Archive for December, 2008

Do you know why you’re online?

December 2, 2008

I’ve already written quite a bit about knowing your goals when developing your website – having a site for the sake of having a site is going to be ineffectual at best. (How would you even know if it’s working?) D.B. Scott passed on an article from Publishing Executive that shares my opinion, and emphasizes the necessity of having a clear editorial mission and putting yourself in your readers’ shoes:

Step back, and take a look at what you are doing online and why. Ask yourself, “As a reader, why would I come to my Web site? Why would I subscribe to my e-newsletter? What would make me want to pass it along to my friends and colleagues?” If you cannot answer these questions to your or your readers’ satisfaction, then you need to re-think your online products quickly. Web sites and e-newsletters that fulfill a true reader need wind up having very few traffic or e-mail circulation problems. And when you have a passionate, engaged and growing audience, the revenue is sure to follow.

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5 questions: Tara Nolan of canadiangardening.com

December 1, 2008

This is the second in a series of interviews with editors on some of Canada’s top magazine websites. (Jennifer Campbell of Fashion was the first.) Know someone I should interview? Let me know!

Tell me about your site.

The newly redesigned CanadianGardening.com is a helpful resource for gardeners of all levels with a wide range of content from practical how-to advice to inspirational garden projects, helpful step-by-step videos to garden gear suggestions.

About 25 percent of the content is original work written by freelancers, including articles, quizzes and video. About 75 percent of the content is repurposed from the magazine.

There are currently two blogs on the site. I write a blog called The Budding Gardener – I’m a complete novice, but I love to garden, so this is a way for me to learn and share my successes and failures with other newbies.

We just ran our first UGC contest where users had to upload their before and after photos of a home or garden makeover.  Readers were able to vote and comment on the best entries. The ability to upload articles, photos and video will be developed at a later date.

There is also a biweekly newsletter and RSS feeds.

Web 2.0 features include:

• Commenting on articles and blogs
• “Clip this”, which is the ability to save articles and come back to them later
• Bookmarking – the ability to post a link to Facebook, Delicious and Digg, plus “Share This” currently on blogs
• Voting and commenting on the contest (see above)
• RSS feeds
• Network panel: “My Home & Garden Network” – where you can track account information, newsletters, your clippings, subscriptions, comments, and poll and quiz results, and upload or choose an avatar.

What’s your average traffic, and what part of your site is the most popular?

The average traffic is about 112,000 pageviews a month. We definitely get a lot more traffic in the spring and summer months.

The most popular part of the site is the forums. We have a very active and helpful community of users who help each other with gardening problems, exchange seeds and information, but also talk about a variety of non-gardening topics.

What feature of your site are you proudest of and why?

I’m proud to have been a part of the entire relaunch of CanadianGardening.com, as well as CanadianHomeAndCountry.com (October) and, coming up, CanadianHomeWorkshop.com.

You suddenly have an unlimited budget. What’s the first thing you spend it on?

I would spend it on useful tools for readers: a virtual garden where you can play with different layouts of your yard and gardens; an online garden journal/scrapbook to keep track of all your plant information and photos; a gardening encyclopedia; and more how-to videos and articles.

What websites and social media tools can’t you live without?

I use NetVibes to keep track of all the cool sites and apps I come across and want to check on regularly.

I love the BBC Gardening site, You Grow Girl, plus craft and decor blogs Marie Claire Idées, decor8, Tip Junkie and Martha Stewart. I love to browse Etsy and I subscribe to a ton of magazine and site newsletters – NewYorkTimes.com, Real Simple, Sweetspot.ca, Daily Candy, PaperDoll, Goop, HGTV and the list goes on – and on!

I keep up to date on the industry with Masthead (for now) and the Canadian Magazines blog.

I still use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and run a CanadianGardening.com Facebook group.

My photos go up on Flickr, my portfolio is on Blogger and I also plan on starting a community on Ning as part of a personal project.

Tara Nolan has been web editor for CanadianGardening.com, CanadianHomeAndCountry.com and CanadianHomeWorkshop.com since June. She has also worked at Yahoo Canada as the editor of the Lifestyle channel and has freelanced for a variety of print and online publications, including Style at Home, Homemakers, Parents, Green Living, Microsoft Home Magazine and CanadianLiving.com.

Brand extension inspiration

December 1, 2008

In a sense, developing quality editorial and an engaged readership is the easy part of creating a website. The hard part is making money off it without sabotaging the relationship with your readers, and the question of how to make money on the web is a big one these days.

One potential candidate is brand extensions. In Crowdsourcing, Jeff Howe talks about how some musicians are giving away their music for free and earning money on the concerts and merchandise. And my current blog crush, Smitten Kitchen – with to-die-for photography – supplements its income (one can only guess by how much) with something very cool: you can purchase the photography, as a file, on canvas or even printed on T-shirts or coasters. The concept here is critical: take what you’re known for and monetize it by giving readers what they want. The content is promotion for the branded merchandise.