Essendon Gem & Lapidary Club
The Essendon Gem & Lapidary Club (ELC) was formed by a group of lapidary enthusiasts in 1969, providing an opportunity for people with a wide variety of interests in precious and semi-precious gemstones and minerals to meet together to share knowledge, develop skills and enjoy the fellowship of likeminded hobbyists. While most hardcore lapidarians tend to be of a mature age, a growing generation of younger lapidarians is emerging in recreational clubs around Australia. To attract a larger share of this younger demographic, the Essendon Gem & Lapidary Club has made use of modern technologies and techniques, pursuing classes in beadwork, glass and silversmithing as well as commissioning me to build and redesign the Club website and start the Facebook page.
As a Committee member, I created the first ELC website in 2004 and redesigned it four times – from a static Dreamweaver site to a PHP Nuke site to a Joomla CMS site and finally, the WordPress site it is today. The website has been lauded by many as “the first and best lapidary club website in Victoria” and led many other Australian clubs to do the same.
Over 2600 people visit the Essendon Gem & Lapidary Club website every month from organic searches in Google. These are targeted hits by people already interested in or likely to be interested in lapidary and have found the club by searching for terms like “rock club”, “gem club” or “lapidary club”. The ELC SEO plan did not involve paying lots of money to attract traffic – we simply created a comprehensive web presence with a large blog full of SEO content early on, geared towards hobbyists interested in learning about lapidary. The traffic generation translates into around 4 memberships a week and since most members tend to stay with the club for a few years, the club is consistently increasing its membership pool.
Along this web design journey, we learnt what made the ELC club website so successful – personal and humorous stories from other lapidarians, interesting information about the club and lots of photos of the members. As photographer, content writer, website designer and fellow lapidarian, I attended a lot of rock shows, club events and fossicking trips – meeting some fascinating people in the process.
Nominated as the Club representative to attend the Victorian Gem Clubs Association (VGCA) – the national body for lapidary – I became editor of Pointer magazine for 2 years (2005-2006). Each month, I output a 20 page newsletter (including content) and mailed it to 300+ subscribers. My contribution to Pointer was in reviving the news, jokes, advertising and articles to make the magazine more engaging. Many lapidarians still know me as “the Pointer girl who revived the mag and made it funny”.
The Essendon Gem & Lapidary Club was one of the first few Australian lapidary clubs on Facebook too.