Some emotions I find difficult to keep to myself and this evening I need to speak to you, in all sincerity, about a subject that has affected me: the pirating of my tutorials. This is something which has lead me to seriously reconsider the site's role, something that has caused me to suddenly lose my motivation.
I have been very fortunate, up until now, to work with clients, whom I thank from the bottom of my heart for their honesty. It has been these clients, who have kept this site running since December.
Since the arrival of premium, thousand of payments have been made on the site. Of these thousand of customers, from all over the world, I have had only 2, up until now, who have had bad intentions.
In the end, these 2 ended up being uploaded onto illegal download sites or pirating forums. In the meantime, there have been dozens of Pay Pal frauds, although the accounts in questions were very quickly identified and deleted.
A game of cat and mouse
In any case, it is saddening that, after each large payment (€90 or €150 for a year's access to the site's downloads), my first reaction is no longer "cool, thanks very much!" but "quick, I have to make sure if this payment and the member are authentic...".
And that's the way it is at the moment. I have done my best to limit the damage, but now it's too late. Someone has been smarter or quicker than me and now has, on their hard-drive, the majority of the premium tutorials that I have made up to this point.
Thousands of people also possess these tutorials, and they have paid to own them legally. The difference being that this one person did it to satisfy the ever-growing demand on pirate forums.
I have been watching these forums for several months. Up until now, I had been fortunate in that even the moderators of said forums appeared to be on my side.
Nothing however, lasts forever, especially not luck in this game. A few hours ago, one of my premium members took it upon himself to put the majority, if not all, of my premium tutorials on-line. Perhaps we should thank him, after all, he's making a lot of people happy! With just a quick search, months of work can be instantly accessed free of charge.
A little structure
The problem is that I am not Envato, nor Videocopilot, nor Adobe and this type of pirating will have a real and significant impact on the revenues of the site.
This site has cost money, and it continues to cost money each day. Many tens of thousands of Euros have been invested during the last four years on development, design, editing. redevelopment, translations, servers, streaming, new tutors, etc...
This website has cost, and every day continues to cost, time. Enormous amounts of time. And recording the tutorials, that's really the quickest part. Customer service, ensuring that each purchase is a positive experience, following up on customers' problems and working to resolve them quickly, that all takes time.
Since January 2012, there have been more than 1 million visitors to this site, 40% of whom from non-French-speaking countries. This means writing a lot of emails in English, and since this is not my native language, this takes up even more time.
I am not just telling you all of this to complain. I love this job. It is a real privilege to have been able to devote myself entirely to the site during the last 9 months and only accepting 2 professional projects outside of the tutorial work since January.
The premium version was launched on December 2011, when the first videos requiring payment appeared on the site. I knew that this was not going to be easy after 3 years of completely free tutorials. For the first time, the site was generating revenue, which were reinvested in the total revamping of the site in May 2012.
I know that some people complained about the arrival of Premium, and only wanted the free version. I will reply to them in simple terms: it's not possible, at least not at this rate. In 2011, I only published 4 tutorials. 4 tutorials in 1 year! In 2012, I've released 24, of which 11 were free.
And despite this, some people complain at the release of each new premium tutorial (and yet, they are never heard saying "thank you" when a free one is released, surprisingly).
Sincerely, this does bother me somewhat because I would love all of the members to be happy to be registered on the site but these comments have never demoralized me.
The majority of readers seem to have understood the necessity of the premium model, which has given a real dynamic to the site.
There was a moment where a choice had to be made. To continue to make videos for clients as a freelancer (which can provide a good living), or to make some concessions with regard to salary with the goal of living purely from my passion: recording lessons.
The latter brings in less money, but it's what I like doing. And not unfortunately, these two options are not compatible. A 30 minute tutorial does not mean 30 minutes worth of work and a video for a client will always take priority over one for the site.
Elsewhere, it is often for this reason that the rate of publication of free tutorials is so poor on other platforms: you can't make a living from it, and so, it can never be a priority for the makers, which is understandable.
For my part, I have had the privilege of being able to make this my priority but right now I am in doubt as to how long it can go on for, at least in the current model.
The end of downloads
It's been something that I have been truly worried about since the premium site was first developed.
I know that a large number of people have to be able to download the tutorials as poor internet connections render streaming impossible. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to allow options whereby people may download the site's entire content with the help of a fraudulent Pay Pal account.
I am, therefore, thinking about instituting a 100% streaming model, with many fewer payment options than the 9 that currently exist. Some people are not going to like this, but it's the only solution that I currently see, which would allow the site to continue during the years to come.
I imagine a new, simplified, solution, with just one type of monthly subscription, giving access to all of the tutorials via streaming, along with the downloading of the projects. But no longer with the option of downloading the tutorials themselves.
As for the archive, it will unblock the streaming of tutorials for on-line viewing, as well as the relevant project.
I am thinking of going even further with the simplification of the payments and just keeping the one system (either subscription or pay-per-use). I still need to think about this, but unfortunately, these changes will take place over the coming weeks.
To current customers
To everyone who currently uses the download option or those who have already bought tutorials from the archive, nothing will change. You will always be able to download these tutorials. These changes will only apply to new clients and to new tutorials.
I always knew that it was only a matter of time that the downloading of tutorials on the site would be able to function so simply. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The next stage, going onto a 100% streaming model, will be a difficult transition, during which, I will surely lose some customers. But this, I believe is a necessary evil. And I am truly sorry to all of the honest people who will benefit from a poorer service as a result of a few bad apples... But that's how the world is... In any case, I will continue to do my best to provide you with quality tutorials.