I’m a naturally cynical person, given to pretty severe bouts of self-doubt. So, something that floors me every single time I encounter it is the support many of you have expressed for The Motorcycle Obsession. Some of you, it seems, really like what we’re doing here and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
In fact, some of you have been so supportive that you’ve actually gotten in touch to ask how you could support TMO financially. If you’re not one of those people you’ll think I’m making that up, but it’s true. So, for them – and hopefully for you, too – I’ve set up a Patreon page.
If you’re unfamiliar with Patreon, it’s a crowdfunding site that works on a subscription basis, delivering financial support to a content creator in regular intervals, rather than a single lump sum. As pertains to The Motorcycle Obsession, it’s very much like public radio membership.
Those of you playing along in Trumpistan will probably be familiar how public radio works – similar to commercial radio but with better content and no advertising. You don’t have to pay to tune in, but many people choose to pledge a certain amount a month because they like what the station is doing, and understand that making good stuff costs money.
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I feel The Motorcycle Obsession makes good stuff, and although I do my best to be the world’s biggest skinflint (increasingly, my “good” clothes are the freebie T-shirts I get from manufacturers), running this site full time does cost money. Yes, TMO has AdSense advertising, and you’ll spot that I throw in affiliate links (eg, links to stuff on Amazon) where relevant, but I really do try to keep that stuff to a minimum. I personally think that too much of it detracts from a site.
Also, there’s the fact these revenue streams don’t deliver vast quantities of dough. The real money, they say, comes in the old-school non-programmatic advertising campaigns of the sort that are increasingly rare (one of the reasons so many publications have gone under in recent years). I don’t have that. And I’m not sure I want it.
(The one static ad that exists on TMO – that Aerostich ad there on the right – doesn’t earn me any money. No, really. I put it there simply because I fucking love Aerostich stuff and Andy Goldfine and his team have been so incredibly supportive of TMO.)
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I’m not saying I’d turn my nose up at a big, fat check, but I do wonder at least a tiny bit about the integrity of sites that rely heavily on that sort of advertising. It seems there’s a potential for the site to feel it should go out of its way to say good things about its advertisers and perhaps not invest a great deal of time talking about advertisers’ competitors. Related to this, I was distressed to learn earlier this year that one particularly large site had declined its invitation to Pirelli’s launch of the Diablo Rosso Corsa II tire because Pirelli doesn’t advertise with said site. That doesn’t seem right to me.
I’m not inclined to “sell out” either way, but certainly you can help TMO avoid the ethical questions of advertiser influence by supporting the site via Patreon. Indeed, in the case of Patreon members I am quite happy to be influenced. I see Patreon members as shareholders in a way, and I’d be eager to get their opinions on what the site should be doing and how we should be doing it.
How large Patreon membership grows will obviously play a role in how much we can do. In the immediate term, my hope is simply to keep going. Right now I am running a pretty heavy deficit and the situation is unsustainable. I just want to be able to pay the bills; that dream of owning an Indian Chieftain is a long, long, long way off.
Once I get past the hurdle of keeping the lights on, the goal is to be able to bring in different voices. I love finding out about people via the Five Whys series, but I’d also like to be able to pay professional moto-journalists to deliver some intelligent, quality content. I’m lucky enough to know a lot of really great writers and I want to be able to give them good pay for good work.
At the same time, I’ll be continuing to increase the quantity and quality of content on The Motorcycle Obsession’s YouTube channel. We’re doing OK with just an old GoPro and a Google Pixel phone, but there’s clearly room for improvement.
I think TMO can get there with your support. Collectively, I think we can make something super-crazy awesome and it’s exciting to imagine a website driven so directly by its readership, rather than the pageview-obsessed black magic of SEO, keywords, and advertiser expectations.
Those of you familiar with public radio in the United States will know that in its membership drives there is usually some sort of incentive. So, all patrons will have access to exclusive content, will get to see new videos first, and be encouraged to share their voice as to the direction of TMO. I’m also working on some cheesy stuff like T-shirts and stickers. Check out TMO’s Patreon page for details.
You can pledge any amount that you like – from $1 a month to $1 million* – and can change that amount at any time if it gets to be too much for you to handle, or you just get sick of my constant digs at Trump.
If you can’t or don’t want to become a TMO patron, that’s OK. This site will always be free to read and I’ll keep doing it for as long as I possibly can, because I’m not in it for the money. I just love motorcycles and tellin’ stories, man. But if you are able to help, that would be pretty awesome.
* The person who pledges $1 million a month gets all the hugs.