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  1. #1
    Dacker
    SitePoint Community Guest

    Just Starting

    This Community is only 3 Weeks old.
    www.britishcarauction.com

    Site started as an auction site for British Car Enthusiasts to Buy and Sell parts and cars form each other.
    I started this with no experience in community building or portal building experience.

    How I started?

    I launched the Auction Site June 1st

    I was shocked with no promotion at all I began to get visitors. I had 92 registered users in the first week.

    And 29,210 Impressions in the first week..

    I immediately added vB 2.0 for a forum to begin the community. This has been up for 2 weeks now. I have 36 members and a decent amount of discussion going for only the second week of this section.

    I had a few people write and ask about adding their local club link to the discussion area. So 3 days ago we launched the ClubLink Section. About 21 clubs in the US have registered their club and some information about themselves.

    These sections existed on 3 differnet sites that was too hard for members to remeber where they were and what the other sites were. On Sunday 3 days ago we brought all three sections together (Auction, Clubs, Discussion) and built a universal logo and navigation system under the logo, and put all sections under http://www.britishcarauction.com

    I am still very unsatisfied with the overall look and feel of all three sections of the site. I would really appreciate comments or ideas on how to improve the look and feel.

    MONEY:

    I am not sure yet. I am begining to use Commision Junction but I have only been using them for a week or two now. So I guess it is early. I know I have to do better on the placement of my ads but I think that will come once I figure out the best look and feel and get the banner ads up at the top of the screen somehow that wouldn't look "AD PUSHY".

    I am begining to launch an E-mail Newsletter with content volunteered from the local clubs around the country. I figure I might be able to find some sponsors of these Newsletters but I haven't got any interest from anyone yet?

    I began registering users for a PRE_Newsletter and as of today 6 days later I have 88 registered e-mail people. Obviously I would like this numebr to grow very quickly but it appears I had most of those registers the first day of asking people to register, just trickling in at about 3 a day there after.

    Future plans. I am hoping to introduce a Member section that will allow individuals to upload pics of thier cars and themselves with contact info and local club affiliate. Possible E-mail Services. I have a poll on the Forum section asking if this would be something of value to the users or if there was something else they would like to see added.

    Like I said this is only the third week and Also this is my first attempt at community building.

    What am I forgetting to do? What Suggestions do you have? What am I not thinking about? What would you do next?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thanks In Advance,
    Dennis Acker

  2. #2
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    OK bear with me here...
    Imagine:
    I am a new visitor and I go to your site. Is it dedicated to British Car Enthusiasts or Car Enthusiasts who own cars made in Great Britain?

    Second I see an auction item I need so I want to bid. This requires registration. I fill in the form, am registered and place my bid. Okay not bad.

    Wait, I see you are going to offer a newsletter. This might offer deals, bargains and discounts so I want to register. But I have to give my information again?

    I go to the discussion forums to say that I should only have to register once but my user name and password doesn't work here. I have to register again?
    This is very confusing to the end user. You should work to integrate your user databases. This way a new user only has to register once. This in itself gives you a big bonus and reduces confusion. This will be your biggest advantage at this point.

    In your forums, get rid of the forums with no posts after a week. Having a lot of empty forums makes your site look barren. New visitors are not going to know you started 3 weeks ago. They are just going to see a dead site. You can fix this by limiting the empty spaces. You can always recreate them later when the need is there. SitePoint started with 9 forums almost 2 years ago and we have grown to almost 40 public forums today, a little at a time.

    One other thing that will help you out is to create a cohesive design that allows me to switch between auctions, forums and any future content you offer. If you need help with this SitePoint has a trading post open to members where you can make a trade.
    Right now your goal should be to make your site sell. This is your number one goal. As a user I need to know why I should buy from your site and not eBay.

    Once the site is integrated you need convert those 30,000 impressions a week into registered members. Offering incentives to sell on your site would be a good way to do this. i.e. All new sellers pay 50% commissions the first week. Or offer contests for top sellers where they get prizes (not cash). You can get companies to donate prizes in exchange for a little promotion. Cash would come out of your pocket.

    Finally once you have converted your existing traffic, you should do mass promotion, launch viral marketing techniques, and utilize some offline promotion.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    Jun 2001
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    You seem to be off to a great start, good job. The key, in my opinion, to a good community is to offer various features via a centralized and consistent site design. As has been pointed out, you should keep your membership system centralized - and when you add new features, run them off of this same system. People don't like to re-register repeatedly, many people are still inherantly paranoid about giving out information on the web as it is.

    You should formalize a color scheme and then stick with it across your various features. The purple looks nice, but the green/yellow combo in your auction section clashes. Your navigation is simple and straightforward - as it should be. You might try adding some color to your front page - there's too much white, which dwarfs your design. I would either put up a background color or else make the bg of your tables a different color for contrast.

    Offering clubs (like Yahoo clubs) might be a feature your members would like. There's a conversation about clubs software on one of these boards, but I don't recall which one. In any case, if you do a search for clubs at hotscripts you'll find them. Neither is cheap though, so it might be something to keep in mind and work towards at a later date once you increase revenue.

    You seem to have gotten off to a good start, now you just have to keep plugging away. Success doesn't come fast or easy - but if you offer a consistent and dynamic place for people to come and talk/sell cars you should do fine. Good luck!


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