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Looking for constructive criticism

by Neightdogg
posted 11-10-2010 08:47 PM

19 replies so far

View rep's profile


95 posts in 3134 days

#1 posted 11-10-2010 08:56 PM

I checked it out, and I like the layout and simple approach. I don’t see anything that needs to change.
I did not register or go thru the checkout process.

2 weeks is probably not enough time to expect much response.

-- rick

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3780 days

#2 posted 11-10-2010 09:21 PM

I don’t think it’s your site as much as the rankings within the search engines (Google). I did a search for turning blanks for sale and didn’t see your site on the first page. Only after adding “pace” to the search, I found your information but that was from your information on Wordpress.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View hairy's profile


2718 posts in 3557 days

#3 posted 11-10-2010 09:30 PM

Do you take pay pal?

If you do, do I have to put an item in the shopping cart, go to checkout to find out?

They’re getting ready to layoff 144 cops in my town. The economy is still bad. Lots of people just aren’t buying anything except gas and groceries.

Your webpage looks good to me.

Good luck!

-- My reality check bounced...

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3099 days

#4 posted 11-10-2010 09:37 PM

A few thoughts and, as you asked, I will be blunt – -

If I buy on e-bay I can usually see the very piece I am buying and often I can see it from a couple of different angles. With your site, all I know is that I am ordering a “generic turning blank”.

You’re not telling me if the turning blanks are green or dry and it green are they sealed.

You’re not telling me anything about the quality code of the hard wood boards (i.e. S&B)

Sycamore is a neat wood, but most people don’t know how neat it is. You need some close-ups of the grain or (better yet) some pictures of a finished bowl that really shows off what the wood can do.

It took me a while to figure out how your pricing works. It took a while to figure out what the (+xx) beside the sizes meant. It was not intuitively obvious.

You have a dilemma. You really need more selection but I am sure you don’t want to add more until you get some sales.

I wish you well.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Dave Pearce's profile

Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3697 days

#5 posted 11-10-2010 09:44 PM

I’d agree with Rick. The site looks fairly clean and easy to navigate. A quick search on Google for turning blanks gives you about 186,000 hits, however, so I imagine your competition is pretty tough.

And yeah, 2 weeks isn’t a lot of time. Usually if a business invests in a web site store front, it either has an existing customer base that is better served using it instead of more traditional methods, or they spend serious time, effort, and in some cases, cash promoting their new site.

In either case, marketing determines the amount of traffic and sales from your site. Can’t say that I know anything about the turners market, so whether your competitive or not, it’s not for me to say, so hopefully, it’s just a marketing thing you’re looking at.

If you haven’t been promoting your site by using search engines and advertising to their fullest you might start there. At least getting a better ranking in Google searches might help and that’s something you can do for free. Google Ads or ads with woodworking magazines might be another avenue to look into as well.

There’s a reason Woodcraft shows up in the margins of most woodworking sites. They spend a lot of time and money making sure that happens.

If it were my business, I would continue to invest in it, but carefully, and not try to rely on it’s sales for income at least until it was showing a good measure of success.

good luck.


View Walt's profile


248 posts in 2863 days

#6 posted 11-10-2010 10:02 PM

I viewed the site and was impressed with the layout but as stated by Rich you need to give more information about the wood. IE: is is green, dry etc.
Also it would be helpful to know what your normal shipping method is so a customer could estimate his shipping costs.

-- Walt Wilmington Delaware,

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3585 days

#7 posted 11-10-2010 10:11 PM

I’d postulate that your main problem is only 150 hits in 2 weeks. As mentioned before you are competing with 186,000 other places. When I look for something, I rarely go deeper than 5 pages.

