Sunday, July 3, 2011

Web Site Dilemma

There are many versions of the story of the fisherman who never failed to bring back his limit of fine fish and the sheriff who suspected he was violating the state fishing laws. The sheriff arranges to go fishing with the fellow and the master fisherman agrees to teach him his technique. Out in the boat the fisherman lights a stick of dynamite as the sheriff yells, “That’s against the law!” The fellow hands the sheriff the dynamite and says, “Are you gonna fish or just complain?”

To be clear, I want to state that I’ve never fished that way, which I learned as “using a DuPont spinner.” I thought of the story when I was in a state of frustration about the conflict between trying to keep the web page updated and trying to get client work completed for sale and finding it really impossible to do both well.

I’ve opted to budget my time almost entirely toward doing the blacksmithing production and being tardy with the web page work. This decision was based on the obvious economic reward difference and the fact that I didn’t have the knowledge required to edit the web page myself. However, I was really happy to discover how easy it was to manage the blog edition without outside help. This allows me to give somewhat of a real time feel to the site and not feel so guilty that the gallery is several years out of date.

The web site was set up initially to be the store front for my business and a substitute for an actual brick and mortar facility. Additionally, I felt the internet was the way to go to reach a wider audience of potential clients. In actuality though, most of my commission work is still within the state and the best advertisement is still word of mouth.

While The Blacksmith’s Journal was publishing monthly issues their website featured a Top 50 Blacksmithing sites button. When I got a notification that my web site would be considered I applied and was later listed. It seemed to be a frequently updated list of websites ranked by traffic, presumably reflecting popularity. I don’t think we ever got any business related to being listed but then my page was mostly in the second 50 on the list, page 2.

That all stopped when Jerry Hoffmann ceased publication of the journal. Loss of his publication was a big disappointment for me. I have all the issues and refer to them several times a year. At I found this message:

“To find the best blacksmithing sites, we recommend visiting the Top 50 Blacksmith Sites at If you have a blacksmithing related website, you can join too.” So, I visited the site and filled out the application and eventually our webpage appeared in their listing. A button was placed at the bottom of my pages which says, “Check out these blacksmithing sites!” and has a rectangular gray button to click.

Since I have been trying to establish a habit of making frequent posts to the blog I have been checking to see, out of curiosity, where my site ranks. They don’t publish their ranking algorithm and I have no idea what it is. It is interesting to see how much the ranking varies from day to day. Since there is a counter on my own page I don’t learn anything more from their traffic count.

I can’t say I’ve ever gotten any business as a result of being listed here either but the same goes for the phone books too. I have visited most of the other sites which have registered and enjoy doing that. There are many more worthwhile blacksmithing sites which have apparently not yet registered. Maybe those smiths are too busy hitting hot iron to fiddle with more web page work.

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