Joy to the World, Flickr Offers 3 Months of Pro for FREE!

Joy to the World, Flickr Offers 3 Months of Pro for FREE!

I saw an unusual notification on my Flickrstream this morning — you probably did too. It seems that Flickr just offered to extend to every account on Flickr (and new accounts too) three months of free Pro service. Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

Thank you Flickr!

This is an absolutely brilliant move on Flickr’s part, for many reasons.

First, the timing of this offer could not be better. After last week’s Instagram fiasco, Flickr signed up a lot of new accounts. Now these new accounts get to have the cleanest advertising free Flickr experience possible during those formative first three months.

Folks will like the paid service more than the free version and after three months they’ll be more invested in the site than after two days, and potentially will be more likely to keep paying. Flickr is also signing up more new accounts due to their fantastic new mobile app.

Second, Flickr limits Pro accounts to 200 visible photos. More active users will post more than 200 photos there in the next three months. After their Pro term is up, they will want to see their photos that will then disappear (or the critic might say “held hostage”), the only way to do that will be to reup and pay for more Pro service.

If people are not paying attention to the 200 photo limit, they will be more likely to reup when they have 300 photos uploaded than if they have 200 uploaded and all of a sudden notice that photo number 201 is not showing up. Most people will just quickly accept the offer rather than carefully consider the differences between free and Pro accounts and Flickr will end up with more Pro accounts three months from now than they would have had without the offer. Some will stick.

Third, the Holidays are an especially important time to be out there recruiting new accounts. People share a lot of family photos during the Holidays and Flickr is striking while the iron is hot here at just the right time. BTW, those important family Christmas photos will be some of the first to disappear for new Flickr accounts three months from now. 😉

Fourth, activity begets activity. You will be more likely to use a Pro Flickr account than a free Flickr account. Already Flickr is seeing a big influx of new relationships because of their new find friend features with Twitter and Facebook.

If you haven’t logged into your Flickr account in a while, log in now and look at your recent activity. What you’ll notice is a lot more people have been adding you as a contact. You’ll also notice that a lot of the familiar names are people that are connected to you on Twitter and Facebook. That’s because your friends are using the new Flickr iOS mobile feature that allows you to add your Facebook and Twitter friends to Flickr. More people will be hoping on Flickr to claim their free Pro upgrade and notice all the new activity and be more likely to engage.

BTW PRO TIP: If you are an Android user, you don’t need the iOS app to add your Facebook friends. You can do that on the web here.

Now, the free gift doesn’t come without just a tiny bit of controversy though. Although Flickr in NO WAY changed their Terms of Use or their Community Guidelines (this is important and smart after the Instagram debacle), they DID, for the first time that I’m aware of, put users on warning that unlimited at Flickr really does not in fact truly mean unlimited. All of us seasoned and cynical internet geeks knew this anyways, but I’ve never seen Flickr say it before. Tacked on to today’s free gift is the following bit:

“Note: To avoid abuse of our unlimited storage, we do monitor accounts for excessive usage. Yahoo! limits the number and size of photos allowed from an account within a given timeframe. While our goal is to ensure that everyone benefits from unlimited storage, Flickr is not intended to be used as a content distribution network.”

Aha! Say what? Wait, a minute, what’s this all about?

Users have already raised this issue with Flickr in their help forum and so far there is no definitive answer as to what exactly constitutes this sort of abuse. I doubt you’ll see one either.

Flickr’s deal with us in the past has always been that Pro accounts get an unlimited number of photos to upload. For someone like me who is planning on publishing one million photos to the web during my lifetime, this has always been a huge benefit in using Flickr over other services. To publish the same amount of photos I’ve already published to Flickr at Google’s Picasa, it would cost me hundreds of dollars a year. I am clearly taking advantage of the whole unlimited storage thing at Flickr with over 77,000 high res photos up there currently. At $24.95/year for me, this is a HUGE bargain.

It’s fine that I’m doing this by the way, and all in, even though it probably costs Flickr more to store my photos than I pay in subscription fees, my photos make up for it in other ways (by driving more users to Flickr as a community member, through my participation in the program with Getty, etc.). I’m probably still actually a profitable account to Flickr all things considered.

Personally speaking, I feel 99.9% confident that even uploading a million photos to Flickr during my lifetime I will not run afoul of this new notice. That’s because I’m doing the sort of thing on the site that is good for Flickr. I’m a good community member. Although I’m very prolific and using Flickr in an extreme way, I’m basically using it for what it is meant for, to share my photos with my friends and the world.

If I was truly doing something abusive (like uploading a million private high res copies of the exact same black square 24 hours a day and just chewing up bandwidth and storage for no apparent reason) I’d probably be shut down.

So for the 99.9% of you out there who read that notice and worry a little bit, don’t. You are not who Flickr is concerned with here. Besides, you can always say, why is Thomas Hawk allowed to upload so many photos if I can’t. 😉 Unlimited really does mean practically unlimited for almost every conceivable authentic use case for Flickr.

By the way, even without this sort of “excessive use” disclaimer from Flickr today, Flickr always could have deleted your account for excessive use in the past anyways. Flickr’s Community Guidelines are wide enough to drive a Mack truck through. You can have your account deleted on Flickr simply for being “that guy.” So Flickr always has had the right to delete your account for essentially any reason that they feel like.

Anyways, thanks to Flickr for three extra months of Pro — a good marketing effort at just the right time. Flickr has really been firing on all cylinders lately and this is great to see. Now just give me that new Android app for New Year’s Day and justified photos in sets and search as a token of love on Valentine’s Day. Oh and better blocking tools and the ability to mute threads would be cool for Lincoln and Washington’s birthday! 😉

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  1. Nick P says:

    Unless I’m mistaken they’ve also done a subtle refresh on their UI too (unless I missed it earlier). The pop-ups and dropdown menus are a little better and the notifications have changed slightly with your avatar shown in the top right.

    Could be an indication of on-going work on the site?

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    Nick, I think this was part of the recent update and refresh to the Global Navigation system that was rolled out along with the launch of the new iPhone app.

  3. T.J. Powell says:

    Thanks for posting this. I may have missed it if I did not run into it on your blog. I signed up and will give it a try. I am also using several other places to post, Google+, 500px, Zenfolio, blog, etc…….. I have a hard time keeping up with all of it. I meed to work on a better workflow. Thanks again.

  4. This is great news. I already loved Flickr, but this puts them over the top. Definitely a good marketing move, I think.

  5. Flickr Plug. I Like it. Might be getting old but defo worth using.

  6. Happy new year everyone!