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Poor Richard 18

eZine's profile picture
Author: eZine
6 Feb 2023

Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site

Editor: Peter Kent
Top Floor Publishing


  • Beginner's Column: Who's Linking to You?
  • A Quick Way to Inform Sites About Changed URLs
  • Cost Per Click or Cost Per Impression?
  • InterNIC Domain Reports
  • Yet Another Place to Register a Newsletter
  • Searching Eudora
  • Special Promotions -- Essays Contest Don't Work
  • Turn Your Web Site Into a Book -- or Write a Book To Sell at Your Site
  • Will Yahoo! Charge for Submissions?
  • And Now For Something Completely Different
  • Poor Richard's Web Site in the Press
  • Reading Back Issues
  • In Future Issues

I've you've been wondering where Poor Richard's Web Site News had got to ... I skipped an issue. I spent ten days on a trip to Europe -- to the Frankfurt Book Fair -- and what with standing up all day, walking around one of the largest exhibit complexes in the world, having trouble connecting my laptop to the German phone system, I finally decided to miss an issue. Sorry for the missed issue, but here we are, back on track again.

Beginner's Column: Who's Linking to You?

Want a quick way to find out who's linking to your Web site? Here's a very quick method. Go to AltaVista ( ), and enter the following into the search box:

  link:YourDomainName -host:YourDomainName

Of course replace YourDomainName with the real information. For instance, entering ...

... will search for pages that contain links to, excluding pages that are themselves in the domain. (the link: bit means "look for these links," while the -host bit means "exclude pages held by the host computer with this domain's Web pages").

Why do you care? Well, it's a good way to measure the success of your marketing efforts. It may also provide a good source of testimonials that you can use at your Web site. You may want to suggest special promotions to people who've linked to you in the past -- perhaps a review copy of your product, or a giveaway contest. And if you are moving your Web site, you may want to contact people to ask them to update their links. Which brings us to the next subject ...

A Quick Way to Inform Sites About Changed URLs

I've been promising for some time to explain a quick way to inform Web sites when you change your URL. And, prompted by a reader who pointed out that I've been promising this and he'd like to know exactly what I was talking about, I decided to write about it in this issue. Unfortunately, the service I was going to write about -- Rover Search Service -- is not taking any new clients, and is not renewing clients when their credits run out. (The site's still there -- -- but you can no longer sign up.)

I wonder if anyone's seen a similar service anywhere -- if so, let me know and I'll mention it here. Rover worked like this. You would give it a list of Web pages, and Rover would go to those pages and find email addresses on the pages; it would then provide a report of the email addresses it found.

Now, I realize that this system almost invites abuse; it could be used to extract email addresses from a large number of sites, which could then be used for spam campaigns. On the other hand, email addresses are so cheap these days I'm not sure many spammers would bother using this system. But there were legitimate reasons to use such a system.

One Web-site owner who had to move her site to a new domain told me she'd used Rover. First, she went to AltaVista and searched for pages linking to her. Then she took that list of Web pages and submitted it to Rover, which returned a list of email addresses. She was then able to contact people linking to her, and ask if they could update their links.

So it seems to me that such a service could be useful -- let me know if you run across one.

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Cost Per Click or Cost Per Impression?

If you've been looking at Web advertising options, you may have discovered that there are two ways to pay for advertising; per click or per impression. In other words, you may be charged for each time someone clicks on an ad, or you may be charged for each time someone sees the ad.

At first it may appear that being charged for a click makes more sense. After all, just because someone sees an ad, doesn't mean they'll actually click on it and visit your site. So why not pay for results rather than potential results? And click-through rates are generally very low, so it's often frustrating to pay for a huge number of impressions that don't result in anything.

I hadn't thought much about this issue until I ran across an article by Jay Schwedelson of WebConnect, an Internet advertising agency. Schwedelson points out that the cost-per-click model actually penalizes the successful marketer. The better the ad you create, the more successful that ad is ... and the more you have to pay.

