Note: This post will self destruct in a couple of days.
As always, your feedback is much appreciated.
I try to run ToolGuyd with as much transparency as possible. And if you’re a regular reader, seemingly minor changes might have big effects on your ToolGuyd experience, and if so, I want to know about it.
I put a lot of thought into just about everything I do on or for the site, but sometimes there are changes which I cannot commit to without wanting to run it by you guys first.
Following are 3 changes, with 2 already live, that I would love your feedback on.
ToolGuyd’s Top Tool Picks
Okay, so a few months ago a company contacted me about putting a shopping engine on ToolGuyd pages. The engine would featured related products, and would supposedly be wonderful for everyone.
I decided not to give it a try, because they couldn’t tell me what kind of “related products” from “various retailers” I could expect to see.
One of the tool-related sites that they used to sell me on the idea was showing weird related products, like toilets when the topic was about hammers, or something like that.
So I thought, what if I could create my own “recommended products” widget? I would hand-pick the tools, and either link back to ToolGuyd posts, or to affiliated partners, such as Amazon, Home Depot, Acme Tools, or wherever.
You see, I like control. I like determining what is displayed on ToolGuyd as much as possible. The idea of a “related products” widget displaying products that are unrelated, or worse – products I don’t like, or linking out to retailers I don’t recommend, just didn’t sit well with me.
Months passed, and the idea to have a recommended tools widget is still on my to-do list, along with an update to my Ultimate Tool Gift Guide, and many other things.
I was checking out one of Amazon’s new widget offerings, more on that in a moment, and came across a new option that lets me build a quick and dirty ToolGuyd recommendations widget.
So, I entered 4 tools I absolutely recommend, and added it to the site.
There are 2 goals:
- To share impromptu recommendations regularly, and without having to write up a post.
- To earn a little extra revenue for the site.
I’ve got a few hesitations about it, hence the request for feedback.
Where is it? At the bottom of posts, after “Related Posts,” and before the Comments section.
Update: It’s been moved to below comments and the comment entry form, placing it near the bottom of the page.
Do you find it to be intrusive?
Does it take up too much space on mobile browsers? (It goes to 2 rows of 2 columns).
Keep it or lose it?
While not paid to be there, purchases made through the links, of the recommended items or something else, would help support ToolGuyd.
My plan is to update it regularly with tools that I recommend. Unless a lot of readers chime in and say it’s a terrible and page-cluttering idea.
There’s also the option for dynamic “related products” selections that are suggested by Amazon’s search engine, and an Amazon search option, but I would much rather hand-pick a couple of recommendations to share instead.
Keep in mind that we earn a commission on purchases made through the links. But if we recommend something you hate and you return it, we get nothing. I find this to be a good system of checks and balances.
I try to be sparing in the use of affiliate links, to Amazon or elsewhere. Amazon is by far my favorite tool source, which is why you see a lot more Amazon links than to anywhere else.
Over-use of links is something I am always very sensitive about. That’s why I felt the need to ask for feedback. The widget looks alright to me, and sounds like a great idea, reasonably matching a feature I wanted to implement anyway. (But I really don’t want to have to code and maintain a custom recommended tools widget myself)
I have been approached by numerous companies, wanting to add a mobile popup ad to ToolGuyd pages.
I don’t like this idea, at all. When I see such ads, I click them without giving them any thought whatsoever.
But Amazon has come out with a new widget, and it doesn’t seem so bad. Above is a sample screenshot from Amazon’s demo page.
When a reader is paused over a section where there’s an Amazon text link, a short preview pops up. It can be hidden with a finger press.
And when you’re passed the link, it disappears.
I provide reference links where I think it will be helpful. But I find that, when browsing on a mobile page, I don’t even click the links.
I imagine that a lot of you guys are the same way.
I usually link out to retailers in two places. First, if the context calls for it, or I think a price is worth mentioning.
For example, in last week’s Forstner drill bit post, I mention the Festool Zobo set, and pop in an Amazon link, because that’s where I was looking at it and its price when writing the post.
I figure that some readers might find the link to be helpful, and in it went.
And then there are Buy Now links at the bottom of pages. This has really cut down on the number of “where can I buy this item” emails that I used to get a lot of.
The Mobile PopOver widget is now live, and it doesn’t seem to work on the Buy Now links. I suppose that’s good. This way info will pop over for tools I mention very briefly, and not for tools that you already see images of, sometimes a price for, and a prominent purchase link for.
This should help avoid redundancy and overuse, but I’ll have to do more testing to make sure.
If you’re browsing ToolGuyd via mobile device, what do you think of the bottom-of-page popover?
I added a link to Engineer Inc. scissors mentioned above, so you should be able to see what this looks like, live.
I spend a lot of time on ToolGuyd, on both desktop and mobile devices.
Right now, I’m not bothered by the effect, how it pops up when an Amazon text link is on screen, and disappears when it’s not. It took me a few tries to realize that pressing the arrow hides the small box, rather than trying to drag it closed, but that was me playing around. I didn’t feel compelled to close it, which is a good sign.
Please give it a chance and report back with your thoughts!
In recent months, I’ve been asked by a lot of potential advertisers to consider offering more content-based advertising options.
That’s a tough one, because I absolutely do not allow for sponsored posts.
A few months ago, a brand approached me about doing sponsored reviews, but I told them I’d do the reviews for free. If they had money they wanted to spend, I’d do a sponsored project and use their tools for it.
It didn’t work out because I started seeing sponsored reviews all over the place, and didn’t want readers to think ToolGuyd coverage was similarly paid for.
But I do like the idea of sponsored projects.
I come up with the project.
I select the tools that are used.
I write about the project in whichever way I want.
I review the tools used for the project, if they haven’t been already.
I’m always looking for more project time, and sponsored projects might enable me to work on something I ordinarily wouldn’t have time or budget for.
For example, we’re in the process of moving, and the new workshop will need at least one more cabinet. I could buy something, I could build something simple, or I could spend more time and effort on a more elaborate project.
But given my schedule, a more elaborate project might not be a priority. Make it a sponsored project, and I can do things differently, with more coverage, reviews, and discussions stemming from the project.
I will try to do a free test run in the Spring, but also thought it would be worth bringing it up for feedback. Right now it’s all hypothetical, but I think I explained my take on it clearly enough.
When I first wrote the heading for this section, it didn’t say sponsored projects, it said custom projects. Maybe I should have left it unchanged, because that is how I see it.
What do you think? Give it a shot?