Tag Archives: Pimp My Portal

5 Steps to Organically Growing Your Games Portal

This guest post is by Ola Rogula of Doll Divine Dress Up Games, who i met a few years back at the Casual Connect games conference. A lot has been written about the so-called “big” successes in the games industry; certain titles and developers get the lion’s share of the press, the fame, and the love. But meeting Ola and others like her has taught me an extremely valuable lesson: that even while flying under the radar with a product that many people have never heard of (or would even care about), you can still lock into a niche audience and provide a high quality, valuable product or service to them … and make bank.

Sit back, and let Ola showya how it’s done. (Text by Ola, pictures by Ryan)

There are, of course, multiple ways to grow a successful Flash games portal. However, I’m pretty proud to say that I grew mine with a $0 advertising budget and no link building. The site grew entirely from organic referrals. Links and ad campaigns are great too, but if you want to know how to give your portal the ability to grow itself organically, here are the things that worked for me:

1. Mind-Blowingly Good Content

I hate to say this, but if you can’t make games yourself and you don’t have thousands to play with, you face quite an uphill battle. Great games are hard to come by and they are going to be both the biggest source of free advertising for you, and the biggest reason for people to come back to your site.

If you have a lot of money, you can make aggressive bids on games. This is the most straight forward way to fill your site with quality content. Of course, you’re paying the developer to place your link and logo into the game, so that word of your site spreads with the game. Flash Game License is the logical place to start, although I personally have had more luck with seeking out amateur developers through deviantArt. The biggest downfall of this strategy is that you’re always at the mercy of other people. I could never operate my site fully this way because I haven’t been able to find enough good developers to hire for my needs.

Thank you for joining us today for the Consortium of Developers who are Worth a Damn. Please fill in all the rows.

Alternately, you can be dirt poor as long as you know how to draw and program. Being able to create your own quality content is, in my opinion, the best way to make a splash. Of course, it’s also implied that you don’t just do these things; you’re good at them.

There is also an elegant middle road solution. If you have some money to work with, and are a good programmer, it is very cost effective to hire out for artwork. There is literally a world of amazing artists out there who would love to get paid for their drawings. If you are an artist who needs a programmer, the situation is a bit trickier, and usually more expensive. I recommend biting the bullet and learning to code in Flash yourself.

Do not heed words spoken with plastic lips. – Confucius

I must stress that this is the most important point by a long shot. I grew my site almost entirely on my in-game links and word-of-mouth; both products of quality content creation.

2. Dabble

I have come to accept that it is impossible to predict what will be a “hit”. The only thing you can do is try, take notes, and try again. I can very much attest to what my friend, Andy Moore, calls the “1 in 10 rule”, asserting that about one in ten games is a hit. A lot of the rules he mentions for getting a game sponsored apply just as well for creating games for your own portal. Some will spread like wildfire across other sites, while others are left to rot.

Andy Moore: always a hit.

For example, I was very disappointed when my Vampire Maker was a total flop, despite having been successfully timed with Twilight! The Kitten Maker, however, took girl gaming sites by storm. Before these, I had attempted two adventure games which got an even worse reception. In these cases, the amount of time spent on development had no correlation to success. You have to be prepared to put out multiple projects, and you have to be prepared for most to flop. However, this is a beautiful time of self-discovery… It’s the time when you and the world flirt to figure out exactly how you best fit together and what type of projects you should be putting out.

(Vampire Maker may be missing the ability to chew the living foetus out of a labouring mother’s stomach with your fangs? You know – for Twilight fans. Just sayin’. – ed.)

3. Create a Brand

Once you complete #1 and #2 and create a game that has spread to other sites, people will click on your logo to get more of the same. What is “the same” in your case? What do you offer? Based on which of your games resonated best, you need to decide on an adjective and a noun. Are your games funny? Very polished? Imaginative? Accessible to the visually impaired? You have to pick an angle and promise to continually deliver it to users. What are you making? Political satires? Intriguing puzzles? Tower Defense games? Match your adjective with your skills and your noun with your interests. In my case it is: intricate, fantasy doll makers because I love fantasy and pay intense attention to detail. If your interests lie in an already expansive genre, you’d better have a good adjective to go along with it. Of course, you can span multiple genres and wield multiple adjectives, as long there’s a united theme.

Is “shitty” a viable descriptor?

