signpost chipps singletrack world magazine

Cost of living crisis and Singletrack – An appeal

by 252

We are under some pressure and we thought you should know about it now before it gets worse and things get harder.

mark headshot staff

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The cost of living crisis is affecting everyone and the cost of doing business here at Singletrack is not immune. Postage costs and print and paper costs have risen as have all other aspects of the business. Don’t worry! We have no plans to stop printing Singletrack, despite the fact the costs of printing have jumped up almost 20% in 18 months and are forecast to go even higher over the next 12.

What this does do, of course, is apply a great deal of pressure to the eventual price we sell everything from memberships to merch. That pressure is becoming pretty unbearable. We haven’t put up any of our prices so far and we are trying every trick in our arsenal of cunning to avoid doing it going forward. Putting up the cost of a membership across the board will be hardest felt by those of you who can afford it the least and so we want to do something else instead and we need your help.

First of all, if you can afford to then we appeal to you to become a full member. Digital or print & digital, it really makes little difference. The more members we have the more of the price increases we can absorb. In short we can afford a smaller margin on each thing we sell if we sell more of them.

Secondly, and again, if it’s affordable, have a look through our merch and know that every t-shirt sold helps us keep the rest of the business running. 

And thirdly, and only for those that can really afford it, there’s the simple act of making a donation. 

You can make a simple one off donation by clicking the button above or, if you like, you can add a regular donation of your choosing to your existing annual payment by dropping Zoe an email at..

Singletrack is a community that has grown over 21 years to become more than just a business. It’s a place where many of you come when things are tough and the compassion that we have all witnessed over the years when one of us is in trouble is truly humbling. It feels like it’s not just ours and hasn’t done for a long time – and that’s the mark of a real community. No one can own a community. By definition it belongs to everyone who supports it.

We have never been driven by making a profit. We’ve been driven to be sustainable and just to continue to exist – Of course, profit is necessary in order to exist but to me that just means profit is a tool to be used in order to reach the main goal of sustainability – profit is not the ultimate goal here. Over the years Singletrack has employed several dozen people, providing a steady income. For me personally as a co-owner of the business that gives me a great sense of satisfaction. My greatest wish right now is that we continue to be an employer. That we don’t have to downsize and cut costs in order to continue to exist. That we continue to be a different business to all the others in our market and that we continue to be a community of people who love what we do day in, day out.

If you are in the position of having to cut back on your outgoings then we do not want to be a contributing factor to the position you find you are in through no fault of your own. Cancel your membership if you have to. You will always be welcomed back if you choose to return when things are more comfortable and the community will be there for you whether you pay in to it or not. If it will help then speak to Zoe who can help with downgrading from print to digital to save you some cash.

But if you can, then we urge you to join us – we need you. We need more people like you and so if you could spread the word and encourage others to come and pop by that would be brilliant too. And if you spot a newbie to the community, help them out. Welcome them and make them feel at home.

We have plans.

The best way to ensure sustainability is to adapt and there are changes on the way. First of all, there’s a new look to the website coming. The decorators are in and in the next few weeks we will be launching the new site theme. We hope you are going to like it – it will organise our content better and make it easier to find stuff.

Then come some technical developments including fixing the site search, some nice new features for everyone and a bunch of full members only benefits and very useful products. 

We are already migrating our downloads area to a new, much more streamlined system that will not only make it easier to find archived features and issues but also improve the speed and stability of the website.

The magazine itself is going to change. For our loyal print fans we think we have found a way to make it not only better but also more sustainable. We have some paper changes coming that we think you are going to like and Amanda is already working on a new layout and design that we are all quite excited about.

We have more plans in the pipeline too for you all, but rather than leave things until they are a major financial problem I thought I’d avoid that awful moment down the line where I have to make some really tough decisions only to have you guys say things like, ‘Why didn’t you say something earlier?’. That’s common in business. Things get left until it’s too late because of things like shame, or fear of looking weak. Well, I think over the last 21 years we’ve come to know each other well enough that I can avoid that. And so I’m speaking up now, while it’s not too late to do anything about the tough times ahead.

