John’s Thoughts & Photos—October #1

jhh-random
I want to try something new. For a couple of years now I have been feeling the need to write short informal posts with less structure than is our normal practice here at AAC.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do here and this new direction will not diminish or take away from that. I will still write the long form, carefully crafted, researched, and edited posts that have built this site.

But I also want to have an outlet for the quick one line thought or cool image that catches my fancy. Some of this stuff might not even be about voyaging.

In the last month I experimented with social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. At first it was kind of fun, but then I started to feel both constrained and manipulated. The bottom line is that these social media sites are all about maximizing revenue for themselves, not being the best outlet for the contributor’s creativity or helping small businesses to be successful.

For example, did you know that just because you like a small business’ page on Facebook that does not mean you will see their posts in your Facebook feed? No, not a bit of it. What you see in your Facebook feed from sites like ours is largely dependant on how much we bid for your eyeballs.

And then there’s manipulation: As first when I posted photos and thoughts, most people who liked our page saw them, but after a few days the numbers dropped off and each of my posts was annotated with a little note from Mark’s Boys and Girls suggesting that if I wanted readers to see it, I should pay…and pay. And as the days went by, the notes got more insistent and the number of people who saw my stuff got less and the amount demanded got larger.

And that pisses me off big time. If someone wants to see my photos and thoughts, they should be able to do so without interference. It’s between me and them. Sure, I’m willing to pay a reasonable monthly charge for a service like Facebook—I, of all people, understand that running a web business (large or small) costs money and should be profitable.

And we will continue to pay to promote Facebook posts that link to a new post here, as we have for years.

But I’m not willing to be constantly manipulated into conforming with whatever Zuckerberg’s latest grand plan to make more billions is, and to have my relationship with his company shift almost weekly as they scheme to get us to pay ever more…for ever less.

I thought Instagram might be cool, but then I realized that Mark owns that one too, and will undoubtedly start playing the same games. And anyway, it’s way too restrictive and smartphone-centric for me—I suck so bad at typing with my thumbs.

And then there’s Twitter, which restricts creativity at a whole lower level: 140 characters. And within two weeks of starting to post regularly there, they were gently suggesting that we need to pay to have my tweets seen…and you know it won’t be gentle for long.

One more interesting fact: Yea, I got lots of likes on my posts in the social world, but my efforts brought us no increase in traffic over and above our general use of social as a paid feed advertising our content…zip…nada…zero. Yea, I know, surprising. But if you look at the way social sites are designed to keep readers within each site’s boundaries, this becomes less of a surprise.

So then I thought maybe I should start a personal blog for this stuff, closely linked to this site but with a separate feed and email notifications, because I’m pretty sure many of you would not want to be deluged with two or three email notifications a day when the creative rush is on me, as would happen if I just short-posted here. And I liked that idea for several days and it still might be the best way.

But then I thought, wait a minute. The most important part of all of this is the people who make all of the wonderful creative endeavours that Phyllis and I get to spend our time on possible. Without you members who pay for the servers, the cameras, the computers, a share of our boat, and help put food on our table and a roof (or deck) over our heads, I wouldn’t even be having this quandary.

So surely you should have first look at any stuff I want to put out there? And surely all of our writing should be easy for you to find without having to flail around on some social media site controlled by a CEO with the goal of world internet domination.

So here’s my idea: I will put these short thoughts and photos in a single post, and then about once a week, Phyllis will give them a quick edit to make sure that at least the spelling is right, and we will publish them.

This approach will also make these posts a lot more timely than our long form content that typically takes weeks to  months from idea to publication.

And since each one will be titled “John’s Random Thoughts and Photos” followed by the month and number, if you are only interested in our long form content you can just ignore them.

And here’s the key point, these posts will be in addition to our normal content, not instead of.

Of course some weeks there may not be anything, and other weeks, particularly when we are out cruising, I may get really prolific. And yes, I may get tired of the whole thing and stop. But nothing ventured…

So let’s get started:

Oh, one more thing. Most of what follows, and much of the next “Random Thoughts” post, I used in my flirt with social media, so you may have already seen it. In future, you will see stuff here first…screw Mark and the horse…

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

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One of the many cool things about cruising is the way we just seem to be in the right place more often than when landbound.

