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Threads, Prefixes & Order Oh My!

I am celebrating a little. While we don’t have thousands of people on the forum each day, we do have those that are dedicated. It’s what drives me to sit in front of my computer for 10 hours stretches at a time and organize 5-8 sections at a time. I have finally finished the following sections this weekend.

  1. Medical & Health – 100%
  2. Growing 101 – 100%
  3. Indoor Growing – 100%
  4. Advertising & Marketing – 100%
  5. General Industry Q & A – 100%

Ted's MarijuanaI continued by adding some new things to the directory, a couple surveys and events along with little things behind the scene to help me out. This is by far the #1 challenging website I have ever built since 2001. It’s for a good cause and if I help anyone by doing this then I have made a lot of change. I plan on doing much more as well so the site can be almost complete by November.

This is not a long ramble. I want to keep it short since I am ready to give my eyes a break. I just wanted to say hello, I love all of you and stay lifted. ~ Ted

Update: I finished all of it after 6 weeks. It was worth the effort.

October, Gains, And Friends In The Community

Ted's MarijuanaI just want to start this off by saying thank you to the members that keep coming back and making this journey a special one. Some have been here for a couple years even and that in itself is enough to keep me going. This includes members like @friendswithbears that keep me going when I didn’t think I had a shot at making this into a community.

Each day I check in and see a new member or 2 which gives me hope. In the past, Nikki and I would sign people up if they showed interested in being a member. That of course stopped the surge in membership which was fine for me. I realized that people that took the steps in registering were the ones that took the time to post and maintain their accounts. It was a bit of a blow going from 60 new members a day to 1 or 2. Then it becomes a question of quantity over quality, and I am a quality type of guy.

It’s October again and It’s now been 1 year that Nikki came on board. We went from 130’sh members to what we have today. So much more content and places for people to contribute to. So I wanted to theme this ramble on membership, where we have been in the last 12 months and hopefully where we are going.

In the last 12 months these things happened:

  • We added the newsletter in Jan 2016.
  • We added the Wiki, Articles, FAQs, Groups, and chat.
  • Over 5200 members joined.
  • Our social media pages have grown to amazing numbers and we get hundreds of tweets/day.
  • Upgraded to a VPS for faster load times.
  • Prepped the Calendar and surveys.
  • Added 5 new themes people can use.
  • Built 35 user groups to highlight those who help.
  • Rebuilt over 30 categories with prefixes for better search and sort.

These are some of the ones I can think of just off the top of my head. You will notice that a lot has happened in a short period of time and I truly don’t know if we will continue the same pace of not.

I do know that I have met some of the most incredible people that made the last year even more entertaining. In 2017 I hope to start meeting members as I do a bit of traveling. I want to make that a years of friendships and take lots of pictures and more. I am a bit excited and I hope the community is as well. It’s not the easiest world to be in with the death of forums for social media instead, but the ones that really want a community they could call home will stay.

As you can see, October is a special month for TMF. It’s not our birth date, but it’s when we grew up a bit. We all know that there are bigger communities out there and we are a small tadpole in the ocean of marijuana media. That doesn’t mean we can’t get to a level to where Google search result include us or build the reach we have been waiting for. There is a lot of possibilities over the next 12 months.

The things I want to focus on in the coming year is getting out and traveling and meeting members, having a regular newsletter on a weekly or monthly basis, and I want to continue putting up content that people want to read. All of those are really big items to tackle and I am up for the challenge. I would love to hear from you on what the last year and the year going forward looks like. Have we done a good job? Is this forum worth the venture? Have you enjoyed the things we have done? Are we missing anything?

I just wanted to add some of my thoughts since it’s been a while. It’s been busy over the past 4-6 weeks personally but I have been here every day looking for ways to improve. There is so much more to do, and I am excited to take on new challenges with all the members.

Slumps, Dumps And Trumps

Ted's MarijuanaWell it is that time of the morning that I want to write a bit and share some thoughts with everyone. On a side note, I am considering opening up a few spots for other ramblers that have points to make in this fashion. Maybe a small user groups called the Ramblers…I kinda like that. I will consider my own suggestion after going through the matrix to see if it makes sense. That’s this matrix that I use:

Workflow

So let’s start with the slumps. In the last 15 years of web work I have always noticed a drop in the summer for traffic to websites. It happens in sales such as Amazon and eBay as well. Well I am holding strong because this is my first real summer with TMF growing. People are on vacation, hanging out and enjoying the summer. Our traffic is down, but the content is still coming in and people are still joining. That is one of the upsides. We use to ask people if they would like an account made for them and usually it’s a yes with no follow up. We stopped and people are joining on their own.

