Author: Jaive Smare
My name is Jaive. I’m a scribe like many of my friends but since my dream job at the old Independent newspaper disappeared one day, I’ve been wondering the vast wasteland of journalism of PNG (sorry, that is way melodramatic and far from the truth, but I’ve been wanting use it:)) looking for a small place in the media to curl up. Eventually I sold my journalistic soul to be a PR guy (often referred to as spin doctor or corporate bs artist).
Where it really begun….
When I was 24 yrs old I started a Sports Magazine in Lae call Squad; Lae Sports Magazine, ran it for three issues and attracted advertising. But I was young and not confident and it was tough cold calling people for advertising (thanks Coke, Panamex and Papindo for the first adverts). I folded it all up one day, cashed the cheques and headed to POM to see if I could cut with Public Relations.
Though I now have a new career here in POM, the viral ‘itch’ is already in my blood – I want to be journo again and publish something. After the first experience of the magazine and also having a full time job, I decided to sit down and right out a model I would focus on if I was to make a return to journalism and self publishing.
This is the model
1. Low Cost: Cause publishing is expensive, I had to produce something that was low cost.
2. Special Interest: I had to choose a topic or topics that were special interest and not covered by the media.
3. Self Marketing: Being a special interest product for a special interest group, it would be self marketing.
4. It must not take up a lot of my time. Simply because I have a full time job.
So considering all of this, I began to relook at my ideas for publishing a new magazine. But increasingly, I began to see that I did not have enough saved up and this would be an expensive exercise (as all magazines are).
It was around this time, I began to look seriously at the internet, websites and a new fangled thing sparkly thing called blogging.
(oops sorry an interlude first)….
Before I get into part 2, there are somethings I did that were important then and are still important now, some more so for the lessons learnt.
1. *Wrote a Business Plan:* I did a full on business plan because that was what all the ‘start your business websites’ say; the most important thing is to ‘write your business plan.’ So I did one. It was pretty full on (and full of seriously whacked out shit). I did research, costs, quotes, cash flow projects (trust me it was more like imagination gone crazy projections), marketing strategies, sales plan, I did sales letters, I listed targets and phone numbers on and on and on and on. I swear that business plan got me worked up into a delusional fantasy of me rolling in cash, it was ludicrous!!
What I learnt from this: It is better to have simple plan, just a simple one. Its better to say I am starting this, I want to earn only this from it, and this is how I’ll do it. Business Plans are complicated and most things that are complicated are a waste of time and energy. But still, learning how to do one is very important. You can visit this website for more details on business plan
2. *Registered a Business Name:* I registered a business name with the Investment Promotion Authority. It costs K50 and it took ten days. It was great because I could write invoices to that name. And I could also open up a business account. The process of registering a business name or a business has not changed much. You can visit the IPA website and grab a guide or download a form and register your own business name or company with IPA.
*http://www.ipa.gov.pg/> – This is the IPA website http://www.ipa.gov.pg/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=199&Itemid=149 – This will take you straight to the links page
3. *Opened a small business account*. After I got my business name paper from IPA, a went to ANZ, Westpac and BSP to open a business account.
Back then I think things may have been more complicated to do, because I had to get references, and commissioner of oath stamps and proof of identity etc, etc. After a while I got turned away from the other two banks but ANZ said it was OK and I got a small business account, which was awesome.
Nowadays, with the growth of the small business class in PNG, I don’t think its hard to open a business account with ANZ, BSP or Westpac.
BSP – http://www.bsp.com.pg
ANZ PNG – http://www.anz.com/papuanewguinea
Westpac PNG – http://www.westpac.com.pg/
4. *I met some great people.* My friend Jason Kaut helped me develop the Sports Magazine and it was during this time I met Dino Naing, a really smart bloke with a degree in Computer Science from Unitech. These two guys, plus Frank Genia, Marlene Samar, Papu Kais are important in part II.
