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Request for Feedback: How Best to Partition my Publication Offerings? (updated with addendum)

See the reader comments on this post.

First off, let me thank every subscriber, particularly those that subscribe to the “everything” deal, a flat yearly fee of $200/year for any logged-in subscriber (or $250 for new subscribers). That level of support makes all partitioning issues moot.

I am looking for strictly well considered thoughtful feedback on what follows. Be sure to read the final section before sending feedback, as it captures my current thoughts on restructuring.

diglloyd publications, March 2019

For years I have partitioned my by-subscription publication offerings into categories. For a decade I have adhered to a logical framework which makes for a clear-cut organization for clarity on what to subscribe to.

This partitioning no longer suffices what with virtually everything going mirrorless even while interest in DSLR cameras and lenses drops to a barely perceptible heartbeat (from the standpoint of new subscribers). In the future, nearly all my work will be in mirrorless or medium format because the industry has almost completed that transition.

I would greatly prefer one flat fee as I do now ($200 for any subscriber, $250 initially), but that I have found is too high a price for those looking for only a few things about lenses or cameras. Nor can I see things remaining viable by cutting my prices drastically—years of feedback show that there this does not make up for the price reduction (quip: “we lose money on every sale, but we make it upon volume”).

To continue with the existing partitioning would mean (mostly) one giant publication (diglloyd Mirrorless) containing nearly all new gear (mirrorless) of all brands. That means inflexibility in pricing. It benefits no one to have a single price perceived as too high for a narrow area of interest (“I’m just interested in Sony”); it discourages new customers. A lower price means finding other employment, as years of experience tells me that a lower price does not drive sufficient volume for a boutique business like mine.

Summarizing the current partitioning of publication (by subscription) content

This is a summary, for details and the organizational logic involved see Which Content is in WHICH PUBLICATION for my logic on what goes where.

Ideas I am considering for new partitioning/organization

These are some of these ideas I am considering and not considering.

I am not considering a fine-grained a-la-carte approach, as this has serious organizational and confusional/frustrational drawbacks (cross-linking and similar, shopping cart, which to buy, brands of lenses for the same mount, etc). I am not considering mingling medium format with Sony mirrorless or similar.

The following publications make sense unchanged or largely so:

  • diglloydMedium Format — no change, all medium format as now.
  • diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses — no change, all Zeiss DSLR lenses as now.
  • diglloyd Advanced DSLR — Move workflow and anything about post processing or shooting technique into Making Sharp Images. Retain existing DSLR camera and DSLR lens reviews (even if adapted to mirrorless). [In the case of Nikon and Canon, one could argue to merge DSLR stuff with the same-brand mirrorless stuff, but that would gut it and leave it severely weakened to the point where it doesn’t make sense. Nor do I see mirrorless shooters having much interest in DSLR cameras or lenses looking out a year or two. Better to retain its integrity.]
  • diglloyd Making Sharp Images —same, except incorporate workflow material from diglloyd Advanced DSLR.
  • diglloyd Leica — same, except remove the Leica SL content into diglloyd L-Mount Mirrorless.

A variant of the above given the manufacturer support of Canon and Nikon for their DSLR lenses is to lump together “clean path” transitions together, e.g., Canon DSLR and mirrorless, Nikon DSLR and mirrorless. But what to do with what is left in DAP like Pentax, which cannot stand on its own, or Voigtlander lenses, etc. The organizing principle of DSLR lenses makes more sense to me on the whole. OTOH, a Canon EOS R user with a stable of Canon EF lenses would likely disagree. I see that.

Possible restructuring

Partitioning would to the extent feasible preserve access for current subscribers to current content / brands, with the possible exception of the new area e.g., the L-mount consortium (but “everything” is always everything).

Pricing would be adjusted since each area would be more focused.

diglloyd Mirrorless Cameras

Partition existing content by brand(s) or mount type.

For example, {Sony mirrorless, Nikon mirrorless, Canon mirrorless, L-Mount consortium, Fujifilm mirrorless, Micro Four Thirds}. That would allow pricing flexibility of several kinds, and also provide valuable feedback on what to focus on. A simplified variant of this would be to group some brands together, e.g., Nikon + Canon, Sony + Fujifilm. That is somewhat arbitrary and I’m not sure it makes sense for that reason, but it would reduce the offerings from six to four.

Cross-brand comparisons would be organized at a separate area where, for example, a comparison of Nikon Z to Sony FE would require subscription to both.

diglloyd Leica

Retain existing focus so that Leica M and Leica Q and all M-mount lenses remain. The key and not very significant change would be to move the Leica SL coverage into diglloyd L-Mount Mirrorless.