Create your site around this theme. Choose the name and colours accordingly. Contrary to popular belief, the site doesn’t have to be fancy or complex. A lot of people lose money on site design early on which is silly. All you need is a banner, thumbnails, and pages for the games. Anyone can make this happen, especially with the amount of templates online. Orisinal.com is a great example of a simple yet effective layout. The #1 need of users is to find what they’re looking for quickly. Cater to that first.

Quite appalling, in my opinion, are the free scripts that abound which auto-fill your site with games from external sources. How exactly is using a script found all over the internet that fills your site with games that everyone else is posting supposed to give you an edge over the competition? After reading this article, are you itching to get back to playing games on that awesome auto-filled site you love? No? Think about that.

We’re using a purchased WordPress theme the includes one of those scripts, because website design and coding are not Untold’s strong suits. We’re not using that script to automatically siphon games, but have instead been selecting and inputting each game by hand. The problem is that the the theme we purchased was poorly built, and it opens multiple unnecessary connections to our database. The end result is that when a small handful of people visit our portals, our server traffic and memory usage go bananas. This fact alone (and my inability to fix it myself) is the reason why i haven’t worked more diligently to grow traffic on Untold’s games portals. Caveat emptor. -ed.

4. Be Nice to Your Search Engine

(At the time of writing, “search engine” is synonymous with “Google”) The main advice usually given for optimizing Flash websites is: stop using Flash. This, of course, is useless advice for running a Flash games portal, although you should certainly avoid using a Flash-based navigation system. Google can’t see or play your game so it is your job to translate its greatness to the bots. Yes, Google can now crawl the text inside files, but how are the words “Next”, “Play” and “Jump!” supposed to emulate your top-notch graphics?

As for any site, first complete all your basic SEO. Use descriptive text, not just images, when linking within the site. Use a descriptive, yet to-the-point, meta title that includes two good key phrases. Write a robust meta description. Name your pages with descriptive file names so the URL is people-friendly. And finally, find a way to include a large chunk of appropriate text on the page. Describe your game.. the creation process.. the inspiration. Include a set of instructions. You have to put into text what Google cannot see.

Allowing fans to leave comments is a double-edged sword. Users can be an SEO godsend, filling the site with golden keywords and extensive commentary. They can also be a source of unprofessionalism and negativity. You must analyze your demographic and decide if they’d hate or relish the babble of other users. I took the unique approach of only allowing paid members to leave comments. This hasn’t removed unprofessionalism nor negativity, but it has completely removed all external advertising. It seems even as little as $1 per month is enough to detract spammers. It has also kept the community much smaller and respectful of each other.

This moment of clarity courtesy of xkcd

5. Monetize That S***

Or rather, don’t over-monetize that s***. I know it can be tempting. Flash portals make very little money per user. Mine pulls in about one cent per user per month. When attempts to expand aren’t working, it’s tempting to shift to maximizing profits from the existing users. Over-monetizing the site can drive users away, further lowering revenues. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why increasing income through something that decreases traffic is the beginning of the end.

Flash portals make their money mainly through advertisements around the site and in-game ads. Flash developers can make a lot of short-term cash by putting their games up for bid, but you’d better kiss that avenue goodbye if you want to grow your own portal.

Website ads must be placed with taste. I recommend no more than one ad unit above the fold on the main page. The Google algorithm agrees. You care about the games first and the money is just a nice bonus, right? Hopefully this is true, but even if it’s not, it’s how you want your site to look. Placing an ad unit above or beside your logo exposes where your priorities lie. You want to make sure that all the things on your site that the user might find interesting are clearly visible, and the ad is just a last case scenario for their clicking pleasure.

But Ola – how am i going to earn a steady seventy-three cents a month without placing ads absolutely everywhere? -ed.

People have grown accustomed to one preloader ad and will generally sit through it. However, if you’re just starting out, you need every edge over the competition and sparing the users the annoyance of video ads is a commendable one. The big advantage of in-game ads is that they spread along with your game as/if it goes viral. But again, even on other sites, I recommend giving your games the ad-less advantage. A static, silent, in-game ad that is visible during the true duration of the loading is acceptable (many ads simulate a loading bar which makes the user wait even after the game has loaded). And don’t even think about layering multiple loader ads over each other. It’s a lovingly hand-crafted creation, not an onion.

