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Financial report & the future of PortraitMode

Greetings, PortraitMode Community,

It’s time for a transparent discussion about the financial state of PortraitMode and the future direction of our beloved platform. As much as we cherish the creative haven we’ve built here, it’s no secret that sustaining it financially has been a challenge.

Let’s dive into the numbers:

  • In January 2024, PortraitMode generated $290 in revenue.
  • In February 2024, our revenue decreased to $208.

While these figures might seem promising on the surface, it’s essential to factor in our operational costs. Hosting and running the website alone amount to approximately $150 per month. This means that, without factoring in development expenses, we’re barely breaking even.

We’ve experimented with various advertising strategies, including YouTube ads, Google Ads, Pinterest ads, and Instagram/Facebook ads. While we’ve seen moderate success, the most promising results came from sponsoring YouTube channels. However, these sponsorships typically range between $200 to $500 per video.

Despite the positive reception of PortraitMode Pro, our conversion rates remain disappointingly low. This poses a significant challenge in terms of sustaining our development efforts.

So, where do we go from here?

One option on the table is transitioning PortraitMode into a paid platform, with a modest subscription fee, say $12 per year (not per month). This move could provide the necessary financial stability to continue development and ensure the longevity of the platform. But, of course, we want to hear from you.

To date, PortraitMode has consumed over $10,000 (excluding development costs) while generating approximately $8,000 through memberships and donations. It’s clear that we need to explore sustainable revenue streams to keep the platform thriving.

Your opinion matters. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the prospect of turning PortraitMode into a paid platform. Do you believe this is a viable solution? How would you feel about a nominal subscription fee to support ongoing development?

In closing, I invite you to share your opinions, suggestions, and ideas. Together, we can navigate these challenges and ensure that PortraitMode continues to be a vibrant community for street photographers.

Support the project

As we contemplate the future of PortraitMode and explore avenues for sustainability, your support is more crucial than ever. Here are two simple ways you can contribute. Sign up for PortraitMode Pro or donate.

Thank you for being part of the PortraitMode journey.

Warm regards,
David

29 Comments

  • $12 dollars a year is peanuts. Everyone on this platform should consider paying that. I am a member, and it shocks me that not too many people are members. Maybe being a member should have more perks so they can join? I do know that many ppst here on a daily and 12 dollars a year is more than reasonable. Keep up the good work. What kind of hashtags can I put for you guys?

  • Joined! I know this will sound a little harsh perhaps, but I thought this was a street photography platform. As such, I see way too much stuff that is decidedly not street and seemingly without a POV or purpose (light, contrast, shadow, juxtaposition, mood, theme, emotion etc…) so maybe some type of compulsory paid membership will prompt people to consider if they really want to post here or on Instagram which they can do for free. Let’s not turn this platform into another Instagram. Respectfully.

  • It is going to be hard…. If PortraitMode were the only platform to use, $12 a months would be fine. But that is not the case. Every platform, service, media we use take this amount and more, each month. And the number of these we are using to get everything running in our lives, is constantly increasing. Many of us have already 10+ services and different plans we pay for every month. And many of us don’t even think about it. But look at it yourselves. Calculate how much you are paying each months – and you are in for a surprise…

    Again – this has nothing to do with PortraitMode. If we think it is worth $12 every month, we will pay. But in all, I believe when money gets tight, many will choose Netflix, Adobe Creative Cloud, Google services, Backup in the Cloud, Online storage, mobile phone services etc, instead one of all these portfolio platforms. Again – hope all the best for you and your hard work. But it is going to be hard…. And sorry for sounding a bit negative ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • i would happily pay a subscription fee for portraitmode if it weren’t strictly street photography.

    i’m not strictly a street photographer and currently there’s not really a good place for people to post their photos online to get eyes on it, other than personal websites/portfolios, which can be hard to get out there. and before anyone tries to make the argument; instagram hasn’t been a photo sharing app in years

    since maybe ~10% of what i shoot is considered “street” photography, it’s not really worth it for me to pay for a service where i can only post ~10% of my work. i don’t even post that work here anymore because it’s too hard to keep up with so many different photo websites.

    too many of these sites out there that cater to only a tiny percentage of photographers. i primarily shoot film, so i have a grainery account since their thing is film only, but now that i have a decent digital i’m not shooting as much film and am thinking about cancelling that account too.

    give us a place to post photos regardless of genre and medium and it’ll thrive.

