It’s the end of another year. Admittedly, this project has taken far longer than we anticipated it ever would. We’re now 3.5 years in, and almost £750,000 invested, and we still have a long way to go. However, we have built a platform with over 7 million images on it and an average of 500,000 images viewed per month, viewed by circa 50,000 people and doubling of our revenue year on year. We’re finally at the point, as of November 2019, that our advertising spend nets a positive return. This is key when you are trying to grow a platform like this, and the paid accounts are critical to this. We plan to continue packing our paid accounts with useful features and now that we can scale with PPC advertising, we have put together a formula that allows us to spend a significant portion of our revenue bringing new photographers to the platform, then recycle the revenue that they bring in to spend on SEO to simultaneously increase the organic traffic to the platform, which in turn will increase views, and in time, sales, and in turn increase the ‘stickiness’ of the site. All of this is what we have been working towards, and why so much has been invested into the paid site features. The alternative, for those who don’t know, is to supply a completely free, but entirely ad funded platform. This is how platforms like Meta and Instagram grew (if you want an idea of what this looks like, visit Virily.com same age as us, similar principles but entirely ad funded). Unfortunately the downside of this is that it would be absolutely impossible to scale without huge funding to accommodate the losses that would need to be absorbed until the platform is large enough to command high enough ad rates to sustain the platform. Of course, it could also never happen and the platform fail to achieve a funding round then it’s over. Not a route that i plan to explore, hence the investment into our paid accounts.
2019 has seen huge strides in our capabilities and features, as well as platform stability. We’ve significantly reduced our overheads and are currently implementing systems that should significantly reduce bandwidth requirements, as well as increase the site speed. The additional plus side to this? If, (and i stress the ‘if’ as until it’s implemented it’s all theoretical) these create the savings we expect we will be able to pass these onto our users as an increasing payments per view.
However, we only plan to give these increases to our pro account holders as an additional incentive to use this tier. Why don’t we give it to everyone? It’s a good question and it may not seem fair, but we offer our users access to unparalleled features and technology with much more to come. There isn’t such a thing as a free photo hosting site, and even building and hosting a simple website costs more than our top tier accounts (and that’s before you include the SEO work you need to do to get anywhere near the front page on google). Those users who buy a paid account are investing in themselves and investing in us and therefore giving us the funds we require to grow. Furthermore there is enough ‘spare’ revenue within the monthly £5 fee for us to offset the users storage and bandwidth costs and allocate them a higher return on their views. We have 2 updates to go then we hope to release this.
What’s coming in 2020? Growth, lots of growth. As mentioned previously we have a formula to allow us to simultaneously invest in photographer growth and viewer growth. We’ve already started this and are seeing positive results
We plan to continue our platform development with the next update being the first stage in the tech that will hopefully increase our paid view payments. There are 2 further stages to this to complete and i hope to get it into testing by the end of January. We will not update payments unless it is sustainable and viable. Prior to this we plan to launch our auto product systems. This will remove all manual interaction from creating products and will be available to our Pro account holders. In essence, the photographer will set a profit margin and when a photo is uploaded it will automatically be applied to every available product and put up for sale with the photographers profit margin.
Once the above is complete, and assuming resources are available, we plan to rebuild the user shop, user profile and redo the user feed. We have released a survey and once we receive all our responses back will comb through it and attempt to address any user issues that arise.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thankyou for using our platform. We wish you a Merry Christmas and happy new year and hope to see you all, and more, in 2020!
As always i’m available by email [email protected]
CEO and Founder