5. *Learnt the power of the internet*: I did a lot of online work on starting a small business and learnt about ideas like niches, forecasting, marketing, branding, design etc, etc. Back then, (which is not so long ago) the internet was an easier place to find great stuff. Nowadays, there is all this SEO marketing and other stuff going on, it’s hard to find the really good stuff. But I’ll recommend you the following sites if you are looking at starting a business.
http://www.businessknowhow.com – Great Resource. My absolute favourite.
http://www.entrepreneurship.org – Good Resource for small business thoughts, practices, ideas.
http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/company_list.php – Some Great Case Studies
http://www.smallscalebusiness.com – Lots of Ideas
http://www.springwise.com – For Great Ideas
http://www.toolkit.com – A great resource
http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk – This website wil give you some great insights
From Magazines to blogging
So I was looking at blogging and the internet as a meduim for publishing. The more research i did the more i came across ‘I make money online’ websites. Famous one is John Chows blog (just type in John Chow on google, you should find him). These were blogging sites of people who claim to make thousands in dollars online.
The use of the internet as a legitimate avenue for publishing did not dawn on me, as I was (and still am) pretty dumb and wanted to do a blog or a website in conjuction with a (costly) printed magazine. I was focused on doing a magazine that i forgot my model of a product being low Cost to produce, for a special interest group, could market itself and did not take alot of time to produce.
Anyway, I brainstormed with a freind of mine Frank Genaia and we came up with several ideas.Two of the ideas were a resource magazine and a car magazine.
I remember from a conversation i had with a journo Roselyn Albaniel years ago where she mentioned that she used to write car reviews for the Independent newspaper and how it was not being done here in PNG. Hence this gave birth to the idea of doing a car review and news magazine supported by a blog. I like cars, who doesnt? I love driving, i like ‘ooh’ and ‘ahhing’ at pictures of cool cars and watching F1 racing and Top Gear on TV. Doing a car publication would be a good fit.
As for the resource magazine, I thought i’d follow the Henry Luce model (Time Magazine) and every month produce a massive digest of all the resource industry news in PNG, reducing all stories to 150 – 200 summaries with a main feature in the middle.
About this time Franks missus had their first baby and i felt i didnt want to put him under any financial strain to produce the magazines. So i struck out by myself, producing the Resource Magazine and its complimentary blog with daily updates.
I figured that even though it would attract advertising, it would take a while and from tests I ran with people on the streets, having the digest form of a magazine was quite interesting and would help sell the magazine each month and turn a profit or at least make enough for the next print run.
At the same time i used blogger.com to create the complimentary blog with the daily updates. The updates were just short summaries of resource news. I subscribed to the google news service for various keywords and everyday was sent a tonne of news on the resource industry in PNG. When it came time to produce content for the magazine, i just copy pasted all the best short
updates on the blog to the magazine layout.
My freind Jason Kaut in Lae (back then) helped put together the first feature for the magazine and sent to me. He also secured some advertising from Hornibrooks NGI.
So anyway, once the layout was complete, i went down to one of the local printers and gave them the file. About 20 days later the magazine was completed. Man, most of those news was outdated!!! I was really pissed off.
I did a fire sale on all the copies. It cost me K2500 to print the magazines. I recovered almost 80 percent of it. I figured that my model may have been right, but my execution was just lousy. I decided to put off the magazine just for now and decided to reasses my situation, i didnt want to lose money on the first hit. I wanted to produce a winner.
The best thing out of the resource magazine project was that i was getting more interested in websites and blogs as publishing mediums.
Creating my first free blog…
At Divine Word University in Madang (were I went to Uni), we did a semester of web design and internet as per the study course. We had to design our own websites etc using dreamweaver etc.
I did two sites, both were on philosophy. One site was like your standard website with all the menus and front page etc. The other one was done using photoshop and its html option and was made of pictures of beautifully scantily clad women.
