By James J. Jones and Angela Smith
The term ‘real estate’ is generally reserved for the purchase, or sale, of a home or land. Gone are the days when real estate was just that – sweet and simple. You’ve probably heard about the men who purchased land, which was once owned by Elvis Presley. They went on to sell ‘deeds’ to multiple one square inch plots until the entire property was sold. Another individual once did the same thing with a farm, which was once owned by Abraham Lincoln.
These days, one college student in England is changing the world of real estate one pixel at a time. Sound strange? You bet it is and, in fact, it’s just strange enough to work. Alex Tew, a 21 year old college student, is on the way to being a millionaire and it’s all thanks to the world wide web and the sale of his virtual real estate.
In an effort to fund his college tuition, Tew came up with a brainstorm idea on a hot summer night in August. Hoping to avoid the stereotype of being a college student with empty pockets, Alex decided to find a way to pay for his college tuition without having a mountain of student loans burdening him for years to come. Well, the idea is working and some may even say that it’s a million dollar idea. Technically, they would be correct.
The concept is surprisingly simple. Alex Tew is selling virtual real estate via the internet. No, it’s not a house or land, but it is a cool concept. The Million Dollar Homepage offers a spot of advertising on it’s virtual real estate, also known as a website, for a fee of $1.00 per pixel with a 100 pixel minimum. Each purchase of 100 pixels are sold in 10×10 blocks. The goal is to sell one million pixels, which will earn Tew the title of millionaire. After posting his website in August 2005, he’s already half way to his goal.
Once an advertiser purchases a 100-pixel block, their image, ad or logo is then placed on Tew’s website with a direct link to the advertiser’s homepage. The only requirement is that there will be no obscene or offensive images allowed. This unique idea of internet advertising is all a buzz in the media world, which drives even more traffic to The Million Dollar Homepage and, in turn, generates more potential customers for it’s advertisers. Advertising pixels will be displayed on The Million Dollar Homepage for a minimum of five years. Depending on finances, Tew hopes to keep the website online much longer, but does guarantee his advertisers a piece of virtual advertising real estate for at least half of a decade.
The original idea took Alex a few hours to muster, but was on paper in a matter of minutes after popping into his mind. Alex Tew, owner and operator of Million Dollar Homepage, plans to invest the money in his college tuition and, if there’s enough left after that, he plans to give his parents a well-deserved break by returning some of the support they have provided him throughout the years. Some business investments, which have caught the eye of this 21 year old savvy business management student, are not totally out of the question, so Alex informed his visitors to keep an eye on his website.
Tew realized the possibility of individuals copying his idea for their own website, but he isn’t worried. Citing that it will likely work in his favor, Alex recognizes that imitation in the sincerest form of flattery.
The Million Dollar Homepage has had press coverage in at least 29 different countries, including the United States. Websites, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, newsletters and television stations are all fascinated by Alex Tew and his million dollar idea.
Media coverage can be a welcome addition to any entrepreneur starting a new business venture. If you have any doubt, just ask Alex Tew. By marketing yourself on the radio and sending press releases to local newspapers, you are creating a lot of free publicity for yourself and your new business. When marketing yourself in a press release, you have to be very careful not to sound like an advertisement. The press releases and radio interviews are done because you, or your business, is newsworthy. It has to be something edgy, unique and of interest to the public. For instance, John Doe couldn’t get a lot of publicity with the opening of a traditional restaurant. But, if John Doe were to start a business scheduling celebrity guest dinners, that would be noteworthy and would likely generate a lot more media attention than a typical business venture. A lot of people sell advertising space on their website and it’s been that way for years. Alex Tew, however, thought of a revolutionary idea that changed the way the world looks at internet marketing. His website does not sell typical advertising space, but an edgy title of virtual real estate. Of course, it’s all the same, but marketing is a major factor in whether a business will ultimately be successful or not. Not only is Tew selling advertising space, but he also is marketing himself as a college student who needs help with tuition.
