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:
- those selling to lumberjocks/woodworkers (tool manufacturers etc)
- 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!