Category Archives: Blog

Pimp My Portal Part 6: Show Us Yer Bewbz

This series documents my adventures in ultra low-budget, grass roots marketing attempts to drive traffic to my game portal sites, with the hopes of breaking even at $33 a month. For other articles in the series, visit the Pimp My Portal special feature page.


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My first foray into buying five dollar video testimonials from Fiverr.com was with a Fiverrer named “elle2″. Here’s her Fiverr gig:

Hot college student

Shhh … you had me at “i’m a college student”

After watching another video of elle2′s, i thought her name was Carolyn Spencer, until i realized that someone had paid her five bucks to record a video saying “Hi, i’m Carolyn Spencer”, which the person then uploaded to Fiverr to promote his own gig. How meta!

My Will Be Done

Let me start off by saying that buying elle2′s gig was a filthy thrill. At the risk of sounding like much more of a gigantic letch on this blog than i actually am, i’ll admit i’ve got a thing for smoking hot brunettes who will do or say anything i ask them to in a video for five dollars. But i’m weird like that.

After watching elle2 in action, i wrote a quick script for her. i decided it would be a waste to not make reference to her obvious hotness, so i wrote the script as if she’s just a regular old girl on YouTube, who happens to be posting her videos during the zombie apocalypse. Naturally, she gets the requisite number of creepy comments from skeevy dudes (like me) that we’re all used to seeing on YouTube, so she decides to tell the guys in no uncertain terms what it’s gonna take to get into her good books. Let’s watch:


Empowering, don’t you think?

She’d Like to Thank the Academy?

Obviously, elle2′s not going to win any awards for her acting, and it’s blatantly obvious she’s reading a script. If i were actually directing her, i’d never let her punch “hold his OWN” like she does, and i’d smooth over some of the rough spots and pauses.

But she did this for FIVE BUCKS, people! As they say, you get what you pay for, and i think the value of having someone read your script (even poorly) and shoot a video (even with crummy sound quality) is worth as much or more than five bucks. i think she gets the jokes across well enough, and looks pleasant enough, to make this video a worthwhile venture. And it may be enough to entice the young male demographic to whom i think ZombieGameWorld most appeals. You may disagree! Let me know what you think in the Comments section.

Get Yer Tips Out

Incidentally, Fiverr shoppers racked with guilt from underpaying for their gigs can make amends by sending Fiverr people more money. Some Fiverrers set up “tip gigs” which enable you to tip them an additional five bucks as often as you like, for a job well done. i was so excited about elle2′s video (after all, she was my first), that i half-considered sending her a tip. In fact, she helpfully made the suggestion herself just after delivering the video.

Alas, elle2, as much as i wish you were talking directly to ME when you ask for a man with mad decapitation skillz, i also wish i could drain the remainder of the World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget on you. But no … that would entirely defeat the purpose of these articles. This is a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, elle2, and i WILL NOT fall prey to your siren song … your deep, throaty voice … your shiny lip gloss …

Gah! Tie me to the mast, men. We sail onward!

The Odyssey

… Sirens? … The Odyssey? Dammit people, read a book!

We Go Live

The next step was to create a ZombieGameWorld profile on YouTube, where this and all future ZGW videos will live. There’s surely an art to choosing the video title and tags, and surely i’m no artist, so here’s what i came up with:

title: Show Us Yer Bewbz!

description: http://www.zombiegameworld.com has over 200 zombie combat simulators so that you can bone up on your zombie-killing skills, instead of “boning up” on my videos.

Real men kill zombies.

tags: zombies zombie boobs bewbz tits free games undead zombiegameworld.com untold entertainment Flash portal

There’s probably a lot of value to having the correctly-spelled word “boobs” in the video title, and there’s really no telling how much traffic i’m missing out on by using the silly spelling. i hoped that by having “boobs” and its many variants listed as tags, i would capture the coveted perv demographic, but it’s difficult to know without a little A/B testing.

Chain of Fools

But here again, i run into the same problem i had back when i was trying to drive interest in our post apocalyptic adventure/puzzle game Spellirium: the site had no traffic, so i built WordGameWorld.com. THAT site had no traffic, so i built ZombieGameWorld.com.

And then THAT site had no traffic, so i paid five bucks for a video and put it on my brand new YouTube account, which – you guessed it – has no traffic. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. i don’t know why she swallowed the fly. i guess she’ll die.

Old Lady

Eat it, Granny.