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I’m loving our new battery monitoring system from Victron and will write a chapter for our battery online book as soon as I get my head around all the things it can do.

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Great walk out to the light at Cape Negro Island today. Post from Phyllis coming soon.

jhhomd1-9181293-pano

Shared an anchorage with these guys. Endless entertainment, particularly when the tide is flooding  and each is playing King Canute as their resting spot gets ever smaller.

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Even after 25 years of sailing her, this boat never ceases to amaze me: true wind 11.6 knots, boat speed 7.07 knots. Thank you, McCurdy and Rhodes.

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Quiet morning in a Nova Scotia anchorage.

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Caribbean? No, Carter’s Beach, Nova Scotia. And we had it all to ourselves for a morning walk.

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Lunenburg first thing in the morning.

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How did we back Morgan’s Cloud in here? A boat, like many, that does not steer in reverse? We will be sharing how…with video, no less.

Comments

I really, really want to know what you think of this idea, positive or negative—don’t spare my feelings…did I say I really want to know? Please leave a comment.

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Jo

It’s called a blog.

I like the idea and I think it’ll be a good addition to the site..

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Sounds like fun. This way you get to be as loose in your writing as many of us comment writers are at times (maybe not that bad). Oh, and the SM sites are impossible for those of us who are out cruising most or full time. Their gigabyte appetite precludes usage so I would hate to see content directed that way.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Marc Dacey

Dick’s comment illustrates a real situation for the percentage of your readers/correspondents who are actually underway (a greater percentage, I would guess, than most cruising-orientated sites) or in places where wireless is parsimonious. The social media sites are bandwidth hogs. Not everyone knows how to tweak permissions and things like adblockers and autoplay disablers to shrink the data stream to manageable, or at least optional, dimensions. Social media is therefore not allowed aboard, even when it’s possible. Shoreside (or EXCEPTIONAL free wi-fi in an YC, maybe) only!

I like the “hit ‘n’ run” posts idea, however. Lovely pictures. I think they are confirming that our decision to overwinter in NS before doing a trans-Atlantic is a good (if brisk) one.

Marc Dacey

I disable those even at home with excellent speed over a land line, because I want to learn if the update is truly necessary, given I customarily disable so much of my OS. If it IS necessary, I can defer an update until I’m ashore. It’s an interesting observation, however, John.

Dartanyon

Hey mate, I love the addition. I think ganging the random thoughts into a weekly digest kinda thing, is a good plan. I wouldn’t be as much of a fan of getting a new post for every random thought. I completely understand about social, although if someone/anyone wants to see the content there, they can “go” to your page and see everything, even if you don’t pay to push it into their feeds. For that reason, I’d like to see you keep posting there, even if it’s duplicated content, especially Instagram, which I seem to live on these days.

Mark

John,
I’m all for the extra posts. Great photos.

With regards to the Facebook thing – I have a page for my clinic, but I don’t promote the posts. I read an interesting article about the whole “Facebook Like” thing — seems there is a little underground business where you can pay for “likes” to boost your page.
In turn Facebook tries to block fraudulent account – so the fraudsters obscure their behavior by “liking” legitimate pages that are advertised. The problem is that these likes apparently skew your metrics and pull your advertising away from your target audience – making your posts show up even less for interested readers. I read a different article – but this link has some of the same arguments http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-advertising-fake-likes-2014-2

The net effect seems that advertising on FB can actually be counter productive.
Mark

David Wright

The short bits a welcome addition. I do not facebook or twitter and I would rather support AAC than the mega-media venues anyway. Your solution will work great for me.

Klaus

Hi John,

great photos, entertaining content!
I like it!

Best,
Klaus
S/Y Starship

Andy

John, I love you but your points above scream DINOSAUR! Just because you don’t understand how other people use a service doesn’t mean they don’t use it, or that it can’t work for you. You’ve got to do a combination I believe. I look forward to our next media conversation!

