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ideas to get more boots in the bootcamp

 
master steward
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My guess is that we need to upgrade the wording on this page:

https://wheaton-labs.com/bootcamp/

suggestions?

And what can we do to get more eyeballs on that page?
 
steward
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After breezing through it, my initial suggestion is to nix the first section on "who is it for".  Or at least move it down lower.  Seeing that long list of bullets isn't as engaging as the "things you'll do" sections below it (in my opinion).

I'm guessing the 2 years to deep roots has changed to have a leadership requirement?

Maybe the page needs some little splashy boxes sprinkled around that say things like "Live and eat organically for free"  "Learn permaculture for free" "Join our hippy commune in Montana"
 
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I agree with Mike.  Get rid of the "Who is it for" section, moving the "Why" section up (so it appears on the screen first.  

Given all the uncertainty in the world, people may be nervous to try something this different. (Especially something like going to Montana in December/January!) The ideal Boots are those without kids, but everyone I know learnt about permaculture while raising children.  
 
pollinator
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Are you after more views or more interaction?
For views I think you would have to look at what search terms people are using when looking for permaculture internships and make sure it ticks all those boxes.
Finding it from the home page, I see it there up on the menu bar but I wouldn't have noticed it unless I was looking, to me it looks like the private area of the site for members only.
Perhapse putting a clickable button under the (A place of permaculture...) line that says something like "Come learn with us at the permaculture bootcamp"


Fiddling with the layout and sentence wording won't drive any more views but it may get more interaction once people find the page.
Yup get rid of the "required skills" list at the top (this program is for)
I would say there is to much on the page, Perhaps for each sub heading have a single picture and a link to the list of things that come under it.
Make the come for a week/month much more prominent, it's a huge leap and requires a lot of faith to jump in for a long time so make it obvious there is an option to try before you buy.
Sorry if I offend whoever made the page and I'm sure I couldn't do any better but the layout is terrible, the text doesn't match up with the pictures, the page doesn't have a consistent style and especially at the top there are many small and seemingly pointless photos.
it's also pretty noticeable that the page is a cut/paste job from the main home page, with the beginning photos all the same.
I would also have an issue with paying $100 to join a waiting list when I have no idea how long the list is. Not in people but in time. If there was a little counter saying that the present wait was 5 months or 12 months or whatever it would make me much more likely to want to join. For all I as a random person know the wait is 5 years by then I'm married with kids and all I did was throw away $100
 
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This may be completely against the ethos of your little Kingdom, but... What about.... Don't sit at me... Putting it on FB?
I follow a lot of homestead type groups there. Maybe you're there already and I haven't noticed 😆🙈
 
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The very first group of pictures are all of people's backs. Try moving some smiling faces up to the top.

Bios of people in the program are great, but reviews/ testimonials are better.

Attention grabbers up top:
"Ready for an immersive permaculture experience?
- Grow your own food
- Make your own power
- Build a sustainable life
- Other action verb bullet points

Appeal to hopes and fears- remember to include ACTION:
Stop dreaming about homesteading and start living it.
Jumpstart your ...
Risk-free opportunity to see if you have what it takes before committing to a new lifestyle.

And then of course is the question of how you are targeting your audience with ad placement. How are you handling that currently?
 
Briana Great
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Keyword Searches!
Few people know the word "permaculture", they are searching things like "organic farming" and "sustainability" - knowing the word permaculture is almost automatically a "level 2" or "3" on your scale, but most boots are coming in level 1, right?  

If the goal is "young people" (those who are going to find out about this who are NOT already on permies.com) then Instagram is more popular than facebook.
 
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On the podcast you have mentioned that Boots have opportunities to get paid a little money to cover basic expenses, but I didn't see that mentioned on the page. Perhaps you could explain that near the bottom so people don't click away thinking they can't afford to come.

Maybe you could also start a bounty program! Once a boot shows up and has stayed a certain amount of time, then they pick the person who first told them about the program or who most influenced them to join and that person gets sent some kind of reward. You could even promote it with wanted posters using mugshots of permies!
 
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I think the above ideas are right...
Getting rid of the 100$ to get ON the list...
List is free... but make it 100$ to get IN, and show your commitment.
 
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Where is the bootcamp page??

