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How to get UKA back on top?

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ionicus
(@ionicus)
Honorable Member

@gee

I don't want to pour cold water on the idea but we have to be realistic.
Before I retired I was a 'bean counter' who could tell with a straight face that 2+2 = 5. The fallacy of this statement is easy to see.

We are told that we have 442 members; so we could say that if each member contributed £1 we would be halfway to raise the amount required.

Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different. How many members do we actually have? We know that some have departed to pastures new, others have sadly died and we honour their memory but their numbers are included in the total. Of the rest how many are bona fide or active members?

I have examined the site profile of many and found that the answers in all cases were: This user has not made any comments. - This user has not created any posts.

My argument is that we need to know how many people can be relied upon to contribute and that's assuming that everyone is able and willing to do so.

 

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Posted : June 23, 2021 9:59 am
gee
 gee
(@gee)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @ionicus

@gee

I don't want to pour cold water on the idea but we have to be realistic.
Before I retired I was a 'bean counter' who could tell with a straight face that 2+2 = 5. The fallacy of this statement is easy to see.

We are told that we have 442 members; so we could say that if each member contributed £1 we would be halfway to raise the amount required.

Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different. How many members do we actually have? We know that some have departed to pastures new, others have sadly died and we honour their memory but their numbers are included in the total. Of the rest how many are bona fide or active members?

I have examined the site profile of many and found that the answers in all cases were: This user has not made any comments. - This user has not created any posts.

My argument is that we need to know how many people can be relied upon to contribute and that's assuming that everyone is able and willing to do so.

 

@ionicus

It's not pouring cold water on it at all and you're completely right that we do have to be realistic.
That's why I suggested a newsletter so that we can find out how many people would or could actually contribute money to the site and how much we could raise. There's been a lot of talk about what people would like to see on here but now we know how much it would cost. If we can't raise that money, we're going to have to do without those things and find other ways to make the site better. 
The cost that Richard quoted is a realistic price due to the work involved. That doesn't mean it's realistic for us to come up with that amount of money. Sending out a newsletter asking for contributions will let us know how much will come from the members and how far it will go towards doing things for this site.
The same thing applies to the idea put forward about a youtube channel. There are those who are very keen for us to have that but if no one is willing or able to run it, it's not something we can have. 
If we discount the things that aren't possible, then we can have a discussion about those things that are.

 

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Posted : June 23, 2021 10:41 am
griffonner
(@griffonner)
Eminent Member

@ionicus and @Gee + anyone interested in the progression of UKA

 

I had intended to step back a bit from this thread, but you both give excellent analysisn and these demand comment:

I so wholeheartedly agree with what you say.  I concur with passivity - I am sure we aren't being abrasive, just realistic.

 

UKA doesn't, in reality, belong to the members.  Admin asked the question "How to get UKA back on top?" and we have piped-up with a few suggestions.  Admin has also given us some questions:

Q1) Maybe it's time to totally re-think the way UKA delivers the writing of its members?

Q2) Maybe UKA should present itself as an online literary magazine-style format? A 'spin-off' website that publishes carefully selected writing (poetry, short fiction & 'first chapters') from the MAIN UKA website?

Q3) If the NEW (spin-off) website was marketed and run as a prestigious and high-quality online publication, it could help turn UKA around?

I think I'm guilty as anyone in having run away with the idea of change without answering the Admin's questions. Ultimately it will be Admin's decision I assume. He wants our advice.

A1) I'm personally not sure that the way of delivery of member's submissions is fundamentally flawed. What is flawed in my opinion is that nowhere on the landing page do we say one single thing to new people first visiting the site:Prospective members. We don't welcome them, we don't tell them what UKA offers, and we don't encourage them to participate, we just leave them to take a poke at clicking on something to see what happens. Then we wonder why we aren't growing. In short we aren't directly marketing UKA.

A2) Maybe presenting a spin-off magazine-style format site separate from UKA (separate it would have to be to in order to include work from UKA members) could be beneficial WHEN the site is more active.  But, as I've already said in  this thread, there's a lot to be gained from having the site look more like a magazine in the first place. It would freshen it, and make it more contemporary in appearance.  There are loads of examples of Magazine formats, and Wordpress has a huge number of magazine themes available both free and commercial.

A3) I think the problem at the moment with this is simply the word 'marketed' - in view of the problem = lack of active membership.  Has anyone thought that there could be more than one anthology a year? Perhaps one every quarter, and that could be the 'prestigious and high-quality publication' (online of in print)

In summary my thoughts are:

Magazine/Newspaper type format - here's one example, here's another there are loads more and this one is really exciting(?)