So I keep track daily of traffic to see if there are things I can tweak to make things better, and often the answer is time. Throwing money at it might help a little bit, but that’s a waste. I want people to join and be a part of this community because they want to be. So we are experience some slumps right now and I am not worried. It happens everywhere during this time of the year.

The dumps is a mix bag. For the first time ever I decided to take the account that were never used and unsubscribed from the newsletter and delete them after sending them an email. In the email I noted what my intentions were and gave 48 hours for a response. The good news is I got a response, the bad news is that it was only to tell me to go fuck myself. I still appreciated the response.

So I deleted 59 accounts a few weeks ago and I am going to continue deleting unused account because they don’t do any good except make the numbers look inflated. So I am dumping unused accounts that don’t want to be contacted and don’t want to sign in and check things out.

My job is to grow the community, add great content, and to develop the best website that I can. I believe I have been doing that. Nikki has been pounding away on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, and Soundcloud to mention a few. I have been going strong on Twitter and writing. It might be time for some SEO work though.

The last part of this is Trump. I don’t care for this man or heard a policy that I agree with, but that doesn’t mean I am hating anyone that identifies with him. You pick and vote for whoever you want and believe in and I will do the same. My social accounts are nothing but Trump, anti-BLM, or Hillary and I just scroll on by each day. I just wanted to say that at the end of the day, the President has limited power and we don’t usually see the effects of a president for several years after they leave office.

If you are for Trump then I am fine with that. If you are not for Trump then all the reshares about him is probably not going to change your mind. So I wanted to end this with saying please vote for who you think is qualified, sharing less is sometimes more, and I understand the BLM movement and it’s more than some groups are giving it credit for. I followed it all from the start so I get it. Those police officers that lost their lives will never be forgotten. Those unarmed black people that died are also not forgotten.

So many lives didn’t have to end in they we they have and it’s divided many and fueled others. I want to recap this one more time:

  • Vote for whoever you believe is the best.
  • No lives should be ended early.
  • Black Lives Matter is more than most understand.
  • Summer is slow for all websites.

Hopefully you know I wasn’t trying to make this political, racial, or anything else. We have had a few bad weeks in the US that has touched so many. I firmly believe in many of these cases marijuana could have changed outcomes and views. I just wanted to say I love you for whatever you believe and I hope you actively search for information to continue making informed decisions.

Finally, thank you to all who have helped grow this community. I am humbled everyday when I log in to see new accounts and great posts. Nikki and I can’t do this alone and we know it. So a very big thank you to everyone!

It’s June & I Haven’t Rambled In A While

Ted's MarijuanaHello to all! Where did May go? Anyways, I am doing well and Nikki has been very busy. Since the last Ramble a lot has changed. I have the Wiki up, put in a new chat system, added more FAQ’s and I sent out 1 or 2 newsletters. I have finally built the emails and confirmation pages for all of it. Let’s just say it’s been crazy.

I have been silent a bit because my mother was admitted to the hospital because of liver issues. I have been focusing on making sure she is good. I lost my dad and I want to be here for my mom as much as I can. So I am heading home in a few days and there is so much I have to get done.

I built a new area of the site for surveys, quizzes, and feedback. It’s mostly invite only, but as I build it out I will try to link out public ones. I want to gather anonymous feedback in making the site better. I wanted to make sure people had a way to tell me why the unsubbed from a newsletter or what they think about a topic. More to come on that one though.

I am slowly removing the Team TMF group. There are 3 members left on the team and either they will stop being here or become moderators. I am going in that direction for now. I need to explain how to become a moderator in a separate post so people know what I am looking for. I had hoped that by have a Team TMF that we could build an even stronger community. I was wrong, but I did find those members that truly want to make this a better place. I thank them for everything they do.

On the social front I have turned over the account to Nikki mostly because of my mother being sick. She is learning by fire. She has to learn what to look for, avoid spam, and replying to people. Things there will get better. At the same time I need to focus on other platforms as well. We are continuing to grow so that makes it easy for me to be happy with the slow progress.

My next piece of business here is to build a calendar for events that are going on to include ballot votes, activism, and more. We need that info and I want all members to add to it. I am also going to remove some of the forums that get little to no use. This will include the sales, discount forum. It’s funny because some complained and I gave it to them. As soon as I decided to let them have it no one used it. Odd, but that’s the way it went. Eliminating some areas will be better I think.