Andy

Andy

Now some random thoughts of my own on social media, which I look forward to discussing with you John. I’m learning as I go myself, and don’t proclaim to know the answers. But some of this has worked for me…

-Social media should be FUN! Forget the corporate FB ‘page’ – post thoughts & photos from YOU, then share them to the Corporate page. YOU are the brand, primarily anyway – the website is named after your boat after all! If you don’t enjoy posting, nobody will enjoy reading it.
-Don’t try so hard. Paradoxically, the best social media posts are ones which specifically AREN’T promotional, are from the heart – exactly what you’re trying to do with these shorter posts. Think of social media as a way to share your own perspective on the world, how you see it through your own eyes. That will in turn endear people to you, and bring them to this here website organically. That’s how – and why – social media works.
-Most social media users don’t care about the money part – it’s free for the end user and that’s all that matters, no matter how much Mark Z wants to create an empire – that’s his genius. He created a product that is so seductive, so easy to use, and so integrated across the Internet that people give up all of their personal data to use it, and business advertising pays for it. They’re not going to relate to your ranting about it – they’re going to continue using it with or without you.
-Furthermore, lots of sites are now using FB and Twitter profiles as ways of logging in, commenting, creating profiles, etc. Something I’ve recommended to you in the past. I use it myself – the ease of logging into a site using my personal data I already have on FB is powerful, and I often do it. And we’re just in the early stages of this. Integration with social media sites in the future, I think, is going to be critical to log-in style sites like this. If it’s not easy and seamless, you’re going to limit your audience right off the bat.
-Most people in my age group (under 35), use social media ALL THE TIME. It’s my primary means of communicating with my friends around the world, it’s how I get my (sailing) news, it’s where I read cool articles, look at cool photos, etc etc. That’s reality, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
-As far as bandwidth when out cruising, I’d argue people just aren’t being smart enough about their cellular data plans. I use TING in the US (only $6 to keep my number when I’m away and not using it), and have an unlocked iPhone. I buy local SIM cards aboard to use with it. I tether that to my computer as a mobile hotspot and literally run my business this way. In most countries, including the Caribbean & almost all of Europe, data is FAR cheaper than the US – in Sweden, I can get 10GB for $30! In fact, I’m tethered to my phone as I type this!
-Social media also has the potential for viral distribution. Not that it’s ever going to go nuts with sailing related stuff, but post some cool stuff that I’ll share to my friends and on and on, and you’ve got a huge potential net.

The biggest point to make is that you’ve got to think of social media as something FUN for you personally to participate in. If you don’t think of it that way, it’s just a job, and the posts will reflect your disdain for it and not work anyway. There’s no point in using it at all unless you realize that. Furthermore, social media, to really be engaging (and to make it fun for you!), requires that you participate. Comment on stuff others post, for example (Marc Dacey you are the best at this!). Look at other sailors’ feeds for stuff you may have found interesting. Be engaged with your fans – and potential fans – and they’ll engage with you. You being you is what sets you apart from the mainstream sailing media.

THAT’s social media.

Let’s continue the discussion!

-Andy

Andy

John,

You hit the nail on the head with analytics. But I also think it depends on what metrics you use, and sometimes they’re subjective.

For example: I actually enjoy using social media. In some cases it’s my own creative outlet (like this blog is for you). Like I just posted a short audio clip of my interview with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston that comes out tomorrow. That was fun to make! Will it translate to clicks & podcast subscribers? Maybe, but that’s not the whole story for me. I enjoyed the process to.

I’ll admit I’m on the hamster wheel sometimes as a consumer! I have to discipline myself to jump off, it’s a problem. But ultimately I’m measuring my ‘all over the place’ focus mainly in creative satisfaction. I love the variety in my life & career and need that outlet. Everyone’s got to look at it personally.

You’ve taught me to define my goals more than I had in the past, which is great. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a creative, it’s that nothing is ever wasted if you’re learning something.

Bottom line, I love the creativity side of you scratching your itch. Keep doing it!

Andy

Pete Worrell

Whoa John this is GREAT. We had wonderful summer on the SW coast too. Love the pictures and the informal top of mind comments which for me are often the most valuable as they are the least edited. Good for you (and us!).

Social media is in its infancy (and perhaps always will be). Our mass culture’s use of it will continue to evolve. I think one should ask if it is really authentic engagement, or just hamster wheel behavior whose beneficiaries are the social media site owners themselves? Many of us want to be engaged in energy creating communities. But it is not at all clear that the current iteration of SM sites results in that.

Appreciate and value your continued independent thinking. It’s challenging to be counter-cultural, but keep the faith, brother.

