Scale, it’s All About Perspective


Have you noticed how some people seem to fail and others seem to be very, very successful at what they do?

The thing is, this isn’t by accident.

They look at the world differently and one of the key things that they look at differently is the perception of “scale”.

Scale on a Whole New Level

In the video below by Brian Greene, the famous theoretical physicist & string theorist he discusses an import factor when looking at the world around you.

We understand that most humans are several feet tall, that planes go fast and we walk quite slow from our “day to day” activities.

We only have one perspective of scale, we’re in the middle if you like. However, these are just a small fraction of the possibilities.

Press play on the video below, it’s only a few minutes long:


This starkly wakes us up to realise that scale is much more than what we see day to day, it can be as small as an atom or as large as a universe.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
Steve Jobs

Other people focus on what they see day to day and others… well they want to ding the universe.

I know which one I’d rather do, you?


Image Source: here

Go the Extra Mile, It All Counts


I’m a year older today, Skype & Facebook has exploded with birthday wishes (many thanks by the way!).

Someone asked if I would be “taking it easy” and another asked if I would be “taking the day off”.

As a fellow entrepreneur & business owner like yourself, I feel compelled to clearly state:

Am I hell.

I got up an hour earlier to make more of a difference ( so that was 04:30 instead of 05:30 ).

In everything I personally do I aim to work and deliver 10 times more than anyone else, I do my utmost to lead by example and that includes on birthdays.

If you’re wondering what I’m up to, here are a couple of the things that I have done since September last year:

  1. The 3rd Generation of Multi Channel software was started in Sept 2013 over at
  2. I’ve helped build the largest online community for Magento & M2EPro users
  3. Between myself & Dave we’ve recorded over 250 “Plain English” video tutorials in 9 video courses
  4. We held a webinar promoted by eBay which we were joined by over 500 business owners like yourself to show you how easy it is to sell on eBay using Magento. And I personally answered every single one of your questions ( over 200 of them! )
  5. Published over 100 blog articles here
  6. Recorded 14 Podcasts which are available on iTunes & YouTube
  7. I’ve personally replied to over 2,600 questions from business owners like yourself in the forums and that’s not including the +1,500 comments made to the video tutorials.
  8. I’ve hired two full-time members of staff and hit profitability a long, long time ago
  9. I went on holiday for a week and while other people would people would read a book or 3, I wrote a book. This is being published on Tamebay right now, see here for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and on Friday part 5 and the book will be published on Kindle shortly. Update you can now download it here.
  10. And you’ll see me presenting not just one talk, but two at this years eCommerce Expo in London

I know that this may sound insane, however for any business owner out there, go the extra mile.

It all counts, even on birthdays.


Are You a Procrastinator Too? This May Help

Do you put stuff off until tomorrow which you really should be doing today?

I do.

I do it all the time.

I’m continuously working at it and something really small has helped me greatly. A simple wallpaper. It’s not for the light of heart but it makes the point clearly and that’s why I’m sharing it with you (point #3) and it might help you too.

Full download URL:


PS. Probably not the best idea for a customer facing computer screens ;-)

Why & Well Done


I just popped this out as an email a few minutes ago, but if you’re not subscribed, I don’t want you to miss out, because it’s well earned.

What makes us work 18, 20 or even 22 hours a day?

Simple, we’d rather work 22 hours a day for ourselves rather than working 7 hours for someone else. And that makes us different.

It’s not easy, but we feel we’re building something special. Customers can drive us bonkers, I bet you’ve got a squillion emails already today and the majority of them want something from you, a return, a complaint or have a question that you have probably answered 500 times already this week. And at times I know it feels like a thankless slog.


It’s hard at times to appreciate that the vast majority of times everything went right, mainly because these go silent or are lost in the oodles of positive feedback or is just never spoken of, because “you just did good” and there is no need as far as customers are concerned.

So what’s the point of this post?

Sometimes we never get a pat on the back for “just getting it right” and doing an excellent job. It’s time to say well done.

So… well done.

Have a fab Thursday,


PS. If you’re not subscribed to the mailing list yet, I only email when there is something worth saying and you can subscribe here

Two Types of People

I’m writing this post with one person in mind, if this helps you too, I’m glad.

As far as I see it there are two types are people.

One does something, the other day dreams.

