From Dimes to Dollars

Posts tagged d2d


by Ben Lopez

Jason Calacanis recently interviewed Neil Young, founder of NGMoco Games, and the man behind massively popular iPhone titles such as We Rule, Godfinger, and Eliminate.  Maybe you’re one to scoff at iPhone games, and consider developers like NGMoco to be minor league, but that’s hardly the case, as the App Store marketplace is a particularly lucrative venue to distribute games.  I was stunned when I heard some of the figures people were spending on in-game items using real money: how does $10,000 within a month sound to you?  You read that right: TEN GRAND.  There are folks that don’t earn that in a year, yet the geniuses at NGMoco have convinced folks to spend that much to grow magic cauliflowers.  So how do they manage to empty your wallet at such an alarming rate?  Micro transactions and compulsion loops.

Micro transactions, such as a .99 purchase in the app store is a “why the hell not?” impulse buy.  These unplanned purchases can add up quickly, of course, and that’s what more and more companies are banking on.  Expect to see this sort of add-on/in-game pricing become much more widespread.

Compulsion loops are nothing new.  They’ve been around for decades, long before the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s in the form of PC role playing titles.  Some of the earliest compulsion loops consisted of the same model you see within numerous titles today, allowing a player to “level up” and become stronger, acquire new abilities, and access to new content within the game as a result of putting in time and/or skill.  This is an especially enticing model for players, and is by far the most widely used for good reason.  Let’s say you just put in another 2 hours on a role playing game, and despite playing through several battles, you don’t make any progress in the storyline.  You’ll still feel as if you’ve accomplished something because your character has gotten stronger, or perhaps you found a valuable new item while exploring.  In other words, you never feel like your play time is wasted.  Other incentives to continue playing include leaderboards, public award badges for completing specific tasks, or real/virtual prize money for placing in events.  So in a shooting game, maybe you’ll earn an award on your profile page letting other players know that you played through a match without a single death.  It may sound petty, but given the large investment of time involved, people begin to pride themselves on these honours.  Eidos recently offered a real money prize for a stunt contest in their open-world game Just Cause 2.  This was an innovative spin on the cookie cutter “highest score” or “quickest time” challenges, even if the contest itself was marketed rather poorly!  Social obligation is another huge factor, something any Farmville player should know; if someone helps you tend your crops, you probably feel obligated to return the favour.  

You’ll also notice that NGMoco has a range of difficulty in their games; some you can make progress in by simply putting in time, and others are more hard fought skill-based titles, such as the first-person shooter Eliminate.  They are effectively covering all the bases for differing potential audiences, and it’s certainly paid off for them.

Chances are, the majority of the D2D readers aren’t game developers.  But that’s not to say you can’t develop compulsion loops for your area of business.  Reward loyal customers, find smaller bite-sized payment methods that are easier to swallow, and give your top contributors recognition for their work.  Get creative!  If NGMoco can earn millions off of a model developed decades ago, just think of what you might accomplish with new, innovating compulsion loops.

Hi Fellow Blogger,
Please don't think of this as an intrusion but as a blogger myself I know that something we all need is subscribers. Walt Bayliss has created a program that gives you a Fre*e Blog as well as 200 Fre*e Subscribers to start out.It is well worth checking out as it will only reinforce what you are already doing.
Have a Great day,
Gary Walsh


Hi Silversnowball,

I should probably begin by advising my readers not to take the same route you have by beginning a spam campaign.  Spammers are blacklisted, and the conversion rate is easily under .01%.  Such shameful methods for a modest return are not worth your time, nor the sacrifice of your reputation.

With that out of the way, this piece of spam brings about a topic worth talking about: automated tools or paid services to gain subscribers.  While you’ll probably note some short-term success if you decide to use either of these, the problem is that you’re not going to retain the vast majority of those people.  Worse yet, once your blog or website is labeled a spam trap…it sticks.  And because you don’t want to have your (real) name attached to any campaign like that, you are building absolutely zero personal brand equity.  The advantage of gaining readers organically is that you build relationships, and therefore loyalty, along the way.  Commenting on blogs that you are genuinely interested in, adding helpful tips to related forums, taking the initiative on Q&A sites, these are all ways to organically meet people with similar interests and gain new readers, while at the same time solidifying your public reputation.  The best part of this method?  Because you’re doing things honestly and not paying someone to send out spam for you, you’ll actually enjoy doing it.

Thanks for your question!


Hi, i'm a 20 year old living in michigan and have always wanted to open a concert venue. I'm currently going to school to become a physicians assistant soooo as you can tell i have no clue how to go about opening a venue like that. I've been reasearching investment groups but i have NO clue where to start? any ideas?


