« When Do You Need a Zoom? (Or, One and Done) | Main | The Online Photographer is Relaunching Next Monday »

Tuesday, 28 September 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Go for it Mike, I’m happy to continue as a Patreon supporter!

If you have a defined successful product (and you obviously do), why not find a way to support it in a manner that allows you some free time to write a book? You have some devoted followers who could form a cadre of guest contributors so that one day a week (or two) they could provide content that you edit. You could also have one or more of them edit comments to allow you to do other things. Just some ideas of the top of my head, but when you begin making the product smaller (three days a week), it will become a different product.
One of the main things that makes this blog so "resonant" is that your life experience resonates with your readers, many of whom are having similar reactions or responses to changes in the marketplace of cameras, prints, technology, and books, to name a few. If you reduce your "voice" it will diminish the product. But you could edit a few others, perhaps. Just some ideas. FWIW.

Any way you could make a few $$ freelance writing for company blogs? My partner she does that, and that seems like a strong need right now, though you may have to write about other things besides photography. Just thinking out loud.

Dear Mike, i'm a Patron and i'd be happy with fewer posts; way better than no TOP at all. By the way, since this has been a difficult year for you, we the readers did get to try fewer posts every now and then: it did not make me reconsider my Patron condition.
I hope you find a way to make ends meet and above all to find happiness most of the way to the inn!

You gotta do what you gotta do. I'll certainly not stop visiting here. Thanks for all you've done already.

What's the guarantee of a book deal and if in place, how much is the advance? Perhaps John could help.

I think this sounds like a great plan, Mike. I'm all for it.

Over here in the UK stick shifts are still the norm. Vinyl records and film cameras are both very much in demand. However there are very few blogs that are added to every day. Your plan sounds sensible. After all it's always risky to have all your eggs in one basket. I for one won't mind a bit and wish you much luck with your book project.

I think TOP updates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday would be fine, Mike. I also believe that most of your readers, even if they would prefer TOP to be full-time, would be happy if the time devoted to writing a book would ultimately allow TOP to continue indefinitely. BTW, I just bought one of those brand-new base iPads through your link. Hope it helps at least a little bit!

Your plan sounds reasonable to me. The question is whether you can actually stick to it. I hope you can because I like reading TOP and would hate to see it go away. So anything you can do to keep the lights on is OK with me.

"without my phone to amuse me." What are you, 17? Bring your copy of Walker Evans, American Photographs. To the Apple Store.
All of us here are looking down similar barrels. Gotta figure out how to make age a feature, not a bug. On the book, find someone in the field to read it as it comes along.... it's not unusual, most writers ask for input. That's where those miles of acknowledgements come from, and a book can get you gigs.... Good luck, and enjoy the drive.....

I feel for you.

Well, this is coming too late, but you could have taken your iPad to the store to amuse yourself during the battery transplant. On the other stuff - yes. Do it. Let us know how the book is progressing, and give us an opportunity to buy signed copies when it's out.

Sounds like a plan. Throw in a print sale once in a while and you should be good, I guess.

One thing you could do to ease the cost of living would be to slowly wean yourself off that "Apple tax" you've been paying for over 35 years and start using technology like a proper poor person. Ditch the iPhone first and get yourself a $100 Android phone then move on to forgetting tablets altogether and find a $250 PC. Where does all the money go? - most of i9t goes on things we want and expect, not on things we really need!

You’ve got buckets of material already for one book that I would buy - the one about TOP! An introduction covering the history of the blog, yourself, and all surrounding TOP-related funfacts, several chapters on various topics following the structure of your hate/love relationship with lists: top 10 of commented posts, criticized posts, most/least read posts, appreciated contributor posts, OT- posts and topics, your own favoirites, un-published posts, reader voted posts, etc - the possibilities are nearly endless! Then finish off with an epilogue where you mull over the future of photography, TOP, and the written word. Curating a collection….sound familiar? You’ve mentioned more and more often the (hinted) closure of TOP, and even if it will live on through the web, we all know what happens to un-managed cloud content… TOP has been my daily companion for more than a decade and is without a doubt the most significant influence on my photography, but it has touched me in so many other was as well. ’TOP That!’ would be the centerpiece of the small and prized luggage I carry with me through time.

Mike, I don't mind your "plan".

Stopping your writing would be a terrible loss to all of us and for your ongoing wellbeing.

