I don’t concern myself, overly much, with what other people are doing. I guess I pay attention to my friends, and I follow the antics of a few of cycling’s more interesting personalities. But mostly I ride my rides, and talk a bit about it, and I don’t worry a lot.
Someone once said to me, “You just keep your head down, and keep that broom moving, and we’ll get along just fine,” and I said, “Ok, Dad.” So that’s the approach I take. I ride. I write. I rinse. I repeat.
But there’s big news on the wordy side of the bike biz this week. Pocket Outdoor Media bought more outlets, Cycling Tips and Pinkbike, to add to their already exhaustive roster of outdoor lifestyle brands. I wonder a little what it means. I mean, obviously, the more media you control, the easier it is to sell advertising, so it’s probably smart. Sell more, make more.
As I said, the only ‘more’ I concern myself with is more writing, and ideally, more riding. The rest, I hope, will take care of itself, although TCI starts to feel like a canoe we’re paddling in the wake of a destroyer.
When Padraig and I left Red Kite Prayer behind, joining up with Cush to start this site, it felt like opting out of a game we never wanted to play, the relentless need to sell ads to support our work. And then of course, when you have any success at selling ads, your readers begin to wonder whether the ads are influencing the “expertise” on offer. It’s like chasing your tail, doing what you need to do to make your work pay, and then feeling like you’re eroding your credibility when you get good at it.
So we stopped, or rather we started over.
The idea to be reader-supported isn’t a new one. NPR has done it forever, but they end up spending weeks every year begging for money. We’ve tried to keep the begging to a minimum, probably to our own detriment. In light of what’s going on in our little corner of the industry, I wonder if we’ve made the right choice, if we’ve gauged what readers want correctly.
I don’t much mind how we finance our work, because I like to keep my head down and just keep working. Each of us at TCI has made big financial sacrifices to bring you our love though. So I’m going to ask…
Does TCI being ad free matter to you? Is this the thing we should be doing? Or are we only satisfying ourselves with this moral high ground nonsense, this quixotic dedication to independence? You, the people reading these words, are sorta the judge and jury on our work. We’ve set out to make a case that this way is better than going big, big, big, but I’d love to know what you think. All opinions welcome.