The month in review: August 2014

Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.
Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.

August was NOT a quiet month for LabourStart.

I guess the big news is that I have completed the move from our Tottenham Hale office to working at home. The office was finally emptied and the keys returned yesterday. This will not only mean a considerable savings (over £6,000 a year) but we will also get back a deposit of £1,470 soon.

That money will help to re-fill our coffers following several months where we spent considerably more than we took in, reducing our reserves by many thousands of pounds. But there’s been good news in the last few days. We were able to raise nearly $600 from UnionBook members to pay for the hosting on Ning for the next year — that’s the full amount we need. The IUF has once again made a substantial donation to us. Norwegian unions will apparently be transferring a good sum to us very soon. And the Geneva-based FDHT is resuming its donations to us conditional upon us continuing with the project to grow LabourStart in the Portuguese-speaking world (more on this soon).

It’s been a very busy month for our campaigns — we closed just one (Gaza, following the agreement to a cease-fire) and launched five new ones:

  • Palestine/Israel – against union-busting in Mishur Adumim
  • Swaziland – prime minister threatens to strangle trade union leaders
  • Belgium/Netherlands – against social dumping at IKEA
  • Poland – LOT sacks union leader
  • Thailand – Drop the charges against Andy Hall

In addition, I made three improvements to our campaigns – offering an alternative option for some cellphones; a new supporters count for closed campaigns; and a form for translators to submit campaigns. Details on all these appear in a post below.

We ran a promotion offering free versions of our Kindle books for the first 5 days of August. A total of 2,442 books were downloaded — the most popular of which was Dan Gallin’s Solidarity (696 copies). I followed up with over 1,500 people who seemed interested in the books, asking them to post reviews, but with very limited success.

In September, I’ll be helping to teach a course in Hattingen, Germany organized by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) together with the DGB. This should help introduce LabourStart to union communicators across Europe. This will be followed up in October by my session at a Brussels workshop of ETUI on campaigning. ETUI is also now considering a proposal to host a course dedicated to online campaigning which LabourStart would teach.

3 improvements to LabourStart campaigns

Several people have complained that they were unable to fill in our campaigns on their mobile phones.  We were not able to reproduce the problem, but as it kept coming up, we have to assume that certain phones under certain circumstances will have an issue.  As a result, there’s now a fairly prominent link on the English campaigns to a page that according to 3 people who tested it, does work.  All the campaigns in other languages use that same page, so no one should have issues other than English speakers, and it was fewer than 10 people reporting the problem.

A comrade at a British trade union pointed out that you can no longer see how many supporters we had for a campaign that’s been closed.  This has now been fixed — see, for example, our recent Gaza campaign.  If there’s no campaign total, there’s a link to click on to generate one, as needed.

Finally, I’ve long wanted to create a proper system for our volunteer translators to submit their campaign translations.  Some of them — a minority — go directly into our system and add campaigns.  But most still send on campaigns by email, often as attached Word documents.  Some of the translators continue to translate too much — including bits of the interface that are already translated.  Some try to embed photos or change fonts, when this is already part of the built-in interface.  It’s not clear to some of the translators what’s optional (e.g., the default message to the target).  And sometimes the translations come through and it’s not clear to me what’s what (especially in non-Latin character sets).  That’s why I’ve introduced this.  (Feel free to have a look, but do NOT submit a translation.)

Our third Polish campaign goes live today

This really is a coincidence, I think.

After years of almost no contact with the Polish labour movement, we now find ourselves hosting three campaigns in defense of workers in Poland:

Mass mailing is going out soon …

Amazon reviews: an update

Sales of our four LabourStart books (both paperback and Kindle editions) depend in part on there being positive reviews on Amazon’s websites.  

Our recent effort to promote the book resulted in just five days in 2,442 downloads and hundreds of new readers.

But these have not generated new reviews, despite my mailing earlier this month to the 1,537 people who clicked on links in the previous mailing promoting the free Kindle edition — even though 830 of them opened that message and 88 clicked on the links to review the book on Amazon.

Despite that effort, the total number of reviews remains tiny.

Having checked Amazon’s 12 websites today (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, India and Japan) here are the total number of reviews:

  • Firefox OS – 8 reviews
  • Global Labour Movement – 6 reviews
  • Campaigning Online and Winning – 5 reviews
  • Solidarity – Dan Gallin – 4 reviews

The largest number of reviews appears on the amazon.com website (13 reviews), followed by UK (6 reviews), Canada (2), Germany (1), Spain (1).

No reviews of our books appeared on the Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Japan or Italy Amazon sites.

