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Building Shepherd - 2021 + Stats Update

1,095 authors have turned in a book list for Shepherd or committed to writing one(amazing 😃).

June 14th - June 25th.
2021 Roadmap
I’ve continued to work on mapping out plans for the rest of 2021. And, I’ve started to create detailed specs for the developer (for when he gets back from vacation next month).
What specifically?
  • I spent a lot of time rethinking how topic pages will work. I did not like the original method I was going to use to assign books to topics. And, I am going to look at using NLP to help me classify individual books to topics. This is complex, but I think it is worth the investment given the importance of this feature. I still have a lot of reading to do here.
  • Working on the UI/UX & mockups for the search feature with our designer.
  • Working on new card formats to show off individual books and book lists with the designer. These will be used on Shelves (which is what we call topic pages). There are examples below of what these might look like.
  • Fixing some small SEO issues.
  • Testing a switch to sentence style instead of using all caps for the titles. We found that increased readability and we are switching the book list titles over to that style (plus some other parts of the website). I hope to finish this switch in the next two weeks and all newly published lists will use this format.
  • Getting a spec ready so that we can add an image to unique promo types. In addition to featuring books on the website, we can also feature YouTube videos, non-profits, podcasts, and so on.
My goal for the end of 2021 is to have the key features that make the website more complete and usable. Those being a vastly improved front page, topic pages, and search.
P.S. Below are some mockups of the new card formats I am playing with.
New card format for the upcoming Shelf feature (Shelf = Topic Pages)
New card format for the upcoming Shelf feature (Shelf = Topic Pages)
Playing with a new card format for showing off book lists.
Playing with a new card format for showing off book lists.
Stats Fun...
Over the last 30 days…
We have had ~19,000 unique visitors.
We have had 1,300 unique visitors from Google. That is up from the previous period by ~145%. It can take as much as a year for Google to start ranking you, so this is a good sign as we work toward that date.
We have sold $10,000+ USD of books in the last 30 days. Although that figure is probably higher since Amazon only gives us credit if someone orders the book within 24 hours.
The most clicked book over the last 30 days is this one on finding 100 baggers in the stock market. This is from a fantastic book list on finding big winners in the stock market.
I’d like to be selling $10,000 USD of books each day and that is what I am working toward achieving :).
What else is going on?
I had a good call with Chris at Lexile.com. I am looking at using their database to make recommendations to parents around reading ages for children’s books. It is expensive to license this data, so I can’t do it any time soon… But hopefully next year I can integrate that data in as we get closer to launching a full section around children’s books. This is one of my frustrations with book data, there are other things I’d like to integrate such as BISAC categories but the data is incredibly expensive to license.
My wife and I got our appointments to get our first vaccine shot here in Portugal (in early July). We are very excited to get those!
My wife watched as the director of my son’s pre-school locked a 3-year-old inside the school, *without any supervision*, while the rest of the class had story time outside. When confronted she knew she screwed up but then got very defensive. It was an easy decision to leave that school given how unacceptable that is. So our son is back home for now, and we toured a wonderful school yesterday that is focused on outdoor play.
I hope everyone has a great weekend,
Thanks, Ben
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Ben Fox

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