Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Free way.

Okay, apparently the message "don't make comments on my site looking for free advertising" isn't clear to some people. So here it is want free advertising, here's an entire post on your product! (For previous posts please click here or here.) And as for you, the person who calls him/herself "seabuckthorn oil" on the comments, I can understand once, but three times?

Thank you, Arlene Chase (who lists her profession as "on line selling"), for letting us know all about this product - Make Spa Products at Home - downloadable for the low price of $27 (an additional candle making e-book is available). From the site..."Sure, you can find soap and spa product recipes for "free" on the Internet, but you'll NEVER find anything like this rich collection of hand-picked recipes and original ideas that has taken years of experience and dozens of hours to compile and edit." (I will disagree with this. I think the Dish is the single most important place on the 'net and recommend it to everyone!) When I read the list of what they're offering - how to be clean, how to label to comply with FDA regulations, how to handle ingredients - it sounds like a very promising e-book.

Okay, a few thoughts...I'm all for paying for a book. I'm all for supporting authors directly and I'm all for learning from people more expert than myself. But how do I know this is a good resource? I know the first books I took out of the library on the subject were filled with erroneous information about preservatives and shelf lives and so on, and had I continued making products that way, I'd have a lot of angry friends and family members who had moldy lotions or microbe filled shampoos.

I can't comment about this actual book - I can't see snippets of it, although the one water based recipe I saw on the blog didn't recommend preservatives, which worries me - but I don't appreciate the way it is being promoted, especially on my blog! I don't know much about business, but I do know a little about psychology and marketing. When you use dubious promotion techniques, you create a dubious brand identity. (Creating a brand identity and learning free promotional techniques are listed in the table of contents, and I'd like to suggest if this is one of the techniques, well, think again.)

Think of those products ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS TV OFFER! ACT NOW! Even products with good qualities - the Shamwow, the Magic Bullet, the Snugglee thingie - are slightly tainted by their promotional techniques (and don't get me started on the Slap Chop! Am I the only person who think the guy promoting this thing is about 15 minutes out of rehab and on really shaky ground with his sobriety? And the Graty? It sounds like a product I would get to name - The Thingie, The Slicey, The Sharpie Knife of Awesomeness!) The over the top promotion of these products get our attention, but we're still slightly embarrassed to buy or own one of these products. (Okay, not the Magic Bullet. It's awesome!)

An aside, I was the Sea Monkey Lady, an enthusiastic promoter of Sea Monkeys. I didn't work for the company; I just liked Sea Monkeys. (Did I mention I'm a geek?) I had a website, wrote a book, toured around talking about the joys of the genetically altered brine shrimp. They are wonderful pets - great for kids to teach them about responsibility and science, great for adults who are busy and need a pet that isn't high maintenance - but they carry the taint of the product found only in a comic book. (And yes, they really come to life when you add water! But X-Ray Specs don't work!) It's something the company who distributes them still can't overcome, and they've been in stores for 20 years!

So what the heck am I trying to say here? Consider your brand. You are selling more than a product - you're selling hopes and dreams, a lifestyle, an identity. As a very small business owner or crafter, you're selling yourself as well - your expertise, your commitment, your philosophy. It is very difficult to create a positive brand identity - why would you ruin it?

This could be the most awesome book in the history of books (although it would have to be ultra mega supremely awesome to beat Neuromancer, but I'll pretend for a moment it's possible...) but I'd still think twice before buying. I don't know if this Arlene Chase is connected with the author, but I know she has done more damage than good in my mind...

Thus endeth the rant...


Donna said...

Hey there, I've been reading your blog for a while, and noticed your recommendation of The Dish. I have an account there, but whenever I've popped in to read, I've found it overwhelmed with drama, backstabbing, and nasty passive aggressive (or just plain aggressive!) comments between the users.

So... I'm tempted to try again, but is it really worth it? Any tips for avoiding the dreck while still getting useful information from it? :)

Meaue said...