I looked on the Education Forum but its not jumping out at me

 
pioneer
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From a pure structural standpoint, I would make this web page as fact/information oriented and simple as is palatable. Then recruit (pay?) people who are familiar with likely recruitment platforms (WOOFers, IC.org, Fascesbook/Instapram/Tiktok/etc...) and have them construct specific 'personality' messages  in line with potential candidates on those platforms that then link back to the hard information page.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:
Finding it from the home page, I see it there up on the menu bar but I wouldn't have noticed it unless I was looking, to me it looks like the private area of the site for members only.
Perhapse putting a clickable button under the (A place of permaculture...) line that says something like "Come learn with us at the permaculture bootcamp"



Maybe make this ad three times larger than the others in the banner. Maybe it could be a montage of three photos/images instead of one,
These ads are shuffled in both their versions and their positions each time the forum page loads, maybe pin the (larger) bootcamp ad to the center.
The ads I've seen don't say anything about "signing up", or that maybe there are open spaces available soon?

Skandi Rogers wrote:
Fiddling with the layout and sentence wording won't drive any more views but it may get more interaction once people find the page.
Yup get rid of the "required skills" list at the top (this program is for)
I would say there is to much on the page, Perhaps for each sub heading have a single picture and a link to the list of things that come under it.
Make the come for a week/month much more prominent, it's a huge leap and requires a lot of faith to jump in for a long time so make it obvious there is an option to try before you buy.
Sorry if I offend whoever made the page and I'm sure I couldn't do any better but the layout is terrible, the text doesn't match up with the pictures, the page doesn't have a consistent style and especially at the top there are many small and seemingly pointless photos.
it's also pretty noticeable that the page is a cut/paste job from the main home page, with the beginning photos all the same.
I would also have an issue with paying $100 to join a waiting list when I have no idea how long the list is. Not in people but in time. If there was a little counter saying that the present wait was 5 months or 12 months or whatever it would make me much more likely to want to join. For all I as a random person know the wait is 5 years by then I'm married with kids and all I did was throw away $100



I'd like to see more relevant photos accompanying each section... for example, for food (I'm very food motivated) I'd love to see many more photos of kitchen and dining areas, meals preparation, an awesome taco night being devoured, hot rocket oven pizzas; and fewer buckets of cob being mixed.
Basically, I want to see photos of what the words are saying. Maybe there's a bounty to get some even better photos.  (*well, I found the food pics, they're buried in the FAQs, and amazingly I almost nailed the lineup...but how did I forget PIE?!?!)  

Links to "bootcamp experience" threads? Maybe each boot could scrape together a convincing testimonial essay from their writings/photos in their threads?

For the $100, there's often been a reward in Paul's Kickstarter campaigns that waived this fee, maybe there's other ways? What if the sign up for the wait list was free, but in addition to replying within 24 hours... If chosen, you have another 24 hours (or some time) to have paid the fee, or get bumped for the next person who has. I totally agree with the fee/earnest money idea to get a spot. The risk is a long list of half-hearted, or zombie applicants, but if a reply within two weeks was required to remain on the list, it ought to sort out.

In the same vein, the work trade idea for work already completed (rather than promised in advance), could be enticing for some... Maybe someone comes for an event PLUS an extra week to do bootcamp stuff, and racks up some credit towards a future event. Or comes just for the bootcamp, and gets credit. Credit could be exchanged for a reduced or waived fee for an event. Maybe each week of bootcamp earns you an increasing amount of credit, maybe the exchange is valid up to (Paul's choice)% of the cost, but never free admission to help cover costs, and maybe a limited # of seats.
 
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Just navigating from the home page is difficult. In the past, I’ve listened to a podcast and wanted to check it out but really had to dig to find the link. Possibly adding links to show notes when boot camp is mentioned. Even when I click on the community button, there’s nothing that says “boot camp”. Maybe add a banner button along side of the “critters” and “growies” buttons. Or under intentional community, add links from the forums to the boot camp etc pages.
 
pollinator
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paul wheaton wrote:My guess is that we need to upgrade the wording on this page:

https://wheaton-labs.com/bootcamp/

suggestions?

And what can we do to get more eyeballs on that page?