Landing Page/Front Page/Home (shall we call it Front Page?) is to welcome, explain, market ourselves i.e., explain the benefits of membership. Have one extract chosen from current submission of poetry and one of prose with a reasonably sized avatar/picture of the author - that when clicked upon takes the visit to that submission. Example.

On the chosen submission page (and every page displaying a member's work) have a clickable invitation to "view similar poems/prose" and "make a donation", 'LIKE', and 'nominate'

Have two levels of accolade: The 'pick' chosen by (? editors ?)  'liked' by readers. (I wouldn't mind going back to having the 0 to 10 vote too - and I'd love that to be open to the casual reader)

Members Backpage to show their submissions a) picked, b) liked, and c) put forward for inclusion in the anthology.

Private Messages - this is a shambles in its present format!  The new one should at least have a big enough input frame so that you can read what you wrote a paragraph before!

Competitions.

CONTROVERSIAL... I wouldn't mind it being a necessity, one a visitor has clicked from the Front Page and read their chosen first piece/article/submission, that they must give their name and email address before they can proceed further.  This would give us a database of email addresses to which to send a fresh group of people our:

Newsletter  that speaks to people as if they are essential to the C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y whether they are existing members or have been visitors (see para above)

Those are my starting suggestions.

 

 

 

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Posted : June 23, 2021 11:26 am
ukadmin
(@ukadmin)
Estimable Member Admin

Some great replies and lots of thought-provoking suggestions in this thread. Many thanks!

I think the first thing we need to do, before contemplating raising funds for all the changes, is to start bumping up the visitor footfall and member usage of the site. As has already been said, the site is very quiet now and trying to crowdfund would be fruitless given the lack of crowd on UKA at the moment Smile

So I think marketing and promotion is the way to garner more interest for the site.

I just checked the newsletter system and it tells a sorry story of poor statistics for the newsletters I send out. At the moment we have only 400 active confirmed users who receive the newsletter and only a tiny % actually open them and an even smaller % click-thru the links in the newsletters.

Having said that, the stats show that over 4,000 subscribers have not confirmed their newsletter subscription. A year ago I had to set all subscribers to the newsletter to 'not confirmed' because of the new data rules regarding GDPR Email Marketing policies. I then sent out a request to confirm their subscriptions if they wanted to keep receiving the newsletters. I noticed that even regular UKA member @ionicus wasn't subscribed after he made a plea in the shoutbox about not getting any newsletters. So I have just re-sent an email to 4000 unconfirmed UKA newsletter subscribers and hope that a few hundred more will confirm and start receiving the newsletter. Then perhaps we'll start getting a bit more interest and activity on the site.

Andrea isn't really in a position to resume her role as UKA editor at the moment but what we could do with is 'back-end moderators' rather than an editor. These forums have moderators who keep watch and manage the forum content/usage etc. and that seems to be working fine. This needs to be expanded to the main site backend BUT...

Being a backend moderator means having a good knowledge of WordPress. Being a WordPress admin means having access to the whole install and one wrong move can have huge consequences! (we've seen in the past how I've buggered things up often!). 

I think Andrea would return to the helm IF she could fathom WordPress admin but it is quite a learning curve.

I like the idea of creating a magazine-style website. Having two parts/sides to the site - the 'free-to-submit-writing' part where the member can do pretty much what UKA is now - submit, edit/delete work, post/receive comments & feedback, choose picks and favourites (not active yet). The usual stuff that UKA is about. But the 2nd part, a spin-off website that chooses the best work from UKA members. It would be a website with an editor (or group of trusted UKA mods) whose job it would be to pick work submitted from UKA and present it on a stylish magazine-style sister site. With the content changing every three months (quarterly). This content could also provide the basis for a quarterly e-mag and print magazine not unlike the fantastic POPSHOTS which is a really nice UK based short story/poetry quarterly magazine.

This might provide an incentive for UKA members to start frequenting UKA with gusto! They need an incentive to come, read, participate and ultimately make it into the main magazine/webiste.

This would then be a modern replacement to the UKAnthology which was very popular.

 

 

 

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Topic starter Posted : June 23, 2021 12:58 pm
gee
 gee
(@gee)
Eminent Member

So much I agree with in the last two posts! 

I very much like the idea of a magazine style site. I looked at some of the examples and I could see some had articles and original artwork and things like that would, in my opinion, draw in new people with new talents. A recent post for submissions for a horror publication on twitter had over 600 submissions in 20 days, so marketing to make people aware would help too. How about something like a competition and to possibly get together enough funds to offer small cash prizes for work to set up the initial magazine? It could work as a kick start to it and I can ask writing and artist friends on twitter to retweet it.

