In the past few weeks I have been making some changes to BloopAnimation.com. It might not have been noticeable to newcomers, or even to some veteran readers since the changes are small and subtle, but they are significant to me, in the direction I intend to take the Bloop brand towards.
In this post I’d like to go over the changes I have made and explain the logic and philosophies behind them. This is not about animation, but I think it would make an interesting read non the less.
The state of mind that directed all these changes is focusing on improved user experience, increasing overall quality, and centralizing all products and courses in one place, turning Bloop Animation into a much larger platform.
Comments and Forums
As I’ve announced a few weeks ago, I’ve implemented a new Forums system on the site, where people can go and post their questions and comments. It has been getting traction slowly but surely.[UPDATE: We have since replaced the forum system with our online Slack community.
In addition to that, I’ve decided to completely remove any comment section from the website. No more on site or Facebook comments anywhere.
Why did I do that? Well, I felt like I didn’t want the last impression the reader has was someone else’s opinion. A reader goes through an entire article only to then be left with whatever the latest commenter said as the final words. I wanted the final words to be mine. This is a concept inspired by Sean McCabe of seanwes.com.
So what if you do want to leave a comment? Well, that’s what the new forum system is for. See how that works?
As of now Bloop Animation is (and always will be) ads free. Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed that I even had ads for that long. The ads served their purpose when I first launched the site as a way to generate a small amount of revenue to keep the lights up, but since launch Bloop has turned into a much larger business, and the ads revenue isn’t worth the price of having them.
And what’s the price for having them? A much cheaper look for the whole site. Say what you want, but having ads on a site cheapens it. It’s ok if you’re a magazine and that’s your only source of income. People expect that. But on Bloop I have begun launching products, books, courses and such. Having ads between products didn’t make sense anymore, so they are now officially removed.
Sorry it took so long.
Consolidation of Pages
Some pages on the navigation bar were simply not important to keep anymore.
There used to be a “Videos” tab, which had all the playlists from the Bloop YouTube channel, but barely anyone checked it out, since you can simply watch these videos directly on YouTube. That page has been removed.
The Resources page has been removed, and have been added to the Start Here page. The Start Here page is now a one-stop-shop for beginners and new readers to get all the essential articles, videos and resources for getting started.
A new Products Page
Bloop now has a new store page (titled “Products“) in which you can find all the books, courses, films and other digital product we have in one place.
Treating Bloop as One Big Platform (Centralizing)
In the past year or so I’ve released several digital products including books and courses. They were somewhat scattered around different places.
The ebook (Animation For Beginners) was sold on both Bloop Animation and Amazon. There was also an Animation For Beginners Course that was sold separately. That didn’t feel right to me, since they both have the same content only in different mediums. Why not sell them as one big package? So now you can buy the Animation For Beginners ebook, which is bundled with all the video lessons from the Animation For Beginners Course.
I’ve also removed the book from all other third-party publishers like Amazon and iBooks. From now on, Bloop will be the only place to get it.
the courses were sold on Udemy.com as well as directly on Bloop, but when bought on Bloop the student was then taken to a different site (bloopanimationcourses.com) for logging in and actually taking the course. That was done because of technical reasons. In a nutshell – it was easier building a course system on its own site.
I’ve now built an entire new platform for purchasing, logging-in and taking courses DIRECTLY on Bloopanimation.com without ever leaving the site. The user experience was drastically improved and all users are now located under one roof.
I’ve also decided to remove the courses from Udemy, despite the loss of revenue that was being generated from them, and sell them exclusively on BloopAnimation.com. That decision is part of the overall mind shift I’ve been trying to implement, in which I don’t use middle-men or third-party sites, but instead have all the products being sold directly on the site.
New User system
As you might have noticed, there’s a new “Account” tab on the navigation bar. That’s part of the new user system. Now, registered users can access their purchases (including the courses they enrolled in) in one place. Anyone can create a user, but honestly if you don’t have any purchases it’s not going to do anything.
In the past years I have experimented with different pricing models for my products. I’ve done sales, discounts and prices changes. That was because I was rather new to pricing and these were the first product launches I’ve done. Since then, though, I have learned what works, what doesn’t, and how I intend to price my products.
From now on there will be no price decrease, no special sales or discounts or Holiday specials. Prices will be lower upon launch of a new product, to reward my early adopters (people who have signed up to the email newsletter and will be notified on the product launch) and then the product will go up in price and stay that way. There might be times when I decided to later INCREASE the price, but never decrease it. That is so that people will know that when they are buying my products, they are always doing it for the lower prices it will ever be.
This is a minor change, but I felt that the sidebar has become very cluttered, since every time I had an announcement or a new product I created a banner for it. Over time it got very busy and distracting, so I got rid of all of it.
I now only have essential elements on the sidebar. An email giveaway (the free ebook) YouTube and Facebook buttons (since these are the platforms I’m most active in), a banner for both books and courses (since these are the 2 main categories for the things I sell on the site) and a list of the most popular posts.
Behind the Changes
What I’m trying to do with all these changes is focus on the user. You, the reader. I’m trying to optimize the entire use experience so that I could take my brand to the next level.
And that’s really what all of it is – tightening up the core message of my brand. Focusing on the right audience, people who want to create animation. Make films. Learn.
Some of these changes are costing me money on the short-term. The platform took a lot of time and money to build, removing my products from third-party platforms such as Amazon or Udemy will cause a loss of revenue, but I know that in the long-term I am building something bigger. Having my product and my brand on these different platforms meant I have little control on the experience, pricing and had no way of communicating with my customers.
I don’t usually share business decisions or changes I make on this site, but this time I wanted to communicate how I see things directly to you guys. These changes are all about the long game. I’m building the future of Bloop Animation, and I want you to be a part of it.
Thank you for baring through this long case study, I hope you find it as exciting as I did when I made the changes. If you have comments or any thoughts about this – please write them down in the forums.