Pete & Kareen Worrell
S/V PATIENCE
Portsmouth, NH, USA

Stephan

Hi John,

The AAC cruising reference site is excellent & rightly named. A social media outlet is a good addition.

Stephan
S/V Slow by Slow

Niels Otto Wind-Jensen

Fully agree with this viewpoint !
Best regards,
Niels
S/Y AUK

Michael McMahon

enjoyed the feed. better than going to face book. I rarely go there.

Scott Dufour

I dragged my sad Monday morning self into the office and snuck over to AAC. I started reading this post, thinking, “Ok, John. Whatever.”

And then your photo of Lunenburg. And I swear I starting weeping a bit. You’re going to get me free of this desk and cubical yet, John. Three more years and you’ll see me anchored somewhere in Nova Scotia. I’ll be sure to say hi.

Ed Finn

Nice photos John, I like them please continue…

Now you asked for the truth
If I wanted a rant about the evils of social media,
I would go somewhere else, not a sailing site…
Now, Put that smoking gun back Its holster!
Ed

Mike McCollough

I like it!?

Alan Bradley

Hi John,

I’m all in favor of the additional content, especially the photographs. I’ll be looking forward to the article and video on backing a boat that would rather do whatever it wants to when it’s in reverse.

Alan

Andy

The explicit point I wanted to really make was – I hope you keep evolving to reach the next gen. of sailors. That’s what’s really important to me and behind all this.

Andy

Marc Dacey

Yours is the only site I pay for, period, so you must be doing something right, as I’m cheap as hell. Interestingly, however, that “right” isn’t just you or Phyllis, given that your specialty of high-latitude sailing is fairly rarefied as an intro and even though your comprehensive experiences are very informative to any cruisers interested in the offshore path.

It’s the fact that you have a VERY diverse set of contributors and, particularly, commenters that really hits the “value proposition” for me. I frequently mention things I read here to others, including pretty salty sailors, and it’s clear that they’ve never considered some approaches and techniques mentioned here, but they’ve certainly learned something worth discussing. Even the “newbies” here seem far more thoughtful and generally better sailors than any other place. The presence of many non-North Americans here is also very welcome, as I generally find that the level of seamanship of those not required to be licensed (as in RYA or ICC, etc.) is not what it could be for those trying to improve to a safe, offshore skill set.

So I certainly hope all this effort sheds sufficient income to keep your interest up. It is indeed unique. Hell, I have a reasonably popular boat fixing blog, and I have yet to “monetize” it, figuring the light wouldn’t be worth the candle.

Marc Dacey

Well, I’ve got a couple of years left on the sub, so I’m a captive audience. You might wish to consider “partnering” with your contributors, such as Andy Schell and people like the Shards, who are very active at boat shows and online. Jimmy Cornell comes to mind, as well. It strikes me that their audiences for Distant Shores and 59 North overlap yours to some degree, but not so much to be subtractive or “self-cannibalizing”. I get the strong sense you are not the boat-show featured speaker type (I may be wrong in this), but some sort of incentivization that tapped into their existing subscribers/fans could prove mutually beneficial. I assume, again perhaps wrongly, that this hasn’t already occured to you and Phyllis, but it does strike me that the Shards work the tropic (mostly), Andy and Mia work the mid-latitudes, and you and Phyllis favour high latitudes, so it seems to make sense on a Mercator projection, at least.

Guy Erb

Hi John

I certainly understand the experiments you have been running through as you try and figure out the best way to reach your readers and I see that there is a lot of support in the comments here for a weekly “thoughts and photos” and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I wanted to share a my thoughts on social media as well.

It is true, Facebook doesn’t drive visits to your website and it doesn’t drive visits to your Facebook timeline either. Life on Facebook begins and ends in the feed. The data your have gathered confirms this and it is a hard blow in the learning curve of small business owners around the world (me included) as they grapple with how to leverage Facebook to further their business goals.

At AAC you have gathered a true treasure of research and reference material, all professionally researched and polished, yet presented in an entertaining and effective manner. The comments are intelligent and well thought out, you are very responsive to your readers. In other words, the content is valuable and engaging content, it is a gold mine of data and experience.