What is important as a TOP viewer/reader is that you continue to provide pithy posts as you have done until now. The absolute frequency is less important although I'm likely to check in each day just in case there is a new one to consider.

I understand. I'm seventy with my own one man business framing pictures. Eighteen months of covid have shown that I can't do as much as I could only a couple of years ago. I have reduced my work from five full days to four half days. I'm still doing about 50% of what I did before but tend to relax in the afternoon. I seem to have lost the impetus to do other things I'm interested in, elderly car restoration. camera repair and nursing fifty year old hifi. We are both having to find strategies to cope. Yours seems sensible and I hope it works for you. My best wishes.
Ian Hunter in the UK

You must be getting fed up with my saying this but every time you mention Patreon I point out that you have stopped putting a link at the foot of each post, as you did for a time. I know you have a large link in the right hand column but I suspect that is invisible to many people if, like me, they ‘expand’ the centre column to fill the iPad/idevice page :(.

The other ‘killer’ is the slowness of posting comments (which others have mentioned) and that there is no way to detect (by a searchable typographic) when/where new comments have been added.

Sounds good to me, Mike. Whatever you have to do to stay solvent. I've been reading your writing for the last 15 years, since I was just a lad, and I won't stop just because you need to ease off the throttle at TOP.

Also, I must admit that I used to be one of your regular donators, but a recent life change has forced me to batten down the hatches and only spend money on bare essentials. I'm mighty grateful that TOP isn't behind a paywall, and when circumstances permit I'd like to become a regular donator once again.

These are the posts that are hard for me. Your ambivalence feeds my anxiety. :-) If you really aren't a book writing person, then why not do more here rather than less. How about interviews/columns about some of the illustrious people you have met. You have mentioned Sally Mann before. I bet there are lots of others. Maybe other photographers out there. Did you see the work by Nuria López Torres in NY Times on Muxes. Gorgeous work. Richard Misrach. Nicholas Syracuse. So many doing wonderful, relevant work. Maybe get them to talk about gear since this blog is about gear so much of the time.

If this blog is your current income, why let it slide for the possibility of making a little off a book? I wouldn't butt in normally but you did ask. (Get it on social media.)

Mike, that sounds like a good idea. Go for it. I am not going away. I also try to hit your Amazon link when I buy from there.

You have my blessing. I have retired this year much to my surprise.

Sounds as though you'll have to do it anyway. I think every other day is fine, we'll manage and adjust our expectations of TOP.

It's been a long ride and not many have kept going this far. This feels like a/the way to keep TOP up and running.

Be careful not to commit to too strict a schedule. Most of us would enjoy 2 or 3 blog posts a week. Don't worry if it turns out more to the 2/week side.

Maybe use the blog to work out issues with or ideas for the book content? Bounce a snippet to us, or just share what you're thinking about or working on. We'd all enjoy learning about the process of writing a book, as many of us might follow your footsteps.

Stuff like: do you self-publish? Need an agent? do the layout yourself? Book tour??

Bring us along!

I see your problem, but don't have any obvious solution.

It's literally hundreds of photo YouTube channels, many with quite good content. Maybe not direct competitors to your content, but most likely close enough to steal viewers. I've no idea if video/YouTube is something you'd even consider, but there are certainly quite a few who mange to live from a combination of YouTube, photography and workshop.

You obviously can write and some manage to get books published, but do you have an idea for the book? I think a unique idea/concept is super important to make all the work worthwhile.

I read an interesting thread on dpreview the other day. Someone made a poll about age on the forums. Difficult to know how representative a poll on a forum is, but a large majority was in their fifties and up. Dont know if that help in any way, but I'd expect that you have knowledge and ideas that are interesting to a quite significant percentage of people who're interested in photography.

Ok with me... my contributions will continue. Look for my yearly bit in the next month or two.

Your writing is good. Videos occasionally are helpful, but mostly I do not want to sit through 15 minutes of audio for 10 seconds of useful information. But I pretty much READ all your words!

-- jim

Good luck with whatever you choose. But here is a suggested cost / benefit analysis, if you haven't done it already: what is the potential future income from the book vs. potential loss to halving TOP updates? And related to that, when things keep you from working on a given day or week, which gets the short-shrift, the book or the blog. Obviously, you can only guess at costs vs. income, but be realistic and see where that takes you. Maybe by writing a book, you'll discover a hidden talent. Or perhaps your talent is better suited for short stories instead of books? If cash is in short supply, remote work may have opened new writing or editing opportunities without leaving home.

