History

History of Guide To Beadwork

GENERAL INFORMATION

Guide To Beadwork is now moving to it’s next stage. Greg has retired and Nick & Julie Hunkar are now taking over as the keeper of the site.GuideToBeadwork.com was a one-man operation which is a hobby and learning environment for its webmaster, Greg Vinson. The site was first established in the summer of 1996 on his personal website. The domain name (GuideToBeadwork.com) was procured in the fall of 2000 at which time the Store lists were greatly expanded and the entire contents of the printed book (Guide To Beadwork) were turned into web pages and posted online.

GuideToBeadwork.com gets close to a million hits every month. Some revenue is generated from active text links, banner ads and wholesale listings. Traffic to the book section and store list section is about evenly split with slightly more traffic to the book section.


Below is all archived history from Greg’s point of view:

STORE LIST HISTORY

The store lists were created in 1996, starting with about 100 stores, all in California, Oregon and Washington (Western U.S.). These were the bead stores that had purchased the original printed version of Guide To Beadwork from us for resale and for which we had contact information.

We only accepted brick-and-mortar retail bead supply stores for the lists at that time. The only other requirement was that a store had to be willing to order our book should a customer request it. My theory was that stores would want the free advertising gained by being on the list and therefore be at least willing to order the book. List growth was quite slow during the first few years.

The lists were greatly expanded in the Fall of 2000 when I did quite a bit of bead store research using phone books at the library. I also decided to allow wholesale bead suppliers as well as online-only retail bead suppliers to be eligible for the lists at that time. The “willingness to buy the book” requirement was discontinued as it had gone out-of-print .

Traffic to the website literally exploded soon after this and ever since, a new store is added to the lists daily (rough average). There are now thousands of stores listed from all over the world. About 500 new stores are added every year. The overall total increases more slowly due to independently confirmed store closures.

In late 2004, GuideToBeadwork.com began charging for active text links within Blue Pages listings (the listings themselves remain free to all and always will). The time spent maintaining the site (3-4 hours daily) has moved beyond the amount I would consider reasonable for a hobby. Monthly text link activity reports and a monthly newsletter were also added at this time. The reception of this new program by store owners has been overwhelmingly positive.

A separate Yellow Pages section for wholesalers was created in June of 2002 and a premium charged to be listed there. Wholesale-only businesses were then disqualified from the main retail lists which I started calling the Blue Pages. One reason for this was that few visitors would be looking for both wholesale and retail bead supplies at the same time so it didn’t make a lot of sense to lump them all together.

The main reason for implementing the Yellow pages was that a number of unscrupulous international bead wholesalers were abusing the free nature of the lists by attempting to list their businesses more than once (using different names but all with the same phone numbers, etc.) and sabotaging their competitors by submitting updates for them with false and invalid information. It was very obvious to me what they were doing and I even wrote to them imploring them to desist before implementing the Yellow pages which, after long thought and continued attempted abuse by these businessmen, became the only viable solution.

The Yellow pages have been extremely successful, far beyond expectations. About a dozen wholesalers have been listed there since July of 2002 and all of them have consistently received multiple daily visits to their websites since then and seem quite happy with their investment. Most renew their listings and about a third of the current listees have been listed since the beginning of the program in 2002.

BOOK HISTORY

The original printed version of Guide To Beadwork was first published in 1989. Other than a few minor corrections, it was pretty much the same then as the online version that is available to all for free today.

The contents are copyrighted material and, technically, printing out any of the pages is a violation of copyright law. The exceptions are the stitch pattern pages for which permission is given on each to print them out and copy them for personal use only. If you want or need a printed version of the book, you really should order it through us for $24.95 plus shipping.

Guide to Beadwork was originally co-written by myself and my (now ex) wife, Desiree Vinson. Desiree is the beader and I am a technical writer. In 1988, I was attending Oregon State University studying to become a music teacher and working at the campus computerlab.

Des was teaching beading classes at an experimental college. She had done some rough drawings of diagrams for a stitch and I said, “Let me take that to the lab and make it real nice for you”. Well, one thing led to another and six months later, Guide to Beadwork was finished.

At first we sold it locally and at craft fairs. Later we took a trip from Washington to California and back looking up every beadstore we could find in our path. Many bead store owners recommended a certain major bead supplier and eventually, they picked it up and over the next eight years sold over 8,000 copies.

Guide To Beadwork set a new industry standard when it was first published which was a big factor in its early success. It was the first how-to beaded jewelry book with a graphic for every single step along with no abbreviations and complete sentences for the text as well as an index and a glossary. These were all industry firsts.

As the text was composed, our driving philosophy was that if there was a choice between insulting your intelligence and possibly allowing something to be not totally clear, the book insulted your intelligence. Children as young as ten are easily able to complete all seven stitches with only the book as a guide. Nowadays there are a great many very good how-to books that use the format we pioneered. This is quite gratifying to me, however, along with market saturation, it has been one of the causes for a gradual decline in sales of the printed version.

Sales began to slow in 1999 until large quantity printings were no longer cost-effective. Hurricane Andrew then wiped out the remaining 1,500 copies which were in our printer’s warehouse in Florida. I decided to discontinue printing the book and place its entire contents online in the Fall of 2000, free for all to use. My plan was to try and generate some revenue through banner ads on the book pages. Traffic to GTB literally exploded at this time growing to a quarter-million hits per month by the beginning of 2001.

There was still some interest in the printed version, even after the entire book was posted online. I decided to do small print runs and make the printed version available again in 2002. The price is $24.95 plus shipping and you may send email if you are interested in procuring it. Quantity discounts are also available.

Greg’s WEBMASTER History

GTB.com has been a hobby and education for me during its existence since 1996. I now average between three and four hours per day maintaining it. This includes about one new store and a few updates. Averaged in are the monthly and quarterly tasks such as banner, active-text-link and wholesale click-through reports as well as the monthly newsletters.

Web log analysis has always been a serious avocation and key to GTB’s success, trafficwise at least. I’m always learning surprising new things (which I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you). I’ve programmed utilities that analyze them every which way. It takes the computer about two and a half hours to analyze a single day of traffic (over 20,000 hits). Downloading them and running the analysis are part of my daily routine as well. Besides generating the monthly reports, they allow me to catch minor errors quickly (my own typos usually) among many other things.

Success can be measured different ways. At about eight million hits per year as of the last update, GTB is a fantastic unexpected success trafficwise. I am very proud of it and it remains a labor of love. The one thing I CAN tell you (without having to kill you) is that I believe I have learned the value of giving something away for free just because you love doing it.

Financial success has been much slower, but it’s growth has also been steady. Last time I figured it out, I was making a little over four dollars an hour, but I am still optimistic for the future. I am constantly trying to improve the website and try out new ways of supporting my work without compromising the free nature of the online book and retail bead store lists which is so vital to the website’s success in my opinion.

I am the first to admit that I am NOT an astute businessperson. This is certainly another factor in GTB’s slow revenue growth. Your ideas are always welcome.