Untold Entertainment Goes Forth


Untold Entertainment Goes Forth

When Untold Entertainment Inc. turned three last year, we were reeling from the fallout of the global economic collapse. It’s been a slow, difficult recovery, and we still have a lot of work left to do, but i’m happy to say we’ve nosed out of the tailspin. This was a landmark year for Untold; we are poised to have an absolutely incredible fifth year going forward. If last year was our Empire, this year is our Jedi. Bring on the Ewoks, baby.

Ewok

Yub nub, motherf*cker.

Here’s a look at the Year That Was.

2010

August

Last fiscal ended on a dark note. We were struggling through Spellirium, our post-apocalyptic puzzle adventure game, as various production problems saw the budget sapped with very little to show for our efforts. The year ahead had us planning to complete service projects in the hope that we’d bank enough margin to continue working on the game.


Spellirium

September

My book was published! Unity 3D Game Development by Example: A Beginner’s Guide is a great introduction to game development, computer programming, and Unity 3D itself, which is a super-powerful game engine for creating on a wide variety of platforms. Thanks to you all for buying a copy, or for recommending the book to your friends.

Unity 3D Game Development By Example

Fall

We launched Jinx 3: Escape from Area Fitty-Two on YTV.com. Jinx 3 was the first game to use UGAGS, the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System. It supported multiple playable characters, an inventory system, a subtitle system, game variable control, and a “puppet” guidance system, which enables the developer to write commands to build in-game cutscenes. Jinx 3 was the first UGAGS game we developed, but the second one to launch, after Heads.

Jinx 3: Escape from Area Fitty-Two

i spoke about UGAGS at Gamercamp Level 2.0, a Toronto convention celebrating the joy of video games.

October saw the publication of a now-infamous article about the Vortex Game Development Competition, where the previous year’s winners were revealed to have never worked on the winning game.

i experimented with a feature called Linkbait Tuesdays, where i used the Linkbait Generator to spit out randomized titles for blog posts. It wasn’t much appreciated by my readership, and didn’t appreciably increase blog traffic, so i killed the feature.

On Hallowe’en, we launched our second free games portal called ZombieGameWorld.com. If you know the song about the old woman who swallowed the fly, you’ll understand our challenge with these portals. We built WordGameWorld.com in order to attract a word game-playing audience, so that we could control the site’s ad inventory and find an audience for Spellirium. When the site suffered from flagging traffic, i decided to build a network of game portals; ZombieGameWorld.com was ostensibly created to help drive traffic to WordGameWorld.com, which should drive traffic to Spellirium.

Old lady who swallowed a fly

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. i don’t know why she swallowed the fly. i guess she’ll die?

To round out the fall, i grew a beard to win hockey tickets, despite not enjoying hockey. i spoke at an interactiveontario luncheon. And i wrote an article for Mochiland.com on the disgraceful refusal by contracting companies to credit their Flash game developers.

Ryan Henson Creighton's epic moustache

Why wouldn’t you want your game to be associated with this guy?

Winter

As the cold weather set in, i took a position at a private college teaching Unity 3D game development. i had hoped for a better experience than i had at Hervé Velasquez School for the Digitally Inclined, but no such luck: halfway through the course, which was dubbed Programming II (the students had supposedly been taught Flash/Actionscript for four months prior to my arrival), i had to dial everything back and re-teach programming basics to them. And by basics, i mean stuff like “What does the ‘=’ symbol do?” and “What is a variable?”

name

What … is your NAME?

The class was only eight students, but i had no fewer than two of those students’ parents call or email me to ask why little Billy was getting low grades on tests. YaRly.

In this, i further proved the thesis in my contentious What’s Wrong with Ontario Colleges articles (Part 1 and Part 2). Helicopter parenting and failure aversion have created a generation of non-functional kids, which i later dubbed The Most Useless Generation. My diagnosis is that many college undergrads have escaped high school without ever understanding How to Be a Student (an article i wrote while teaching last winter, which i’ve only just posted now that i’ve put some distance between myself and the situation).

In the interest of helping young people be more successful, i offered My Prescription for (More) Successful Students, which my students all ignored, and i wrote a serious of articles called Understanding Programming to explain programming basics, which my students also ignored. Oh well. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but sometimes you just have a retarded horse.

retarded horse

2011

Spring

In 2011, we launched an exciting blog series called Pimp My Portal, detailing our struggles to drive traffic to ZombieGameWorld.com and WordGameWorld.com. The hook here was The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget, a pot of just $100 that i spent on Fiverr.com to buy testimonial videos to promote the site, the rationale being that search loves video. The Old Lady who Swallowed the Fly reared her ugly head again, as i found that i had no audience to watch the videos to go to the portal to go to the OTHER portal to find out about Spellirium. The Pimp My Portal series is ongoing.

