You don’t know Dick (does anyone actually understand the new Flickr accounts?)


Sen. Dick Durbin / Photo by Joe Newman

The other day I got an email from Flickr reminding me that in a few weeks my “pro” subscription would automatically renew for another year at $24.95. Huh? I thought Flickr got rid of their pro accounts — which allow unlimited storage — earlier this year when they rolled out the new and improved Flickr, the one that gives every user a terabyte of free storage and the ability to upload photos as big as 200MB apiece. 200MB!?

Why would anyone pay for Flickr when a free account allows you to upload more photos than anyone other than professional photographers and the most obsessed amateurs would ever need — for free?

For an idea of how much storage that actually is, consider that I’ve uploaded 3,279 photos to my account since 2008 and, yet, that accounts for a mere 0.0057 % of 1 terabyte. Even if I somehow filled up my free terabyte, I could easily create a second free account by simply signing up with another Yahoo email address (in fact, I do have two other free Flickr accounts that I created a few years ago to go with two now defunct blogs.)

Which brings me to the photo of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin at the top of the page and why it might be an example of the best reason I have for renewing the pro account. But before we get into that, it’s probably best if we understand exactly what Flickr offers under its four different accounts and why the real winners are the people who were lucky enough to have had a pro subscription prior to May 20, 2013, the day the new Flickr was unveiled.

The basic Flickr account is the “free” account, which, as it stands, is really one of the best deals out there if you’re looking for a site to display and share your photos. I say “one of the best” but I don’t know any free photo sharing account that offers what Flickr’s free accounts do: a terabyte of free storage, the ability to upload photos of up to 200MB apiece (does such a thing even exist?) and the ability to upload video files of 1GB apiece. That blows away 500px’s free account, which allows you to upload 20 photos a week. It’s better than SmugMug, which doesn’t even offer a free account. And it makes a mockery out of Google plus’ 15GB storage limit.

Flickr’s free account is easy enough to understand. It’s everything else that makes no sense at all.

For $49 a year, you can upgrade your free account to an “ad free” account. This is basically a free account except there’s no advertising. Fine. I can understand why you might not want ads, except, as far as I can tell there aren’t any ads. On my free Flickr account, I don’t have any idea where these ads — the ones I’m supposed to pay to avoid — are located.

Then things just get crazy. The step up from the “ad free” account is what Flickr calls its Doublr account, which costs … wait for this one … $499.99 a year. For 10 times the amount of the “ad free” account, you get all the benefits of a free account, except instead of 1 terabyte of storage, you get 2! Obviously, this is some Yahoo marketing person’s inside joke. It reminds me of the “gourmet” chicken wing deal on the Hooters menu — $199 for 20 chicken wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon. No one buys that deal but it sure does make everything else on the menu look cheap by comparison.

Then there’s the Flickr pro accounts, which Flickr no longer offers to new users. However, people like myself who had pro accounts under the old Flickr can continue renewing their pro accounts for the foreseeable future. As a pro user, I get an UNLIMITED amount of storage and no advertising — at nearly half the price of the “ad free” option. Still, that, by itself, would probably not be enough to make me pay the extra $25 a year to keep my pro account alive. The real selling point is that the grandfathered pro accounts are the only accounts that offer the ability to track your metrics.

None of the other Flickr accounts let you look at your stats, which brings me back to the photo I took back in 2008 of Dick Durbin, the senior U.S. Senator from Illinois. There’s nothing real special about this picture, which is why I couldn’t figure out why lately it has been one of the more popular photos in my flickr stream.

It was strange. The picture of Durbin was getting 10 to 20 hits a day, and while he’s in the news pretty regularly, nothing seemed to warrant why this five year-old photo with only one tag was getting more views than photos I uploaded within the last month that had been heavily tagged. However, when I studied my Flickr stats, it was obvious that people were finding my picture of Durbin, not by looking for him specifically, but because they were searching for “dick.” When you search Flickr for that word, you’ll come across pictures of people named Dick and lots of photos of guys and their penises. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Without access to my stats, I wouldn’t be able to analyze traffic and see what key words are being searched for the most. Having that can help when it comes to tagging photos. It also gives me an idea which pictures are the most popular, which in my case would be the photos I shot at the Baltimore Comic Con.

And while folks who search for “sexy” might find pictures taken at the Comic Con, adding tags that identify the type of camera and lens that I used is more useful in hitting my blog’s target audience. Increasing the visibility of my photos in searches, in turn, pushes more traffic to my blog because most of the photos I’ve posted in the last year include a link to this blog.

Is that worth $25 a year? All day long.



Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.

  • Ed King

    November 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Great Post and well explained ! I stopped using Flickr awhile ago and had a PRO account for me I found years ago my images were showing up all over the web without any credit. I’m not sure if things have changed any but the funny thing a friend once was shopping in a wine store and the cardboard end cap display pictured not only his picture but his sailboat. The owner of the store was really amused and gave him the cardboard display to take home with him, an ad company chalked it up to an over anxious marketing person but since they cropped out a watermark they knew what they were doing when they lifted the image from Flickr.

    Have a great weekend

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