Enthusiast publishing is a bit like a cancer patient, and advertising is like chemotherapy to that patient. The very thing that allows specialty publications to survive—advertising—is also the very thing that risks killing them because the relationship of publisher to advertiser can undermine the audience’s trust.
That’s why readers of most, if not all, publications often harbor a lingering suspicion that advertising changes coverage. That a small ad improves a review and a big ad makes a review amazing.
There’s really only one way to combat that perception. It means providing a reader-supported publication.
Beginning today, we are soliciting reader subscriptions. Why? Well, we have a few motivations. The first is to reassure you of our independence. The second is to increase the amount of content we provide. The third is that we know that you’re a stunningly loyal audience. It makes sense to follow the devotion; advertisers, honestly, can be fickle.
This won’t make us ad-free, at least, not right away. However, it would take fewer than 10 percent of you to sign up for subscriptions to allow us to transition from an ad-driven model to a reader-supported model.
So what would change? I know our reviews won’t change. But we will chase a few stories we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. And I think that the nature of the conversations in our comments section might evolve some, and for that, I’m excited. As it is, many manufacturers watch our comments section to a degree no other publisher can claim. I’ve been told by some of the bike industry’s most influential experts that we have the brightest, most knowledgeable readership out there. I welcome the chance to see the conversation evolve.
Your support will make these changes possible.
If you want to read more of my thinking on this or about the specifics of how the subscriptions will work, follow this link.
We’re not going to erect a pay wall. We’re doing this National Public Radio-style—all volunteer. All the content you see now you will continue to see. This is an invitation to those who appreciate our content to support us so we can do more of what we do. More content with clearer independence.
And if you think this is a crap idea, or that you’ve trusted us all along, or whatever, feel free to register your opinion in the comments.
Watch for this button at the bottom of posts!