What happened, you ask? My site crashed! No, not my personal website... it's my auction venue. The place I call home. The site I trust. And it couldn't have happened at a more inconvenient time. Right?
Today it's time to talk about Dealing With Issues Under and Beyond Your Control.
By now my readers may have surmised that I am referring to a recent incident at OnlineAuction.com, but truly, this nightmare could occur at any website. The server crashed... the site went dark... and when the site reappeared and things looked like they would return to normal, members and programmers found out that the down-time had also caused programming glitches that could and did haunt us for weeks. (They still are!) Added to that, the site owners must certainly have incurred a great expense in purchasing new, updated equipment, which when installed, created another round of programming hurdles to overcome.
It's been a rough couple of months. Together, we're going to get past it.
First, make a mental list. What is under your control? And second, what is beyond your control?
For OLA members, your auctions and your images are absolutely under your control.
They're your products, aren't they? Take a look at your store. Is it inviting? Well-stocked? Maybe this is a good time to make those revisions that you've put on the back burner. Maybe it's time to fine-tune your SEO. Maybe you really could get a better snapshot of that collectible. Use this unfortunate experience as a way to take a fresh look at your listings.
I applaud the folks who have taken down auctions that are missing images. It's actually a very easy thing to do. For example, once you're logged into the site, go to the OLA Home Page and click on Classic. Then click on Active. Then look to the right and click on the link to View 100 per page. Now scroll through your auctions and click the checkbox on the left side of any auction that is missing a thumbnail photo. Then go to the bottom of that page and use the drop-down menu under Select Action to choose the option Delete Selected. Follow these directions for each style of auction that you provide.
After this is done, your deleted auctions are still available to you. You'll find them in the Unsold folder, under the appropriate tab, (ie; Classic, Fixed, Dutch, Absolute, Sealed). This way your store remains attractive to potential buyers and you may work on updating your listings at your leisure! My recommendation is to reactivate using a Sell Similar option, as this optimizes your SEO with a fresh listing for the search engines to index. This is also a fantastic opportunity to scrutinize your listing and make any necessary spelling or grammatical fixes, or adjust pricing and/or shipping fees.
Some sellers, especially those with hundreds, or thousands, of auctions may argue that this removes valuable stock from available inventory. I understand this and sympathize. As a buyer myself, however, I guarantee you that I will not place a bid on an auction without having a photo to inspect. It's your business, and your call, though, so please choose wisely, as your peers depend upon your success as much as their own.
About the photos... and I want you to really let this sink in... in order for you to have uploaded photos to the OLA server, the original photos had to have been on your computer at one time. Where are they now? I find there to be 4 kinds of people in this regard:
- The Organizer This person has a tree of folders on their hard drive, categorizing each photo into product type, brand name and auction title. It should be easy for you to locate your photos on your hard drive and re-upload them into a new auction!
- The Lazy Loader This person loaded pictures onto their hard drive one batch at a time while writing auctions and has one single "My Pictures" folder that contains 5000+ photos in random succession. While it may be a more challenging task, you, too, can scroll through your photos until you find the image that corresponds to your auction. Might this be the optimal time to learn the techniques of The Organizer?
- The Annihilator This person loads the photos onto their hard drive for only so long as it takes to upload them to their OLA auction. Then they delete them. The most difficult situation to rectify... please see below, How to Find Your Images on Google.
- The Hoster This person hosts their photos at an online gallery, such as Photobucket or Google+, etc. They may or may not have removed the originals from their hard drive, but that's okay, as the copies are safely stored elsewhere.These photos should be fairly simple to locate as well, by merely logging into and browsing your hosting site and folders.
How to Find Your Images on Google
Google indexes text and images and retains a copy of all for use in their various search options. Open 2 tabs in your browser. In the first tab, log into OLA and open the auction you wish to revise. Now copy your entire title, exactly as it appears. Then move to the second tab and type Google.com into the address bar. Once there, look to the top of your screen. Do you see the Images tab? Click it. Now paste your title into the search box and click Enter. I'll wager that your photo(s) will be the first result(s) you see. If not, scroll down just a bit until you recognize your own photo. Do not use a photo that does not belong to you... this is copyright infringement.
In helping others to find their images, I had only one single auction that I could not find a photo for. That seems insignificant, considering the number of photos that I have searched! In that particular case, the seller had no choice but to retake the photo. And mind you, it only takes about a minute to accomplish this task. Once you've located the correct image, right click on it and choose Save Image As to save a copy on your hard drive. (Just remember to organize your My Pictures folder so that you can find it!)
In talking about your auctions and what is under your control, how many of you have experienced a lag time in receiving notices? I know I have. One easy way to combat this is to be diligent about checking your OLA store frequently. By this I mean you should log into your account and take a visual of all aspects of your status. Daily, if not more often! Remember to check the following:
- Omail (Someone may have a question!)
- Classic Auctions with Bids (Always exciting, now you'll also know when that sale will occur!)
- Sold Folders (All types you use, just so you don't neglect a sale!)
- Current Bids (Those bids you've placed - you don't want to lose that item!)
- News / Announcements (OLA might have said something you need to hear!)
- The Chat Forum (This is another good place to find news and tips. Don't miss out!)
Site programming. Period.
Seems like a short list in comparison to what is under your control, doesn't it? I agree that bad situations such as this are frustrating, especially when repairs don't appear as quickly as we would like. It can get you down!
So what do we do? We realize that we are not programmers, and we have no idea of the complexity of the current issues. If there is a glitch that you cannot find a work-around for, contact one of the Customer Service representatives, namely Renee and Frank. For Renee, send an omail to Renee. (How easy is that?) For Frank, send an omail to OLASupport. They are both more than willing to help you solve a problem and/or report any issue to the IT Dept. Also, if you can take a screenshot of any trouble you've experienced on the site, you can forward it to James, at James@onlineauction.com. He's our direct contact to the IT Dept and while I am sure he's been crazy busy, working 'round the clock lately, I am also sure that he needs to see your problem in order to work with those techies to solve it. Help him out.
As for me, I am done doing nothing. I plan on getting back to my blogging. If you've followed any of my previous posts, you may have noticed that I like to advertise auctions from many different sellers and provide links back to the site, as well as my own offerings. This may not happen as often as before, as I am rather embarrassed to link to a category that has so many missing photos. So let's get those photos back up, guys! I want to share your stuff!
I believe that other sellers who regularly promote feel much the same as I do. It's time to fix this... start reloading those photos so we have a site to brag about! You'll find the bloggers, the tweeters, the Google+'ers, and the Facebookers very responsive, I guarantee.
Meanwhile, practice a little patience while our programmers work tirelessly to brings the site back to a status that is even better than before.
What's your approach in dealing with issues under and beyond your control? I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions in the comments area!