CLEARLY, the only recourse i have is to build something else in order to drive traffic to the YouTube channel. Or, i could just chill out and hope that the advice upon which i’ve predicated this whole charade bears out: that search engines love video.

Hopefully, some pervy search engine spider will be crawling YouTube for bewbz, and will come across my first video.

Hopefully, you’ll watch the video on YouTube and click that little “like” button.

Hopefully, you’ll click one of the social media buttons or the Retweet gizmo at the bottom of the page to share this post with your friends.

And hopefully, you’ll mail a crisp twenty dollar bill to my house so that i don’t have to post a single other Pimp My Portal article.

But if you’re interested in seeing what my next five dollar bill wrought, by all means: hang on to your money, and read on. My Fiverr experiment is about to get batshit insane.

And that’s a promise.

Pimp My Portal

Pimp My Portal Part 5: The Sting

This series documents my adventures in ultra low-budget, grass roots marketing attempts to drive traffic to my game portal sites, with the hopes of breaking even at $33 a month. For other articles in the series, visit the Pimp My Portal special feature page.


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i love two things in this world: taglines, and deadpan humour. And … oh, and physically fit young ladies with no moral compass. They’re pretty good too. But taglines and deadpan humour, in lieu of such ladies, are pretty darn good.

Cam girl

Slogans and deadpan humour: no match for a narcissistic young woman with a webcam, but still in the running.

By taglines, i’m talking about the punchy slogans and sayings which (often punnily) augment a product name. Ferinstance:

Randall’s Ski and Snowboard Shop: This Time, It’s Seasonal

Galaxy Scoops: In Space, No One Can Hear Ice Cream

That type of thing. The tagline for Spellirium, our upcoming post-apocalyptic adventure/word puzzle game, is

Spellirium: It’s the End of the Word as We Know It

(i thought this one was downright clever, thank you kindly.)

i wrote a tagline for ZombieGameWord, too:

ZombieGameWorld.com. Check your braaaaaains at the door.

Hilarious. i could write these things all day. Seriously. Someone give me a job writing taglines all day, and i’ll die happy. (And early. Possibly from something i caught from a young lady with no moral compass).

Erm … i’m getting sidetracked here. What am i doing? Coming up with taglines for young ladies with no moral compass?

Young Ladies with No Moral Compass: Guess Ho’s Coming to Dinner

No – wait. We were talking about ZombieGameWorld, weren’t we? Alright. Steady on.

Gimme Five

So i love taglines and deadpan humour, and i decided to combine them BOTH in my plan for Internet domination, which involves buying video testimonials from people on Fiverr.com. Many of the Fiverrers will shoot a testimonial by reading your script, which struck me as awesome. Not only are they gonna say nice things about the site, but i’m going to tell them which nice things they’re gonna say? For five bucks?? Unbelievable! Talk about having no moral compass.

Some camera guy

“You know what i think is great? Genocide.”

Uh … Line?

i got to work writing scripts for the Fiverr folks willing to shoot testimonials. i tailored each script to that person’s unique – ahem – talents, in the hope that their acting chops would be decent enough to get a few good jokes out of them. (i was to be somewhat disappointed, as you’ll see in the next few articles)

The scripts i wrote were all dead-pan and straight-laced. A crucial part of the ZombieGameWorld brand is that it assumes the zombie apocalypse is either going to happen, or has already happened. It’s never a question of “if” the walking dead are going to infest polite society – only a question of “when”, and “how many bullets am i gonna need”?

Fat zombie

Protip: the bigger the zombie, the larger the ammo requirement.

So these scripts all involved the actors mundanely discussing how the world’s changed now that the zombie apocalypse is upon us. The trouble is that i had each person end by saying the site name and tagline, “ZombieGameWorld.com: Check your braaaaains at the door.” When the “actors” say this line, it kind of breaks the immersion that they’ve built up throughout the video. It’s like ending each video with “JUST KIDDING! JAZZ HANDS! AH CHA CHA CHA CHA CHAAAAAA! *WIIINK!* BA-DUM CHING!” It’s more than a little obnoxious.

Bobby Bittman

Bobby Bittman has no place advertising zombie game portals.

The Punchline

My remedy to this was to find a Fiverr.com voiceover artist to record the tagline, which i then appended to each video. My intent was that the “sanctity” or honesty of the deadpan bit would remain intact, while the sting at the end would sort of let the audience off the hook. They do this in on-air ad spots all the time. There’s probably a term for it, but i don’t really run in those circles so i don’t know what it’s called.

