…and your clicks for free.
Alex Tew is 21 years old, a student from Wiltshire, England. On August 25th of 2005 he launched the Million Dollar Homepage, an ambitious attempt to raise money (according to Alex) for his varsity education.
Quite simply, Alex set up a blank website, 1000 x 1000 pixels (one million pixels altogether) and sold off 10 x 10 pixel blocks for $100 each. That’s a dollar for a pixel, effectively. Purchasers had the option of submitting a graphic to be displayed, with a link to their website. Things started off a little slowly but as the rumours passed from pc to pc, email to email, blog to blog – orders began to pour in. Having begun with nothing at the end of August, Alex auctioned off the last 1000 pixels on 1 January 2006 for $38,100 and a grand total of $1,037,100.
Not a bad profit considering his only costs where five month’s worth of hosting fees – approximately R 500.
The incentive for investing in Alex’s homepage? Well, at the peak of its growth Alexa rated the site at 127 for traffic – that’s 127th out of ALL the sites making up the World Wide Web. The story of Alex’s site was pasted all over blogs around the world. The brands shown on the page have been seen literally by millions and millions of users. But not only are these companies, sponsors and individuals part of an elaborate (albeit successful) moneymaking scheme – they’re part of a great story. And sometimes just being part of a great story is absolutely priceless.

NumberAlex is not the only person exploiting the viral propensity of a good idea combined with the most potent publishing platform the humankind has ever known. Another young man, this time based in Switzerland, has hand-painted 1000 30cm x 30cm paintings, numbered from 1 – 1000, and is using the Web to sell them for a few hundred dollars each. Sala (his name) has combined unique, personal art with clever mathematics and is sitting back while the dollars roll in.
How does it work? The value of a painting is defined by the number itself, i.e. dollar value = 1000 – number. However, that is the maximum price for any given painting. Initially, a discount of 90% applied. The discount decreased by an absolute 10% for every hundred paintings that were sold. So, the earlier someone bought their favourite number, the less they paid. As with The Million Dollar Homepage, things started off slowly, and then the story spread. Having taken months to sell just over 100 paintings, Sala suddenly sold hundreds in a matter of days. In fact, on May 30th and 31st this year, he sold 332 paintings. To date 553 paintings are sold, and counting.
Two successful ideas, one common denominator – a great story. Brave ideas, even if they fail dismally, often make great stories.
Say it with me… “Now why didn’t I think of that!!?�

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