An ad on permies that said the estimated wait time/current vacancies for the bootcamp.a

Also
I made an ad script for the podcast ads, I'll paste it when I'm at my computer. Answering the 3 biggest fears that might stop someone.

If it were near to New England I'd definitely try the bootcamp. It's an amazing deal.
 
pollinator
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Is boot camp family friendly?

I'm a mom of three, the oldest two will be off to college next year, but I have a paid sabbatical coming up the year after that and I've thought about doing something like boot camp with my youngest who will be 13 then.  One of my parenting goals is to see that my children know how to fend for themselves when/if there is a collapse. They can make their own tortillas starting from the step "plant corn" but I'd really like to expand on that into other areas beyond growing food. If boot camp could be a gap year, either for young people on their own (between high school and what's next) or for a teen with the parent who wants to do some non-school education with their kids for an extended period of time?
 
Melissa Ferrin
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Briana Great wrote:

If the goal is "young people" (those who are going to find out about this who are NOT already on permies.com) then Instagram is more popular than facebook.



If you want young people--like a higher ed alternative, which I've heard mentioned in the podcasts, you've got to get a tiktok thing going, really. Yes, really. Get a current boot set up on tiktok and post daily shorts about the BootCamp experience.
 
pioneer
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I remember you made a post saying you were looking for someone to handle your social media. I think a lot of what people are saying when it comes to posting to FB/Insta/TikTok etc. is correct, but it also requires a consistent time investment. So if you had someone to manage the web presence of the bootcamp, post videos/photos/stories of things happening, then it would expand your reach and get the opportunity out to more people. Making a singular post on any of those forums probably won't get much traction.

Re: Joshua's point about distance, maybe there could be some sort of scholarship that helps with travel for people located far away i.e. if they attain BB40 then they can waive/reduce the $100 fee.
 
Briana Great
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Melissa Ferrin wrote:Is boot camp family friendly?



Melissa- I posted some of my experiences from August 2020, when I went with my 15 and 4 year olds (oldest and youngest of 4 boys.)  They treated us as a total "one" boot, we car-camped and provided most of our own food.  It was an AWESOME experience.

We plan to send that oldest kid back for a "Gap Year" and he is already on the waitlist =D

At 15 - an active Boyscout who lettered in swimming - it was mentally a bit much for him.  He would fall asleep after lunch and miss the afternoon shift, which was fine because we were each a "half" of a boot.  It was the physicality of the work  - and tracking the toddler - that wore me down, but I would go back in a heartbeat!  Going during a sabbatical would be  great, but your kiddo wouldn't really be a full boot, that is something you can work out with [Lara?] =)
 
pollinator
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Mike Haasl wrote:After breezing through it, my initial suggestion is to nix the first section on "who is it for".  Or at least move it down lower.  Seeing that long list of bullets isn't as engaging as the "things you'll do" sections below it (in my opinion).

I'm guessing the 2 years to deep roots has changed to have a leadership requirement?

Maybe the page needs some little splashy boxes sprinkled around that say things like "Live and eat organically for free"  "Learn permaculture for free" "Join our hippy commune in Montana"



I agree with Mike.  But I suggest maybe taking the "Who it is for" section and placing it further down the page and writing it up into a paragraph to explain how the program would benefit anyone who is interested in learning the skills available.  If you want me to give an idea of how to write that paragraph let me know and I will type something up quick, prior to having the few drinks I enjoyed this evening.  
 
pollinator
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Hello,

My unfiltered thoughts,

My mother would have a heart attack if she was reading this website and knowing I was heading to it!

A) Because of the Highly provocative language which to be fair is consistent for Paul in his content!

B) Because of the punctuation,

The first page is Super long! I mean the question tabs should be in FAQs,
The team should have its own tab,
Contacts should have its own tab.

Potentially important questions,
Internet availability,
Laundry options,
How far to go buy supplies, personal items, Luxuries,

Is there any fun on site?
How do people wind down, blow off steam, personal space?

Also maybe some more on the people and the experience,

Maybe worth investing in a expert to do the webpage design, I realise that its going to cost thousands but maybe kickstart that because it will be worth it!


Also Here is a link to a permaculture website for Portugal terra alta,

It is a great example take notes!

webpage

https://www.terralta.org/

I hope my unfiltered thoughts had some benifit!

Regards,
Alex

Thanks for your work!