Contact Lloyd with feedback.

Addendum

This side is surely a boutique and unique business. Do you want to see it continue? I like what I do and want to keep doing it. I gratefully thank everyone who subscribes, but particularly all those who subscribe for the fixed-rate everything deal.

This is a high stakes stressful decision for me. The wrong choice could spell the end of my business entirely e.g., not being able to pay my mortgage (literally). So I cannot take risks that have the potential to undercut revenue; I have no financial buffer at all. Thus I am not receptive to “everything for half the price” ideas.

Note to readers who dislike ads: without them, this site would cease to exist, so blocking them is understandable, but works against me, not with me.

Radical alternative #1: half price for one month

A radical and risky alternative might be to have all-or-none, offering one-time-one-month or yearly subscription. The issue there I see is timed/delayed subscribing, reading everything and coming back a year or two later and repeating. Very high risk: a low price might precipitate a revenue crisis without a corresponding bump up in subscribers—yikes.

Radical alternative #2: all or nothing

All or nothing for $150/year. I don’t know how many first-timers I would lose due to the price; it would have to be offset by an increase in renewals. Risk unknown, makes me nervous.

Radical alternative #3: sponsorship with a twist

Free of charge, but $50 a year or something like that for access to high-res images (for revenue reasons and to reduce abuse and image theft). Major sponsorship required with multi-year contract, the downside being an ad presence on all pages. This is my most preferred alternative as I would love to have my work exposed to a far larger audience. It is also a low-risk path if a suitable agreement can be reached.

Reader feedback

I would summarize reader feedback in several ways. Please excuse me if I have misunderstood or mischaracterized anyone who took the time to write—thank you.

  • Area of usage/area of applicability seem to me (and some readers) most relevant. For example there is little relation between Fujifilm X and Fujifilm GFX other than F-u-j-i-f-i-l-m. I don’t see brand name as a viable organizing principle without additional factors; Fujifilm GFX is much more suited to Medium Format—totally different audience. Similarly, diglloyd Zeiss is only Zeiss DSLR lenses, which can be shot on just about anything, though initially only on CaNikon DSLRs—that area exists separately as a specialty area.
  • Some readers advise that brand is what matters which I think comes down to a speciously simple idea, the spelling: C-a-n-o-n or N-i-k-o-n or S-o-n-y means that that brand stuff goes with that brand partition. There is some validity to that for Canon and Nikon because of their excellent transition path (lens adapters). But it breaks down in several ways: Zeiss makes mirrorless, DSLR and rangefinder lenses. Zeiss Loxia (Sony only) falls only into Sony mirrorless interest, just as Zeiss ZM associates only to Leica M. What if Sony creates a medium format camera? Similarly, Fujifilm X is a radically different area than Fujifilm GFX which properly is part of Medium Format. Brand alone is not a good organizing principle.
  • For years I have seen that there is some degree of confusion on the current partitioning. I hesitate to do anything that makes it harder to understand. Easier or harder to understand does not a priori mean more or fewer offerings, only that clarity is needed on each. But I would say that at some point, too many offerings is hopelessly confusing. It also means that easily stated organizing principles are the only hope to make it understandable.
  • The fact that a lens can be adapted to another platform would lead a disorganized mess, since some lenses can go on just about any camera of any format size. This is why lenses have always associated with their native mount, or been placed in their own specialty area (e.g., Zeiss DSLR or Zeiss ZM in Leica). The weak area in this argument are Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses because of the excellent manufacturer transitional support.
  • Some readers are already annoyed at partitioning. Most solve that via the already-available flat yearly fee of $200/year for any logged-in subscriber (or $250 for new subscribers). My thanks. Some want more for the same price (e.g., DAP and Zeiss for the price of one), a sentiment I understand (value) but there is no value to anyone in going out of business. Thus as I see it, partitioning is not really the issue, it’s a comment on pricing.
  • One reader suggested a partition similar to diglloyd Zeiss for Sigma lenses, given that so many are now multi-platform rejiggered versions of the same design. Many more are coming and maybe they will also be the same optical design for all mirrorless. I am pondering that, but it has issues, like DSLR vs native designs and who knows what else (medium format Sigma lenses?). I think the best albeit imperfect answer remains the same: a lens goes into the publication for its native mount. Just because a lens shares the same optical design is not IMO a strong argument e.g., Zeiss Loxia 35/2 vs Zeiss ZM 35/2 are the same optical design (Loxia tweaked slightly), but totally different platforms.

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