It doesn’t matter if they’re told no, they’ll just find a way. As one door closes, they just deem it to be the wrong door and move to the next (which is obviously now the right door [repeat endless times])

One of them will research and

  • Read 1000 web pages until they “get it”,
  • Sit there and read a book until they “get it”,
  • Watch 60 video’s on YouTube until they “get it”,
  • Will take an online course until they “get it”,
  • Will do something, anything until they “get it”

On a subject they don’t know about, but know they need to know (or if they’re super smart, they’ll just get someone else to do that part for them). The other one just gave up at Google or just didn’t even open the web browser.

One is concerned about making sales, the other is more concerned about providing value.

One will phone friends (or anyone that will listen) to find answers and if they have none, they’ll go online, make some and then find answers.

One will see that it’s mandatory to be educated in specific fields, the other will just shrug their shoulders and say to themselves “I’ll work that bit out later”.

They’ll listen to an expert and if they deem them to be wrong (highly likely), they’ll go and find another (if they exist) that says otherwise and see how it works out.

One of them sees a problem and finds a solution, if that solution helps others then they’ve found a niche. The other just saw lots of problems, but never a solution.

Both are scared of failure, but one of them knows what’ll they’ll be doing if it does.

One day-dreams about the doing part, they may go through the motions but never actually do anything.

So which one are you?
Image Source

What Music Do You Listen To While Working?

Music is such a powerful medium and I’ve always found that the right tune can help me get through the early hours when completing a project or to just help the day fly by.

I’ve included three of my personal favourites below and they sum up the wildly different tastes in music I have and a little background to why I use them and when I use them too.

These are my tastes but I’d really like to know which tracks give you the chill’s and help you get through your working day. You can let me know them in the comments section at the bottom.



The first is a motivational track taken from Madagascar 3 (mint film by the way, have you seen it yet?) which I use for when I’m working on a tough project and needs me break from the self-doubt I struggle with badly.

Dig Deep and Make the Hours Fly By

The second is actually a collection of classical tracks that I loop through when I need break those small hours and dig in deep and push through. The playlist is here.

Change My State of Mind in 1 Minute

And if I get really stuck, then this tune always liven’s me up.

But it comes with a warning… You might want to turn the sound down before playing as the intro is ‘loud’, hence why I use to change my state of mind and that dude in the orange shirt at 1:00, that’s me, well mentally anyway.

What Gives You Chills?

That’s enough about my tastes, what do you use to:

  • Spur you on?
  • To relax with?
  • Change your state of mind entirely?

Let me know by leaving a link or track name in the comments box below.

A Good Problem. We’re Moving!


There are bad problems and there are good problems, I always prefer the latter and I’ve got an excellent one.

This is one of those amazing posts that I only dreamt about all that time ago when the LastDropofInk was first started.moving-home

For the past few weeks the sheer volume of traffic to the site has meant we’re coming to the end of what can be done on shared web hosting. It’s time we grow up and find a new home on a beastly dedicated server to allow this site and its services to grow even further.

This weekend the site will be moving to a new home and will be locked down to a holding page for a few hours which the data is transferred and DNS settings updated. Besides that you shouldn’t notice any visual difference to the site after the move and over the next 2-3 weeks I’ll start tuning the server to improve performance.

Two years ago I made the decision to not worry about web hosting and just get on a creating content,  the very first article was for Google TV. Since then with your help & support through all the conversations, emails, comments and support this site has grown & grown from a tens of hits each day  to thousands and for that I am eternally grateful.

I’ve got to run and edit today’s Podcast on eBay variation listings, the target time for the release is 2pm today, so I better get my rear-in-gear and get editing!

Thank you so much for your support.

Speak soon,


LastDropofInk Mobile Site Launched

LastDropofInk Mobile Site

Well, it’s about time I re-launched the mobile version, after all 10-20% of the traffic here during the weekdays can come from mobile devices.

Yesterday I altered one of the standard themes, wrote a customised mobile site and after testing on numerous devices, it’s been launched.

It’s been set up so that if you’re on a mobile decide (other than an iPad) that you’ll be redirected to the heavily cut down version which includes the basic functionality.