Around this time, we were commissioned by The Centre for Skills Development and Training to produce a series of games to help teach workplace skills to 15-30-year-olds. The resulting game, Summer in Smallywood, enabled us to make a number of improvements to UGAGS, including auto-save, debug tools, navigation meshes, saved game profiles, and threaded conversations. We’re looking forward to working further with The Centre in the coming year to expand our educational gaming experience.

Summer in Smallywood by Untold Entertainment

In March, i admit i was feeling a little bit desperate and squirrely. Work was trickling into the shop in fits and starts, and i was really wondering whether renewing our lease would be wise. Wild-eyed and hungry at GDC, i was overcome with the need to let the world know i am here, like the tiny Whos living on a speck on a clover stalk, who ultimately issue a resounding YOPP! to show the jungle animals that they exist (and to keep from getting boiled in beezlenut oil).

Horton

A game dev’s a game dev, no matter how small.

To that end, i pulled some shenanigans at the conference, which came to be known as the famous GDC Coin Stunt. The resulting press on most major online games sites greased the wheels for what was to be our greatest victory yet.

i have all the coins shirt

Over the years, we’ve found it so difficult to drive enough steady Flash game development work that we haven’t been able to bank enough time or enough money to do our own thing. To date, the only chance we seem to get is TOJam, an annual weekend-long Toronto game jam, during which we always produce a complete and original game. Indeed, nearly every title in the Original Games section of our portfolio is a TOJam game, completed in one weekend by me alone.

This year, we used UGAGS to create Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure. i worked on the game with my 5-year-old daughter Cassandra. It was no accident that i was wearing my “I have all the coins” T-Shirt in the TOJam group photo this year. After the game went live, it went viral, initially being featured on many of the same sites that covered the coin stunt. In the few months since its launch, the ponycorns game has gone on to become an international sensation (i just granted an interview to a Japanese newspaper this week!).

Cassie and Daddy

[photo by Brendan Lynch]

With the ponycorns game, we took a very important step to improving our viability as a dev studio by launching the game on the Apple iPad and the BlackBerry Playbook. On the third day of its launch week, Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure was featured by Apple in its New & Noteworthy section.

Ponycorns also drove us to develop our first alternate revenue stream based on our original IP. We launched the Untold Booty merchandise store with a number of different ponycorns-based SKUs, and have been very happy with the results.

Throughout the year, i remained active with the IGDA Toronto Chapter, organizing some well-received events including the speed dating-style Game.Set.Match, the Open Mic Night rant session, Straight Outta TOJam: Pint-sized Postmortems, and the Fund in the Sun workshop.

IGDA Toronto Chapter posters

Through the spring, we developed a great puzzle/platformer game called Spladder, which currently runs on a number of kids’ broadcaster sites – YTV.com. TVO.org and CBBC.co.uk among them.

We launched a new games portal called TowerDefenseGameWorld.com and filled it with free tower defense games, because it’s difficult to prove a theory about a network of games portals lending each other traffic if you only have two portals. We also gave a major upgrade to ZombieGameWorld.com by expanding it to feature zombie games and goodies on other platforms.

i know an old lady who swallowed a horse. She’s dead, of course.

Summer. Future.

We’ve come full circle. Spellirium remains unfinished, but we’re finally spending time on it again. We poked Kahoots with a stick to see if it was still twitching. Thankfully, it is! We’ve made some creative changes to it to spare a fellow indie game dev company some unpleasant legal strife; look forward to a Kahoots-related announcement in the coming months.

i’m writing the 3.x update to my Unity 3D book, which will be ready shortly (send me an email and i’ll add you to our notification list when the update is released).

Going forward, our plan is to leverage the success of the ponycorns game to make major in-roads into game development and education for kids (see our article on CBC.ca). i’m preparing a pilot project with Cassie’s elementary school this fall. We’re preparing the unstoppable UGAGS engine for a business-to-business, and then consumer, release – expect it to have a kid-friendly interface. We’re polling people for their interest in an iPhone/iPod version of the game (send us an email!). i’ll be delivering my conference session Ponycorns: Lightning in a Jar at the Screens festival this fall, and at other conventions throughout the year. Ponycorns is being translated into Japanese in anticipation of the Sense of Wonder Night at the Tokyo Games Show.