There is still a lot going on and I am staying busy to make this community awesome. Let’s keep things rolling and hopefully the membership will continue to grow. I decided to pull the unconfirmed group from the numbers because it skews it. I don’t want to look bigger than what we really are. It’s about the quality. So I will be working on the sidebars over the next few days. I ripped out the old system and I want to rebuild it with better information.

That’s a short ramble, but I am here and putting 110% forward. Thank you 1000 times over for your support!

Bounced Emails, Being Anonymous & Security

Ted's MarijuanaI want to open this up saying that I hate giving my email out to people. There is one thing I am grateful for though. When I was a teenager I always had to go get the mail out of the box. Snail mail SPAM was a huge thing back then. We had to manually dispose of it and much hopefully has returned to the earth in landfills by now, but takes resources. Resources to send, deliver, receive, and throw away. Email SPAM is a delete button. How lucky are we? Well that depends on whether or not you lived through physical SPAM or not.

Here’s the deal though, as much as you hate giving me your email, I hate taking your email. I don’t want it, but what can I do? I suppose I could start over and build Reddit but that’s not where I am. I don’t want your personal information. I want just enough so you can be you (or not), and enough to where I have some level of security.

I don’t even love sending newsletters, but I have to. It’s the only way for me to get members to come back and remember they signed up. So you can see I have a crossroads. I don’t market it to you, sell your information, or anything else. Your email is for you to login, reset a password, and to receive 1-2 newsletters from me a month. You can delete both if you choose to.

This week I removed 115 bounced emails to inactive. That wasted those folks that responded on Twitter, Nikki’s efforts to set up the accounts, and my time for inactivating them. If you are one of those 115 and want to give me a real email address I will be happy to fix it for you. That’s the bounced ones.

Then there is the unsubscribes, but these I honestly have little feeling about. You have every right to opt out of the newsletter. It’s an option during registration and your preferences for a reason. You don’t like emails from me then cool. I just hate when it’s marked as SPAM or unsubscribed through the email. Amazon uses it as a trust measure and each time it happens it hurts my standing. That is the only issue I have with the 37 of you that took that road. So I have 37 marks against my account.

The SPAM marks are the ones that are like a gun to the head of an Amazon account. The 5 people who mark it as and said to Amazon that I am a Spammer are jerks. I perma-banned them. They may never use my community again for the level of disrespect.

I know, “Damn Ted, you’re getting all emotional about emails and shit”. Ya, I am. I don’t want to be though. I would rather you be anonymous and remember to come back once in a while to say hi. Nikki asked yesterday about getting enough new members yesterday for the site. I told her that I honestly don’t have a hard number for her to sign up. I only want people who want to be a part of this. Numbers don’t mean shit if they never show up. I could just script a addon that makes tens of thousands of accounts and brag about the numbers.

100 members that sign up and never contribute mean nothing. I would rather have 5 that contribute and back a few times a month. I want you to know that if you think I have something to sell you, want to sell your information, or have an agenda…I don’t. I mapped out my intent in this ramble to help you understand my goal.

Pivot to Another Ramble

No ads, no sponsors, no affiliates was my last ramble. How will I make money? Bitcoin donations, selling merch, maybe running a 24-hour telethon or something creative. I have thought about user upgrades or business upgrades like offering a signature link or something in return for money. My costs are low for now. Here is what I pay for:

  • Server: $70/month
  • Nikki: Salary not disclosed, but well compensated for her time, and volunteers a lot!
  • Designer: $10-$200/month depending on workload
  • Licenses for Software: Avg $50/month

That’s it. Only Nikki and I run all of the social media pages. She gives probably 60-100 hours a week I am willing to bet. She is amazing and deserves a boatload of credit. I pay the expenses myself for now. I don’t know if this site will go under my currently LLC or if I will setup a separate one for it.

You need this full context to know what my angle is. I don’t need much to cover my expenses. Maybe a few dollars to take the Mrs out for a nice dinner to make up for the hours I put in, but that’s about it.

So when you ask why I need your email, this is why. I don’t want it, but it’s how the software works. I have the check box for you to post anonymously if need be. Anonymous posting works fine on 4chan. I am not like the other cannabis websites. That’s the ramble. If you read to this point thank you for your time. It’s valued.

No Cost, No Affiliates, No Money Exchange

Ted's MarijuanaThis is my morning ramble from Asia while I am finishing my tea. Another company offered me a great affiliate offer and most people would have been “fuck ya!”, but I was not. The truth is that I can’t take money at the moment. This isn’t a business, this isn’t something that I am after solely for money. I am doing this to help others and build a megaphone. Sure, I would mind a little cash, but that will come later.

