Hello again; I apologize for being a bit behind with this week’s post. I had been proud of myself for publishing a post each friday. I consider the guest post on Harleena’s site my own post for that week. But this week I was sick with a fever for about three days. That combined with this oppressive summer heat had me thinking about skipping this week all together.
But then I remembered the people who had told me that my posts had motivated them to keep going. I thought of others who said they look forward to my weekly sharing. And I thought what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t keep of my schedule. So, I hope you enjoy this week’s effort.
In the early days of my business as an amusement equipment broker I had trouble getting people to return my phone calls or answer my emails. I understood that it would take time to get established. I also knew that my idea of running a commission sales site would be a tough sell competing against several free classified sites with longer track records and more well known names. But I wondered how I could overcome this. I thought there has to be something more I can do to get people to listen to me.
About this time I started reading posts online about promoting your website. There were a lot of posts about how you have to give people things to get their attention and as a result their traffic. . I thought well I don’t have a lot of money so what can I offer for free. I thought well I would love for people to add a link to me on their site. I figured I cant be the only person who wants more traffic.
The big idea
So, I decided I would offer a section on my site of links to the amusement industry and the companies that supply it. And in exchange for a free text link they would agree to receive emails from me about new additions to the site. I made it a little easier for people to accept this by promising to never email them more than once a week. I have stuck to this promise, and I rarely get any requests from companies wanting to be unsubscribed.
I went one step farther. I used search engines to find lists of carnivals, fun fairs, amusement parks, and party rental companies. I then created the link and sent them an email saying I added your link please review it to make sure it doesn’t need any additions or corrections. I then told them about the email newsletter and that their link would stay on the site if they signed up to my new mailing list.
Adding submission forms
I also added a form for people to submit their own links. Its not automated. I don’t believe in fully automated form submission because sites that use these end up with a lot of links that have nothing to do with their subject matter. I no longer have to add links for people because more and more business owners are finding the site and using the submission form. I also have since realized that the amusement industry is broader than I originally thought. I have now expanded the link section to include water, parks, food and game concessionaires, zoos and aquariums, ride modelers, trade associations, trade publications, circuses, etc. i now have over 3,000 addresses on the mailing list from companies all over the world.
And speaking of the submission forms, they are one of the few things where I had to accept that I couldn’t figure it out on my own or with the help of tutorials or other web masters. No matter how closely I tried to follow the instructions for creating my own submission forms, I just couldn’t do it.
Part of the problem was that building a form meant using a system of code called php. And part of it was I wanted an ambitious form. I wanted people to be able to submit photos and even videos along with their item listing information.
I finally decided the best thing to do was to pay for a form service. I searched the web and eventually found wonder Mill web forms. They offered or I guess I should say still offer a set up process I was able to navigate with speech. I was able to set up two forms one for submitting ad listings and another for adding new links.
And to be fare I should mention that when Ashley Faulks started helping me pretty up the site, one of the things he did was to edit my forms so they match the rest of the site. He also created the form for people to submit banner ads.
Wonder Mill costs about $20 a month, and I have been told I am paying quite a bit for this service. But I believe in supporting companies that have products a blind person can use. They also offer free storage to back up the submissions. Th text is held for 90 days and the media files for 30. And people can attach up to two gigabytes of data per submission.
The lesson here
The main thing is that my experience with forms fits into my basic philosophy. That is, if you can do it fine. If you can’t do it yet, then learn. If you can only do part of it or some of it now, then do what you can. If you can’t do it, do part of it, or learn how; then ask for help. If you ask with an open hart you may even find people who will offer to help for free or for a small percentage of what they would normally charge. I have been blessed to run into many such people on my journey. I just wish I had written all their names down. I’ll share as many as I can remember. I don’t know if it comes from being blind or just the way I was raised, but I firmly believe that you have to take action however small. If you wait for things to be perfect,
you will be waiting a long time.
Adding an auto responder
Now, you would think that someone who was doing list building before he knew what it was wouldn’t have had to be pushed to install an email sign up box on his new site, but you would be wrong. I did have feed burner, but as we all know; it isn’t really an auto responder. It can collect email addresses and send your latest blog post to them; but to me an auto responder like mail chimp or a weber does so much more.
The power comes from being able to set up emails in advance. For example you can set it to send a new subscriber a welcome message. You can also use them to offer your list members things like a free ebook or a series of articles, audio messages, or video presentations.
I want to thank Eve Koivula for the nudge. She has been helping me develop my first online product, and the first thing she insisted on was that I have an auto responder. She said that you want to build up your email list in advance of your product launch. I told her I should have known this. 🙂
I chose A Weber mainly because my good friend and mentor Adrienne Smith uses it. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to get started, that I didn’t even think to look for an affiliate link on her site first. I apologize for that. I know that many bloggers depend on income from these affiliate products, so the above link to A Weber is a link from Adrienne’s site. Hope that helps my friend.
Installing A Weber
I was able to easily sign up with A Weber, but I did have some trouble creating my first sign up form. I contacted technical support, and they were very helpful even during the weekend. They visited my website, and matched it to one of their templets. They then created the form, generated the html code; and then emailed it to me. I had no trouble installing it in the side bar. I do need to consider adding a couple more fields to it as well as consider adding additional versions of the form to my site. But at least I made a start of it.
I know that color and design is important to the success of an opt in button, so i’m hopeful that my friends will check out the site and let me know what suggestions they have. Not knowing how it would look, I worked very hard on the text for my message. Your opinions are welcome on that too. I’m going to include it here to make that easier for you.
Email sign up box message
HELLO; MY NAME IS MAXWELL. I WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU AND BECOME FRIENDS. IF YOU ENTER YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS HERE, YOU WILL ONLY GET EMAILS WHEN I HAVE SOMETHING WORTH SHARING WITH YOU. I DON’T HAVE A FREE GIFT TO OFFER RIGHT NOW, BUT I AM WORKING ON A MOTIVATIONAL EBOOK. MY SUBSCRIBERS WILL BE THE FIRST TO RECEIVE IT AND ANY OTHER ITEMS CREATED TO BENEFIT MY NEW FRIENDS. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR JUST NEED A KICK IN THE BUT, THEN FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME THROUGH THE EMAIL ADDRESS THAT YOU WILL SEE IN YOUR CONFIRMATION AND WELCOME EMAILS. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AND MORE IMPORTANTLY FOR YOUR TRUST. TAKE CARE, MAX
I’d like your help
I would appreciate it if some of you would sign up for my emails. I want to know how I can improve the confirmation and welcome emails. I can’t do that without my friends testing my work. I am currently the only subscriber. 🙂 Everything seems okay to me, but okay isn’t good enough when it comes to encouraging people to opt into a mailing list. And if you only sign up to help, I will completely understand if you unsubscribe right afterwards.
Sharing is caring
Naturally, if you enjoyed this post; I hope you will share it with your friends, family, and coworkers. I especially love it when i get one of those emails saying a friend has tweeted my post or shared about me on face book, linked in, or google. I know that i wouldn’t have the success I do without the help and support of my friends. And I always do my best to send just as much love back as I get from you.
Let’s get to know each other
I really do want to get to know you. I want to learn about your dreams and the things that frustrate you. i want to help where I can. So, if you have questions, feel free to email me via the contact form. If anything I am too open when answering questions, so don’t worry about offending me. As long as I can tell the question is asked out of friendship and a genuine interest in me as a person or as a representative of the visually impaired community I will be happy to answer you the best I can.
To me every conversation is an opportunity. It is my chance to make a new friend, get a new prospective, find inspiration, or even meet a new client. I hope you will take me up on the offer. Thanks so much for reading and take care out there, Max