I’m trying something crazy. I am trying to bootstrap a B2C niche site I am really passionate about. I already know it’s not going to be an easy journey but I really believe in its potential so why not give it a try?
Filmtypes.com teaches you all about the world of analog film photography.
You know... the cameras your grandpa likely used.
Filmtypes has been running (mostly in the background) since 2020. Last week I decided to revamp the site from the ground up and build something much bigger.
When I first got into film photography, I had a hard time figuring out which film stocks I should shoot with. The beauty of film is that each emulsion has its very own characteristics which make it stand apart from the others. Every film tells a different story.
Four years ago, I was scrolling through endless blog articles and example photos on tumblr and Flickr to find inspiration but it took me ages and felt extremely cumbersome. I was teaching myself how to code back then and wanted an approachable side project to apply my newly learned skills. So I decided to aggregate the most useful film data, pick the six most fitting example photos by hand (yes, all by hand ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) and create a place for you to easily explore the beautiful variety of analog film.
The site sort of blew up, huge photography magazines started blogging about it and overall people where super happy for a site like this to exist. In the last two years during my travels I even had two people telling me about Filmtypes without knowing that I built the site! Talking about #foundergoals, hehe.
Trying and Failing to Monetize
Now it’s been around three years since the site saw any real big update. Why is that Dom? Thanks for asking. Let me try to explain. When I first started Filmtypes I was still at uni and had barely any idea about business. All I knew is that I didn’t want to spam Filmtypes users with horrible Google Ads and destroy the entire experience even though this would have likely made quite some good money. I also tried affiliate marketing but it just wouldn’t work well + COVID came at the worst possible time and so I had to shift my focus working on other products to actually start making a living which worked out pretty well in case you are wondering.
So my focus shifted away from Filmtypes but for multiple reasons it always stayed in the back of mind. I knew that one day I want to return and turn it into something better and bigger. That day is today!
So how will Filmtypes be monetized going forward?
Well, first of all I don’t believe in taking any funding. I am a passionate Indiehacker and plan to fully bootstrap Filmtypes from my own savings. At the moment I am in a position where I luckily don’t need to think about monetisation from the get-go. However, as any sustaining business eventually I’ll need to find a way to justify the time and resources being spent on it. I already have a few exciting ideas but more on that later. In the meantime I am very open to take on custom site sponsorships in terms of banner displays in case anyone reading this is interested. For now the main focus is on building an amazing product.
If you are already looking for a way to support the project you can check out our super portable Sunny 16 exposure calculator that you can print out and fit right into your pocket.
Over the past few weeks I spent my days (and some nights) completely redesigning Filmtypes. Let me show you the first results of the Filmtypes redesign. First of all, our logo changed. I decided to go with a serif more playful vibe instead of the bit cold and quite frankly awfully letter spaced mono font.
Next, I gave the landing page a fresh new sexy paint and added new copy that describes the new vision in a hopefully compelling way.
The film stock library and details page, aka the heart of the project so far, obviously also got redesigned. Besides making the layout more tidy, the site now also has a much more powerful and mobile-responsive search and filtering system.
Finally, every film detail page now has a detailed description of the film stock’s film facts and history.
The New Vision
But it’s not just the redesign… While Filmtypes started out four years ago as the best resource to discover film stocks, I believe it’s time to think bigger. You might have already seen the new copy on the landing page.
I want Filmtypes to be the place on the internet where film enthusiasts come together to learn, share, and inspire each other. Filmtypes is (will be) your one-stop hub for film stocks, vintage cameras, trusted labs, and the community that binds them all. In other words, I know it sounds a bit crazy but I’m trying to build a social network exclusively for film photographers.
There will be a step by step process to get there.
First I want to make Filmtypes the hub for discovering and learn all things related to your film photography journey. We already have film stocks, so it naturally makes sense to add a library of all the amazing film labs that are still out there developing your film. I am a digital nomad which means I travel quite a lot and know that it can be quite difficult to find film labs around the world.
After that it also makes sense to add analog film cameras for you to discover. This will be quite a challenge but I already have some interesting ideas how to tackle it.
With these things in place, Filmtypes is ready to turn into a place that not only helps you discover analog photography but also share yours with the world. Think about Instagram but dedicated exclusively for film photographers. I believe that by allowing you to tag analog-specific meta data such as the camera used, film stock and more we can build a really powerful exploration engine! Much more importantly this will be a place for you to showcase your work and get inspired by hundreds hopefully thousands of skilled film photographers, 36 frames at the time (Don’t worry there will be more pictures, the tagline just sounded way to good in my head).
Build in Public
I strongly believe in the concept of transparency of building a product like Filmtypes, so going forward you can expect me sharing more blog posts about the ups as well as downs trying to bootstrap and grow Filmtypes. I want this to be a two way street and would absolutely love to hear your feedback and thoughts for Filmtypes going forward. Be it specific features you want to see, new film stocks, you name it. I am open for anything really! Let’s do this together. It’s much more fun ツ
Just shoot me an email to email@example.com.
Excited for this new journey and talk to you soon!