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Too much self promotion?

 
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Daron...I have to tell you, when you first started posting about your blog/potential online business, it looked rather interesting, and I was thinking of signing up for your information to see what you have to offer. However, you have made a number of additional posts about your blog/potential business that really don't bring much new to the table on this forum and are starting to feel rather spammy... like you are making these posts to push your new website and the "Cheat Sheet" you offer on your site. Someone even mentioned to you in your thread yesterday (about web site optimization) of your site feeling somewhat spammy in that it pushes your "Get Your Cheat Sheet", but now your posts are starting to feel this way to me. (Perhaps others???) I'm not here to jump all over you, and I can relate to your enthusiasm of having a new website, but you need to tone it down a bit. JMO. I know I may make no friends with this post, but if you have something to offer on your website, you don't need to push your website on Permies every day. Just make real quality posts of value, and folks will migrate to your site. What you are doing is a common mistake for new website owners...mentioning your site at every opportunity....but it can have a very negative boomerang effect. Take it from someone who learned the hard way and has had a website that is now 12 years old.
 
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This post is split from another thread because it speaks to the greater issue of self-promotion.

Paul Wheaton talks about promoting stuff here https://permies.com/t/38930/promoting-stuff

One of the methods we are using to grow permies.com is to build beneficial relationships with other sites.  Daron has done a lot behind the scenes to help permies grow over the last year and it's only fair we help him in return.  

If we help build other websites, and those websites take advantage of our affiliate links on the digital market, it drives people and funds back here to help permies grow, which helps the other website grow... a big, giant, friendly, feedback loop is created.  
 
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I think this also gives us a great opportunity as a community to help people like Daron with their websites. I know Daron put a TON of research in the best layout for his website and way to run it.

Back before he started it, he let us staff see a demo page. Like Jim, I thought it looked a bit too spammy in appearance, with it's pop ups and cheat sheets, but Daron, like I said, put a LOT of time and thought and research into it, and everything he read pointed to this being the best way to format his site.

But, maybe that research was about the average internet user. Maybe we permie-type people, and the people Daron is trying to reach, are different? Maybe those things really aggrivate a permie-type person so much that they are off putting, whereas they don't bother the average reader and are helpful for them?

I personally LOVE what Daron is doing. His articles are high quality and share a lot of information that I didn't know, even about subjects that I've read a bit about. I'm super excited that he's working to equip people with knowledge for free, and he's also generating a lot of awesome discussions on the threads he starts.

Perhaps we can help Daron--and other's who make websites--to have the best possible websites to spread permaculture and knowledge?

What are some examples of your favorite websites?
 
Jim Guinn
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Fair enough. I will not mention it again.
 
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Jim Guinn wrote:Daron...I have to tell you, when you first started posting about your blog/potential online business, it looked rather interesting, and I was thinking of signing up for your information to see what you have to offer. However, you have made a number of additional posts about your blog/potential business that really don't bring much new to the table on this forum and are starting to feel rather spammy... like you are making these posts to push your new website and the "Cheat Sheet" you offer on your site. Someone even mentioned to you in your thread yesterday (about web site optimization) of your site feeling somewhat spammy in that it pushes your "Get Your Cheat Sheet", but now your posts are starting to feel this way to me. (Perhaps others???) I'm not here to jump all over you, and I can relate to your enthusiasm of having a new website, but you need to tone it down a bit. JMO. I know I may make no friends with this post, but if you have something to offer on your website, you don't need to push your website on Permies every day. Just make real quality posts of value, and folks will migrate to your site. What you are doing is a common mistake for new website owners...mentioning your site at every opportunity....but it can have a very negative boomerang effect. Take it from someone who learned the hard way and has had a website that is now 12 years old.



Hey Jim - I always appreciate feedback so thank you for your comment.

Most weeks I will only be making 1 thread on permies that focus on my site. I try to make these threads have some value to add to the permies community and not just promote my site. Occasionally, I will make a mid-week bonus post on my site and an extra thread here on permies. These mid-week posts don't always fit with my regular blog posts. One was my "gifts for homesteaders" post/thread. In the future I might do some that are focused on say edible native plants in Western Washington. In general these bonus posts won't be a good fit for everyone that visits my site so I add them as an extra post instead of one of my regular weekly posts.

This week was a bit different. I made my regular weekly thread but I also made a thread asking a question using an apple-poll. I wanted to hear from the permies community to find out what people were the most interested in. While this is focused on my site it is not really promotional in my opinion. The 3rd thread that you originally replied to was not meant to be promotional - it was meant to give back by showing what I was doing and what was and was not working.

