Can you make money delivering phone books?

I know it’s a strange question but recently the wife  and I spent some time delivering BT telephone directories here in the UK. The first time we delivered them was last summer when one of our teenage sons was looking for a way to earn some money and found an advert to delivery phone books. I agreed that we would do it together and split the money, he only asked me as he needed my car.  We was given 2 rounds, each of about 1000 telephone directories to deliver locally. We wasn’t very organised and unsurprisingly our son lost interest after about half of the first round was completed, leaving the wife and I to complete the rest and since then we have completed a few rounds.

There was  no intention to blog about it, for a start I am not a regular blogger as you can see its been about 18 months since my last post, but just a couple of days I read http://fromalditoharrods.com/delivering-bt-phonebooks-via-thomson-local/  where the author had a bad experience and felt strong enough to post about it so, although their post is a couple of years old, I would post about our experience delivering the phone books.

The first two rounds we completed took a number of days and what we was due to get paid didn’t appear to make it a worth while job to do but a few days after I notified the company that we  had completed the rounds we received a phone call asking if we could do another, not thinking about it I agreed and was given another local round. After this call I looked at the paper work we got when we collected the telephone books and in the terms and conditions it states the pay is ‘developed in line with the National Minimum Wage Guide’ and when I worked it out there is no way we completed the first two rounds quick enough to earn the minimum wage so I wanted to work out why.

Firstly we had no way to carry the phone books so we each carried a pack of books each, delivered them and then returned to the car to get another pack. This is a big mistake, obviously returning to the car after you have delivered a pack (15 to 20 books) is not efficient, nor is trying to post a phone book through a letter box while carrying up to 20 books is not easy and slows you down.

Secondly we did not plan our route properly, so we was wasting time looking for the next street to deliver to.

Thirdly, while I was delivering one side of the road, my wife was going up the other side so when we got to the end of the street we had to walk back down the street doing nothing, wasting time.

When we collected the phone books for the next round we got hold of a shopping trolley, this mean we could load it with a number of packs to reduce the number of times we have to return for more books. We then had a look at the map and route list you are given and worked out the route we would take.

The two of us, now our son had decided not to do it any more, went out and completed the round but still wasted time, popping home for a cup of coffee or a sandwich, or a comfort break etc. but we still managed to improve on the time it took to complete.

About two weeks after completing the rounds we received the payments straight into our bank account and as far as we was concerned that was it as all of the rounds in the area had been completed. Not a bad experience overall and a bit of extra cash in the bank.

A couple of months later we then received a SMS message out of the blue from the distribution company asking if we would be interested in more rounds, not the phone book this time but a local council publication.  We completed two rounds in good time compared to before and again earned a few quid.

It seems we had now got our system as good as we can, and in November we took on a few rounds for another telephone directory covering another local area. After doing a couple of rounds we then got a text offering a 25% bonus on any new rounds if they are completed within the normal 7 days. You guessed it we took on another couple of rounds. A few days later another text came offering 50% bonus and payment would be made before Christmas. Unfortunately there rounds available where too far away to make it worth while doing even at the higher rate.

In January we was offered yet another area, this time the company has a self service web site so you can browse through the delivery routes available, see how many directories are to be delivered, how much they pay and the best bit they provide a map and list of streets. This makes things so much better when it comes to planning your route.

So back to the question’Can you make money delivering phone books?’, the answer is yes, below is a what I have learned from the earlier rounds:

Make life easier

Don’t try to carry lots of phone books in your arms, it makes things harder when  trying to post through a letter box. Using a shoulder bag, a bit like  a paper boy would make things easier but these books get heavy and after a while you’re shoulder will know about it. We use a shopping trolley, what my son calls a ‘granny trolley’, it is easy to move and puts little stress on the limbs.

Pick your round wisely

If the company you are dealing with has a self service web site, utilize it. I open up google maps in a new tab and using street view look at what types of properties are on the round. How far is the round from home, travelling to a round isn’t  a problem if it pays enough. I will only take a round on more than a few miles away if I know I can complete it in one hit.

If there are blocks of flats, do they have letter boxes downstairs or do you have to climb lots of stairs, if so if using a trolley will you be happy leaving it at the bottom of the stairwell. Generally flats are quick an easy, no driveways to walk up etc so you can get them done quicker.

How much do you get paid?

Normally the pay you get is about 6.5-7 pence per phone book but it could be higher depending on the round. Based on the normal pay, you need to deliver about 100 books an hour to earn minimum wage. This is where the property type on the round mentioned above makes a different. Flats and terraced houses are by far the quickest to deliver to, normally there is little walking between front doors. In the area I have been delivering to I have done streets of 80 terraced houses (40 each side of the road) in half an hour. Older estates, tend to take longer, they generally have a front garden slowing down the time it takes from door to door. New estates are in the middle of the two, the doors are generally not as close as on a terraced street, but the front gardens/driveways are normally a lot smaller than the older estates.

