A new direction for Made By Liberty

I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years since I started on the journey that turned into Made By Liberty. Throughout that time I’ve learned a lot and as a result Made By Liberty has changed quite a bit. Recently, another big change has come about and I wanted to take the opportunity to briefly write down how the project has arrived to where it is today and how I see the future. If you just want the TLDR, you can skip to the end.

A quick recap.

If you’re new to Made By Liberty, here’s a quick recap about why I started on this journey. At the time I was pretty active in the world of online marketing, which opened my eyes to a lot of things most people are probably unaware of. One of those things was the sheer amount of products today that are just cheap imports sold at ridiculous mark-ups. This really didn’t sit well with me, for two reasons:

  1. The lack of honesty and transparency by brands. I started to feel like I just couldn’t trust brands to give me a fair price or honest account as to where and how their products were made. I could never tell whether I was paying more for better quality and ethical practices, or just fancy marketing and high profit margins.
  2. The hollowing out of the manufacturing industry in free countries. I couldn’t help but notice how few products are still made in free countries, and how many are made in places that don’t share the values of personal liberty we presumably hold so dear. As we’ve become more and more addicted to cheap imports, we destroyed most of our own manufacturing industries, resulting in a whole range of negative side-effects.

This ended up frustrating me so much that I decided I wanted to do something about it. That’s when Made By Liberty was born.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

With the confidence that comes with ignorance, I started this project with pretty grand plans. We were going to help reshore manufacturing to the free world and revolutionize the retail industry by building an online store that offered products made in free countries, as well as full transparency and fair prices! Turns out, that’s not so easy…

Once I started digging deeper into the workings of the manufacturing industry, I soon realized just how complicated the problems we’re facing are. From government policies, to shortages of skilled labor, complicated global supply chains and so much more.

These problems weren’t going to be solved by one project. And with my limited experience in the area, I certainly wasn’t going to have a very big impact. But I still wanted to help.

Focus on what you can change.

So what could I do instead? One thing I had found both in my personal life, as well as my research, is how difficult it is to actually find products made in free countries, even if they do exist. While there are several wonderful websites out there who already try to help with this, I often found them incomplete, outdated or just not very user-friendly.

So I decided I wanted to create a resource that made it easy for anyone to find responsible made products, more specifically in their preferred country of origin. I also wanted to provide them with full transparency by looking at the entire supply chain of products, not just where they are assembled, and by honestly judging the quality.

This would address both frustrations I personally experienced:

  1. It would become easier for people to find responsibly made products and make informed decisions when buying them.
  2. I would be helping to support businesses that still manufacture their products in free countries by making them easier to find and hopefully introduce them to a wider audience.

Blog vs Directory

For those who’ve known Made By Liberty for a while, you probably know that this resource first took the form of the MBL directory, which allows you to search for specific products and filter them by country of origin. This is something I put a lot of work into and am still quite proud of. But it had one glaring problem, no one was using it…

As sort of a side project, mainly to just see what would happen, I also wrote a couple of blog posts with guides on finding certain American made products. And well, they kinda took off…

To put it into perspective, last month my blog (with its 20 pages) received 25 times more visitors than the directory (with its 400 pages). That means my blog gets 500 times more traffic per page! This caused me to take a fresh look at the directory and see some issues I hadn’t seen before:

  1. It’s difficult to find. Search engines don’t really like directories. If you search for ‘wallets made in USA’, they will give you pages that show a list of those, not to a general directory. This meant that the only way people came across the site is if someone actually told them about it.
  2. It’s not useful until it’s big. Even if you know about it, it still has to give you better results than a simple google search for people to use it consistently. And it doesn’t. It would need hundreds of thousands of products listed on it before that becomes the case.
  3. It’s a lot of work. I’m just one person, and this isn’t even my dayjob. Introducing enough products into the directory to make it useful would take years. Let alone keeping the listed products up to date.

This all meant that I was putting a lot of work into a website that nobody might ever use. Not exactly ideal…

Conclusion and TLDR

So, taking everything into consideration, I decided to stop working on the directory or other projects for now and focus all my energy on the blog. Not only will it help more people in the short term, it might provide me with enough income in the mid-term to dedicate more time to it and make it grow faster!

While I might return to the directory or other projects later on; I’ve learned not plan things out too much, but just to experiment and see where it leads me. Instead of making a directory, I might just introduce advanced search features to the blog, who knows. But for now I’m just excited to write the best blog post and buying guides I can! Hopefully you’ll find them useful!

Picture of Made By Liberty founder Robert

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