You’d click on say one lady’s navel and get redirected to a page on nutrition and philosophies of food and health etc. We were only required to submit one site but I submitted both, asking the lecturer to grade me only on the one that he thought was the best . And he did. He graded me on the one that was done using photoshop, he said he liked the images.
One thing I learnt while doing these assignments, was that as internet in PNG trundled along in its third world shoes, the rest of the world was driving Ferraris online. The internet was exploding with information and a new breed of information entrepreneurs who were changing the landscape of the so called cyber world. And here in PNG, we were missing out on the revolution that was led by young people.
After school, apart from doing some muck around sites on my PC, I didn’t look at websites again, until I began publishing magazines and newsletters and began to learn about blogging. What is a blog? A blog is a simple website. It’s a bit confusing cause if someone asked then what is a website?, I would have to answer ‘ a website is a complicated blog.’ …anyway, I define a website as a place in the internet and a blog as one version of that place (like there are utes, vans, sedans versions of what we call cars).I’m not going to go into all the technicalities or whatnot about blogging….my feeble explanations will only confuse you. Just type in blogging in Google and hit enter.
Anyway I started a blog by creating a free blog at blogspot.com. This blog complimented the resource digest magazine I did and it featured, updates – short summaries of resource news as I explained before. Setting up a blog was easy and free. The work was in updating it and the whole learning curve of managing it and so forth. But it was making 300 hits a day after a few weeks. I looked information on the internet on blogging and I got a lot of great information on customizing a blog, getting people to visit it,
keywords, and ideas on earning money and more from many sites that were also blogs.
When I first started, it was a confusing, there so many different terms and all kinds of ideas, technical details and ‘gurus’.
Falling Head First Into CyberWorld….
Madness is the best way to describe the amount of info online on internet publishing and business models. It can be overwhelming.
Just do a Google search on how to design a website and make income from it and you will come across millions of sites. One thing I quickly realized was that most of the information I was finding was roughly that same and written in the same way on websites whose names were the same search terms I was using. Either that or I found short articles on large article directories that had links to the authors’ websites which covered the topic I was after.
Though I didn’t understand what Search Engine Optimization was before, I suddenly realized what it meant now, or why it was important.
There are people who live by making money online using their websites. Just like a shop must attract customers with promotions and prices, a website must attract visitors to make some money. If 1000 visitors will only make the website $1 dollar, than it needs a 10,000 visitors to make $10 dollars. Unlike in the real world where you can advertise your shops specials in the newspaper and have loud speakers blaring your promotions, on the internet you may have to rely on mainly search engines to drive traffic to your
Search Engine Optimization is understanding how search engines, especially Google, rank websites according to the relevance to your search term.
Google’s legendary algorithm robot things will look at keywords in a website, at the domain name, at the number of other websites linking back to that particular website and other details (I’m writing this just off the top of my head) and rank the site according to your search term. Basically, when you look for a particular term on the internet, the Google robots rank the websites and present the most relevant to your search terms, making your life easier because you don’t have to looking through a million websites looking for what’s relevant.
This then leaves the question, can you develop a useless website that ranks high up there for a highly searched term…the answer is probably yes.
However, Google also ranks according to authority ie how many other websites on other servers will link back to your website. For example, if I have a great blog on rocks in PNG. Other rock lovers from around the world are interested in PNG rocks, find my blog and link back to the great articles
I have on my blog. This increases my Google rankings as my website is deemed an authority. There is one bit of consolation when you are on your search for more knowledge. Some sites are duds, but there are other websites that absolutely great for information and are linked to by other websites.
Anyway, stuffing ones head with data is conducive to productivity, so I pushed ahead. While researching wordpress ( a platform) and blogger, a came across the term Content Management System or CMS for short.
A CMS is basically a prebuilt website or blog with templates and other features available.
