to provide video of live auctions and more


We’ve had our eye on recently-launched website for the last several days. A joint venture between Michigan auctioneers Scott Vander Kolk, Jr., and David Helmer, the site aims to promote the live auction industry through videos and blogs.

We caught up with Scott Vander Kolk and shot him a few, quick question.

What is

It’s a couple different things, really. It’s the culmination of hundreds of late-into-the-night phone calls between David and me. It’s also a place to watch how good other auctioneers are. But the core purpose of the is intended to be ground zero for all information related to the auction industry, a collection point for video, perspectives, information, articles, instructions, etc. Our contributor and friend Peter Gehres wrote a blog for our launch, titled “What is theAuctioneerchannel?” He said, “it is what we make of it.” I think he’s right on the money. If we can get our fellow auctioneers behind us by simply uploading some content, we can package our industry in a dynamic manner that will draw enormous interest and introduce ourselves to a larger audience.

When and why did you decide to build it?

When: I can’t say exactly for sure when the idea was initially thought of, according to YouTube I’ve had an account since Feb. of 2007. It was around then when we started talking about. In October of 2007 we put a video up with the logo in the introduction. We have been working on it ever since.  Why: At first just because we thought it would cool to have all auction videos in one place, but as ideas evolved we realized this could have enormous potential.

Who is the expected audience and what is your plan to promote the site to that audience?

That’d be you, your dad, your grandma, that dude with the funny eye that comes to every auction and doesnt buy anything – in short, I guess everybody, with a special hope that everybody includes lawyers, bankers, estate execs, auctiongoers, and potential auctiongoers. I suppose that is a little broad. Out-of-the-box we’d like the auctioneers and their faithful customers to start with and branch out from there.

What are the plans for the original programming?

We have some programming in the pipeline right now. We are shooting for a mix of informational and educational programming as our base and also some just plain entertaining stuff! Beyond the committments we have for shows we will probably be putting out a casting call sometime shortly for show ideas and individuals.

Other players in this area include the Auction Network and the National Auction Broadcast Network. The piece that makes theAuctioneerchannel different is that there doesn’t seem to be corporate involvement. Because it’s created by auctioneers and uses content sourced from the community – coupled with the fact that uploading that content is free to the users – it has a better chance of being widely adopted by auctioneers. The challenge will be expanding the audience outside of auctioneers, and only time will tell how attractive the site will become to non-auctioneer consumers.

All in all, our initial impression of the concept and direction it’s taking is quite favorable. The model will be very attractive to auctioneers, the creaters and writing staff are loyal to the industry and the auction method of marketing, and the site is simple and easy to navigate. looks like it could be a great public relations tool for the live auction industry.

UPDATE 12:30pm David Helmer responded to the same set of interview questions. Here are his responses.

TheAuctioneerChannel is a video outlet where the auction industry can be represented in all its forms. A virtual free-for-all for what is out there. We want people to see what’s happening from the auctioneers perspective.

The website was the brainchild of Scott Vander kolk Jr. and me. He had a vision for what could be done and I was very interested in seeing where we could take it. This site is really what it says it is – “capturing the culture of the auction industry”. We have no agenda, just trying to tell the story.

The audience is auctioneers, potential sellers, buyers, and hopefully the new group of viral surfers. We have a few big ides to roll out, but the one that makes sense and will hopefully take off is video profiles of every auctioneer. We have the hope that potential buyers could use this as a sort of yellow pages. Also, we want to promote auctioneers and work with associations and anybody that will have us to promote the industry. Can you imagine if every time you were introduced to do a benefit auction or at a speaking engagement they played a short video of you, made by you, telling who you were and what you do? It would be great. We hope to be that medium.

As far as original programming we have a lot in the hopper. We want some to be educational and some to be entertaining – sort of video blogs, how to, what’s it going to bring and more.

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Auction Video Podcast Episode 1 – Auction Flex

The first episode of the Auction Video Podcast features Brandon Harker from Auction Flex. We recorded the Auction Podcast Episode 9 with Brandon to discuss Auction Flex, but this year they debuted a monster new feature. The upcoming version of Auction Flex will feature self-check-in kiosks that will allow customers to register themselves for live auctions. The auctioneer can require a picture and / or a credit card swipe before registration is allowed.