  • I think that $12 a year is a very competitive price and I will be happy to pay it (I currently have my membership for one year) but it is true that I am beginning to see a type of photography that does not fulfill what attracted me to this site . As my colleagues say, there are thousands of sites to publish photos of all kinds, so I think we should respect and fight for this platform to be exclusively for street photography, which is what would make it different. If you don’t want to pay that ridiculous amount, you probably aren’t attracted to this type of photo nor will you have much to show, so you don’t need to stay either. What originally attracted me to Portraitmode was its uniqueness, dedicated to a specific type of photography, without annoying advertising and with a minimum of quality. But in a few months I have begun to see that “anything goes” has arrived, there are many people who share any photo and that actually bothers me, reaching the point that I have stopped interacting and sharing with the community, I barely even enter here. For annoying sites, there is Instagram with its excesses of advertising and various nonsense. Greetings

    • We try to remove as many non-street photos as we can, but often end up giving users the benefit of the doubt. Everyone can report photos to the moderators when they think a photo doesn’t fit the criteria of street photography or goes against any other guidelines that we have in place.

      It’s tricky though, sometimes photos slip through. Also, everyone seems to have a bit of a different understanding of what street photography is and what isn’t.

      When removing photos, we often get very negative feedback from those users. Telling us we don’t know what street photography is, along with insults and what not.

      The truth is, not many people seem to read the guidelines and we probably have to make them even more prominent.

  • The question would be what does $12 a month get you vs someone just using instagram. What would bring in new members, right now it seems like a place you can build a portfolio but can you feel growth on this platform? As soon as you post a photo you get a few likes then that is it, there is no community to build out your portfolio. It mainly feels like you come here post a picture then leave until you have another picture to post. So what will make it unique and beat me just using instagram?

    Just my 2 cents.

    • The blog post says $12/year (not per month). $12/month yould be quite steep and I wouldn’t want to charge that much.

      If received well, charging everyone $12/year would help tremendously to cover most of the costs I think.

      I actually feel the same way, the engagement is much lower here than it is on Instagram. Even though we’re approaching 10k users, it’s a much much smaller platform compared to other photo sharing apps that allow all types of photos.

      That’s a good and a bad thing at the same time.

    • I also don’t think we should compare ourselves to Instagram and I think that’s what it’s all about, being something different. Just the fact that I’m not continually bombarded with ads is worth it to me. Just because everyone spends hours on Instagram doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Furthermore, that amount, $12 for an entire year, is ridiculous. And not only do you receive likes, there are also those who give you feedback on your work, which for me is very important to grow as a photographer.

    • About James’ question concerning PortraitMode’s worth over Instagram: no ads, no suggested post, no stupid reels, no ads. Did I say no ads? But I agree with the community aspect lacking and it would be great if we could develop that.

  • One of the aspects of PortraitMode that initially attracted me was what seemed a casual interpretation of “Street Photography”, For me, at this stage in my photographic journey it is primarily about subject, more to the point, people. Sometimes this will include street portraits. In the future it may include more architecture, cityscapes or pure light but in the end it’s all Street Photography. Photographs I make while walking the streets. I wouldn’t want to see a more rigid interpretation.
    If this flexible position is maintained then I would favor a membership fee.

  • If the platform becomes paid without an alternative free plan, this will most likely lead to the loss of some users. 12 bucks a year is a very low payment, but I do not know how many people use this platform just because it is free.

