Category Archives: Make Money

Solar panel installation: a good idea?


Those who know me will know I’m not overburdened with a sense of ambition to save the planet. I’m not big on recycling, and only use the brown plastics and glass bin because, if I didn’t, my other bin would fill up before the week was out. I don’t make a point of switching off lights and plug sockets (except of course for the few days following receipt of an electricity bill, like everyone else) and I’m not plagued by worry over global warming.

It’s not that I don’t care; I just have other things to care about first. However, when I received an email last week from Eon concerning their solar panel offer, I was oddly intrigued. In exchange for a minor application fee, of less than £100, they will install solar panels onto the roof of your home and you can benefit from the electricity the panels generate.

This sounds too good to be true, until you ask yourself what does Eon get out of it?

You, the customer, would pay Eon just £99, and you get solar panel installation on your roof worth several thousand pounds. You, sorry your property, are then tied in to a contract to keep the solar panels for around 25 years, during which time your bills will be reduced (according to Eon, by as much as £150 per year).

There’s the rub. Solar panels will generate a heck of a lot more than £150 worth of electricity per year. They’ll generate more than enough electricity to run your whole house, and have enough left over to sell back to the grid. The downside is, of course, the cost of solar panel installation. However, if you can afford a few grand to fit solar panels to the roof of your house, if your house qualifies (because many do not) and if you don’t mind your house looking like a giant solar powered calculator, then you’re onto a winner that will pay back the investment within several years, and the rest after that is pure profit.

So that’s what Eon gets out of it; you, the customer, receives a discount of £150 maximum per year and Eon gets to use your house as a generator for its grid.

No thanks Eon, if I do go for solar panels on my house it will be out of my own pocket, and back into my own pocket – not via yours.

Apprentice final ends in barroom tussle

Like many people in the UK, I watched the final of the Apprentice last night where Chris Bates faced off against Stella English (of course, Liz really should have been there but Lord Sugar has apologised a few times about that debacle).

I watch the Apprentice every year, and have even wanted to apply myself, but no year would have been better for me than this year; they had to make and brand an alcoholic drink! I’m gutted.

As usual with the final, the actual quality of the product itself isn’t important, branding is what matters, so both finalists left the mixing and choosing of ingredients to delegated members of their team. If you disagree with me about taste not being important to a brand, explain Budweiser… you can’t, can you?

Chris went with a pyramid styled bottle, with three sides, that really looked quite slick. Stella went with a bourbon, and tried to aim it at women as well as men. Both contestants really messed this one up though as bourbon, no matter how hard you try, isn’t going to appeal to women on the whole and Chris’ drink was pink… pink, so was never going to appeal to men on the whole.

So both contestants had a decent brand image, and both missed the target market of appealing to men and women. It was the adverts where things went a bit one sided though. Stella’s ad featured two couples in a bar ordering the drink, and really seemed to work. Chris however, already lambasted for his work on a previous task when he directed the ‘Germinator’ TV ad, made yet another balls up of this one. He spent the majority of shooting time attempting to get close ups of the barman mixing a cocktail with the product, except the barman seemed unable to actually get any of the ingredients in the glass. Ice cubes, shots and pomegranate seeds went all over the bar from close range as Chris’ advert seemed to get away with him. Perhaps the barman would have been better off using liquid filling machines rather than trying to use his obviously unsteady hand.

With only 30 minutes left to shoot the remainder of the ad, it fell into something of a disaster – and was even singled out as being dreadful by Lord Sugar. Not something you want to happen in the final of the show, and it cost Chris dearly.

It was a shame for Chris as his product looked good and his pitch was strong (even with his low flying bomber of a voice) but you just can’t do a rush job on an alcohol advert.

Maybe I’ll apply for the next one… couldn’t hurt.

Earn money writing from home

Sponsored Review:

You’ve probably all seen those sites and flyers that promise that you can earn money from the comfort of your own home, in your own time, to supplement your income? Most of the time those things are a bit of a con as they just want you to make cold calls for sales, where you’ll be on the phone all day getting abuse from people who really don’t want to tale to you. however is a completely different proposition. With this website you don’t have to call anyone, or even speak to anyone. No, what you do here is simply write articles, news or blogs for websites. You’re given a brief and asked to write so many articles per month, in exchange for a set fee, which starts at £250 per month.

Earn money writing from home with Words of Worth

This is ideal for mothers who stay at home during the day, and students (who let’s face it, have more time on their hands than the unemployed). The website says it will take up no more than 8-10 hours of your time per week, so you could do a week’s worth of articles in a day. By those figures you could also do a month’s worth within a week, which means £250 isn’t bad for staying at home!

There’s also no limit to how many contracts you can take on either. Once you’ve proven yourself you can add a second, or even third contract to earn more money.

