Man, this year is flying by quickly. The second quarter of 2018 has come and gone already, and that means Q2 reports of various manufacturers have started coming out, giving us a sense of where the industry is and where it’s going. In the first quarter of this year I decided to issue my own report on the state of TMO, and now that the site effectively has its own investors I feel it’s a good idea to keep the trend going.
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As I’ve said before, this isn’t terribly exciting stuff – I’m just a dude sitting in an office suffering the paint-melting flatulence of a retired racing dog – but I like sharing it because I want TMO to be something to which readers can feel a stronger sense of connection.
I sometimes find it difficult in the day-to-day to fully achieve all the high-minded goals I’ve set for the site, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. And in Q2 I’ve been lucky to have a number of folks contribute their voices, either through the Five Whys, or by delivering articles as Drew Faulkner and Jennosaurus have. Overall, I’d say the TMO ship is in a good state and improving. Pageviews are up, revenue is starting to come in; I’m (mostly) content with the present, and optimistic for the future.
Pageviews in the second quarter of 2018 were up 229.4 percent on the previous quarter – can’t complain about that. Ad revenue is also up but remains quite low in terms of actual money in my pocket. The old dudes of moto-journalism always complain about the paltry earnings from programmatic advertising; I now totally understand what they mean. It’s almost not worth having.
I have had a handful of actual advertisers get in touch. There is one promising discussion taking place at the moment with a company that is relevant and reliable. Other offers I’ve felt just didn’t fit; if I ever sell out and run advertorials about cigars on TMO you can rest assured the money was real good.
At the moment, referrals to Amazon and Revzilla and the like are far more profitable and relevant, while also being being less annoying than display advertising. You probably know how referral links work; if I mention, say, a Schuberth C3 Pro, providing a link to Revzilla, and you then go and buy said helmet – or indeed any other item from the site that day – I get a certain amount of dough for having directed you.
It’s not a perfect system. The monthly payout amounts are inconsistent – depending on the variables of someone wanting to buy something on a given day and their getting to the point of purchase through TMO – but things work out well enough that it will remain a part of my business model for the foreseeable future.
However, the biggest and most positive development in this arena has been the decision to try to keep TMO running through the support of patrons. I set up a Patreon page last month and the positive response really has surprised me. Those of you who have signed on as patrons are awesome. I mean, really awesome. For those who have not yet become patrons, I’d ask you to at least consider the thing. I really think this can be a great way forward.
In addition to the awesome support of patrons, TMO continued to be on the receiving end of kindness from a number of moto entities in Q2. The petty side of me fights the urge to call out a certain brand that has become incapable of returning emails since I left RA, but that’s immature and self-defeating. And the truth is, if goodwill were money this site would be rolling in dough. So, let’s focus on the positive. Three cheers to Aerostich, Amped Motorcycles, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian Motorcycle, Kriega, Oxford Products, Pando Moto, Pirelli, Sena, Shoei, and Weise – who have all been awesomely supportive in Q2.
Where We’ve Been
The second quarter of 2108 was a great one. I got to go to South Africa, for the love of Pete. My wife bought a motorcycle. I rode to Scotland on a Ducati Multistrada 950 and managed to not crash a Multistrada 1200 Enduro off road. In addition to the Multistrada 950, we reviewed the Harley-Davidson Breakout, Zero SR, Yamaha Tracer, Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe, Ducati Monster 1200 S, Triumph Street Scrambler, and Lexmoto Valiant.
Harley-Davidson gave me a Street Bob to play with for five months, and we all learned that Indian really is going to make the FTR 1200. However, the most popular post of the quarter was my advice on how to ride in the rain.
Where We’re Going
I’ll admit that I am growing deeply concerned about money. The UK’s tax system has a weird quirk in which it makes you pay some of next year’s taxes this year, based on how much you earned last year. Last year I was earning that sweet, sweet RA moola, whereas now I’m in a state of burning up savings – effectively earning nothing. Nonetheless, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has insisted I pay in full. It’s a massive punch to the hull of the Good Ship TMO, to the extent I’ve started to apply for actual jobs. I’ll also probably sell my Triumph.
RELATED: Why I May Not Be a Moto-Journalist
Ideally I’ll be able to find a part-time gig, but whatever I take on will eat into the time and energy I have for the site. I won’t be completely shutting things down or any such nonsense, but I do feel frustrated at what I hope is a temporary setback. Hell, though, who knows? Maybe I’ll suddenly start selling shitloads of TMO T-shirts and everything will be fine.
I’ll be able to hang on long enough to attend Intermot, though. I think it’s reasonable to be optimistic about still attending EICMA, as well. But let’s not worry about Q4 right now. I have quite a few tales built up that I’m looking forward to sharing in Q3 – for example: the road trip to Prague, memories of a very cold ride to the Isle of Skye, and Great Welsh Tea Towel Adventures to Aberaeron and Tryweryn.
I’m working on conniving some very interesting folks into sharing their Five Whys tales with TMO. With the weather as good as it’s been, I’m thinking of taking the Street Bob to John o’ Groats, taking advantage of Scotland’s wild camping laws and sleeping by the roadside once I cross the border. I remain optimistic that I’ll hit that $400-a-month goal mentioned on the TMO Patreon page, thereby initiating a trip encompassing the UK’s four capital cities: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London. If not, well, life will go on.
The third quarter of 2018 is shaping up to be a lot more challenging than one that preceded it, but the universe can often surprise you. And hey: we’re dealing with motorcycles, man. You know it’s going to be a good time either way.