Untold Entertainment’s fifth year will be filled with low-life panda bears, daily word puzzles, gamesByKids, and more great articles about game development and education, peppered with rude jokes and stolen LOLcat pictures. Thanks so much for your support, everyone! i’m really looking forward to writing an amazing recap next year.

Pimp My Portal Part 10: Return to Jersey

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.


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

My last experience with a Fiverr seller from New Jersey had him supposedly driving the ZombieGameWorld.com logo around on his car for a week. i spotted another seller on Fiverr who vowed to shoot a “Jersey Shore-style testimonial”. i took a look at his sample video, and was impressed with his confidence, glasses, and hilarious accent:



i decided to buy this guy’s gig, which meant i’d have to write a ZGW-style script for him. i didn’t know much about Jersey Shore, except that it was a) popular with the kids and b) deplorable. i took a quick spin around YouTube and, after watching a few highlights, felt i had the show pretty much figured out.

Here’s the script i sent to the seller:

What’s up, everyone … it’s The Happenstance comin’ at you with a comPLAINT, for real. The zombie apocalypse is cramping my style. This shit’s gotta get SOLVED.

So i’m at the club, straight-up guido, you know – killin’ it – dancin’ all up on these two girls like them bitches like it, and the living dead come busting ass through the dance floor cuz some asshole forgot to barricade the back door. I was about to get with these bitches, and then these zombies tear their heads off and start eating their livers out of their bodies.

ZOMBIES BE UP IN MY SHIT, and I’m SICK of it. Go get a shovel, ima go get my hair gel, and we’re gonna kick these motherfuckin zombies in the TEETH, if they got any.

For real. We’re gonna kill it. Literally.

i can’t tell you how badly i wanted to hear this guy say “zombies be up in my shit”. Many Fiverr sellers will clarify in their gig description whether or not they’ll perform a script with profanity in it. This guy stayed mum, so i figured it was alright. What he delivered to me was not only profanity-free, but stripped of every single Jersey Shore nod i’d written into the script:



A Buyer Scorned

i asked the seller if he could do a re-shoot, because he was way off the script. i explained that profanity, the hair gel gag and the guido thing were all bits i’d gleaned from watching Jersey Shore clips. “The Happenstance” was a spoof of the Jersey Shore character “The Situation”. i said if the profanity or anything in the script bothered him, i’d gladly work with him to do a mutually acceptable re-write.

As with many other Fiverrers, i didn’t get a response. Once these guys get their five dollars (four dollars after Fiverr takes their cut), there’s no incentive to respond to a buyer. Best to just wait out the twelve days beyond which a buyer’s customer service complaint will be ignored.

I can't hear you otter

If you’re planning on working with people on Fiverr, my best tip is this: if the seller doesn’t deliver the goods to your satisfaction, request a redo. Give the seller a maximum of three days to respond, and then hit up customer service. The whole process favours Fiverr and the seller (except for the fact that it’s a measly five dollars). You need to get your claws out to keep from being bilked out of your money – even small amounts of it.

Blood from a Stone

Continuing along on this trend of milking the most value i possibly can out of these videos, i gave this one a long think. i decided that if it was truly a Jersey Shore-style video, it needed Jersey Shore-style profanity – otherwise, what’s the point? Was it a funny or entertaining video as-is? Not really.

So taking a tip from Jimmy Kimmel, i jazzed the clip up with a little unnecessary censorship:


NOW he’s killin’ it.

Down to Shiggity

My return to Jersey dented The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget to the tune of another five bucks. Here’s the shopping list as it stands:

Original investment: $100

Spent:

* ZombieGameWorld tagline voiceover – $5
* Show Us Yer Bewbz! – $5
* Zombie Funk – $5
* Advertising on Some Dude’s Car – $5
* Zombie Self-Defense: American Version – $5
* Zombie Self-Defense: Russian Version – $5
* Zombies Attack the Jersey Shore – $5

Remaining: $65

Spielbergin’ It Up

With my Fiverr video experiment, i expected to be able to post the clips as-is with no need to doctor them. Things changed dramatically when i found i had to add animation and sound effects to make the movies halfway watchable. The next Fiverrer i contacted told me she could shoot in front of a green screen. Without considering how much work i was about to create for myself, i said “sure!” The resulting video is in the next post.