You don’t have to pay me for a directory listing or ad space. I don’t want to be that kind of site. I want to be a site that lives from merch sales, donations, or something else. Maybe I am naive at the moment and being too liberal. My sole focus is to build a membership and a reason for people to come back to the community often.

I should make it clear that maybe in a year from now I will have like a t-shirt sale or something to help spread the word and finance the server and other stuff. That’s not today though and I don’t want to play it off like I will never monetize the community. At this moment in time it’s not about that and I will never put adds on the site. I don’t want the site to be cluttered or look like money is the only reason to exist. I am a firm believer that if I build something awesome then the people will support if they want.

You don’t have to give me money for anything here. If you want to thank me for the effort then share the site on social or get a friend to signup. That’s how you can say thanks if you feel the need.

I will say that Nikki does get paid to help me on Twitter to bring in new members so there is a cost. I also pay about $70/month for the server and there is a bit of cost with other things like graphics and time. All of that will be covered down the line. I account for every dollar I invest into this project.

My goal is to be transparent and keep things rolling on with the community having a say. There is always that thought in the back of my mind that one day someone is going to tell me that I have to do it this way or that way. I just hope I don’t have to apologize for going back on the words I use today. I would imagine that many website owners go through this phase. I think I have enough ideas in my head to make it better than other forums.

We’ll see…

Let’s Ramble On The Progress We’ve Made

Ted's MarijuanaAs of this ramble we are at 3, 274 members. Last week I sent out a newsletter when we hit 3K. That’s a healthy amount of progress. I changed the registration page to have better notes such as registering with a real email address. I had searched to see how many people haven’t confirmed their email address and it was 18. I resent the emails in hopes that I could reduce that number. People give fake emails for good reason. However, I need them to send newsletters and create an account. I thought about going the Reddit route and allow just a username and password, but we aren’t like Reddit. I wish we were…I love that site.

I also fixed a bit of the styling, setup out Google Plus page and YouTube channel. I plan on starting with how-to use the site videos. That might help some people that get overwhelmed with the site. I know it seems like a lot, but I promise it’s not.

I played around with business account functions as well, but that one will take additional time to apply. I have so many goals yet it’s only me developing this place with available tools from the net. Nikki holds down the fort on Twitter, but I still have to answer many of the questions or deeper conversations. I also added more questions to the FAQ section.

I had a reply from the newsletter from someone that recommended that I put more information into them. I may create a second newsletter for that purpose. The newsletter is two-fold. I want to send information that you might like to hear, but also to remind you to come back and participate. It works for the most part. I usually get a 10-30% open rate. It all depends on the title. I have only sent our 4 newsletters since the beginning of the year and only 5 people have marked it as spam. It hurt a little bit, but I banned their accounts to make sure I didn’t bother them every again. Please either unsubscribe in your user accounts if you don’t want them, or if you changed your mind, click subscribe. I might have to manually adjust that though. Each one is a mark against my account on Amazon though so that kind of pisses me off but what can you do?

Moving on, I really want to add some good stuff. I have some pages I am currently dressing up with HTML and they will be uploaded and public this weekend. I need to fix the navigation so it’s easier to use as well. For the directory I am waiting for Google Maps integration and then I will help businesses add their stores.

I still haven’t done the St. Patricks day theme. It’s just been so busy. I got the next set of images uploaded in the albums I created and on the Facebook and Pinterest pages. All of this stuff gets done as I find the time so please bare with me. I am always open to suggestions and improvements, but sometimes I have to be reminded so if I didn’t answer or implement something please ask my why.

Team TMF is 4 people now. I had to focus on the folks that are present and doing things. I just want to give them a shoutout and say that this is getting better and most of it is because of their contributions. If you want to join the Team let me know. Please don’t join if you don’t have time though.

Okay last thing is that I hope things are getting better. I always look for feedback so I can make things better. In most cases I am shooting from the hip, but I have gotten some member feedback that really helps. I hope to add the first moderator in May or June. That will give me time to see who is on that path. Thank you for being here. I know there are much bigger forums to be in so I understand that I need to be humble and continue so to build a truly beautiful community. Punch me if I am not doing the right things too. I need that sometimes.

Until the next ramble, stay high 🙂

Refining Directory Listing & Highlighting Businesses

Ted's MarijuanaA theme this week is a constant new message in my inbox. Companies, organizations, and marketing companies are beginning to find TMF and that’s awesome because I know that we are growing enough for people to care. Nikki has been awesome in making that happen too. She grinds away at sending messages to soon-to-be members.