In my time here on permies I have seen a lot of people trying to get their own homesteading and permaculture blogging sites up and running. Many of them have struggled to get any traction. My hope is that by sharing what I'm doing in more detail and how it is working people who are struggling or have not even started yet can get some benefit from what I'm sharing.

I will be adding to the 3rd thread once a month unless people ask me questions in between.

I also had a 4th thread that discussed the question about site optimization. I had not planned to make this thread but I had 2 permies users in one of my other threads both bring up the issue of my site not working great for them. Since that conversation did not fit with the original thread I made a new one so I could continue that conversation and see what I could change on my site. Based on that conversation I have made several changes to improve my site's speed.

As far as the site being spammy - it is true I have 4 opt-ins per blog post asking people to signup for my email list in exchange for what I mostly call a cheat-sheet. The popup shows up the first time you visit a blog post and then goes away for 15 days. The other 3 are always there but I try to keep them minimal - one is just a sidebar widget and the other 2 are towards the start of the post and at the very end.

While this might seem excessive everything I have read encourages this amount. The 2 inline opt-ins and the widget are standard on almost all blogs that are running as a business. The popups are a bit more controversial but I tried to make mine as low impact as possible while still being beneficial - the popups account for a significant % of my email signups. I chose not to have popups that block out the screen and on mobile devices the popup is replaced by a small ribbon at the bottom of the screen that can be closed.

I also chose to have no advertisements on my site other than my own opt-ins. I may promote my own products using a few tools in the future but I'm committed to not running any ads on my site.

Finally, with the holidays I did chose to make my last 2 posts and the bonus post before those a bit "lighter". I have a big post and a couple associated pages coming out next week focused on Rocket Ovens. Between working on that and the holidays I did not have time to come out with my regular posts this week or last week. But moving forward those "light" posts will not be the norm - I will do that style again in the future but only when I don't have time for a bigger post or if it just makes sense (a new years post for example).

Not expecting you to agree with everything I'm doing but I did want to explain the "why" behind some of the decisions I have made. Thank you again for your feedback - I may not follow all the feedback I get but I do appreciate any feedback.
 
Jim Guinn
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Hi Daron...Thanks for your response. I appreciate it. I think your site has great potential, and I wish you all the best with it. My comments were only made because I have seen new site owners make themselves crazy over every little aspect of their site, so worried about their audience, trying to do everything the "right" way or what is recommended by the "experts", many of whom really don't know what they are talking about, rather just regurgitating the popular trick or technique of the moment. (BTW...I've been there, done that, and own the T-Shirt!) You are new to this and have done a lot of work already; it shows! In time, if your site is going to really develop into something special and helpful to others in the long term, you will find your stride and learn what really works for YOUR site and YOUR viewers, and not try to follow all the gurus out there. That is what truly makes a quality website that speaks with authority and attracts followers.
 
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Daron, the effort you're putting in really does show, and surely there is benefit to talking about clearly permie related things here, even if the core article is elsewhere.

I think many of your theads have sparked good discussions that are not harmed by their somewhat promotional origins, and you're always engaged with them; I never see you dropping these posts with links and then ignoring the responses.

I won't disagree with the research you've done about the most effective way to configure a site.. I will observe that perhaps 'most effective' has been defined a bit narrowly. Certainly the methods you're using are common, and current. I just don't like the feel of them.

Hope that was more 'useful feedback' than 'critiquing gift-horse dentalwork'. Best wishes for 2019!
 
Daron Williams
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I get it - I'm not a huge fan of some of the current content marketing methods either. I debated with myself for a long while (been working on this site for over a year before I even launched) and had a lot of conversations with people about some of the techniques promoted by the content marketing sites.

But as annoying as popups for example can be they do seem to work based on my own site's data - at least at this point. The internet is so busy these days that it is hard for any site to stand out and get people to become regular visitors. Most of the time people just type a question into google - go to a site that is listed - hopefully get their answer - and never return to that site.

That is why sites such as mine tend to have multiple and annoying ways to try to get people to sign up for an email list. If someone signs up then I can remind them once a week that my site exists and hopefully they choose to visit the site again.

I'm not a huge fan of it and I get annoyed by it too. But for better or for worse it just seems to work and seems to be a necessary evil.

That being said I do appreciate the feedback and I'm not locked into always having popups or as many opt-ins in general. At some point in the future either data from my site or feedback from people visiting my site may convince me to change how I try to get people to signup for my email list.

Since the site is new at this point I'm just waiting and observing - just like when you complete a permaculture project - you got to observe it and then make changes based on those observations

Thanks again for the feedback.
 
