Flickr is losing money, puts out plea for help asking users to upgrade to Flickr Pro

Dec 20, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Flickr is losing money, puts out plea for help asking users to upgrade to Flickr Pro

Dec 20, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Ever since SmugMug acquired Flickr, the platform has seen some positive changes. However, it turns out that SmugMug bit off more than they could chew. The company is losing money, so they sent out an email to Flickr users asking them to help by upgrading to Flickr Pro.

When Flickr was on the verge of being shut down, SmugMug stepped in and saved it. Over the past two years, there have been some pretty epic and long-awaited changes. First and foremost, there’s no more mandatory Yahoo login. Some significant changes were introduced when it comes to the upload limit. Having a Pro account makes sense again, while free accounts are not severely limited to 200 uploads as they were before. Some photographers protested, but many others (including me) thought it was a good idea.

Flickr also teamed up with Pixsy to protect photographers from image theft, and they brought back the printing service. And the most recent upgrade allows you to discover and host photography events.

However, it seems that implementing all these changes is more than SmugMug and Flickr can financially bear. In the email sent out to its users, SmugMug Co-Founder and CEO Don MacAskill openly asks the community for help. It’s not a plea for donations, but a plea to pay for Flickr Pro and help the company get back on its feet.

“Hundreds of thousands of loyal Flickr members stepped up and joined Flickr Pro, for which we are eternally grateful. It’s losing a lot less money than it was. But it’s not yet making enough.”

MacAskill notes that Flickr is “the best value in photo sharing anywhere in the world.”

“Flickr Pro members get ad-free browsing for themselves and their visitors, advanced stats, unlimited full-quality storage for all their photos, plus premium features and access to the world’s largest photographer-focused community for less than $5 per month.”

As of recently, Pro users also get to view their photos in 6K resolution. But if none of this is convincing enough – well, Pro users don’t get their photos deleted after they pass the 1,000 uploads limit. That photos get deleted is the only bad side of the new upload limit policy, if you ask me. But it is pretty bad, and for me, it would easily be the only reason to pay for Flickr Pro. But I’m still far from 1,000 uploads.

“We didn’t buy Flickr because we thought it was a cash cow. Unlike platforms like Facebook, we also didn’t buy it to invade your privacy and sell your data,” MacAskill writes. “We bought it because we love photographers, we love photography, and we believe Flickr deserves not only to live on but thrive. We think the world agrees; and we think the Flickr community does, too. But we cannot continue to operate it at a loss as we’ve been doing.”

To prompt users further to pay for Flickr Pro, the company has done two more things aside from sending out the letter. First, they’re offering a 25% discount to Pro account earlier than planned. “We’re launching our end-of-year Pro subscription campaign on Thursday, December 26, but I want to invite you to subscribe to Flickr Pro today for the same 25% discount,” MacAskill writes.

The other thing is that, in early 2020, the price for Flickr Pro will be increased. It’s not noted how much, but MacAskill writes that it will be a “small price increase,” adding that “this is truly the very best time to upgrade your membership to Pro.”

As a Flickr user, I received an email from the company with a plea for help. But even if you haven’t got it, you can read it on Flickr Blog.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think. I find this pretty sad and kinda alarming. As I mentioned before, I’m still on Flickr. I can’t just leave it after ten long years and I wouldn’t like to see it come to its end. But on the other hand, I still don’t need the Pro account as I’m far from 1,000 uploads. Sure, I will probably upgrade to Pro when I reach the limit, but I upload new photos pretty rarely so that probably won’t happen for another year or so.

Inspired by Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking I recently read, I believe that we should openly ask for help when we need it. And this is just what SmugMug and Flickr did. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them to send out the letter like this and to be completely open and honest about the situation. But I can’t escape the feeling that, maybe, this could have been done differently. A GoFundMe campaign might have been a better idea, considering that even those who aren’t on Flickr could help out. But that’s just my opinion.

What do you think of all this? Has this letter affected your decisions and opinion regarding Flickr? Will you upgrade to Pro, leave Flickr, or do nothing? Let us know in the comments.

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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58 responses to “Flickr is losing money, puts out plea for help asking users to upgrade to Flickr Pro”

  1. Shaun DaCunha Avatar
    Shaun DaCunha

    The same Flickr who can’t properly upload HEIC/HEIF images from my iPhone via their auto uploadr? Even though every other photo cloud storage service has no issue doing this?! I’m already an unhappy Flickr Pro member who is considering jumping ship.

    1. Joe Lippeatt Avatar
      Joe Lippeatt

      Shaun DaCunha people using Flickr for “auto upload cloud storage” rather than a photography portfolio and photography community web site is what has killed Flickr. Used to be a great place to find interesting photographers, now it’s everyone’s dumping ground.

    2. Shaun DaCunha Avatar
      Shaun DaCunha

      Joe Lippeatt Fair point. But they opened themselves up to that. I mainly use Flickr to host photos that I share on the various forums I belong to.

      1. Robert Williams Avatar
        Robert Williams

        I’m like you, I have my website, that has my real portfolio to show to people.
        I have smugmug to sell stuff, and anything that I put up there goes into hidden, and usually password protected galleries so that only the 1 person can see them.
        Then, I have flickr as my dumping ground of crap.

