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ukeeku
11-22-2011, 07:07 AM
I trust that all of you will give me a straight answer to this question.
I love running Ukeeku.com, but it is a money losing venture. Using something like Google ads is not going to happen since I can not control what is up there. I look for sponsors all the time, and the different makers want to sponsor me, but I can't take their money since it would be a conflict of interest. All I am left with are people outside the ukulele selling world and shops like Elderly to sponsor the site, and none of them see the benifit in my site.

The question is this.
I am thinking about starting a site that just sell ukuleles cases. every size, shape, color, and material. Would this be a conflict of interest?

Please be honest.

olgoat52
11-22-2011, 07:19 AM
I don't think it is a conflict at all. I wouldn't limit it to cases either. Be upfront about your review process. It might be difficult to implement but if you allow customers to post thier own ratings and reviews about products you carry, you don't have to worry so much about the effect of your reviews.

If it helps you break even, go for it.

Ken Middleton
11-22-2011, 07:29 AM
The question is this.
I am thinking about starting a site that just sell ukuleles cases. every size, shape, color, and material. Would this be a conflict of interest?

Please be honest.

No, not at all. You have to work. If you review something that you sell, do what I do and make sure that you tell people that. If you are always fair and honest, even if it is a product you don't sell, people will still trust your judgment.

UncleElvis
11-22-2011, 07:39 AM
I don't see any conflict at all!

I think it'd be a good idea! I don't like you going out of pocket for this, but I see the dilemma.
It'd be like Ken giving a rave review of Ohana ukes. As great as they are (and they are!), it would come across as suspect.

Or me reviewing a Moore Bettah...

Oh, wait. I don't have one of those. Chuck, can you fix that so I can have a conflict of interest? Simply for the sake of this exercise, of course...

itsme
11-22-2011, 07:52 AM
Using something like Google ads is not going to happen since I can not control what is up there.
Actually, with AdSense you do have control over what is displayed. It might take some tweaking and training, but it can be done. :)

rossjr
11-22-2011, 07:53 AM
I really wouldn't worry about it. I surf boards for model building and they sell models, accessories,etc... I also go to camping forums and they do the same thing. Bottom line is the bills have to get paid and you gotta do what you gotta do...

ukeeku
11-22-2011, 07:56 AM
Beside finding more ukes to review at NAMM, I think I will see how I can make it happen. Thanks for all hte feedback.

mr moonlight
11-22-2011, 08:13 AM
There's no conflict of interest when it comes to what you are doing. We all have to make money! It only becomes an issue if you started giving favorable reviews to the companies that advertise with you. If a company wants to advertise with you and you give a poor review of their instrument, they have the choice weather to pull out or not.

hoosierhiver
11-22-2011, 08:16 AM
Specializing in selling ukulele cases might be a good idea. Selling cases has advantages and disadvantages.
On the pro-side, it's pretty easy, no set-up or worries about action, intonation, etc. Generally people don't return them either. Just pack it and ship it. No worrying about temperature or humidity.
On the con-side, you've got to be sure they fit whatever particluar ukulele the customer wants them for, this includes customs, arched backs, etc. To get them cheap, you've got to buy bulk and cases take up alot of room. If you order in bulk from an overseas supplier, you've got to be sure of the quality and fit. Most case manufacturers are luggage makers that don't necessarily see why a quarter inch makes a difference here and there. Cases are heavy and so the shipping is kind of expensive, that means if you buy from overseas, you've got to send them by sea and wait over a month to get them and you're money is tied up in the meanwhile.
Because of the cons, it seems alot of ukuele companies don't offer alot of variety, which could be a big advantage for you. Just thinking out loud. Good luck!

PoiDog
11-22-2011, 08:27 AM
I trust that all of you will give me a straight answer to this question.
I love running Ukeeku.com, but it is a money losing venture. Using something like Google ads is not going to happen since I can not control what is up there. I look for sponsors all the time, and the different makers want to sponsor me, but I can't take their money since it would be a conflict of interest. All I am left with are people outside the ukulele selling world and shops like Elderly to sponsor the site, and none of them see the benifit in my site.

