August 30, 2014, 04:38:43 PM

Poll

Is a website based on real-world reviews by photographers a good idea?

Yes
No
Maybe
I Don't Know

Author Topic: website concept: proSLRs.com  (Read 3685 times)

grahamclarkphoto

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website concept: proSLRs.com
« on: March 19, 2013, 12:28:48 AM »
    Hello all!

    I have an idea for a new website that I wanted to get some of your thoughts on.

    There are tons of awesome websites out there for camera reviews, but the problem (in my opinion) with most of these is that they only really present one review per site, and often times the reviewers aren't working photographers, or if they are they're not professionals. What I'd like to do is build a community-based site whereby a curated selection of professional photographers review SLRs in a real-world context.

    What if (as a reader) you could select reviews of the Canon 1D C based on the work of a professional photographer in a niche that you identify with:

    • professional cinematographers
    • professional wedding photographers
    • professional landscape photographers
    • professional commericial photographers
    • professional street photographers
    • professional underwater photographers
    • professional wildlife photographers
    • professional model photographers
    • professional war photographers

    In addition to professional reviews, the site could focus on:

    • professional photographs of the cameras
    • professional photographs with the cameras
    • profile pages for photographers. links to the photographers site, social media etc.
    • reviews for photographers, by professional photographers
    • blog on all things photography. up-to-date news on pro SLRs only
    • featured: photographer of the month
    • forums for pro SLRs and photography in general

    The site could look like this:
http://organicthemes.com/demo/magazine/
The domain could look like this: proSLRs.com
The reviews could look something like this: http://grahamclarkphoto.com/review-canon-eos-6d/


The photographers could look like this:

Any thoughts, or people interested? I already have a number of professional photographers, designers and SEO pros who are interested in moving forward with it but I wanted to get a sense from everyone here! : )

Graham
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 12:38:03 AM by grahamclarkphoto »
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website concept: proSLRs.com
« on: March 19, 2013, 12:28:48 AM »

RGF

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2013, 01:39:50 AM »
Overall, great idea but the challenge will be in the details.  There are many shades of photographers with lots of different interests, talents, needs.  To find a good match to the way I shoot and to match my needs will be difficult. 

expatinasia

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2013, 01:44:12 AM »
I think it is a nice idea, but to be very honest you are facing an uphill battle. Generating ad revenue and aff revenue even for established sites is hard, but doing it from scratch is a whole new ball game.

One problem is that people have preferred review sites. I, for example, always go to the-digital-picture.com when I want a review of a body, lens or pretty much anything photographic. That review combined with a sampling of comments and reviews from elsewhere helps me to make an informed decision.

I may also ask fellow pros when I am shooting at an event. But even pros get it wrong, and are not as spec savvy as some imagine. For example, I was at an event not long ago and one guy shooting a Nikon D4 had about 20 memory cards on his desk. Some 16GB but mostly 8GB cards. Compare that to some of the non-pros on these forums who have all the latest gear and 64GB 1000X cards etc.

Therefore I mainly use sites like tdp as I think his reviews are the best I have ever seen. The rest I take with a pinch or so of salt.

I wish you luck if you do go ahead, you will need it.

Added: I voted "Maybe".
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 01:49:21 AM by expatinasia »
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pierceography

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2013, 12:29:44 PM »
In theory, it's a good idea.  But like the other posters have mentioned, it's an uphill battle.  In my experience (Application Developer), creating the content management side is easy.  Creating the content and building a subscriber/user, that's an entirely separate -- and exponentially more difficult -- endeavor.

Some questions:

* How would you entice professional photographers to review equipment on your site?  To start, I imagine this site would have low traffic and small user base, so for a professional photographer to take time away from their job, you'd likely have to pay them.
* How would you manage the content?  Would it be a free for all, or would you have an administrator?
* What would be your source of revenue?  Ads are great, but given the saturation of market (I mean, you're posting this idea through a competitor) I can't imagine you would recoup your investment (time, capital, etc) very quickly.

Frankly, this idea kind of sounds like facebook for photographers.  Which, again, isn't a bad idea... but having built these sorts of tools in the past, I can guarantee getting it off the ground would be more challenging than you think.
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grahamclarkphoto

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2013, 01:00:23 PM »
In theory, it's a good idea.  But like the other posters have mentioned, it's an uphill battle.  In my experience (Application Developer), creating the content management side is easy.  Creating the content and building a subscriber/user, that's an entirely separate -- and exponentially more difficult -- endeavor.

