COMM 360 Profile: Horticulture

 

Andrea Valencia, a Psychology major and Horticulture student, talks about her experience in horticulture at BYU-Idaho.

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Last Efforts of the Semester

On the discussion board, people counseled me to wait to see the results of my new ads before I dropped them. They still aren’t doing very well. The number of impressions has skyrocketed, but the amount of click throughs remains lower than before I made the changes. It’s disappointing, but it is telling. I added a whole bunch of new keywords, and it’s gratifying to see that those keywords are yielding thousands of impressions. If I can just optimize my ads to those keywords, I’ll have a lot more traffic. I didn’t think keywords such as “Mormon beliefs” or “Mormon religion” would have such low competition, but I guess the LDS church is really the only one who cares about it, so there isn’t a lot of people competing for it. I can take advantage of that. Not that I want to take away views from the main Church pages, but I can offer a unique perspective.

I spent this morning researching my “competitors.” I don’t like calling them that, because I want to work with them, not against them. What I found was encouraging and worrisome. Encouraging because I know there are other people out there with similar visions as my own, but worrisome because I don’t know what I can offer customers that the other sites don’t already offer. I need to talk to Sabrina. We need to home our audience and figure out a distinctive competitive differentiation. I’ve been thinking lately about a social network for Christian women, and although that would be different, it isn’t ringing true for me.

I’m hoping to receive some guidance regarding the magazine during conference. Then I plan on contacting my competitors and asking them for advice.

Forging Onwards

Trying to master social media for a business is like trying to climb Mt. St. Helens blindfolded. I thought I was good at social media, but I guess I’m just good at oversharing. There is a lot more technique to it than that. I feel like I’m so far behind, but hopefully I’ll catch up.

I started a Twitter for the magazine. I still need to be better about anticipating trends and posting my responses at the right time. Also, I still have no idea how to involve myself in the conversation of my followers. I know that I need to listen in order to build trust with my community, but listen to whom? How do I prove that I’m listening?

I talked with Sabrina about my plans. It’s a little frustrating that she’s so overwhelmed with school. I need her to bounce ideas off of. I can’t do this by myself. I get it, though. She has a new boyfriend. She’s taking loads of credits. But come on, Brina! I need you to help me! I can’t do all this by myself!

People I’m trying to be for this magazine:

  • social media marketer
  • web designer
  • SEO marketer
  • writer
  • creative director – i.e. GET OTHER PEOPLE TO WRITE FOR US (not working too well)
  • treasurer
  • editor
  • saleswoman

We definitely need to figure out a way to make more money. This is not sustainable. I like search engine optimization. I like social media marketing. I like writing blog posts. I think I can get better at these things with time. The question is whether or not we have enough money to support my learning curve. I guess, worse come to worst, we cancel our Adwords campaign and exhort all our efforts to natural marketing.

I actually kind of like that idea. It would take more ingenuity, discipline, and strategy. Maybe we’ll do that in the future.

Making changes

I paused my campaign early this week because I didn’t want to spend any more money on it until I got my adwords credit. It’s a more complicated process than I originally thought, because I’ve already started the campaign. But I did manage to call Google a few days ago and ask if I was eligible for a promo code. They said they would evaluate my account and then email me to let me know. As of yet, I haven’t received any email.

But since Project 4 requires me to gather data after making changes to my campaign, I started it over again on Saturday. I still have some money left to spend on it, but if I don’t figure out a better way to provide more income by the time it runs out, I’ll have to pause the campaign. I’m thinking of doing an affiliate on the site, but I really don’t want to focus on clothing and materialism. Maybe I can create a merchandise shop, with t-shirts and posters that have quotes from the site on them. I can go to Etsy to brainstorm for ideas. The purpose of the magazine is not to make money. The purpose of the magazine is to uplift women. But we can’t keep uplifting women if we don’t have money to support our advertising, our site, and our writers.

I changed the landing page for the Christian women ad. I created a new cover page, with photos and such. I think I might also change some keywords today as well, in order to get more specified results.

Oh, and I decided to do a cluster in entrepreneurship! I really do enjoy this, and I feel that learning more about it will help me to turn it into a career. It’s honestly the only career that I can see myself doing. I want to have a meaningful career, where I’m not limited by the unimaginativeness of supervisors. In other words, I want to be able to work for myself, and to put my ideas into action.

Progress

I’m starting to get the hang of this adwords thing. The discussion boards have been helpful in mining the minds of fellow students for useful information. For example, I had no idea that “ad position” was referring to pages, not spaces on the page. That makes a lot more sense, having my ads on the third page rather than on the first page, haha. I’m still too new at this to get it on the first page.

So far I have 123 clicks and 5,993 impressions, with a click-through-rate of 2.05%. I’m glad I installed analytics, because I’ve realized CTR isn’t the ultimate goal. Just because a keyword yields a high CTR doesn’t mean that the viewer is benefiting from my site. The indicators that someone is benefiting from my site is the bounce rate, how many seconds they spent on my site, and how many pages they clicked on. The lower the bounce rate, and the higher the seconds and pages, the better the keyword is.