We appreciate every one of you, from casual visitors to our squad of life members. Everyone who visits Singletrack is a contributor to our future. 

Cheers

Mark

Publisher/Co-founder on behalf of the whole Singletrack team

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  • This topic has 252 replies, 119 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by benos.
Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 252 total)
  • Cost of living crisis and Singletrack – An appeal
  • blokeuptheroad
    Full Member

    Brave post. This is a great place and I want it to continue, it is far greater than the sum of its parts. A rich vein of knowledge, compassion, argument and irritation in equal parts! After a few years of free membership I coughed up for a print and digital membership last year. Although I have had to scrutinize, justify and bin a few other subscriptions recently, I get too much from STW to get rid any time soon.

    I hope you manage to convince a few others. They would miss it if it were gone. Good luck!

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    As above – very brave post, would hate to see STW go.
    I’ve already cancelled a couple of subscriptions I have but have kept STW as it seems to offer the most.
    Good luck in attracting new members, and looking forward to the site updates.

    tartanscarf
    Full Member

    Great post – crazy times all round. Got continue to subscribe too and will be browsing the merch. If there’s nothing I fancy I’ll pop a donation in.

    Good luck.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I 💕 Singletrackworld.

    Thank you for being honest – and all the new plans sound amazing.

    Andrew Lewis
    Full Member

    I love it too, and spend way too much time on here! Thanks for the openness and honesty and here’s to some new members to keep us going!

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    Don’t be afraid to up your prices! Those who subscribe for a printed physical magazine like STW won’t really notice an extra fiver or so a year.

    I’m in the print-trade and there’s only one way paper prices are going at the minute and if past experience of paper merchants is anything to go by prices will never come down again so don’t try and ride it out just to please a few whingers.

    The only other magazine I subscribe to is Motorsport Magazine and they’ve just upped their price by 50p / month.

    walleater
    Full Member

    Anyone know if the full print membership includes shipping the magazines to Canada?!

    Mark Alker
    Full Member

    Canada is on the list. There’s an extra £10 on the standard annual price to cover the extra postage.

    Murray
    Full Member

    If you haven’t already got one, treat yourself to a timber bell from the merch pages. The best way of defusing cyclist vs horse rider conflict on bridleways!

    Kayak23
    Full Member

    I keep trying not to look on here but keep failing.
    Really like the feel of the magazine, love the photography and am more than happy to support it in the little way I can.

    Besides, you can’t go now I’ve had the leg tattoo.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Have to admit I’ve ‘downgraded’ from a print to digital subscription this year – thanks for the prompt to get the signed back up.

    duncancallum
    Full Member

    Can only echo the posts above. Currently don’t envy the stress of running a publication especially in this Current climate!

    molgrips
    Full Member

    You could easily double the monthly cost of digital subs I reckon. Can you add a ‘pay what you feel you want to’ option? Or some other kind of optional sub?

    EDIT just seen there is one on the donation page.

    Mark Alker
    Full Member

    The ‘pay what you feel’ idea has been discussed here. The theory is great but putting it into practice is harder as it’s a regular payment and it’s not always easy to create a regular payment subscription with a variable amount. Not impossible but it’s a bit tricky.

    I’ve set up an option to create a monthly donation over on the donate page. And that can be set up to any amount you like in £5 increments.

    big_scot_nanny
    Full Member

    Happy to pay an increase in the subscription, and I’d buy more clothing but it’s all made for wee people. Well, people significantly wee-er than me!

    On the side, a small rant.

    I know those without a subscription/full-membership are unlikely to read it, but I was always mystified by very active and seemingly positive posters who had the attitude of “it’s my contributions to the forums that drive benefit for the owners, so I why would I pay to subsidies it?”. Some of whom have since left.

    OK, as is often the case, that point of view is not incorrect. But folks, lets not chop off noses to spite faces. Is this a site a great resource? Absolutely. Is it a vibrant and active community of likeminded people with opinions on a huge array of topics biking and non? Definitely. Are there things that happen on here that go way beyond what would be expected (even I have been positively impacted by this recently)… incredibly so.

