Friday, April 27, 2012

Website Re-Evaluation

I've been re-evaluating the website again. I do this every year, about renewal time. This year, however, Google has played some mean games with their algorhythm, and it's hurt me pretty badly.

My traffic, which is the backbone of any website, has dropped to a small fraction of what it should be. It's down to about 30% of what it was just a few weeks ago. That means it isn't getting found, sales aren't made, and no one is asking for counseling.

 I haven't done much to it, or added anything new, for a while now, so part of it is my fault. The poor thing needs some new content, and I could make folks dig a little deeper for information, instead of laying it all out on one looooong page.

If I re-do the site, those issues will be addressed. I've learned a lot in seven years, including what mistakes I made seven years ago.

There are other issues, and I've been working on them, too. Broken product links, for one. I've also learned who I want to work with and who I don't.

Back in 1998, when I first began playing around on the internet, looking into what are called "monetization models" or ways to make money on the internet, I joined up with a few folks who were making it possible.

I've since found better partners - ones who make it easier for me, not who pay me more, although that's always a nice idea. I've partnered with them, and made some strong ties.

How I get paid is through commissions - like any other sales person.

I buy stuff on the internet, and figure it's kind of nice to get a small discount, in the amount of 2%-5% as a commission, when I buy from my internet partners. Some of my partners are a bit more generous, hoping to stimulate sales, I guess.

It sure helps, but I look at the product and how it is used before I recommend anything. And then I try it myself. If I like a product, I'll tell you and give you a link to get it yourself, if you have a need. That's my way. I don't "gush" over stuff very often. I just tell you how it is and how to use it.

If I don't like it, sometimes you hear about it, but most of the time you don't. If I don't like it, I won't give you a link to it. That's just my way. And if I've had a link to it available, I'll pull the link or re-direct it to a better product, instead. It's just easier to not make you think I love something when I don't.

So, that's been my philosophy for a while now, about the website. Sure, I want to give quality information, timely information, and accurate information. I want to give you referrals to places that enhance your experience with your cat.

It's all about the cats, anyway. It's just nice if the website pays for itself, because hosting a website isn't free, and my time is worth something.

 So, I've been re-evaluating again, and wondering if it's worth continuing. Right now, it's a toss-up. On the one hand, yes, the site is paying for itself, but on the other, I'm not making anything for my time.

And if I'm going to spend time on the website, e-mail, counseling, finding products, posting information and sharing updates and notices, I need to get a little something out of it, too. After all, I have 5 cats to support, and I'm barely making ends meet.

Without the website, I can't make ends meet, and I'll probably lose the house - which means the cats will have to find homes someplace else.

So, I'm giving it a month while I work on it, and then I'll give it 6 months to grow my traffic back. If I don't see a marked improvement, I'm taking it down.

I have other things I can be working on, and I don't need the aggravation and worry.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Suspending e-Zine and Planned Site Overhaul

I'm suspending the e-zine for a while. It turns out that the articles I've been using are not "fresh" and are published elsewhere. I am changing the source of articles, and will be taking the time to write fresh articles myself. I've tried to bring in articles that had the same theme by using an article service, but it seems that the articles are published and then re-published over and over. That is not what I want to give my readers. I want fresh articles and information by quality writers and cat experts.

I have a few weeks coming up where my time is not as committed, and I will be writing articles and re-working the website. My hosting company has undergone a major interface upgrade, which adds a lot of functionality to the site if I choose to use it. I have not done much during this time except wait and watch, since I've been so time-committed.

However, with my upcoming "free time" I will include some of the upgrades in a site overhaul. As a result, I'm looking for original photos, with your permission to publish them, and comments from readers.

This is an important time for For the Love of Cats, and your input is needed.

If you are willing to contribute an article about cats, please send it by commenting with your e-mail address. Remember that any submitted article must reflect a love of cats, and if you are expert in some aspect, please include that.

I am sending this same article to my current subscribers, so please don't unsubscribe if you subscribe to the ezine and the blog. It may seem redundant, but I want to be sure that all my readers get this information, and not everyone subscribes to the ezine.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

I Surrender!

I tried a cat food for my cats with diabetes, and I'm VERY unhappy with the results, after 2 bags of food. I even signed up for their "bottomless bowl" service, and had them set it up for 3 weeks, which was a closer interval than their website offered. At $40 a bag, I'm very unhappy with the food.

Firstly, my cats are always interested in what I put in their bowls. It doesn't matter which bowl, either. If I put something in a cat food bowl, all of them come to check it out. Not so with this stuff. They could care less. They truly only eat it because there is nothing else available.

Second, it gave everyone gas. The methane in the house is so strong, that if someone smokes near the house - say on the porch - I'm afraid the place will blow. It's truly bad. None of the cats can sit on my lap for long without getting pushed off. This damages the relationship with the cats and myself. And they are pushing each other away, too. Even they hate the smell!

Thirdly, there is a lot of diarrhea. The poop is not well formed, but is soft, instead. It looks like poop, not puddles, and it stinks to high-heaven! MAN! Each time a cat uses the litter box, the entire house smells for a while. If one of them runs away and doesn't cover it, then the smell stays around until I go cover it. This means that either I have to get self-cleaning boxes (three of them) or I go cover the poop in the box. I cover the poop.

Fourth, since there is SO much poop (twice as much as before) I am cleaning the litter boxes more often. This isn't such a bad thing, since the litter actually lasts longer when I pull the urine faster, but it does seem to be more work for me. The cats are really having trouble with all the clumps in the box, which never seemed to be such an issue before.

Fifth, the size of the food bag is a mere 8 pounds. For the price, I can get a 16 pound bag of another food and save $8. That food has no vegetables, grains, fillers or other stuff, either! And, I don't have to have a product shipped, but can go get it at the store here in town. That saves greenhouse gases, since I already pass the store that carries it twice a week on my way to and from school.

So, I'm quitting the cat food and I won't be "promoting" or "selling" it anymore. That's another thing. They came to me, asking me to try the food and to promote it to my readers. It seemed like good food, in smaller doses. But I have NEVER received a marketing report, or sales journal, so I don't know if any of my readers ever purchased it. Consequently, I don't know if I'm owed commissions or not, and I don't care at this point. While money is money, my cat's health is more important.

I just want nothing else to do with this company. When I question something, I'm not really given a solution. A company like that is like one of the global business shape-shifters of today. They can't be trusted. Yeah, there are laws that say this or that, and legal departments are all over any statement made by anyone at a company - but a question needs a clear answer, not a double-speak answer.

If you have a company with a product you would like me to try, don't be put off by this. Send me a trial or sample and your write-up. I'll give it a try. If I like it, I'll pass that on to my readers. But if your company is all balled up with attorneys and legal-speak, don't come to me. Pet people are pretty straightforward folks. We want clear communication and answers to questions. I try to eliminate all that marketing and legal-speak when I talk with my readers, but sometimes, even I get balled up in it.

And sometimes, it takes a larger test to really see how a company will deal with you. That's what happened here. The cat food is made in the USA, but it isn't good for my cats. Maybe it doesn't have the threat of Chinese ingredients, but it still isn't good for my cats. And my experience with the company is not that good. I will say that every e-mail has gotten a prompt response. But the words are all doublespeak.

Oh well, ENOUGH! I hope my cats have not been done any permanent damage by this food - kidneys and liver and so on. I'll nurse them back to health and toss this food in the garbage.