In our ongoing interview series with industry experts, we cross the Atlantic looking for a hero….
Running a community is a labor of love for Rob Boerman. As a 23 year old designer and web developer based in the Netherlands, Rob is the founder of Edgehero, a grassroots blog, community and tutorials hub for Adobe Edge Animate.
What made you start the Edgehero?
A few weeks after the release of Edge Animate, I discovered the program and fell in love with it, but there still wasn’t a lot of content about it yet. For help, I resorted to the official Adobe forum. As it turns out, I ended up helping out other new users. That evolved into myself and other active “heroes” of the forum launching Edgehero, where we began posting our tutorials and responding to frequently asked questions.
What do you think are the most important skills every new site owner needs to know (or have his/her staff know)?
Being motivated and willing to learn is everything. At the moment, you don’t even have to know how to code to create a website. There are a lot of amazing solutions available now, like WordPress.
Having a great team helps a lot, but it’s important to know that nobody works for free. There should always be a reason for people to work for you. The same for your visitors — there should be something that visitors gain by visiting your site.
Technology is evolving in the speed of light. Users are getting pickier and sites are being consumed in more and more devices, resolutions, and browsers. Meanwhile, the costs of running a site seem to be on the rise, with the need to monitor and manage so many moving parts. If you had to give your most important recommendations to new site owners with limited budgets, what would you tell them to focus on based on your experiences?
Be willing to change. I know companies that did not want to use social media because they personally did not use Facebook or they did not “get” social media. But companies that stop innovating won’t survive in this century. If you have a small budget, then it’s important to find a balance with this. You should really focus on the core of the site and skip other details that are less important, like a/b testing.
How much effort do you put into Social media, SEO and Traditional Marketing (banners)? Which do you think is the most important and which is the easiest one to gain traffic?
I don’t believe in banners and AdWords anymore, mainly because a lot of people have adblock extentions on there browsers now and it blocks all advertisements. I think these adblock extensions became popular because people don’t like to see banners and advertisements on Youtube.
SEO is something we at Edgehero still need to really focus on. It’s a fact that people do not look further than the first page of Google, so being on that first page is incredibly important. I think Social Media gives the best result at the moment — just being active generates traffic.
Social Media advertising, like dark posts on Facebook, also works well because it allows you to create highly targeted news-stream ads that don’t get published in your own news feed. This ensures only the followers you want to see your news-stream ad see it.
Managing a site is a complicated task if you’re running a brand new site on your own or have a very popular site with a support staff. In your case, how do you manage your time? Do you have any tricks that help you become more productive that you would like to share with our users?
Well this is something Edgehero is also struggling with. We manage our site by planning a road map each half year and try to plan tutorials each month. But that is also quite hard, because Edgehero is not generating a lot of money and is run by volunteers. The reason our volunteers spend their time creating tutorials is mainly to get freelance jobs. So those people need to balance the tutorials with there freelance business. Because of that reason, planning tutorials is difficult.
Do newsletters account for an important segment of your site’s success? If so, in what way?
Edgehero has never sent out a newsletter. The reason for this is that our focus group, 25-35 year old males, do not want to give out their emails for fear of being spammed.
That said, newsletters will be part of the webshop we are developing. Our users will only get a newsletter about the subject they are actively interested in, and not more than 2 times a month.
I currently see a lot of companies using email newsletters multiple times a day just to push advertisement banners. Doing this will only annoy clients and lead to unsubscribes and/or loss of clients.
Where can our users go to hear more about your insights?
They can go to edgehero.com
The website of my freelance business is boermancrossmedia.com