Can anyone explain this? It's the graph of our recent traffic. That top dot is well north of 60,000 pageviews. Clearly, we got bumped by some big site somewhere, but I have no idea who or why.
I'd just like to thank those readers who have placed contributions in the Tip Jar* this past week in support of our little contest. Vous êtes très aimable, as my father used to say, one of the French phases he knew: "You are very kind."
We had a bit of a trauma this summer. Pentax, under new management as you are probably aware, decided to leave us—the new managers have a new advertising and publicity plan, which is perfectly understandable**.
Pentax is no longer a company, in fact: the company is simply called Ricoh; "Pentax" has now been demoted to a model name for Ricoh's line of DSLRs. Sort of the opposite of what happened with Contax in 1972, when a model name was promoted to a brand name.
Our new major supporters are Sony and (as you will see) Fuji, both sponsored by B&H Photo, with whom we have a warm working relationship. My liason at B&H has become a friendly voice on the phone. (One of his funniest lines is when I explain to him why I'm not going to link to some product or post a notice about some deal or other. He'll say, with an invisible but still obvious eye-roll, "Oh, that's right, I forgot, Mike Johnston doesn't like to make money!" Always makes me laugh.) Despite my obstinate insistence on only posting links when I think it's convenient for my readers, rather than just for my wallet, B&H Photo has really been stalwart in its support of TOP.
Pentax, however, had an unprecedentedly long tenure as our little site's main advertiser, and I'd like to thank Ned and Michelle and our other friends at that company sincerely. I admit it was not as crucial to the site's survival as Fabio Riccardi and Michael Tapes were before it, because we're more stable now in general, but it was still very meaningful support.
Pretzels and insects
TOP is in no danger of going away. But—I don't know if you've noticed—the world has changed greatly since 2005 when we started out. Amazon back then was a money-loser whose future viability was being debated; now it's the blob that snacks on bricks'n'mortar stores like a fat guy snarfing pretzels, and threatens to swallow whole industries (run, book publishing!). It and B&H Photo are what keep us alive***. My big worry is that Amazon has so little competition that one day it might simply decide it doesn't need online affiliates directing business its way any more. I mean, Google is afraid of Amazon. You can imagine how a near-microscopic insect like me feels. Along with this, think of how many more sites are competing for your attention these days. Some of which, I have to admit, are really good. Everybody and his brother wants to make money on the Internet these days. I was fortunate to get in when I did. 2005 looks sleepy by comparison.
Consequently, our efforts now are to diversify. All of which is just going slowly, very slowly. Slowly. Let me reiterate: slo-o-o-owly. I spend a lot of time now on our book publishing plans; I'm still struggling against a strong headwind in the effort to increase the physical size of my office (the key to so much else), grinding away at the problem...slowly. And we're revamping our print sales in good ways (I'll have some very significant news along those lines come September, when I'll announce all our plans until approximately February 2014).
And in this big mix, I just have zero complaint about you. At the same time, if I could make a modest and humble request, it would be this: don't be afraid to be pro-active. We're a little site, suviving well so far in a great big scary jungle. We need our friends. If you resent online ads, please don't; please click on that new ad every now and then and see what's on offer behind it. It will do TOP good and help keep it alive. (I will add that I worked with B&H to attract the companies that I felt were legitimately of the most interest to our readers in general; Sony's and Fuji's efforts in the cameramaking field are probably closest to enthusiasts' hearts these days, wouldn't you say? Who else is making so many tasty morsels like the RX1 and the X-Pro1?) (And see, those links made sense there, didn't they? I do too want to make money!)
This is the job of my life, one of the two best jobs I've ever had. I know it must inevitably go away, although I have no idea yet what will kill it. (I'm kind of curious, to be truthful.) But if it goes away tomorrow I'll have fond memories and a feeling of appreciation for TOP for the rest of my life.
And for the record, I never think of TOP's readership as a great big faceless mass of thousands of people. I think of it one person at a time. It's never "them" with me; it's "you." The individual person out there reading this site is someone for whom I just have great respect, a shared interest, and a matter-of-fact background-level feeling, day-in, day-out, of thankfulness. I'm very privileged to have an audience on today's Web. Vous êtes très aimable.
*I subsequently learned the actual Tip Jar was not even working, which is why today's post is so late going up. And spending two and a half hours on that caused me to miss The Milwaukee Masterpiece, where I had hoped to do some shooting with the D800. So no shooting for me today. A perfect microcosm of my working life! The link in the right-hand sidebar is now very temporarily called "Donate," and I will work on reinstating the traditional "Tip Jar" later this week.
**And I learned another of life's lessons: a handshake deal with
the King is as good as gold, but only with the King whose hand you shook. When the old King is beheaded
and a new King sports the crown, the new King might well look at you and say—with impeccable logic—"But I never shook your hand." We continue to wish all the people at Ricoh and at the former Pentax all the best.
***I took a page from Jay Leno's book. Jay lives on his performing and personal appearance income and puts all the money he earns from television in the bank (that's got to be quite a big bank account by now). My family lives on Amazon affiliate fees and puts any income from everything else in the bank. Hey, when you're self-employed you have to make your own retirement plan.
"Open Mike" is TOP's editorial page, when Ed. gets to vent. It appears on Sundays.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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