me the exact
    figures for each month along with other useful stats
    such as the split between Gold, Silver and Featured ads,
    the percentage of occupied slots, and the grand total

    The reason for such an increase ?

    It was because advertisers could now see the
    availability of ad slots at a glance, they could fill
    gaps with short duration ads such as 1 or 2 days, and
    they could do this all online without the need to
    correspond with us.

    And so with renewed enthusiasm we started the next stage
    of development. The program had been built specifically
    for our own forum but now we wanted to generalise it so
    that it could be used by other phpBB forum owners. In
    particular we wanted to include all the feedback from
    our advertisers and our own wish list which we built up
    while administering the system.

    Finally we launched Forum AdManager - details coming up
    but first here are the tips I promised you

    1. If you see a need for automating a particular task
    that you manually perform in your own work then others
    may have the same need. Consider getting software
    developed to provide a solution.

    The fact that it fulfils a real practical need,
    something that you can demonstrate that you personally
    use as opposed to an idea on paper, will enhance its
    success rate.

    2. When you outsource work to a software development
    team insist on regular status reports and agree in
    advance any compensation due to failure in meeting

    3. When testing the program I often needed to take two
    roles - one as the Admin and one as an Advertiser -
    which required two Windows on my PC. I found this task
    immeasurably simplified by using a dual monitor system
    which I mentioned in Issue 131 of this newsletter. See
    the Archives

    4. When actually using a new system you think of
    enhancements that you can never envisage when composing
    a specification on paper. So include in your plans the
    need for a future revision of your program before it
    launches, to include your 'wish' list.

    Forum AdManager was finally completed in April 2007.
    As we started in Oct 2005 I could claim it took three
    years to develop couldn't I ?

    However I don't need to hype it up.

    Just tell it straight ...


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