Pimp My Portal

Pimp My Portal Part 8: Baby You Can Drive My Car

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.


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

i had earmarked a few bucks in The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget for some non-video Fiverr gigs, in case i saw anything that tickled my fancy. The original plan was to spend $80 on video testimonials, and the remaining $20 on people who claimed that for five bucks, they would drive scads of traffic to YouTube videos. And then i saw this:

Fiverr Car Gig

Guh … sorry? He said he’d do what?

As the story goes, the seller has some sort of job doing retail food delivery, and spends many hours on the road travelling between New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. He’d put my logo on his car, where his fellow drivers would supposedly see it, wonder what the heck it was all about, and remember the site address until such a time as they were near a computer with a burning need to know.

ZombieGameWorld.com: For Your Burning Need to Know

i knew this gig wasn’t even possible. No one is going to take the time to paint my logo on the side of their car for five dollars. i figured this one HAD to be a scam, but whatever the outcome, it was bound to entertain you, dear readers. And i do it all for you.

So, with a smile on my face, i clicked the “BUY” button.

How Logo Can You Go?

The seller and i exchanged a few brief messages before he asked me for my logo. i sent him the ZombieGameWorld.com mark, blown up rather large so that he’d have enough to go by for his supposed paint job (which i knew was never gonna happen).

ZombieGameWorld.com Logo

i hope he catches all the nuances with subtle brush strokes

Meanwhile, i scoured his gig detail looking for the way in which he’d bilk me out of my hard-fought five dollars. Finally, there it was: the seller made no promise of providing pictures of his car decked out with my logo. And if the seller didn’t say it, it ain’t happening.

Fully expecting the seller to come back with a message saying “Well, your logo’s on my car! See ya, sucker!”, i gingerly asked him if he could provide a photo or two for my blog. i promised him i’d point my readers to his gigs, hopefully to send more bidness his way (cuz you guys buy everything i tell you to, right?) i felt a little like i was negotiating a hostage crisis … one false move, and my precious gig would be gone forever.

To my surprise, the guy agreed. Yes, he’d send pictures.

The Long Con

So i figured then that there must be some OTHER catch to it. Maybe he was waiting to sell a whole pile of these gigs, and then he’d paint 1000 logos in assy resolution on his car, postage stamp-sized, like The Million Dollar Homepage?

And then, while i was wondering, he sent me this:

ZombieGameWorld.com Logo on a Car

… Que?

So … he did it? Well, i mean, he didn’t paint my logo on his car, but … but there it was, on his car. The seller explained how he’d printed the logo out on multiple pieces of weather-proof paper, taped them all together, and then affixed them to both sides AND the hood of his car.

Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, i ask you: what kinds of people will you find on Fiverr? People willing to embarrass themselves, willing to lie and make testimonial videos for products they’ve never used or even heard of, and now this: a guy who would spend FAR more than five dollars in printer ink and stationary supplies in order to earn five dollars. (Four dollars, in fact, once Fiverr takes their cut.)

Remember, friends, that printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids known to man:

Comparative Cost of Printer Ink

By the Dawn’s Early Light

i still figured there had to be some sort of trick to it. i mean, the shot was dark. It was pretty solid work, but it HAD to be a Photoshop job. i mean, he can’t even see out the passenger side window, and the paper would surely …

Then the next morning, he sent this:

ZombieGameWorld.com Logo on a Car

“3997 more Fiverr gigs, and this sweet baby will be mine!”

By the time i saw the second picture, it was indisputable. This guy had actually put my logo on his car. Did he drive it around New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware for a week like he said he would? i have no idea. One he had his five (really, four) dollars, our correspondence sort of dried up. He did briefly mention that he got funny looks from people, not least of all his boss.

Stunt Tracking

So what’s the best way to tell if this was a profitable method of advertising my portal? Well, it’s easy: i’d filter my Google Analytics by those three states for the time period on or around the car advertising, and if those states out-performed other US states (or out-performed themselves in a non-car advertising window), then the awareness campaign was a success.

