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Advertising Policy - What's Crossing The Line?

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Blog entry by Martin Sojka posted 2263 days ago 1968 reads 2 times favorited 64 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My head is still spinning after adding the new site posting rules. Everything seems to be clear, there is only one rule that is already generating lots of controversy and questions (I got few only by PMs). Current version of the rule says:

“Don’t advertise your business or the business you are affiliated with. If you have a product or service that you would like to advertise contact our advertising department. Note that labeling projects as “for sale” as well as adding your business website to your profile and signature is allowed. Premium business features will be added in the future.”

Our site is still relatively young and this is the first community site I’m behind so this advertising policy issue is very tricky to me. However we need to solve it and have clear policy in place so I’m requesting discussion as constructive as possible about this issue. Share your opinion and support it with facts please. This will help me better understand your positions.

The most important fact is that last year I decided to sell advertising space at LJ.com. Our revamped advertising plans are very affordable but the companies are still paying real money for their banners. It’s not for free.

The second thing is that I’m leaning toward dividing the pros/businesses into two groups when thinking about next steps:

  1. those selling to lumberjocks/woodworkers (tool manufacturers etc)
  2. woodworkers selling to non-woodworkers (think projects for sale, commissioned woodworking, carpenters…)

Plus there is very thin line between advertising and non-advertising. Consider following examples and post your opinion on each of them if possible. Important note: posting rules are only one week old so if I’m pointing to an existing post I’m not saying it’s breaking the rules – there were none before.

  • We’re having projects labeled as “for sale”. This is also included in the rule exceptions. However I consider projects with the extended commercial-like stories as something that doesn’t belong to the current projects are. Project stories should communicate the message to other woodworkers not to potential buyers.
  • Odie is posting excellent So you want to go pro blog series. Obviously we want and need this kind of top quality posts/tutorials. What if he adds one-two links to his business website in each article? Should we consider this as breaking the rule? I don’t think so.. you?
  • Al Navas sent me following PM question: “I just posted on my blog an announcement to the first monthly drawing to be held in May, for router bit sets provided by one of my sponsors. Please let me know if it is OK for me to post on Lumberjocks, to announce the drawing and to request people to submit their names to register to win.” Should this be allowed? I’d love to let Al post this to his blog but there is risk of other companies posting same contest/giveaways announcements on the site for free. Plus we have sponsors who sell router bits and they may be “upset” knowing that LJ has condoned the posting for free. What do you think?
  • Lee was posting lots of blog journals about his Ezee-Feed business development. Again quality information and posts. But it’s Lee’s business so it’s getting controversial again (by the way Lee is also one of our advertisers, thanks). If Lee would be allowed to continue this kind of posts then maybe DeWalt could register and blog about their tools with links to their business website. Again, it’s so hard to tell where the line is ;)

So are we going to be 100% strict or use common sense? If common sense then how we can decide what’s ok and what’s crossing the line?

As I mentioned before I’m considering creating some sort of small fee-based pro membership. Right now I’m thinking about following additional features for the pro members:

  • virtual business card with, title, location, contact info and slogan that would be displayed together with the pro member’s author card on each page and would be expandable
  • directory of the business cards by location and category
  • one business announcement per week – this would be displayed on the member’s profile page as well as in the pros directory
  • marking the project as “for sale” – then it would get clear for sale badge near the business card
  • ???

With the for sale projects we could even have LJ Pros Gallery listing only for sale work with the special commercial project descriptions. This section could feature slightly different design and be separated from the main site.

And I’m having hard time deciding if this special pro membership should include only woodworkers/lumberjocks selling to public market or companies selling to lumberjocks as well. Maybe we should have separate Yelow Pages directory for the businesses targeting woodworkers.

Long post, tough calls ;)
Feedback is appreciated!

-- Martin, http://lumberjocks.com | My Facebook: http://profile.to/msojka



64 comments so far

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2368 days


#1 posted 2263 days ago

I have no problem with people advertising their business via their LumberJocks home page introduction or via their signature line. I think it would be crossing the line to offer some sort of product or service via a blog entry or forum post, with the exception of “For Sale” stuff. Even “For Sale” items, in my opinion, should be used items.

