Frequent visitors to the site (is anyone actually a frequent visitor?) have probably seen an unexpected page upon visiting brfinewoodworking.com over the last week or so. That’s because I’ve decided to do some housekeeping and make some changes to things around here. You see for the last couple of years, this site has been kind of a mishmash of the blog, the audio podcast, an occasional video, sometimes a tool store, a place to find out about my classes, and also a landing page for anyone looking to commission a piece from me. In short, other than it being woodworking related, it was kind of a mess, and lacked any real identity. So I felt it was time for a bit of re-branding. Well, maybe re-branding isn’t really the right term, how about refocusing.
As I thought about my message from the last episode of the audio podcast and the blog post that succeeded that podcast, I felt that I should continue that narrowing of focus across the website and try to figure out what I really wanted this site to become. Now that I think I have it more-or-less figured out, I give you the new [and improved??] brfinewoodworking.com.
If you’ve just landed on this post from a link, feed or reader, I invite you to look around the updated site a little and let me know what you think. At first glance, you’d think I had just reorganized the existing content. For the most part, you’d be correct. But the new look also makes it clear that this is a site for instructional content (and not a tool store, or a place to look for commissions). What I’m hoping is that the way things are organized now will help visitors to the site to better find the information and content that they’re looking for, and make it easier for me to add some new and exciting features in the future. Here’s a look at what I’ve done and what I’m hoping to do moving forward.
New Home Page
The new home page has been designed to tell visitors that this is an instructional site. All of the portfolio images and links and pages have been removed. I wanted to provide visitors with an easier way to find the content that they are looking for rather than just having to go to the blog and scroll back through chronological blog posts. The search function on the blog worked pretty well, and that function is still there at the bottom of the page, but by giving written articles, audio podcasts and videos each their own landing pages, I’m hoping to make things a bit easier to navigate. I’ve also re-categorized and tagged every article, podcast, and video on the site to hopefully make it more convenient to find information on a particular subject. A drop-down is also available at the bottom of the page so that visitors can browse by category.
New Grid Layout for Post Archives
Rather than just having a scrolling list of blog posts, I’ve also switched over to a grid layout. This should provide visitors with a better snapshot of the content and, consistent with the theme here, make it easier to find what they’re looking for.
An Updated Classes Page
I’ve [finally] updated the Classes page, which had not been updated since my last class at the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts back in the spring of 2017. After that class, it was full steam ahead on the new cabin build, so classes kind of took a back seat to everything else. Now that the cabin is [mostly] done and we’re [mostly] settled in it, I can get back to doing more teaching. I’m excited to be developing a new series of classes that I want to offer called Foundations of Traditional Woodworking. I’ve put general information about the series and links to the individual class pages on the Classes page. For now I’ll be offering this series in my own shop on a private class basis (contact me to schedule one of the classes). In the future, I hope to offer the series at the local woodworking school as well, in a more traditional group class setting. Of course personalized private classes are still available too, and the Classes page has details about those as well.
No More Store or Portfolio
I’ve had mixed feelings about the e-commerce section of the site since adding it several years ago. On the one hand, it provided me with a space to sell excess tools and small projects without having to pay a 10% commission (on the item and the shipping) to eBay. While this was a minor success, my “shop” obviously doesn’t have the reach that a site like eBay has. So while I would often get a rush of tool sales after first announcing new items being listed for sale, the tools that didn’t sell in the first day or two would just sit there until I got tired of holding on to them and listed them on eBay. Also, I haven’t been able to figure out the e-commerce shipping calculator. While it worked fine for single item sales, it seemed to really overcharge for shipping when multiple items were added to the cart. This either scared folks away from buying at all, or it meant I had to provide a partial refund of the shipping charges after shipping the items because the system charged $25 for shipping when it was only $9 to ship. So I’m done with shopping cart software. It’s just too much of a headache to set up and maintain. I’ll just sell excess tools through blog posts, eBay and Instagram from here on out.
As for the portfolio, as mentioned above, the home page has been updated to remove the old photo slider that showed some of my work. I’ve also removed the Portfolio pages, and updated the navigation menu as a result. Again, I want this site to have an educational/informational focus. I thought that having the portfolio of some of my past work was just not consistent with the future of the site. Therefore, I’ve started building a separate website for my commission and spec work. Once that site is done, it will showcase some of my past work, provide a place for me to sell my new work, and it will give me a site to send potential clients that is solely about the finished pieces and not about the how-to. While I don’t expect most folks who visit here will have any interest in that site, you will be able to find it at bobrozaieski.com once it goes live.
Plans for the Future
So what does the redesign mean for the future of the site? Well, I’m planning to continue to add lots of new content.
First, I plan to migrate and update the content from my old Logan Cabinet Shoppe blog. There are a lot of folks who are new to the site that are unfamiliar with the work that I did in my previous woodworking life in New Jersey. Plus, some of those older articles need to be revisited and updated a bit. I also get visited by a lot of new woodworkers so I want to make sure that the content that I had posted on my old blog gets over here, even though it might be old news to some of you. So if you see new articles that look disturbingly familiar to you, don’t think that you’re having a bad flashback. You’ve probably seen them before.
Second, I want to get a lot of my existing YouTube content put back up on the site. While you can always go to YouTube to find it, embedding it here provides one stop shopping and allows me to categorize, tag, and archive it consistent with my other content (plus there are no videos in the “Projects” category right now so I need to remedy that). So again, if you see new posts of old videos, that’s why. But hey, maybe you’ll rediscover an old gem that you forgot about.
In terms of new video content, I do plan to get back to making videos as soon as I can. I’ve got lots of ideas and lots of projects to do that I think would make good video content. I have also been thinking about making some long-form (like several hours long) how-to project videos that would be offered as premium (i.e. pay per project) content. I’ve gotten a lot of requests for this in the past, and now that we’re finally moved in to our new house, I can start planning that out in a little more detail. It’s still a ways off on the horizon, but it’s something I am keeping in mind as a possible future addition to the site. So if premium video content is something you’d be interested in, do let me know.
Finally, regarding the audio podcast, I have no immediate plans of releasing any new audio shows. However, I’ve been around long enough to know to never say never. So for now, the audio podcast is safely archived here, and if I ever get bored and feel like I want to talk to myself for an hour or so, and record the conversation, I’ll have a place to put the recording.
So that’s it for now. Let me know what you think of the redesign in the comments below, and look for new (and old) content in the near future.