[Note: This page has been successfully moved to the normal page template, as it didn't belong on the Periodical template. It was originally posted 5 April 2014 - 23:12, as follows]
Again, not a Periodical but this is the only members template we have.
I could write much more about this, but I aim to keep this fairly short. So, what's the situation now?
"Maybe, very maybe, I find a solution soon" - I haven't yet. I can tell you: Permanent pain makes numb. Every night I dream myself to sleep hoping that I just won't wake up. I guess, that's what people call depression. I've had that for many years. Thought the "sunny Algarve" would help, but if you've ever experienced the Atlantic winter gales, you won't make that mistake. Felt like the Moore tornado 2013 looked, only much longer - but surely that tornado felt much worse!
"or maybe someone finds one for me" - That hasn't happened either. A few people raised their arm, but couldn't hold it up. With such short-term dedication this site would have stopped dead in its track in 2011.
- On the day I posted Finished! (24 March), suddenly loads of site visitors purchased my books, so that suddenly there was $54.95 book income on that day!! Of course I knew this would be a one-off (and it was), still, it felt like the much needed "downpour of nickels rather than rain".
- Also on 24 March, members and guests suddenly made 21 Amazon purchases via our links!! Normal is 3 or 4, and mostly books, which gives pennies. But on 24 March it was many higher-priced items as well, thus suddenly there was $27.23 commissions!
Hence within that one day, 24 March, I could put $82.18 towards paying the site's bills!! That was a small miracle indeed! I thought: "What if I quit every day? - The site would be sustainable!"
on 7 April: Finished!
on 8 April: Finished!
on 9 April: Finished!
on 10 April: Finished!
on 11 April: Finished!
on 12 April: Finished!
on 13 April: Finished!
on 14 April: Finished!
on 15 April: Finished!
Now that's efficiency, that could make the site sustainable.
So, let's see how the site's income is from tomorrow, shall we?
Ah well. What else?
"Step back, take a break, and do something else" - Obviously, given my situation, I need a longer break than 12 days. Shockingly, some people just won't accept that, they don't even grant me such a short break: Not only guests, even some members(!) didn't hesitate and think for a second - they continued to send even emails with their HELP! requests (yes, like that!), although every member agreed during subscription where to post questions. Others continued to send me their endless litany of their own personal problems (yes, not even their dog problems!) - as if I needed theirs on top of mine! Or as if I've been running a psychiatrist's couch rather than a dog site.
I told them I am totally drained and suicidal, and what do they do? They dump their stuff on top. And more. And more. Ever more! Gosh! Is that on purpose? What is it?? Why?? Because I haven't finished my dinner plate? Or because I drank all the wine?
"rather go ahead with a selected few, than that you fritter away with the many who don't really care, neither about you nor about their dog" - Okay, end of March I cleaned up our member database (again), I deleted everyone who didn't even open the emails linking the Periodicals. Four times not opened - bang! gone! That saves us money here. My money. Thank you. "rather go ahead with a selected few, than that you fritter away with the many who don't really care, neither about you nor about their dog" - exactly!
Our long-standing members know: Every spring and every autumn we practiced an anti-spam cleanup anyway - like we've always made very clear already on the subscribe page. NO SPAM. MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG may well have been one of only a handful of websites in the world that actually DELETE inactive members. Others strive for quantity, we always strived for quality.
Interested? Great. - Not? Leave. - Poor dog.
Related to this is the actual reason why soon after subscribing everyone got a couple of emails that tested their genuine interest: You may or may not remember that one or two emails (depending on your "open" history) sent you to what may feel like "hard sells". Those who don't have a genuine interest to improve their dog's and their own life then unsubscribe. This helped us to sort out the masses of uninterested "freebie-seekers" from those with a genuine interest. Initially I had planned to sprinkle such "hard sells" regularly, but then I was too lazy to do that. Though it would definitely be wise to sprinkle more of them.
Now that I have learned from our Post Office Mailchimp how to automate subscriber deletions, last month I was able to delete thousands in a swift handstroke. Nice.
