The Online Darkroom Store

Wednesday, August 14

How The Online Darkroom is going

I started this website about 23 months ago and thought now, just a couple of weeks before the second anniversary, might be a good time to let you all know how it's coming along. There have been a total of 144 posts - about one-and-a-half a week on average - and around 140,000 page views overall. Compared with the likes of Ken or The Online Photographer, this is chicken feed but I'm very pleased with it and offer sincere thanks to all you readers and followers who tune in on a regular basis.

The most read post is A Coffee House in Cunda - take a bow Omar Ozenir- which has had 5223 hits. That's more than twice as many as the next most read post which is one I wrote about Adox CMS film - and this despite the fact the latter is twice as old. This tells me two things. Firstly, there's no substitute for quality and Omar's post is a great one. Secondly, promotion helps a lot in attracting readers.

When I published what was Omar's first English translation of a post from his own Turkish language website I went onto the likes of the Rangefinder Forum, APUG, FADU, and Flickr to urge people to take a look. That brought a lot of readers to The Online Darkroom and some of them added the blog to their list of bookmarks.

I followed the same practice for some subsequent Omar posts, labelling them, tongue firmly in cheek, "Turkish Delight". Omar started to get a bit queasy about the praise I was lavishing on him on these websites and forums and, not having any sick bags to hand, I agreed to be a little more modest. Omar has a young family and a busy life but still manages to ping me a translation when he can for which I'm sure we're all very grateful. All of his posts are well-received for the excellent reason, I think, that he's a very talented photographer. Thanks are also due to my friends Phil Rogers and Andrew Sanderson for their guest posts that also proved very popular with readers. If you fancy writing something for The Online Darkroom again, chaps, I'd love to publish it.

The photographer's sporran! Sadly, I wasn't allowed to
wear the Rollei to my son's wedding.

Readers come from around the world but, not surprisingly, are concentrated in the English speaking countries. The US has the lion's share of readers with 31% and the UK is next on 22.5%. Germany makes a surprise but very welcome appearance in third place (4.75%) owing to the fact that Spur, a German company, publishes translations of my reviews of its products on their own website.

I have a very loose relationship with Spur. They know I'm keen to promote film and darkroom practices and materials and seem happy to supply me with some of their products free of charge for review purposes. They get some English language coverage of what I've so far found to be excellent products and I get something new to write about. That's as far as it goes. Personally, I think what Heribert Schain is doing at Spur is tremendous. Spur are a small company but they're conducting some good research into materials designed to improve the quality of our results - and how many companies, even the well-established ones, can say that?

Canada and Australia comprise 4.15% and 3% of readers respectively. The Ukraine, China, France, Sweden and Italy make up the bulk of other readers. I'm a Scot and tempted from time-to-time to throw in the odd colloquialism but I have to keep reminding myself that some unorthodox Scots, which might be barely comprehensible to readers from England, will be completely lost on a Mandarin speaker for whom English is a second or third language.

Last month was the most successful we've had on TOD with 12,428 page views. The first full month had 1,168 page views. It's good to know we're going in the right direction. And that's how we stand at the moment. It's difficult to know what effect TOD has had on the film and darkroom world and photographers in general. I know we've encouraged some people to pick up their film cameras again or bring the enlarger down out of the attic and dust it off. But how many? Who knows. One thing I do know is that we can't have done the cause much harm!

So where do we go from here? How can we get more people coming to this website and give them the feeling that we're all part of a small but proud community of artists who are sticking up for what they like in the face of a pretty relentless digital onslaught? I feel I've promoted the blog as much as I can on the Rangefinder Forum, Flickr, etc, without alienating users there. There's a thin dividing line between gently encouraging people to look at a blog and bugging the life out of them! But if I don't tell people about TOD, how will they find us? Film and darkroom is a niche market nowadays so we're never going to be huge. I've been thinking about how we could increase readership still further - spread the word about film and darkroom, so to speak, but it's not easy. If you have any ideas of your own then please let me know in a comment at the end of this post.

In the meantime, I was going to ask you if you would be able to do a little promoting of your own on behalf of TOD. If everyone who likes the blog and its goal of doing whatever we can to keep film and darkroom materials and practices going well into the future was able to encourage two or three friends or colleagues to stop by then we'd see quite a spike in readership. If anyone is knowledgeable and/or enthusiastic about a particular aspect of film and darkroom work and would like to write a post then please get in touch with your idea.

