@sheltech1 This is a really interesting point, one that I pondered quite a bit when I took over Ganoksin. The reality is, there really isn’t much out there, at least not much that is specifically focused on bench jewelers and the manufacture of jewelry.
There was a Facebook group for metalsmiths that grew popular, but that sort of died out for some reason (it was like metalsmiths coffee house, or something like that). It was replaced in the last year or so with a Bench Jewelers group on FB that I think is going pretty well. There is also JHJ which is run by Aleah Arundale out of Chicago, although that is not focused on benchies, it is focused on the retail jeweler. The bench jewelers group has fewer members than this, but it is about as active from a post volume perspective (I suspect primarily because users are already logged on to FB using that platform).
Some people say there are are fewer bench jewelers in circulation and that the industry is contracting, I don’t believe that to be the case. I do think it is changing, and Orchid/Ganoksin will continue to change with it.
In any event, I evaluated all of these alternatives when I took over and I thought long and hard about whether re-working this property (Ganoksin/Orchid) was worth it. Financially, I knew it would take a long time for this to make sense (if ever), but more importantly I was concerned about spending time on something that wasn’t going to add value to the community. I was inspired by longtime friends like @JimGrahlDesign, who has decades and decades of knowledge and I was frustrated that the only platform for keeping that knowledge alive, and the oldest, needed a new lease on life to be really useful for the next generation.
This property (Ganoksin and Orchid) is truly 100% unique. Here’s a few things to ponder…
- For every one person who is posting or replying there are literally HUNDREDS of people reading either Ganoksin or Orchid (active posts or the archives). So if you think about it, the vast majority of readers are anonymous from all over the world. Not to say there aren’t lurkers on a Facebook group, but a Facebook group is closed, so if you do a Google search for something related to jewelry making, you aren’t going to be able to access facebook threads – you are going to land on an Orchid thread or a Ganoksin article – sometimes both. The FB threads aren’t archived and made available to the public, and the search functionality isn’t optimized around an educational archive. The purpose of FB is not to create an archive of jewelry making knowledge for future generations, it is to facilitate social interactivity. That is not to say Orchid does not do that, of course it does. Perhaps it even did that better in the past when there were fewer options to interact socially on the web. But education is and always has been our primary objective. Our job is to educate the world’s jewelers about how to make jewelry.
- Anonymous viewers on both of the websites Ganoksin and Orchid oftentimes get the information they need, and move along. They need not ask a question of the community or otherwise engage, because the answer can be found. If it can’t or requires clarification, they can revive a thread. The only way those anonymous users get monetized is through the support of our advertisers (folks like @RioGrande, @StullerInc, and many many others). Those advertisers have a dual purpose, one is supporting our mission of educating the world’s jewelers and two is making sure all of those anonymous users are exposed to their brand. Obviously, folks searching for jewelry-manufacture / bench jewelry-related topics are a relevant target demographic for those companies. I believe we (meaning the entire community) are providing a service to those anonymous users that is incredibly valuable. The growth of anonymous users - we are twice as large in traffic volume today as we were when I took over - speaks to the need for this information.
- The contributions of Orchid members and our advertisers over the years and today (both financially and content-wise) subsidize a LOT of those anonymous users. If you think about it, we host thousands of articles and 50,000 threaded topics, and we serve up that content to 6,000+ unique users a day, 5,998 of whom pay us nothing. The two people who pay, and the folks who advertise, literally subsidize the 5,998 who do not pay each day to use the service. Many of those anonymous users are unable to pay for a variety of reasons, live in third world countries, or for many other reasons choose not to.
The fact that such a paradigm can even exist and be financially viable (I use that term loosely ) is a testament to the power of the Internet, and quite frankly, the power of YOU the contributors. My job is simply to be a steward of this archive, growing it as effectively as possible.
Apologies for the rambling response (my wife has the kids so I have a rare moment of peace to write a longer reply), and many thanks for all of you who make this what it is.