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A Tale of Two Blogs: an inside look at what makes 360 Rumors tick

360 Rumors
360 Rumors

The other day, a longtime reader was apparently dismayed that I was speaking at a workshop sponsored by Ricoh, and announced he would stop reading 360 Rumors.  I found that very surprising and frankly bizarre.  In this post, I want to give you an inside look on what makes 360 Rumors tick, so everything is clear.

Many of you probably don’t know that I’ve actually been blogging since 2009.  Before I started 360 Rumors, I had a photography blog called Better Family Photos, which I operated from 2009 until 2016, when I switched to 360 Rumors.

Chances are, you’ve never heard of BFP unless you are a hardcore camera geek like me.  BFP was actually somewhat successful.  At its peak, it had over 100,000 views a month, and it has more than 3 million pageviews.  That doesn’t sound like a lot compared to large blogs, but not many blogs have stats like that.  But BFP’s stats pale when compared to 360 Rumors.  360 Rumors hit 100,000 views a month around 8 months after it started, which was about a year ago.  Of greater relevance to readers, BFP had just slightly over 1,000 articles in 7 years.  360 Rumors is about 20 months old and it already has almost 1,700 articles.  In fact, with BFP I had a co-author, whereas 360 Rumors is mostly just me.

Why did 360 Rumors grow much faster than BFP?  I’ll tell you.

BFP had almost zero affiliate links and had no sponsors or anything.  In 7 years perhaps I think I got less than $200 total.  It was purely a “labor of love,” intended as a service to the photographic community.  It took a lot of effort (and money to buy gear) to run it and after a while, it started wearing me down.

When I started 360 Rumors, I made a conscious decision to use a different approach and make it a business venture.  I would try to make money from it so I put affiliate links as soon as I could.  Because it was a business venture, I also worked harder at it.  My goal was and still is to give back to readers at least as much as I receive from them – hence, the much greater number of articles.  I’m writing this at 1 AM, which is very typical for 360R.

I can assure you that if 360 Rumors was purely a hobby with zero affiliate links like BFP, I would not give it nearly as much effort as I do.  After all, you can only work for free for so long.  Why the heck would I give up time with my family to work my ass off on these articles for free?  I may love 360 cameras, but obviously, I love my family far more!

So, yes, 360 Rumors is intended as a business and yes I get revenue from affiliate links. I thought it was already obvious every time I said, “Thank you for using these affiliate links to support 360 Rumors at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews.”  And I don’t know if you saw the banner ad from Gimbal Guru and the GearBest.  In case it’s not clear, these are ads, and I get paid for them.

Does this ipso facto mean that my reviews are untrustworthy?  Goodness gracious, I sure hope not.  Almost all review sites, Facebook pages, YouTube channels depend on affiliate links and sponsorships.  Just like me, most of them don’t want to work for free.  Put another way, Amazon, GearBest, B&H and other “sponsors” are subsidizing the cost of running this and other sites, making it possible for you to read them for free.

More importantly, when I review a product, I almost always back up my opinions and conclusions with actual data and evidence.  In fact, I often say, “DON’T just take my word for it — look at the video or photo yourself.”  To me, that’s the best assurance of reliability.  I also make sure to specify whether photos or videos are edited (and I try to keep edits to a minimum) so that what you see is pretty much what you will get when you use these cameras.  The photons recorded in photos or videos don’t know whether your site has affiliate links or advertisers.  This is one of the reasons I pride myself in hands-on reviews based on actual experience and not just armchair speculation.

So, I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes of 360 Rumors and what makes it tick.  What do you think?  Do affiliate links and sponsorships undermine a reviewer’s credibility?  Should reviewers work for free?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

About the author

Mic Ty

14 Comments

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  • Hi Mic,

    All big media are now sponsored by ads, they are not fakes news, TV channel are rules by ads, and journalism too.

    Your content are great value, and I’m very happy that I don’t have to pay 1$ for all the time you spend making great reviews, but someone can pay you for your precious review in 360 industry.

    You and your family are happy, your partners are happy, but I’m happy too when i’m hesitating to buy one product or another.