  • Home link
  • Search
  • Finger-friendly links
  • Image optimisation
  • A method to get back to the main site if desired

Being a speed freak, I’ve also ripped out (blocked) the really large overhead files as well, so that instead of the total page weight being around 183Kb, that it comes in at a tenth of this at 18Kb. You can test mobile sites here

I’d like to also pass on an excellent tip I found to block the extra styles and JavaScript files in WordPress from here. My example is below and blocks the tubepress extension from loading css and js files in the header on the mobile site, by blocking them in the functions.php file.

add_action( ‘wp_print_styles’, ‘my_deregister_styles’, 100 );
function my_deregister_styles()
wp_deregister_style( ‘tubepress’ );
wp_deregister_script( ‘tubepress’ );

Using the Mobile Site?

Use the comments box below and let me how it feels!

Quickly Dealing with Website Spam Bots

website-spammers-1If you look in the image to the right, one of the community based sites I’m involved with was seeing a higher than normal user count for this time of the morning, which probably meant that it was being attacked by users or most likely spam bots.

Looking through the IP addresses, there was a common theme the IP ranges 180.76.6.* and 180.76.5.* which are located in China (we have no users in China see here for a lookup tool)

Now that’s pretty easy to crudely solve using a .htaccess file, regex and apache rerewrite rules.

Because I want to cover two subnets, I’ve written two rules, they are simply:

#180.76.6.* and .5
RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} ^180\.76\.5\.
RewriteRule .* [R,L]

RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} ^180\.76\.6\.
RewriteRule .* [R,L]

If you desired to just block a single address then you would need a slightly different rule, which would be:

RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} ^180\.76\.6\.183$
RewriteRule .* [R,L]

This won’t stop their current connection, but as soon as the user agent goes to reload or navigate to another page, then in this example they’ll be sent to instead (although I can assure you they are not being redirected to google in the live example of this).

Coping with a siege such as this example speed is of the essence and this is a quick and dirty way of dealing with them and also highly amusing as you chose where they are redirected to (but for goodness sake, make sure you check this works with your IP or IP range first!)

Ideally configuring a firewall wall before they even hit the site would be more suitable along with a few other methods of identifying them without being altered to the attack in the first place.

What if the prices for everything were the same?


This whole price parity issue with Amazon over the past few days as got me thinking. What if the prices for everything were the same?

Let’s imagine for a few minutes what would happen if we say, all governed by a communist government worldwide and one of the parts of the establishment was that for all products, the prices had to be the same.If Prices Were the Same?

I mean everything, from a can of coke to a Plasma TV. If it’s exactly the same product it has to be exactly the same price set by a third party, no if’s, no but’s and you go to jail if you break the rules. (The jail part is harsh, but I’m just making the point).

Now before you start picking holes, unbranded goods would fall into categories, for example, a printed T-Shirt, regardless of design or material would be a fixed price. All broken or refurbished goods have to be scrapped. Every single product is categorised and has its own fixed price, regardless of country of origin or point of sale and cross-border trade was not allowed.

How Would You Differentiate Your Business?

Humouring me for a few moments, that everything businesses product has to be sold at the same price as their competitors.

What would you do to to compete in a marketplace where everything was equal as far as pricing is concerned?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.

SOPA & ACTA Explained in Video

There are two agreements being kicked around presently, the first is “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA and we’ve seen a lot of news coverage for this, however the second “The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” or ACTA and has caused riots over in Poland.

While I agree with the general idea of both of them, what they actually imply is far too reaching for my liking (and a lot of others apparently, including Matt Cutts from Google). Rather than me explaining these both (badly), here are two videos I have personally found useful to bring myself up to speed.

SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act – Video

ACTA – The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – Video

Your Thoughts

Do you think either of these is a good idea?

The Top 10 (or so) LastDropofInk Articles of 2011

In this article I recall my top 10 favourite and most notable articles of 2011 and provide a reflection on each of them.

2011 saw myself and the LastDropofInk site go through some major changes, the site got a complete redesign in August and that dead mosquito was finally laid to rest and a new shiny design was put into place. This also saw me step into the world of video too and my thanks to AndyLuckyShot for helping me with the introduction section to the video content, the comments that you all made around the quality of them and I also took the opportunity to explore some of the topics that had been on my to-do list for quite some time.

A quick count shows that I created over 100 articles for the year, for which I’m pleasantly surprised, as some weeks I’d add nothing and some weeks 5 or more articles in one hit. I openly admit that some of them were weak, however there are several that helped me (and hopefully you too) understand some of the complexities that impact the way we work and the way that the marketplaces also work too.