Plus people like these:
- "Fuck off… U thinking I am joking with u… My pet s getting detoraited day by day instead of consulting you showing ego.. if you suggests only to your members so stop this online consulting you motherfucker do u get it now bastard.. see your dogs would also face many problems motherfucker sluts child…" - DELETED
- "Your website and periodical are great. But you seem to really be a jerk at answering questions/comments" - DELETED
- "I find you to be the most offensive person I have ever had the dissatisfaction of sending a question to. You are rude, you put down other trainers, glorify your own righteousness and charge way too too much for your product. Which by the way, is yet another marketing ploy. So my question is, where is your conscience ?" - DELETED
- "I would like to know what a sight is about before I add my email" - DELETED
- "Unsubscibe me and pay my money bak!!" - DELETED
- "What is all this sentimental stuff on this "Finished" page?" - DELETED
- "so commercially and scam like" - DELETED
- "I also thought that the information you demand when signing up was a bit invasive regarding a person's dog and so on" - DELETED
Let's clarify, because it seems things still weren't clear to certain people:
- "charge way too too much" - charge? Where??
- "pay my money back" - which money??
- "yet another marketing ploy" - yet?another?marketing?ploy???
- "most offensive" - what?? your language??
- "rude" - yes, guess who?!
- "so commercially and scam like" - How's that even possible when ALL IS FREE!?!! Is all okay above your gumline??
- "the information you demand" - demand?? Was there anything ever required here?? Can you READ the subscribe page?!!
Some people are terrorists, murderers, thieves, etc... - hence I understand, obviously there are also people that are just plain nuts. Unfortunately, FREE stuff attracts nutty people to a larger degree. Who pays, typically has manners.
Also, some nutty jerks judge things they cannot judge, because they have never undertaken anything remotely similar in their life. Had any of the jerks who complain, or call me "jerk", "motherfucker" and the like, only for one day in their life been subjected to what I am subjected to as their 'free go-to uncle' here every day, they would have quit, or been really rude.
Of course I won't always remain extremely polite, I am not a machine (just yet):
a) communication is a two-way road(!)
b) what goes in, goes back out(!), and
c) those who can't READ the subscribe page, the comments, my replies, the Periodicals, the time-bound share-me box, the questions and answers, my books, anything - why assume they would suddenly READ my next reply, to them?? Makes no sense.
This is not a primary school, and I don't teach reading skills. So sorry.
To those who believe they are a so much better human being: GO, PROVE IT FIRST! Build something. Anything. Help thousands. For years. For free! While you have your own problems! Get insulted, sweared at, flamed, libeled, get the whole package!
Then come back, tell me how you feel.
But be extremely polite to me - or I may call you "rude offensive marketing jerk sentimental scam invasive motherfucker...". So better watch out.
Those jerks then often continue with their hate tirade on other websites and leave their rude remarks about me (or post senseless reviews). Fine. No problem. Only proves how simple they really are. Doesn't affect me. Only affects themselves. SPAMMERS. Here and there. Everywhere.
Enough with the current situation! It was meant to give you a peek behind stage.
I then looked what the good people among our members wrote on the Finished! page. Probably the only 50 with whom we could go ahead in future: "rather go ahead with a selected few, than that you fritter away with the many who don't really care, neither about you nor about their dog".
Leaving the farewells aside to avoid further complaints:
- "take a break and then come back and charge for your work. most of us would pay. GM" - I don't think so, Gordon. Most probably subscribed because they love FREE.
- "and members can't be bothered to thank you with a few dollars to allow you to continue to help them????????" - No Steve, taking handouts I would feel even less worth. Either payments for products and services, or nothing. The odd donation wouldn't make something as big as this sustainable anyway.
- "How about a site with a nominal subscription fee" - Jean, I have now put a note on the subscribe page why I have always been against a nominal subscription fee: "to improve the life of GSDs globally and to educate their owners - this wouldn't be possible if we restrict the site to the affluent in the richer nations, right? Hence we don't." - I somewhat still believe that's right.
- "I have just gifted two of your toolkits to two dog trainers we PAID for their (mediocre) services before we found your website! ... I will also gift a couple of your other books to friends (who, I believe, really need your methods" - Great, what a charitable act, thanks Lisa!
- "This is the only website that gives users NO WAY to pay you; ... Get payment buttons on this website NOW. Please Tim! It’s all your own fault really" - Okay Lisa, I'll look into that. But I am not as quick as you expect.