    For all people thinking your not objective, it’s like if they go to a store, and a vendor are trying to sell you a cam, they have all brands, they have commission on all products, but he will try to sell you the best product for the user needs.

    The bad vendor will try to sell you the product he will have the more commission, and hide problem the user can have with a product.

    But you write all the + and the – for each product, and when you can, you provide real promo code to help pay less = less commission for you.

    The vendor in store are not as skilled to push the review for all products in all angles, and don’t provide tips on using them, like you do because it’s your passion, and really test all products.

    The vendor won’t talk to you hours to explain why you must buy this cam or this cam and all details about the differences and to show you images and video with differences. They won’t unbox a cam just to show you what’s inside.

    There’s a lot of youtuber making some shit, and ads are nothing to do with the topic they are talking about, all is contextualised.

    I prefer click on ads with something i want to buy than a stupid adsense.

    100 000 views ? Good job !

    Oh I forgot, I didn’t have been paid for this comment 😉

    Change nothing 😉

  • Mic,
    You put out great content, of course you should not do it for free!
    That person is being unreasonable about a sponsored event.

  • I was quite surprised seeing Ulf’s reaction. He has been around 360rumors, commenting on articles for some time now. Its still nice to see that you care about his opinion so much that you actually wrote an article about it. The best closure would be if Ulf would come back and say he was drunk or something, everyone high fives each other in comments and GoPro suddenly decides to give free Fusions to everyone involved in this, including me.

  • Yes, I’m the bad guy Mic’s talking about.
    I think you made a feather of a hen in this case, Mic.
    I have nothing against you making money on your business – in fact it’s the opposite – I wish you a very long good life and that you are successful and make a whole bunch of dollars because you do a very good job.
    My reaction was only based on the Ricoh Theta V review you did and nothing else.
    You and ”LIFE in 360”-Ben has both raised the Theta V to the skies and in your review 3 weeks ago you said that ”Theta V is the 360 camera right now with the best video quality” or similar.
    I asked you in a comment how you could say that regarding the very bad purple fringing/CA, the red laserdot, the fuzzy sitchlines, no stabilization and more…
    You answered: ” I mean among 4K cameras”…
    I did not respond to that.
    One week later Ben announced the workshops around USA and at the same time you announced the same thing but added ”sponsored by Ricoh”.
    And I replied: ”sponsored by Ricoh”..Well, that explains some things to me…

    That was all there was to it.

    So I also think that this article you wrote is kind of bizarre and definitely a overreaction to my short comment.

    • Hi Ulf. Just so you know, I have never received any compensation or remuneration from Ricoh, whether for my reviews, videos, participation in Ben’s workshop or anything. They didn’t give me the camera either — I ordered it myself from Amazon for the normal price with zero discount. I don’t know what kind of advantage I would get by lying about Theta V. It’s not in affiliate links because I use affiliate links for most other 360 cameras as well anyway. So I don’t know where the supposed conflict of interest is. (And Ben invited me to join his workshop long before he ever got Ricoh to sponsor the workshop, so that’s not it either.)

      At the time I wrote about the Theta V, I already had tested the Yi 360 VR so I did not say Theta is the absolute best 360 video camera for consumers (that would be the Yi 360 VR for now, up to around $1000). I only said that the Theta had the best video among 4K 360 cameras. In fact, if you watch my Yi 360 VR review, I specifically compared it to the Theta V and pointed out the Theta V’s shortcomings, including its fringing.

      Nonetheless the Theta is still noticeably more detailed than the Xiaomi or any other 360 camera with 4K or less resolution, and has very good dynamic range. And when I post my low light comparison, it will demonstrate how well it performs against other cameras. And it has the best audio quality I’ve seen from any camera I own thus far including Insta360 Pro and Virb 360, both of which also have spatial audio.

      Anyway, you’re not the only person to insinuate a conflict of interest. A long time ago, some other reader got mad at me for posting a discount code (of all things). That’s why I wanted to set the record straight.

  • As someone who has ripped into people who accept graft, I’ve never had that feeling towards or sense about you. I’ve always felt your reviews were honest and not prompted by monetary considerations. Keep up the good work.