Hi itsnewman,

Thanks for writing, it’s always a pleasure to hear from D2D readers!  A concert venue is a good choice for Michigan with the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, among others, being very dense hubs for visual and musical artists alike.  Plenty of hot spots to choose from.

Well, I think right now the first decision you’ll want to make is not where to look for investors, but what career path you ultimately want to take.  Do you still have interest in becoming a PA?  Do you have another unrelated job in the meantime?  Will there be lost grants, or looming student loans that will be piled on if you take a semester hiatus to get a feel for the music biz?  Can you see yourself happily running a concert venue 10 or 20 years from now?  These are questions that may be tough, but need to be answered, as this in itself may be a turning point in your life.  Think long and hard about this decision before moving forward.

Now, assuming you’re a little further down the road and you’ve made that tough decision, you’ll need to learn the business inside and out before you begin seeking investors.  Never underestimate the intuition of investors, remember that these guys hear pitches all the time and they’ll be able to sense immediately whether or not you’re fluent in your field.  I’m assuming with your passion for music you attend concerts yourself.  Make it a point to befriend the folks that make these concerts happen, get a feel for the process.  Hit up local cafes with free open mic night, talk with the performers and listen to their stories, you never know what wisdom and encouragement you may glean from them.  Heck, if you’re having trouble making connections with people, target smaller venues and offer to do a blog entry or interview with the owners.  Take them out to lunch if you have to, a smart businessman is unlikely to turn down a free lunch and good press.  If there’s one thing I’ve ultimately learned in the business world, it’s that you’d be amazed what you can accomplish by just asking.  As Dale Carnegie would affirm, people love to talk about themselves, so sometimes just asking the right questions and being a good listener can be incredibly beneficial.  Don’t expect immediate results, but persistence will eventually pay off big time.  Also, as I mentioned earlier, one thing you’ll want to scout as early as possible is location.  You’ll want to have a clear vision of what type of crowd you’d be attracting, (realistic) capacity, and if it makes logical sense for the musical niche you’ll be filling.  Study the number of concerts and calibre of bands playing in a given area, and keep in mind that relocating may be in the cards.  

In any case, get back in touch with me once once you’ve taken a few steps on this, and we’ll determine the possibilities from there.  I wish you the best no matter what you decide to do.  

Warmest regards,

Ben Lopez


Photo credit: Jonathan Lopez

by Ben Lopez

This past Sunday I was visiting my family and having a wonderful little afternoon spending time with them. That is until a tornado hit in the back yard, and the neighbour’s roof narrowly avoided destroying the side of the house as it blew off. Something tells me it’s not going to be a good week…

You may have noticed I haven’t been around much lately. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I’m wading through some difficulties right now, the cleanup after the tornado the least of my troubles, and I need to square a few things away before getting back to business as usual.

Sometimes you don’t just get hit hard, but with many things at once, and it’s not easy to maintain your everyday routine. It turns your life upside-down. My lease was suddenly compromised recently due to circumstances beyond my control, and I’ve been forced to spend a good amount of time seeking property as the clock ticks down. I have resigned from both my Google News syndicated writing position that has since plateaued, as well as stepping down from my marketing director spot when I saw disaster on the horizon and took an early exit. And after taking a moment to check the status of my former company yesterday I’m glad I did, as they seem to be at a complete standstill.

I postponed my own startup to pursue these positions that I foresaw getting me ahead, but I’m now behind the curve. Hey, that’s why they’re called risks, because there’s a definite possibility you could lose, and in this case, I lost. But like Jason Calancanis frequently alludes to, crying about it will do nothing for you, it’s time to move on.

Kind of puts me back at square one, doesn’t it? In the weeks to come I will have to make a firm decision on how to proceed, and what projects to pursue next. I could feel sorry for myself, or I can look at the positive learning experience this was and give myself a pat on the back for taking the initiative to resign while there was, to the untrained eye, still potential on the surface. Sometimes you just need to cut your losses and move on when your gut tells you to. Maybe you’re in what you consider a good position, but you see trouble down the road; just remember that objects are closer than they appear.

But it may be for the best, there are plenty of new opportunities, and I have a whole list of Plan Bs. Think about how many hours are in the day, and the sheer mass of what can be accomplished if you’re truly dedicated and uncompromising in your work focus. Whatever lies ahead, one thing is for sure: From Dimes To Dollars is here to stay.

What difficulties have the D2D readers seen coming their way? Share what you’ve learned from overcoming them: you never know who may find encouragement in your words.

D2D Response To Anti-Comment Agenda From Tumblr Staff Blog


Why John Gruber doesn’t have comments on his site:

Bijan Sabet likes comments:

My experiences with comments haven’t been as positive. Blogs with good comments do exist, like Bijan’s and many of the small tech and VC blogs that I assume he reads, but they’re unusual.