 
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Ok, right. If you are getting clicks from people who don’t already know what it is and who/where you are, then the first questions that come to mind are “what is it?” And”how much does it cost?” So before any bullet point, a definition. “learn permaculture homesteading skills in the hills of Montana. Get physically fit as you spend your days gardening and natural building as part of a directed group. Come for a week, a month, or years, with an option to become part if our intentional community. Cost to join the program: $100. Cost to participate: free, room and board included: you pay for your education and food with the things you create as a boot.

I am no advertising guru, but if the cost is not immediately obvious, I get suspicious.
Regarding the deposit for the waiting list; I agree that even if I wanted to join I would not do it without knowing the length. If you still want to collect money just to join the waiting list, maybe make it refundable if someone has been on the list for a year and not been offered an opening? More complexity, I know, so it might be easier to collect when the person is actually on the way.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Sorry wont get to this till later today, I'll just post points from memory:

3 fears

1 cold --> make a guide to winter dressing
2 overwork --> encouragement to take breaks and care for health
3 tedium --> 4- hr cap on any project in a day


Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:My guess is that we need to upgrade the wording on this page:

https://wheaton-labs.com/bootcamp/

suggestions?

And what can we do to get more eyeballs on that page?



An ad on permies that said the estimated wait time/current vacancies for the bootcamp.a

Also
I made an ad script for the podcast ads, I'll paste it when I'm at my computer. Answering the 3 biggest fears that might stop someone.

If it were near to New England I'd definitely try the bootcamp. It's an amazing deal.

 
Kenneth Elwell
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Here's an idea. What if the Bootcamp could be structured in such a way that it was actually a PDC? A Bootcamp PDC.
As it stands, the Bootcamp feels a lot like "Come get behind Paul's grand project, and help push! You'll learn a lot along the way, get food and shelter, and get lots of intangible benefits." which I think is fine, and attractive to a certain type of person/personality/situation/stage of life/etc... What if the boots were on a "practical PDC course", with a certificate at the "end"? There'd be ongoing phases of Paul's permaculture design for the Lab to work at furthering, like earthworks, water management, natural building (maybe more visitor/event housing? amenities?), lots of growies. You might be building one swale, planting on another, harvesting from a fifth one from 3 years ago.

This idea would likely require some team leaders with PDCs. It might mean multiple "tracks" running concurrently (there's two boot teams already, right?) so that "PDC boots" could get to spend time executing different parts of the design, without repeating tasks (much?). There could be actual classroom time (nights, rainy days?) to meet requirements, and to lay the mental groundwork for the actual groundwork to follow. It might take multiple visits to complete one's Bootcamp PDC, there might be guest instructors/team leaders?, or it might be possible to combine the Bootcamp PDC with a PDC event to complete it?

This idea might be attractive to: Visual/practical learners versus lecture/booklearners, people without land that want to "play in the dirt" (with a PDC could be leaders?), people that want to spend time immersed in an ongoing/evolving permaculture design process, and transforming the Lab into Paul's dreams. There still could be room/space for working on the "experiments" such as wofati/ATI, GAMCOD, rockety stuff, PEP stuff, and "nest/chores", or maybe some of these are more deep roots material? There might be folks just Bootcamp PDC certificate focused, others that are deep roots driven, others that just aren't focused at all...
 
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any chance you could get testimonials from current or past boots?
 
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Feedback time!

1) I think the photos used need some love, perhaps edited to improve brightness and ambiance. Maybe even a filter used so that they all have a similar feel. The current photos give a 'low quality vibe' that might then be associated to the program itself.

2) Additional photos of group activities that are more oriented to the 'community' aspect . Photos of shared meals, community art installations, locations the boots like to hand out together, ect. I think a big draw is being around lots of other likeminded people.

3) I think specific images should be at the top of the page as 'eye catchers'. My favourites are of the Allerton leaf being completed with cob (hand son action doing something practical and artistic, checking out the bees (great color, lots of people, round wood, bees!),  boots in the back of the truck (either photo, looks like a group of people having fun doing worky things), purple person using miter saw (Lots of color, working with tools, just a fun photo to look at).

4) Maybe a section lower down full of photos of all the awesome structures at the Lab and Basecamp. When I dream of coming back, I think of all the cool buildings and spaces.

