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Paid Advertising to Support WS: Discuss


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#61 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 05:46 PM

I'm of the mindset that any advertising would be funneled through the Advisory Board to make sure whomever it is passes muster. We don't want to cheapen the value of our site.

Precisely. We're not talking about Google ads here, folks. Or those g*damned animated, AADD/OCD-targeted banners.

I'm imagining tasteful sidebar tiles from absinthe ware vendors such as La Maison d'Absinthe, Absinthe Devil, etc., and other spirits and drinks brands, such as Gin, Whisky, Rum, vermouths, bitters, cocktail ware, and so on.

The companies will have to be fully vetted by the Board, which will come up with a set of strict criteria, posted in the forum for input. The ads will have to be approved as well.

The site software, not the forum, has a built-in banner server that counts displays and click-throughs. It can be set to display random ads, or a display a series in order. Advertisers can buy a number of displays, a number of clicks, or a set fee for placement on a time basis.

The ads would probably not be placed on the forum pages at all, and if there were any it would be restricted to one small banner per page. I'm dubious about them in the forum, because most ads I've seen in forums are annoying and distracting. If they could be designed and placed in such a way as to avoid that, while still getting reasonably valuable visibility for the sponsor, I may change my opinion.

As far as the "donating" versus "subscription"....

I personally don't mind "donating" to a site, and don't expect anything in return (except maybe a Thank You), since it IS a donation. I really do not care at all for the "subscription" service. I know PayPal allows you to do that, but personally, it makes me feel as though I am obligating myself to support the site with future subscription renewals.

I think the difference is a semantic one. What if we changed "subscription" to "serial donation"? It's largely the same thing. The two options appeal to different economic and personality types. Some who can't necessarily afford a huge chunk all at once, can easily afford a few bucks a month, but might not remember to do it regularly.

One advantage to subscriptions is that it helps when trying to create a budget; we can more or less count on a certain amount coming in. It was a tremendous relief for me when our subscriptions finally got up to the point where I could put the licensing and hosting on autopay on WS's paypal account.

I'm most curious about the coexistence of the recommended vendor's list (hereafter called RVL) and the advertisers.

It was my thought that the RVL would go away. Since we'll be accepting advertising under the same strict guidelines, some of the ads would essentially be replacing the RVL, only we'll be getting some of the revenue they currently generate for their beneficiaries.

I can say that Ron's diamond brings a shred of envy that much matches my verte every time I see it...

Having the emblem that shows that you're a subscriber might encourage others to chip in, and I'd be cool with displaying it, but only if all subscribers got the same emblem and left it at that. It's awesome that Ron can chip in that much and I don't begrudge him that at all. However, I don't want anyone comparing my contribution to his. I'd rather people just know we're both doing what we can.

Other subscribers small and large have come and gone, but you're one of the longest-standing contributors to this site, and I've always been grateful for it. I think most of us here (now, at least) are mature enough to know that everyone's circumstances are different, and one person's $10 or $20 may be much, much more valuable than another person's $500. It may not work that way when you go out to buy shit, but it works that way in my heart.

Yeah, I know I'm really weird about that sort of shit. It comes from being educated but working a crap job. Enjoying expensive hobbies, but not being able to afford them. Wanting to do things that make an impact and not having the resources to do so.


I can relate, more than you can possibly imagine.

Honestly, I never thought too much about it until I joined forums where there are lots of subscribing members, and those who don't subscribe are treated like crap or mostly ignored. Not by the people running the forums, but by the membership. I'll see the founder say, "As a registered member, regardless of whether or not you make a donation, you have the right to complain if something isn't working correctly or if the server is really slow," yet the members will be saying, "You don't get to complain until you chip in!!!!" Of course that's not happening now but who knows, if in three years there are a whole lot more people doing so, it could become a pissing contest thing.

This will not be tolerated here, ever. Everyone who participates is chipping in. Those with economic resources sufficient to share are appreciated, but money doesn't buy status here, character and integrity do.

... patiently awaiting my measely silver pontarlier icon ... :paperbag3:

Weird. That should have been automatic. Fixed now. And thank you! :cheers:

In a way, wouldn't it be pretty cool to see ads here for brands that are actually good? At crap sites and all over the internet you see so many ads for Absinth Original and KOS.