Er, isn't an Apple store full of toys? And more, actually: I was in one checking out the latest models one day and realized that the guy next to me talking animatedly into a demo iPhone was using the store as his office. It struck me then that Apple stores are fairly well equipped for that--walk up to a Mac, log into your cloud office suite (or pull out your old-school agenda) and you're off. Probably the best way to test the products as well, and maybe that's what the gent was actually up to.

I can think of at least one other somewhat marketable thing you are quite good at, Mike, and that's editing.

Two things on this. Firstly, your three times a week plan sounds fine to me - I am here for the quality, not the quantity. Secondly, I have bumped up my Patreon support a little - hopefully some of your other supporters, those who can afford it, can do the same.

To state the obvious, it's in the interest of TOP readers, fans and patrons that you stay healthy, sane and happy doing this and find sustainable ways to do it. I don't know what became of the volunteer help you solicited a while back, but if you need more, just ask.

I'm a Patreon TOP supporter. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday updates would be fine for me. Alternating between the blog and the book would probably help to keep you fresh.

Alternating between TOP and your book project seems like a good idea because you can alternately give them your full attention, enhancing your productivity and reducing the risk of burnout.

P.S. The link to your Patreon page seems to be broken.

Mike, you have already written the book. Take a page from the music industry. Put together a collection of TOP posts, refresh them, add some new material and voila, "The Best of TOP - (Remastered) - (With Bonus Posts)". If it works for rock and roll, it can work for you.
I'll order mine autographed please.

I would vote (if we are voting) for more TOP content three days a week, and much less editor time spent on the comments. Can you outsource comment management?

I think you are missing a big revenue opportunity by not running more print sales.

Can you run some photography oriented ads on the site and have a premium version with no ads. This would be preferable, for me, to having no TOP at all.

Ten years ago you told me one has to post daily. I don’t think that’s true any longer. AskVic.us posts Monday Wednesday and Friday and does fine.
( Green Bay Packer stuff )

This Patreon supporter is fine with three a week. Just give me a link to something ten years ago for the off days please.

Mike wrote, " ... and who knows how long sitting at the Apple Store...without my phone to amuse me."

You could take a book.

"If I can make that happen regularly"

Frankly, you must make that happen, else you're just pissing into the wind.

Mike, I have enjoyed your writing for a very long time....from the magazine to the Sundays at Lula to the Online Photographer, but you really HAVE to do what is good for YOU.
No one expects you to write TOP on the way to the poorhouse
There hasn't been a print sale in a long time, weren't those a good source of income? Everyone with a blog or website has to monetize it in various ways.
I am all for you writing books if that is what you really want to do but that is not an easy or certain road either. And, you have been talking about writing books for a very long time. Is TOP really the only reason you haven't written one.
I think you should put everything on the table, including TOP and where you live. While it is great that you really care about your readers, Taking care of yourself HAS to be your New TOP priority, ---no matter what happens to the old TOP.
Would being closer to your son be an option?
You are still young and healthy, but you have had a really tough year. You can't lose a Brother and not have it affect you deeply . Make sure you factor in your state of mind. The year after my Brother died was very difficult, I'm lucky I didn't have to make big life decisions that year.
Maybe you don't have to either. At least think about that.
I wish the best for you, from the bottom of my heart.

M-W-F has worked for me for years, it was insane to write every day. although my blog is not monetized in any way. Having the comments on alternate days is a good idea too, yours is one of the few blogs where the comments have true value. The photo industry is in dire straits, yours is one of the few sources of a philosophical approach to the subject. Good luck!

Well my response was to give you $5 per month on patron, least I could do! Just done it, easy now paypal is an option. Thanks for all your work, Mark

Michael, you can write on whatever schedule works for you and I will continue to check in daily. I can't offer advice on creative writing, having spent a career in the law, in which the writing is technical (some would argue it is creative). I do know that, even in my late 60's, I have spurts of productivity during which I can make up for less productive time. Perhaps a good day could produce more than one blog post, banked for the days when words just don't flow.

One word of advice on the trip to the Apple Store. Drop the phone off and come back when they estimate it will be done. Under no circumstances should you stop and look at anything they are selling other than the battery you need. Don't ask me how I know.