The question is this.
I am thinking about starting a site that just sell ukuleles cases. every size, shape, color, and material. Would this be a conflict of interest?

Please be honest.

Why stop at cases? Seems to me if your site mainly reviews ukes (and it appears that way), why not also offer other uke accessories like strings, straps, tuners, tuning pegs, bridge pins, humidifiers, etc.

Of course, if you are totally honest in your reviews, you could still accept sponsorship from uke manufacturers, provided they understand that you will either a) not review their products or b) will be honest in your evaluations. The only trouble there is the perception of influence and bias, and that can sometimes be as bad as actual bias.

Anyway, best of luck. I enjoy your site and think it is well worth doing what you can to keep it.

allanr
11-22-2011, 08:34 AM
IMHO:

Selling ukes and reviewing ukes is a conflict of interest.

Accepting advertising from a company whose products you review is not necessarily a direct conflict of interest, but nonetheless would put you in a potential conflict of interest and would certainly detract from the credibility of your site.

As for reviewing ukuleles and selling a related product, like cases, there is no conflict of interest whatsoever.

Disclosing a conflict of interest is honest and ethical, but does NOT make the conflict of interest "go away".

ukeeku
11-22-2011, 09:11 AM
IMHO:

Selling ukes and reviewing ukes is a conflict of interest.

Accepting advertising from a company whose products you review is not necessarily a direct conflict of interest, but nonetheless would put you in a potential conflict of interest and would certainly detract from the credibility of your site.

As for reviewing ukuleles and selling a related product, like cases, there is no conflict of interest whatsoever.

Disclosing a conflict of interest is honest and ethical, but does NOT make the conflict of interest "go away".

All I can say is "Yes"
it is tricky and I have stayed away. Maybe I can be my own spnsor in the end.

Uncle Leroy
11-22-2011, 09:38 AM
Sounds like a great idea, no conflict.

mm stan
11-22-2011, 10:24 AM
Yup, sounds like those mighty gears in your Nogin is working overtime...You have found your nitch....just don't do anything on cases and you will be fine...
how about Ukulele acesssories...now there's a thought...Good Luck and Best Wishes...

Pippin
11-22-2011, 10:35 AM
Specializing in selling ukulele cases might be a good idea. Selling cases has advantages and disadvantages.
On the pro-side, it's pretty easy, no set-up or worries about action, intonation, etc. Generally people don't return them either. Just pack it and ship it. No worrying about temperature or humidity.
On the con-side, you've got to be sure they fit whatever particluar ukulele the customer wants them for, this includes customs, arched backs, etc. To get them cheap, you've got to buy bulk and cases take up alot of room. If you order in bulk from an overseas supplier, you've got to be sure of the quality and fit. Most case manufacturers are luggage makers that don't necessarily see why a quarter inch makes a difference here and there. Cases are heavy and so the shipping is kind of expensive, that means if you buy from overseas, you've got to send them by sea and wait over a month to get them and you're money is tied up in the meanwhile.
Because of the cons, it seems alot of ukuele companies don't offer alot of variety, which could be a big advantage for you. Just thinking out loud. Good luck!

Lots of great insight there, Mike.

Pippin
11-22-2011, 10:43 AM
Check for my PM.

bigchiz
11-22-2011, 10:47 AM
I use AdSense on a disc golf website. You might be surprised pleasantly surprised at how it works and your ability have some control on the ad content. Might also be surprised at the money coming once the ads are setup. And, if you try it and still don't like it then just drop them, no charge for that.

http://nebdiscforums.yuku.com/

Dan Uke
11-22-2011, 10:47 AM
Definitely conflict of interest. I can honestly say and I'm sure several others will agree that they bought or buying a particular brand due to your great unbiased review. (Bradford for me)

I would never buy a Koaloha because Herb Ohta Jr. says it's great or Ken Middleton saying Ohana is great. However, I would buy a Koaloha or Ohana because it sounds good and I like Herb and Ken as ukulele players. Maybe one day I buy a "XXXXX" brand because I like Ukeeku's playing.

itsme
11-22-2011, 11:00 AM
Specializing in selling ukulele cases might be a good idea. Selling cases has advantages and disadvantages.