I went through and evaluated all my keywords to see what kind of bounce rate they had, making a list of the poor-performing ones in relation to the good ones. I’m not surprised to see such general keywords as “inspirational quotes” have a high bounce rate. People searching for quotes generally don’t want to read more than a paragraph or two. So I can either change my keywords, or try and make my site more appealing towards those people. I think for now, I want to change my keywords to become more specific. Eventually, I’d like to have the most important/powerful quotes from the articles stand out on the web pages, maybe even in the sidebars.

I’m wondering if I should change the definition of my conversion… Right now it’s set as clicking on the “articles” page, because that shows curiosity on the part of the viewer, but I would like to have a more loyal fan base. But maybe I need to expand my circle first.

That’s partly why I spent a little bit of time figuring out how to put a Facebook “like” button on the main page. I need to revamp my social media marketing. Google is great and all, but people use Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for TONS of browsing. The more opportunities my site visitors have to participate with the magazine on social media, the more presence we have.

It’s important to remember, though, that the goal is not popularity. The goal is to make a difference and to inspire others. Marketing is just the means to the end.

Chugging On

Well, the site looks good. I have over 1.8K impressions, and 35 clicks. That amounts to just under 2% click-through-rate. The adsense ads are working (haha since I’m in Russia, they show up in Russian), and so is Google Analytics. Although apparently my bounce rate is 100%. That’s kind of annoying. I don’t want people to just click on my ad and then leave. That defeats the whole purpose. I want to know whether or not we’re making a difference.

I went through the keywords for my ads today (Harmony and In Due Time) and deleted like 5-10 really poor-performing ones. Poor performing as in they had 0 impressions and 0 clicks over the past week. Last time I went and deleted some keywords, the impressions and clicks I got spiked. And don’t worry; I still have 47 keywords.

Oh, I just checked my adwords account and realized that last time I didn’t DELETE any keywords, I just paused my “Christian” ad group. The principle is the same though. If I have less keywords out there that I’m bidding on, then I have more money to bid on the good keywords.

Last reflection post, my “Love the Addict, Not Porn” ad wasn’t doing too well. Now it has, surprisingly, a higher click-through-rate than “Inspiring Christian Women” and “The Inspiration You Need.” When I go to look at the keywords for “Love the Addict, Not Porn”, the keyword “pornography addiction” had a 3.41% CTR. The keyword, “how to block porn” had a 4.55% CTR, and the keyword “how to quit porn” had a 10% CTR! I’m not sure if I should focus more on those particular keywords, or try to spread the love around my remaining keywords. I actually thought that this ad wouldn’t do very well, because on the keyword planner, the competition was medium-high, and the bids were insane: over $7. Probably because the Church is trying to help people fight porn, and I get that. I just wish I didn’t have to compete with my allies in order to help people.

Anyway. I feel so strongly about this post that I might even pause my “The Inspiration You Need” ad. I want people to know that pornography addiction is real, it’s hard, but it can be overcome. I want to spread the message that we are all deserving of love, despite our sins.

A Beautiful Site

It took a lot longer than I thought it would to get Adsense and Adwords working, but it finally happened this past weekend! The reason it took so long was because the Adwords campaign builder wouldn’t load correctly on my iPad, so I had to wait until I had access to a desktop computer. Which meant asking my host dad how to use it, lol. My iPad would let me log in, but it wouldn’t let me click on anything. It’s like it didn’t register my clicks. And then it would randomly refresh, so I would lose all the changes I made. Really annoying.

But it’s all good now! I have access to a desktop, where I can do everything business-related. Plus, it makes me feel more professional if I’m typing on an actual keyboard.

I have three adgroups so far in Adwords: One main ad about Beyond Rubies Magazine in general, an ad highlighting the article about Kylee Ann Photography, and the last ad is still being reviewed. That last one means a lot to me. It’s a link to the article we posted today, “Loving Someone with a Pornography Addiction.” It’s such an important topic; I really want to make sure I reach the people who need to read it. I’ve been praying for it to be a success.

I recently came across – on Pinterest, of all places – an article about Dale Partridge, a 30 year old multi-millionaire. It was a link to his site where he shared the 5 painfully slow but effective steps to becoming a millionaire. It was interesting reading his advice, full of things like, “Don’t worry about the money,” “Give generously,” and other seemingly counter-business ideas. His philosophy was praised in Forbes magazine as finding that perfect balance between people and business. I want to be that kind of business owner. It’s funny that in regards to the magazine, we already check off all of the steps Dale mentioned… And yet I’m still broke. Oh well. That’s not the point of the magazine. The point of the magazine is to spread goodness and to uplift people.

Eventually, I’d like to be able to pay for my own ads with the money earned from the Adsense ads on my site. It probably won’t be for a long while, though. But at least the ads are showing up! Even in Russia!

