May 22, 2012

Phlearn News and Updates

Phlearn News

Hey Phamily! There’s some great Phlearn news going on around here, with a couple big changes coming soon. Some of them may make some people upset but in the end its all just business and we hope you understand!

Texture Packs

We will now be offering BOKEH and SMOKE textures for sale! More will be coming in the next couple weeks. These can be used with different blend modes and other ways of applying textures to stylize your images and add flare. Right now we have hundreds of bokeh and smoke photos available for purchase.

Question of the Day

Do you have any experience changing things around with your business that you didn’t necessarily want to? Did it help or hurt you?

Make sure to become part of the Phlearn Family on Facebook, converse with us on Twitter, and #hashtag your Phlearn inspirations on Instagram. We want to know what the Phlearn community social chatter is about, and who is sharing it. You all keep us motivated to do our best.


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    Andrea Peipe

    I completely understand that you have to raise the prices guys! You were always really cheap in my eyes anyways and it was good while it lasted but it makes sense to do it. Plus you really have to live off it so no worries there ūüôā I still have not found the time to watch any of the Phlearn Pro tutorials (major sigh) although I bought quite a few. Actually I have not even found the time to be on Phlearn in forever… the day does not have enough hours!¬†

    Great news on the Textures ūüôā

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    Why don’t love the loyal customer? ūüôā who have less than 5 PRO’s will pay 15$, 5-10 PRO’s 13$, 20 or more 10$ so it will be a deal to take as much video as we can and you can make muuuch more money. or who have more than 10 PRO’s can download a PRO with his photoshooting tutorial (10-15 minutes live for light scheme, suggestions) for 15$ (for the others with few PRO, separate downloads 15$ + 10$ ), do you think it’s reasonable for your business? just my 2 cents to help our phfamily

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      Tony Walls

      Really like this idea… (I would, I have 21 pro tutorials and all the texture packs as well..LOL) Aaron, as you can tell, I’m a HUGE fan of your tutorials. I teach photography myself, but I’m still learning daily (with help from you and other sources) to keep my creativity fresh. Your style is real world, and so are the topics you cover in your tuts and daily injections.. If people were to think of it as not necessarily 15 or 25 bucks, but just a “donation” to help “keep the lights on”, operating costs, if you will, then I don’t think it would be such a big deal.

      I totally understand the economy being crap right now, but ALL of the tutorials and texture packs, brushes, etc are luxuries. As you said in the vid, if you can’t afford another 5 bucks, then you have other problems, and maybe you shouldn’t be thinking about getting a tutorial at all.. Save that money and buy a loaf of bread or something if it’s gonna break you that much.

      I do, however, agree w/ the loyalty program. The services and general community you’ve provided and helped build is invaluable to my growth, so I will definitely continue to support this site, and all you do regardless to if you went up 10 bucks a tutorial. I personally feel it’s me investing in myself to learn from those that inspire me. Me watching one of your PRO tutorials feels like I get to watch over your shoulder and see the better way of doing things.. My workflow has changed completely since I happened upon Phlearn.

      I use Apply image so much now that I can’t believe I never used it before. And I’ve learned so many keyboard shortcuts, Stamp Image layers are now a staple in my workflow as well.

      I’ve emailed you a few times about certain ideas and things I think would help grow Phlearn as well as other products that I felt would benefit the community as a whole. I look forward to seeing what comes next, and hope that my extra 5 bucks per tutorial can help fund whatever ideas you have in store for us.

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    John White

    So many people are mad. ¬†You could skip McDonalds for one day and make up the extra $5 that it cost. Aaron has went through in the past to “Know what you are worth, and set your own prices”, this is a great example of that. ¬†He feels his tutorials are worth more and has the full right to raise the price. ¬†If anything, the Pro tutorials are extremely underpriced in my view, and to top it off, the new texture packs are even more underpriced and an amazing assortment of very good images. ¬†I am not fanboying on Aaron, I am just blown away at the amount of negativity over $5.00 ¬†. ¬†Sad¬†

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      Robert Ash


      I have to agree with you. So very well said.

      I’ve found that people who gripe so much and make such a big deal over such a small amount typically aren’t people who buy a lot anyway. Plus they tend to be the most demanding and consistently critical. They’re typically not the ones who really appreciate what you do. So I’d advise Aaron to consider deeply if that is a customer base he really wants.