Here is my point for Facebook, you need to strive to find AAC’s “Facebook voice, it is not a tool to drive people to the AAC main site (though this will be a natural outcome for those seeking to know more). This “voice” could take many forms but at the end of the day its worth is measure by how well it consistently creates engaging, intelligent, stand-alone content that keep the user on Facebook and makes them feel glad that they stopped and took the time to read and look, they feel informed, entertained, connected, excited. Do you have to pay for this? No, not necessarily. It is an art but you know you will have had a glimpse of the possibilities the day that you make a post and it starts to take off, first getting hundreds of views and shares, then even thousands. That is the “social” part.

AAC’s twitter voice will be a different voice. Again it is not a place to link back to a new article on your homesite. It is a place to engage in a conversation with your users and develop your brand, develop a “mouth-feel” of who and what AAC is. Communication can be more frequent here and less polished. Links would generally only lead to interesting off-site data you want to share, not necessarily stuff from the main site at all. But largely it is the craft of learning to craft those 140 characters nuggets of value

Instagram is a visual feast, a new voice again. Again with the goal of creating a voice, creating consistent visual value and is yet another way of having a conversation with your audience.

As you mentioned, there are only so many hours in the day and you need to choose how to spend your limited amount of time. In the case of AAC I feel like you have so much value to share that it would be worth spending more time thinking about each of these venues and how you might be able to participate in them. Just like sailing, it takes time, practice and experience to even start to get a glimpse of how much one doesn’t know about these new forms of social engagement.

In all fairness, when I look at your social media accounts, I see you experimenting with all the things I have mentioned above so I don’t think I am sharing anything you have not thought about.

I think if you can figure out a way to keep it light and fun for yourself then you should continue to try and find the individual strengths of each of these media outlets. Spend the time trying to find the voice that works for you in each of these situations, watch for organic growth without paid boosts as a measure of how well you are doing, practice and learn.

I can remember the frustration I would feel when I would do a well thought out post on Facebook and it would flounder even with a paid kickstart then my daughter would do a rough, ill-conceived (in my mind) post and it would take off like wildfire. Folks didn’t know who made the actual post, it all looked like it came from our brand. But she wields social skills with a natural ease and innocent unawareness that I can’t even begin to fathom. Me, I gotta keep working at it 😉

Marc Dacey

If you look as FB as a filter, and let your contributors use it as well, it will work to drive appropriate and self-selecting readers to this site. I would estimate that perhaps 1 in 40 or 1 in 50 recreational cruisers would see the value of this site, because the rest are on a lake, or on the ICW, or are drinking beer tied to a dock, and don’t sail below 10 knots or above 15 knots, and it had best be sunny. That’s the reality and, I would venture, that’s your realistic audience: small but enthusiastic. The proportion in Europe would be higher, of course, as the strength of the Atlantic and attached parts (not to mention stronger tides) means that even the worst European sailor has to be as competent as an intermediate North American sailor.

Ernest Vogelsinger

John,

while I fully understand all your thoughts on (or against) SM, regarding Twitter, wouldn’t that be something Phyllis might enthusiastically take over?

Actually SM doesn’t bring us, the members of your site, any benefit – the benefit should lie with you by making us more, allowing you greater freedom for your exceptional work.

SM or not SM, I’m sold for AAC, And I tell everybody I know in conjunction with venturing near- or offshore. And I’m really looking forward to your rants, thoughts and whatever might condense here 😉

Best wishes, Ernest

Stephen Narron

Good job John, Agree! Facebook is NO GOOD, sorry Suckerberg! Or not.

Richard Dykiel

Please continue this; good thoughts and great pictures. After all, all that hard technical stuff discussed on your site is the enabler to the joys of safe cruising. Thanks for sharing that part, too.