I’m fiercely…

by Ben Lopez

Have you ever wondered why Tumblr hasn’t introduced a native comment system to make things a hell of a lot easier for everyone?  Well, Marco Arment, Lead Developer at Tumblr, gave us that answer loud and clear yesterday in the blog post above.

In a word, he despises comments.  In his own words, he tells us, “I’m not a very good ‘team player’…I also disagree with the widespread notion that comments are ‘discussion’, or that they form a ‘community’. “  It goes on and on with heaps of negativity and apprehension, likely stemming from a past incident (“my experiences with comments haven’t been as positive”), if you wish to read the full blog post.  The problem with this is that as Tumblr’s lead developer, I’m sure he has a pretty good say in what features are (or are not) introduced to the site.  This makes it likely that Mr. Arment is a major contributing factor holding Tumblr back from the next logical step, which is a native comment system.

So why do I have to go and make a big deal about it publicly?  Why didn’t I just share this with him directly and be done with it?  Well, I had intended to leave this response as a direct comment for him on his blog, but I think you can guess why that didn’t work out…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this because I want to bash Marco or Tumblr, and if he wants to refrain from allowing comments on his personal blog, that’s fine.  I love Tumblr.  I’m never going back to any other blogging platform, and trust me, I’ve tried them all.  I’m saying this out of love for Tumblr, and the totally awesome community we have have.  I just want to see that community aspect fleshed out with standardized comments before we start losing some of its great contributors out of frustration.

Tumblr is of course a private business, and they’re free to do as they please.  But if this was my company, I’d be looking past my own bias, and the bias of my employees to provide solutions that are best for my users, not me.



by Ben Lopez

Another week, another recap.  So, who pre-ordered iPhone 4?  Not many of us, I imagine, seeing as it sold out in an afternoon (don’t feel bad, I missed it too).  But you’ve heard that already, let’s get to what you may not have heard this past week:

This week’s highlights:


 We have a lot of social media going on in our life these days, don’t we?  While it’s sometimes convenient and enjoyable, there’s a whole lotta noise making its way in with all those spammy Twitter updates, and damned Farmville notifications every 5 seconds.  I take a look at the top annoyances and how you can avoid them.

imageI share a great classic quote from Walt Disney on your work in relation to the time you spend with your family.  Family first, don’t let them slip away as you get caught up in your work.

image My good friend Phil Ricci shared a story that I thought was just completely ludicrous; the New York Times apparently things we’re just completely unprofessional to use the word “tweet”.  My question to them: what the hell else are you going to call it?  See my full response here.

imageLast, but certainly not least, a little something for iPhone users in celebration of the iPhone 4 this past week.  I’d been wanting to do it for a while, so I finally set aside some time to do an in-depth review of Opera Mini for iPhone.  Is it really “six times faster” as they claim?  Speed tests are explained in the review.

For tomorrow’s post, I wanted to get back to a more core business focus for a while, but damn it all, after reading one of the Tumblr staff blogs, it absolutely requires a response.  Don’t miss this one…

Oh, and if anyone happens to have a recommendation left at this point (unlikely) and would like to be kind to Dimes To Dollars, you can do so in the techstartups, or entrepreneurs category by clicking on the respective link.  Thanks for reading!^_^

PS: Special thanks to Jon Lopez Photography for the awesome Dimes To Dollars Photo shoot! 


by Ben Lopez

The problem with social media these days is that we’re constantly being pushed to make everything connected, and encouraged to share exactly what we’re doing, buying, and where we are. What does this equate to? NOISE, and lots of it.

Perhaps you read somewhere in one of those dime-a-dozen SEO e-books that maximum exposure is critical.  Well, not when you’re scaring off users from your website and social media accounts, readers from your blog, and potential customers for your business with information overload.  You wouldn’t call someone 10 or 20 times a day to tell them you’re playing a game, would you?  Of course not, that’s just not socially acceptable.  When you post things online, think of it as a real life conversation, and remember this when considering how often you want to inform people of every minute detail.

It’s inefficient for all of us; the chronic poster loses subscribers, friend interactions, and it is more difficult to keep track of their own activities due to the very clutter they themselves create. For the rest of us, it clutters our friend feeds, RSS feeds, and inboxes like nobody’s business, good grief. Same concept as people that forward a dozen or more e-mails a day. You’re my friend, and I still like you as a person, but at the end of the day it’s just bothersome to delete all those e-mails. In the same way, it’s bothersome unsubbing/unfriending, hiding individual apps, and tweaking my display settings due to the pseudo spam of others.