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Posted : June 23, 2021 2:22 pm
griffonner
(@griffonner)
Eminent Member

@gee & @admin

Firstly, admin:  It is the chicken and egg syndrome a little in many respects, isn't it.  Example: The most likely (but not only) people to have WordPress backend experience are 'youngsters' and we are lacking in those. Do you have a dummy website on the server where it is possible to trial changes and tweaks?

Also, as you know, Fiverr has many people who have techniques for promoting web sites for a very small fee. (Usually under 20 quid) It is a marketing ploy made use of by lots of organisations. A discussion with a few of those people might result in one being able to use the newsletter as the 'carrot' thus targetting the likely response area.  Otherwise just having someone generate a couple of thousand site visits might produce... What?... 0.5% people who might actually return again for a second look and then join?

Gee, your idea of asking fellow Twitter users to help promote something is a really good idea. The people I refer to above on Fiverr often use twitter and other social media platforms to do the promotions.  A site I was involved with about seven years ago received over 2000 visits in one day and 7000'odd in the entire week following such a promotion.  They probably got about a dozen members out of that. Doesn't seem much, but I guess they cost only about a pound a head to get, and the promotion can be repeated from time to time.   There are also professional site promoters (companies online) who you pay a small fee for every successful introduction they make (people who join as a result.)  With others you get their people join your site and they promote and encourage conversation to create member involvement too   But unless people have to pay in order to join, that may not be a good idea. (costly.)

Since I think most of the active members here would be prepared to offer some donation of whatever size, maybe it is time to make membership a 'pay-for' privilege. Marketing wise it is a well known fact that people want what they can't get at easily: so a fee of, say, five quid for three months would provide the Admins with something to use for site maintenance. I'd quite happily pay for something like that.

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Posted : June 23, 2021 3:28 pm
stormwolf
(@stormwolf)
Honorable Member Moderator

Hello all, 

I have to be honest here and say this is all out with my ability to add anything constructive. I do not understand a lot of what is being discussed and I cannot in all honesty spare the time to be as active as perhaps I should. My condition is variable and brain fog is one of the cardinal symptoms on a bad day. I had a direct debit of £10 a month running for years and I would never have brought this up other than to say I did my best.

I feel I have so much going on in my everyday life that maybe you should nominate another in my place. I have tried my best to contribute as much as I could but I feel that it is all getting too complicated for me. I do not want / need the stress that if I am not about I am letting the side down. 

Maybe today is just a bad day but I am happy to step aside to let others have more say. 

 

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Posted : June 23, 2021 4:14 pm
stormwolf
(@stormwolf)
Honorable Member Moderator

BTW I subscribed to the newsletter on more than one occasion and I do not recall ever receiving one.  just to be clear.

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Posted : June 23, 2021 4:24 pm
stormwolf
(@stormwolf)
Honorable Member Moderator

@gee My enthusiasm has waned. I did contribute for years. I feel I can no longer keep motivated when we go round and round in circles. It has taken a lot of my personal time and effort but I am running out of steam. 

It is so easy to moan about things like moderating, nibbing etc but few understand the time spent and the goodwill that often goes down the plughole. I am not speaking to YOU here...merely highlighting a fact. Sad  

I do agree the front page needs to be far more inviting and interactive but unless the majority show willing...its a hiding to nothing to be frank.
I am also a bit weary about constantly having to feel we need to suck up to anyone including new arrivals. People are either generous of time and spirit or they are not.

It is human nature and some are givers and some are takers.

 

 

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Posted : June 23, 2021 4:38 pm
ionicus
(@ionicus)
Honorable Member

@griffonner

Dear Allen, easier said than done. You only have to click on the  Help UKA! button to see what the situation is: there were eight donations in October 2020 and nothing else since then It isn't something new: in the past every time a cry for help went out, people did not readily respond either because they could not afford it, were unwilling to pay or they could not find a suitable way to donate. The more direct way would be to introduce a subscription fee but this was discussed several times and voted down by the membership. It is indeed a chicken and egg situation.

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Posted : June 23, 2021 4:42 pm
ionicus
(@ionicus)
Honorable Member

 @ukadmin 

surely a UKA's magazine on the style of POPSHOTS is wishful thinking. They are an established publisher with a strong editorial team who produce a quarterly printed magazine and a  digital version that have to be purchased. A topic is set each time and submissions are invited for literary work and illustrations. The best submissions are selected for publication but there is no payment to the authors.
How would UKA go about setting up a similar enterprise given the constraints we have been talking about?