Take, for example, a wooden plane maker. I’d say let him post his website URL and a little about his business on his home page. Let him post pictures of planes he’s making and let him say that these are ones he’s making for his business. There – he’s talking about woodworking (the whole point of us being here) and if someone wants to buy it, they know where to go to ask!

It’s late and I’m rambling. Next comment!

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View Max's profile

Max

55956 posts in 2857 days


#2 posted 2263 days ago

I believe that having the ability to put your web site address on your LJ home page and in your signature line is enough!!!!! If an individual sees that you have a web site and they like what you have posted on this site then they will go to your web site and you can conduct your business there.

I agree with Eric that the intended purpose of this site was for talking about woodworking not selling any type of product. I think that placing items for sale, be it your woodworking product or woodworking, should be done on the individuals web site. If it is old tools then there is a forum for that.

As Martin states the individuals and companies pay to advertise on this site and it is not fair to them to have individuals get there advertising for free no matter what they are trying to sell.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2329 days


#3 posted 2263 days ago

I’m very skeptical about the prospects of woodworkers selling to other woodworkers. I would guess that 90%+ of the folks on this site would make a copy of something they’ve seen, rather than buy it.
Originally I joined the site, mainly to post my web address on my home page. I’m satisfied with the traffic I get from here as a link. That helps move my site up in the search engines. (at least that’s the way it used to work)
Personally, I don’t care to read about items for sale on Lumber Jocks. If someone mentions in posting that they built or made the item for a client, that’s ok. We can tell the pros by their web address. If I see something interesting, I will go to their site.

-- Tim

View dustynewt's profile

dustynewt

639 posts in 2447 days


#4 posted 2263 days ago

Let me start by saying that I am a novice as to what is feasible in this cyberworld.

Maybe a link to a separate Lumberjock Marketplace or Mall could be instituted for Lumberjocks to sell what they make to the public.
A classified type ad with photos, to run for, say, 30 days for a set posting fee. Or maybe an “etsy” type thing where Lumberjocks gets a percentage of the transaction, 3 or 4%. Or a combination of both. Then limit the free advertising in the member’s pages to their website link on their homepage and their comment signature, like I have.

This would generate revenue for Lumberjocks and if marketed toward non-members, would increase the interest in this great site.

I think that the “Woodwork trade & Swap” forum is sufficient for Lumberjock to Lumberjock transactions.

-- Peace in Wood ~ http://dustynewt.com/

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2478 days


#5 posted 2263 days ago

if it was all for sale…..........I doubt I would ever drop in to look at this site.

a seperate catagory with ‘used tools for sale”..........cool by me

but free “look what I’m selling”...........nonsense, thats why “e-bay” is there

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gator9t9's profile

gator9t9

294 posts in 2289 days


#6 posted 2263 days ago

Martin Thanks for the prod for active communication on what where when and hows of control and usage of advertisements on Lumberjocks . ...
Tho I am new to Lumberjocks and already very addicted to the site I think I can
objectively see where this is leading ….
I am over 21 and free and definitely see change is in the air …

It seems if i am reading this correctly ..The points to consider are …

1. Too many members are labeling their work “for sale”
2. “REAL” companies are paying money to advertise their products.
3. Where should Lumberjocks loyaltys lie ? a.) Regular Joe Woodworker lucky to have a garage shop.
or b.) “REAL BIG TIME COMPANY ADVERTISERS” paying for space to sell.

Todays world already is changing faster than the speed of light.

I want to stay as we are …..BUT i know that aint gonna happen.
It seems we cant stay as we are because it is the “Regular Joe Woodworker” wanting to sell a piece here and there that is forcing this change.
I do applaud Martin for the intelligent sharing of the possibility for LJ members to have a say in the shaping of the future look, feel, and growth (tho change is not always growth ) of this terrific site …

Yer right ..I have no idea what to do ….

If we can keep a separation of “Joe Woodworker ” and “REAL BIG TIME COMPANY ADVERTISERS” I think that should be a big part of the focus of this forum ….