The guy i found to record the tagline is named Eric Saint John, who’s entirely too talented to be giving his voice away for next-to-nothing. i can only imagine he’s using Fiverr as a promotional tool to drive brand awareness (much like i am!) And i think it worked. Not only am i profiling Eric St. John in this post – i’d definitely consider using him again for a longer-form production.

Here’s Eric’s gig that i bought on Fiverr:

Eric Saint John Fiverr gig

PROTIP: These are not actually Eric’s lips. i hope.

And here’s a video of him in action on another person’s order (along with some tips for aspiring voice over actors):



Here’s what i asked him to do:

Eric Saint John Fiverr request

Eric did not deliver what i wanted, but he delivered exactly what i asked for! He did one take in the Dracula voice i was describing, which helped me to realize i wasn’t actually thinking of that voice. i still don’t know how to describe the voice in my head or where it came from. But Eric gave me exactly what i requested. He’s like a machine. It’s scary.

Here’s the boatload of takes he delivered for five bucks:

[display_podcast]

UPDATE: As fate would have it, i was queuing up old movie trailers to watch with my daughters, and when i hit the trailer for Little Monsters with Howie Mandel, i realized the trailer guy in THAT clip has the voice i was trying to describe to Eric:



Anyone know whose voice that guy’s doing? i’m a stickler for trivia.

The Final Cut

In the end, i decided to use Eric’s slightly radio-guy-esque second take. i fooled around with the ZombieGameWorld logo to give it a little more spunk, and grabbed a sound effect from my collection to tie it all together. This is what i ended up with:



Pretty decent for five bucks! And now i’ve got a good-looking, good-sounding tagline that i can add to all of the videos i order on Fiverr.com.

The Numbers

Now let’s take a look at how the marketing effort is going.

The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget

Original investment: $100

Spent:

  • ZombieGameWorld tagline voiceover – $5

Remaining: $95

Game Portal Balance Sheet

(includes ZombieGameWorld.com and WordGameWorld.com)

[TABLE=3]

Traffic

(period spanning March 1 2010 – February 22 2011)

WordGameWorld: 5604 Visits, 5.39 Pages/Visit, 3.00% Bounce Rate, 3:49 Avg. Time on Site
ZombieGameWorld: 3121 Visits, 3.85 Pages/Visit, 30.99% Bounce Rate, 5:17 Avg. Time on Site

Prepare Ye the Way

The ZombieGameWorld tagline isn’t meant to be a standalone piece, so i didn’t post it to many video sites – and therefore, i can’t report on whether or not it brought any traffic to the portals. In the next article, I’ll add the tagline to the end of a bona fide Fiverr testimonial and upload it live to the world, to see how the World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget stacks up against my earlier efforts.

Stick with me, for it involves bewbz. (Talk about young ladies with no moral compass.)

Pimp My Portal

Pimp My Portal Part 4: Fun with Fiverr

This series documents my adventures in ultra low-budget, grass roots marketing attempts to drive traffic to my game portal sites, with the hopes of breaking even at $33 a month. For other articles in the series, visit the Pimp My Portal special feature page.


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Five Dollars

Five dollars and a dream.

(Note to my international readers: Wikipedia informs me that that is a portrait of Sir Wilfred Laurier, our seventh Prime Minister – NOT a kookaburra.)

Most Places

What would you do for five dollars? My grandfather told me that when he was a little boy, five dollars would have bought a year’s supply of candy. In the Wild West, it would have bought a house. (Or a horse …? Grandpa had a speech impediment.) In the Wild West of the Internatz, five bucks spent most places will buy you a hardy handshake and a kick in the ass.

*Most* places.

Section Two: The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget

Then there’s Fiverr.com. This is one of those sites where, when you sign up, you must answer one simple question. On Twitter, it’s “What are you doing right now?” On Facebook, it’s “What’s your social insurance number and bank PIN?” On Fiverr, it’s “what would you do for five bucks?”

Here’s how it works: you sign up for Fiverr and post a “gig”. A gig fills in the blank in this statement:

I will ___________ for five dollars.

Fiverr.com

There are gigs ranging from people who will watch a movie and send you a review for five bucks, to people who will help you decide what to eat for dinner for five bucks, to people who will send you bendy straws in the shapes of shrimps for five bucks. Really. i didn’t make any of these up. Simply by telling you about Fiverr, i’ve lost you. i guarantee you’re going to spend the next 10-15 minutes or more looking through various gigs on the site and cackling like a hyena.