<snip>
You bring up some good points. To be competitively priced, you'd have to do some serious volume, which would involve stocking considerable inventory.

Let's face it, many of us are pretty cheap and will buy from one of the "big box" stores just to save a buck or two. Can you really compete with Amazon or Musician's Friend, etc. based on price?

How about strings? I would love to have a reliable alternative for Worths. Elderly's shipping charges for a single pack is pretty ridiculous ($6.75 for the cheapest ground option).

I used to order Worths from MGM on ebay. He would ship for under $1 and always sold out shortly after getting them in stock.

ukemunga
11-22-2011, 11:12 AM
You might also consider becoming an Amazon affiliate or an affiliate of other companies that sell uke stuff.

Customer clicks a link, Amazon sells product and fulfills the order and you get your cut.

Could add up.

mr moonlight
11-22-2011, 11:51 AM
There's a site that I frequently go to (dpreview) in order to get good solid reviews on camera gear. They have ads constantly running from many of the big name manufacturers who's cameras they review, but don't give any slack to anyone when it comes to the review. They don't sell cameras so I don't see any conflict of interest.

As for selling cases and accessories. Your a small out fit so selling the same stuff Amazon or Musiciansfriend does won't get you very far since you can't compete with their prices. What you can go for is items that have a smaller specialized market that won't sell enough volume for larger companies, but will do just fine for you. Things like uke cases that have built in machine guns. Not everyone needs one, but I'm sure there's a few uke playing gangsters out there that it would be perfect for.

OldePhart
11-22-2011, 12:07 PM
You might also consider becoming an Amazon affiliate or an affiliate of other companies that sell uke stuff.

Customer clicks a link, Amazon sells product and fulfills the order and you get your cut.

Could add up.
Unfortunately, Amazon is pulling out of the affiliate marketplace mostly because states like California are beginning to try to force them to collect taxes. California and a handful of other states decided that if an affiliate is located in their state then that's the same as if Amazon had a bricks & mortar operation there and they require them to charge taxes on ALL sales to California as a result.

Amazon is fighting this but in the mean time my understanding is that they have dropped many affiliates that are in these offending states.

I've noticed that the checks from my affiliations with other companies (via commission junction) dried up about the same time this news broke, so it's having a serious impact on web affiliate incomes. Two years ago I increased my tax withholding from my day job so I wouldn't owe much taxes from affiliate income (I didn't make a lot of money but you get taxed basically double on "self employment" income). Now, affiliate income has dropped to such a trickle in the last six months that I will probably change my day job tax withholding back to normal.

John

austin1
11-22-2011, 12:34 PM
THIS WOULD BE THE WORST CONFLICT OF INTEREST EVER.

Just kidding Tim, do it! Good luck and godspeed, you're awesome!

Laouik
11-22-2011, 02:21 PM
I don't see it as a conflict. You are both an enthusiast and entrepreneur. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Plainsong
11-22-2011, 03:10 PM
It's only a conflict if you make it one. If you start selling crap and giving good reviews to crap, that word is going to get out there. But if you're upfront about what you do, then people can take or leave it. Sure some will say it's a conflict. It doesn't make them right.

There's a precedent for this in the headphone world. A company called Headroom worked very hard to put headphones on the map for serious audiophiles. They sold headphones, and their own line of headphone amps. They even reviewed the headphones they carried, saying X was a better value than Y, being very brutally honest about their findings and opinions. They posted the graphs of their test results as well, and allowed them to be compared to each other.

