The 19th of May this year was the 7 year anniversary of the day I launched 35mmc. To celebrate, and because I had a little bit more time on my hands (thanks to lockdown measures), I thought I would make some tweaks to the design, layout and navigational structure of the site. These changes are pretty much done now, so I thought I’d give regular readers and contributors a bit of a quick virtual tour, talk a bit about how this and the site has been funded… and announce a new member of the 35mmc team…
The new design & features
Firstly, hopefully it’s obvious that the website has a new design theme. It’s not dramatically different from the last one (in fact, it’s made by the same company). I wasn’t completely happy with the design out of the box though, so I have had it tweaked slightly – but that’s by the by.
The main differences that you will hopefully have noticed is that everything is now in more of a box, which I think has made it a little cleaner, and a little easier to read.
Beyond that, the slider (screen grabbed above) at the top of homepage now doesn’t rely on words being readable over the top of a background image. More significant than that though, it now links through to four pages (still a bit of a work in progress) that should help you navigate the content on the website. These pages detail and list the content within the four main top-level content categories as follows:
Reviews – If you’re looking for photography equipment and peripheral reviews, this is the place to start!
Theory & Reflections – Looking for something to reflect upon, some photography theory or philosophy, or just want to read about how/why other photographers do what they do?
Tutorials & Knowhow – If you want to learn or discover a new technique, build on your skills, or be inspired to have a go at a bit of DIY or camera modification, then you’re in the right place.
Photography & Project Work – Looking for some inspiration, or just want to flick through the project work and photos?
You will also notice that clicking the category name in the menu also directs you to those pages. There are also links in the sidebar (if you are on desktop) and footer which are designed to help new visitors familiarise themselves with the type of content that can be found on 35mmc. They look like this:
I’ve also combined and compacted the bottom part of the posts to make it a little cleaner. At the end of posts, you will now find a bar that looks like this:
This bar contains twitter and facebook social media sharing links, a comment counter (which if clicked will scroll you down to the comments), the author’s name with a link to their own profile and previous posts archive page.
The top of the author profile page looks like this with all the author’s posts in chronological order below:
If you are a contributor to the website, make sure to add your profile picture, social media links and profile. If you don’t know how to do this, email me and I’ll send you a link to the new contributor instructions page.
Alongside the aforementioned pages that I’ve put together to help find older content, I have also tweaked the categories to make finding content a little easier. The most major change I have made though – and indeed the bit that took the longest (about 40 hours work in the end!) – was to re-tag all the content on the whole website.
If you don’t know what tags are, they are a form of taxonomy a little bit like categories, but more granular. At some stage soon, they will be searchable, but in the meanwhile you can find relevant tags listed at the bottom of all posts. Click on one, and it will take you to an archive page of a large proportion of the content featured on 35mmc related to that tag. Some post types have more tags than others, but they all have at least one tag that will take you to more content of the same type or topic.
Finally, the footer now has a load of links and useful bits and bobs such as the email subscription sign up, social media links etc.
Unfortunately, advertising is still a necessary evil on 35mmc. For the last 18 months or so, the amount of content being submitted to the site, combined with me slowly trying to increase the quality and quantity of what is written through greater attention to detail when it comes to editing and curating the content, has meant that I have been spending a great deal of time working on the site.
In “normal” times, the advertising has got to the stage that it now covers a portion of the cost of the time I now take out of my other “day jobs” to run the site. This is great – it genuinely is an absolute pleasure to be earning a portion of my income doing something I love so much as running this website. But, for it to be sustainable, as I say, the advertising has to stay.
In fact, since lock down, I’ve been spending about 4 days a week on the site, but I am expecting this to reduce back down to about 2.5 working days a week when things get back to normal. The ad revenue has certainly not covered 4 days a week, especially since advert revenue has dropped by about 60-70% of what it was thanks to global reduction in marketing spend… but that’s my problem… with my other day jobs grinding to a halt, I have had the time on my hands, so figured I might as well spend it working on and improving the site.
Anyway, something I did want to point out is the advertising within the new design. Since the website design theme has been changed, the platform I use to provide adverts has had to have been reset and reconfigured. As a result, for a few weeks, you might find slightly more adverts appearing on the site than used to. My account manager at Ezoic tells me this is normal.
I will also be manually reducing the adverts on the site in the weeks to come to a level more similar to the amount there was before – in fact I have already removed some of the more obtrusive ones – I just need the ezoic system to find it’s feet a bit before I do anything too drastic
A quick note: If you have a blog and want to make a few quid off advertising, Ezoic is definitely the best way I have so far found – if you want to give it a go, feel free to sign up through my affiliate link here. They are a good team to work with and genuinely seem to side with publishers over advertisers. It’s a lot easier to sat up than google’s adsense by itself too, and nets a good chunk more money.
Patreon & Ko-Fi
All of that about advertising said and done, ultimately I would like to further reduce the adverts on the site, grow the team and even further improve the website. I fund all this through the money that comes in via Patreon and Ko-Fi
What are Patreon & Ko-Fi?
Patreon is a platform that allows fans of the site to chip a nominal amount of money toward the upkeep of the site on a monthly subscription basis. It also gives those people access to a bit of behind the scenes waffle from me. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not some sort of constant stream of exclusive content – it’s just me occasionally waffling about my plans for the site and giving the odd sneak peek at some future content.
In short, I’m not the greatest at it, but that’s mostly because I prefer to focus my efforts on working on 35mmc as a whole. But, if you do really enjoy 35mmc, and don’t mind setting your expectations fairly low when it comes to the patreon-only content, please feel free to get involved here
Ko-Fi is a little more simple it’s basically a tip jar for those who don’t want to subscribe, but still want to chip a few quid once in a while.
Where does the money go?
As I have already said, the advertising goes toward paying for my time. The Patreon & Ko-Fi cash is what I see as funding the expenses. Traditionally, this has included, wordpress, paid-for functionality, hosting, security, backups, the content delivery network, support, maintenance and updates to the site.
I have also in the past used the excess to reduce the adverts on the site. Those who are most familiar with the site will have hopefully noticed a reduction in adverts on the site some time last year (September I think), and again at the beginning of his year.
More recently – topped up by money from the advertising – the funds that come in through Patreon and Ko-Fi have also funded the external costs of the more significant updates I have been making to the site…
The new member of the team – Johnny Sisson
… Helping to pay the new member of the team, Johnny Sisson. If you haven’t already come across Johnny, he is one of the Classic lenses podcast hosts. You can also find him on Instagram here, and loitering in the CLP facebook group here. Like me, Johnny has done his time in camera retail, and is a man of extreme levels of knowledge, so I am very happy to have him on board.
For his sins, his current role is going through a lot of the historical content making some tweaks to improve its standing with google. He is also going to be updating links in old content, and generally having a bit of a tidy up. Thanks Johnny, good to have you on the team!
A quick thanks
Finally, I just want to say a quick thanks to everyone who regularly reads the site, and an even bigger thanks to those who put time and effort into contributing content to it. Without everyone who gets involved in the site, it would just be me, by myself, mumbling into nothingness – and that would be a lot less fun! The community the website is a part of is a wonderful thing and it makes me very happy that this site has become the part of it that it has! So yeah, cheers – and hopefully I’ll still be doing this in another 7 years!