Go ahead. i’ll wait.

Are you back? Alright. Let’s continue.

Spending the Monays

As a buyer, when you order a gig on Fiverr, your money gets put in escrow with the site until the seller finishes the gig to your satisfaction. When the gig gets delivered, you can leave positive or negative feedback, much like on eBay. If you don’t like the result or the person is taking too long to complete your gig, there’s a resolution system that helps you get your money back. Fiverr pockets a dollar, and the seller pockets the remaining four.

Please keep that in mind as you read this next series of posts, friends: the seller makes four dollars for completing a gig.

Toonies

Fiverrers earn the equivalent of these two Canadian toonies. (that hairy fellow on the front is the Queen)

Where on Earth Am I Going to Get Five Dollars?

i had spent twenty dollars on ZombieGameWorld.com, and that master strategy had netted me five visitors. i could see a lot more value in Fiverr – especially in the people who would shoot a video testimonial for your site, from your script, and sometimes POST IT TO THEIR OWN YOUTUBE ACCOUNT. (i’m glad that’s the extent of it … i was about to go into underlined font there)

When i first saw Fiverr a few years ago, i had a good laugh like you just did, and then pretty much forgot about it like any other crazy thing i’ve seen on the Internatz, like cats that look like Hitler and erotic fiction featuring Roy Orbison wrapped in cling film. But Fiverr kinda stuck in the back of my mind, and i would visit it every half a year or so to see what was going on.

“I will make a video of myself punching my boyfriend in the face and saying whatever you want me to.”



Meanwhile, over in Mochiland, my two weekend game jam games Two By Two and Bloat. were raking in the bucks at the rate of an Antarctic fry cook at a seasonal luau. It took nearly 1.5 years for me to earn my first hundred dollars in MochiAds rev share, which i promptly blew on a cocaine-fueled celebration party that ran me $5000 into the red.

Cocaine Bear

It’s true.

A year and a half after that, the games had pulled in another cool hunny dollas, around the time i was thinking very hard about how to promote ZombieGameWorld.com without spending any actual money.

Mochi 100 dollars

Hmm. $100 in Mochimedia ad rev share isn’t real money. i wonder how many Meetup groups i could sponsor with that? Or …

… OR ….

Lightbulb

Somewhere in the back of my brain, it clicked. Fiverr.com. By my math, one hundred dollars would buy me no fewer than TWENTY Fiverr gigs. Video is all the rage with search engines, i’ve heard, and while i slowly work out a “real” video strategy for the site that’ll eat up a lot more of my precious time here on Earth, what’s the harm in dropping some fun-money to go fishing on Fiverr to see what i could get?

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

So that, friends, is exactly what i did. i scoured Fiverr for the craziest, most inventive, and most worth-WAY-more-than-five-bucks-even-if-it’s-terrible gigs i could discover. My original plan was to spend $70 on video testimonials and the remaining $30 on people who “guarnateed” xty thousand hits to my YouTube video. i figured i could pay someone on Fiverr to make the video, and then pay someone on Fiverr to promote the video.

As it turned out, it was so much fun buying video gigs that to date, i’ve spent $80 on video/audio stuff, and $5 on “other” (get excited for that one – it’s awesome). i have $15 remaining in my budget, but that might jump back up to $25 because two sellers are “Very Late” on their delivery – that’s the point at which Fiverr allows you to cancel a gig order if you’re tired of waiting.

What Are They Thinking??

What sort of quality do you get when you purchase gigs on Fiverr? Terrible quality, that’s what. You have to figure that anyone who’d shoot a whole video ranging anywhere from 15 seconds to two minutes (!!) for four dollars, isn’t going to put primo effort into it. Mostly, you get bored attention-seeking Americans with no sense of lighting, sound quality, timing, intonation, speed, diction, or the ability to deliver content sincerely without blatantly obviously reading a script propped up next to their webcams. When they flub a line, they leave it in. When they hit a word they don’t know, they guess at the pronunciation, and often, the video you get is their first attempt at going through the material. And very occasionally, you get some real kooks.

Crackers

Yes – crackers.

