If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that a lot has been going on with the Phoblographer. A Kickstarter, contests, workshops, what is all this madness? Let me explain.
The Phoblographer is and always will be a publication that is designed to inspire, teach, and offer an alternative view on the industry in general. And it’s honestly going to stay that way. But it’s time that the business itself evolves–and that’s what’s been going on. I’ve always been truthful and transparent and that’s what I plan on doing now.
As many of you know, the Phoblographer took a big change in direction with the content. Moving away from doing mostly gear, tutorials, and features, we replaced the gear with interviews and inspiration. In the long term, it was and continues to be a better move for the site. Reviews continue to bring in most of the traffic due to the fact that I’m an SEO hacker so to speak, but the majority of the site’s social traffic comes from the rest of the stuff we do.
That’s not going to go anywhere but what my ultimate plan to do is is to rebuild the staff of the site. Unfortunately, ad revenue isn’t what it used to be and publications are evolving to fight for resources. Some of us are complete jerks about it at the expense of the reader, and some of us are fair. I’ve thought about making the site subscription only for $15/year with no ads and even more content for those that pay; that’s an option that’s most likely not going to happen though. Like with photographers and photography, what folks need to understand is that not everything on the internet can be free and if I’m spending 80 hour weeks creating content and managing a business, then my workers and I deserve to be paid accordingly. Wouldn’t you want to be treated the same?
Unlike many competing sites (and you probably know who they are) I want to pay fair wages–and I’ve been known to do this with every former employee who has freelanced for the site. I’m not going to change my business model to something that gamifies the work amongst my writers to compete with one another to bring in traffic. Sure, I could do that, but that’s not a great long term strategy nor is it ethical. People deserve to be paid for the work that they do: journalists, photographers, musicians, etc.
This is why you see more Cheap Photo deals; which has helped to increase the site’s revenue stream so far. I also talked about moving more towards sponsored content but working with the brands to create something that feels like what you’d see on the Phoblographer. Many of you understood and continue to. For that, I have to give you all genuine thanks for the fact that I’m trying to create a business that doesn’t do gimmicks and tries to provide genuinely good content that isn’t based on some stupid algorithm that Facebook and Google try to control and make up.
And I’ll continue to do this. As I build up more of a staff, so will they.
The Phoblographer Academy
Years ago I used to do Google hangouts with readers and I’d teach them various things about photography for free. It was an awesome way for me to work with folks and get a back and forth conversation going. It was the Phoblographer Academy–and it’s coming back.
If you’ve seen the promotions for my current online workshop with Modern Thrive and my portrait workshop coming up with Lomography, then you’re getting a small glimpse at what I want to do. It’s going to be far larger and better than what competitors are doing. It’s also going to be a heck of a lot more honest and a lot less fluff. You’re going to get your money’s worth and you’re going to want to come back again and again. For those of you who do, you’ll get special perks. PS: you don’t need to show up for the online course and you get three one hour videos and email lessons all with it. It’s seriously a steal.
The Phoblographer Academy is returning later this year.
Major Redesign on the Way
Last year, the Phoblographer did a minor desktop redesign that made things a tad cleaner and faster overall for the experience. Then we unveiled the new mobile experience which a lot of you love on the phone. On the tablet though, I completely agree with many of the frustrations lots of you have. In fact, I had the same problems. If you’re on a tablet, I really recommend that you check the site out on Apple News. Most of the content gets published there, but not all of it.
This year, an overhaul of the desktop site is being done. What a lot of you like about the site is the simplicity and easy navigation compared to many of the rest. The new design is still in the works, but it’s going to feature images in a bigger way. Overall, it’s going to be significantly more attractive than what the current site is.
At the moment though, I’m one guy: so give me a bit of time.
All Camera Deals
Last year I launched a new site called All Camera Deals–which is a blog that tries to aggregate all the best camera deals around the web. It works well enough, but it’s not what I really want it to be.
Work is being done to turn it into a fully functioning search engine; but a couple of problems with a major photography retailer made me rethink my decision on how to approach it. Hopefully, you’ll see something later this year. My idea is to make searching for camera gear much easier and straight forward for everyone.
The Phoblographer is teaming up with a number of other companies to create competitions. Think the PDN 30 Photographers to watch, the Mobile Photography Awards, etc…and you’ve probably got an idea. You’re going to seriously like this and what you’re going to like even more is that it’s going to find a way to genuinely reward the best work that can possibly be done. Sponsors have expressed interest, locations for galleries have expressed interest, etc.
The first of these will launch probably around the middle of this year with a big finale in November of this year.
For smaller ones, consider our Black and white photography contest with PhotoCrowd and our Mission with EyeEm.
La Noir Image: Now With Android Support
The current darling of The Phoblographer LLC is trying to move forward in a very big way. We launched a Kickstarter to turn it into a fully interactive magazine that will be available for both iOS and Android (originally we said just iOS.) We’re working with the same company that works with the British Journal of Photography to do this. If you’ve been checking out some of the more recent content on La Noir Image and syndicated onto the Phoblographer, then you’ll get a preview of what we’re trying to do. But this seriously can’t happen without funding. So I’m urging everyone to please help us keep the business alive–especially if I’ve ever helped you out as a photographer.
And there are loads of you out there! I get emails from you all every day about it and at one point I used to print the emails out and surround myself with them in my room to get myself through the darkest times.
Please donate; tell your friends, and if you’ve donate already consider giving us a couple more bucks if at all possible. If this fails, then the site will have a major delay.
Lighting Tutorial Videos: Encouraging You to be Thrifty
I’m teaming up with a very awesome photographer to do lighting tutorial videos that we’re going to offer at very affordable prices. But not only that, there will be tiers included that have options for those of you who want to spend a bit more money.
Even better: we’re going to teach you how to do more with less. We’re not going to tell you that you need to go to the Caribbean to get the awesomest and crazies images you can; instead we’re going to get you inspired to work locally, on a budget and to create really kick ass images really, ridiculously cheaply.
The first video will be launching around September and August.
Lots and lots of photographers ask me about how I edit my portraits, product images, etc. So after long thinking back and forth, I’ll be offering my editing in a number of presets that will be available for sale at a very fair price considering that I’ve been working for nearly 10 years to perfect my techniques.
You’ll be really, really happy with them and all the versatility you’ll have.
Collaborations with Other Publications
While giving the obvious jab at a couple of spots on the web who use a ton of smoke and mirrors to market to you and grab your cash, there are a number of us that are a heck of a lot more organic, down to earth, and believe in practicality. We’re not necessarily competitors with one another, but we’re going to be finding ways to collaborate. That’s all I can actually say about the plans at the moment–and that’s more than enough of a hint of what’s going on right now.
Why All This Growth?
So why all this growth so suddenly? Well, I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to the site to evolve and it’s been doing so steadily. I want the business to continue to adapt–especially as I’ve recently received the news that I’m actually legally blind. Crazy, huh? How does a legally blind photographer and photo editor do this well? Determination is one answer, but also being legally blind essentially means that I can’t drive or bike anymore. I’m almost 30 though, and I want to prep to continue to move the business forward and my long term goal is to develop the Phoblographer LLC into a full media company offering education, inspiration, reviews, tutorials, etc. It’s well on its way, but this is also another reason why I need help with the Kickstarter. So again, I’m going to ask you to please help. I genuinely just want to create a better industry and I’ve started it with this where we’re pretty much devoid of trolls. We’ve genuinely got a great community of people who comment, are friendly with one another, and that are supportive of one another. There’s no reason why we can’t all get along.
If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for reading this. If you’ve got questions you can ask them in the comments or shoot me an email.