-- Joe

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3693 days

#8 posted 11-10-2010 10:11 PM

you may be able to sell turning blanks through mailorder, but your milled lumber is going to be local pickup (i assume). make sure you have your location in the main site’s title or site search keywords. this way if someone is duing a location specific search for a sawyer you’ll show up in the results.

i do like how you’ve set up the store, with a picture and price in plain view. it would be nice though that if when you click on an item, there’s more description and multiple views.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3610 days

#9 posted 11-10-2010 10:16 PM

It’s difficult to start up a postal service for wood which is bought blind . I know I would be hesitant to send off money to an untried company for air dried wood.It does happen though. I should spend more time cultivating some customers in your own area who want good timber.Then they can come pick and argue price.No one wants to open their package when it arrives to be disappointed and therefore not many are willing to gamble.Also get some more pics in there with actual wood for sale and the stuff will fly away.Even though we are in a recession people need wood I won’t be going for the next five years to my shop without the wood I need so you may not sell big bundles to each customer so keep them small and offer discount for bulk buying and for goodness sake keep your prices down to get them in the door.
Once your established that’s a different matter word of mouth will keep you ticking along.Keep your spirits up, and keep going if you lived next door to me I’d be your biggest customer so long as you offered real bargains .Good quality wood will always sell ,so have a bit more faith in your stock .In my opinion people will buy wood everyday of the week if your clever, and don’t get greedy .That’s my advice and I have been in my own business most of my working life. Better to sell cheap and often than expensive and never. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Simons44's profile


93 posts in 3449 days

#10 posted 11-10-2010 10:18 PM

Sell on eBay. When you pack your order put information about your website in it, include a coupon to use when ordering on your website. If the customer is happy with your product they will want to order more. The coupon and advertising will hopefully drive them to your website. Just remember, you can not mention your domain in the auction, so make sure to use an e-mail address to help get customers there.

Also, use more meta tags to increase your hits. Right now you only have: turning blanks, stump burl, air dried lumber

Add a boat load more such as: pen turning blanks, bowl turning blanks, burls, wood burls, cherry turning blanks, poplar turning blanks…using the woods and products you can probably add over 100 more meta tags easy.


View JuniorJoiner's profile


487 posts in 3464 days

#11 posted 11-10-2010 10:19 PM

well, I am not a turner, but when I look at a lumber site, I know what I am looking for. clear pictures of individual special wood, clearly priced and of reasonable thickness. I want to search by species and burl, and an indication if the specific piece may suit my needs of shop sawn veneer(ie soundness, checking)
btw, I have never gone to a lumber site looking for poplar.
knowing the location is very helpful, and you should have it prominent on the homepage

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3149 days

#12 posted 11-10-2010 10:35 PM

Knowing how to read your web logs statistics might help you to determine where the visitors come from, if they are robots or search engines and how many of those hits are website hits or individual page hits. Give it time, it’ll happen.


View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17424 posts in 3031 days

#13 posted 11-10-2010 11:12 PM

I dont know a ton about turning or turning blanks but my business background would tell me that clicks per minute is the driver behind internet sales. You need to direct people to your website. What I would do personally, is head off to craft shows, woodworking expos, lumberyards, tools stores, etc. and hand out some free pens (turned of course), small tape measures, pencils, with a business card to direct peopole to your site. This way they have all ready had a tangible experience with your products and know you personally.

Internet statistics say that most people dont ever get past the first 2 pages of an internet search. All though the internet is probably the cheapest way to begin a business, you must generate clients to make some money.

In business school i learned a great way to analyize your business. It’s called the SWOT analysis, an acronym standing for Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats. Google that and run your businees through the exercise examining all of those topics. Once you have figured out the answers to those questions it will be much easier to identify your target market. Once you have identified your target market you can figure out how to get a hold of them. From there its shaking hands and kissin babies, get the word out!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3246 days

#14 posted 11-10-2010 11:13 PM

As others have said, your biggest problem is your visibility on the net. Many folks think that it’s like the field of dreams…”build it and they will come”...but it doesn’t work that way. You need to build a presence on the net…I’m in the process of that for my wife’s wedding photography business right now.

First, make sure your content is quality content…Rich’s comments will go far in this regard.
Second, make sure your webmaster knows what he’s doing with regard to search engine ranking. Google loves text, rich with keywords but not overstuffed. More importantly, make sure your title is proper.
Third, in the short term you may try paying for the advertising on the right side of Google search. This gets you traffic until Google places you in the rankings.
4th, two weeks is not long enough for Google to even begin considering your site, give it some time to index.
5th, and last (but not least) , use your existing customer base to spread the word you’re online…use business cards, online only deals, etc.