If you’re looking for a way to earn money from home, this is it. There are a couple of requirements though. Firstly you need to have a decent grasp of the English language, so if you don’t know your ‘their’ from your ‘there’, you might struggle. Secondly you need a computer with Internet access, but if you’re reading this the chances are you have that!

So if you fancy earning some extra money from your own home and have the time spare, take a look at the website and submit your details. I did it myself to try it out, it’s a nice way to earn some extra money 😉

CeMAP courses

As a landlord, and someone looking to buy another property soon, the housing crisis we’re currently in the middle of is a right pain in the wallet. I’m locked into keeping hold of my house as I can’t afford to sell it right now. All of this has of course been caused by the Americans and their collapsed property market. It’s caused us problems, and more importantly, me personally.

Anyhow, this got me thinking about mortgage advisers must be struggling right now as well. Anyone in the property industry, even estate agents (and we all feel for them right?) will be affected by the current climate. But are mortgage advisers also adversely affected? They’ll have completed CeMAP courses to become certified mortgage advisers, with their CeMAP qualification, and then be faced with the problem that they can’t find any lenders to offer financial deals to property buyers.

The whole industry will be suffering. While this is a bad time for buying a property it is however a good time for letting out property. Nobody can afford to buy so they have to rent, which pushes up rental prices.

Kitchens Direct

As you know I’m renting my house out in Cwmbran. I’m looking to make some alterations to the house to maximise its rental potential (been watching too much Sarah Beeny) and one of the things I’m hoping to do is to fit a new kitchen. The current one was there when I bought the house in 2003.

For this I was looking at the kitchen company Kitchens Direct. The problem is that I’ve done a little reading up on Kitchens Direct and they seem to have some bad press online. Websites such as seem to be brimming with negative comments from customers who have had awful experiences with Kitchens Direct.

Now I know that reviews online can be somewhat biased one way or the other, so I’m not sure whether to believe any of the comments posted online about them. Kitchens Direct either have awful reviews from supposed dissatisfied customers, or they have glowing reviews which look like they may be a little too glowing.

Does anyone have any experience of dealing with Kitchens Direct? If you’ve used them I’d like to know about it, whether I should get my kitchen from Kitchens Direct or not?

eBay boss quits amid disappointing $500 million 53% profit increase!

Meg Whitman, the boss of eBay and person who guided them from humble beginnings in 1998 to become the giant they are today is to retire as a result of their ‘poor’ performance in Q4 2007, the Guardian reports.

The company’s profits for the three months to December jumped by 53% to $531m (£271m). But its guidance on its prospects for the year fell short of analysts’ expectations, prompting concern about a slowdown in the volume of merchandise put up for sale on the site.

What sort of World do we live in where a 53% increase in profits leading to £271 million can be considered failure?

If however eBay are looking at ways to increase the number of items listed on their auction site, I have a few ideas.

Firstly, allow people to list PS2 games if you don’t have a PayPal account. You currently must have PayPal and offer it as a payment option when listing PS2 games. I presume this is the same for other video game formats.

Secondly stop charging people FOUR times when they list items on eBay and accept payment through PayPal. I’ve already ranted about this before, so if eBay is serious they should take note. Charging me a listing fee, a final sale fee, a PayPal transfer fee and a PayPal withdrawal fee when I sell a DVD for 99p is not going to tempt me to do it again.

What Internet Marketers can learn from George Lucas

George Lucas is a multi billion gazillionaire. He’s made more money from Star Wars than I have Star Wars figures, but then by virtue of the fact that I have a lot of Star Wars figures he’s bound to have a lot of money. That’s economics!

s George Lucas seems to be all about making money, it makes sense that Internet marketers could learn a lot from him, so without further ado…

If you find a niche market, exploit it.

It really doesn’t matter how good you are at something, if you find a niche market that no one else has discovered, exploit the living crap out of it. George Lucas isn’t the best director in the world. His script writing skills are entirely suspect or ‘shit’ as Harrison Ford once labelled them. This didn’t stop George creating one of the biggest franchises in movie history. He found that he could exploit the nerd culture for every penny of their allowance, and he gleefully took it.

This applies to Internet marketing as well. You don’t have to create the best website, or the biggest, or have the most Wookies. You just need to attack the niche with a fervent passion and saturate it. If you own the leading news site, the leading forum and the leading community site all within the same niche, you become the dominant player. As George Lucas has found, this brings very lucrative rewards.

If something works, re-skin it and use it again.