Yes, it would be cool. It would also send a message to everyone who happens to surf by, not just members. They might not otherwise be exposed to real quality brands.

Moving on...

I would greatly prefer to be able to do away with subscriptions entirely. The membership shouldn't have to dig into their private resources to keep this thing going, especially when Big Liquor brands can easily drop $10,000 to $50,000 on sponsoring a weekend cocktail convention.

The reality is that the organization, its site, the planned outreach, lobbying DC for a definition, the research... these cost cash money. The more effective and far-reaching we want them to be, the more they'll cost. But they also take time, something I have less of now that I have to concentrate on getting my distilling business off the ground.

In the meantime, I'm grateful for every contribution from the membership and thank you for supporting and believing in this mission.

Maker of Marteau Absinthe and Foxtrot London Dry Gin
Distiller, Stone & Szilard Distilling Co.
www.absinthemarteau.com


#62 speedle

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 08:51 AM

Gwydion, you make a lot of good points. However, I still think it's a slippery slope. And, while I haven't done the math and don't claim to have the knowledge to even DO the math, Wikipedia seems to do ok with:

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#63 Joe Legate

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:04 AM

I would agree that the giant font of "Personal Appeal" begging for money is in poor taste. However, a small, unobtrusive tab that says, "Support WS" is not distasteful at all. No one is getting the hard sell or getting their arm twisted.

Likewise, tasteful unobtrusive ads would only make it easier for everyone (new members and visitors especially) to shop at reputable vendors. I see the ads as being mutually beneficial for WS, vendors and shoppers.

#64 Brian Robinson

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:07 AM

A Personal Appeal from Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

And FYI, Oxy did make a personal appeal several years ago too, albeit in better taste.
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#65 Marlow

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 01:56 PM

Think about it this way: the only reason we even have a Wormwood Society is that Hiram and a few others have donated their time and money for years in an effort to promulgate truth about absinthe and protect the spirit's legacy. We all of us who are not drinking King of Spirits at $200 a bottle (or whatever it costs) are the beneficiaries of their years of work and financial outlay. It's absurd for us to argue that the only way to preserve the integrity of the Wormwood Society is to have it hanging by a financial thread at all times.

(Does anyone imagine Hiram is raking in wads of cash by doing this? I wouldn't think so, myself. If he ever becomes "the guy in the solid gold hat," I'll eat my words, but I'm not sweating it!)

Anyway, my two cents: of course absinthe vendors should be able to purchase advertising here. If Hiram and the board say they will ensure that only reputable vendors will be able to do so, that's plenty good for me.

I was once a subscriber here, but I let it lapse for a shamefully long time. I will be mending my ways as soon as Paypal let's me start sending money (not as simple a process as I had expected at first).
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#66 Brian Robinson

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 02:03 PM

I should clarify. I didn't mean in better taste than what the WS is doing. I meant in better taste than the Wikipedia guy was doing.
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#67 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:15 PM

I knew that.

Gwydion, you make a lot of good points. However, I still think it's a slippery slope. And, while I haven't done the math and don't claim to have the knowledge to even DO the math, Wikipedia seems to do ok...

Personally, I find the Wikipedia appeal to be annoying as all hell. If they took it down a few point sizes maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

The slope is no slipperier for us than it is for any other non-profit. I'd prefer to be able to use my time and energy to make the site better and the organization more effective, than to rack my brains just to find ways to maintain status quo without compromising my integrity (or dignity, see below).

I would agree that the giant font of "Personal Appeal" begging for money is in poor taste. However, a small, unobtrusive tab that says, "Support WS" is not distasteful at all. No one is getting the hard sell or getting their arm twisted.

Likewise, tasteful unobtrusive ads would only make it easier for everyone (new members and visitors especially) to shop at reputable vendors. I see the ads as being mutually beneficial for WS, vendors and shoppers.

Agreed. Such a link is now displayed at the top center of the page.

... Does anyone imagine Hiram is raking in wads of cash by doing this? I wouldn't think so, myself. If he ever becomes "the guy in the solid gold hat," I'll eat my words, but I'm not sweating it!


Don't hold your breath; if it does happen it won't be because of WS.