Finally, if there's anything in particular you'd like me to cover then let me know. I'm a multi-talented individual but mind-reading isn't among my specialities. :-)

* In case overseas readers think I go around in the kilt all the time, can I just explain that my first son, Cameron, was recently married. I asked Cath to take a quick iPhone pic of me toasting blog readers with a dram (Jura) when we returned in the wee, small hours. Considering I'm not a drinker but had consumed in one night probably as much as or more than I'd drink in a month, I think I look remarkably sober! My second son was holding me upright but I photoshopped him out...


Herman Sheephouse said...

Congrats Bruce! Getting the readers is a great thing isn't it, and not just referral spam . . . Glad to see you have a really solid readership.
The TLR sporran by the way is the greatest thing I have ever seen . . I now have to get myself one.
Be good, take care and keep up thegreat work.

Anita Schain said...

Happy Birthday TOD :) TY for doing such a great job promoting analog, & here's to many more years of truly intriguing blog posts on analog photography: keep up the good work ;D

Heribert Schain and Dr. Wolfgang Heidrich said...

Happy birthday to a most extraordinary and unique blog. Wishing you all the best today and throughout the coming year!

Omar Özenir said...

Bruce, first of all congrats on the marriage!

I'm glad of your invitation for readers' articles. I'm regularly checking out the photos on the flickr page, and looking at the quality, there must be many with interesting things to tell.

Putting a story behind the pictures is what makes a photo-blog interesting to me, and this is what sets it apart from forums. In this sense, I've immensely enjoyed reading TOD (and other wonderful photo blogs I discovered via TOD).

The question whether blogging about film and darkroom has any effect: it does. I get quite a few mails from new film users, confirming that the effort is not in vain.

All the best,

david kirby said...

Congrats bruce. I know how much work it takes to keepa film and darkroom blog going so im sure I speak for everyone when I say we appreciate your efforts. My blog gets similar viewings to yours so I think ill add a direct link to the online darkroom from my home page-that way people can see whats going on here if they dont already

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Bruce!

And thank you for some inspiring posts and for keeping the analogue flag flying proudly.

Best Wishes
(One of your readers from the Netherlands)

Nick Jardine said...

Congrats to you and your family Bruce. Agree with Phil, the TLR sporran is just genius.

Omar makes a good point when he says it's about telling the story behind behind the images, and that is one of this sites great achievements. You strike a balance between informative and entertaining that many websites don't.

Continued success to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Well done, and please keep it up.

You inspired me, one reader in Japan, to try proper photography, and I've now developed a dozen or so films. Small gains, but it's thanks to your evangelising.

(The sporran, however, needs discussion elsewhere. Clearly a self-take, as I don't know any wife that would agree to snap such a photo.)

morris1800 said...

Congratulations Bruce always checking the site out , lots of variety and interesting film topics. The site sits between flicker and e-bay in my favorites list. Love the Rollie sporran good job it wasn't a Mamiya C330 or you could have caused yourself some serious damage !!


Thanks for the nice words everyone. I've no plans to stop and will keep writing as long as I can think of something to say. However, our finances keep telling me I'll have to get a job soon so I might not be able to devote as much time to the blog in future. As anyone who knows me will confirm, time management isn't one of my strong points. :-)

Michael Stevens. said...

In my initial haste to read this post I missed the first word of the title and had a mini seizure!


Thanks for a beautifully written and fascinating blog, and congratulations on your ongoing success. Long may it continue!


Eddie Butt said...

Hi Bruce

Congratulations on keeping the blog going for two years! Keep it up - encourages those of us still using film to continue and helps to convince newcomers to give it a try. Once they're hooked, they're in the bag!

Best wishes


Marty said...

Good job, Bruce! I'm glad to see your blog is getting the attention it deserves! You're doing a good service to cause of traditional photography plus you got an entertaining style of writing which makes always a pleasure to read. May the success continue!
Cheers, M.

Richard G said...

Congratulations from one of the 3%. Great pictures and great resource and great inspiration. I'm using my Rolleiflex more and have much to learn. I am one of the editors of a journal and a colleague of mine on a much bigger journal reckons Tweeting helps the message get out like nothing else. Just passing that on.

John Carter said...

I been with you about a year and find this site very enjoyable, and I've learned a few things. Thanks Bruce