Working on the Website

Since June 18th this project has been moving forward like an all-consuming storm of activity. After the idea of Red Bench Reviews was conceived in a cloud of marijuana smoke, several months of non-stop work has gone into this project so far… and finally, the website design is complete – for now.

the 14-18 hour days of web design are over for now…
That’s right… the 14-18 hour days of web design are over for now. From late June until yesterday I worked on the site from morning until late at night – designing, programming, revising and page building. It’s been a fun and satisfying process – of the many websites I’ve built over the last 20 years, this has been my favorite.

Our website is now an excellent platform for our plans for Red Bench Reviews, which is to deliver interesting, informative and entertaining cannabis review videos to the masses. After all, we plan for this project to run far into the future, and this is just Season One of Red Bench Reviews.

Here are a few things I’ve added to the website during the last week:

  • The Flower Index – Right now, with only 10 reviews on our site, it’s pretty easy to find all the herb we’ve reviewed. But that will change when we have 50, 100 or 250 review (it will happen), so looking forward I added a way to quickly search through our herb reviews by name, brand, type, cost, and THC%.
  • Polls – Back before the virus, friends would hang out with us around the red bench, smoke herb and talk about it… we miss that. We want feedback and participation from people who visit our site. We want to know what kind of herb people prefer so we can deliver the reviews people want. Our current poll can be found at the top of the home page, just below the slider.
  • The Product Catalog – Finding the herb we review should be easy, or as easy as possible considering the legality of the cannabis industry in 2020. Some brands put up lots of info on the web, and some put up nothing… we hunt down the best available info and pass it on to our viewers. Even though it looks like a shop, it’s not. We aren’t selling anything, just passing on information.

The Ritual

One of the things that I’ve really been enjoying with this project is my new morning social media ritual. My morning ritual consists of writing coffee powered posts (sometimes herb is involved) to send out to all the social media platforms we are using – our Facebook Group, Twitter and Instagram.

After I get up (usually late because I was up until 3:00 AM working on the site) I sip on my morning cup of coffee and as the fog begins to lift I contemplate on the socials …

…what do I want to share with the world about this project that I want everyone to hear about?

I look at the herb I going to smoke and usually take a nice photo of the day’s herb. Because of the project I’m in a rather nice position of having several different herbs on hand – it’s a nice change of pace for me 😉

The process of constructing the posts consists of numerous text messages back and forth between Tania (who is at work) and myself. I get the ball rolling by sending her the photo I’ve just taken of the herb or some other image I picked for the day. Then the wording goes through a few changes as we keep texting. Usually around 11:30, when I’m into my second cup of coffee, the posts are ready to go out.

I use an app called Hootsuite to send out our posts. I can schedule posts ahead of time, and it’s the only way I can post on Instagram from my desktop. I’ve found it to be very helpful and use it several times each day.

Once the ritual is complete I dive into the day’s plans while I enjoy checking my phone for new likes, comments and shares. Each response to our posts gives a nice little shot of dopamine to the brain, and who doesn’t like that?

Want to get these daily nugs of goodness on the socials? Here’s the links to find us:

New Review Wednesday

We have settled into our review schedule. We are posting at least one video per week, and plan to post more as time permits – but always on Wednesdays. We film on the weekend, then edit the videos on Sunday or Monday and get everything ready to launch on Wednesday morning – and there is a thousand steps to get there.

I thoroughly enjoy the filming process! Tania runs the whole filming process because she is the director. What ends up on screen is all her choices. I have the easy part. I smoke the herb and give honest, spontaneous responses to what I’m experiencing. Well, I do take the close-up photos during the middle of filming, so I do a little work 😉

Our filming set up is very DIY. We started by just using the things we had on hand… a Canon Rebel sitting on top of a tripod we’ve had for 30 years and an iPhone taped into place on a stack of cardboard boxes for close-ups. You can see the results of that set up in our first few videos.

Then I got all concerned about the sound – it seemed echoey to me, so I wanted to get a little RODE shotgun mic to improve our audio quality. Problem was, we couldn’t plug the mic into our Rebel. After much investigation we purchased a Canon M-50 to solve this problem. It’s considered the #1 vlogging camera. Getting the camera was a major investment, but we made the leap to improve both over video and audio quality. I’m so glad we did – because now we have a nice little set up that sits in the middle of our cabin that is ready to shoot our video easily and with good video and sound quality.

After filming ends my real work begins. I am video editor, webmaster, review writer and more during the next few days. I Photoshop the close-up photos and product shots, adjust video quality, edit the transcript, built the web page and make sure the website is updated in all the necessary ways. Each week this process involves a list of the aforementioned thousand steps. I’m planning on making a check list to make remembering all the steps easier. By Tuesday night the video is uploaded, the review is ready and the social media posts are scheduled for the morning in Hootsuite.

Then it’s New Review Wednesday! YouTube subscribers are notified automatically. Emails go out to our subscriber list at 8:00 AM. Between 11-1:00 all the social media goes out and I begin checking for responses… dopamine hits!

Want to be on the receiving end of all this work? It’s easy to subscribe to our website and get emails when new reviews get posted… or find us on your favorite social media platform. However you would like to stay connected, we would love to get feedback, comments, suggestions, ideas or just have a conversation about the herb.

Until later, best of health.

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