By comparison, a friend of mine recently self-published a little novella on Kindle.  His book has 27 reviews.  The reviews of all 4 of our books together is just 23.

If anyone has any good suggestions for how we can increase the numbers here, I’d love to hear them.

2,442 books downloaded as LabourStart free Kindle campaign ends

   

During the first five days of August, we allowed people to download all four of our Kindle titles free of charge.  The result was a total of 2,442 books downloaded in just 5 days.

Previously we’d sold somewhat more than 3,000 books over the last 20 months, so this was an 80% increase in distribution of our books.  Here they are in order of popularity — the number is copies downloaded in the last 5 days:

  • Solidarity – Dan Gallin 696
  • The Global Labour Movement 645
  • Campaigning Online and Winning 587
  • Firefox OS for Activists 514

Today I’ll be emailing everyone who I think downloaded books (based on what MailChimp has to say about clicking-through), and remind people that we’d really, really appreciate reviews on Amazon to keep sales going.

I’m convinced that using the free Kindle downloads feature is far more effective than simply saying we have some PDFs or Word documents available for download.  Kindle books are seen as real books by many people, they normally cost money, and this contributed, I think, to the excellent take-up of our offer.

I think the overall effect of this campaign is to remind people that LabourStart in addition to being a news and campaigning website, and the organizer of annual global solidarity conferences, is also a book publisher (and probably the only publisher of books exclusively for the international trade union movement).

And of course if people actually read the books, we’ll be contributing toward educating trade unionists about our campaigns, about the global labour movement in general, and more.

 

LabourStart in Numbers – July 2014

Mailing lists [with 200 or more subscribers]

English: 85,191 [85,258]
French: 7,917 [7,859]
German: 5,376 [5,242]
Spanish: 5,234 [5,176]
Italian: 4,098 [4,097]
Turkish: 3,450 [3,450]
Korean: 3,080 [3,081]
Norwegian: 2,839 [2,889]
Russian: 2,514 [2,525]
Dutch: 1,378 [1,369]
Chinese: 1,106 [1,105]
Finnish: 655 [655]
Polish: 640 [269]
Japanese: 483 [494]
Arabic: 451 [471]
Portuguese: 353 [353]
Indonesian: 325 [325]
Tagalog: 254 [254]
Hebrew: 248 [250]
Farsi: 242 [242]

Social networks

Twitter followers

English: 12,642 [12,455]
Canada English: 3,344 [3,273]
Canada French: 505 [465]
USA: 366 [344]
French: 212 [210]
Spanish: 73 [72]
German: 61 [58]
Indonesia: 56 [41]
Japanese: 23 [23]
Russian: 17 [17]
Portuguese: 7 [7]

Facebook

Like LabourStart.org page (English): 8,810 [8,763]
Members of LabourStart group: 7,917 [7,796]
Like LabourStart page (French): 439 [429]
Like LabourStart page (German): 363 [355]
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 137 [137]
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 111 [108]

UnionBook

Members: 5,811 [5,793]

LinkedIn

LabourStart group: 1,714 [1,680]

Flickr

Union group on Flickr: 781 [782]

Website

Correspondents: 731 [725]

Website traffic

LabourStart.org (Clicky)

Total visitors: 36,270 [34,769]

Where they come from:

USA 8,197 [8,200]
Canada 5,712 [5,899]
UK 5,396 [4,655]
Australia 2,645 [2,313]
Germany 1,444 [1,160]
Austria 1,047 [729]
Belgium 821 [--]
Norway 793 [1,480]
Poland 754 [--]
France 741 [778]

Their operating systems:

Windows – 69.5 % [69.3%]
Mobile – 12.2% [12.6%] (iOS – 7.1% [7.5%] ; Android – 3.8% [3.8%])
Mac – 16.2% [16.1%]
Linux – 2.1% [2.1%]

LabourStartCampaigns.net (Clicky)

Total visitors: 28,820 [28,332]

Where they come from:

UK – 5,347 [4,094]
USA – 3,908 [3,628]
Canada – 3,713 [3,603]
Australia – 1,876 [1,474]
Poland — 1,608 [--]
Belgium – 1,547 [1,076]
France – 1,335 [1,081]
Germany – 1,025 [1,289]
Norway – 637 [1,081]
Ireland 584 [--]

Their operating systems:

Windows – 66.8 % [62.8%]
Mobile – 20.4% [25.2%] (iOS – 11.6% [10.5%] ; Android – 7.6% [13.2%])
Mac – 10.8% [10%]
Linux – 2% [1.9%]