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Friday, 24 March 2023


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Can you set up a TOPA (The Online Photographer Anonymous) 12-step program for the deeply and seriously addicted?


A serious question: would you be better set up if you were receiving 'gifts' from people rather than income through Patreon? I never considered the differences before--but I'd be happy to Venmo or write you a check for the same amount if it helped with your net income issues. Ask the tax lady and see what she says (and whether you would be interested in doing that).

[I guess I'd say Patreon is best, for the simple reason that I can count on it and plan on it. Of course Patreon takes a cut, and they decide what their cut is. But whatever is best for you is fine. Some people just don't like Patreon or monthly expenses and I understand that. --Mike]

I sometimes wonder if you are underpricing your writing, and if starting a subscription service like Substack might help. It's the same type of "hamster wheel business," but there might be a way to dedicate one post a week to Substack, for subscribers, and get a few more dollars that way. I do know of a writer who pays his rent with it, but like you, he has nutured an audience for years and years (Freddie deBoer). He was a rare writer who Substack paid upfront, like a book advance, but for a year of newsletter posts.

You could even "release" the Substack posts at some point, make them public, and share that on TOP.


I don't claim to have any answers to a difficult situation for you as you approach your mid-60's and still need to generate income, but your reader base is one of your great assets, and I would think you'd be able to hold at least three print sales a year where you could team up with some of your talented photographer friends such as: Charles Cramer, Gordon Lewis, Ctein, Ken Tanaka, Carl Weese or go big and get another print sale with Peter Turnley.

The whole premise where we place our orders in advance and the photographer gets a guaranteed order, and you take your 20% should be a win/win for all parties involved.

There has to be a print house that can handle the proofing and order fulfillment if the individual photographers don't want the hassle.

Just a thought. I've purchased from your print sales, and even though I'm now on a fixed income, your past offerings have always been tempting.

Hoping you can find some viable options for some additional income.

If only Exxon, Amazon, Trump etc paid 29.5% of their income in taxes...

The way I look at it, a blog is a one-person magazine, so the fact that you've been this successful in a mostly illiterate world is an outstanding achievement.

A few months ago, I listened to a podcast (Ezra Klein's maybe but I'm not sure anymore) about how many authors are able to make a living using Substack. I believe it works on an author by author subscription model, so no mass exposure is not necessary. It's not clear how one gets started but you might have a leg up on that. I may be talking through my hat here, I know nothing about this, really.

It's a weird world we live in. Uber masters are rich, even though the company is not reliably profitable, while the "self-employed" drivers often don't make enough to finance replacement vehicles, making their business unsustainable. Other than a car dispatching app, what value-added does Uber provide, I've often wondered, that could not be duplicated by hundreds of others. The bigger eBay becomes, the higher their fees, shouldn't it be the other way round?

The biggies, Facebook, Google, etc., rely on advertisement for income, just like commercial TV did, except what I'm hearing now is that the digital advertisement model is failing. That's going to cause some changes. Everyone wants everything to be free, maybe that's a mistake. Magazines weren't free.

Income certainly is relative. I just ran a few numbers for the UK. If you earned a gross salary of £62,100 in the UK today, you would be on the 91st percentile. If you were earning today in the UK, the equivalent of what you were earning at the height of blogging, your pay would be on the 98th percentile. By UK standards, at its height, TOP was doing astoundingly well as a way of making a living, you'd be closing in on the elite (at least as far as those earning an income rather than from investments is concerned). Shame things have gone down hill. You're an outstanding blog writer and I'd like to see you continue forever, but I guess you're going to have to stop one day. These things tend to come in cycles, perhaps blogging will come back into fashion and fund a proper retirement, rather than having to stagger on to when you can no long press a key.

E-Myth: The "e-myth" is that a single person (like your cousin) can run a business ad hoc, day to day, filling all roles, and doing everything all at once forever, being the sole source of value.

The original book ("The E-Myth", 1986) was great. I see that the author has expanded quite a bit: Michael Gerber https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gerber_(non-fiction_writer)

You can find one or more of his books on either of the two pirate book sites below, read what you want, and then send him the money. Might be some relevant ideas there.

PDF Drive: https://www.pdfdrive.com/search?q=michael+e+gerber&pagecount=&pubyear=&searchin=&em=

Libgen: http://libgen.rs/search.php?req=michael+e+gerber&lg_topic=libgen&open=0&view=simple&res=25&phrase=1&column=def

I dislike Patreon and all such vulture apps. An alternative method of showing appreciation, when I'm reasonable solvent, on an ad hoc basis would suit me

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