As 2019 comes to a close, it seems like only yesterday I was writing last year’s Happy New Year post (on January 28th) where I covered some of the big changes I made to the site at the beginning of the year. The two most obvious were a switch to Bluehost, which is a professional WordPress host that is faster, safer, and more flexible than the old server I used to use. The other change was implementing Google Adsense for ad revenue, and then in May, adding a third party ad service called ezoic.
- Premium Cryout Creations Septera theme
- Jetpack Premium w/ Full Site Backups
- PDF Embedder Premium Plugin – Allows full screen PDFs in blog posts
- W3 Total Cache Premium Plugin – Speeds up the site
- Wordfence Security Premium Plugin – Keeps hackers away
- Vista Print – I created business cards that I use to promote the site locally
- mikeeckman.com domain registration
- …a few others
In addition to these services, I use the money from the site to pay for shipping each time I borrow a camera from another collector and have to return it. Cameras are heavy and it’s not unusual for shipping to cost $20 – $30 with insurance one way, and when you consider the number of cameras I have, the costs add up.
I also use a variety of free plugins that either don’t have a premium option, or I haven’t yet determined whether I want to invest in them. One such plugin is EasyIndex which allowed me to completely redo the indexes for the site. Perhaps you noticed that I removed the running list of every camera review along the right side of every post. I did this for a few reasons, mostly of which it was getting difficult to maintain as it required me manually editing a menu every single time something new was posted and WordPress menus aren’t meant to have 200+ things on them.
EasyIndex allowed me to create three different indexes for the site, which you can use to find reviews by model, by manufacturer, or by film format. If you haven’t checked out the indexes, please do so and let me know what you think. Is it worth spending site money to register the plugin that does this?
In terms of content, this year I published:
- 50 New Camera Reviews, including those for rare cameras like the Alpa Alnea 7, Kodak Ektra, and Bell & Howell Foton
- Two complete refreshes of the FED 2 and Mercury II reviews, and a brand new 5 part article on the Argus C-series, which updates three of the first reviews ever written on this site
- 26 New Keppler’s Vault articles, which ironically is the exact same number as last year
- Two new One Hour Photo interviews with Richard Oleson and Paul Sokk of yashicatlr.com (there might still be a third one this year if I can finish it in time)
- Part three in my Rotoloni Report series, in which I discuss the history of Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) with Nikon historian, Robert Rotoloni
- The Wehrmacht Leica article, which I collaborated with Jim Lager of the Leica Historical Society on war time Leicas
- Two “Showdown” articles between the Ektra and Foton, and also the Canon AE-1 Program and Pentax K1000
- A comprehensive Buying Cameras on eBay article where I cover all of the tips and tricks I use to score cameras cheaply
- The Kodak Prototypes of the 1930s article, which used scans from a 1939 pamphlet provided to me by Kodak Collector, Charlie Kamerman, which explore unique Kodak prototypes for the Ektra, Medalist, Kodak 35, and several other cameras that were never produced
- The entirety of all 73 issues of the Zeiss Historica newsletter, which was a bi-yearly publication for the now-defunct Zeiss Historica Society from 1979 – 2016. I created a new web based index for the entire series along with some notes on most of the issues, with the help of former Zeiss Historica president, Larry Gubas.
As I read through the summary of this year’s accomplishments, I also reflect back on 5 years of writing camera reviews, a landmark I hit in December. As I said in my Gratitude article, I did not start writing these reviews thinking the site would become what it has, but I am very happy that it did.
If you like stats, here are a few interesting site stats:
- 363,980 site views, which is up from last year’s 331,356 total (a 9.8% increase) for an average of 997 views per day. (stats according to Jetpack)
- My most popular month was July with 35,739 views, which suggests you all like American camera reviews (or just have more free time in the middle of summer!)
- My Top 10 most viewed reviews of the year were:
- Kodak No.1A Pocket Kodak
- Nikon One Touch AF3
- Minolta Autocord
- Yashica Lynx-14
- Yashica 35
- Canon EF
- Minolta Hi-Matic 7S
- Zeiss-Ikon Contaflex Super
- Pentax ES II
- Minox 35 ML
I find this list very interesting, because none of these reviews were posted in 2019, suggesting my older reviews are still popular with search engine traffic!
- My most popular post of 2019 wasn’t a review though, it was the Breathing New Life into Old Cameras post, which I wrote in March 2016, and was my most viewed post last year as well. It seems people enjoy reading my thoughts on getting old cameras working again!
- 2,687 GB of data transferred (according to my host, Bluehost) for an average of 224 GB per month. My data rates are high as I generally have high resolution (for the web) images on the site. Each camera review usually has between 10-15 “beauty” images of each camera, along with 12+ or more sample images, which are all between 1-3 MB each.
In addition to the actual Mike Eckman dot Com website, I also took social media presence a little more seriously this year by regularly updating the site’s official Facebook page where every new post is shared, along with a new Mike Eckman dot Com Instagram page, which admittedly I’ve only just begun exploring, so I’m still not totally sure how to take advantage of it yet!
As I did at the beginning of 2019, all of this site activity is a lot for one person, so I am going to take the month of January off from new content. This break will not only give me a very much needed break from writing, but will also give me the opportunity to catch up on some content I either wanted to get done in 2019 but couldn’t, or some things I’d like to do next year.
Once I resume writing in February, what do I have planned for 2020?
Well for starters, more reviews. In order for me to keep track of every camera in my collection, along with the loaners sent to me by other collectors, I have a Google Docs spreadsheet that shows which cameras are in need of repair or cleaning, loaded with film (and what type of film), need film developed or scanned, which are ready for review, and the order in which I plan on publishing them. I do this not only for reviews, but also Keppler’s Vault articles and other articles I’d like to write about.
This probably seems like overkill until I tell you that currently there are 149 cameras in “the queue” awaiting a review, and content for another 24 Keppler’s Vault articles. Some cameras will never get reviewed as I try to create content that is not only interesting for you to read, but also has some interest for me to write about them. Many times I have started a review where I found it difficult to find something to say about, only to have them languish in draft status for years.
In 2020, I hope to keep up the types of reviews that many of you have given me feedback that you like to read, along with some new surprises. I already have four selected for February which will include a review of the most expensive camera I’ve ever handled, a historically significant camera, a really fantastic Soviet camera, and a camera with a feature that I am pretty sure has never appeared on any other camera ever again! I’ll likely do one or two more theme months and two more Cameras of the Dead articles as well.
I had planned on doing more than two interviews in 2019 for my One Hour Photo series, so hopefully that will come to fruition this year, along with a few other informational articles I’d like to explore.
I plan on doing more collaborating in 2020, along with perhaps my first ever “guest post” completely written by someone else. Don’t worry though, it’ll be by someone you’ll all like, and not some North Korean content farmer!
There shouldn’t be any big surprises in store, but I’m always open to suggestions and there will always be those small tweaks that I do now and then in the interest of usability and customization. If there’s something you’d like to see on Mike Eckman dot Com, or just want to drop me a line, either leave it in the comments below, or contact me through the site’s Contact form, or through my official Facebook or Instagram pages.
In case I haven’t said it yet, Happy New Year, and here’s to another great year!