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Daron your stuff is rightly welcome at Permies and I am impressed by the research you put into trying to implement the web-sales-guru methods. But since this thread is here, I hope you won’t mind the feedback that:

I now have learned to click my back button as soon as I see your Wild Homesteading header.

I have been burned — had my time wasted — by too many sales-oriented websites over the years. Get halfway down the page and find out that the article conclusion is only for people who sign up for the mailing list, that kind of thing.

Obviously that’s not you. But you built your site using the marketing toolkit that those people use. And we (well, me, but I don’t think I’m alone) have been trained (aversive therapy) to recognize those tips and tricks known as “web marketing best practices” and stay the hell away.

Does that kind of marketing work? I guess it does. But not on me, because I am uncomfortable being marketed at too aggressively. I won’t shop in a store with pressure commissioned sales people who won’t let me browse and I won’t read a website that keeps asking for my email when all I want to do is read in peace.

And yet the marketing “works.”  

My theory is that it works on people whose language and web literacy skills aren’t so honed to hair-trigger aversive sensitivity by decades of online living.  I didn’t THINK about why I developed a click-away-from-the-spam reflex every time I see your banner; I just do it, because that’s how I defend myself from aggressive web marketing.  I have a reflex that fires when the methods are in use, regardless of content.

This operates at a level prior to intellect. As staff, the first time I “felt” that way about your stuff I had to look at it anyway, to conclude, no, this is fine content, this person just drank the unfortunate marketing Koolaid. So now I know I never need to look at it again, because you are rightly as trusted as I am here. But that’s intellectual. Nonetheless, due to the methods and styling, it still triggers all my “high pressure sales, do not trust, money extracting machine, stay away” defensive reflexes at the pre-rational pattern-matching level.  Because of all that research you did into what “smart” web marketing supposedly looks like.

I can see that you’re working really hard to make your website a success and I swear I would not have typed all this with my right thumb if I wasn’t hoping it would be helpful! There is a real conundrum for web marketers in how to find/use the methods proven to work when, in their most blatant forms, those methods have been poisoned by bad actors. People who can thread that needle get rich!
 
Jim Guinn
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Dan, I am very much like you. I go to a website and if the first thing I see is an ad or a popup within the past few seconds, I'm gone. Does it cause me good content at times? I'm sure it does, but many more times than not, what is left after the ad or popup is not worth my time or money. Good content, not sales tactics, will keep people on your site and make them users, not quick lookers.
 
r ranson
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There seem to be two issues here.

1. promoting your stuff on permies.

I think this is good.  You're contributing lots back both by creating content and your work behind the scenes.  

2. how you set up your website.

The most important thing here is IF it's working for you, keep going the way that works for you.

I love reading old threads on permies and there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of posts from people telling Paul Wheaton he's doing it wrong.  He needs to change how he runs his website.  And yet, those people's websites have fallen into the mire of forgotten sites, whereas permies is still here and growing strong.  

If what you're doing works, then that's the right way to do it.



My personal preference (I'm not telling you to change what you're doing - just sharing some thoughts and feel free to take what's useful and ignore the rest) is that it would be interesting to see if your target demographic responds well to that kind of marketing?  Are we of an age that remembers the Spam Wars or are we more eager to sign up for things?

Is there some way to do like I do on the farm?  If I try something new, I divide the pasture/field/garden/flock into two groups.  A control group and a group that gets the new stuff.  I can observe what strategies (or combination) are making a difference.  I don't know if websites can do this.

If... as a veteran of the Spam Wars, this is highly unusual... If I give out my email address or business to a site I like to see:
1. they have given me value first.  Tutorials, videos, whatever.  Quality content not hidden behind a login wall.  (I can see you have this from your content on permies alone)
2. the stuff they are offering is even better than the free stuff or I love what they have so much, that HECK YAH.  I want them to email me with updates!
3. The popup hasn't pissed me off yet.
4. it's really easy to sign up (I expect a box somewhere on the top third of the right side of the page or at the bottom of the right side)

But that's me as a user.  As a webmistress, I haven't got the commercial knack so feel free to ignore anything I say that didn't work for you.

 
Daron Williams
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Thanks for the feedback Dan - One thing I will add is that I'm still planning on having regular posts/threads here on permies to share what I'm doing on my homestead (my beaver pond post is an example - I don't think it even mentions my site outside of my signature). I'm also planning on continuing to put content from my site up on permies too.

