I’ve recently updated the Resources pages. Part of this exercise was to revisit links to philatelic societies and investigate others that I wasn’t so familiar with.
In reviewing so many sites in a relatively short space of time, you quickly get a feel for what seems to separate the well-organised societies from those that ‘could do better’.
Don’t get me wrong. Running a philatelic society for the benefit of its members – most often staffed by unpaid volunteers – is a noble pursuit and not one that I am in a position to criticize.
But that’s not say improvements can’t be made.
The importance of the webmaster
The roles of treasurers, secretaries and presidents are predominant in most of these organisations but the role that often gets overlooked in importance and relevance today is that of the webmaster.
This is the individual that effectively presents the image of the society to the world. Creating the right impression is the difference between a basic ‘we exist’ presence versus that of a forward-looking organisation, keen to recruit new members.
It’s surprising how many websites don’t fully convey the features and benefits that could draw in new blood and help to swell the ever diminishing coffers. A good webmaster, with the right copy and eye to design can make a big difference as to how a society is perceived by the outside world and hence its ability to recruit new, fee-paying members.
A journal index can make all the difference
One of the primary member benefits that is most often overlooked is the journal index.
Many societies have published journals for decades. Within this literature lies much of the wisdom of past members who will have written in depth on subject matter as relevant today as it was when originally published.
The first step is in making these back issues easily accessible.
Many societies have achieved this by making past issues available online, perhaps holding back recent editions for ‘members only’ to encourage new sign-ups. But it’s the creation of a searchable index of these historic volumes that enables the collector to pinpoint articles quickly and easily: this is where the real benefit lies.
Some societies have embraced this approach and made a huge difference to the value of the data that is buried within these journals.
No doubt this is a Herculean task for some but for others, much of the work may have already been done by referring back to previous paper-based indices and simply providing a digital version.
The internet can also be used to leverage society auctions; a significant member benefit if they can be done postally and attract collectors from other countries into becoming members.
This enables collectors to dispose of pieces to an appreciative audience, particularly the esoteric and unusual which may get overlooked or unidentified in a more general auction environment.
Overall though, it is heartening to see that most countries are still supporting at least one philatelic society (multiple societies in some cases), continuing to publish useful literature and offering relevant and ‘value-added’ services to their members. With online translation tools, language is far less of a barrier than before and should be leveraged to encourage wider participation.
Whichever country you collect, consider supporting the relevant society.
You need each other.
What else can one really say than… Amen? I mean you are spot on here.
Possibly one thing I would add is that though a (good & skilled) webmaster plays an important role in modern stamp clubs/societies, he (or she) rarely can do it alone. If members of the society don’t provide news, events etc to write and publish about, then it’s a sinking ship no matter what.
Nick Salter says
Very good point Keijo. I intend to write a follow up to the original post and will mention this…
Omar Carrillo says
True Keijo, I´m currently carry the responsability as webmaster for my stamp club “Circulo Amigos de la Filatelia” ( http://circuloamigosdelafilatelia.blogspot.com ) where some club members sent me time to time philatelic articles without them is trully impossible to keep things going on.
I always recommend topics to the club members to write it down and told them to sent me straight in Word and I´ll take care to publish into the blog, but even with that is always difficult encourage them.
There are many philatelist (usually elder people) who knows a lot about local philatlely and in a general shape, but they retire of stamps or are too old to take care for themselves that all that invaluable knowledge lost with them.
I think is the main reason for me to became a philatelist writer to pass for the future this knowldege
Omar Carrillo says
I would like to invite to check FIAF new website at http://www.filatelia-interamericana.com most of the information could be avillable in Spanish, English and Portuguese
I really appreciate your thoughts about it to improve the website.
Nick Salter says
Hi Omar. I think you’ve done a great job with the new website at FIAF. It is very clear and easy to understand and the translation into English is working well.
I think your main challenge is SEO and improving your visibility on Google so that collectors can find the site. Perhaps it is already good on local Google search engines (?) but it is not easy to find on google.com, unless you know the FIAF name already.
You remind me that I need to organise a Spanish translation for my own website. I think the opportunity for growing the collector base and sharing information is considerable if SEO and translation tools can be mastered!
Omar Carrillo says
I can share some stats from last 365 days
Spanish (Spain) 30,25%
English (USA) 28,07%
Portuguese (Brazil) 11,83%
Google Bot 2.1 10,17%
Chrome 63 3,99%
IE 11 3,71%
this can help in order to aim what to do regarding languages and browser that you might to look after when you’re in the design process of the website
I’m glad to hear that you can catch the main idea about the FIAF website: clear and easy to understand on any language.
SEO is an important tool to check (probably i put hands on lab after christmas) meanwhile the stats from the website is an important tool as well know you target people.