BTW, I’d like to see you try snorkeling on that ‘caribbean’ beach of yours 🙂

Randall

I fully support your position re: social media. Full disclosure: I never use it. I have always questioned the intrinsic value of a website serving the need for people to post minutiae of their personal lives to attract friends… the whole premise is one I will not buy into. I would rather have a little life than a shallow one.
You and Phyllis are iconic individuals whose choices and achievements set you apart. Your website and every article you write reflects that. Facebook is rife with more-detail-than – anybody-really-wants-to know trivia and shallow content. I question whether participation in social media – particularly on a pay per play basis – is not somehow akin to advertising in the National Inquirer…in my mind not really not consistent with your brand image. You are individuals, not lemmings…
I surmise from your posts that feeding Facebooks insatiable appetite for your cash did not result in membership gains – so why do it…IMHO, Facebook was a con from day one, and tragically for some of the people who cling to it and defend it so desperately just may not have anything ( or anyone) more tangible to cling to … Just sayin…
For those who need it, keep on with it. Enjoy it. This is a free continent ( unless of course you happen to be a visible minority…but thats another issue for another day…). But to them I say do not think for a minute that I should use Facebook, or have an y interest in wasting my time on it.
Keep up your wonderful website and your new blog. Your annual subscription fee is an incredible bargain given the quality of what you turn out, and I look forward to reading each and every post.
Cheers
Randall

Flemming Torp

With a “Non-English (Danish) mothertongue”, it is difficult to formulate personal opinions on AAC and Johns new initiative.
But Randall has “somehow read my mind”, and formulated my thoughts very well – i.e. much better, than I could do it myself …
To me social media – FB – is primarily superficial entertainment and family/friends stuff.
ACC is about sailing, learning, sharing of knowledge and expericences, serious, relevant and interesting stuff, worth reading, and worth every penny …
My new anchor is a SPADE … I have rearranged my jacklines … I have changed my battery set up … I have spent three sailing seasons in Norwegian waters with NCG … and much more … all based on input from Phyllis and John in AAC … Thank you!
I certainly like the actual format, and will be looking forward to more informal thoughts and nice photos from John. But I certainly hope, it will not be at the expense of the input you provide to AAC …

michael f

John and Phyllis, I am with Fleming and Randall on this.

I am interested in high quality content pertaining to offshore cruising. Not general boating, general sailing, ICW cruising, etc. At AAC I can not only find information I am seeking, but also discover issues of which I was unaware and, through ignorance, previously not concerned. Your primary writing, editing, comment management and responses allows a multitude of valuable contributions and comments without topic drift.

My time is valuable; and I appreciate the AAC resource as it allows me to efficiently consume information while enjoying the images that accompany the articles and the global perspectives submitted by members.

I suspect that likely potential subscribers are those who have a focused interest in offshore cruising and are in the process of educating themselves in anticipation of an impending lifestyle change to include voyaging. Like me, they will be seeking specific information, and a Google Search will land them on the site. Perhaps there is more that you can do to bring AAC to the top of Google searches related to the AAC content.

I suspect that those you reach through social media are not likely to subscribe to AAC to gain access to a narrow scope of detailed information and discussion. They are looking for social interaction that is generally related to a wider nautical scope. An internet searcher looking for information is more likely to subscribe, provided they find the site and recognize the value.

Social media for business development makes sense only if you enjoy the socializing regardless of whether it efficiently promotes the business. Otherwise, attract subscribers by advertising where they are currently reading and searching.

Steve

John, love the idea! Especially with photos….I’m longing for NS.

Homero

John,
I have a suggestion: increase the yearly subscription by 50%. That will avoid you to waste time with other forms of SM and allow you to concentrate your time on the AAC, and keep researching topics that are so useful and important for your subscribers.
We spend hundreds of thousands of $$$ on the boat. The advisers we get here about our safety for example, are priceless. $10 dollars more will not make you lose any subscriber. Just send the bill.
Cheers
Ps: I am absolutely not rich, but your advises can avoid break the boat, lose the boat or lose a life

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
I do not follow the business aspects of the posts of AAC closely, so forgive me if this is out of line or previously covered. Does AAC promote itself as a magazine? People do not balk (generally) at magazine subscriptions. I believe a case could be made for you developing/perfecting a new form of “magazine” and ACC could be promoted as such. Certainly the content way exceeds by quality and quantity that which is offered by any conventional magazine.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Randall

John,
Re: your response to Homero, specifically ‘Thanks for the suggestion. Many of our members have made also suggested a price increase and we are certainly considering it. The challenge is in recruiting new members at a higher price point. ‘
Pricing is a key element of your positioning in the market place. Price yourself low and the market will perceive you don’t have much to offer. For those of us who know what you offer, we have looked beyond your low price to the quality of what you and Phyllis do, and are committed readers and supporters. I wonder how it would look for you to price yourself similar to the main print edition sailing magazines – such as Good Old Boat, Sailing, or similar. I wouldn’t blink, and I doubt others would either. We all know that unless this is giving you sufficient financial rewards, you will discontinue…and that would be a tragedy. ..my 2 cents worth…