I am not going to sell any of my work ….I touch wood cause it is beautiful and am on this site cause of what i can learn and what i can see others doing …
But I do have subscriptions to a lot of the mainstream mags an have seen just about every ad possible. I went to the Wood Workers Show and spent my $200.00
I may or may not purchase a piece from a member ….that is not my main reason for being here on LJ…
I dont know the answers …but i do know …I would hate to see Lumberjocks become so polluted with advertisements that “REGULAR Joe WoodWorker” is squeezed to make way for the BIG GUYS…
I guess maybe i should go and read the original LJ policies and see if any trends are apparent .
Come on guys …what do you think …
Thanks fa lettin me be myself again ..and remember we are lucky to be in a country where we can voice our opinion on any and every subject before the big guys go and do what they were gonna do in the first place.
thanks Martin …..you have some great ideas and suggestions to ponder ..

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View DavidH's profile

DavidH

506 posts in 2327 days


#7 posted 2263 days ago

Martin,

The reason I come to this site is to learn and talk with woodworkers that are better then me.

That being said I know that in order to maintain a site like this and keep it free for us you have to have advertising, and you have done a very good job thus far of keeping the advertising classy, pertinent to the site content and visible but not overbearing and in your face.

To maintain the quality of the current site I think a fellow jock should be aloud to have his business website on his homepage, possible have one – two blog entrees talking about it, and then have a “tag line” in his signature. Anything outside of that should be moved to a “pro’s” section and if you want to encourage the selling of products that it should be done through a “lumberjocks store”. I don’t think the two should be mixed, this should continue to be a community for people to share knowledge and experiences.

I think if you have designed and built something and you would like to blog about it, you should blog about how you designed and built it so that others here can learn from it, that’s what this site is for in my opinion.
If you are also selling the item that is fine to0 .. but the blog entree should not be a “sales pitch” it should be an entree on what the item is and how to build one.

-- David - Houston, Texas. (http://www.justsquareenough.com/)

View dlcarver's profile

dlcarver

270 posts in 2314 days


#8 posted 2263 days ago

I like things the way they are too…. I make stuff for sale, but I only mention this fact one time in my profile… and if it is not for sale it is marked ( NFS) in the title discription. When I first came to LJ I started with a couple of pieces putting prices on them … simply (because I was allowed). Email started coming out as being offended with this procedure. Seeing what was happening with the JOCKS, (not liking it) I didn’t even hesitate, and I went back and removed the prices with out even going to Martin. One thing I like about the site is that I can show the high quality items that I probably would never sell. It shows what I can REALLY do. I totally agree with the new rules of personal attacks on individuals. Many of you know that I was a victim of this… (fowl language and all) . It happened more than once. The person was warned and the emails removed. Some one else must have reported it to Martin….. and soooo A BIG THANK YOU MARTIN. I came very close to dropping out of L J. ...but a couple of Buddies kept me going.

I would like to see advertisers (tools and the likes) but in it’s own place. YELLOW PAGES would be nice.
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME…...DAVE
PS. This is not a sales pitch.

-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,http://dlcarver.etsy.com

View DavidH's profile

DavidH

506 posts in 2327 days


#9 posted 2263 days ago

As a follow up to my previous post,

I would be ok with an advertising program where-in if a company purchases advertising through lumberjocks they get a banner on the side like they do now but they would also be aloud to post One blog series talking about their products and/or services. Seems like this may already be “un-officially” in place with example to the ezee-feed system.

-- David - Houston, Texas. (http://www.justsquareenough.com/)

View Russel's profile

Russel

2199 posts in 2523 days


#10 posted 2263 days ago

It seems to me, that if you’re a pro and have a website, then the assumption is what you make is for sale. Those things that are not for sale would be the exception. Marking projects “For Sale” looks a lot like advertising and as such should be paid for like the banner advertisers. To my way of thinking, Odie’s “Shameless Plug” is not using LumberJocks to advertise his products, but to promote his website. I’m okay with that, especially since his project posts share more than mere product description.

My understanding was that this site was intended to allow woodworkers to talk amongst themselves, share information, and show off their work. Lee talking about his latest business venture was much more sharing an experience than selling a product. And, when it came time to sell his product, he put his money in and bought ad space. That’s the way to do it from my perspective.

The guy who joins your book club just to sell reading glasses can be really annoying. I think each of us knows when we’re sharing our experiences and when we’re advertising, and I’d like to think that a certain amount of honor would come into play now that the issue has been raised.