My point in bringing this up is that I think for those of you that really don't like the marketing stuff that my content here on permies can be a great alternative. Eventually, I will have my own products in the digital market place too so if you were interested in say my future book you could get it here (for pie! or USD) without going through my site. While some of my permies content does push my site I still think (or at least hope) that you can get a lot of value from the content without ever visiting my site. I think this is especially true for the conversations that stem from the threads.

I don't treat my site as a place for me to focus on what I'm doing - the site is to help others get answers to their questions. But here on permies I can show what I'm doing on my homestead and I will keep doing that. I will be updating some of my project threads this year (my hugel hedgerow one for example) and making new project threads about various 2019 projects and some completed 2018 projects that I have not shared.

One reason I use the logo on my threads that go with my site is to make it clear to people that hey this content is related to Wild Homesteading not just Daron. On my regular content like the beaver pond thread I don't use that setup.

Using the logo (and my site colors) in some of my threads is also meant to be a transition from permies to my site and the other way around. I have links on all my blog posts pointing towards permies and obviously links on permies pointing towards my site. By having my threads mimic my site's brand I thought it would help people feel less of a shock going from one place to the next. In this case I'm thinking about the people who have never heard of permies and get to permies from my site and people who are not regulars on permies but found it through google for example. Both groups might not have any reason to trust either permies or Wild Homesteading but by having a similar look and feel I was hoping it would help show continuity.

So to make a long story short. I really think the content I put out on permies (both Wild Homesteading related and not) is a great alternative if the marketing side of my site is too annoying. But I'am taking this feedback to heart and I will be watching how the site grows - at this point I feel it would be too early to change course - I just don't have enough data/experience to know what is working and what is not. I have also gotten a lot of feedback from people that really like the site and don't seem to have a problem with the marketing side of things. So for now I will just take the feedback (both types) and observe the site and make a decision on what to change or not change in the future.

I'm taking the feedback seriously - why I'm responding in length is to share the "why" behind my decisions. I don't mean to argue or try to convince but to just share why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Thanks all for the comments/feedback.
 
D Nikolls
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I tried to write a longer more specific feedback/suggestion post, and nuked most of it after a couple tries as it kept coming out more bitchy than helpful... but now Dan and Raven have basically said everything I was going for, how convenient!

I would follow all this with an observation that when I push past my warning signs I generally find sites using these tools are pretty shallow. I would go so far to say that I wouldn't buy anything from them, because they are spending way too much time trying to convince me they are awesome, rather than just being awesome and letting me figure it out.

 
Jim Guinn
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Dillon...Good insight. That is what I am trying to get across. Rather that using the "guru recommended" tricks and techniques that everyone else is using on the internet (dime a dozen), one needs to pack his/her website with quality, useful and UNIQUE information. (Google likes that much better than the tricks du jour.) AS I mentioned earlier, good content, not sales and promotion tactics, will keep you high in the search engines and keep people on your site and make them dedicated users, not quick lookers. I did sign up for your "cheat sheet", Darron, but once I received it, I was somewhat disappointed. It really has nothing more than I can get on 100's of other websites about homesteading. What unique aspects are you bringing to the table? I don't mean to sound harsh, but what makes your site unique, different from the 100's of websites "trying" to teach homesteading?  So far, I don't see the difference, so your site is one in a sea of many. What you have explained in subsequent posts about how you plan to create blog posts, products, etc., is not going to make your site a flagship in homesteading. Not putting it or you down; just trying to push you to think outside the box.
 
Daron Williams
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Well as much as I appreciate feedback and I welcome comments it feels at this point that we are starting to go in circles.

Jim - I disagree with your assessment in your latest post. I had a long response typed up but you and I are just not going to agree. To be honest my site is not for you and while you are welcome to visit it I'm just going to come out and say that based on your own website you have more experience farming/homesteading than those I'm focusing my site for which likely makes the content of less value to you. I'm focused on helping someone new to homesteading/permaculture. Others will hopefully find some value in my content but it is the beginner that I want to help the most. Time will tell if I'm setting my site up correctly to engage that audience but so far it is going good based on all the metrics I have available to me.

I appreciate the feedback and welcome it but this will be my last post in this thread for a while because we are just going in circles. My site is new and it will change as it should - the feedback here and other feedback I have gotten will help guide my future choices. So again thank you for the feedback but I think it's time for us all to take a break from this conversation.

If anyone does want to give me feedback on my site that is not related to my content here on permies please send me a PM or contact me through my site's contact page: https://www.wildhomesteading.com/contact

If you have feedback or comments about the content I post here on permies than please leave a reply to this post or reply to one of my threads or send me a PM.

Thanks all.
 