Some of you may have noticed that WS was down for several hours a couple days ago. Some of you may have seen the appeal that I posted on my personal FaceBook as well as the WS wall. Two of you responded right away and got the site back up, and I'm extremely grateful.

Since we've been taking subscriptions, I hooked up the domain renewal with the PayPal account so it would auto-renew... in theory. Of course that doesn't happen if there's no funds in the PayPal account, and that's what happened this year. Normally when the domain registration comes due, I just pay it. This time, I couldn't, and it was only $40.

Some speculate on my lifestyle and the means afforded to me by my ownership of Gnostalgic Spirits and Marteau Absinthe. In the interest of transparency, since this is a non-profit association asking for funds from its members, I feel it's appropriate to share a little about my personal finances and situation.

I was inspired to do this by a post made by Peridot in an earlier thread:

Yeah, I know I'm really weird about that sort of shit. It comes from being educated but working a crap job. Enjoying expensive hobbies, but not being able to afford them. Wanting to do things that make an impact and not having the resources to do so.


So, I'm going to share with you what I shared privately with him:

• I don't own a car, a house or any other significant real property; we have no savings. We have disconnect notices all over the fridge. We currently live entirely on Trinity's disability benefit, which just covers our rent. We both have ongoing health concerns (nothing scary or terminal) and require expensive medications. Of course, we have no form of insurance (not that it would matter in this country).

• I'm self-educated; I left high-school in 1974 at the age of 17 to marry my first wife. No college, aside from auditing (no tuition, no credits, no degree) courses in literature, theology and comparative religion at the University of Cincinnati. Consequently, I've always worked crap jobs. Either the job was crap or the pay was, usually both.

• I had hoped that growing WS into a full-fledged non-profit would be the start of a rewarding career doing something I'm passionate about and that has value and meaning to others as well as myself. But as many of you early members here know, things got off to a rocky start with a lot of vehement opposition to anything having to do with money. I was essentially bullied into a second full-time job with no pay. My bad, I allowed it to happen.

• I've not been paid for Marteau Absinthe since I started making it in the US a year and a half ago. It has been out of production for over a year, and out of the market for many months, as the last of the stocks dwindled. This is due to circumstances beyond my control, best resolved by the respective parties' attorneys. Suffice it to say that except a very small advance last spring, equal to one month of our rent, I have received literally no money for Marteau since it was launched.

The Wormwood Society is my opportunity to make a meaningful impact. I'm not wealthy enough to fund research or buy every pre-ban cache or interesting historic document that surfaces, but I have other visions and talents, and my vision for WS lies in a different direction.

I know WS can be so much more than it is, it needs to be, but it will take a small full-time staff to make it happen. We can sit around and wait until some well-funded but dubious interest does it wrong, or we can do it ourselves.

I've drafted a comprehensive set of ad policies and when the Advisory Board is done vetting it, I'll post it out here. I'm also investigating corporate sponsorship possibilities.

In the meantime, thanks for your support. If you're flush enough to subscribe, please do. If not, don't sweat it and enjoy the site and its resources.

Maker of Marteau Absinthe and Foxtrot London Dry Gin
Distiller, Stone & Szilard Distilling Co.
www.absinthemarteau.com


#68 peridot

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:42 PM

I'll say again what I said before. Anything I can do to help out, let me know. I tend to have a lot of free time because my job cut my hours, and my band works around whatever else I've got going on. Not that I likely have the skills to do whatever has to be done around here, but if there's anything within my abilities even if it's tedious crap I'm volunteering.

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#69 Brian Robinson

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 01:21 PM

Some of you may have seen the appeal that I posted on my personal FaceBook as well as the WS wall. Two of you responded right away and got the site back up, and I'm extremely grateful.

Honestly, I totally missed this. I couldn't find the appeal you posted on FB either. If I would've seen them, I definitely would've helped. I'm glad someone did though!
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#70 Mat B.

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:44 PM

Shame on me for not getting on FB as regularly as I should; I would have known.
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#71 Little G

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:28 PM

Wish I could have given more than I did too, but between bills, credit cards, and the IRS, i'm kinda up that proverbial creek for now and a good ways into the future.

Best of luck!

With all sincerity,

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#72 jcbphd

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:05 PM

Honestly, I totally missed this. I couldn't find the appeal you posted on FB either. If I would've seen them, I definitely would've helped. I'm glad someone did though!