On the flip side, it’s five bucks. And it’s to promote a zombie video game site. i can’t imagine a more perfect pairing than shoddy free-to-play zombie Flash games built by 14-year-olds, and dull Yanks with no acting talent woodenly reading zombie scripts from their computer monitors. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Is This Making Anyone Else Uncomfortable?

There’s also a strangely seedy underbelly to Fiverr.com. Here are people who, for five bucks, will shoot an obviously phony but glowing testimonial on any skeevy product or service that foots the bill. i’ve looked up sample videos for the people hosting testimonial gigs, and i’ve found them saying stuff like

i’ve tried other diet pills before, but they all made me vomit cheese curds out my nostrils. THIS diet pill helped me drop 95 pounds in a week, and i’ve never felt better!

and

other SAT prep courses made me flunk out of high school and get thrown in prison. But with THIS prep course, not only did i pass with flying colours, but i scored FOUR scholarships to YALE! Thanks, ABC Prep Course. *WINK*

What … what sort of person does that? For four dollars? i know a lot of people were hit hard by the recent recession, but come on. Letting someone put his man-stick into your lady-crevice has to be less degrading than this, right? And at least when you’re done, the act isn’t broadcast to an International audience. (Unless he’s into that, and pays extra.)

(… but not four dollars extra.)

Sketch Comedy

The other kind of grody thing on Fiverr are sellers who make videos using their very young children. i’m not sure how i feel about that. i have young kids of my own, and i don’t know that it’s fair for me to pimp them out to … well, i was gonna say “the highest bidder”, but it’s not even the highest bidder, is it? It’s the FOUR DOLLAR bidder. i dunno. That said, i WOULD use my daughters to pimp out ZombieGameWorld, cuz that’s just family bidness.

So what you get are odd people oddly taping testimonials for odd reasons, and earning an odd amount of money at it. But it’s not all odd. They are few and far between, but there are some absolutely top-notch hilarious pieces of content that have come out of my Fiverr experiment.

And So Our Course is Set

For this next run of articles, i am going to discuss the Fiverr gigs that i purchased with Mochi’s $100 in funnymunny. i’ll show you what i asked the sellers to do, what i got in return, and how i tried to hammer that into a usable piece of content to promote my game portal – the idea behind it being that search loves video.

Missouri

(and Missouri loves company)

These upcoming articles will feature bikinis, puppets, kids, rednecks, beefcake models, and the most bizarre assortment of oddballs five dollars will buy. By the time we’re through, if you haven’t spent your own five bucks on Fiverr just to see what’ll happen, you clearly don’t understand the value of a dollar.

For real: this Fiverr experiment is the most fun i’ve had on the Internet since i discovered decorative needlepoint porn. The day i began this experiment, i was grinning from ear to ear, and couldn’t WAIT to bore my friends with the details. Five dollars can’t buy much in this day and age. It certainly can’t buy a horse (or a house?), but it CAN buy a person dressed up as a horse, freestyle rapping about your website that features cats with Hitler moustaches.

And there’s something so right about that.

Pimp My Portal

Pimp My Portal Part 3: Reach Out and Tweet Someone

This series documents my adventures in ultra low-budget, grass roots marketing attempts to drive traffic to my game portal sites, with the hopes of breaking even at $33 a month. For other articles in the series, visit the Pimp My Portal special feature page.


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While i’m not an angry man, i do think that all people who call themselves “SEO Experts” or “Social Media Gurus” should be thrown down a deep hole with itchy things at the bottom. One of the fatal flaws in my plan that one of these so-called experts might be quick to point out is that a site needs integrated social media hooks , and that it needs to move through the Customer Engagement Cycle in order to stop talking now or you’re going in the itchy hole.
Wordpress, the blog platform on which my game portals are built, makes it very easy to add all kinds of social media widgets and doo-dads, thanks to its robust plugin support. The advantage of choosing a platform as popular as WordPress is that developers are constantly writing new add-ons for it, and often give them away for free.

Free Deer

That’s “free”, as in “free deer”

WordGameWorld.com and ZombieGameWorld.com both have a number of plugins that aim to increase retention/stickiness (the qualities of a site that keep people there, and keep them coming back) and engagement (the ability of visitors to have their say and to impact on the site). The sites have 5-star (or skull) ratings systems for all the games, a comments system beneath each game, a social media bar that enables visitors to talk mention the games through their favourite social media sites (Digg, Sphinn, Delicious, Facebook, Mixx, Google Bookmarks and Blogplay). ZombieGameWorld.com has a Facebook “Like” button and a “Who’s Online” widget on its front page.