Learn more about Auction Flex at

Posted in Podcasts | Tagged , , |

Auction Video Podcast

We took some time during the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and Show in Kansas City to roam the trade show floor to talk with the exhibiting vendors about their products and services. We didn’t make it to every booth, as some had already packed up by the time we started on Saturday, but we saw several familiar vendors and products as well as some exciting new offerings.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be releasing these short video clips as part of the Auction Podcast. If you already subscribe using iTunes, Miro or other podcasting software, you shouldn’t have to do anything differently. If you don’t subscribe, you’ll also always have the ability to play the videos from the Video section or the Auction Podcast page.

Posted in announcements

The end of the FAQ

We’ve all seen websites that list frequently asked questions, or FAQ. Continuing in our series All Things Must End, we’re going to show that FAQ are training wheels from when the web was new and have no place on modern websites that are properly designed.

Training wheel
Image via Wikipedia

While there isn’t really anything inherently evil about a FAQ in and of itself, the problem comes from the fact that website designers actually now build these lists as a primary means of content delivery. They don’t wait until users actually start asking questions and compile a list, they realize a function of the website isn’t clear or explained properly and arrive at the solution of fixing that problem not by fixing the website but by including the solution in the FAQ.

FAQs also present a usability problem. If a user is curious about a specific issue and looks to the FAQ for the answer, he has to do a Jeopardy and actually formulate a question. The odds that his question is listed exactly the way he formulated it are pretty low, so he has spend time looking at each entry comparing it to his question to see if it comes close to matching.

The best way to avoid the throwback to the 1990’s that comes with including a FAQ on your site is to be sure that the website is easy to use and the content is easy to understand. If you anticipate that someone may ask a specific question, redesign the page so that the answer to that expected question is made obvious by the page content.

If you have a page that is designed to be strictly informational, don’t phrase the topics in the form of a question. Rather than the FAQ-style approach of a paragraph titled “How do I bid?” use the less-patronizing and more professional heading “Placing bids”. The content in the paragraph is the same content that would answer the question, but that same content can answer the question of “When can I bid?” and “Where do I bid?”. It’s easier for the user to understand, faster for him to find and doesn’t require that you call the page a FAQ.

Finally, if you build a good website that’s straightforward and easy to understand and you actually do get a bunch of users asking a specific question, don’t put that question in a FAQ. Use that feedback as a reason to reexamine your website pages and fix whatever part isn’t clear that is generating the questions.

By consciously avoiding the FAQ and fixing underlying problems, your website will be more usable, professional and accessible and you’ll have fewer questions asked about your company and processes.

Posted in design, websites | Tagged , |

Auctions on Twitter were bound to happen


A bid being placed for a Twitterauction

We frequently write about Twitter and its many benefits. We frequently visit our sister site at AuctioneerTweet to see what auctioneers are saying on Twitter. Today, however, we noticed something new. Actual items are now being sold on Twitter using the auction method of marketing.

Walt Kolenda, better known as AuctionWally, has conducted several Twitterauctions, as he calls them. “So far they’ve been pretty successful, small items so far. Sold about 75%!” Said Kolenda, “Items that didn’t sell didn’t get bids. I won’t do reserves at these auctions.”

The mechanics are simple. Terms, pictures of the items, as well as very good descriptions, are posted on his site at In order to place bids on the items, all that is required is a message sent to his Twitter account before the bidding closes.

Kolenda says he doesn’t see downsides, but just as there is much more to a traditional auction event than simply calling bids, the same is true for Twitter. “…there are definitely certain details you have to take care of,” he says. “You can’t just throw one out there and expect bids.” He’s published an eBook, entitled “How to do Auctions on Twitter“. From the order page:

By the end of this eBook you’ll know exactly how to set up a Twitter auction, how to promote it, the other tools you’ll need to make it profitable, the types of items that will sell, how to invoice and how to accept payment.

You can follow AuctionWally on Twitter at @auctionwally or @twitauctioneer.

We have mixed feelings about the process. While it seems like a new and intriguing method of accepting bids, it seems limited in the amount of items that can be sold per period of time as well as the direct labor involved. What are your thoughts? Does this method sound like something you’re going to try? Let us know in the comments.

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