You go girl! This is YOUR site, just like your home... if people can't comply with your wishes, so be they embarrassed! I checked the site after the post and knew after the first glimpse it was a shameless ad... I was just waiting for you to confirm.

Anonymous said...

I've had the same experience as Donna...What to do??

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Donna & Anonymous! Here are my thoughts on the Dish...When you get a group of people together, it's almost a guarantee that people won't get along. When you bring together a group of people with strong personalities and strong opinions, you know there will be fireworks! Sometimes the conflict results in interesting discussions and ideas; sometimes it doesn't.

I know the forum has a reputation of being unwelcoming to newbies, but it seems to me the people who are challenged tend to be people who show up, ask for or take recipes, make controversial statements they can't prove, and don't give anything back to the community.

I know I have given people like the ones described above a hard time, but I've been polite. As an example, someone showed up, talked about how they wanted to make chemical free, water based products without preservatives to sell in the very near future. I very politely mad a few comments about where I thought this person might go wrong - no preservatives, selling before you've even made anything, asking for recipes instead of looking for them. It did get heated and the person left, but I think she needed to be called on what she had posted.

I'd rather have it than the alternative, a site where everyone is really nice. I used to love a certain crafting forum, but stopped going because everyone was too nice! Instead of calling someone on a recipe for lip balm that consisted of vaseline, lime juice, and sugar (a lip balm she was selling!!!), the comments were all very nice and kind. This recipe was a bad idea, and sharing it was an even worse idea, but I was not permitted to make a comment to that effect as I wasn't being nice. Another time, I wrote to the moderators about a plagiarized recipe, and it took forever to get the situation corrected. I've found I can't rely on patterns or recipes from that site because no one ever writes to say "this didn't work" or "your measurements are wrong" because they want to be nice. That's not helpful.

I'd rather be on a forum where people speak their minds, where I'll be challenged, and where I know my recipes will be tried and analyzed. It's not fun to be wrong, but I'd rather be wrong and know it than think I'm right and share misinformation!

I didn't post for a very long time. When I joined the Dish, I started off on the very last page (first date, though) of the archives and read my way through to the first page, then started on the last page of the current stuff until I reached the beginning. By then, I had more questions, so I did the whole thing again (did I mention I'm obsessed with learning stuff?). I found the cosmetics and recipe sections the most useful.

That's just my opinion. I like the Dish. But I know others have different views!

Meaue said...

I am on June 2009 of your blog... (takes awhile to get through) started from the beginning. Now I see the advantage of reading through posts before asking questions. A lot of them are already answered if you read prior blog posts....

Anonymous said...

The Dish

-Respect is earned through your own hard efforts.
-A spade is a spade (even if your name is TM).
-There are stupid questions.

I am a total newbie on the site and have never had a problem. With This Dish, its if you don't like what we're serving then eat somewhere else. That just my take.

Susan, I too have read the archives and I have to admit that the tone was definitely friendlier back in the days of Labrat and CathyMB. Oh to be a part of the Dish when Labrat was around...Sigh..

He would of loved your blog.

Mich said...

I agree, I wish I had been able to pick LabRat's brain!

Yes, the Dish can be intimidating, but if you read up on your subject and THEN explain why you're confused about something, people can be quite helpful. They're just tired of the same questions over and over and over.

Dishers respect people who do their research and share the results of their own experiments. Although some of the established members think they know it all, most of them really do want to continue to learn more about their craft. I've learned so much from that forum...I wouldn't even know about Susan's blog if it wasn't for it!

Hang in there...contribute when you's worth it!

Lisa B said...

"...and don't get me started on the Slap Chop! Am I the only person who think the guy promoting this thing is about 15 minutes out of rehab and on really shaky ground with his sobriety?..."

LOL! So I'm not the only one who thinks this!

Sandra said...

"...and don't get me started on the Slap Chop! Am I the only person who think the guy promoting this thing is about 15 minutes out of rehab and on really shaky ground with his sobriety?..."

15 minutes? The guy slipped out the back door and took a hit right before he filmed the commercial!