      Some customers can tear you down instead of building you up, especially customer at low price points. These exact same people wouldn’t dare complain about a great painter’s prices based on how much his brushes cost. But they’ll complain about Aaron’s prices based on how much his recording software costs!!! With no regard whatsoever for Aaron’s phenomenal talent and exceedingly valuable time.

      You don’t really see such customers nearly so often at higher price points if you are delivering good value, which Aaron certainly does.

      There are some people who genuinely have little or no money but would like my work. For me personally, they are not my target market for my photography — but I sometimes do pricing favors to certain individuals from time to time because I appreciate their appreciation for what I do.

      In Aaron’s case, however, given that almost *anyone* doing photography and photoshop spends 100s or even 1000s of dollars on cameras, lighting, computers and software (e.g., Photoshop) I just don’t see why they won’t spend money on top-rate training. I personally chose in the past and still choose now to spend less on equipment so I have more money to spend on advanced training, seminars, tutorials, etc. It’s the eye, not the camera, that makes a professional image.

      Photographer Mike Colon spoke about how he used to do $700 weddings. He lost his entire customer base when he went to $1,500. Then lost those again when he went to $5,000 then again when he went to $10,000-25,000 per wedding. But he’s much happier and more appreciated — and he finally started making money commensurate to his skill level and ability to run a successful business. I hope Aaron doesn’t start charging $10,000 per tutorial in the near future ūüôā but an extra $5 is certainly nothing unaffordable to someone who wants and truly values the outstanding quality of his lessons.

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        fine, you’re for sure a business man, can’t be otherwise.
        So If a customer can’t buy a product because he have to give an overprice of 150% without an improved product, so it’s better to lose the customer. great logic here.

        Aaron is a great artist, and I’m not talking about his value, this point is clear;
        As I’ve already wrote, I’ve almost every PRO’s Aaron have recorded, I just don’t like the “textures packs” idea that drive to overprice the ¬†PRO, why don’t sell the textures without packs? 1‚ā¨ per image, or 2, or 3, but leave PRO’s out of this contest.

        Do you need a better business? ok then do a Video 3-8 hours long and talk about the whole postproduction process for 30-35‚ā¨ or 45 or 55, that’s ok, fine, but changing the price of the tutorials is an error that will reduce if not destroy, the userbase created with time and efford. Just my 2 cents.

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          Robert Ash

          Apologies, I didn’t mean to come across wrongly so I’ll try to explain better. Judging by your previous note, you sound like a customer I would agonize about losing. Seems you’ve bought a lot of product and feel you cannot afford to pay more per product. No good businessperson would want to lose a customer like you. It’s always really painful.

          I also spoke as a customer. And for me personally, I make sacrifices in one area to make up for expenses in another area, as I described above. Both in business and as a customer to other businesses. I will buy less or delay purchases for items that honestly are above my budget for things I really want.

          To share points of comparison, 8-hour DVDs like you’re describing, when done by other top experts, cost much more.

          —¬† Peter Hurley’s head-shot DVD download costs $300 for 8 hours (download, no chapter divisions, not much variety in material throughout, but really well photographed with lots of good tips and industry insight).
          —¬† Natalia Taffarel’s DVD cost $250 for 11.5 hours a couple of years ago, now it’s on sale for $199.
          —¬† Photoshop Top Secret costs around $300-350 for the 4 DVD series (not sure how long it is)
          –Many good photography and Photoshop workshops run $300-400+ per day (including multi-day workshops broken down into days), plus you have to pay for lodging and transportation, and even meals.

          So $15 for early purchase or $25 for regular purchase for 60-90 minutes of material of the quality of Aaron’s is not too much to afford. If I had that much of a budget crisis I’d buy fewer tutorials but would still buy them.

          I always felt they were underpriced, especially the $10 advance downloads.

          Your post was reasonable, like your response is this time. My main surprise was the caustic tone of some of the comments, some that went as far as tearing down Aaron personally. Over $5. That’s rather sad.

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            Robert Ash

            ¬†And I don’t mean your notes, Angelo, I mean some of the other notes. Your notes are thoughtful and reasonable, and again apologies for any unintended misunderstanding. All the best to you.

