Ashley Qualls is 17 years of age and runs a site called Whateverlife.com that gives away free chic looking themes for Myspace pages. Whats brilliant is that she makes an average of $70,000 every month doing this. She quickly fires up Photoshop and churns out a couple of new themes daily, hardly spending an hour or so doing this. Thats it. Its almost on autopilot requiring minimal work and its not complicated and doesn’t need more than one person to do.
Like most ideas – if you’re in early and take advantage and move fast – you can dominate and benefit from the “winner takes all” phenomena… as virally spreading news of your product stirs up even more viral growth. If you have an idea that gives something of good perceived value away for free – and people love it and spread it by using it, then you can benefit from steroidal virally growing spikes of traffic. This is something we initially saw with hotmail – with their simple tag line at the end of each mail message ….”Get Your Free and Fast Email at Hotmail.com” Other examples are egreeting card sites like “BlueMontain Arts” and now Ashley has done it with her website that gives away chic layouts and skins for free to people using Myspace.com that allows them to dress up their personal pages for friends and visitors to see. Somewhere in each free skin – is a simple tag line that informs visitors where they can get similar skins and layouts for free. This, like Hotmail, is highly viral. She makes money by displaying ads on her website to a highly sought after age group. Infact she has turned down several offers of a buy out inssting she can do better than what was offered.
Ashley took advantage of this “new area” and moved in quickly, spreading the awareness of her cool site with the free templates VERY EARLY in the piece.
This is important… she saw the gap and opportunity early on and moved in quickly and initially. Were you to try and replicate what she is doing now – it will NOT work. Why? Because she and a few others have already spread their offerings all over and captured 99% of the market.
Unless, you have some radically-mind-boggling-unique-never-seen-before skins and themes don’t bother wasting your time trying to replicate her smple strategy and expect to make the kind of revenues she is making from targeted ads on her site.
For those of you who would like to read more and in detail on Ashley’s journey and how she made it to where she is, FastCompany as written a brilliant article about her that you may find very entertaining.