Mike, I think you’ll need some consecutive days for the book.
I’m also thinking you should only work five and a half days.
Keep in mind you have a loyal following. Many of us will buy the book.
So two blog posts each week and maybe a short Off Topic ?

Sounds good to me. I can practically guarantee that I would buy any book you wrote sight unseen. (I just got delivered my copy of Eleventy One portraits, but am away from home and can’t see it.)

Thumbs up! Sounds like a good plan to me. I hope the other Patreon people agree.

We get it, few can sustain your level of output, and fewer still among us can absorb that level of input over the long haul. I doubt you will lose Patreon subscribers by reducing the number of posts-per-week on TOP. We are not a fickle bunch, as evident by how rarely we complain about your "gone fishin" posts.

Also - think Print Sales! (Hello?? McFly??)

Mike, if this is what you need to do, then try it and God bless.

With best regards.


As a Patreon supporter, I can say it would not alienate me.

I’m with you, C.B. As we used to say in the movies, from the hand-cranked days to more or less the present.

Nothing wrong with adjusting to the realities of aging. We all have to do it. Find a new comfort level and carry on.

1. As an old friend and Patreon supporter 3 days/week is fine for me. 2. I suspect much of the drop in income from BH and Amazon is related to people reading TOP on their phones or iPads. I don't think the links properly attribute the referral from TOP to BH when they are clicked on a smartphone as opposed to a computer browser. I asked you about this a few years ago because I was concerned about it, but you demurred probably because you didn't know the answer. Might be worth discussing with BH and Amazon. I don't know. 3. Is writing and selling books even profitable? It is my impression that except for the John Camps of the world it is not. Perhaps you have already done this but I would urge you to really investigate the economics of the book business (especially for a book that is likely to sell in the thousands and not millions of copies) before you invest half of your time and energies in writing one. I don't mean to be cynical or discouraging, but doing this would be the literary equivalent of putting together a business plan before investing your life savings starting a restaurant. I haven't been impressed by the profitability of the book biz outside of the world of bestsellers.

I'll believe it when I see it... usually when you say that you are going to cut back there is a flood of articles. Even MWF would be better then most of what I read, and better quality. Thank you SO much for not using video - it's so slow! Do what you gotta do, man.

Scarcity gives an increased 'sense' of value.
Example - Doug Demuro, a youtuber who does car videos. Doug used to post a new video almost every day. Now he only posts a video on Tuesday and Thursday. His revenue went way up. And his life improved. The perceived worth of his videos increased because of their scarcity and Dougs life improved because he could make more videos when he felt inclined and save them for later posting.

Sound familiar? You could write for TOP when you feel inclined. If you have a good run, you could have those extra articles ready to go for the times when you aren't as inclined.

Then with the time that the above process frees up, you can roll up your sleeves and crunch away at the book.

To quote a movie somewhere "When you're important, people will wait for you.".

When you're writing is worth reading, people will make the slight adjustment to coming back every couple of days. And each post will be like getting a new email, back in the days when getting an email was the most exciting thing there was since bread was first sliced!

My world is full of us laughing at idiots who thought writing a book was the way to solve income problems.

Admittedly most of those books were fiction; and you're in a different position, both because non-fiction is different, and because you have a venue right here that connects straight to the people most likely to buy your book.

Will it be a book that will sell well as Kindle ebooks? Because that's where the market is, so far as I can tell. Unless you have a serious chance of interesting a major publisher, and I estimate that as zero (from a position of considerable ignorance; but non-fiction is not hot in general, despite Hamilton kind of driving interest, and it's mostly big names or current topics).

But are you looking at 1,000 sales, or 10,000, or 30,000? That's already well above the way to bet for mainstream publishing of the kind of book I hear you talking about. Kindle will give you much more of each sale than traditional publishing, too. And Amazon POD can also fill orders from the people who want paper (6x9 size paperback, and others, but not the traditional mass-market paperback size that's so good for fiction).

Also, anything with traditional publishing, it'd be shocking if you saw a red cent in less than a year, and 5 years isn't unlikely. It always takes months, it can take years, to get a refusal.

The question of how much you might earn compared to what you'd lose shifting some of your focus to writing is an important question, and statistically it doesn't look like the answer is good. Possibly, if writing books is definitely your only hope, committing entirely to that and being prepared to have it be a disaster might be the right choice.

