24 December 2017

Frequently Asked Questions About Philofaxy

Over the years I've been asked most of these questions more than once. Therefore it made sense to turn them in to a post of some sort!

1. When did you start the blog?

I didn't start Philofaxy, that honour was another guy by the name of Matt from the USA. He started it in October 2005

Nan joined him in June 2006. Matt disappeared to spend more time with his family at some time after then. Laurie and I joined Nan in June 2009, Anita joined the team in May 2012.

2. Who are the team, can I join? 

You can find out more details about the current gang of four on the 'About' page.  If you would like to join the team then why not try writing a guest post or two first. Or contribute a few ideas for future posts.

3. What are the organisers in the photo at the top of the blog? 

  1. Filofax Pocket Sandhurst - Tan
  2. Gillio Medium Mia Cara (Black and Red)
  3. Van der Spek A5 Custom - 6202 outside 6208 inside
  4. Van der Spek Standard (Personal) 6218 Blue
  5. Van der Spek A5 Custom - Tabac
4. How much do you charge for a review?

We do not charge for reviews. Naturally if the company donates the sample we are very grateful. I don't keep them all. Over the years a lot of the review samples have been given away as prizes. 

I try to work on the basis of giving a fair and accurate review no matter what price point the organiser is. I try to be as objective as possible without bringing in my own subjective opinions. This to some people might be a little bland, but I wrote technical reports for 20+ years that had to be similar, objective not subjective. I guess it is difficult to break out of that 'style' 

I hope you as potential customers find the reviews useful and the companies gain some new customers. 

Some samples are only loaned to me for a limited period to do the review and then returned to the company. In this case the company will arrange shipping in both directions so it is just my time and my own photography equipment that is used. 

5. How do you find the blog posts?

Over the years I've built up a system with a large number of blogs and You Tube channels in it. It reads the RSS feeds from these sites and lets me know when there are new posts and new videos for consideration. I then check each one and determine if it will be included or not.  Google doesn't highlight that many blog posts these days. Therefore my own system is much better. 

The system is affectionately known as Gromit the cartoon character from Wallace and Gromit. Back when we had a Windows 3.11 network at home the network name was 'Wensleydale' rather than 'Workgroup' and each computer or printer on the network had a character name from the series, for instance one of the printers was 'Preston' ! Gromit was my desktop machine that the system originally started on!

The same system is used for Travellers Notebook Times as well. 

We are always looking for new blogs and channels to include for both sites.

6. How many visitors are there per day to Philofaxy?

Not as many as we would like! I started collecting stats in August 2009, since then there have been about 5.25 million visits with about 14 million page views. 

Our best year was in about 2014 terms of visitor numbers. But with other forms of social media competing for peoples attention/time our visitor numbers have declined a bit. 

These days we get about 1500 visits per day but it varies each month during the year, increasing in December/January when people are looking for new diary inserts. And we get 3000-3500 page views a day. Quite respectable figures for a niche blog!

7. How many blog posts have you written? 

I honestly don't know the answer to this one. This post is number 3976 of all of the posts on Philofaxy, but I have no idea what proportion of them I have written.

Before I joined the team I read all of the posts from the first one through to the current one back in 2008. Then I did it a second time including the comments. I've not attempted to do that recently!

I can remember most of them that I've written, but I have to use the search to find them because I'm useless at remembering when I wrote them!

8. How much money do you make from Philofaxy

Not a great deal! There is some affiliate links used to Filofax and Amazon. I do have expenses to cover such as postage and the cost of the server that the diary inserts are hosted on as well as the podcast. 

However I am happy to do this for zero profit. Why? Well let me explain. 

Through the 'work' I do with the companies they are happy. They also have happy customers. And I've gained a lot of friends through the 'work' I've done on Philofaxy and you can not put a value on friendship? 
  • Cost of a pen - £5
  • Cost of a Filofax - £100
  • Cost of friendship - Priceless
What earning I do make they are all declared on our annual French tax return! Sad I know but I prefer to keep everything simple and straight forward. 