Top 10 Articles of 2011

These are my top 10 articles of 2011. There are a lot more than just 10 though, as many of them are interlinked or were created in parts that lead on from each other. This is why its easy for me to reflect on what was documented over the year as I can see the full picture now of where each article was going and how they were linked together.

#1 – Tesco Marketplace

Tesco LogoIn November 2010 we heard concrete rumours that Tesco were going to launch into the marketplace arena, the launch date kept slipping throughout 2011 and now its set for sometime 2012.

However that didn’t stop me pondering what positives could be taken from the existing two key players in the marketplace arena, eBay & Amazon and from niche sites like Etsy and to ponder what would happen if you could rewrite the marketplace platform from scratch.

The article was titled “Part 1: Battle of The Giants – Tesco V’s Amazon – Who Will Win?” and it quickly exceeded 25,000 words so I published the first part in January.

If you look through the comments you’ll see that I didn’t actually publish the latter parts of articles detailing the steps and USP’s that I felt that were needed to create a killer marketplace. After all, Tesco in my mind is the only company that I know of that could actually take on Amazon in the UK and make a serious dent.

I did get my chance to pass a few of these ideas over earlier this year, but frankly screwed the chance up as the person I spoke to, didn’t really comprehend what I was discussing and it was entirely my fault for not putting it into a language that they understood.

When Tesco finally launch the marketplace, it has the potential to make a minor dent to Amazon’s trade, but sadly I suspect it will not be the marketplace that so many businesses are looking for to provide viable alternatives to the major players eBay & Amazon.

#2 – SEO for eBay – 10 Minutes Per Day


See even elephants need spoonful sized mouthfulls too. Yummy

While this article only scratched the surface, the important note was made.

That being that even with 10 minutes per day, the cumulative effect of lots of minor changes over time would become a huge positive.

The article titled “How to: SEO for eBay – 10 Minutes Per Day” first tackled the perception that it’s a large job, but a spoonful at time was perfectly manageable and then moved into the 5 key areas to focus upon.

#3 – Making Sense of the Pending eBay UK Updates in May 2011

girl-cryingAfter deciding to take a different stance towards the updates that eBay released in May 2001 (frankly, I had been too negative in some cases), I included my favourite image and quotation to date.

As far as I see it there are two options
#1 You cry like a little girl
#2 You fully embrace the changes in advance

There are two types of sellers on eBay, serious merchants and ones that chuck their toys out of the pram and cry at every turn. This was a prime opportunity for me to poke fun at the latter and help push the former seller types forwards with information that they could actually use to embrace the changes.

In these updates we saw the fee structure change for eBay, mainly for the better, multi-variations go live in many more categories and also the reincarnation of the failed eBay express checkout, adapted to a shopping cart and what we see now on eBay UK today.

#4 – eSellerPro (x2)

eSellerProI can tell you neither of these won me any browny-points, but as far as I am concerned they needed to be written and I’ll explain why now. This is actually a combination of two articles, the first is “The Unofficial History of eSellerPro” and the second being “Are There Alternatives to eSellerPro?“.

In the unofficial history of eSellerPro article, I pointed out the incubation factors that led to the creation of eSellerPro. There were a couple of factors, but the two main ones were the failing of both MartketWorks and ChannelAdvisor to adapt to the UK market fast enough.

The incubation period didn’t just spawn one new product/service provider (that being eSellerPro), it actually spawned at least one more within a 2-3 month window. Sadly [for eSellerPro, which was a product that I personally worked on to solve, not hinder merchants], with hindsight at my side, I now understand that there are specific conditions right now, that will spawn a 3rd generation take (they’re different, but they’re there), for which we’ll probably see arrive publicly by late 2012.

To add to this statement, I’m not part of this, but I am open to offers as CEO or evangelist. You can contact me directly here to discuss further.

This feeds nicely into the second part of this section, as when I wrote the “Are There Alternatives to eSellerPro?” the whole point was that you[as a merchant] should not change providers at all, instead try and look at the provider differently and solve the issues  that were hindering your business differently.

#5 – Affiliate Networks

Again this is a combination of articles, all focused around affiliate networks as an additional sales channel . It’s a topic that I am looking forward to expanding in 2012 and I will be posting more on in 2012.