Mike, I would think staggered days are fine… I thought that was sort of happing already with some next-day posts mainly a mass of responses. As far as the book writing goes, somehow establish that there will be a market for the final product. Talk to a publisher? Frankly, I’d buy something from an author that imparts subjects of their life’s career, as opposed to something of fiction, maybe. Oh, and I like to read about photography.

A man does what a man has to do. I'm with you for the duration.

William Neill recently put out a new book that is a compilation of his magazine post's. Bruce Barnbaum just put out a second edition book that feels a bit like a value added editing of some of his previous writing. By your own definition you would seem well suited to that. I am currently reading some short stories by Jack London. Much better than the long tedious books being put out these days. Got to say that 500-800 page books means a lot of filler. Short stories wold fit the E-book market. A 3 day a week blog or even a once a week blog of good quality is much preferred.

You could put a baseball hat on backwards, wear a T-shirt, and do videos. Actually, I prefer the efficiency of reading to videos. I look forward to continue reading TOP, and I plan to increase my Patreon contribution.

Go ahead, Mike! We all want you happy and creating at whatever rate you feel will be sustainable. Less posts per week is fine with me -- my only suggestion would be to try to include pictures in your posts more often. I love it when you do, and even a loosely relevant picture draws my attention to the article in a different way (plus, it even helps quickly navigating contents on the main page).
Oh, and I increased my pledge on Patreon to help out while you dig into that bookwriting business.

M-W-F works for me and I'll continue to support you on Patreon.

How often did you actually post last year? Was it a lot more than three times a week? I know it feels like five or six times a week, but was it really?

Is this need to cut the posts related to time you need to write, or is it because you want to have a life? Not judging, just asking.

I don't think I've got any more energy than you, though I might be more focused. For the past twenty years or so, I've written and published two full-length novels a year. When I really get jammed up, I go to what I called two-a-days, named after football practices where you work out twice a day, with several hours of recovery between workouts. So, you write from nine to noon, and six to eight. Whatever life you have, you have in between. For several critical writing years, I personally didn't have one. Have you considered two-a-days, and not having a life for a while? It's borderline awful, but ultimately tolerable. It's made especially tolerable if what you do in between writing sessions has a physical component that takes your mind out of writing -- for me, it was hitting golf balls on a driving range, mixed with paying nine-hole rounds with a friend.

I only suggest that because, while I think all of your readers wish you well, you really can't afford to have them wandering off, and it's possible the less-frequent blogging would cause them to do that. And given current circumstances, that might be really difficult to recover from, should you need to.

You might also connect with Kirk Tuck, who has written well-reviewed photography how-to books, and gently inquire into exactly how lucrative that is. Instead of taking a leap into the unknown...

Best wishes whatever you do.

This seems too obvious to even say, but what about photography? Portraits, make prints and sell them, and so forth. You're without a doubt good at more than one thing.

I'm partly to blame: I only order from Amazon about 3 or 4 times a year, and B & H about 1 or 2 times.I get all the way to the "place order button" and I realize I didn't click the link before starting my order. It's late and I'm sleepy, so I don't go back and start over. I rationalize and say it was a small order anyway. I wish I could set it up in my Amazon profile to always credit your account when I order. I do a Patreon donation monthly.

Alternating posts as you propose would be fine with me. I would still be along for the ride. As another person suggested perhaps your writing skills could best be utilized in a collection / anthology of short stories. Another idea is that with your writing, editing, and reviewing skills you would benefit any photographic product manufacturer in writing and / or reviewing their manual. This is one area many companies give short shrift and as a result most user manuals are awful.

As sombody else said, you have already written a book. It just needs some time to put together some of the splendid articles on photography that you have written over the years. Yes, those timeless ones that deal with the things that never change or become obsolete, like aesthetics and your many technical observations.

You have just so much good material hiding on the WWW.

This post prompts another question that is running through my head.

I follow a couple of forums, including a couple on DPR (against my better judgment). I have noticed a steady decline in threads and replies, has now becoming a torrent lately. The rot had already set in pre Covid. A DPR forum on which the last thread was a few hours old a couple of years ago, now has the last thread which is days old. I am sure the arbitrary and unfathomable moderation ( yes, I have been banned for going against the flow several times) is not helping, but this is a good pointer that tells me that interest in photography is steep decline.

I ask myself, why is there this apparent sudden loss of interest in photography?

Maybe you might like to give us your opinion on what seems to be seismic changes in our little photographic world from your more privileged observational position.

