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E-Business Secrets

Small sales make big difference for nonprofits

By  Brian Livingston September 03, 2002  

With all the woes of e-commerce sites that aren't making it, it's nice to find one that has put things together and doesn't mind sharing its secrets with others.


Suzanne Wouk, the Webmaster of FundRaisingMom, says she got her money-making ideas after volunteering to lead a fund-raising effort for a local preschool, then being stuck in bed for six weeks with a back injury.

She says the unwanted vacation gave her the idea of asking parents to donate items to be auctioned off at eBay.com. "It was pure junk from people's homes," she says, but the auctions raised more than $3,000. That may not sound like much, "but for a tiny preschool that doesn't have any money, it's a fortune," Wouk explains.

That small success was the beginning of much bigger things. Wouk's site now contains many details on Web-based affiliate and commission opportunities that anyone, not just nonprofit groups, can take advantage of. A school, church, or almost any organization can create a Web site and urge its members to go there to buy magazine subscriptions, books, or any of a number of other products. The Web site keeps a percentage of each sale.

For instance, printer ink cartridges can be far cheaper when purchased on the Web than in stores. Wouk recommends one source, Mr. Ink Man, that sells new, generic cartridges for one-third the cost of famous brands (see http://www.mrinkman.com http://bri.li/61f2) . An Epson 740 ink refill that sells for $29.27 in office-supply stores is available in a generic version for only $9.95. Mr. Ink Man offers its affiliates a commission between 20 percent and 55 percent of the sale price of each cartridge.

Wouk has found numerous other attractive e-business moneymakers. One of these, as described on her site, is Webmaster services. Many Web hosts pay referrers a commission for each new customer, and continue paying a percentage of each customer's monthly fees indefinitely.

Wouk says her preschool now receives a check for about $400 a month from recurring Web-host commissions alone. That's income of almost $5,000 a year, with no ongoing effort by the school, and the amount can easily grow from there.

For these and other, possibly larger sources of revenue, see http://www.fundraisingmom.com http://bri.li/4e6a .

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A new software patch that Microsoft describes as "critical" for all Windows users to install is forcing changes to e-commerce sites.

Without the patch, SSL certificates on a Windows system can be deleted by a malicious hacker who sends out HTML e-mail messages. When users install the patch, the flaw is eliminated. But the patch also prevents users from enrolling with e-commerce sites that haven't made the necessary changes to their server-side code.

According to Microsoft, the changes that Web sites need are "minor." For more information on this process, go to http://www.microsoft.com http://bri.li/757a and scroll down to the Client Information section.

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1. Bertelsmann is expected to put its e-businesses up for grabs, including Napster, BeMusic, and bookseller BOL, says the BBC ( http://news.bbc.co.uk http://bri.li/432 ).

2. The e-wallet, an idea that's never caught on, gets a new life as Amazon takes over the Target site and offers one-click buying ( http://www.news.com http://bri.li/81a ).

3. Webmasters plan to make money from the 748 million people who will soon have location-capable cell phone service ( http://cyberatlas.internet.com http://bri.li/c02 ).

4. Those "Nigerian scam" e-mails turn out to be the fifth-largest industry in that country, according to a site that explains all ( http://www.rica.net http://bri.li/fea ).

5. Developer Laura Rush offers a truckload of valuable resources in her 10-step guide to building a basic e-commerce site ( http://www.internet.com http://bri.li/13d2 ).

6. How will mMode affect your mLife? AT&T rolls out its new higher-speed cellular service across the country ( http://www.instantmessagingplanet.com http://bri.li/17ba ).

7. Code for success: How the best e-commerce Webmasters build upon the crucial need to design for customer acquisition ( http://www.webmasterbase.com http://bri.li/1ba2 ).

8. See the world's largest computer screen! It utilizes the windows on one side of a 20-story building in Paris this month ( http://www.blinkenlights.de http://bri.li/1f8a ).

9. Database tips: An introduction to "SQL joins" for developers who want to start out with introductory-level basics ( http://www.devshed.com http://bri.li/2372 ).

10. Now you can buy your own Star Wars Land Speeder, courtesy of a one-of-a-kind auction taking place this week at eBay ( http://www.ebay.com http://bri.li/275a ).

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While you're waiting for the first sequel to the cult film The Matrix (entitled The Matrix Reloaded, coming Memorial Day 2003), you can see a new video that's careening around the Internet. It's a 30-second trailer for Animatrix, a forthcoming full-length motion picture. To be released in early 2003, it's a "prequel" with nine short animated films that illuminate how the Earth became The Matrix.

Go to http://www.warnerbros.com http://bri.li/c39a to see the new video (conveniently downloadable in four different bandwidths, from slow modem to broadband).

And for the latest on the next two Matrix sequels -- which wrapped their Australian shoot on Aug. 21 -- visit http://filmforce.ign.com http://bri.li/d722 .

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld contributing editor Brian Livingston (http://SecretsPro.com). Research director is Vickie Stevens. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0764534130

Win a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send a tip Brian prints. mailto: Brian@SecretsPro.com

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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