This worked because of their honesty. If they were out there saying that Sony v700's were the best thing ever, and we should all go out and get a pair of Bose headphones, the headphone community would know there was bullpuckey involved.

The site is under new management (although many of the original people are still there and the founder of the company is involved heavily in the community), so now the company is under that test of time to see if it holds. I of course hope they do.

So yeah, it's been done, and can be done again! :)

Ronnie Aloha
11-22-2011, 03:30 PM
I think by default there is a conflict but you have to remain true to yourself in your reviews. If the market sees or senses that you are biased then your site will die a natural death from lack of hits. I wouldn't worry about it since I trust that you can remain unbiased.

Good luck in whatever you decide Tim.

ksiegel
11-22-2011, 03:58 PM
You don't review cases, you review ukuleles. Therefore, no conflict.

Yes, by all means, PLEASE sell cases! (A Fiberglas or carbon fiber case that offers great protection and is form-fitting for a KoAloha Sceptre would be anxiously awaited, and greatly appreciated.)




-Kurt

Nickie
11-22-2011, 05:31 PM
I think you have a wonderful idea, Tim. People here are always looking for accesories like tuners and stuff. I have only seen two cases that are pretty. I'd check with some gals to see what we might like, to me, my case is one of my accesories kinda like my purse. It has to look nice, as well as protect my ukulele. Some colors besides black and blond would be nice, even two tone ones. I wish my case had a little more room in it for my tuner, it get squished into the tiny little drawer in the middle. Now, if I could carry a credit card and some lipstick...

Plainsong
11-22-2011, 05:59 PM
There were these awesome gig bags that UU showed during their NAMM coverage, and of course no one carries them and you can't find it anywhere because the distributors froze them out for whatever reason. Who looses out? We do. So yeah, there is a market for uke gear.

coolkayaker1
11-22-2011, 06:42 PM
Step 1. You sell website ads to anyone with two quarters to rub together.
Step 2. Assign your website ownership to a fictional character, something like "The Ukulele Vampire" (vampires are all the rage).
Step 3. You write glowing reviews, under the Vampire, for the ukuleles from the companies that buy the biggest ads from you.
Step 4. Repeat until your mortgage is paid off.





P.S. Step 5. Avoid UWC, NAMM, CHUG, Milwaukee Uke Fest, or anyplace else where you might get lynched.
If you run into anyone who feels gyped by the reviews, just say, "Yeah, that friggin' Uke Vampire hosed me, too." You should practice saying it in a mirror to look sincere.

mm stan
11-22-2011, 08:13 PM
As a business owner and writer, you have the moral obligation to tell your honest opinions and carry them across to the products you sell... If you stay within those perimeters
you will be fine.....you'll know where your reputation exsists and the concquences if you don't...Politations and many good men have suffered from this.....Good Luck..

Jon Moody
11-23-2011, 12:00 AM
It's not a conflict of interest.

I have a number of endorsements, and recently submitted a review for a magazine on a piece of gear that I endorse. The editor told me "If you didn't like it, you wouldn't endorse it, so I have no problem with you reviewing it" and echoed that after I submitted the review (which still had some comments on the shortcomings of said gear). If you're honest and straight forward in your reviewing, it shouldn't matter if the uke you're reviewing is from a sponsored company.

haolejohn
11-23-2011, 03:45 AM
I think it comes down to honesty. I will buy camping/hiking gear even if it gets a semi-bad review if the cost out weighs the negative review. Same with an ukulele. If the finish isn't perfect but the sound is great I'll buy in a heart beat. the only way it becomes a conflict is if you give a rave review on a piece of junk. Or you allow the companies to dictate your reviews.

ukeeku
11-23-2011, 03:59 AM
Step 1. You sell website ads to anyone with two quarters to rub together.
Step 2. Assign your website ownership to a fictional character, something like "The Ukulele Vampire" (vampires are all the rage).
Step 3. You write glowing reviews, under the Vampire, for the ukuleles from the companies that buy the biggest ads from you.
Step 4. Repeat until your mortgage is paid off.





