Some of you might have noticed the thing we did in DocImages couple of days ago. Well, if you didn’t, here’s a short recap.
(And here is an article I wrote in Finnish in our blog)
I am getting sick and tired of the ever tightening legacy print death spiral and especially frustrated with their total lack of vision about the future.
But instead of whining about it – which leads nowhere – I have been doing research actively. Basically, trying to figure out where I will be in five years time and what the future might hold for us.
Us being professional photographers and -journalists passionate about their work.
So I spent the Xmas holidays – plus several weeks before and after – trying to learn all I could about digital publishing.
What are the options, what are the pros and cons of each approach one takes. Because there is no “one size fits all” -approach in digital publishing. Some solutions work on the web, but not mobile; some are cheap but do not play rich media; some do both but are heavenly expensive to implement; some require CMS infrastructure; some require constant connection while some allow downloading, etc.
But, it’s always better to really try something real hands-on than just read about it. So we decided to give it a shot.
We constructed a simple website (well, simple is relative, its over 100 pages), based on material my buddy Arttu shot in Iran now in the past August.
We are trying to think outside the box. So instead of doing “an article plus images” -approach written afterwards, we based it on his initial observations he posted in FB with pictures – plus added some 50 unpublished images. Simply as a pilot project. Call it experimental photojournalism, if you like.
And I am proud of. Very little bugs – if any – so far.
And we made it universal: web, pad, even mobile.
But then I thought that it would be cool to have a system where you can download the content to your iPad instead of watching it online all the time. To make the transitions smoother, if for nothing else. To make the reading experience a real “lean back and enjoy” -one.
So to make a long story short: we came up with dual – well actually a triple solution: we made an iPad app (with a possibility to make it iPhone and Android compatible) and then a universal - website based solution - which we put behind a paywall. We also made a third system, i.e. responsive design in case we want to do something which gets updated frequently and which is compatible with the mobile as well, but we did not activate it for this project.
Paywalls and shared coffees
We thought of a “tip jar” solution – and had the whole thing been a web based universal solution we might have adopted that. Let people pitch in if they felt it was worth it.
However: due to the iPad app we simply put everything behind a paywall.
I personally think of it as a symbolic thing. And thus the price is set to the equivalent of a cappuccino in your local coffeeshop.
My (twisted?) logic is that while you are enjoying your coffee, you might want to treat your fellow photojournalist to one as well.
I quite often treat somebody to a coffee , maybe as a gesture of friendship, simply that being good manners, or whatever. And friends treat me to one occasionally.
I thought that it is a nice comparison: a moment of being together, sharing – telling the photographer (and the team behind) that you have taken a look and you do appreciate what they are trying to accomplish.
As corny as it may sound.
For the web pub we just quote the minimum (3,59€) – if you want to contribute extra, it is highly appreciated . In addition, if you are willing to pay 20€ or more, it opens everything behind this paywall for the next 12 months.
Initially we set the “normal price” 3,59€ /48hours, but I have been thinking that people might appreciate if I made it a week. Like a traditional magazine has typically been.
(Anybody, any comments on that?)
Our present paywall does not allow per issue with no expiration option which we offer for the iPad. This is obviously something we do have to think about, but this is how it is at the moment.
Disclaimer: we might make publications which are available ONLY for the iPad and mobile and thus not available in the web. But for the most part, we try to run both platforms with everything we do. Please note: the license for the two platforms are separate entities.
Is anybody willing to pay for content?
Frankly we do not know. But I do believe that quality matters – and that there are people who think the same way.
People who might respect the fact that you do try to make difference and who are willing to lay down… yes the price of a coffee cup… to show their support. I underline the word support. We are building something here, constructing for the future. It is work in progress.
I was so positively surprised to see that some people had paid the 12months/20€ fee. Especially, when I explicitly made it clear that I unfortunately cannot give any promises on the number we are going to publish during the year. A big thank you!
And I really appreciate the support of everyone who has chosen to pay for this modest first attempt so far.
It is not the euros but the gesture. It’s very easy to tick your “like” button in Facebook, but every time someone takes the trouble of going thru paypal or credit card… It really makes you wanna work harder, because you feel someone is saying “you’re doing a good job, stay with it…” with their gesture.
Maybe there is a chance we might see something else than LOL cats, big boobs and “WOW, look at this!!!” -headlines on our screens after all?
Platform – so what now?
I am myself going to the Olympics in ten days, maybe I manage to cook up something worth showing from there.
I’ve pitched to couple of my friends if they would like to contribute their awesome work and collaborate. So we’ll see what happens.
But one of the main reasons for creating the whole thing is to open it to other visual professionals. You feel like you got a story – a VISUAL story – the world needs to see and hear? If you manage to convince me/us of its worth… we can do it. Need help with multimedia content? Editing, sound, design? No worries, happy to help you.
No, it does not cost you anything. If it does make some money, revenue will be evenly split.
And goes without saying: of course you keep your own copyright.
“Why don’t you focus on the money?” someone asked me the other day. And I agree, to keep the things rolling, it is a necessity. But it cannot be number one priority if you want to do good work. Focusing on the money as your number one goal is the best recipe for failure if you try to stay creative.
I at least want to work with cool people, cool projects, do stuff I can be proud of… instead of focusing how could I PERSONALLY make the biggest cut financially. That shows no respect… and much of what we do in life which is of any value – is about respect. Respect for others, respect for yourself.
I remember Brian saying during our workshop in New York, when someone asked why he didn’t take MediaStorm to certain – obviously economically very viable – direction.
“We could do that and make money, but we would lose our souls” was his immediate answer. He didn’t hesitate a moment there.
Call me idealist, but I’d like to think the same way.