Rather than just simply asking for donations, which some websites do, Alex Tew is actually giving people something for their money and that something is advertising. It’s easy to ask for money, but it takes determination and creativity to earn it. Tew believes that a creative approach to raising money is key and, apparently, it’s proven to be successful for him.
The Secrets of Success
Successful entrepreneurs, such as Alex Tew, find great success in a variety of sources. Media is certainly the most obvious route for those looking for publicity, but there are other routes to take with a little creativity. The latest internet craze is a blog. What is a blog? It’s actually pretty simple. A blog is similar, in nature, to a journal. It’s updated regularly and shares the latest happenings with internet visitors. Alex Tew, owner and operator of The Million Dollar Homepage, posts a successful blog on his website, which updates the progress of his website, his college experiences and those of everyday life. A blog is essential because it draws the reader in and keeps them coming back to read about the latest news.
Word of mouth is another fantastic marketing option. This one is a little tricky because it can be difficult to get people talking about your new business. With that said, it is not impossible. Begin by telling a few friends and family members about your new business venture and ask them to share the news with their acquaintances. Next, tell some of your friends, post flyers and pass out business cards. Do everything that you can to get the word out about your new business, including exciting promotions to get people interested.
Media coverage is the most obvious of all, but may also be very lucrative if approached properly. Press releases are essential to any business and are a terrific way of getting free publicity. Alex Tew, of The Million Dollar Homepage, writes about his success in sending press releases on his blog. This is one of the earliest promotional efforts that Tew pursued to launch his new website. Within days, journalists were talking with Alex about his website and articles began to appear worldwide. It wasn’t long before follow-up articles were being written and people were beginning to follow the progress of The Million Dollar Homepage. And why not? It’s exciting, it’s innovative and people wonder why they didn’t think of this idea first. It’s surprisingly simple, but it took a great amount of creativity to turn this simple idea into a money making concept.
By sending press releases to local newspapers, radio stations and magazines, you are opening your business up to a lot of potential readers if your information is published. Best of all, because your news is noteworthy, it qualifies for free publicity. Many people purchase advertising space in magazines and newspapers, which is a fantastic way to promote your business, but press releases can be an even better way to promote your business. And best of all, it’s free.
If you are selling pixel advertisements on your website, let your visitors know why. Are you hoping to pay your way through college? Are you saving up college tuition for your child so that, one day, he/she won’t have the burden of figuring out how to come up with the cash while trying to get a quality education? Do you need extra money for medical bills? If there is a genuine reason that you need the money, tell visitors and advertisers about your mission. Avoid asking for sympathy, but do make sure that your reasons for needing the money are known.
Pixel Advertising – How it Works
A pixel is the smallest element of a digital image. It takes thousands of pixels to make a normal sized photograph and, yet, some people are getting rich selling pixel advertisements for $1 each. A 1-pixel ad would not even be visible, so most are charging $1 per pixel with a 100-pixel minimum. This gives the advertiser a small square box in which to place a small image, which will link directly to their homepage.
Websites, which sell pixel advertisements, take several online payment options. Most accept PayPal. Once payment had been made, the advertiser e-mails their size specific image to the webmaster of the pixel site. The webmaster then places the image, along with a link, on their website. Advertisements usually go live within 24 to 48 hours. This advertisement is usually surrounded by many others and the entire website will likely give a billboard appearance. It will be very colorful with a lot of small graphics and advertisements.
Most webmasters, who currently offer pixel advertising, are promising to keep their website online for a minimum of five years. Some even hope to keep the site online beyond that which they promise their advertisers. If you think of typical advertising rates in a publication, you are buying one month’s worth of advertising. After folks are through reading the publication, it’s often tossed and never read again. With pixel advertising, you are gaining years of publicity for your advertising dollar. You don’t have to continue purchasing ad space every month because, once your ad is placed, it stays put. If your target audience is internet users, it would be more beneficial to advertise on the internet. Why select a random banner ad program when your ad can be guaranteed visible 24/7 to all homepage visitors? It’s really a fascinating concept and, the more that you research it, the more you will realize why it’s so ingenious.