Ratings

Skulls looked cooler and read better at 10x10px than brains did.

Of course, none of these toys are of any use if no one’s on the site. (Also, what the Hell is a “Sphinn”?)

Both portals have similar cross-promotional/social media hooks: they both have a Twitter account (@wordgameworld with 6 followers and @zombiegameworld with 83 followers respectively). Both sites have a Facebook fan page as well (WordGameWorld on Facebook with 10 Likes and ZombieGameWorld.com on Facebook at 13 Likes) Whenever a new game is added to either site, a message like this appears on the portal’s Twitter and Facebook accounts:

ZombieGameWorld tweet

The ZombieGameWorld site itself has a Flash Twitter flipper that displays the most recent Tweets. They’re delivered by a bluebird-assisted zombie named Formerly Earl Peterson, who acts as the site’s spokeszombie and an ambassador from the community of the living dead:

ZombieGameWorld Twitter flipper

Formerly Earl Peterson: perpetually floating at the top of ZombieGameWorld.com so you don’t have to.

FUN LINK: Learn how you can build a Flash Twitter widget for your own failed website!

Twechniques

ZombieGameWorld has many more Twitter followers, because i tried to exploit accounts with auto follow-back scripts. i searched Twitter for users with “zombie” or “undead” in their usernames, or who had mentioned zombies or had and apparent interest in them, and followed them. Admittedly, i felt a smidge skeevy doing this, but the tactic was a moderate success, as it increased followers of the account.

“Engagement”, however, is non-existent when you use this technique. i asked the @zombieGameWorld Twitter followers a question last week, and no one responded. This suggests one or more of the following:

  1. Followers don’t care about ZombieGameWorld
  2. Followers aren’t very active on Twitter
  3. Followers are all spammy robots

The other Twitter technique i used was to sign up for Google Alerts for the terms “zombie” and “undead”. Google will email you whenever it crawls a new web site with your desired keywords in it. As a result, you wind up with a lot of late-breaking zombie news that may be of interest to zombie fans, like who’s been cast to star in the upcoming film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The plan was to tweet the most interesting zombie news every day, to give Twitter users more incentive to follow the account. Unfortunately, when i tried to outsource this task to both my wife and one of my interns, it was like pulling teeth to get them to do it. Now my wife and my intern have no teeth, and i have no zombie news updates. I think it’s a great idea in theory, and it really doesn’t take very long to do, but it’s difficult for me to convince people to do it.

Pyramids

Uh … yeah. So could you just put that new pyramid over there? Ssssuper.

Manuel Labour

My friend Mani Saint-Victor, who had suggested my earlier Quora question-answering strategy, offered me another suggestion that was very interesting: he said that once every week, i should try to kickstart one of those Twitter hash tag games that people seem to enjoy.

Twitter Hash Tag Game

The idea is that someone starts out with usually a jokey concept and adds the hash (#) symbol to it to unite a group of tweets under one banner, making it easier to search Twitter by hash tag to see all of the results. Then that person’s followers riff on the idea. The hash tag spreads to that user’s followers, and to their followers, and to their followers, like hilarious and consequence-free AIDS.

i first started to believe the idea might have legs last Christmas, when one of the people i followed chimed in on the hash tag #sadChristmasSongs. People were tweeting stuff like “Do You Fear What I Fear?” and “Angels We Have Heard Are High”. The best one i could come up with was (Jesus forgive me) “I Saw Mommy Fisting Santa Claus”. Of course, i was reluctant to post that using my Untold Entertainment account – this is a site of utmost moral integrity (AIDS jokes notwithstanding). I figured it might be alright to tweet it from the @zombiegameworld account. And so i did.

And what happened? Why, it looks like there was a modest but noticeable traffic spike that day:

I Saw Mommy Fisting Santa Claus

Apparently it’s not how Santa squeezes into that tiny chimney that people are interested in…

Notice how i’m using the Google Analytics annotation feature to mark spikes and lulls – it’s very useful when you’re looking back through your traffic history.