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            I’m very sorry but those times in italy are not easy, you know, and I’m a strong fan of Aaron, but I can’t go more than this, at least in this moment.. You’re right and I was wrong, an 8 hours video (not a tutorial) should cost surely over 150-200$, shame on me. Caustic tones about Aaron make me agree with you, he is a very nice and gentle person, can’t understand who can hate him, thanks for response I’ve appreciate and excuse me fo my bad english, hope to back soon in the phfamily :’)

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            Robert Ash

            Your English is perfect. I wish I could speak Italian that well ūüôā¬† I feel for you, Angelo, I’ve been reading about the financial situation in some of the Eurozone countries including Italy.¬† I certainly hope things get better for those countries. If you are on Facebook or Twitter we can keep in touch.

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            Robert Ash

            Correction to my note above – –> Peter Hurley’s head-shot DVD is $300 for *4* hours, not for 8 hours.

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        Mojo Jojo

        ¬†I’ve found that people who gripe so much and make such a big deal
        over such a small amount typically aren’t people who buy a lot anyway.
        Plus they tend to be the most demanding and consistently critical.
        They’re typically not the ones who really appreciate what you do. So I’d
        advise Aaron to consider deeply if that is a customer base he really

        ————————- What? LOL. He wants people to download his training. Your argument makes no sense. ———————

        But they’ll complain about Aaron’s prices based on how
        much his recording software costs!!!

        ———————Aaron was the one that brought up expenses as a reason to raise prices, not us. His software has not increased in price lol. I can only debate based on what he said in the video ————————-

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      Mojo Jojo

      No one said he didn’t have the right to raise his prices. He could raise them to $100 a tutorial if he wants to – it is his business.

      And if we skip our McDonalds for one day, we still have to spend money to eat somewhere else or buy ingredients, so how is that helping us with the price increase?

      No one forced Aaron to offer the tutorials at a discount the first few days. That was his decision. $15 versus 10 is a big deal for some people, especially considering those people were purchasing early to get the discount.¬† Those people have the right to purchase less tutorials and they probably will (I know I will unfortunately) because it quickly adds up with everything else I need to spend money on each week. You don’t know our financial situation, and even if we were rich, you have to look at the fact the quality has not really increased with the price.

      And for those that said raising the prices would get rid of the “bad customers” or the “customers he really would not want anyway”, are you kidding? It is a business where YOU DOWNLOAD A TUTORIAL. He obviously wants every possible customer. It’s not like we contact him and demand refunds because we didn’t like the training. LOL, ridiculous.

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    Mojo Jojo

    To compare kelby and to walmart is a joke.

    To state that rasing prices for these training videos would be a good way to get rid of pain in the butt customers is dumb.

    You have to remember that Aaron’s only expense here is his time when he makes the videos. He has his recording software like Camtasia (or something like that) and he edits a picture for us and explains all the cool things he does. That is so cool – which is why I purchased the 4 videos I did.

    But to state in his explanation that he is fighting expenses and 40% taxes and that is why he is raising prices is ridiculous. Just come out and say you want to make more money. I would respect that because everyone in business wants to make more money.

    Now I know he is renting studio space and his equipment is expensive, etc so he does have expenses, but if he is just talking about the training videos it is just him, his computer, and the recording software.

    This is why I mentioned the dedicated streaming server so we can watch anywhere and anytime without clogging up our devices with these huge files. And that way he could do a subscription service and not actually GIVE the videos to us. If we wanted to access them we have to keep paying each month or once a year, etc.

    Finally, as much as I love Aaron and his knowledge, his training style really needs work to improve. Say what you will about kelby and lynda, but the production value of is top notch and MOST of the trainers at kelby are very good because they have been doing it so long. Also, both sites break down the stuff into segments which is very useful when trying to find stuff later that I need help with. Rewatching a 90 minute tutorial to find that one spot where Aaron talks about a blending mode or skin retouch is not a good way to use my time.