Remember it is unlikely that you will get a round of just flats or terraced houses, so make sure you consider the properties you are delivering to and the amount of time it will take.

Is the pay for a round as good as it looks?

If you look on the self service web site if it is available you can check how much you will get, take the total pay and divide my number of books and you will get the price per book. As I said earlier this is normally about 6.5 to 7 pence a book but could be higher. I am looking at the site as I type and see a round of 430 books earning £85, about 20 pence a book, yet just below it is a round of 1240 books for £77, about 6.5 pence per book. Looking at the maps it appears the first round is more rural, this could mean larger distances between streets, or maybe farms etc with longer driveways meaning it takes longer to get from door to door.

I personally take the total pay and divide it by the minimum wage (£6.5o hour at time or writing) and assume that it expected to take you the resulting number of hours to complete, ie £85/£6.50 could take about 13 hours, yet the larger round @ £77 should take upto 12 hours. Hopefully you will complete it in less time than that.

Do they pay?

Based on my experience yes but it’s not immediate as the distribution company has to verify that you have delivered books and not just thrown them away. For every round I have completed the money has appeared in my bank in about 2 weeks.

Summary

I don’t think I would do this as a  full time job, but I think it’s an ideal bit of casual work if you are between jobs or looking to earn an extra bit of cash for a planned event such as a holiday etc.

Don’t forget this is casual self employed work so you are liable to sort out any tax that is due on your earnings.

If this is something that appeals to you then you can register at https://www.bookyourroute.com.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Migration a success

Last month I told you that I had a new dedicated server to play with, well I didn’t have much in the way of sites to transfer initially as I had recently spread some of my sites across various cheap VPS’s and the only sites I wanted to move to the new dedicated server was thevirtualnameservers.com and cgiscripts4u.com, these where transferred easily enough with very little disruption. Then it was the turn of Joby’s customers’ web sites. These where no more complicated than my own but they felt more important as they where sites of paying customers. all sites where moved without a problem within just a day or so and we had very little communication from the customers saying there was any issues.

Then at the end of September I took delivery of a 2nd dedicated server, this is a lower spec server at a far lower price than before and is sold on the condition that the server must be for your own personal use and you must NOT in any way resell the server. I had no real use for this server but for the price it was too good to pass, unfortunately it is no longer available. Two of my kids play Minecraft so I decided to set up a private minecraft server on it for them to use. I have also decided to use it as a back up dns server and for testing sites before they go live. I am not sure how long I will keep it as the spec is low but then so is the price.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Time to play

After almost 3 weeks of waiting I got my latest server over the weekend so it’s time to play. The other servers I have are all Virtual Private servers or VPS’s which basically it’s like having your own dedicated server but its shared so the resources, memory and cpu etc are shared. This latest server is a dedicated server which means it’s all mine, well mine and Joby’s.

This is the first dedicated server that I have had for a couple of years, and every server I have had has been Redhat/Centos flavours of linux and has had one of the main stream control panels ie plesk or cpanel. This time I’ve gone for Debian Squeeze and the free control panel ISP Config 3 so it’s time to play.

We have a couple of weeks to get Joby’s clients on to the new server before our shared VPS is cancelled. I only have two sites to move immediately as I have moved a number of mine to other VPS’s that I have got over the past few months but I still have to get my head around ISP Config so that I can help Joby move his clients.

Here comes the fun (I know sad isn’t it:))

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

What an amazing experience

What a great three days I have just had.

My volunteer role was on the Guest Services desk ensuring the VIP’s knew where to go and if they didn’t then we would take them etc so I wasn’t watching that much of the sport but what I did watch was excellent and when the athletes received their medals the atmosphere was brilliant. I don’t do photo’s as they tend to come out so bad that they can’t be used but I recommend that you take some time to look at the pictures on the Bath 2013 web site.

I had the pleasure of working with Emma and Nina from Sporting Hosts who where one of the sponsors of Bath 2013, Josephene from SOGB, who was our team leader, and a great group of volunteers.

I am looking forward to the next National Games in 2017, or maybe the european games?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Bath Special Olympics 2013

The Bath Special Olympics is the main reason we are here in Bath as I am volunteering for it over the next few days and tonight was the Opening Ceremony. Wow what a night, I was doing my volunteer role in Guest Services for a few hours this afternoon which involved ensuring the ‘VIP’ guests where fed and watered at the Guests Reception and then seated in their seats in time for the start of the opening ceremony.

Bath 2013 Guest Services team Opening Ceremony and reception

The opening Ceremony was just great, with acts like Susan Boyle and Clyve who wrote and performed the official anthem of the games ‘Living your Dream’. It was great to see the athletes all getting up and dancing to the music and having a great time. There was also the obligatory speeches from some great people including athlete Jason Gardner and ex Football Manager and TV Pundit Lawrie McMenemy MBE who is the President of the Special Olympics of GB Board.