First, Thanks for all the work you put in to bring us high-quality writing. I have never been able to warm-up to video content all that much anyway. :-)

For one, I would be perfectly happy with even two posts a week, as long as I know that you are doing fine, and slowing down will help keep you going for longer. Please take care of yourself and all the very best with your book ventures.


Another Patreon suscriber here: three is fine for me, Mike. I also think you should offer some prints to your readership. Educational ones, even.

I agree with other Patreon supporters who have commented. Three days a week is fine. I don't know how one produces fresh content every weekday. Cheers, Gary


I'll be happy with whatever you decide.

A suggestion for increasing your income while you are writing: Think about starting a Kickstarter campaign to give you added money.

I am aware of one author who regularly funds her next book by using Kickstarter.

She announces the campaign with a modest initial goal of say $6K in a month's time. She provides a synopsis of the planned book so buyers can decide to support it or not.

The interested party pledges $5.00 or more to help out. The pledge is only collected and passed on to you if your goal sum is reached by the deadline.

You promise to send them and e-book when it's finished, and/or a print-on-demand copy when the book is finished.

You have to project a deadline for the finishing of the book and getting it to your backers and if that is delayed you have to keep your backers posted.

Xander would certainly be able to set this up for you. You have a big base of readers, like myself who would kick into the thing immediately. Once you got it all set up you announce it on TOP and post a link to the Kickstarter Project. We do the rest.

Look at this for an example: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/403649867/spade-paladin-conundrums-a-kickstarter-campaign/posts/3310233?ref=ksr_email_backer_project_update_registered_users

The Kickstarter people help you set it all up and explain what is required of you.

Go for it Mike!

I'm a Patreon supporter and would like nothing more than to read a book by you. But if you're doing this primarily as a way of making money, well, I'm not so sure. Very few books -- especially photography books, which I assume is what you're talking about -- make money for the author. At least, enough money to make an appreciable difference in his/her living standard. And the actual writing of the book is only the start of the laborious process of finding a publisher, making requested edits, reading galley proofs, participating in marketing, etc etc. Do you really want to do all that? I wonder whether some other alternative, like the ones Jim Freeman suggests, might not work out better for you, financially.

To reiterate, your Patreon supporters just jumped from 780 to 784 (and some increased subs, from the comments) because you mentioned it. I see someone has complained the link is broken as it sometimes is for me too.

When there was a generalized Amazon link, I bought everything that I could, photographic, books, and everything else using that link, to help out. Can such a link be posted again?

Dear Mike, three times a week is good enough! But it has to be often enough to keep my habit (so as not to loose the rewarding habit) of checking in often to find new content. :-)

Ps. Upped the Patron a little bit. Ds


Mike, I've just upped my Patreon support. I have been waiting for a long time for you to write that book, and I'd love to be able to read it someday.

Do what you think is right and what works for you.

[And I wish you would put the entire article into the RSS feed again. That way new articles just pop up and it doesn't really matter how regularly you post. Maybe that could be a feature for your Patreon supporters?]

It is your choice but from a cold hard business sense I think TOP readers will fall away. Every business loses about 20% of clients year on year. I am sur a business which cuts its opening hours/content by half will lose even more readers.
Those who are loyal long term readers will hang around but even they will stop coming as frequently.
You could have a lot more help which I believe would be free to you you have retained 100% control which is good/bad. You cannot do 2 things at once hence your choice.
I am sure the above is not news but I wish you well, only you can weigh up the risks.

A photography site with tiny photos is hampered enough but suits mobile phones.

This wordpress site could easily be part of a conventional type site which gave scope for more normal web resources.

You have to realise that if you are not changing/improving you are heading for the exit, again you have no obligation to the public you decide just be aware it is what you want longterm.

Mike, I have made a modest increase in my Patreon support for you. The last thing I would want is for you to stop TOP as your writing is always such a pleasure for me. I can't tell you how often I read a piece you have written and say to my wife..."Just read what Mike has written". She even enjoys your photography posts! You are Mike to us. You have in the past had other contributors to the blog. Doing this more regularly may be another way to continue posting and allow you to pursue other outlets

I second what Grant said. You have got heaps of good material from past twenty years. Most of it still actually very current. It would be nice to have a good selection in one place, whether in a printed book or in a pdf or ebook. If you spend a few hours every other day to copy and paste and organise that into relevant chapters and maybe add a few short comments to the beginning or end, I think that would be perfect. Best of TOP or random thoughts or whatever, on lenses, on prints and printing, on composition, on many things. In between why not a few on vacuum cleaners and coffee makers and billiard tables. Don’t reinvent the wheel.