    It’s just scary not seeing any solid improvements in training styles from pro tut #1 to the most recent but now we are getting a 50% price increase for each tutorial (assuming you buy when its on sale)


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    I’ve almost all the PRO’s, but those are hard times AAron, I will continue to consider myself as your fan, but the adventure for me, ends here..I understand what you say but I simply can’t get all your Tuts as was until now, understand me

    I prefer no texture pack at all but PRO’s as before, but that’s your choice so…

    I really don’t know if is better 5$ for every Tut (but less PRO’s sold) ora a robust, enthusiast, fan base
    do the math friend

    And everything you will do, good luck


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    What i love the most about Phlearn is the part that less is affected by the new price policy, hence the FREE tutorials, because they range from photoshop, to taxes advice, from inspiration, to motivation, from planning tips, to pure art, with some tips on how to use different accessories…

    Everybody should keep in mind that phlearn as a whole can thrive only if some money are rolling in, and I hope to see the free daily being the bread and butter of this website with a weekly or so pro airing to rock us all ūüôā

    I’ve just bought 1 more pro 1 texture, and 2 packs before the price increase is going to be effective.Thank you for giving us some time to choose what to buy at this price.I’m going now to spend some days filling up my time with your tutorial, and eventually put in to action what I’ve learned, and going to share my results with you~!!!

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    Robert Ash

    Aaron, gang, I would pay more for these lessons.

    As I shared via email, you teach things I’ve been dying to learn. Those who don’t like the price hike and are comparing your material to KelbyTraining et al, I can’t agree with them. You package a wide variety of techniques into a coherent single project, explain everything your’e doing in exhaustive detail (very helpful) and create an actual artwork. Not just a cool effect, but a useable tool kit. For me personally this approach far exceeds what I personally get out of KelbyTraining,, Photoshopuser Magazine, etc.

    For me, they show you single techniques, many of which are cool and useful. But you have to roll your own project and string all those techniques together yourself. What you provide is guidance on how to conceptualize an entire project — sort of like the difference between learning hard lighting, soft lighting, leading lines, etc. versus planning and executing a complete on-site modeling shoot end to end.

    For me, I can find one-off techniques in a lot places. But these advanced complete projects are rare, and I’ve paid a lot more for top-flight DVDs by Natalia Taffarel, Mark Manciardini and other amazing experts than I’ve paid for the all the Phlearn tutorials I’ve bought put together (and I have most of your tutorials). And I consider your expertise every bit as amazing as theirs, and they are the very best. So are you.

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      Robert Ash

      ¬†Also, yes I do understand your business’ financial situation. I had to make the same decision myself, to raise prices. You do lose some of your audience but you get a different audience, one that appreciates your work, the quality of what you do and the value they are getting. You definitely have to earn that price because people who pay more expect higher quality. But if you meet the quality standard they’re willing to pay for it. And even your new prices are not unreasonable.

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    Mikael Wahlin

    5$ increased dont mean a thing if they are worth it…
    The problem with the PRO tutorials nowdays is that they are too basic, no where close to the standards of the once you released in the beginning. A PRO tutorial shouldnt be judged by its length (wich is the case now ) but by the content.
    An increase in price have to be followed by an increase in quality.
    I will keep on buying them, you have a great teaching style and they are kinda relaxing to watch. But as I said I havent learned anything from the latest tutorials that i’ve bought and if your “students” doesnt learn anything you have missed the prime goal of this site.

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    Some people will complain about the price $24.99 for a one hour video. But do a google search for a photoshop day courses and then divide that cost by what 8 hours ? for a day course. Then you’ll see how it compares. No one wants to pay for anything these days, but I have to say that I have bought several Phlearn Pro episodes and I have learnt so much. I guess you have to take the attitude, support them or lose them.¬† ūüôā

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    not a big deal you gave us a lot of  free stuff, and your pro tutorials deserve more than this and i always think you share LOVE and that is Priceless 

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    Matt Heltsley

    First off, Aaron, I am a huge fan. ¬†I’ve followed your career since long before ARF. ¬†I was willing to pay for content back then, even if that never fully manifested itself. ¬†Honestly I would pay to see you photoshop at $10 or even $15 without batting an eye. ¬†I now have a 19 pro tutorials and have paid well over what a year of Kelby or other options cost. ¬†I will keep buying them, at $10 a shot as long as they are available. ¬†I will even buy them at $15. ¬†I hesitate to drop $20 or $25, but if the episode is good enough I would and have. ¬†

    I think what would make me more willing to pay more, or buy more, is if you took some of your “famous” images, you know, the ones you did for the 365’s, etc on flickr, and made tutorials about those. ¬†I know they are long done and you may not recall what was done, etc. ¬†But if you were to redo them and let us in on the process, that would be huge.¬†