Some questions:

* How would you entice professional photographers to review equipment on your site?  To start, I imagine this site would have low traffic and small user base, so for a professional photographer to take time away from their job, you'd likely have to pay them.
* How would you manage the content?  Would it be a free for all, or would you have an administrator?
* What would be your source of revenue?  Ads are great, but given the saturation of market (I mean, you're posting this idea through a competitor) I can't imagine you would recoup your investment (time, capital, etc) very quickly.

Frankly, this idea kind of sounds like facebook for photographers.  Which, again, isn't a bad idea... but having built these sorts of tools in the past, I can guarantee getting it off the ground would be more challenging than you think.

Hey Pierce,

Thanks for your thoughts! You're right, the primary factor in getting an idea like this off the ground would be finding the professional photographers to write reviews. I have access to this, so the secondary factor which comes up as you mentioned is of course SEO.

I don't believe revenue would be a requirement here, at least at first. Perhaps referral links to cameras on B&H or something could be one source, which wouldn't be banner-based (ldeal). What do you think?

Graham
"Why limit yourself to what your eyes see when you have an opportunity to extend your vision?" - Edward Weston

Halfrack

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 01:34:45 PM »
While the idea by itself is sound, it's a few years of work to get it flushed out, and able to produce revenue.

You're duplicating work done, so it may be better to go looking for the existing reviews, link to them (not copy and paste) and tossing on minimal ads on your site.  The bigger question is why are you doing it?  How much time away from shooting are you committing to?
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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 01:54:46 PM »
Good Luck.  It takes a big investment in time and money to start.  Craig still spends a lot of time working on CR, I bet he sometimes wonders why he punishes himself. 
 
There are very few real world photographers who can:
 
1.  Write in a understandable and interesting fashion.  Writing is a skill and talent just as much as photography requires talent and skill.
 
2.  Give a unbiased review.   We are all biased.  The equipment we chose was the best choice.  Without a comparison of factual data against similar units, you might end up with just another fanboy review.   A decent review is difficult, expensive, and requires  a lot of time and care.  I don't see how a working pro would have time to do what is needed unless you were paying him the going wage.
 
3.  Many reviewers talk about real world images and try to ignore real data.  The images they show hide issues in detail and really do not mean much, if anything about the equipment they used.  Don't get caught up in that trap, a balance of real data as well as real images is needed.  Few sites talk about some of the lens flaws like coma, its certainly critical for some applications, and should not be ignored, but usually is.  Lenstip is about the only one showing it.
 
 

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 01:54:46 PM »

unfocused

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 02:08:04 PM »
The nice thing about the internet is that all sites are a work in progress. The bad thing about the internet is that all sites are a work in progress.

Basically, what I mean is that the cost of entry is cheap and it is easier to modify your product to adapt to the demand than it is in traditional print media. The downside is that it is so easy and cheap to launch a website that people often fail to recognize how much time and effort must be invested in making a site a success.

If you really have a base of photographers who have the time to write reviews, are engaging writers and don't ask for any financial return at the outset, then you don't really have much to lose other than your own time and a few hundred dollars for hosting and url registration.

Monetizing the site could be another matter, but you won't know until you try. Be prepared, however, to
1) make accommodations to advertisers if you do want to make the site self-supporting. It's nice to say "No banner ads" when no one wants to advertise on your site anyway. But, it won't be so easy if the site is a success and you will be turning away revenue;

2) Devote yourself to the site instead of your photography. It's not that you can't do both, but make a generous estimate of the amount of time you think the site will require and then multiply it by about 10x. Can you devote 2-3 hours a day to the site, every day, seven days a week?

A site with news content of any sort is not like a portfolio site. You have to feed the monster and that means every day. The ever-changing content on the forum and the interactivity among forum participants keep people coming to CR during the long stretches between any actual "news." If you aren't offering daily content, even if you get viewers, you won't keep them.

So, sure, give it a try if you have the resources to do it. But be realistic about things. Expect it to take a few years and thousands of hours of dedicated effort to get off the ground.