I think alternating between TOP and Book is a wonderful idea. TOP is for others and the Book is for you. I don't think any of us will begrudge that. That is what readers and friends are for.

I think it's also a good idea to set a limit to that quartz watch collection. And wait for iPhone 14. Just sayin'.

Dan K.

I will second Ken's comment. Having written a moderately successful photo book myself, one that was promoted on TOP (thanks again!), I can tell you that, with rare exceptions, the amount of income you can realistically expect in actual profit is far less than the amount of time you invest in writing it, especially if you choose not to self-publish. A book is most effective at generating synergy (book promotes blog and vice-versa or book generates other writing, teaching, or speaking opportunities). This is not to say that you shouldn't finish writing your book; only that you would be wise not to drag it out. Not only would this increase the time you invest in uncertain and possibly diminishing return, you increase the odds that you and we will eventually lose interest.

Aside from your book idea, I think you underestimate the value of your writing talent. Your many off-topic posts show you can write entertainingly about subjects as diverse as coffee, watches, bikes, and snooker. You would have to invest effort into finding new opportunities and marketing yourself, but if this allows you to keep your head above water and continue working from home, it would seem worth the effort. Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

"People retire so they have more time to go to the doctor" is a major consideration.

Use parts of your new book material in the blog. Use old blog material in the new book.

I have your book, "The Empirical Photographer".

I suspect that book sales are unlikely to be financially successful directly. However, having a book might draw more people to your blog and increase audiences for classes, lectures and services.


I recently "changed careers" and moved from managing a small international biometrics company to writing fiction. In other words, I retired and can follow my desires to an extent. In the workaday world, very long hours were fairly common. Now, if I want to productive, they are mandatory. Writing is a full time job, at least for me.

I enjoy TOP and have no difficulty with your proposed three days per week schedule. I suspect you might eventually be forced to make a choice. Best wishes, no matter what it is. I, for one, will continue Patron support for the duration.

Best regards on whatever path you follow.

Hey Mike, Patreon supporter here. Reducing your post frequency would *not* alienate me. Plus, I would purchase any book you write. No brainer, really.

+1 on the Print Sales. Zillions of images floating around out there and this is a great opportunity to curate a nice collection for your readers. Perhaps tie this into the photo contests you run periodically. Or not. Just saying. I almost always bite on these and never regretted a single one. I'd prob subscribe if that was a thing.
Re the camera upgrade, I always recommend to those that ask - and practice myself - upgrades to the current model once the new model hits. If it was state of the art last week, how bad can it suck this week. Cost savings are significant, and you still get to ride your manufacturers upgrade schedule if you like. We are Pixel folks here so tith the 6 hitting any day now, we'll be upgrading to 5's. Applies to my daughters and their iPhones as well. Their 11's will soon become 12's. All I got.

Like Nick, I've upped my Patreon contribution.

I’m with Grant: pick a theme, and select the 2.0/50/100 best posts from over the years. Edit to taste. Much less work.

As other Patreon subscribers have said, I am fine with a M,W,F schedule. Those of us who write or have written know that, except for a fortunate few, writing is difficult. We each have to find the way that works for us. I hope the new program works for you.

Sounds like a reasonable plan. I’d even be fine with one less day of blogging if that helped push the book(s) along. And succumbing to peer pressure, I’ve also bumped up my monthly Patreon donation.

So, how about those print sales? Asking for a friend…

Mike, please do what you have to. My Patreon support for your blog is a small one but I hope to sustain it.

As a Patreon donor I am fine with whatever you decide to do.
If you are looking for an additional revenue stream you may want to consider what happened at Bring a Trailer.
It was essentially a blog that featured interesting classified ads for cars from around the world.
It has evolved into an automotive auction site and appears to be doing well.
Working up a business plan around print sales might be worth a look.
You may also consider putting on your editor hat and look for more guest submissions.
I imagine paying for such content would be your preference but bear in mind that you get a ton of comments without the expectation of payment.
You regularly describe TOP as a community. There may be options for you to allow the community to help you cash flow while providing time to work on a book.

Three days a week for TOP is fine. Try to spend no or less time moderating comments. Do print sales. Why did the direct link to Amazon go away? I used to put all of my Amazon purchases through. Still do for B&H, but don't buy much expensive stuff these days. Waiting for the camera I really want and not buying lenses for the ones I have.