    Secondly I would love to buy “packs” of tutorials. ¬†I.e. 3 or more (maybe 5 or 6) for one price which is less than each of them alone. ¬†

    A subscription would be great too. ¬†I did Kelby, watched every video I cared to see over the course of a year and have never looked back. ¬†I don’t see the content they have produced since then as worth another years subscription. ¬†Maybe a month. ¬†But I digress. ¬†I would not want a subscription for your work to ruin my love for it. ¬†So only offer a subscription if you feel you can make that model work. ¬†

    Finally I want to say thank you. ¬†Your tutorials are awesome. ¬†I watch them and rewatch them until I hear your voice in my head while I am working. ¬†They are great. ¬†Sure you ramble like a crazy person. ¬†Sure you make some “interesting” choices from time to time. ¬†But you are so entertaining and so remarkably talented that I actually like all the “non professional” chit chat and “interesting” choices. ¬†Do what you need to do to keep this all going. ¬†You have my support regardless of what you decide.¬†

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    Why dont you guys think about an annual subscription price that gives me an “all i can eat” for your tutorials and blend packs etc. that way you¬†you might optimzie revenue across your customer base to a greater extent. You need to know how many of your customers that bought 1 tutorial¬†and bought 2 and those that bought¬†2 how many converted and¬†bought 3 (make sure you know your demadn waterfall conversion rates)etc..what you may find is that there is a optimal¬† point in that due to overlapping¬†knowledge your only ever sell 1 additional tutorial to 2-5% of your potential customer base (defined as those that get your newsletter). So now your business game is how to better that conversion rate and thats how you increase the value of your business.

    So why not consider a different reveune model and sell a subscrition to the Phlearn premium world of content-all the tutotials i can eat, all the new content libraiires and whatever else you guys are doing. At $39.95/yr you may now optimize upto 10% of your potential base vs the slog at 2-5% (example).

    Also lets be honest for a second..your real payday will most likely come when you sell the business to a larger entity and a subscription model is valued very differenlty than one that has to slug it out selling one tutorial or blend pack at a time. Your content reveune potential scales with each new additonal content service you create as it now works with pre exisitng content offers to continually attract new subscribers that are optimzied at $39.95 at the point of entry and so on. Granted your new business game becomes one of renewl but no one ever said it was going to be  a cakewalk, but really think about your valuation model and exit stratgey as you should be rewarded fopr your hard work in a few years.


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    Tom Simone


    This website must be great cos I’m here every day…

    I’ve bought a couple of your pro tutorials and think your pricing is about right, $5 doesn’t make much difference to me.

    However, I find having watched your free content I rarely find the time to watch any more.

    How about getting people to pay before you create the pro tutorial?

    If you told me about a photo shoot / project you were doing and would happily donate money towards it if it meant I got content and info on how it was done, even if I didn’t up watching it all.

    You could have a target, with a counter on the site, and once that was reached you could undertake the project.

    Or perhaps that wouldn’t work….. ramble ramble… right, back to my own editing….

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    Michael Nightmare

    While I rather pay 9.99 if the content in the video can help me improve my skills and knowledge in photoshop I would pay the new price. I have to agree that some of the content does overlap and I stopped buying tutorials for the past several weeks because some of the content seems to be found in most of the other videos I have already paid for. I would like to see more structure in what you are teaching and each new lesson builds on what was previously taught. I find that I sometimes buy a video just for one effect that I have been wanting to know how to do.  I love the teaching style because you do explain why you are doing what you are doing and most people do not do that.  Also with the new price I do not see me buying every new video that comes out each week as it does add up quickly buying one video a week. I will continue to buy videos but will be more thoughtful about what I purchase as I was buying all videos because of the cheaper price. That is my rant / thoughts about that.

    In the end thanks for the great content and I am still a fan!

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    Mark Odo

    I applaud you for the change.  It comes at the right time.  I own many of your tutorials after the 5th or 6th one I started to become a lot more picky on what I was buying.  There are probably many of us that have done the same.   I will continue to buy them I believe they  are worth the money Рif the content is fresh and new to me.  
    I hope your audience continues to grow and I hope the pro tutorials will become even more challenging.