5) Needs an opening tag line or slogan: "Growing Permaculture People!" "Gain hands on experiences for creating your homestead heaven" "Building a self-sufficient community, naturally!"  

6) Maybe under the first image block, highlight the main activities as big/bolded words (Natural Building, Alternative Energy, Food Preservation, Growing Food) to grab attention and then people can read about the details later.

7) Move the "This Program is For" section near the end.

8) Revamp the "Why permaculture bootcamp". This section needs some love, even just in a grammatical sense.  I think it should 'tell a short story' to hook you into the program. I think this should be the first text heavy section that gives you a sense of the overall program and what is offered.

9) Follow "Why permaculture bootcamp" with a testimonial from a previous Boot! (Emphasis on a testimonial! or three!)

10) Followed by "Stay for a Week" vs "Come for Weeks, Months, or Years"

11) After this I think you can then proceed into the details of what is learned/covered and what a regular day looks like being a Boot.

12) Links to podcasts on the Bootcamp experience?

13) Link to one of the Boot's threads of Permies

 
master gardener
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Bootcamp is a great term, but it is not descriptive.  By all means keep the name, but also use a more descriptive term such as  “Hands On Training”.
 
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Also a vote of confidence for the label "bootcamp";  it imparts the concept of hard work, band of brothers style.   Also vote of confidence for fun photos of chillzaxing Wheaton lab homesteader activities (AKA community activities.)  I recently tried an orange peel candle. The scent did not disappoint!  Wait, am I gonna miss Lilo and Stitch night?  DAMN  

I wanna bet that on top of the already mentioned better poser photography/filters, a completely detailed list of food provided (easiest full transparency; photograph of receipts?) is an easy win.  

And reaching out into new arenas, perhaps the most properly popular tiktok/IG/etc networks.  Is workaway wooffing disqualified for some reason?

Without a doubt, I think the best way to get more boots on the lab is demonstrating the Gerty paradise reward.  I'm thinking that I really wanna know, how Fred's garden grows  (or the most progressed site in the joint....) I was very amused to hear they were pulling snowberries out on Fred's plot.  Me too!  The potatoes and brassicas are competing!  It's about to cross over into something better than berries...Hurray! (I love berries, I just started with an acre of blackberry thicket so I've had too much for awhile now, meanwhile I have mostly been otherwise unable to coax out starch/protein calories from this timberland clay without adding manure.)

Wait, maybe even above the demonstration of Deep Roots Gertitude, a 4 day work week.  Scale the reward back, until boots are homesteading kungfu masters and can reliable put out 4 10 hour days a week, without breaking down.  
Working as an arborist (like make that 3 ft diameter tree that can't be felled without destroying a building, with half its canopy over a roof, disappear!) we sometimes do mon/tues and then thurs/fri.   Weather permitting, if it's busy.  Honestly 2-3 days of physical labor a week is necessary, or otherwise the more important physical disciplines suffer  (but I'm kind of a physical discipline nut : )

Wait, maybe a fantastically situated outdoor Rocket Mass bathtub, that can be cleaned with a power washer and each boot is entitled to once a week.

Wait, maybe guaranteed downtime privacy options

Wait, maybe a 15x30'+ covered dojo/mat space

Okay now I'm really just spit ballin.'  But this stuff would hook me for sure, not sure how relevant that is haha
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Pat: Hey dumbfuck where are you going?
Leslie: Permaculture Bootcamp.
Pat: In Montana? You’ll freeze to death.
Leslie: Not with my handy guide to dressing in layers for Montana winter
Pat: You’ll be bored out of your mind.
Leslie: We never have to spend more than 4 hours per day on any one project.
Pat: You’re being exploited.
Leslie: I’m helping move permaculture forward and helping future Boots have a better quality of life.  And the hard part’s already done.  
Pat: So how do people sign up? Asking for a friend.
Leslie: permies.com/boot
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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greg mosser wrote:any chance you could get testimonials from current or past boots?



I would love to hear these.  30-second ads from Boots would be better than the ad I wrote.  

Or feel free to play with the ad I wrote as a bouncing-off place.

Here's a prompt for boots:

One thing that's made my life amazing at bootcamp is:

Or

My life has changed since I started bootamp: ...

 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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