Mark

Setting price is tricky. I’ll admit that I waffled for quite a while about buying into the site. I’m so far away from actually voyaging that I’m here just to learn theory from experienced sailors – things I can apply on a small scale to my coastal sailing.
I read everything free on the site, along with reading from a lot of other free sites.
I didn’t (and really still don’t) have the knowledge to differentiate the quality of the information.
But I decided to go for it and buy in – the inexpensive price helped that. Now that I’ve been following every post for the last year or more I’m hooked. I’ve used what I learned to anchor more effectively (just a month ago woke up after a wind shift to find myself still in perfect depth water).
Now I see the value and wouldn’t balk at a higher fee. Maybe there is some way to draw in interested parties with a discounted entry fee – a teaser to get them in far enough to learn what this is worth.
Mark

Homero Barros

John,
When I was researching which boat to buy, I contacted Beth Leonard, and she was very helpful and besides other tips, she suggested that I subscribe to your site, which I did. You have been around for so many years, and have such a solid reputation, I am sure many people here would gladly write words of encouragement to potential subscribers. One of the advantage of your site, is the high quality of the people making comments. I learn as much from them as from your insights. So here is my suggestion: Have a page of referrals and suggest that people should read it before deciding to be a member or not.
As I said before, the depth of the knowledge base of your site is priceless.

Matt Boney

Hi John, good luck with your new Viltron Battery Monitor, but beware of comments I have posted already on this site re. Battery Monitors and the much more accurate SmartGauge.

I would advise everybody with a shunt based Victron type Battery Monitor to disable the “auto sync to 100% full” feature! This can be done by setting the syncing voyage to 16v – which the system should never see. This resync feature is just one of the problems that make battery monitors so inaccurate.

I look forward to reading your assessment of the Victron.

Matt Boney

There is a “Gotcha” with solar that means the sync feature can never work. You can never programme the sync feature to work – I could write a book about this – I am doing that at the moment!!!!

Ian

It’s amazing how threads diverge from their starting point. So a quick dart back to John’s Random Thoughts and Photos – Fantastic! I love it. I love the photos and the “chat” – very social media. All that’s missing is the antics of a ship’s cat!
Don’t get too hung up on Facebook – if you’re aiming young – late teens, early 20s, I think they’ve given up on FB. They like and post pictures – Instagram and videos – YouTube…
I’m too old I read top class websites like AAC.

Chuck B

Hi John! Since you’re into analytics, here’s an idea (which you may have already considered!). Survey your existing paying customers to find out “where they are.” Then focus on seeing if putting effort into those avenues helps lead to more paying customers.

Best,
Chuck

P.S. As another data point, I too am not averse to a subscription price increase. Your site and the info and conversations here are an amazing value proposition!

Chuck B

John I must apologize for being unclear. I mean “where they are” in an abstract sense — really, where their eyeballs (or earballs!) are. Magazines? Web sites? Forums? Podcasts? Which ones? (Perhaps not Facebook or Twitter!) Then you can put yourself in front of similarly-minded eyeballs who may be similarly inclined to benefit from and pay for your service. That’s the theory anyway. 🙂

I’m pretty sure I first found your site through a Google search, but I don’t remember what search phrase I used. Maybe there’s some opportunities around that.

It’s all a bit of work with uncertain outcome though…

Chuck

Ann

I love this idea and look forward to the posts. As Jo commented, what you’re describing is a blog. One thing I’ve wrestled with when writing my own blog is placement of descriptive text around photos. I’ve found that placing the text above the photo being described introduces the photo and helps with readability. Depending on what type of device you’re reading with and the size of the photo, placing text at the bottom can result in scrolling down to read the text and then scrolling back up to have a closer look at the photo. Just a thought…

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
My venerable Link 20 battery monitoring system is on its last legs. It gives me what I want: accurate digital voltage and amps in and out for 2 banks, house and starter. Did you ever write about your Victron system: a search did not find it on the AAC site. If not, are you still happy and which model did you get? Any other thoughts/comments would be appreciated.
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy