The start of a new year seems to be a good time to take a minute and update our readers about what Ina and I have been doing "behind the scenes" lately, and where we hope to take EcommerceBytes in the future.
Let me begin with a little history though.
I tend to lose track, but EcommerceBytes, in some form or another, has been around nearly 19 years. This was our first attempt at a web site, and if there were pitfalls or potholes along the way, we managed to hit most of them. As you would expect, the biggest challenge with electronic publishing is the technology.
In 1999, there weren't many content management systems available to small publishers without great expense, so with help from friends, we tried several open-source solutions (remember, there was no such thing as WordPress) and settled on one that, while stable and secure, was not widely used. As a result, when that software eventually faded into obscurity, there weren't many developers out there who had even heard of it, let alone develop for it - even so, it continued to get the job done.
Unfazed, like deer heading toward the Interstate, we added blogs, directories, tools and other resources over the years, all custom-written in different programming languages - essentially a Tower of Babel, bound to the main site by domain name only. This made the site challenging to administrate, and made keeping up with the constant changes in search engine optimization difficult.
The internet is like a trendy dance club that changes every time there is a shift in musical tastes. If we made every change recommended by SEO "experts" through the years, you'd be coming to a different club - I mean site - every 6 months. Sometimes it's just better to stick with what you do best. Good old Rock 'n Roll. Suffice it to say, we have a lot of empathy for online sellers who find they have a new set of rules to every time they log on. If the marketplace where you sell is your master, I guess search engines are ours.
Fast forward to 2017. We took most of last year to make some substantial changes to EcommerceBytes. We've made the site responsive to mobile, implemented secure pages on the main site and blogs, moved the site to a more powerful server, changed list hosts and other things that I don't even remember doing...
On the site, we've replaced our oldest content management system with WordPress, and have placed the last 4 years of content into that platform. Article archives going back to 1999 are still available on the site, however you will need to use the "Archive Search" box on the right column. We've removed some of the tools, such as fee calculators, from the main site - we didn't feel that we could keep them updated in a timely fashion.
In 2017, we published a paid-subscription newsletter, which was well-received and highly distributed. However, the fact that not every reader was able to pay for a subscription left us with a dilemma: there were readers who were not receiving all of the important content in a timely manner that paid subscribers were getting. So as of January 1st, all articles and information are again available for free on our site and in our email newsletters - EB NewsFlash and EB Update.
Meanwhile with all of these changes going on, Ina never missed a deadline with the newsletters in 2017. I say that because it's easy to lose track of the fact that, at our core, we're a two-person company. Last year was challenging, but a wake-up call to simplify and prioritize our business.
So about 2018...first and foremost, we're an independent news publication for online sellers. That is going to be our focus this year, and you'll be seeing an increased frequency of news being published with the help of our talented freelance contributors.
I feel that our community of readers is the most informed - and outspoken - group of sellers out there. We get our strength from you - as well as many breaking news tips. Hopefully, we've represented you well and communicated our appreciation of you enough.
We hope thoughtful and civil dialogue flourishes in our blogs. We recognize that there will be differences of opinion, it would be rather boring otherwise. But be respectful of one another. There are thousands of people who come to read what you have to say, and a large number tell us that they are intimidated by the occasional tone of the discussion. Help convert them from lurkers into participants. Invite people here. It's a richer conversation when there are more voices.
Finally, Ina and I want to thank our sponsors. They are a huge reason this site exists. Check them out and let them know where you heard about them. We only accept a small percentage of the services that inquire about advertising, because we feel they are established, trustworthy companies that offer our readers something useful. They're also the reason that we can continue to publish objective news and not advertorial content to our site.
If you made it this far, Happy New Year - or at the very least, a healthy, more profitable and less frustrating one.
As for us, as newspaper man Ben Bradlee once said, "nose down, ass up and moving steadily forward into the future."
About the Author
David Steiner is President and cofounder of EcommerceBytes, the independent trade publication for online merchants.