View woodArtz's profile


5 posts in 3812 days

#15 posted 11-10-2010 11:22 PM

It looks fine to me.. I’ll be sharing the address :)

View Neightdogg's profile


48 posts in 3049 days

#16 posted 11-10-2010 11:24 PM

I knew I could rely on Lumberjocks to give me good feedback in a hurry. Thank you for the responses, I will be mulling over how to make some fixes.

-- Nathan

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3168 days

#17 posted 11-11-2010 01:46 AM

Speaking as a pen turner and frequent online shopper.

A big factor for me in deciding whether a site is worth my time is: how hard is it to work out what the shipping will cost me? I always look for a) a clear chart of shipping costs or b) an easy way to find out the total shipping cost without having to make an account or put in my address. Your cart tells me how much shipping is but it doesn’t tell me how much it might be if for example, I added another set of pen blanks. Also it has told me how much shipping will be without asking where I am located, which suggests to me that the amounts might be arbitrary. Six dollars shipping for five blanks seems high – I got a box of about 75 for $11 shipping a month or two ago.

The pen blank listing itself has no information, not even dimensions of the blanks! Very important information. It also doesn’t specify whether the picture is the actual wood on offer – I assume it isn’t (which is a negative point for me) but it’s good to specify in case someone else assumes that the grain they see is exactly what they’re going to get.

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3483 days

#18 posted 11-11-2010 02:28 AM

I know some people don’t like to hear it, but to make it in the online market place you need to hire someone to optimize your site for you. You should be able to find several good ones by searching “SEO services” on google. I would say the #1 ranked non paid link is probably pretty darn good at it considering his site is listed first on a search dealing with professionals who do SEO for a living.

Also, consider paying to have your link put on google. I know there are usually package deals you can get with some hosting providers which will give you a few months of ads for free, for a 1 year commitment or even a cash value amount of ads as a teaser to get you to buy more.

As far as the website itself, it looks good. As other’s have said, putting up detailed pictures of items turned from this wood to show what can be made from them would be a good selling point as well. If you don’t turn yourself, see if you can find a turner who would be willing to make some items with your wood and let you photograph them for your site. I would love to have some of my turnings featured on a website (besides LJ of course)

Good luck, the WWW is a rough place to make money.

-- San Diego, CA

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 2890 days

#19 posted 11-11-2010 05:48 AM

I’m not a turner, so your products don’t have much appeal to me. I think the site is informative and clean. What struck me on going to your home page it is just a picture of a piece of wood. I wanted to know more about you to start – pull me in and make me want to see more. Some copy like you have on your contact us page would be a good start. It doesn’t have to be a book, but a couple short paragraphs would be good.

I agree with some other posters, that having better photos of actual items would be better. Check out some other lumber web sites. I’ve seen a few where they have individual photos of really interesting pieces. That’s a lot of work, but could pay off.

I agree that 2 weeks is not long enough. I just launched a web site targeted to users searching for apartments for the company I work for. It is a nationwide company, with almost 200 communities. In the first 2 weeks I’ve only had about 10,000 hits. I was disappointed as the low number, I must say. The point is, 150 is over 2 weeks for your site, presumably without advertising isn’t bad.

I also looked at the SEO content of a couple of pages – the meta name=”description” tag, near the top. On the pages I saw, this was identical. Google will actually ignore pages when they have duplicate content here. I’m no SEO expert, but I’ve learned a lot recently. Make sure that tag has unique content on each page, and you should include your name as part of that content on each page. Read up on SEO, or talk to someone about more tips. Google has a lot of good resources for SEO.

Another minor suggestion: on your contact us page, put an Email us link. This will make it so that a user can click on that text and it will open an email with your address populated. It’s not a big deal, but is a friendly thing. You can also do similar things for your address and phone number so mobile phone users can touch them to call you, or map to your location…

Overall, I like your site. I think you are on the right track. Keep at it and you will do OK.

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