As long as you keep this blog alive, adding new material three days a week or whatever works for you, I will keep supporting you through Patreon.

Somewhere I have a book by you of photography articles that maybe you wrote during your magazine days (the EOS revolution and Leica lens articles were good ones that I remember). I suspect there's plenty of stuff you've written over the years that would be of interest to all types of photographers. A TOP survey might gauge interest in such a project (you could offer a purely digital version as well as a physical book). Another option could be Kickstarter - I've supported a few projects there over the years, including Jamie Livingston's Polaroids of the Day and the Meyer-Optik 50 f2.9 that I still use for "creative effect". Of course, health is no. 1, but I can't wait to find out what you come up with!

Mike: Three days a week is fine with me; I would continue my small support via Patreon. But I am with those who wonder if your two projects don't overlap: if first drafts of the book chapters could be be appear as posts. Those posts would have a time horizon, at some point being removed from the blog to be massaged into the final product-between-covers.

Works for me, Mike. Bumping the Patreon.

Hi Mike,
I seldom post comments, but...
When I tried a part-time schedule, I found alternating days was the least workable arrangement—it felt like creating Mondays three times a week and we already have one too many Mondays.
I'd suggest Friday, Sunday, Monday for BOOK and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for T.O.P.
Do you see what I did? I put your book labors the days I'm least likely to check in and focused your blog duties when I have blog-reading time.
Maybe you should gather your site stats and see which days have the highest visits?

However you do it, I'll continue to check in on T.O.P.!

In my humble opinion I don't think alternating your blog and book-writing every day is a good idea. One day at a time is not enough to keep the concentration going. My suggestion: 3 days entirely devoted to the book followed by 3 days entirely to the blog. Top would be published on thursday's, friday's and saturday's. That would give us readers the whole week-end to read you (I have more time at week-end's). And you would benefit of 3 full consecutive days for your book. I mean who "needs" a daily post from you, really?
On a more pragmatic point of view: aren't you supposed to be pensioned next february? I completely ignore what pension conditions are like in your country but surely it should ease things out, no?
M. Perini said: "I wish the best for you, from the bottom of my heart". I fully agree.

Q1: How much are you making from book writing now?

Q2: How long will it take you to raise that to the amount that you need?

Q3: How many books do you need to write per year to stay at that level?

Q4: What do your friends/relatives/associates who write books make from it?

It seems that Grant has the best suggestion: Pull together what you already have, publish that, and decide based on the results.

I self-published a book on a niche subject in 2007 and made a return of about 5 cents an hour for the time I put into it. Finished another book about two years ago and just (meh) posted it to my blog. Still don't know if anyone has even seen it.

Alternate possibility: Sell your house, move somewhere cheap, and work out the details later. There are places.

Example of one option: Drop $40k into a CD for an investor's visa in Ecuador and become a permanent resident more or less overnight. (Per attorney Sara Chaca.) Since I don't have a life, my total cost of living is $750 on a high month. I have an apartment at this place: https://bit.ly/3md4IdM Lots of rentals available elsewhere too. GringoPost.com has info on lots of things.

Every time I go out on the street, I'm on a foreign vacation, and it's spring here all year, but without bugs.

The hospitals are closing their Covid wards for lack of customers because vaccination works when people do it.

Well I’m signing up to the Patreon today. Wont be much but I hope it helps and it is the least I can do for the many years of enjoyment this blog has given me and long may it continue.

I hope the new schedule works and I look forward to reading the book.

In case therre is an idea in here...

'Lynda.com: Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin'

At 'How I Built This with Guy Raz'
September 6, 2021, Runtime: 1-Hour, 15-Minutes


You do have an untapped resource in the form of your commentariat. I bet you could line up a series of guest articles from sympathetic minded readers that would take less time to edit than to generate yourself. Let's face it, we write for you for free now (well, at least to you)! And just for the pleasure of your company. . .

Nick Hunt has it just about right.

Mike, do you have a known source of increased revenue from the book avenue? If yes, this would make sense. If not, it would seem more prudent to maximize more revenue from TOP with additional print sales, etc. I think most people here would love to see more purchase opportunities on TOP - print sales, book sales, portfolio revues, etc. But wherever your path may head, I'm along for the ride as a supporter!



The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007