First of all, I want to say an enormous thank you to everybody who wrote in or left a comment after the last article on commercial realities – I’ve been overwhelmed by the time people have taken to chip in their thoughts, often very sensible advice. I’m also touched by the number of people who value what I do here. The community of readers who’ve turned into friends is something that I do value very much now; I do feel I have a duty – I don’t want to use the onerous term ‘obligation’ – to keeping that ecosystem healthy and alive. It’s one of the reasons I don’t simply shut down and go back to commercial work, and that I’m seeking the opinions of the people who are the reason why I do this.
Let me share some observations with you. The overwhelming majority are okay with ads, though are concerned that the revenue might be too low – probably, but it’s the least intrusive and costly method for now. A surprising proportion are okay with subscriptions, though there has to be some sort of hybrid model; this may be an option in the longer term if the interim measures still prove unsustainable. I’d still like to keep the community open and the content free, though.
There’s been a surprising interest in print sales and patronage. This is odd, because there was little response to the first couple of print offers I did – we’ll try again soon and see what happens. I’m quite happy doing this as it also lets me feel that you’re getting something extra in return for your support.
So, here’s an overview of what will change:
The site will remain free, but there will be some ads in the sidebar.
The area below ‘Announcements and news’ will see a few boxes – some of which I’m talking to direct advertisers about, some of which will be used for Google AdSense as an experiment.
You’ve probably already noticed these, but I’ll encourage you once again to try and make any purchases through either B&H or Amazon. At the very least, it does help to cover the cost of gear I review (and can’t get loaners for).
I’ve put the Donation button back, and added an ‘honesty box’ monthly subscription.
Those can be found at the top of the right sidebar, and also here. I’d encourage you (of course) to contribute what you think the site is worth; I suppose the price of a magazine or newspaper is a good benchmark. I trust my readership; there is a level of honesty and integrity here that I think will make this work.
I’ll be doing print offers again.
This didn’t have much demand the first couple of times, but the interest this time suggests that it just might work – or at least is worth another shot. I’ll take orders for the time I’m in the US, then aim to ship mid-April.
Firstly, the observant will have noticed the top menubar has changed: the archive wasn’t getting the share of eyeballs it deserved, so I split things out into obvious categories to make it easier to find old articles – there are 500 from last year alone, covering over 1.2 million words of content and 2,500 images. These require manual updating, but hopefully enough people will find it useful to boost traffic a bit (which also indirectly helps the ad revenue).
Secondly, the post frequency will maintain – it’s every other day now – but the length will reduce. I was surprised to learn that a lot of people find the content too long and heavy; perhaps I was using the wrong crowd as a barometer. In any case, this is helpful for me as it reduces my workload considerably. You may take a while to notice this as some of the articles already written up have no neat split point, so they’ll remain as is. This applies to new articles going forward.
Thirdly, I’ll be bringing back POTD in a slightly different format – I suppose the site is a bit too text-heavy for something with an overwhelming imaging focus.
Fourthly, I’ll be making the main page easier to read: post content will be partially shown so things stay on the front page longer, and this should speed up load times considerably, too.
Future teaching content
I like the idea of giving something back in return for support; so there will be at least one more video release this year, plus probably an ebook.
Cool unique gear.
I’ve had enough people ask about my film scanning method that I’m looking into having the scanning frame/ alignment rig made for sale…expect that in the middle of the year.
Image critique on demand.
A lot of people have asked about this too, so if you just want a critique on a single image, then you can click to buy here. This includes finding out why something didn’t make it into the flickr pool. Critiques will be done in the same depth and style as the Email School and past Competition commentaries. Paste the link in the comment box at the end of the checkout, and I’ll get back to you within a day or so. I don’t know if I have the price right (too low, the volume is silly; too high, and it’s too expensive) yet, so expect that to change a bit.
That’s all for now! MT
Visit our Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including Photoshop Workflow DVDs and customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!
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