We will cross 3,000 members before the end of this month as well. It’s exciting to say the least. It validates efforts. The challenge is finding the right people that can contribute as volunteers on the Team TMF. People have asked and of course I love them for wanting to give back. I want to thank all of them for their efforts. I think this month that has been my one thing I am really thankful for.

Over the last week I had David from a German company called Cannaseur email back and forth with me and it was exciting to see a company putting out something different than clothes or grinders. I checked out his site and they make beautiful humidors for cannabis. I wanted to highlight companies like this that are different and cater to the true “cannabis snob” in the crowd. I mean that in a positive way. I am a beer snob and I prefer premium brews.

I decided to create a directory listing for him and realized what a mess I have created. So I want to apologize to the members at large for doing a shitty job on the directory. I mean it isn’t all garbage, it just needs some love and I am using David’s company as a template for future business listings. I am going through and trying to design the content that I want to be open for each listing. The directory is actually a really important piece to all of this.

I firmly believe the directory is important to all of us. I want to bring those organizations, businesses, and other areas to the masses. I want to do it in a stylish way too. As I am working on this over the next couple week please feel free to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. Nikki can keep churning away on Twitter while I maintain the site. This is an effort that is getting bigger by the day and it makes me smile.

So just a simple thank you and a note from me saying I am around and tinkering with the site as usual. Give some love to Team TMF when you see them. Please hold them to a higher standard too. I already told them that I am a stickler on quality content and I refuse to keep garbage content on this site. I’d like to think I run a respectful cannabis community around here!

Probably The Most Under-rated Part Of The Show

Ted's MarijuanaIt’s been a few days since I have rambled and I couldn’t think of much to ramble about except I just did it to my wife all morning rambling about education, religion, science, and other topics. I was telling of the successes that have been happening here. Here we sit nearing 2500 members. The only issue that I am working on solving is getting those 2500 members back again, again, and again.

Newsletters have to come out once a week and have meat to them, so I am amping up my content game. I have been so busy on social, I forget quickly about the awesomeness we have here.

The directory has been used a little bit. The majority of the submissions haven’t been high-quality but I accept that it’s because I set the bar to low. I think when we hit the 10,000 mark it will become an important place to be listed. It’s hard though because I built it, so shouldn’t they come? I am kidding of course. It takes time, constant development and care.

So many of you are here because of the social media efforts. Now that you are here I need to find out what I can do to keep you coming back. Why is this place important to you. My gut says content. The directory is a part of that content just as much as the media aspect.

If you have a business, a group, a whatever that fits into the directory and can create a well done submission, you will reap the most amount of benefits. The older the submission, the more the system weights your efforts on getting in here early. The directory is getting that sweet Google Map upgrade shortly as well.

The other piece I am working on building out is “jobs”. I want to give members a banner for contributing to areas they like. I want to give you props for being awesome here. Tell me how I can make you a regular. I know you can’t. You become a regular once you build relationships and there is a constant flow on content and talk.

I will say that this weekend I am doing a newsletter. If you don’t want to receive it then I respect that, but you might want to opt-out in your profile now before I send it. I try to send out something nice in my newsletters so it shouldn’t hurt to open it. I am loving what TMF is turning out to be. I hope you are as well.

2,000 Deep Around Here

Ted's MarijuanaWe accomplished our 2,000 member mark yesterday and I celebrated with some high fives. It’s exciting to see something your passionate grow. I have been churning social media, building content, and asking people to join and an overwhelming people say yes. It’s funny to get some of the replies that ask if I am trying to trick them for their email addresses so I can spam them. I can assure everyone that I am not going to spam. I actually feel guilty for sending a newsletter out like I just did a few minutes ago. It’s for good cause though.

The last one I did, I had 2 people mark then as spam. I was like “You literally said yes to joining!” but instead I just banned their accounts. I can’t loose sleep over it. Some people join just to say yes or support which is really cool. I am more about substance and not numbers though. Not to say numbers are not cool…they are.

I am wanting to build a wiki and a database tracking marijuana around the globe. These will come along soon enough. I have to debate whether or not I am going to use WordPress in conjunction with the forum. I really don’t want to but this is the tech side of what I do.

I want to make a bunch or cool things but I know we need balance because too much is too much sometimes. Just let me know when we get there. I am really excited about the growth.

I want to end this with any visitor reading that if you give a fake email address to us during registration the forum automatically blocks your account until a legit email address gets entered. It’s cool people want to support, but it does nothing when we can’t communicate. Anyways, I hope everyone has an awesome day. I will be out for much of it but I will check email and whatnot later.