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Stiff competition

While checking the web-related forums it has become apparent that there are a lot (and I mean a heck of a lot) of forums for webmasters. My guess is that uses of these forums are not particularly loyal (I certainly have moved around) but ultimately they aren’t going to switch if there’s nothing doing at XerXiam.

The only real thing I can do is get content and news. “News! What!!?”. I know, where am I going to get that from. And the time? And just how useful can the articles be?

Well, there’s something to be getting on with. I’m away for a couple of weeks so it’ll have to wait.

Au revoir!

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All quiet on the Western Front

So I bother 4 different forums (webdesign.net, bluegeckonetwork, netmag, and webdeveloper.com) and drive traffic to the forum, services page, and FWDX pages but no conversion whatsoever. Clearly something is amiss. A o% conversion rate is not very good. So I can summise that there are issues with these sites. Well with the forum at any rate.

However, if you think about it, the visitors who are arriving are already using an up and running busy forum, so why would they sign to another one that has little or no activity? The point being that I’m targeting the wrong audience. The other point is that the freelance forum still covers subjects that are covered comprehensibly by the forums from whence these people have come.

So, plan of action: (1) make the forum subjects more specific to freelance issues and subjects (so do some research about what these are); (2) think about where this audience is, other than on forums themselves. Where else are these people hanging out? Can they be caught via Google/MSN searches?

What is my objective? This is all significant levels of work, but for what purpose? The original intention was for improving the SEO on the main site, but I like forums: I use them a great deal and have learned much in doing so. For that reason I’d like to have a forum of my own, but covering subjects that appeal to me, and are of use to me. Likewise, the FWDX site I would use a resource for getting at useful links (the articles kina being already in my head from having written them).

Summary: I like web design. I would like to do more of it. I think these sites will contribute to my web presence for gaining work, and will contribute to my abilities, skills [same thing, shurely – Ed], and understanding of how to create a good web page.

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Holiday thinking time

Soon I’ll be off to southern France for a couple of weeks (so prepare for unmoderated forum [lol]). How I will cope with being away from the net (forums, email etc..) I know not. However, it’s good to take a time out, re-invigorate the creative juices, take loads of photos of the area, and think big thoughts.

The ‘big’ thoughts are about setting up a business as a full time freelance designer and developer. Not yet, but in about 6 months time. What I need to sort out in my head is an overall strategy, future plan (where should I be in 5 years), and what possibilities there are for partnership with a medical eMedia company I do work for. If I can think these thoughts casually and without normal day-to-day preasures, just a cold beer and a swimming pool (OK I’ll try to ignore the screaming kids, wife and in-laws) then perhaps the great ideas fill fall into place. Then when I get home, get it onto paper and them start approaching the right people for helps and advice. Keep you posted.

This is something that needs a link () but not sure how it works or what it’s for. Some sort of blog link thing.

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Waiting for Google

So this, FWDX and the Freelance Forum have been up for a while but still no Google PR. I know these things take time but surely Google has spotted me by now. I think MSN search like me. Type in ‘freelance web design forum’ and I get top spot! Do the same for Google and the forum is not even in the top 50. Likewise for Yahoo and AskJeeves. Funny that. In fact, ‘web design glasgow’ in MSN: number 5. The rest: dunno.

Added a introduction to ASP article to FWDX resources. Such a large subject it’s hard to known where to start. The best bet is really to link out to the usual sources of good tutorials like webmonkey and W3Schools.

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Conversion rates….

…or lack of herein. The conversion rate of a web site is a measure of how many visitors actually do what what you want them to do when they visit your site. Amazon want you to buy something, at the Xerxiam Freelance Forum I would want you to register and submit/reply to posts. The calculation is easy: number of visitors who do what you want them to do divided by the total number of visitors (multiply be 100 to get a percentage). The point is the freelance forum conversion rate is what mathematicians would term “tends to zero”.

The solution? Get out there and leave my linked signature over many forums. Keeps writing articles too I suppose. And just when is Google going to update its PR – I still have nothing I’m sure I could earn at least a 2 or 3 (well, maybe).

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Google world

I read that Google are filing a patent in the US for their latest search algorithm that determines the “truth” of a news story based on a number of factors such as “amount of important coverage produced by a source, the amount of traffic it attracts, circulation statistics, staff size, breadth of coverage and number of global operations” (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1509281,00.html). This may on the face of it seem like a reasonable idea since the web is awash with information that is of questionable accuracy. The problem to me seems that what happens when a genuine news story of real importance fails to get reported to the world at large because the big news outlets won’t carry it. This sounds like paranoia and conspiracy theory but you’d be suprised about what doesn’t get put out by the the likes of CNN, BBC, etc… Also, much depends on the cultural background of the news agencies. They almost all US/Europe based (in English). Reporting news like the build up to the Iraq war (or invasion depending on you point of view) was clearly slanted towards the “war on terror” vision of the world. And that’s the problem: point of view. The “truth” depends greatly on who’s telling it, and who you’re telling it to.

Returning to the main point, Google are in a very powerful position to control what the world at large sees as news. I just hope that the independence of the web (which is not strictly a reality anyway) isn’t further eroded into bland corperatism and govermental control. Control of information is what goverments like to have and they’ve never liked the web much. Funny how Google have happily colluded with the Chinese goverment to control what sites Chinese citizens can find. What about everyone else? I think I’m lurching into paranoia again and that isn’t the impression I want to give. I’m just saying keep your eyes open.

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