I guess the moral is, if you're not sure what you're doing, buy per impression, while if you really do know what you're doing, buy per click. Either way, if you want to read the full reasoning behind this, see Schwedelson's article at

InterNIC Domain Reports

Have you created a number of domains? Have you lost track of when you have to pay, or who you specified as the billing contact? InterNIC -- the organization registering .com, .net, and .org domains -- provides a neat little email report, showing the domains you are associated with (as the Technical, Administrative, or Billing contact).

Everyone in the InterNIC database has a "handle" which is created by taking your initials and adding a number: BC123, AG104, and so on. You simply enter your handle into the Domain Status Reports form, along with your name and email address, and InterNIC will email a report to you.

The report shows you all the domains with which you are associated, along with the last invoice number, the payment status and when the payment is due, the date the domain was registered, the handle of the Billing Contact, and the amount of the most recent invoice. You can quickly see if your invoices have been paid, or whether the domain is Pending Deletion or Deactivation.

This is especially useful if someone else in your organization is responsible for paying for a domain for which you are the technical or administrative contact ... it gives you a way to make sure payments are made on time, so you don't lose your domain (a subject I discussed in an earlier issue: ).

To find the form, go to

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Yet Another Place to Register a Newsletter

Email newsletter publishing really must be getting popular. I keep hearing about more places to register email newsletters. Here's one I found out about a few days ago.

The E-ZineZ - Billed as "a search engine for e-zines." This site also provides information for budding e-zine publishers. It's organized very much like Yahoo! -- it's obvious that the designers have based it on that system, as even the way you add an e-zine to the directory is the same as Yahoo!'s method. This directory is for e-zines and newsletters that are published on the Web; you have to register the URL.

When I come across these newsletter directories I add them to the "Places to Register Your Email Newsletter" report ( ), so you can see the full list there.

Searching Eudora

In a recent issue I explained that I'd switched email programs; I now use Eudora, because its filtering system is very convenient ( ). The problem with Eudora, though, is that its Search capabilities are ridiculously weak.

That's no longer a problem. I've discovered a great little plug-in for Eudora, EFind. This program lets you specify exactly what you want to search on: you can search the From:, Subject:, To:, CC:, or BCC: fields, the body of the messages, or everything at once. And you can specify _where_ you are searching, something that is a real problem in Eudora's own search function; you can tell it exactly which folders to look in. There are a number of other handy little features. If you use Eudora, and save a lot of email, you really need EFind.

You can get the plug-in at (This is a little bit odd ... look for the little EFind link in the top left corner of the screen; it may be hard to see, depending on your eyesight and video monitor. Blue text on a black background can be difficult to read.)

Special Promotions -- Essays Contest Don't Work

Now and then I do special promotions at other people's Web sites. I'll offer to give away a few copies of "Poor Richard's Web Site: Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site," and we then hold a drawing; people submit their email addresses, and we draw winners.

I've recently tried a twist on this type of promotion; the essay type contest. You know what I mean, the sort of contest that many magazines used to hold; "tell us, in twenty words or less, exactly why you feel you should be running the country," and that sort of thing.

Well, come to think of it, I haven't seen many of those contests in magazines in many years. They used to be popular, didn't they? Perhaps the reason you don't see many anymore, is that people probably don't enter them anymore. Nobody has time. That's certainly been my experience with such contests on the Web.

The first one I did was for Entrepreneur Magazine, which has a very busy Web site. It wasn't my idea -- I simply suggested a drawing. But I was happy to go along. As it happened, there were _very_ few entries -- fewer entries, in fact, than drawings I'd done at Web sites with a fraction of the traffic that Entrepreneur gets. I tried another such drawing recently at a different site; again, not my idea, but I was willing to go along with it. Again, almost no response.