I’m all for some sort of identification for the pros so that they can use LumberJocks as an extension of the websites, but I’m not sure of the best way to accomplish that. I have no ideas, but not to worry, I will have opinions.

-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1140 posts in 2576 days


#11 posted 2263 days ago

I would hate to see the projects area turn into a storefront, I think there should be a separate storefront area for folks wanting to sell their wares.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 2670 days


#12 posted 2263 days ago

The pains of growing beyond a small community. Kind of makes me glad I’ve decided NOT to sell anything…I just give it all away. More fun to get paid in thanks anyway.

Take the posts above, add a favorite allcoholic beverage, some ice, shake well…..pour into a glass and drink. See what wisdom rises to to the top. I think you already know the answers Martin. You’ve done an extraordinary job creating a civil forum. I’d like to see you maintain the civility and the informality while also securing your financial future. A mix of pro/advertiser areas…while maintaining the next door neighbor appeal. Not an easy task but then I can’t think of anyone better suited to pulling it off.

Best of luck….if nothing else this should be an interesting experiment.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker http://www.capecodbaychallenge.org

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 2670 days


#13 posted 2263 days ago

Oops..posted twice

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker http://www.capecodbaychallenge.org

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18614 posts in 2745 days


#14 posted 2263 days ago

I wonder if there would be a non-intrusive way to tag an item as “for sale” and then in our LJ Stores, we’d have the merchandise store, the apparel store, and the woodworking stores.. so if a potential buyer ends up at LJ they can scan all of the woodworking items marked “for sale” and connects the reader to the member’s profile page and because it has been tagged non-intrusively it won’t be a nuisance to the members who are here to chat/learn/share.

Martin, your “premium membership” I think solves a lot of these problems. Trying to meet everyone’s needs as well as your own is a really difficult task. But I have confidence that you will, as always, come up with a plan that is fair and respectful to the members. And, because you treat the members here with such respect I know they/we will respect your decision once you have determined you plan.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Ad Marketing Guy - Bill's profile

Ad Marketing Guy - Bill

314 posts in 2383 days


#15 posted 2263 days ago

Martin has clearly defined the issues, concerns and ultimately the dilemma.

In my opinion, all of the above posts have great validity. However, in my experience, self-policing becomes self-defeating . . . unless clear and well thought out rules exist and are applied.

It is my life’s business understanding media (electronic, print and broadcast) and associating that with human behavior for both, business 2 business, and business 2 consumer marketing. It is a science not an art. When it comes to the internet, it is definitive in nature.

I will offer this:

The Evolution: A small community becomes a metropolitan city. You will acquire the “hawkers and gawkers”. You WILL loose the ambiance of community life. It takes time, but the internet accelerates this process. The “city square” is replaced with Times Square. Membership that found sitting on the front porch swing and talking with the neighbors is now confronted with big city life. Loud speeding automobiles and trucks drown out talking over the fence to the neighbors. Every Tom, Dick and Jane that has a pod cast, that no one listens to, will now be advertised on their LJ postings, eBay stores will be highlighted and more.

You will continually point and click until you eventually find the Gary K advice, the MsDebbie humor, or the Odie wisdom. YOU will become frustrated and spend less and less time on this site. The less time people spend will further deteriorate the culture.

The Guarantee: Neighborhoods turn into things like SoHo, Tribecca, and the Upper West Side. Eventually, neighbors leave for quieter and friendlier surroundings. What is the current LJ culture will be replaced – This you can take to the bank – Unless zoning safeguards are established. Every community has zoning and bulding codes.

The Big Fish in the current LJ pond WILL become the small fish in an ocean of other sea life! The advice we could see and achieve will be in a maze between for sale signs; and click here to learn more – only to be confronted with a blatant plug. Hey, I am NOT talking about posting your website in your profile, which is great and informative, I am NOT talking about having a tool for sale or adding a comment to your profile——These are community not commercial.

Nevertheless, consider the future if this community becomes entrenched with projects for sale or barefaced postings to hawk goods or services. “Where do YOU draw the line”?

Possibly as Martin alludes to, it would be worthwhile having a separate tab for those “professionals” looking to sell their product or service. In my opinion without question those people should pay a “commercial fee, and NOT be allowed to apply their selling techniques to the current forums.

-- Bill - - Ad-Marketing Guy, Ramsey NJ

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