The whole event was a great success and everyone appeared to enjoy themselves, especially the athletes.

The one thing to spoil it was the park and ride that was put on by the bus company, there was clearly not enough buses laid on and athletes families and other visitors where stood for over an hour as two or three park and ride buses came and went.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Cheddar Gorge

Before we came down to Bath we decided to use some of our Tesco Club Card loyalty points towards the cost of tickets for a day out while we’re away camping. It was a toss up between Cheddar Gorge or Longleat Saffari. We decided to use the Loyalty points for Cheddar gorge as we had enough to get tickets for the three of us where as at Longleat we would still need to buy at least one ticket.

ALthough I am pleased to say I have been to Cheddar Gorge, I think If I had paid the full online price of £43 for the three of us I would have been disappointed. There are two caves you can go down and you do get a commentary via something that looks like a 1980’s cell phone, you also get access to a small museum about the Cheddar Man, and then an open top bus tour, the bus tour was really disappointing as it takes you half way along the road you have just driven down through the cliffs and then back again. I don’t know what I expected, maybe to take you to the top of the cliffs but to do that you had to go on foot, up 274 steps, and then if you want to see anything you can either climb up more steps in the lookout tower or go on a 3 mile cliff top walk.

Cheddar Gorge is definitely one of those places I think I am pleased we have visited it but I wouldn’t do it again.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

A week in Bath

We have just arrived for a week in the beautiful city of Bath, it’s just Tracey, I and our youngest, the older two boys decided to stay home for the week.

We arrived at our camp site, a newly opened site outside of bath called PitchPerfect Camping. The welcome we received from owners Emma and James was wonderful. We set up our tent in a couple of hours, we like to take out time:), had a cuppa etc and just chilled for a bit. At this point I thought ‘I am glad the older two boys stayed at home’ as the site is just a site, there is nothing for older kids to do or go. This does not detract from the fact it is a lovely little site, it has a small slide for the younger kids and a trampoline, a small shower block and separate toilet block, I say blocks, these are porta cabins but very clean and adequate for the site. There is also a small shop with free use of the freezer for freezing ice packs etc.

When I read about PitchPerfect Camping I read they offered ‘fire pits’, I didn’t think we would bother with these but we have had one tonight, it’s great to sit here around a fire with beer in hand and just chill.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Domains for a pound – what a bargain

I was looking to register a domain or two last week and thought I would go to my normal registrars HostingtheInter.net and GoDaddy! who between then normally have some great prices and I ordered a .com and .co domain from Godaddy but then I began to wonder if there was a cheaper alternative.

After googling a bit for cheap domains registrars I found Crazy Domains with .co.uk, .me.uk, .com and .info domains for just £1 each (about $1.55USD) for the first year and .org.uk as low as just £0.50 for the first year. There are also great prices for other tld’s. I had to just order a couple more domains.

Obviously during the first year you will need to look to see if you can find a registrar that offers cheap transfers etc for the 2nd year but if you have half an hour to spare at some time during the year it can be well worth your while.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Goodbye to Google Adsense

Last month I received an email from the dreaded Adsense team at Google. I wasn’t too concerned as I’ve had emails from them before asking me to fix a page on my meta search engine that is against their T’s and C’s and I have fixed it, but this time it was worse, it was an email informing me that due to breaches of their terms and conditions my Adsense account has been completely disabled.

Now, I have had the meta search site for about 6 years, and have had ads disabled on the site but managed to get the decision overturned, this had actually happened just weeks earlier when I had deleted the sites database of ‘bad words’ by mistake, I emailed the Adsense team and gave them full details and they reactivated ads on the site, but this time it was different, they where not disabling Adsense on one site but actually disabling my whole account. It was the last week of July, days before payments of the June earnings where due to be sent out, and as my account is disabled it meant they withheld my payment of about £90 (about $140 USD) and the earnings I had accrued so far in July which was around £110 (about $170 USD) so I had to try and get the decision overturned but to no avail, they have refused blank to reactivate the account so I am at least £200 down.

I have been testing Chitika for the past month as it appeared to be the best alternative to Adsense. It’s earning me a bit, but unfortunately not the same as Adsense. I will continue to look for other alternatives.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
 

Thumbshots4u

Thumbshots 4 u
I’ve just launched a new site called Thumbshots4u.com. Its another web site thumb shot generator.

The site is up and running and there are currently 6 nodes generating and serving the thumb shots and the number of nodes will grow as required. Users can generate free thumbshots or register for membership from just $1 a month.

At the moment membership is processed manually once the payment has been received while the automated members area is completed and perfected.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Buzz
  • Add to favorites
  • Print