My friend Dino Naing, a true website wiz, explained that there are people in the world who believe that the internet should be free and that anyone, no matter where they are from or what they do, should be able to build and own a website and have access to free software. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Concrete5 and more are CMS’s that all free to download by anybody, anywhere!!! Amazing!!! (please note every cms works in a particular ‘language,’ the three mention work in PHP).
Using Joomla and creating www.pngcars.com
So I started looking more into the Joomla CMS. Dino showed me how to download it and set up on my own computer and play around it. If you are newbie to Joomla with limited knowledge of how to develop websites etc, then you’ll understand that it was a tough slog at the start.
Looking back, I realize that with anything, patience is necessity. When someone tells you that Joomla is easy and you can have website up in less than 60 seconds, you don’t take your time to read and follow the whole Joomla manual step by step. You want to skip forwards continuously. That was my mistake. I was thinking that I should start the car website as soon as possible, so I wanted to learn as much as I could about Joomla and how to use it…but I was still totally lost.
Dino told me if I got the domain registered and paid for the hosting, he would help me get the whole thing online. But still I procrastinated. One day, I received my backdated pay. I was working for the Government then and sometimes they forget to pay you for several fortnights and then you get backpay!!!. I got drunk for three days.
In the middle of this great binge (i think it was one of the last ones before i quit alcohol) I registered the domain name and payed for the hosting account with Hosting Shop in Australia. They gave me a Cpanel account. Cpanel as a means of managing your hosting account. I won’t go into the details of a Cpanel account but it is simply great and easy to use and understand. So I called up Dino still drunk and told him “ Bro, I am emailing you the passwords, username for the website and could you help me get this done.” I cant remember but I think Dino also had a few to drink and said ‘rightieO’ and had the website up on less than no time. Though we had
some configuration issues at the start, what you see on http://www.pngcars.com exactly how Dino designed the initial site. I think the site was fully set up in September 2008.
One of the earliest people to find the site was Wally Jenkins in New Zealand. Wally I believe is Papua New Guinean and he designed the PNG Cars logo and sent it over.
Conclusion, not really.
PNG Cars has been a low cost journey for me. I have met great people and made new freinds because of the website. Visitors come from all over PNG and all over the world. Its been awesome. I hope the site will get big enough soon to clock ten thousands hits in a month. I just need to work harder at providing better content.
Ela Motors, Freeway Motors have been great supporters of the website. Paul Abbot, Megan, Donna, Api, Arua, Mathew Peters and the guys and girls at Ela Motors have been awesome.
Jon Rei, one of the hardest working guys in the business, has been a great supporter for www.pngcars.com since day one. Teddy has also been great.
Other sponsors such as Hasting Deering and Autorec PNG have also supported the website which was great. Pinnacle Singapore and Bank of South Pacific have been awesome and will continue to be (which reminds me, i need to open an account with BSP pronto)
Alot of private sellers have sold their cars on www.pngcars.com. It would be nice if they could also donate something back to the website but to this day, not a single toea, only thankyous, and promotions to their freinds, which is okay I guess because it drives traffic especially to the classifieds section of the website. I may remove this service as a free one once the site starts clocking over a ten thousand hits a month. Let me know what you think?
PNG Cars…sorry final last words…
Though PNG Cars is a news site that is funded by classifieds, it gets stereotyped as a website that sell cars. I guess the media here in PNG doesnt recognise www.pngcars.com as a legitimate news and article site on. Yes it does sell cars for its sponsors, but it also covers the motoring and transport industry in PNG.and there is nothing wrong with selling cars. The motoring industry provides thousands of jobs for Papua New Guineans all over the country.
My future plan is to make the website a cool car website for all with heaps of news and better articles and road adventures and heaps, heaps more. I previously developed a PDF version of the newsletter but couldnt manage with my workload but i am relaunching it again this month. I am also developing a TV version of www.pngcars.com for Kundu TV. The first edition hopefully will be early next month.
What are my future plans for www.pngcars.com? I am going to make it big..If you have any comments, please by all means, share it below or email me