  1. Part 1: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?
  2. Part 2: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?
  3. The Top UK Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks can offer a new sales channel for medium (and larger) sized businesses and not just larger corporates. As the entire channel is pretty much working on “commission  on confirmed sale”, this is very similar to the eBay & Amazon marketplaces, just that it takes longer and the overheads are different.

To keep this as easy as possible for you:

If you’re paying over £300 a month to eBay or Amazon and have a website that is half decent, then affiliate networks should be seriously considered.

#6 – Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages

eBay Shop keywordsThis was a fab article for myself (and you hopefully), as I had been meaning to complete this for months.

After finally sitting down and taking the time to document the eBay Shop  keywords that can be used in the custom pages of eBay shops and included plenty of examples, it turned out to be a thorough article and also lead to the article I was aiming to do which was another titled “How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals

#7 – The Book Responsible for Where I am Now

“I owe everything to this book and if I can learn its contents in a week, in a caravan with no computer, you can too.”

I can actually tie the reason why I am where I am today down to a single book. There’s no need to explain this further as I made a video especially for this which is below:

Video not showing? Click here

#8 – The E, A, S & Y Model

In 2011 I was able to hammer out an approach that was simple to follow and would allow me to take a structured approach that both myself and clients could easily work to, helping them with their businesses.

I wanted this to be as easy as possible so I named it as “EASY”. The crux of this model is outlined in three articles, these are:

  1. E is for Efficiency
  2. A is for Add more Sales Channels
  3. S is for Stock
  4. Y is for why or who is doing it

You’ll notice that there is no dedicated article for the Y part, this is simply because its not a speciality of mine and as such I have drawn the line at this point. The first 3 stages will impact the fourth stage, however this stage requires skills and experience that I just don’t have and if you have the first 3 stages licked then your game is huge!

#9 – The Limits of Marketplaces

Why do eBay Sales Stay ConsistentI had first wrapped this up as a ‘conspiracy theory’ in late 2010, but actually that was bollocks.

Marketplaces such as eBay & Amazon have limits, they were once thought of as having unlimited growth and merchants shouldn’t have any reason at all to stray from just one or both of them, because all the customers they could possible reach were there.

As 3rd party software as developed and evolved over time, its allowed businesses to sell over multiple channels and even on the same channels but under different persona’s. Reaching a wider and wider audience. We’ve seen this in reverse with larger corporates (see this article) now leveraging eBay & Amazon in a trend which is likely to peak in 2012, as they realise that these marketplaces are viable, complementary channels for their existing operations.

Such limitations were first covered in the article “Why do eBay Sales Stay Consistent?” in September 2011 and I am now 100% sure such a modifier that I discussed in second the article “The eBay “Best Match” Position Bias Modifier Hypothesis” is actually true. Its true because with the unique view that I have had over the past few years as proven it to be the case and ironically its exactly what I would do!

#10 – UnderstandingE, code-named ProjectE

understandingeAfter flirting with this idea for years, it wasn’t until someone approached me with a similar idea is when the wheels started to turn on the original idea earlier this year.

I had the huge pleasure of working with 6 people (not businesses) after making a rather public and free commitment to 5 businesses in August for eight weeks. The first video of me making the commitment is here and the second video with a more formal invitation is here.

It was only meant to be 5 businesses that were included, there were +50 applications that I received and a sixth snuck-in. Ironically, it was the 6th that had the largest increase to their business post the eight weeks with growths of hundreds of percent and are now posed with operational issues that the other 5 had hit and overcome some time before. What a “good problem”.

This allowed me the opportunity to play with a few ideas I had and test them out, outside of my normal client base. The outcome wasn’t exactly what I expected, I discovered a new factor that I must include in the UnderstandingE business when its launched in January.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Jason, Gill, John, Paul, Sue & Danny for allowing me an insight into your businesses. What you allowed me to do was absolutely fundamental to the pending launch of UnderstandingE.


I know I’m supposed to summarise here, but one last article that is worth of a mention is an article I wrote about the Podcasts I listen to and one of my idols posted a comment back here on the site, the article and comments are here. This had everything to do with Dave and thank you, it made my year!

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read the articles I’ve written, I’m hopeful that you have found them exceptionally useful.

What I have been able to do is create content that is timeless and while flirting with the UnderstandingE project and procrastinating on it heavily for months, I’m ending this article on the note that UnderstandingE is a go! And as such you’ll be hearing &amp seeing me a lot more in 2012.