Ditto on this. Sorry.
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#73 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:31 PM

No worries. I took them down as soon as we had enough to do the job, so that no one would be donating to an already solved situation.

I sure didn't intend to lay a guilt trip on anyone, I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew that the rumors of my Mercedes were greatly exaggerated.

Mind you, I do intend to get rich, just not off the Wormwood Society. ;)

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#74 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:59 PM

Well, I suppose there will be another job to do, and that's why I just coughed up some bucks. I had always intended to do so, and then the first of this year, I lost my job. So, the rumors of my Mercedes have been greatly postponed. Nonetheless, the WS has enriched my life so far, in excess of my modest contribution.
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#75 oglala56

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 08:07 PM

I really like the E500 Mercedes..
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#76 Joe Legate

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:29 PM

Mind you, I do intend to get Rich

And I'm sure he feels the same way about you, too. :devil:

#77 baubel

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:39 PM

Wasn't there a pic of him topless wading in the river somewhere? :twitchsmile:

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#78 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:00 AM

Could be, but somewhere out there is a pic of me buck nekkid under a waterfall.

If you run across it, don't judge; it was really cold.

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#79 Ron

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:20 AM


Some of you may have seen the appeal that I posted on my personal FaceBook as well as the WS wall. Two of you responded right away and got the site back up, and I'm extremely grateful.

Honestly, I totally missed this. I couldn't find the appeal you posted on FB either. If I would've seen them, I definitely would've helped. I'm glad someone did though!

Ditto on this. Sorry.

And ditto here.
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#80 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:26 AM

And all from some of the most generous contributors here.

Thanks gang. :wub:

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#81 OMG_Bill

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 04:51 AM

[attachment=6151:Copy_of_...__09_023.jpg]

Rich.
Some folks may cringe each time I use the term "Booze" regarding these high quality drinks.
I mean no offense. There are bottles of extraordinary booze out there. I've tasted a few. Relax.

#82 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:06 AM

Mmm. Sexay.

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#83 buddhasynth

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 11:33 AM

can't view it; I'm'a blame it on this computer... :thumbdown:




some spectator I turned out to be. :laugh:
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#84 Robynn

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:55 PM

I did see the site was down several days ago and sent an email to Brian, but sadly it appears neither of us saw that it was down because of a funding issue.

As someone who runs a struggling online presence and helps with several other non-profits, I will say that you need to slap some Google ads on this site ASAP as it will pay for your hosting. I realize those ads aren't always enjoyable but they can be highly tailored to include only topics and even only the companies you approve, thus you can block sites that sell less than reputable products. Even with very minimal click-throughs (and we can all promise to do some clicking, right?) you'll make several hundred extra dollars each quarter.

Secondly, get some affiliate codes for amazon.com and the like. If folks who use the boards buy stuff on amazon (doesn't have to be absinthe related) or other online retailers with the affiliate codes, the kick backs can go to the WWS. This is part of an "every little bit helps" strategy.

I would also create a "chip in" donation jar so that people who may not be able to afford recurring membership can throw a dollar in here and there. For non-profits I know there are ways to get reduced paypal fees for 501©3 non-profits, and chip in doesn't cost anything - it's just a flash widget.

Use Twitter more to draw more traffic to the site. With ads, and more traffic we'll get more click-throughs, and thus more revenue.

And yes, by all means let's get some companies advertising on the site. For all of the free advertising that companies have gotten via word of mouth through this site, offer banner ad deals for them so they can advertise legitimately, and the WWS can finally reap some monetary benefit. This would also be available for events, like Tales or special in-stores, or tasting parties. The number one place that everyone goes to for information about Absinthe is the WWS, and it's ridiculous that at the very least, hosting isn't being paid for by those who have benefited for years from this resource.

Lastly, I'll admit that as a dues paying WWS member at first blush, I did so because I appreciate the site - but, I think more folks might sign up or make contributions if there was a product in the offing. I've noticed that in the past there was talk of podcasts, or videos that really haven't gone anywhere. If perhaps someone were to do something like a short absinthe review podcast that would again - draw people to the site, and provide an end product produced by the experts of the WWS, it might be something more people would be willing to donate for. I noticed a thread with discussion about an iPhone application- this is an excellent idea AND it will create revenue even if you only charge 1.99 for the application. Again, this is something I've had experience with and it does work.

