My proposed solution for the paywall problem

You’re guessing incorrectly… I WAS paying before the Outside takeover and stopped specifically because of the takeover. I’m happy to pay to support a small independent publication like CyclingTips was, but I’ll have no part in supporting Outside… they can fuck directly off.

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I paid before the Outside takeover as well. Mainly because of the Strava bundle.
However, I have since stopped paying since the Strava bundle is no-more.
I enjoy the Angry Asian’s analysis, the Hammer’s bluntness and the Tool-guy’s collection. However, the few times that politics have entered into the podcasts and forums have soured on me to pucker my wallet closed.
I’m sure that the NBA/NFL/ESPN and others have had the same phenomenon happen.
The only politics I want in my cycling are the following:
Carbon vs Metal
Disc vs Rim
Di2 vs Mechanical
#TubeInside vs Tubeless
Pressfit vs Threaded

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FWIW, this is an approach that has worked elsewhere. Paywall is OK but it should be very low (eg. $5-$10/yr). It tends to filter down the participants in a desirable way. The comments from such are often as worthy as the features.

I like the paywalls. They’ve made me realize I was wasting far too much time reading cycling websites. Most didn’t offer much in the way of substance and thus weren’t really worth paying to read. I’d pay to read James Huang. He’s a first-class equipment reviewer. But he’s now part of a package, which just encourages me to save my five views a month for what he writes. I wish I had a solution to the monetization problem. I’d like to see more writers making money writing. But as a broke writer myself, I just couldn’t justify the expense here. It was pane e acqua or CyclingTips, and the former won out.

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I just don’t want the CyclingTips writers to do what I did, give up writing what you want and start writing advertising. (Meaning actually working in the industry, not writing advetorials.)

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And another legendary mag bites the dust……but the paywalls are the problem. :woozy_face:

I’ve been debating which site I was gonna subscribe to, but decided with this news today to support CT. Won’t do the full VC membership as I don’t really see the value in what you get (if the Strava offer was still there, I would) but I will subscribe for full access to the articles.

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Paywalls aren’t the problem… media conglomerates like Outside are the problem, and they’re what’s killing smaller independent publications who don’t sell out.

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I think an essential part of my proposal was missed. In my model, writers explicitly become sellers to brands who buy their work.

This is different than the standard employer-employee relationship because employees don’t have to be tied to one company. This means the employee (writer) can sell their articles to CT, Outsider, or any new startup publisher. The brands (like CT) continue to do the essential work of advertising, charging subscriptions, building community, aggregating quality articles, etc. Since multiple brands can buy the articles, end consumers can read the same article on multiple websites. If they like the Outsider experience better, they can read it there. If they like the CT experience better, they can read it there. etc. Since different brands can provide different levels of experience, they can also charge different subscription costs. Maybe Outsider skimps on UI or has lots of popup ads, but that allows them to charge less than CT who has no popup ads.

I guess, in a way, this makes the writers freelancers, except I was thinking that the articles could be stored on a decentralized ledger (a blockchain) and that would provide many built-in benefits like: an immutable record of the article’s edit history, a built-in currency, a record of permitted “official publishers” and the royalty rules, and complete transparency of all transactions and modifications to the state.

But what is appealing to the brands about having non-exclusive content from writers? Why do I read an article on CyclingTips when I’ve already read it on VeloNews?

Part of the reason I am paying member of VC is because of their writers. If I can read a particular writer anywhere, I’m not going to have any allegiance to a “brand” anymore, so I would, in theory, maybe subscribe to that writer’s Substack or whatever.

So I don’t think I understand how CT continues to exist.

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So how does a writer cover his upfront expenses? Who pays for his travel to events (races, trade shows, press events, etc)?

That would be even worse for an aspiring journalist, who has no catalogue of articles to prove their ability. How is a new writer ever going to succeed? The industry is already notorious for low wages and long hours….

Sorry, it just isn’t a model that works.

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Procycling disappearing is very sad. I worked for one of their distributors and through a bit of love and care for a magazine I genuinely enoyed, grew its sales quite a bit in our market. Unfortunately, the whole print industry has been in a brutal downward spiral for years (hello, smart phones), and the last couple of years of Covid pretty much crushed them. (Publishers sold A LOT of magazines in airports and train terminals, and when traffic is destroyed, it pushes a lot of magazines over the edge.)

I’m happy to pay for content online if the price is reasonable and the content is good. CT is one of the sites that gets my money for that reason. I expect we will start to see bundling of sites with training apps in the near future, or ‘free’ subscription certificates with products (like you see with Zwift and any trainer brand).

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Bless the internet…“The Internet is both a beautiful and ugly creature.”

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If nothing else, reading this thread tipped me over the edge to become a subscriber. I think the peril behind the model could be similar to iTunes or kindle, you allow the platform of distribution far too much power, which will result in probably incredible success for a few but cents on the dollar returns for the many (Taylor swift or Beyoncé gets millions of streams or downloads/listens while thousands of musicians get fractions of a cent from the platforms from their work). The support the platforms will provide, as others have pointed out will be non existent to new writers, and you will end up seeing the same articles by the same handful of viable authors across multiple publications. If you think the paywalls are bad, try to imagine what would happen if apple or Amazon controlled the platform that distributed the content.

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Congratulations. You invented Substack.

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‘my solution for the paywall problem’’ is to snatch purses from old ladies. problem solved.

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Efficiency, economies of scale, innovation… jesus, that’s terrifying. :thinking:

Sure, or you’d get a majority of algorithm derived content (clickbait, discussed above which is why I didn’t bring it up again) and you’d be handing whatever platform came out on top an effective monopoly over the industry.

I am definitely not rooting for the only reviews available to be “our 47 favorite gravel shoes” like what has happened to some pages

In a nutshell, that is why I have historically paid for CT

I just watched episode 7 of Wheel of Time last night and really enjoyed it. No commercial breaks, just a trailer at the start for a different Amazon show. I can listen to a massive library of music and watch dozens of tv shows and movies and read thousands of books for my nominal annual fee. I can even buy bike parts with it and get free shipping without a $50 minimum.

My Amazon Prime subscription is a one-stop shop that gets me a whole bunch of stuff. I would absolutely not object if they branched into cycling journalism and started including that, too.

Thanks everybody for the constructive criticism and respectful discussions.

Yep, I’m getting tired of these articles too.

My model in mind wouldn’t be like iTunes or Spotify where artists are paid per view. It would be more like the movie industry where movie producers sell their move to one or multiple distributors. Here, writers would be the producers and various media companies would buy, or lease, the rights to distribute completed articles or bundles of articles. One (of many) flaws, as you mentioned, is that the support for unproven and new writers would likely be non-existent as no company has them on payroll and is making an investment in them.

From what I understand, Substack helps writers make and sell newsletters. There are some similarities, both separate writers from companies, but with newsletters, writers are selling their work to the end consumer. What I had in mind was writers selling their work to one or more media companies who distribute, aggregate, promote, display it on their website, and make a business model (eg. subscription, popup ads) that works for them and their end-users.