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Daron

Two thoughts:

- The practical one: Regarding popups for opt-in stuff and the like, I can  deal with some of that, although _some_ of the stuff I've seen is just plain discourteous. But here's the  thought - I think you're always better delaying the blurb a little.  Covering the content front and center at about 5-10 seconds into the page (which I see more and more of recently, which is why I mention it) is a serious annoyance. I arrive and I start immediately into the material trying to see if I'm going to stay and read on because I often have 3 or 4 other sites in the process of opening. It's best not to interrupt that moment by covering the content and breaking my concentration. As I said, I can deal with it but it makes a distinct impression. Stuff off to the side is less intrusive but the timing still matters.

I get a kick out of websites that pop the "How did you like us?" window about 5  seconds after the page loaded. Financial  sites seem to be doing that a lot. Right, like I know already at 5 seconds in? Well, actually, that particular kind of pop-up often _does_ settle the matter. <g>

- The concept thought: Your site's a work in progress and I think you're probably going to get results. Like I said in a post that seems to have gone *poof* into the ether, a guy's gotta start somewhere! But, although businessmen can't be _too_ choosy, you may want to try to track the type of membership you're getting, based, perhaps, on the type of conversation you find posted. Darn if I know what metrics you could latch  onto to indicate this or that "type", but might be worth some thinking. Kind of a challenging question, actually...


Cheers,
Rufus
 
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Interesting discussion.
Keys right into the permaculture as a pyramid scheme criticism, an issue that I don't have any feels for,  since the price of a certified permaculture class puts it out of consideration.

I am grateful  that I  rarely feel l marketing runing wild here on permies.
But if you are here, you are participating in something that is trying to sell  permaculture.
Paul is very upfront about making money AND saving the world.
I guess my only question concerns advertising.
Has the work done by the poster been rewarded with tiny ads and the like?
That would seem perfect,  in addition to the posts.
 
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I think suggestions to focus on good content are spot on. Not that yours isn't, but it's just something to keep in mind.

Once upon a time I thought that a certain (not yours, Daron!) homesteading blog was really interesting. I'm not going to name it here because I don't want to throw anyone under the bus so publicly, but if you want to know you can PM me. This blog had article titles that were on point and spoke to questions I thought only I and maybe a very select few other people had. But, when I started reading them, I found that they were extremely shallow. Often they wouldn't even answer the questions posed, or even if they did it was so basic a simple Google search would have done better. The information often conflicted and at times I came across facts that I knew to be downright wrong. I also found that the author wrote a tremendous amount about subjects they had zero experience with. Combined with poor research on their part this made for poor reading.

Another suggestion I have is that you publish descriptions of your homestead every once in a while, like maybe once a year, and maybe keep a list publicly of things you have direct experience with. In both I'd include what livestock you're working with/have experience with, the types of gardening you've done, crafts, your experience with orchardry, types of construction, etc. I'm not saying people can't write about things they haven't done, this will just give readers a better idea of where you're coming from. All readers and researchers have to sort and grade the material they come across.

Some of your posts on permies have provoked good discussion. That's a good start

 
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This topic interests me because I also practice self promotion, however within a totally different environment and with a totally different approach.

I'm an amateur inventor just for fun as a hobby, and came up with a concept for an automotive performance part. So I did the design, made a prototype, dyno tested it and ran it on my own vehicle. I shared my experience in a model specific automotive forum as it unfolded even before finding out what the results would be. It was confined to one thread which naturally attracted interest and participation without my even trying. This was because it broke new ground. The project became by far the largest thread in the forum with almost 1,500 posts and over 200,000 views. It ended up working so well in my own vehicle I had some production runs done and easily sold them all.

That first venture paid for all of the design, development, testing, prototype, production and sales costs, as well as turning a decent profit which I sequentially plowed into the next project... and the next.... and the next. Today, I'm involved in my latest invention which rests upon the solid sustainable financial foundation provided by the others, and it has naturally evolved into a profitable stand alone business in its own right. My regular job buys me the luxury of free time to explore and develop other ideas just for the fun of it.

This is what I learned...

Never hold making money as your goal.

Never try to get people's attention or participation.

Folks can smell desperation a mile off and the odor of need will only drive them away. If what you are doing has inherent value, others will naturally be interested and they'll flock to you without any effort on your part other than your taking the time to share your experience with them.

If what you are doing is an uphill struggle, you are either doing it wrong or you need to do something else which comes easier to you.

I simply follow my own natural curiousity interest and first come up with ways to make my own life better. And only when they first make my own life better do I offer them to others. So far the approach of serving others has never failed me, and I believe it never will.

 
a fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool - shakespeare. foolish tiny ad:
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