Here we go:

ZombieGameWorld.com Car Advertising Performance in Delaware

De nada in Delaware

ZombieGameWorld.com Car Advertising Performance in New Jersey

Dinner for One in New Jersey

ZombieGameWorld.com Car Advertising Performance in Pennsylvania

Barely Legal in Pennsylvania

So, did these three states outperform the rest of the US? No. The average number of visitors during that time period for any given state was 11, and the car-ad states clocked in at 6.

Did the states out-perform themselves? Yes … New Jersey was up 1 from zero, and Pennsylvania had 8 visits in the previous month, which grew to 18.

What conclusions can we draw from all this? With a sample size so pathetic, practically nothing. i suppose the only real working theory we’ve developed, given the data, is this:

THE AMISH LOVE ZOMBIES.

ZombieGameWorld.com Amish


“I managed to make it to level 14 before I ran out of shotgun shells.”

“Really? Crack open your Macbook, Amos, and let me have a go.”

And Then There Were Eighty

The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget has taken another five-dollar hit:

Original investment: $100

Spent:

* ZombieGameWorld tagline voiceover – $5
* Show Us Yer Bewbz! – $5
* Zombie Funk – $5
* Advertising on Some Dude’s Car – $5

Remaining: $80

Was it worth it? Let me know.

Born Every Minute

With this victory behind me, i was beginning to feel like my plan was scam-proof. Fiverr was full of honest folk. Crazy, but honest. i figured everything would keep going swimmingly.

Unfortunately, it didn’t.

Pimp My Portal

Pimp My Portal Part 7: Do Zombies Have Soul?

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.


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

Over the years, YouTube has developed a number of tropes: cat/dog/hamster on a piano/skateboard/hot tin roof, young girl talking about herself, fan-made movie trailer, dude getting hoofed in the gonads, and on and on. One of the most pervasive of these is the song cover.

i have spent hours on YouTube looking up covers of songs i enjoy. This was much better sport before YouTube removed the star ratings from their videos – it was easier to key into the good performers, and to only investigate the 1-star folks when you wanted a good wince.

My Fiverr adventures turned up a girl named Christina (AKA Tinatural/ChristBaby124) who vowed that she would sing any song i wanted, videotape her performance, and upload it to her own YouTube account with a shout-out to my site for, of course, five bucks.

Tinatural on Fiverr

One of the things that improves your site ranking is a stream of high-quality links pouring in from “respected” sites. Since YouTube is owned by Google, and i’m trying to improve the Google siterank of ZombieGameWorld, i figured Christina’s gig was a no-brainer.

Standing in the Shadows of Fauxtown

But what song would i have her sing? i could go with “Re: Your Brains” by Jonathan Coulton. But no – this girl clearly wanted to sing soul and R&B. i couldn’t waste her on Coulton’s novelty nerd folk.

i racked my brain trying to come up with a Motown song about zombies. “My Girl”? Isn’t that about a guy who gets raised from the dead, and … no. No, it’s not. “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)”? Isn’t that about two lovers who have to hole themselves up in an abandoned farmhouse, and … er … no. i’ve got that one wrong too.

Jackie Wilson - Higher and Higher

Isn’t this the one where Jackie has to catch that helicopter out of the military compound?

If i wanted to go with a soulful song, i’d have to either write it myself, or change the lyrics of an existing song. Here’s what i came up with:

Tinatural Request on Fiverr

True to form for Fiverr folks, Christina delivered:



i took her rough cut and cleaned it up a bit. i synced the music under her voice, chopped it short enough to get the point across without letting the video overstay its welcome, and tacked on the tagline. Then i animated the “follow the bouncing brain” sequence to help hold the viewers’ attention. Here’s a link to the original if you’re interested.

For five dollars, i’m happy with it. i think it’s got juuust the right amount of “wtf sauce” drizzled on it. Since the Isley Brothers song isn’t very well known (i’ve discovered), it comes off as though this girl just decided to sing a funk song about zombies. And why not?

With this video, the ZombieGameWorld library slowly grows. The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget slowly dwindles:

Original investment: $100

Spent:

* ZombieGameWorld tagline voiceover – $5
* Show Us Yer Bewbz! – $5
* Zombie Funk – $5

Remaining: $85

And Now For Something Completely Different

As the old proverb goes, man cannot live by video testimonials alone. i purchased one non-video gig on Fiverr that you’re gonna have to see to believe … and that the people of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania have, with any luck, already seen!

Pimp My Portal