How photopigs.com will build a unique photography publication

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    Image by Steve Ford

    photopigs.com is a community-driven photography publication where enthusiasts gather to discuss and produce educational articles for beginners and amateurs. Although photography and writing are unifying subjects, and the primary aim is to improve skill, the community uses subject matter as a launching point to discuss a wide-range of topics. Articles and posts should always be based in photography, though, and most content will aim to be educational in some way.

    Initially, photopigs evolved out of an effort to develop a directory of photographers so that citizen journalists had access to good images for their content. The effort to help give citizen journalism greater legitimacy in the mainstream ultimately didn’t work out, but the group quickly evolved into a community dedicated to encouraging participants to improve compositional and technical skills. While the effort was successful, the overall environment on the platform eventually made it unsustainable because the overall user base was increasingly focused on engaging in partisan political discussions. photopigs became inactive but found itself rebooted on a new platform, Imzy, that was focused on building healthy online communities. However, our comfortable new home went dark in June of this year.

    Experiencing multiple failures on third-party platforms would cause most branded communities to throw in the towel and move on to new and better projects. However, we’re resilient and these obstacles were beyond our control. The environments either became too toxic, didn’t work well for posting articles and facilitating discussion, or shut down their services. Rather than reboot the product again on a new platform, the community decided that the best chance of lasting success was to develop a stand-alone website where we’re not left to the success of a platform. 

    What makes photopigs worth the risk of adding another photography publication to a saturated market? While Imzy was struggling to gain a large enough user base to become sustainable, our community was still gaining momentum in the face of that obstacle. Adherence to the belief that photography is for everyone regardless of ability, skill, and access to equipment has proven time and again to attract dedicated members who work hard to cultivate community. Inclusivity is a powerfully motivating force.

    A stand-alone website requires some changes to existing structure, though any entity has to tailor itself to how the platform operates. However, these changes build upon those foundations and are still based in our vision. photopigs.com now hosts front and back ends. Members of the back-end, which has not quite launched, share photographs and socialize on their posts as they did previously. The front-end presents high-quality content that’s gone through an editorial process. Because we can no longer rely on referrals from a third-party platform, this promotional content’s intention is to help grow the site organically through social media.

    Most publications realize that developing communities around their content is vital to success in an increasingly digital market, but they generally take a top-down approach. photopigs has always been about empowering the average person to learn and improve skill, so the goal of our editors is instead to take a bottom-up approach by producing thorough content tailored to the specific needs and requests of the community. Additionally, high-quality posts from the back-end will be featured on the front-end and promoted on social media. 

    Building a website of this nature requires money and significant time from staff members, and an additional goal is to create a sustainable site that pays for operating expenses and compensates the work of dedicated staff. photopigs.com will focus on creating revenue streams primarily through subscriptions, branded merchandise, and maybe even a monthly magazine as much as possible. However, because content is educational and promotes the arts of photography and writing, articles should always remain free to those unwilling to pay for them. These two factors require the implementation of ads. 

    Partners agreed to lay photopigs to rest if we’re unable to build a sustainable website that meets our goals within a reasonable amount of time. Based on past successes on multiple platforms though, confidence remains high. As soon as the effort is sufficiently successful, photopigs.com will seek to hire a web developer to build a customized site that better considers the needs of staff and community.  

    With that, welcome to photopigs.com! We’re grateful that you’re here after waiting patiently over the summer, and hope that you join us in cultivating a healthy and sustainable online community. 

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