How many costume changes did Natalie Portman have in the Star Wars prequels? I’ll tell you, it was 7,963*. The reason for this was that George Lucas could then sell 7,963 different Amidala Star Wars figures. She’s the same figure, but with a different costume; and the nerds bought them. This couldn’t be truer of Internet marketing. If you create a site that works and earns you money simply copy the site, re-colour it, re-package it and use it for another site.

Repeat the process ad infinitum and then in a few years you might have as many websites earning you money as I have useless Amidala figures, all running off the same template.

Know when to delegate

Even a megalomaniac control freak like George Lucas knows he can’t do everything, so should you. If ideas are your forte and your time is best spent thinking, pondering and coming up with obnoxious CGI characters then that is how you should spend all of your time. If you need someone to write the code or design the site for you, hire a freelancer. Prices are cheap and money spent at this stage can be recouped easily on the time saved and the fact that you’ve had something done correctly by a skilled professional.

George Lucas tried to re-edit Empire Strikes Back when he thought that Irvin Kershner was ruining his film with all that ‘love’ crap between Han and Leia. Thankfully for all of us George quickly realised that Kersh was in fact correct and he let him finish the film his way.

See the bigger picture

I constantly get people wondering what it is I actually do, and how I make money. It’s not obvious to the average 9-5 guy. When George Lucas made Star Wars he waived his director’s fee in exchange for merchandising rights to the film. People at the time wondered how he was going to make any money from the project, now he has enough money to buy a small island, Australia perhaps. George had faith in his idea and knew it would work. He could see the bigger picture, something many people can’t.

To succeed in Internet marketing, particularly affiliate marketing you need to be able to look beyond the wage-slave existence that most people experience. Being paid a flat rate fee for a set amount of hours didn’t interest George, and it shouldn’t interest you.

Don’t be precious about your website

In ‘Return of the Jedi’ the battle on Endor between the Ewoks and the Storm Troopers was originally supposed to feature Wookies. I know, Wookies don’t live on Endor, but they nearly did. George changed the battle to Ewoks because he thought fluffy cuddly teddy bears would be more merchandisable. When everyone else told George that 3 foot teddy bears fighting Storm Troopers was ridiculous, he said “No… I’m going to make more money this way”. By Christ he was right.

The moral here is that you shouldn’t be afraid to make changes to your website that, although may appear to be at the detriment of the website, in fact make more money. George Lucas’ goal wasn’t to make a compelling film; it was to make a mountain of cash. He did this spectacularly well because he never lost sight of his goal. Always remember why you’re in Internet marketing.

* The figure of 7,963 was made up. I’m not certain Natalie Portman had this many costume changes during the Star Wars prequels as I fell asleep during the Phantom Menace and woke up around the time R2D2 was flying in Attack of the Clones. I presume the figure is fairly accurate however based on the crap that filled the shelves in Wal-Mart shortly after.

My house will be repossessed on January 21st

I had made an agreement with my ex-wife (through our solicitors of course, she won’t speak to me) to purchase her share of the house for £14,100. This means I get the house and the items within it, plus I keep my BMW (not that it’s drivable anyway) and my wife gets £14,100, keeps her car and I continue to pay the loan on both cars.

The deal was agreed. Simple.

I had to raise the mortgage within 14 days, which thanks to Lloyds TSB and the C&G I managed to do that. Everything should have run smoothly you’d think? Then she got greedy.

Her solicitor drafted the financial settlement and added in 3 extra points that I had to agree to.

I wouldn’t post any further mentions to her on the Internet

Well that’s that one broken already, so you can see where I’m going with this. Plus I’ve had far more important and intelligent people than her and her solicitor try to stop me posting on this, and other websites in my cannon. They’ve all failed, without exception.

I wouldn’t suggest to Direct Line that they pursue my ex-wife for the money she defrauded from them for my car

Hmmm… as I’m actually pursuing Direct Line myself for compensation because their original offer of £200 compensation to me was unacceptable, I can’t promise this one. She knew what she was doing when she claimed on a car that wasn’t hers, if they chase her for the money good luck to them. They do so with my blessing, and where necessary, my assistance.

If Direct Line demand she pays back the money, I will agree to pay half of it

You have got to be fucking kidding me?

She defrauded them out of the money for my car, when I was still paying for it. They gave her £6,500 for a car she didn’t own and then they demanded I surrender the car to them because she’d spent the money and they saw me as the only way they’d get the money back. I paid £190 per month for over a year on a car I couldn’t use or sell, that’s over £2,000 I’ll never get back because of her fraud; now she wants me to pay off her debt?

No fucking way. She knew what she was doing. She committed fraud, she can pay it back. As a result of her money grabbing it looks like the deal for me to buy the house is off and now the property will be repossessed at the hearing on January 21st.

Could I do any more? Would anyone pay her debt for her in my situation?

I honestly can’t believe the cheek of it. What do you think?