The Future of Pixel Advertising
Is it just another fad? Is it here today and gone tomorrow? Nobody knows for sure, but it’s presence is dynamic, at least for now. Pixel advertising is one of the hottest selling advertisement opportunities online. As with most things, the project’s pioneer will get rich and those that follow will likely be comfortable. In order for the future of pixel advertising to be a successful one, individuals will have to get more creative and add new twists to the concept. Sorry, but a cookie cutter idea just won’t cut it, so to speak. In order for the pixel advertising craze to survive, webmasters will need to give advertisers a more solid reason to buy pixels from them than any other site. With so many people selling pixel ads, what makes one any different from the other? Alex Tew’s website is so popular because he pioneered the concept and, in turn, he generated most of the publicity. His website, as it is, will continue to be the most successful of it’s kind.
Creativity can keep pixel advertising alive. Perhaps a contest, or other promotion, will boost the next pixel advertiser to some added publicity. There is a lot of potential if the idea is approached correctly. For instance, if you offer a promotion in which one advertiser is chosen to get a free lifetime pixel ad, many will likely buy space in the hopes of winning the contest.
As Alex Tew mentions on his website blog, “There is no long-term business concept here; it’s a unique idea that will only work once.” This is true in that the concept may only work once for any one individual, but it may work for many different individuals. The more creative people get, the longer pixel advertising will remain popular.
Alternate Million Dollar Ideas
According to Alex Tew, there are over 500 websites that have cloned his Million Dollar Homepage idea. There are plenty of ways to twist the concept into something unique and not a simple cookie cutter copy. For instance, rather than targeting the entire internet audience for advertising, consider narrowing the advertisers to one specialized subjects. Perhaps a website about pets, automobiles or collectibles would draw fans of those specific subjects and advertisers would be inclined to buy pixel ads.
If pet lovers visit a particular website, it’s obvious that business owners specializing in pet supplies would want to be seen by those visitors. This may include pet groomers, boarding kennels, product developers, online pet supply stores, etc. If you operate an automotive website, and wish to sell pixel ads, consider marketing your idea to car salesman (including online auctioneers), parts manufacturers, race teams, etc. If you specialize in collectibles, and offer pixel advertising via your website, contact online collectibles stores, product manufacturers, trading card companies, movie studios, etc.
In order to successfully operate a pixel advertising website, you would not have to charge $1 per pixel. You could charge less and, ultimately, end up selling more ads thereby generating more revenue. The most important thing to remember is that, when advertisers invest their money into your business, they want to know that you are doing everything that you can to generate publicity. The more publicity you get, the more potential customers your advertisers may receive. Be ready to answer questions about your promotional efforts, targeted audience and be confident.
The best way to market your idea is to market yourself. If you are an entrepreneur, no matter what particular field you are in, you are also involved in marketing. In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you must be able to market yourself to customers, advertisers, investors, etc. If you fail at this, your business will never last. It doesn’t matter if you have $1.00 or $1,000,000.00 to begin with, but you need to have a million dollar attitude to get your bank account to match. People have to believe in you and they also need to know that you believe in yourself. Just like Alex Tew, you have to know your goal and be determined to reach it. In reading his website blog, you will notice that he has appeared on talk shows, done radio interviews and has spoken with many different journalists. Tew may be studying business management, but he has already succeeded in a marketing career.
Most people only dream of the success, and money, that Alex Tew has made. But, with a little confidence and a lot of creativity, anyone can be successful and have fun doing it. The Million Dollar Homepage is located at http://www.MillionDollarHomepage.com.
Be sure to visit the Business Idea Factory at http://www.businessideafactory.com for more unusual and profitable business ideas.
By James J. Jones and Angela Smith