    3. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Shaun, and imagine all the broken links and lost networking when the site is shut down.

    4. Shaun DaCunha Avatar
      Shaun DaCunha

      Johnny Martyr Already have…won’t be pretty. But my point is some of the blame needs to be pointed in their direction. Mismanagement, products lacking fairly standard features, etc.

    5. Joe Lippeatt Avatar
      Joe Lippeatt

      Shaun DaCunha “opened themselves up to that” how? By having an upload screen? It was one of the first “social” media sites, to share images with family, friends and followers. People abused the unlimited upload policy and used it for a Dropbox for all their garbage. Peoples bad behavior isn’t the websites fault, they are nobody’s momma.

      And what standard features are you missing?

    6. Shaun DaCunha Avatar
      Shaun DaCunha

      Joe Lippeatt You’re clearly taking this very personal. I’ll leave you to your feelings.

  2. Daniel Scott Avatar
    Daniel Scott

    “Overpriced social network with little to offer begs for money”

    1. petaqui Avatar
      petaqui

      Social network? LOL…

  3. Marius Budu Avatar
    Marius Budu

    Is Flickr still a thing?

    1. Christine Kwiecinski Avatar
      Christine Kwiecinski

      Marius Budu where do you put your photos online ?

    2. Marius Budu Avatar
      Marius Budu

      I funnel everything towards my own website where I have full control over the narrative, content, no censorship, etc.

      I still use Insta and FB as the ways to get attention though which are far from ideal but they are still the most widely adopted social media channels.

  4. Ian Brace Avatar
    Ian Brace

    I have two Flickr accounts one for my photos and one for my 3D photos, and i have no need to upgrade so my answer is no.

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Ian, then you’re part of the problem

    2. Ian Brace Avatar
      Ian Brace

      Johnny why? If they offer free membership then it’s their own fault, I also have 500px account and their not in trouble.

  5. Marcell Nikolausz Avatar
    Marcell Nikolausz

    I’ve just downgraded from pro to normal account (after they increased the price to the double)

  6. John Flury Avatar
    John Flury

    Flickr is dead, they just don’t know it yet.

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      John, dead for folks who don’t know how to use it effectively. Images on it still have better SEO than FB and IG.

  7. Steph Ann Avatar
    Steph Ann

    Use Flickr merely for the back up reasons. So yes, still pay for pro account 14 years later

  8. John Lehman Avatar
    John Lehman

    I’ve had my pro membership for years. Still viable to reach a worldwide audience. I get thousands of views from around the world.

  9. Pavlos Pavlidis Avatar
    Pavlos Pavlidis

    If I were to give any website money, it’d be Wikipedia.

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Pavlos, you’re either paying in money or persona data, your choice!

    2. Pavlos Pavlidis Avatar
      Pavlos Pavlidis

      Johnny Martyr that choice is long gone though

    3. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Pavlos, not with Flickr…

  10. Alex Minkin Avatar
    Alex Minkin

    i dropped flickr a couple years ago. it’s a shame how badly yahoo treated it, killed usability, and now is wondering why people won’t pay for it.

    1. Hugh Dom Avatar
      Hugh Dom

      Alex Minkin Yahoo is long gone, these folks running it saved it from Yahoo.

  11. Sebastian Bundyra Avatar
    Sebastian Bundyra

    Only thing i open Flickr is when i want to see samples of any Lens from people

  12. Alan Gamble Avatar
    Alan Gamble

    it’s the same as photobucket, just making sure nothing is hosted with them that I use.

  13. Charlotte Fiorito Avatar
    Charlotte Fiorito

    When the common response is “ who still uses ___?” then you know it’s over.

  14. Johnny Martyr Avatar
    Johnny Martyr

    I’ve been on a pro account for so long I can’t remember and don’t even notice the small charge. I get many more impressions on Flickr than FB and my posts on Flickr have lead to numerous successful publications of my photography as well as simply meeting many great photographers.

    I also use the site as a quick and dirty way to backup my best photos and to resize them for use online.

    Flickr has long been an important part of my photo ecosystem!

    1. 0702marty Avatar
      0702marty

      To each, his or her own. Flickr may be just what the doctor ordered for some users … and not so much for others.

      Seems to me that if the user base gets winnowed down to those who find value for the price, then SmugMug has few choices:

      – find an alternate source of funding (eg. GoFundMe)
      – beg visitors annually for donations (eg. Wikipedia)
      – raise user fees enough to keep the boat afloat
      – abandon the ship all together

      As in any business, it all boils down to the money people (users, visitors, patrons) are willing to pay for the value that is being offered.

  15. Sherri Vallie Avatar
    Sherri Vallie

    Absolutely Not paying

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Sherri, what a convincing argument! ?

  16. Burt Johnson Avatar
    Burt Johnson

    Well, I expect my free Flickr account is still active… but it has been at least 5+ years since I have even looked at it.

    Nah… somehow sending money into a sinking ship isn’t in my particular cards…

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Burt, ships only sink if the crew sucks.