9. How did the name Philofaxy come about?

I can't be 100% certain but it might have been to avoid trademark issues with Filofax. In English Ph is a similar sound to the letter F so changing F for Ph avoids the trademark issue!

I've even registered: http://philofax.co.uk Filofax obviously didn't think about spelling variations!

10. Do you read all the posts and watch all the videos that go in to each webfinds?

I used to, but these days, the blog posts are given a quick scan for consideration for inclusion. With the videos it would take too long to look at each one, so I look at the title and the thumbnail of the video and may be a quick scroll through the video to assess it for inclusion. I do go back and read or watch the ones that are of interest to me.

11. What are your favourite posts to write

I do enjoy writing reviews as well as my 'travelogues'. As a keen amateur photographer for many years, improving my technique for photographing organisers has taken me longer than I would have liked, but after investing in some studio lights it is now much easier to do.

I generally start off by taking the photos and work out the 'story' I'm going to tell with the series of photos. A full review can take 2-3 days to do including the photos.

When I've been on one of my unannounced visits like the trip to Italy with Gillio or to the Van der Spek workshop, I love to draw the reader in at the start and carry them along with the trip.

I've also had a lot of fun writing posts which have evolved gradually like the reveal we did of the new Filofax range in 2012. I did this one with the help of Alison my dear author wife. She took my basic idea and added a bit of 'drama' to it. She said what are you going to say next? I was laughing... 'Nothing' was my reply. That was cruel!

So the post went out and the reaction was incredible. I had planned part 2 to be published the next day, it wasn't even written at that point so whilst the death threats poured in, I quickly got to work writing the real 'reveal' !!

12. What are the hardest posts to write

I was discussing this with Anita recently, we both agreed that the Free For All Friday posts are the hardest ones to write, trying to think up a suitable topic every four weeks. Yes we do sometimes cheat by looking back at similar ones from pervious years!

13. What is the difference on Twitter between Philofaxy and PhilofaxyNews

@Philofaxy is our main Twitter account, it shares the post from Philofaxy each day.
@PhilofaxyNews is an automated account, it relays posts from the Filofax Focus Flipboard magazine.

I hope I've answered most of your questions.... if not drop your question in the comments below.


  1. Interesting & informative post, keep up the good work, big thanx to you & your team for all the effort made. Christmas greetings from wet / windy Glasgow.
    Merry Xmas

  2. In short, Steve and the long-standing team puts a huge amount of unpaid effort into making Philofaxy what it is. Indeed, I can only recall one day (and that was with good reason) over many years that there has not been a new post. Many thanks (from windy Yorkshire Dales) and have a great Christmas!

    1. Thank you Tim. It isn't an easy thing to do on such an intensive basis! But somehow the ideas continue to flow.
      Have a great Christmas and all the best for the New Year

    2. I greatly appreciate all the effort these guys put into Philofaxy & get a great deal of information out of it. I have been a Filofax user for decades and use to download the yearly archives & trawl through them too. Now just trawl through the online posts. Love all the hard work put in by the team & guest writers too. Keep up the good work & hope you all have a Happy Christmas! Paul

  3. Thank you for all you do! I look forward to this blog every morning. Will anyone from Philofaxy be attending PlannerCon in San Francisco in March 2018?

    1. Not as far as I know. I am not planning on attending, mainly due to the cost of getting there and back and hotel costs etc.

  4. Will the periodic “biography”posts, introducing individual blog followers to your general readership, be continued in 2018?
    I have always enjoyed reading (and once participating in!) this regular feature of the Philofaxy blog. I look forward to it’s return!

    1. Yes Linda, I have a post lined up for this later this week asking for some suitable volunteers. It has been a while since we last had some people appear. With the gap we have had hopefully we will be able to get some willing volunteers for the coming weeks in the New Year.
      Thank you.

  5. Steve, this is a great article and answers many questions I have often wanted to ask! I love being part of this community, it makes me feel less of a geek knowing so many other people have the same interests.