Clippings: How to make big bucks on the net
When I was a kid you got your big ideas out of the back pages of comic books. You could get a booklet by Charles Atlas that showed you how to stop being a 98-pound weakling and instead become the buff BMOC that would get the girls.
My brother Mark and I once pooled our paper route money and ordered from the back of a comic book the “ghost” that would scare your friends. It turned out to be a balloon with a sheet of white plastic and two glow-in-the-dark stickers. The instructions told us to fill up the balloon with helium (of course we kept some in the garage, and we each had a stash in our room, too), drape the plastic sheet over it, paste on the glow-in-the-dark eyes and let it rise up in front of our friend’s bedroom window.
We weren’t allowed to stay out after dark, so the ghost never actually scared anybody.
But it probably made somebody a TON of money. Think of all the kids who read “Archie and Jughead” comic books; figure that one in three would send in the $2 for the “ghost”; perform simple multiplication; subtract the 25 cents in materials and the postage; and — Shazam — instant millionaire!
It’s this kind of calculation — done in the wee hours of the morning when I can’t sleep — that has rekindled a boyhood dream to be rich — rich like Rockefeller. And now that I’m an adult and living in the early 21st century, my dream is to become rich like Bill Gates or that Facebook guy if his IPO goes well. High-tech is the way to get rich nowadays.
I was casting around on the Internet for some ideas for what sells — so I could copy it, sell it, and become filthy rich — when it struck me that high-tech gadgets are what people who used to read Archie and Jughead comics buy now that they’re older and have some real disposable income.
The gadget that caught my eye was the iCarta Toilet Roll Holder. It’s a docking station for an iPod or an iPhone that has a built-in toilet paper dispenser. The smart consumer installs it in his bathroom near the throne and he never has to listen to his own muddled thoughts again!
I surfed over to Amazon to check out the price, and, after a quick calculation, realized that this thing must be making somebody a millionaire. Apparently people LOVE it. Twelve people had posted reviews and 11 of them gave it five stars — the highest rating. Reviewers called it “genius,” “awesome,” “in-dispenser-ble” and “the pinnacle of Western engineering.”
One reviewer wrote: “There is nothing more embarrassing than answering a call of nature in a condo with thin walls — well now this is the answer. Plug in the iPod and turn the volume up.” Another wrote: “I feel like I am in the front row of a Hannah Montana concert.”
Alas, when I realized that the best gadget idea — ever — was already taken and the inventor probably had enough money to hire a brace of lawyers to sue the pants off me if I bootlegged his miraculous product, I continued searching the net.
Almost instantaneously it struck me — duh … apps!
I don’t have an iPhone or an Android and I can’t afford to get one (what, do you think I’m made of money? That’s step B). But a lot of people LOVE to buy apps for their iPhones and their Androids and their whatever-they’re-calleds, and they’ve made a few people VERY rich.
Some guy named Ethan says he made $600,000 in a single month with an iPhone tank artillery game he developed called iShoot. Apparently he made $37,000 in a single day. And some Norwegian dude is making like $2 million a month off “Angry Birds,” which sounds like sort of the same thing but it’s funnier because it’s got birds and not tanks (note to self: Go for funny animals instead of militaristic weaponry and you’ll almost quadruple your profits).
So I started envisioning the apps I could create. Here’s a short list of the best ideas:
• BadDaddy. It picks my daughter up out of bed, drops her into a clean outfit, funnels some food into her mouth and sets her gently in the back seat of the car waiting to take her to school.
• Excer-sleep. This one can be set to automatically kick in at 2 a.m., when it would jiggle my arms, twist my torso to the right and left, move my legs through a few thousand repetitions on the stationary bike and, at the end, slip me out of my sweaty jammies and into a clean set — all without waking me from a sound sleep.
• Mind reader. The number of instances this would come in handy is almost limitless.
As I started to work on these I realized (I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before) that I know essentially nothing about how apps work. Plus my techy friend, Mike, told me that software can’t jiggle anyone’s arms.
So, turning to what I know — newspapers, writing, creativity! — I decided to make my millions writing e-books.
Amanda Hocking, a 27-year-old Minnesotan, has published several e-books on the creepy topics of vampire love and trolls and has earned an estimated $2 million by selling 1.5 million copies of her e-books at 99 cents to $2.99 a pop. I guess since you don’t have to pay for paper or typewriter ribbons you make a lot on e-books. Sounds good to me.
Now all I need is a topic for my first e-book masterpiece — something classic that I know readers will pay for. Hmmm…
I’m thinking something with strong characters, but lighthearted. Something familiar but new.
How about … Archie and Jughead?
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