My advice: DO NOT LINK TWITTER to your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Myspace account, or else we’re all doomed to suffer endless pages of “LOL yea i no” and “help me tend my crops in Farmville!”. Assuming you don’t post a new article every hour, auto updates from your blog are generally considered acceptable. If you play games, get rid of the ridiculous number of updates that flood both your wall and our friend streams.

Follow these simply rules and it’s entirely possible our planet may not be doomed (maybe). What do you think? Is there still a chance of redemption, or is society beyond hope?


by Ben Lopez

We’re hot off the heels of Steve Jobs announcing the iPhone 4, which I covered on D2D’s Twitter page, and excitement is still buzzing in the tech community.  There’s been some excitement in my own life as well, as I have recently stepped in as the Director of Marketing for App Collab, ideal for anyone interested in developing or investing in mobile apps.  As you can imagine, that has put my former schedule in a blender, so I wasn’t able to sit down and get out much original content this week.  Another fail, my bad.  This week, I’m vowing right now: more meat, less filler!  Leave me some digital-slap-in-the-face comments/threats below to keep me in line, won’t you?

That of course leads me to my one announcement of good news: comments are working again.  I had nearly become a hypocrite after making my plea to Tumblr users  explaining why comments should always be enabled!  When I upgraded to a premium theme this week, I wondered why I wasn’t getting any e-mail notifications for new comments.  But the problem is fixed, so let’s resume the conversation with the great community we have here at Tumblr!

This week’s highlights:

imageLess than 24 hours after I shared my predictions about Reblogging becoming a widespread standard, Wordpress announced they’re adding a feature to allow reblogs.  It won’t be long until you se this feature adopted by all major blogging sites.  Well, the smart ones, anyway.

imageA bombshell announcement was met with a surprisingly low-key reception in much of the tech community, when Skype announced they have finally been authorized to allow calls of 3G networks.  Naturally, I tried it out immediately like a giddy schoolgirl, and giggled uncontrollably when it worked like a charm.

imageRFS Claymations is not a happy camper after taking Microsoft Office 2010 beta for a test drive, and delivers a rant accordingly.

imageNo comic strip for this week’s humour, we innovate here at D2D, gosh darn it.  A blogger introduces the new Myspace Pro service, which got at least a few chuckles from me.  It’s a shame this is fake, if there was a service really like this I’d pay for it…

If you found any of the above particularly interesting or useful, please consider recommending this blog for the techstartups, or entrepreneurs category.  Thanks for reading!^_^


by Ben Lopez

I checked my App Store updates last night for a surprise people all over the world have been waiting to see since day 1 of iPhone’s existence: the ability to place Skype calls over your service provider’s 3G network.  Global calls can now be made anytime, anywhere, no wifi needed…for free.  Well, at least until the end of 2010, anyway.  Skype announced that starting 2011, there will be a small fee, but considering their incredibly low rates on every other service they offer, I imagine it will be well worth the small cost for most iPhone users.

As if that wasn’t enough, the latest update includes several other new features, including a significant improvement to the level of “near CD-quality sound”.  

Well, I’m sold.  Let’s get a conference call going.


by Ben Lopez

It’s time once again for the week in review: for those that can’t be bothered reading all of those pesky articles in their entirety, this is the weekly post for you!  Of course, if you find one that strikes your fancy, just give it a click.  But enough with the patronizing instructions, onto this week’s highlights:

imageI decided to start off the new week with a bang and jump right into a topic that had been bothering me for a while now: Tumblr blogs that don’t allow comments.  I go on for a while on why you would never, ever want to do that.

image Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37 Signals, share their thoughts on business plans.  37 Signals is an excellent blog that I heartily recommend.  I also own their book, Rework, and can hardly put it down.  These two men will make 30-year CEOs question traditional business wisdom, and embrace technology like a new born puppy.

image Some of the other entrepreneurs had some excellent blogs this week as well, so I went ahead and reblogged Phil Ricci’s experience with a crappy business owner who is sure to fail miserably and added a few thoughts of my own.

image But that’s not where the reblogging (are we allowed to call it RBing?) ends; Mr. Postling himself, David Lifson reblogged some interesting thoughts on Tumblr and @Replies.  Naturally, I had to put in my two cents, so I reblogged the fella and did just that.  

image In this week’s humour, an animated office worker shows precisely how I used to be before I got (semi) organized.  Though I do still have a row of post-it notes lining the top of my computer monitor, so maybe I’m not quite there yet…

image Last, but certainly not of lesser importance, I cover the phenomenon that is Quit Facebook Day.  For those who aren’t quite ready to quit, but are fed up with the privacy issues and still want to show their disgust, I also share when and how you can do just that.

If you found any of the above particularly interesting or useful, please consider recommending this blog for the tech, startups, or entrepreneurs category.  Thanks for reading!^_^

Posts I Liked on Tumblr