The Game Is Afoot

The first Twitter game i started from the @zombiegameworld account was a huge success. i went with #zombiesWithJobs. Some examples:

  • Air Traffic Controller Zombie: “plaaaaaaaanes!” #zombiesWithJobs
  • Road Crew Zombie: “water maaaaaaaains!” #zombiesWithJobs
  • Investment Banker Zombie: “capital gaaaaaaaaaains!” #zombiesWithJobs

The Twitterverse seemed to like it, because it was relatively amusing and very simple to jump in. You didn’t need to be a comic genius to rhyme something with “brains”. There were maybe thirty-odd Twitterers who picked up the thread (i haven’t been keeping tight records of my results, but i’m going to start). Here’s how it affected my traffic:

Zombies With Jobs

The #zombiesWithJobs stunt boosted my flagging traffic to a ZombieGameWorld.com all-time daily high of 102 visitors, before traffic completely tanked over Christmas. People were too busy fisting Santa Claus to play zombie games, i suppose. (That, or the site needs a better retention strategy. But that’s not as fun as the fisting explanation. “Ho ho hOOOHHH!”)

#beatingADeadHorse

Later Twitter games proved less successful. i tried #movieRemakesForKids:

  • Dude Where’s My Bigwheel #movieRemakesForKids
  • S-E-X in the City #movieRemakesForKids
  • Before the Devil Knows You’re On a Farm with Other Doggies #movieRemakesForKids

i tried the ill-advised #mexicanMovies:

  • Last Xango in Paris #mexicanMovies
  • Look Who’s Taco-ing #mexicanMovies
  • Star Juarez #mexicanMovies (that was the best one, and i didn’t even come up with it)

As i wrote this article, i tried to get something going with the less hammy #coverSongsThatAreBetterThanTheOriginals, and #shakespeareMovies:

  • Dude, Whither Mine Carriage? #shakespeareMovies
  • The Bee Movie or Not The Bee Movie #shakespeareMovies
  • Dr. Nay #shakespeareMovies

Both have gone nowhere.

Zombies With Jobs

Chirp. Chirp.

There Goes the Science

It’s very difficult to collect empirical data on this strategy, because there are too many variables. Was #zombiesWithJobs more successful because it came from a zombie-related account and was about zombies? Or was it just easy and amusing enough? Maybe the time of day or day of the week factored into its popularity? Maybe by the time i tried kick-starting my fourth hash tag, all of my followers were tired of me and didn’t want to participate? Maybe the content of the last three was just too lame to catch anyone’s interest? It’s hard to say for sure.

Sid the Science Kid

You’ve failed me, Sid the Science Kid. Take a hike.

One thing is for certain, though: any website that causes you to break out the champagne when it hits 102 visitors is NOT earning enough money to pay for that champagne.

This article brings you up to speed on the grass roots effort i’ve put forth to drive more traffic to my game portals, before i decided to pony up a little cash to see what i could scare up. The next series of articles will focus on my attempts to spin straw into gold – or, rather, to turn the World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget of $100 into a landslide of traffic for the site. Come on back!

Pimp My Portal

Pimp My Portal Part 2: Rotten to the Quora

This series documents my adventures in ultra low-budget, grass roots marketing attempts to drive traffic to my game portal sites, with the hopes of breaking even at $33 a month. For other articles in the series, visit the Pimp My Portal special feature page.


•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•

If you want to promote something on the cheap, you gotta get crafty.

i had launched two game portals seven months apart, and was hard at work on a third – or, rather, one of my interns was. i was actually reclining in my chair with my feet propped up on his back as he slavishly added games one-by-one to the site. The first portal, WordGameWorld.com, was averaging about 10-15 visitors a day, with most visitors reaching the site using the search query “free Flash word games oops i meant porn”.

Pictures of naked ladies playing word games

Mmm … I’m feeling lucky?

The story over at the second portal, ZombieGameWorld.com, was even more bleak. Despite there being a wealth of zombie games and a much keener interest from the development community (at least five new zombie Flash games are released every week), the site was lurching along at a very zombie-like pace, drawing about half the traffic of WordGameWorld.com:

ZombieGameWorld traffic

Shoot it! Shoot it in the head!

My Internatz pal Manuel Saint Victor (@marveloper), who carefully studies emerging social media sites, gave me a few suggestions on potentially boosting my traffic.

From where Mani stands, by the time a site is as popular as Facebook, it takes money to get noticed. Perhaps a better strategy is to catch the wave before it crests, by using social media tools before they blow up. Naturally, this takes a fair amount of predictive reasoning and dice-rolling … trails that Mani has blazed before me, so i happily decided to try to profit from his pioneering.

Section One: Handy Mani

Quora

Truly questions for the ages.