Going Live

This week was hard, mostly because it was my first week in Voronezh and the school expected me to be present nearly all day every day. Adding in feelings of obligation towards spending time with my host family, the result is I didn’t get much homework done. Hopefully next week will be easier.

It’s great how far technology has come. I’m able to skype my dad from my hostel in Moscow, do homework, and update Beyond Rubies’ site all at once. In one spot, I mean. Far, far away from America.

I started posting articles this week. Check it out. Http://beyondrubiesmagazine.com/articles . I found a way to link the blog posts on the site to the magazine’s Facebook page, so it automatically updates. It’s fun choosing which quotes to be the excerpts on social media. I’m saving some of the best articles for next week, when I’ll know more about SEO and such. I’m excited to post the article about pornography. I feel an urgency as well as a sobriety towards it. I need to carefully time it and plan for it with the SEO. People need to read that article. I had no idea how influential that article would be when I first assigned it, but now I couldn’t care for a specific person without it. I hope he reads it. He needs to know he’s cared for and respected.

Still haven’t got Adsense on the site. I need access to a desktop computer, I think. There has to be a way to paste the code into Squarespace. I can’t imagine they would make it so you have to type in long codes by hand. That’s not their style. It has to be an iPad quirk.

 

Time for bed!

 

Raising a Site

This week was fun. I felt like I got a heads up on the activities this week because once I decided on a site builder, I was able to know exactly who was hosting the site, and where the domain was coming from. I’m using Squarespace for hosting and site building, and all I have to do for my domain is transfer it from GoDaddy.com to Squarespace.

I also got to start building the site this week! I absolutely ADORE Squarespace. It is so much easier than WordPress.org. I was able to create a home page, an about page, a “take action” page, and multiple mini pages within those pages. I love scrolling through Unsplash.com looking for the perfect photos, and then seeing them in action on the site. I’m also pretty proud of myself for integrating a search button at the top of the page. It was one thing that Squarespace didn’t have including right off the bat, so I had to google how to add it. I found a great video that demonstrated how to take a code from FontAwesome.com and incorporate it into my Squarespace site, and it worked perfectly! Granted, I don’t have much content for the search function to actually search, but we’ll get there soon.

I want to start putting articles on the site as soon as possible, but I need to consult with Sabrina to see if she has an opinion on which ones we post first. Also, if the site is going to live for at least six weeks continuously, we need to have at least six weeks’ worth of articles ready to go right away. That’s 42 articles. We currently have around 10 or 14. Meh. But those should at least last us two weeks or so.

I also don’t want to start putting articles out there until I learn how to do the whole SEO thing, but that’s not for a couple weeks. Maybe if I can go back and add SEO to a previous post I can post it now, but I have a few articles in particular that I want to make sure are publicized. I don’t want to publish them until I’m certain it’ll work.

Also, it was good to look at LDS Living and some of the mommy blogs out there. They use ads and do a pretty good job at maintaining a professional appearance, so I’m hoping we will, too.

 

Solidifying an Idea

This lesson was fun. I enjoyed being able to research different site builders, hosts, and options for domains. I especially like how in this class we use spreadsheets to organize our information. It’s actually something that I’ve been doing for a while on my own, to figure out different decisions like housing, majors, and schools. It’s nice to know my extensive methods are not crazy or overkill, but actually encouraged by professors.

I must say, however, that having to use Excel is a little irritating. I’m used to working with Google Sheets, and Excel has a lot more buttons and features and doesn’t always do what I want it to do. Also, I have to resort to using my tortoise-slow clunky laptop when using Excel, instead of my iPad. It’s a little disappointing knowing that I’ll need to take my laptop with me to Russia in addition to my iPad, but oh well. I’ll be fine.

I am definitely a person who likes consolidating things. I don’t like having to make multiple trips bringing in groceries, and I don’t like having to pay one site for a domain, another for a host, and yet another for a site builder. I already have my domain name (it doesn’t expires until August), so I just need a combination site builder and host. I chose Squarespace because it’s relatively simple to use and has beautiful themes. And I don’t have to pay another site for a host.

Despite all my research of other business ideas, I’ve decided to stick with the magazine. We started it last summer but it never took off, mostly because we were focused on trying to print it on paper. I think having it online initially will be good for publicity. Also, we have $300 raised from donations to use for advertising. So I won’t have to pay out of pocket, which is nice.

I do think that I want to save some of my other ideas for later on, though. Through my research for the calligraphy-inspirational-quote idea, I found a site that creates merchandise from original artwork and sells it. I really like that idea, but I don’t think it’s practical when I’m in Russia. Artwork stresses me out, and I don’t want that pressure. I’m always wondering if there’s a better way to do something.

Maybe once the magazine gets stabilized, I can do artwork in relation to the magazine, and sell it on that site, and then use that as an affiliate/or a little bit of extra income. Right now, though, I’m focusing on getting the website up and running and beautiful.