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January 20th, 2010 at 08:41 am

Sales Thru OnLine Communities

There seems to be an increasing number of “on-line” communities, some supposedly independent and other that are obviously sponsored by a particular supplier – that really are dedicated to providing a sales venue of real or downloadable products.

Neither is good or bad in it own right – but what is becoming increasingly common to all is that self publishing authors, or those who offer limited production may have tied all their marketing and sales into one or two of these entities.

Still not good or bad, so why this note.

Over the last year or so I have observed several increasingly common occurrences.

First, business oriented publications have had a constant stream of articles and such about the loss of productivity because employees are “surfing the web” on company time – not just lunch hour or breaks.

Those involved with IS (information systems) have always (since before the WWW) had access to “lists” of troublesome IP’s commonly used by the nastier fo spammers – but most companies have been reluctant to get involved in the expense tracking individual sites.

That is changing. As we all try to do more with less, many companies are looking to see how they can make their existing work force more effective.

What are they finding? That are losing far to many hours of work due to employees surfing.

Just think about how often you see ” I will look when I get to work” or “… only have dial up at home so I will upload that from work”

Within the past few weeks, I have read, across many groups and communities, reference to how “suddenly” I cannot access such and so community or web site.

“The technology exists” and because of the need for doing more with less, IS people are now being directed to pay attention to sites that are being accessed thru “work computers”.

To be fair to these businesses, they are just trying to keep their business going and believe it or not keep those employees employed.

For the individual consumer, well, unless they upgrade what they have at home, they will no longer be your customers.

BUT for the Self Publishing Author or Niche Artisan – sorry folks but it is not just me being a control freak,

YOU need to control your distribution

YOU need to control your presence on the web

YOU have to find new and more inventive ways to reach your target audience as well as make sure consumers are aware of your goods and services.

YOU need to make sure that every consumer can access your products and publications easily and effectively.

There is so much more to running your small art inspired business than just producing publication and products.

  • 1

    Wheat, I am honestly not sure what you are trying to say here. I get that you are concerned about workplaces blocking access to certain online communities in order to protect their on-the-job time. This is understandable from the standpoint of the employer.

    I also understand that you are saying that people need to upgrade their home internet so that they can visit websites and communities from home. That may not always be possible for those whose income is already stretched to the limit.

    So if you are writing to the self-employed art businessperson, what caution are you trying to convey? What is it that you are suggesting they should do? Diversify their marketing approach? In what way? Cease relying on online communities? Which ones are causing problems, and why?

    There is potential here for some excellent information, but at the moment it just isn’t clear.

    Carol Logan Newbill on January 20th, 2010
  • 2

    It is not clear what each of us needs to do beyond
    making sure we each maintain some sort of independence and control over both our marketing and distribution.

    Not cease relying on the online communities, but not limit one’s efforts to them and that, btw includes blogs hosted on sites like blogger, etc.

    From the employer perspective – all of them are a problem and that is not in the least unfair of them to think so. They are not paying their staff in 99% of the cases to review and download patters (whether free or with a cost) Research their next auto or appliance purchase or take advantage of the company bandwidith to shop or bid or whatever

    I am trying to say that those who have committed their
    marketing and distribution to only one channel could be in trouble. This would be especially true if that channel is a known consumer interactive community for a paritcular fiber hobby. Not to be mysterious, but in an attempt to keep myself out of trouble – it seemed prudent not to “name names”

    As I wrote, I don’t have any real answers. Rather am only at the point of recognizing the problem and beginning to study it.

    Which is why I hoped for discussion, here in business related fiber groups and so on.

    Hope this explains


    wheat on January 20th, 2010
  • 3

    Here’s what I think you’re saying (but I may be wrong):
    Workers need to WORK at the job they have been hired to do. Reading/searching online for anything NOT related to that job is unethical. Since workers can’t be trusted to monitor this behavior themselves, companies are beginning to do it for them.

    Being from the “old school” I find this not only fair but necessary for the company.

    Furthermore, my assumption is that these same workers who are inappropriately using their computers at work, will not spend as much of their off-work time reading/searching for info which may lead them to buy items. Therefore, those wishing to sell need to find additional ways of getting their goods before the public eye.

    Seems that ALL means of traditional as well as computer selling means need to be accessed for successful sales.

    Sharon Richards on January 20th, 2010
  • 4

    This isn’t new news. Companies own the computers AND the bandwidth, and employees are basically stealing when they use their employers computers for personal use. Most corporate organizations have had policies and ‘website watching’ software in place for the last 10-15 years – and this developed in part because of sexual harassment rulings and awareness.
    Because this is an issue that has reached its peak years ago, I doubt there will be any massive impact. If you’re seeing it now, probably more smaller companies are instituting similar policies, or a younger crowd is coming up that have always had internet access and just can’t understand why someone won’t pay them to play.
    Good luck with this.

    Deb on January 20th, 2010
  • 5

    Hi Sharon,

    Not saying it is new, but what is newish is the “rebuiliding” of interest by business and the “complaints” by consumers who have suddenly found thier online access in the work place restricted.

    ANd, not a massive impact but for small indie designers particularly, selling patterns, this could effect
    them more than any major company.

    wheat on January 20th, 2010
  • 6

    I don’t think you’ve supported your underlying assumption that blocking access to Ravelry (let’s not be coy) at work will lead to significant numbers of people not using the site at all. These customers are already comfortable with online distribution and online communities — I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that the vast majority of them have access at home or elsewhere. At any rate, is the need to have multiple distribution channels really so new? Not everyone is on Ravelry or is comfortable with using their patterns.

    And about the “bandwidth theft” argument that people so readily buy into, actual studies don’t seem to support the usual line about employee productivity:

    If you think about it, web surfing is just the latest way employees take a quick break to refocus. There’s the old water cooler, the break room, the smoke break, etc. Pretending that human beings in most cases can be productive every minute of the day is a ridiculous fantasy. Are they going to install chips in our heads to alert management when we simply zone out for a few minutes, think about dinner, or an argument with the spouse?

    Of course, this doesn’t matter to your main argument. If employers block access to sites like Ravelry, they block it. But again, I’m going to need a stronger argument to prove that this will have a measurable impact on small indie designers.

    Ann on January 22nd, 2010
  • 7

    There was no attempt to be coy, there are a number
    of on line communities for just about every interest in the known universe.

    So let’s not limit the discussion to any one group
    site or domain.

    As to how it will impact Self Publishing authors,
    well the point I hoped to make was that we
    need to find additional ways to
    add eggs to our baskets.

    wheat on January 23rd, 2010


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