I just don't think anyone's willing to spend the time for this sort of thing anymore. So, my conclusion -- drawings really do work. Essay contests don't.

Turn Your Web Site Into a Book -- or Write a Book To Sell at Your Site

Have you ever thought of writing a book for which you know there's a fairly limited market? Do you have a book that's gone out of print, but which you know you could sell if you had a few copies lying around? Do you have a great deal of information at your Web site -- the equivalent of 108 pages or more -- and would be interested in turning it into a book at a very low cost to you?

Publishing a book can be a very expensive process, costing many thousands of dollars. Printing 5,000 copies of Poor Richard's Web Site, for instance, cost around $11,000, and on top of that I had to pay for layout, cover design, and so on. Of course I could have printed fewer than 5,000 copies, but the fewer copies you print, the more expensive it gets, until you reach a point at which there's simply no point printing.

But all that is changing. The age of print-on-demand is finally here. In other words, books can now be stored electronically in a printing system, and single copies printed as needed. All of a sudden it's becoming viable to publish books for which there's a very small market, and to start the publishing process at a much lower price.

If you're interested in print-on-demand, you need to know about toExcel. This is a fantastic new system that can print one book at a time -- it prints books to order -- and still turn a profit. Here's how the system works. You pay toExcel $299 (this is the introductory price -- the full price will be $500) and submit your book in MS Word or WordPerfect format. It's up to you to edit and proofread the manuscript, so you'll probably want to pay a professional editor to work on it. You can create a book of between 30,000 and 200,000 words -- and toExcel are particular interested in Web sites that may want to publish the Web-site information on paper.

toExcel will create a custom layout for the book, and a four-color cover. They'll copyright the book and apply for ISBN and Library of Congress numbers. Then they'll print five copies of the book and send them to you. Now, at this point your book is stored on a printing system in an Ingram warehouse. Ingram is the largest book wholesaler in North America (probably the world). Every bookstore in the US knows how to order from them, and your book will be entered into the Ingram catalog (that's a real benefit, by the way; a popular subject of conversation among small publishers is how difficult it is to get onto Ingram's database). In other words, your book will be available to any bookstore, something many small publishers have real trouble achieving.

When someone orders your book, Ingram prints a copy of the book, binds it, and ships it out. What kind of book can this possibly be? Some kind of photocopied, cheap-looking thing? Well, I've seen an example, and it looked very good. It was perfect bound (that's the term used for the flat-spine binding used for almost all the books you see in bookstores), the color-printed cover looked really good. All in all it was a very professional-looking job. It didn't look quite the same as a normal mass-printed bookstore book -- but it wasn't far off, and it certainly doesn't look like something thrown together in a local print shop. In fact, if I'd seen the book in a bookstore, and hadn't know where it had come from, I might not have noticed any difference.

Now, don't think this is the route to instant publishing success. As a small publisher, I know that publishing can be very hard work. But toExcel does offer a number of tools to help you market your book; they give you an author's Web page, newsletters and articles about how to promote the book, and so on. They pay a 20% royalty on net sales (that means, for instance, that if you have a book with a list price of $20, and a bookstore buys it for $12 -- a typical bookstore discount -- you'll get $2.40, 20% of $12).

This is a really low-cost tool to get a book into print. Perhaps you want to "test the waters," and see if you can sell a book. Perhaps you have an out-of-print book you want to bring back to life. Maybe you know you could sell a book at your site, but don't have the money to invest in traditional publishing. If you're a public speaker, you may need a book for "back of room" sales. There are many ways in which this system can be used.

What I've just described is the toExcel "People's Press" program, though toExcel have a variety of other programs. They have a University Press program ("Keeping scholarly books in print forever"); an International Presses program ("Opening the US market to foreign publishers with no risk"); an Independent Press program ("Making technology work for publishers with no hassle)", and a Renaissance Press program ("Reviving the works of published authors at no cost").