  17. Robert Williams Avatar
    Robert Williams

    I’ve been a flickr pro user since 2008, and was kind of annoyed at the email, since my flickr fee went from $20 to $50, the service was horribly unreliable for months, and I’m also a Smugmug Portfolio user who’s smugmug fees had gone from $150 a year, to $180 in the last year or two. So, I’m paying $60 a year more, and seeing no real benefit, AWESOME!

  18. David Buttle Avatar
    David Buttle

    I’ve been using flickr, its better for viewing the photos as they were intended by the photographer without the compression that Facebook applies to them. There are many Facebook photography groups particularly film groups that contain loads of crap photos with bad colour balances, too lower contrast etc… that get plenty of likes, this does not seem to be so common on flickr.

  19. Burt Johnson Avatar
    Burt Johnson

    You needed a fourth option on your vote — “I didn’t know Flickr still existed!?”

    I think my account may still exist, but I haven’t logged on in 5+ years, and don’t see any reason to do so now…

    1. Ahmet Avatar
      Ahmet

      Haha, same here. I totally forgot about it. Now tried to log in. Well, didn’t work really. I had to bring back to life my Yahoo account, to do that I had to find password for another old secondary e-mail account. No, didn’t work. Probably got deleted for inactivity.

  20. Michael Dennis Avatar
    Michael Dennis

    Nope. . . I like Flickr platform, too bad the pro account is way over priced since 2014. Used to be much cheaper and discounts for past accounts. I missed renewing one year and they removed all my previous images, that sucked. Gave it another chance, then they doubled the price.

    1. Ian Brace Avatar
      Ian Brace

      totally agree and for me there is not advantage for going pro.

    2. Michael Dennis Avatar
      Michael Dennis

      Ian Brace , yup… if one wishes to upload to the max of 1000 images its free. I lost over 6,000 images at once ? fortunately i use USB drives as my personal backup.

    3. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Michael, $50 a year is too much? So you’d rather pay social media with your personal data? Yeah, that makes sense! ?

    4. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Ian, that is factually incorrect. Something you seem to share with most of the people posting negative remarks here; you’re uninformed.

    5. Michael Dennis Avatar
      Michael Dennis

      Johnny Martyr yes, i am on a limited budget. Not a Pro.

    6. Ian Brace Avatar
      Ian Brace

      Johnny Martyr it’s not factually incorrect as across two accounts I have only post 113 photos so again tell me why I should go Pro? I’d rater subscribe to things that I get my moneys worth out of.

  21. Ian Scrimgeour Avatar
    Ian Scrimgeour

    You can’t fault SmugMug for trying to save Flickr. I subscribe to both and think unlimited storage for less than £40 a year is a no brainer. ??? Just my tuppence worth. ?

  22. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    I used to be active on Flickr. I loved the groups. I even had a pro account so that I could store unlimited images at Max resolution and quality, without concerns that my images would be up for grabs by third party partners of Flickr.
    Then Flickr was taken over by yahoo, who removed the unlimited storage for pro members. Then smug smug removed the copyright protection of my images, leaving me with none of the benefits that drew me to the pro account on the first place.
    Thus I cancelled my pro account.

    I would go back to Flickr pro if it became unlimited again, and if they would not give partners access to my copyrighted materials.

  23. Andri Janett Avatar
    Andri Janett

    Probably yes.

  24. Bertram Plischke Avatar
    Bertram Plischke

    I cancelled my pro membership since they wanted twice the money. ? There are a lot more ways to show photos.

  25. Henrik Sundholm Avatar
    Henrik Sundholm

    Pro member since 2009.

  26. Jeff Berkes Avatar
    Jeff Berkes

    I ve had over 1,000,000 views on my Flickr. Many publications came from this Avenue, it needs to stay if you want to spread your work and make some sales. It would be a real shame if it were to be taken down.

    1. James Gordon Patterson Avatar
      James Gordon Patterson

      Yes, I still post to Flickr because sometimes I get sales! Seriously. People who buy look at Flickr. And I promote both my Flickr and SmugMug accounts on social media.

  27. Ryan Evans Avatar
    Ryan Evans

    What kind of Bullshit is this.. If you provide a good service, the people will do it themselves…

  28. James Gordon Patterson Avatar
    James Gordon Patterson

    I’ve had a pro account for ages and will stick with it. I am also on SmugMug.

  29. Stephen Nesbit Avatar
    Stephen Nesbit

    I had a pro membership since Flickr started. But then it became plagued by so many problems, changed hands, and when Smug mug bought it, they promised nothing would change. Except within 2 months I got an email telling me my price would more than double AND there was no more unlimited, and I wouldn’t have the same copyright protection. I had over 6,000 pictures there but i was tired of the mess. So I simply my deleted it. Going to build my own website. And now they look to raise the price again.

  30. Ben Johnson Avatar
    Ben Johnson

    Flickr sucks after Smugmug bought. It’s always one continuous problem after another. I see no positive changes whatsoever. One week feature x breaks. Two weeks later feature y breaks. Right now I can’t remove my photos from a group; only add them to a group. The “help” desk always blames your computer instead of looking at it being a problem on their end.