On the plus side though, the cost of failure is also low. Try it for six months and if you haven't found the right niche or conclude you will never find the right niche, you can always kill it off. Think of the millions of blogs out there that never get updated.
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emag

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 02:25:47 PM »
I dunno, it might rapidly deteriorate into an egofest.  There are folks on CR and elsewhere whose opinions I value and trust, to the point of if they told me to put wax paper in front of my lens to sharpen images I'd do it.  If there are review sites they trust, I'm inclined to trust those sites also.  I'm no pro and don't make a living with my gear, I'm not interested in the only-L-lenses-are-worth-using crowd, nor do I want to buy crap.  If the 1,000 dollar third-party lens is damn near as good as the 2,700 L lens, don't be afraid to say so because other pros will sneer.  To say the 'equipment doesn't matter' is also ridiculous.  If it didn't, we'd all still be using Brownie Hawkeyes.  If you want to set up a website strictly by and for professionals you'll have to make it a subscription site with a moderately high price tag, to keep out the amateur riff raff (like me!) ;D

sanj

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 02:38:22 PM »
All great ideas have an uphill task. You will never know unless you try.

I will visit such a website often.

Best of luck. Visit my website (under construction STILL) and let me know if I match your standard to contribute.

pierceography

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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2013, 02:53:32 PM »
In theory, it's a good idea.  But like the other posters have mentioned, it's an uphill battle.  In my experience (Application Developer), creating the content management side is easy.  Creating the content and building a subscriber/user, that's an entirely separate -- and exponentially more difficult -- endeavor.

Some questions:

* How would you entice professional photographers to review equipment on your site?  To start, I imagine this site would have low traffic and small user base, so for a professional photographer to take time away from their job, you'd likely have to pay them.
* How would you manage the content?  Would it be a free for all, or would you have an administrator?
* What would be your source of revenue?  Ads are great, but given the saturation of market (I mean, you're posting this idea through a competitor) I can't imagine you would recoup your investment (time, capital, etc) very quickly.

Frankly, this idea kind of sounds like facebook for photographers.  Which, again, isn't a bad idea... but having built these sorts of tools in the past, I can guarantee getting it off the ground would be more challenging than you think.

Hey Pierce,

Thanks for your thoughts! You're right, the primary factor in getting an idea like this off the ground would be finding the professional photographers to write reviews. I have access to this, so the secondary factor which comes up as you mentioned is of course SEO.

I don't believe revenue would be a requirement here, at least at first. Perhaps referral links to cameras on B&H or something could be one source, which wouldn't be banner-based (ldeal). What do you think?

Graham

If you already have professional photographers willing to do reviews on your (theoretical) site, then you already have small piece in place.  In regards to SEO, I would have the photographers write reviews that would exclusively live on your site.  Then the photographers could link to your site in their blogs/websites.  This would provide a valuable SEO boost.  In this context, link backs (depending on the source) can be more valuable than content.

But I'm still skeptical about the overall "business plan" aspect of it.  If the site becomes as popular as you envision it, revenue would be a side effect of popularity.  It's hard to have a popular website with a large user base and high SEO ranking and not be able to pull in revenue.  Sure you can say you're not interested in making money off it, but that will immediately put you at a disadvantage to your competition.

Would it be a useful site?  Sure, but useful doesn't always (and frankly rarely) translates into successful.  Take this forum for instance.  It has almost all the content you're looking to build your site around -- professional reviews/photos from all forms of photographers, featured stories/articles, and just about every opinion you could ask for.  Granted, it's lacking in organization, but I wouldn't see myself gravitating towards another site with less content and better organization.  Most of us have developed skills for sifting through loosely organized data, and unfortunately have an attention span reflective of that.  So your primary challenge will be two fold: attracting users to your site, and convincing them to stay.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be negative here... just realistic.  I've spent hundreds of hours of my own time writing my site from scratch with a hoard of useful features that no other site on the Internet offers.  And to date, the only regular visitors I get are my wife, my mother, and myself.  But I knew that going in.  I wanted a web application where I could quickly access all (and by all I mean 32,000 and counting) photos I've taken and organize/view/manage them from anywhere.  It works great, and more importantly I had fun building it.  But I never had an expectation that it would become wildly popular and be the next facebook for photographers.  I just enjoy writing software.

But that being said, I look forward to seeing what you can put together.  :-)
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Re: website concept: proSLRs.com
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2013, 02:53:32 PM »