A few things to note before I leave this subject. First, there are a few pages at the toExcel Web site that haven't been updated and may show a 10% royalty for the People's Press books -- Matt Wagner of toExcel assures me that they've changed the contracts recently and are paying 20%. Also royalties for some of the other programs vary, from a low of 10% to a 50:50 revenue split. Finally, I should say that I know the people at toExcel; Matt is a computer-book agent who represented me to computer-book publishers for about 25 of my books.

Take a look at toExcel; this system is "for real" -- the partnership with Ingram guarantees that.


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Will Yahoo! Charge for Submissions?

T. J. Lee, the publisher of The Naked PC ( ) sent me something interesting recently. It was a survey form he found at the Yahoo! site titled the "Yahoo! Site Submission Survey."

This survey asks a number of questions that may indicate the direction Yahoo! might be taking eventually. They asked the following four questions:
  • "How interested would you be in a service that ensured that your site would be considered for listing in Yahoo!?"
  • "If interested, what would you expect to pay as a one time non-refundable fee for your site to be considered for listing in Yahoo!?" [Answers ranged from <$100 to >$1000, and Wouldn't Pay.]
  • "How interested would you be in a Yellow Pages listing in Yahoo! (your listing would be bold, and would be given priority placement compared to the rest of the listings)?"
  • "If interested, how much would you be willing to pay each month?" [Answers ranged from $10/month to More than $50/month.]
Are Yahoo! planning to turn their site into a Yellow Pages? Are they suggesting a system in which you pay to get listed, or simply one in which you pay to get _considered_ for listing? It looks like they are only promising to consider you, but will they still take unpaid listings? How do they pick you? Is a bad site more likely to get listed if it pays? And if they take your money, will they really have the nerve to not list you?

The most important question, I believe, is will the general public continue using Yahoo! if they know that the listings are based not on how useful or interesting the sites are, but on whether or not the owners paid?

The survey form is still there, at least for the moment. You can find it at

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

In the last issue I talked about the joke going around the Internet related to the Word for Windows thesaurus and the phrase "I'd like Bill Clinton to resign." Run the thesaurus on this phrase and you'll get the synonym "I'll drink to that!" As I pointed out, this really has nothing to do with Bill Clinton; the thesaurus will return that phrase if you run it on nothing more than "I'd".

Several readers responded with similar reactions from the Word thesaurus. The following are the "joke" phrases, followed by what the thesaurus returns, followed by the actual phrase that triggers the returned phrase. So now you can make up your own statements about whoever you happen to hate.

The phrase: I'd like to see Bill Gates dead
Returns: I'll drink to that
All you need is: I'd

The phrase: I hate Bill Gates
Returns: I should say so
All you need is: I h

The phrase: Unable to follow directions
Returns: unable to have an erection
All you need is: Unable to f

The phrase: Bill Clinton
Returns: bill of divorcement
All you need is: Bill C

(Is Bill Gates really the most hated man in America?)

Poor Richard's Web Site in the Press

The accolades for Poor Richard's Web Site _continue_ to arrive; you can find scores more -- from, Library Journal, BYTE, USA Today, and others -- at
  • Book of the Week
  • "I'd recommend this book to anyone with a web site. Even if you feel you already know everything you need to know, read this so that you can wave it at the next person who seeks advice from you. Read it just because you will ENJOY reading it." Web site review:
For many more reviews and testimonials, visit ...

Poor Richard's Web Site is in many bookstores, and can be ordered by others; it can also be ordered on-line, through the mail, by fax, or by phone.

See ...

Order direct from the publisher, and you'll get a 100%, 1-Year Guarantee. If the book doesn't help you set up a low-cost yet effective Web site, send it back for a refund!

Reading Back Issues

If you need to refer to back issues of this newsletter -- and search the archives -- you can find them at the following location:

In Future Issues ...

All sorts of things too numerous to mention ... just keep reading, and forward the newsletter to friends and colleagues!

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