- "In fact your advice is why our GSD, Jack, will continue living with us instead of rehoming him for which I am profoundly grateful" - Glad you wrote that Leslie, rescue centers may have thought I make that up.
- "I would DEFINITELY pay for this periodical and was always amazed you didn’t charge to begin with. Your dedication goes way above and beyond. Being in rescue myself, I know how hard it can be to find time to spare and the toll it can take on your health" - Hey great Kristy, could you please show your rescue center my donations agreement so that it benefits more dogs and adopters? Thanks.
Which leads to what several members have suggested since last year: "Stop giving away your books for free" and "Stop sharing your book royalties; If you give all your income away, no wonder you can't uphold the site!" - Yes, with the first I agree, but for the second, remember the purpose of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG: "to improve the life of GSDs globally and to educate their owners". When I give my books to shelters for free and they add them to the adopter's welcome package, my books educate the adopters, and my surrendered royalties fund the shelters! A Win-Win for everyone involved.
Which leads to a question I wanted to ask our members for a long time: What price do you feel is right for my books, say the Puppy Development Guide (or the other ones) ?
Here's why I ask:
- I price my books in relation to other quality authors like Sophia Yin, Pat Miller, Stanley Coren, Brenda Aloff, Patricia McConnell, Kyra Sundance, Ian Dunbar, Dan Abdelnoor, etc (see my personal book recommendations page here).
- Like every publisher, I have done many price tests over time, and paradoxically, lowering the price of my books has never brought more sales (the other authors agreed). Just as an example (but the most profound one): After the last FREE promo I left the price of the Puppy Love Bundle extremely low at $2.99 for two weeks, but still, on many days it didn't sell a single copy - a bundle of three top-rated books! So yesterday, I put it back up to its regular price ($9.99).
- Before House Training Dogs To Behave Well left Amazon's exclusivity contract, it was on FREE promo for two days end of March which was scheduled since January (and by the way, the people whom I had paid to promote the FREE book did a fantastic job: it reached #102 of ALL Amazon free books!). 2,080 people downloaded the House Training guide for FREE in those two days. And right on the first day after ending the FREE promo it then sold for it's regular price ($6.89) 11 times!
In fact, the House Training guide brought the third small miracle (the first two miracles I mentioned above): After reaching #102, the 11 sales plus all the cross sales brought $72.85! I don't yet know how many sales are subject to my royalty share agreement, but regardless, the two-day FREE promo of House Training Dogs To Behave Well brought the highest book income ever! - The next day was then back down to $3.15, but still, count the presents, not the problems.
Together with the first two miracles ($82.18 - see above), since my Finished! post I raised an extra $155.03, minus the expense for the FREE book promo ($45), gave a surprise shower of (I did make a huge loss on the FREE promo of the Puppy Love Bundle a week earlier, but you know that already, so let's not kill all joy here).
That's not exactly earth-shattering, I know, but a welcome change that can make hopeful. So: Don't forget to set your calendar for each Finished! - day of the year, as indicated above - and do again whatever you did on 24 March.
I then looked at many of the pages on our site, both Periodicals and public pages, incl. the Global Visitors page, and remembered that my initial goal was to reach out to one million GSD owners before 2015. Now obviously, "to reach out" doesn't exactly include those "surfers" who visit our site for five seconds only (because they haven't learned a thing for their GSD). Yet, by June we should have over one million page views, and already next month (May) over half a million unique visitors (as per flag counter widget). - Simply because I can't stop Google & Co from sending us ever more traffic to our ever more content.
I will now leave the site up and running (as long as financially possible) while I continue to have my personally needed break.
For those who plan to continue to pester me: "Break" means UNAVAILABLE for questions - and I have answered everything anyway: If you haven't noticed, I have published a few books, indeed! If you really can't read (??), watch Doggy Dan in my absence. He won't help you with dog health and dog care questions (he's a master dog trainer), but I am not your vet either.
When I come back to look after individual dog owners here, that will no longer be free, for sure! I will not charge anyone retrospectively, but I will then charge prospectively. Since I know from the click rates on this site that I wouldn't survive on such charges, I have now first to look after my own income again. I should have focused on that years ago.
When newbies post questions on the site, maybe some of the experienced members can reply? Many of our long-standing members are the better dog owners anyway. Thanks.