Economic times are tough all over, but really this website should pay for itself, and if there is anything that I can do to help you implement any of the great suggestions people are putting out there to try and make this a reality, then please don't hesitate to ask. Those of us who visit the site every day may not have lots of money, but our combined ability and brain power should get this place on it's feet without much fuss.

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#85 Grim

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:09 PM

You could go all Pacult-style and put out a quarterly.
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Guaranteed...

#86 mesteele

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 08:35 AM

For what it's worth, I personally would like to see a vendor ads page. I think it should be a seperate page that I can navigate to, I hate sites that have flashing ads all over the place. And the vendors should be vetted by the board.

It would help support the WS and it's short and long term goals. I worked for a non-profit just out of high school. We spent half our time working with various companies trying to scrape up donations and such to keep the thing afloat. I wish I had the resources to be able to regularly subscribe to WS, but times is tight.

Also my (and I doubt I'm the only on) local available absinthe selection is for shit and I would like to have a reputable place to go look at choice vendors. I can only afford to buy a bottle here and there, like for my birthday and such, so it's crucial I make a smart purchase.

My 2 cents.

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#87 Brian Robinson

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 09:25 AM

I would also create a "chip in" donation jar so that people who may not be able to afford recurring membership can throw a dollar in here and there.

This option is available on the main page.

Use Twitter more to draw more traffic to the site. With ads, and more traffic we'll get more click-throughs, and thus more revenue.

I plan on getting back into the Twitter thing. I just didn't have the Tweetdeck app running all that much for a while there.

I've noticed that in the past there was talk of podcasts, or videos that really haven't gone anywhere.

I've got some good ideas for podcasts, and have even recorded one interview that we can use, I just haven't sent it to Gwydion for editing. I wonder if he even has the time anymore to edit them!

If perhaps someone were to do something like a short absinthe review podcast that would again - draw people to the site, and provide an end product produced by the experts of the WWS, it might be something more people would be willing to donate for.

I love this idea. Maybe if we invite people to record their own reviews and submit them to Gwydion along with our normally scheduled podcast with interviews, news, etc?

I noticed a thread with discussion about an iPhone application- this is an excellent idea AND it will create revenue even if you only charge 1.99 for the application.

I think it's a great idea.

Robynn has some great ideas! :cheers:
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#88 Ron

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 09:41 AM

Use Twitter more to draw more traffic to the site. With ads, and more traffic we'll get more click-throughs, and thus more revenue.

I plan on getting back into the Twitter thing. I just didn't have the Tweetdeck app running all that much for a while there.

Make sure you use it responsibly though. There is a fine line, at least for me, about using twitter as a communication tool versus a marketing tool. I positively detest when social networking is used as a marketing tool. It's like there's a bunch of junk mailers masturbating in the bushes when you put out a new mailbox by the road. Just because it's there doesn't mean I want them fucking it. That's not what it's there for. As a purely communication tool, it's tons of fun. It lets people know what you're up to, and highlights things they might find interesting, should they choose to follow you. I know Brian is responsible, so this is really just me on a soapbox. I just needed to put that out there. Social Networking ≠ Marketing Tool.

I've noticed that in the past there was talk of podcasts, or videos that really haven't gone anywhere.

I've got some good ideas for podcasts, and have even recorded one interview that we can use, I just haven't sent it to Gwydion for editing. I wonder if he even has the time anymore to edit them!

We have some brilliant sound engineers here. I nominate Peridot as a candidate for consideration as Podcast Editor.
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#89 Brian Robinson

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 10:02 AM

RE: Twitter. I totally agree. I wouldn't use it like I see some people use it. I'd primarily use it to notify people of new additions to the site, new product reviews, interesting absinthe news, etc. That's about it. It's a way to get them to the site, but in a way that leaves them happy and not feeling like they are getting a tweet from a salesman. I want tweets to be quality content driven, not sales driven.
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#90 peridot

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 12:05 PM

We have some brilliant sound engineers here. I nominate Peridot as a candidate for consideration as Podcast Editor.

Dude, I appreciate the vote of confidence. I have no experience with podcasts but I'm a pretty good audio editor, so I certainly don't mind trying.

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