Photography: Behrooz Nobakht
It seemed like a good idea at the time. We liked it. Judging by the level of activity on the site, lots of photographers liked it. And seeing as they were the ones who poured their money into the plan, 8020 Publishing, producers of JPG Magazine, liked it too.
The only people who didn’t like it, it seems, were customers.
After just four issues of the travel magazine that took submissions from the public and paid $100 for every published photo, Everywhere is shutting down.
“At the end of the day, we just aren’t where we need to be, business-wise, with the website or magazine,” the company said in an email to the site’s registered members. “Suspending publication of Everywhere will enable 8020 Publishing to focus on improving the community platform behind JPG Magazine, 8020’s other title. That, in turn, will benefit all the future titles 8020 plans to produce.”
It’s an unfortunate move for photographers who were hoping to earn a little extra money from their travel photos, and it’s clearly a blow for 8020. But Everywhere Magazine isn’t the first project to fail nor even the first photography project to fail this year. This spring also saw the fall of LuckyOliver, a microstock site that failed to keep up with its nimbler competitors.
Standing on Different Legs
Failure, of course, is as much a part of doing business as paying bills, training employees and buying new equipment. It might be something that no entrepreneur wants to contemplate, but it’s always a possibility. The Small Business Association claims that half of all small firms close in their first year, and 95 percent are gone by the end of year five. (Although the Census bureau suggests many of those were sold, incorporated or closed when the owner retired rather than forced into bankruptcy.)
Whatever the odds though, it always pays to be prepared should the worst happen.
The best way to guard against a sudden collapse is to have multiple revenue streams. For photographers, that’s relatively easy. There are a number of different ways of selling the same image to different markets. A stock image is likely to be bought by companies; a print by relatively well-off homeowners; and a postcard by people with small budgets looking for an impulse buy. Ensuring that your photography business spreads the opportunities around will reduce the pain should one market suddenly shut its wallet.
When stock prices started to fall, for example, Josh McCulloch, a professional outdoors photographer, was ready with his new postcard collection which, after commissions, soon became his second highest earner.
“Diversification seems to be key these days, and the cards are another good stream of revenue for me,” he told us.
8020 Publishing itself also provides a useful example of how to cope with the possibility of an unexpected revenue crunch. The company itself isn’t shutting up shop; according to its message, it plans to focus on JPG Magazine and use that publication as a launch pad for the future titles it plans to bring out.
One Door Closes…
The fact that those projects are already thought of can also make the possibility of failure easier to contemplate. Ideas don’t just pop up before a new business is started; they happen all the time. But when work is busy and everything is running well, it’s often hard to find the energy or the time put those ideas into practice. The collapse of one revenue stream then might create a loss of revenue but it can free up time and deliver a whole new opportunity. It will be interesting to see what 8020 come up with next.
But perhaps the best way to prepare for failure is not to take too many risks at the beginning. We often like to point out that there’s a big difference between earning money from a photography hobby and relying on your photography to earn money, but the fact that you can earn even before you’ve given up your day job is a huge advantage. It means that you can test the market, discover whether you have the talent and the inclination to be a photographer and build up some experience. It means that if you did want to go professional – and obviously, not everyone does – you’d be beginning with a customer base already established.
That wouldn’t completely remove the possibility that it will all go wrong but it would improve the chances that it won’t.