Crisis of conscience or new business plan?

August 31, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
The collection of old photos of Tasmania in Beattie's Digital Studio has grown steadily over the last 6 months since our soft launch in February. From a mere 100 photos, we now have over 700 unique images. There are glass plates, large format negatives and copies of prints. All lovingly restored and presented in glorious black and white.
 
The progression through the rest of the collection will be a challenge. So far I have funded the restoration work from my own pocket. As well as the initial capital outlay for the digitising rig, computer, camera and software, there are ongoing expenses for the talented individuals who carefully PhotoShop each image to remove spots and imperfections and restore each picture to its full glory.
 
I didn't start Beattie's Digital Studio to make a million bucks. But I do need it to be self sufficient at some point. I don't have unlimited funds to pour into it. And I don't have a cash machine. I did make some money from the sale of an IT business. Not the millions you hear about from companies like Google or even that Tassie IT firm that floated, nothing at all like that. But what money I did make has been used already.
 
So I am at a cross roads. The place where deals are made. And I'm sure there's a devil around somewhere if I wanted to go that way. (I'm talking about advertising)
 
I've surveyed my initial audience; the FaceBook generation. Because, yes, FaceBook has been where my audience came from. Just shy of 500 of them, or should I say you? And a good audience you are, don't get me wrong here. But what I have found out is that you like me, love viewing these photos of Tasmania. You love seeing how Tasmania was a hundred years ago. You love seeing the wilderness and the towns, the old buildings and the cars, trains and trams. And you genuinely love looking at them and reading about the history. But like me, you have a limited supply of spending money and find it difficult to justify buying prints of these amazing images.
 
I didn't really expect to build a separate online community around these photos. You are happy to be part of a community, but you want that to live on FaceBook. And that's understandable given that's where you came from.
 
I also found out that I wasn't doing anything wrong. Or at least not badly wrong. You didn't want sepia. I wasn't charging too much. Yes, there are a few things that (I had already thought of) you would like. There's framing, downloads, books and e-books. And yes I will do those things. But the main reason you aren't buying is that you don't have the cash.
 
So a change of business plan is in order. I don't think you are my target audience. I still love you FaceBook generation, and I will continue to entertain you. But the customers who can pay for prints are clearly elsewhere. I need to think about a gallery, books and other places to show off these fine photographs. Suggestions welcome.
 
So there you have it. A long winded, heart on my sleeve approach to the survey results. After 6 months, 2000 visitors and 700 photos, a picture emerges. And it's as clear and beautiful as any of the Beattie photographs, even if its histogram was painted by Survey Monkey. Thank you all for taking the survey and thank you for being honest and open. I love you all and there will be plenty of photos for your free enjoyment.
 

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The Beatties Studio blog will provide some behind the scenes information on the studio, the collection of historic old Tasmanian photographs and the digitising process.

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