    Maybe it is worth trying to introduce some intermediate tier between free and pro?
    For example, https://www.postcrossing.com/support platform for sharing postcards has a functionality to make a one-time donation and get “supporter bage” near user’s nickname for a year. It could cost less than pro subscription and does not provide feedback tokens.

  • Perhaps a “sample” gallery in addition to the guidelines might help to set the tone of what this platform is all about? On top of that, if membership were paid, then this might also give pause to those who are more casually orientated. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with people liking general photography, but I joined this platform specifically to learn from and engage with other street-minded people. But I find I have to regularly wade through photo dumps of travel and architecture which can be annoying, especially photo dumps of same location/subject/event. Sorry, I know how that must sound. It’s just my opinion.

  • I just got my first proper camera in years and will use it 90% on the street, the only genre I really care about. I was very happy to find this place, I have a lot to learn and would love to be part of a street community. Iโ€™m not a pro member till next week, but 12 is peanuts. My 2c. Hang in there!

  • $12/year is pretty easy to do. To me, $24/year is easy to do.

    To me, maybe the “not signed up” member sees “too much” and doesn’t really need to join…?

    There is the Featured page, the Explore Page, and the Artists page along the top menu, for non-members.
    Take the Artists page for instance.
    It has a section of 6 the “Recently Uploaded”.
    Another section of 6 of the “New on Portrait Mode”.
    Then there is the “Most Uploaded” section, which never seems to end.
    Furthermore, I can click on one and drill and see all of their images.
    Then, I can drill in to each one, larger screen, and scroll through them.
    So, why do some people need to join?
    What does joining really give them, because they can view a whole lot, for free.

    Maybe, top of discussion for sure, if they could just see the “thumbnail” sized images on the main pages, and not drill in to see larger sizes, they would be more apt to join for $12/year…?

    Lastly, and then I’ll shut up, what is PortraitMode really, if I’m new and never been here. Or if I’m not that new and don’t really know. Is it portrait images? Is it portrait orientated images? The About says “A platform for street photographers by street photographers.”, but the “Portrait” aspect in the name can be confusing and need more clarity up front…?

    It also says “PortraitMode is a place for street photographers from all around the world. It’s 100% Free. Now & forever.”, which might be a problem, or the one we are trying to solve.

    PortraitMode Member = $12/year
    PortraitMode Pro = $60/year (the extra $12 is added to the stated $4/mo)

  • Hi David,

    I did try to join and become a ‘pro’ member. You accepted my credit card and then refunded but of course the exchange rate had changed and it cost me (not much that is for sure) to try. So the refund was for less. I thought I would try again at some point, and I don’t think that $12 a year is that much. I think that perhaps the likes should be recorded and then maybe you could have a page where it shows off the best pictures according to the community. This would serve as a good example so that we can all learn. Also in some way encourage people to leave comments … what they like about the image, that will also get people thinking about what they are viewing and will help not only the photographer but also the viewer. I love that there is platform for street photography. Thank-you!

    • Hey Cinza,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      This is exactly what feedback tokens are meant to accomplish. They’re meant to be used to receive additional feedback from the community in the form of comments.

      Regarding showing off the most liked photos by the community, this is what we do monthly on our blog by featuring the photo of the month + the 10 most popular photos/most liked photos from people on the platform.

  • Hi I’m relatively new to the platform and have found posting my shots exciting. The reason I joined was to find out how my photos would be received by like minded and more experienced photographers. Not to join some exclusive website.
    Paying for feedback was never my intention so would never buy tokens and membership does not give that much extra benefits so cannot find a reason to commit.
    I would prefer IF users would leave a comment and not just <like< a shot.
    I agree with Cinza about a page for best pics voted by others not just based on likes
    $12 a year is okay if it helps keep this site open. I would be willing to go as high as $20
    All the best JohnED

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