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What Do I Need to Do Better? A History

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When I first started Penguinate.com in 2012, it was because I learned that people who were able to talk to classmates or others on the job were able to reinforce their learning. They retained more information and learned more than people who had to rely on themselves and their memory to learn. I was going to Disney World to be a part of their College Program, and I wanted to remember everything that I learned there. Not knowing if I would find people to talk to, I decided to start a website where I could keep my observations and put down what I learned, giving myself one more way to remember what I deemed as important and one more connection to tie the information to my brain.

I monetized the website, and as I went through school, I created movie and book reviews. When I started at examiner.com as a reporter, I posted videos on YouTube to support the news I was reporting. I monetized those as well. By the time I went to get my Master’s degree, I was making just enough to pay for my Internet usage, and all indications were that it would keep growing if I kept at it. Then everything changed.

When YouTube changed its policy about who could monetize their videos, I was on the outside looking in. I lost half of my web income. When my website hosting company decided to eliminate contact with Russia, I lost half of my income again. Then I made the drastic decision to move website hosting companies, and my income dropped to almost zero. I thought I had things moving in the right direction when I took another hit in August, my worst month at my website financially speaking, even though I was in the midst of a 251-day publishing streak. September responded in a “hold my beer” fashion, and I’m staring at two months of unexplained decline in income from my website – even while September was my best for “ads served.”

In the midst of all this, I turned to writing books as an additional source of income. My wife has made penguins to help supplement what we’re making. I’ve tried freelance editing with two paid jobs and one that didn’t pan out but kept me from working in September. I’ve started publishing at Medium, where I earn based on the number of views by members and their interaction with the articles I write. I’ve attempted to expand our Patreon base and failed with every offer that I’ve put out there. I have a small but mighty core of supporters. I tried starting an email list – my wife and I are the only ones on it, which makes it a lot less work. We’ve made two calendars – one of which we’ve offered for free to our Patreon members.

So, this is where we are – facing crickets with our web presence and our ability to get the word out about what we have available. I’ve gotten messages about how people love my books. Our penguins have gotten great reviews – in private, so it can’t be the products that are the problem. That leads me to believe my biggest issue is marketing. How do I inform people about what we have available and how they go about getting it?

I have read about marketing, watched videos about it, and participated in courses about it, but for some reason, there’s a block. Either I’m not using the things I have learned, or I am using them ineffectively. I’m not sure where the disconnect is, but it must be somewhere within me, or between me and the computer. Somehow, I’m not translating what I’ve read and thought about into something productive for me. It’s a lot of wheel spinning as I use social media and Google ads to little or no avail. How do I do it better?

If I am right, and marketing is the main problem, then it’s time for me to return the blog portion of the website back to what it was built for – to help me learn. It’s time for me to start going through the marketing materials I’ve already read once, and re-read it with an eye to distilling it down to the main points: Benefits marketing, tell-a-story marketing, and other marketing tactics. Whatever type of marketing I need to learn, it’s time to buckle down and do the research and figure out how to turn it into something usable.

And after all this talking, the one thing I probably need to learn most of all is to how to listen. People may have been telling me things that I have missed. Since I have missed them, I don’t know what they are.

If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments.

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