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Posted : June 23, 2021 4:44 pm
gee
 gee
(@gee)
Eminent Member

@griffonner @ionicus When I first started on this site there was a membership fee. I paid it yearly over paypal and then it was stopped. The problem with donations is that it's easy to let that lapse and I'm guilty of doing that. I'm not sure if the fee was in order to post but perhaps @admin would be able to let us know if that's the case. If we do introduce a fee, people who pay might expect something extra for their money and I'm not sure if we could give them that. Maybe that's something we can discuss?

@stormwolf I'm not really sure what to say to you except that I'm sorry about your lack of motivation at the moment. I know it makes things difficult and I hope you feel better about things soon.

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Posted : June 23, 2021 5:12 pm
griffonner
(@griffonner)
Eminent Member

@Gee

"Maybe that's something we can discuss?"  (subscriptions) Absolutely. Surely everything we are talking about will have to be discussed.  It was only a suggestion of mine. As I think I said somewhere, some sites allow members to submit and so on, but have added facilities for people who support the site with a subscription.  I agree that people would want something for their money, and I think we have to discuss what that could be. Generally, I go back to my worry of late, and that is we don't know what we want - other than increased membership and participation. :(

Were there to be a radical change, say on the home page, it will certainly make people intrigued I would have thought, at the very least. Admin can confirm this, but I don't think it would be all that difficult to create a new landing page and code it to appear in place of the page we see when we come to the site as is.

Otherwise each and everyone of us - where we can - can do the sort of thing you suggested you could; Getting friends on Twitter to help et cetera. This in the hope that it will have the effect of increasing traffic to the site.  Perhaps we should have a competition/challenge for people to suggest ways of increasing UKA's traffic?

 

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Posted : June 23, 2021 7:23 pm
gee liked
EthanMeklan
(@ethanmeklan)
New Member

I just came back here after a long time, I think the Internet has changed a lot since then, and a strong revolvement around social media rather than actual websites for viable communities. But I think like some posts have pointed out here, there is the contributing factors at play. I think its shortcomings is in the fact its a website you have to put some effort into using. So by this I mean if you wanted to attract a load of new users you can do two things individually or both.

- Focus on the quality aspect of this website, I came back here after all these years because the posts I made, got some amazing feedback on them unlike anywhere else at the time, I still think this could possibly be true looking round briefly at the site still, in comparison in a social media community people mostly give one word reviews or an emoji thumbs up and it's useless information especially when you are trying to improve.

- Implement a quick feature in the site, it is not even relevant to age, younger generations and such, if you make any website or app with a feature where you can quickly post something people will more than likely sign up. I don't know what you could implement like that on a site like this, the quicker and easier something is to navigate and post the longer people will stick around and contribute more.

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Posted : June 23, 2021 11:20 pm
gee
 gee
(@gee)
Eminent Member

@griffonner I think you're right in that we're not completely sure what we want. For me, the main concern is that the active membership seems to have dwindled and we need to attract new people. I asked two friends to look at the site last night and they made a few points. Both said the site looked dated and there was some confusion about the main page. For example, as already mentioned, there's no explanation about the site, how to post, membership requirements, anything like that. On the front page, you have latest writing, beginning with latest fiction at the top of the page, then latest poetry, latest non fiction. Under that there's a section for more non fiction, which they found confusing because you have a piece from September 2016 and one from February this year, so it seems quite random. Both noticed the flashing PICK sign but found no explanation for why or how they were picked. One mentioned there was no welcome to the site and, when they clicked on terms and conditions, found a create a new account link that wasn't active. 

I'd like to bring up about added features for people with a subscription because I'm worried that asking for money straight away will put people off joining. There's been a mention of people earning the right to post by commenting but that's a concern because some people would be put off by immediately giving their opinion of work posted. Others might have no idea how to comment if they haven't done so before, so some guidelines might be a good idea. Just a few thoughts this morning as I have to catch up on some work. 

@ethanmeklan Well, first of all, welcome back! Your point about the feedback is definitely one of the reasons I love this site so much. People genuinely care here and want to encourage others. I also like your app idea and I think it would be attractive to people. I know many who use social media sites as well as banking and shopping apps because they're so easy to use. I don't know the cost of something like that though and that's an issue at the moment. Thank you for your comments and, if there's anything else you can think of, it's very useful to hear from people who are looking at the site with fresh eyes. 

 

 

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Posted : June 24, 2021 8:40 am
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