Mani’s first idea was to create a profile on the website Quora.com. Quora is almost exactly like Yahoo Answers, except it’s slower to load, it has a few more social media gimmicks, and the members seems a little more “with it” than Yahoo’s soccer moms and Ku Klux Klan members. Mani suggested that i position myself as an expert on zombie culture by answering Quora members’ zombie-related questions. Presumably, the Quora members will be so impressed by my dissertations on undead lore that they’ll click my profile link to find out who i am, increasing traffic to the portal. That, or search engine spiders will crawl Quora and mark up ZombieGameWorld.com‘s page ranking because a “respectable” site links there.

i answered a number of questions on Quora in character as Formerly Earl Peterson, ZombieGameWorld.com’s spokeszombie (who can be seen in the Twitter flipper at the top of the site):

Formerly Earl Peterson

Formerly Early Peterson, tweetin’ it up

This all seemed like a fine strategy, but there’s one flaw: much like Wikipedia, Quora appears to be policed by Nazi-like admins. And by “Nazi-like”, i’m not necessarily implying that they kill Jews, but i returned to Quora to write this article only to find that all of my answers had been collapsed – hidden within some sort of “click to view answer” JSON voodoo. A message from one of the Quora gestapo explained why:

Hello,

One of the rules of Quora is that everyone uses his or her real full name. Do you mind changing your name to reflect that?

If this is a mistake and you are already using your real name, just reply to this message letting us know that.

You can change your name here:
Edit Profile Name

And you can find more details here:
Do I have to use my real name on Quora? Can businesses or organizations have a user account?

Thanks!

Hmm. i’d be hard-pressed to convince them that “Formerly” was my given name. i had already created both an Untold Entertainment account and a Word Game World account (ghost written using the pseudonym “Anna Graham” … ME SO CLEVER!!). i replied politely and honestly, so as not to incite the admin’s nerd rage:

Hi, Admin. i was hoping that i could answer in character as Formerly Earl Peterson, spokeszombie. It’s not unlike the Dame Edna idea – i’m trying to create a rich, interesting character, rather than just breaking Quora rules by answering questions as “John Fakename” or whatever. i’m using my full, real name (Ryan Henson Creighton) on my UntoldEnt account.

I’ll update this post later to let you know how the controversy plays out. In all likelihood i’m not allowed to have multiple accounts either, and this blog article has just alerted the Quora police to my additional rule-breaking. Can i please hide in your attic?

In case the Quora admins delete my accounts before and erase my efforts from existence, here’s a sample question and answer that i wrote as Formerly Earl Peterson:

Q: Which city in the United States is most suitable for the post-apocalypse?

A: As a zombie myself, I can tell you that we prefer places with wide-open countryside, without a lot of roots to trip over or stairs to climb. When I catch zombie pals of mine discussing the next best place to apocalypize, I always suggest Saskatchewan.

- Formerly Earl Peterson

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan: despite the low population count, it’s a bona fide zombie paradise.

note: Signing your name to an answer is also against Quora policy. And i ultimately suggested a Canadian town rather than an American one, thereby failing to adequately answer the question. What have we learned from all this? When it comes to Quora, i am a bona fide rule-breaking rebel BADASS.

Rebel

Me, on Quora.

Reaping What i Sowed

Let’s take a look at the traffic bounty that Quora brought in:

Quora results

The two week span from January 1 (when i first posted my Quora answers) to January 17 comprises the sum total of Quora traffic. It completely drops off from there. i’m not sure when the admins gimped my account, and how that affected traffic.

As you can see, there was a 40% bounce rate, which means that 2 people hit the site and left almost immediately. The remaining 3 people hung around and hit a couple of pages, but only stayed on the site for three minutes, so they likely didn’t play any games. My linked Adsense data tells me they didn’t click on any ads either.

Again, these numbers are so tiny that it’s not a good idea to draw too many conclusions. The only thing i can guess is that 5 people who are interested enough in zombies to post or read a zombie question on Quora, were curious enough about my site to click on the link. But when they got to the site, the content didn’t grip them.

And if there’s one thing i know about zombies, it’s that they gotta grip people if they want to be successful. At eating brains.

What Else You Got?

The next article in the series covers another of Mani’s ideas. I’m warning you ahead of time, dear readers, that Santa Claus himself may get severely injured (and/or pleasured) in that one, so try not to read it out loud to your kids.

Pimp My Portal