P.S. Step 5. Avoid UWC, NAMM, CHUG, Milwaukee Uke Fest, or anyplace else where you might get lynched.
If you run into anyone who feels gyped by the reviews, just say, "Yeah, that friggin' Uke Vampire hosed me, too." You should practice saying it in a mirror to look sincere.

UMMMM, no? good laugh. thanks

Nixon
11-23-2011, 05:08 AM
Become a uke strings sales site. A lot easier to store and cheaper to post out.

coolkayaker1
11-23-2011, 06:57 AM
Seriously, Ukeeku, I'm glad you "got" my joke below--just funnin' ya.. But, you are an honest person, superb reviewer, excellent sound bites, and a review that honestly presents the positives and negatives of anything, with photos, is welcome. You'd not have any conflict of interest at all.

The primary sea kayaking magazine, interestingly called Sea Kayaker Magazine, has ads for everything from paddles to boats to life jackets, and they review gear and boats with very stringent criteria: no bashing, often with outside reviewers input (they'll not give names, but say things like "S.G. thought the boat lacked stability, but with a tradeoff of better speed.") Things like that. But, basically, the reviews are from the writers of the magazine. Every single magazine, from MacWorld to PC Today, to Guitar PLayer to you name it, writes reviews and sells ads. It's that simple. If you p.o. an advertiser and they leave, which happens on rare occasion, then so be it--at least you were honest. Having one advertiser leave for every ten you keep is still a whole hell of a lot better than running a stellar website with no income. No one expects you to do that.

Overwhelmingly, this thread is telling you so. Go for it, friend.

hoosierhiver
11-23-2011, 07:00 AM
Become a uke strings sales site. A lot easier to store and cheaper to post out.

To play the devil's advocate, you've got to consider paypal and credit cards charge you for every sale. If you don't charge enough, you'll end up with little profit and paying tax on alot of sales that you didn't make more than a couple of dollars on. That might be why places like Elderly charge what seems like alot for shipping strings.

Lori
11-23-2011, 07:47 AM
I have been watching TWiT Live internet shows, "This Week in Tech" along with photography, computer, and other niche programing. Leo Laporte is the main force here, and he has all kinds of sponsors. That doesn't stop him from speaking freely about what is going on with products and services. If he endorses a product to someone, and that product is a sponsor, then he will clarify that. However, he only accepts sponsors that have good products. However, if you can freely criticize a sponsor's product, that really gives you more credibility. Most products are not perfect, so if every review is too positive, it makes you wonder if something is missing.

Filling orders takes time, printing out shipping slips, buying postage, packing up and sending it all away. International orders will need a customs form filled out. Just make sure you are getting enough for all that time involved, especially if you eventually get too busy to do it all yourself, and have to hire some help. Remember boxes and paper and labels and tape all cost money. US postal rates are going up, so you might want to set your prices with that in mind, so you don't have to change it all in January.

I don't want to discourage you though, because it can be a good way to make money on a primary interest. I find it less stressful than many of my other jobs.

–Lori

ukeeku
11-23-2011, 09:30 AM
I really don't mean to keep this thread a live, but Thank you all for your input on this. I have almost no posts that go over 2 pages.
Here is the plan:
1. Buisness plan (What am I doing, how, why, what makes me successful)
2. NAMM (Tricky since I will be there for my site also, but I will be frank about it)
3. Post NAMM (Figure out how much I need to start and what am I going to to do)
4. Do it.

Hoping that I will have something before the end of March. Have to take it slow.

What I love about this place is that there are tons of people out there that are making this work and willing to help and give feedback and support.
Gotta love uke people.
Now I just need to figure out a name/domain