    Why on earth would you not want to support that? Do it.

    Cheeky edit: “… There’s a magazine?!?” 😆

    toby
    Full Member

    This seems the best place for what may be a daft merch question… Does the drinks flask fit in a bike bottle cage? It looks like it should, but I’d expect it to list that as a feature if it was sized to carry on the bike.

    jeffl
    Full Member

    Thanks for keeping us informed Mark. I upgraded a while back to a print and digital sub. Nice to have a paper copy and disconnect from the world with a coffee/beer now and again.

    Changes to the website sound positive. I find the reviews really useful but a nightmare to navigate/find the review I’m interested in.

    As others say I’d imagine a lot of us middle class, middle management, IT working, Audi driving stereotypes can afford a couple of extra quid a month for STW. But on the flip side it’s great that it welcomes all and doesn’t have a paywall.

    Matthew Hornby
    Full Member

    What gives you the best financial advantage, if you don’t mind me asking? Digital or digital and print? I’m happy to drop the paper mag if the physical production costs are adding to the burden. Or yeah, as others say, put the price up a bit. I don’t recall a rise in the past few years even though there’s been a normal level of inflation.

    tomtomthepipersson
    Full Member

    The publishing industry is an utterly shitty place to try and earn a living. My missus is/was a journalist – she’s mainly writing novels these days – but the money she gets offered, despite decades of experience, is terrible. Some of here friends who still rely on journalism for a living are properly struggling. Even the big, well know publications are offering day rates that haven’t increased in almost 20 years. It’s depressing.

    Mark Alker
    Full Member

    @tthew It’s a rather complicated equation to be honest. Although the margins in print are getting hammered the thing with print is that it very much works on an economy of scale. To illustrate what I mean I’ll make a crazy extreme example.

    With a big single print run like a magazine there’s a huge portion of the final bill that is essentially setup costs. What this means is that if we wanted to print a single magazine on a huge press it would cost £5k (Hypothetical example of course because you’d never do this). To print 6000 copies costs a total of, say £8k. Because of that initial setup cost it means that each extra copy we print costs proportionately less and less.

    So, what I’m saying here is that if half of our current print members downgrade to digital only that would actually push up the costs of the printed copies and increase the pressure on our print membership product pricing.

    But print isn’t the right option for everyone and so I’m really not keen to say one is better than the other. Pick the one that’s right for you. I’d rather you paid £20/year for something you find useful than £39 for something that includes a printed mag you aren’t interested in. As far as margins go, there’s currently roughly about the same margin in both options for us so by picking one or the other we benefit the same. That’s as it stands. Like I said though, if I said digital is best and that results in a rush on downgrades then that would potentially be worse for us.

    Does that make sense?

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    Just paid. I’ve been here for years without putting my hand in my pocket, time to change that.

    Digital only, a choice made (should Mark or anyone care) on how I wish to consume my media, rather than financial.

    a11y
    Full Member

    I’m speaking up now, while it’s not too late to do anything about the tough times ahead.

    Thanks for the honest and open post, I’d much rather know where things are with STW now before anything becomes an issue. Thinking about it all reminds me how much I value STW and how much I’d miss it if it disappeared. I mean, I might have to actually ride my bikes if the forum and mag disappeared…

    Edit – interesting info re costs and digital-only vs digital and print. Still can’t beat paper format for reading articles IMO. I spend most of my day using a screen and don’t want to read my mag digitally. Maybe more folk need to give that a(nother) try, if they can afford it, in light of that info re costs?

    Mark Alker
    Full Member

    I’ll take this opportunity to highlight another unexpected way that many of you have helped us financially without even knowing it.

    This thread from a few weeks ago for example earned us about £180.

    PSA – Very cheap Fox 38 performance elite and factory forks

    Because it contained a direct link to the product on offer and we have a system on the forum called Skimlinks that affiliates all outgoing links to a very large number of retailers. That £180 was our commission on the forks that you guys bought.

    Telling the rest of the community when you spot a total bargain by starting your post with PSA, is a great way that we all win.

    Just make sure you include a link.

    Charlie Hobbs
    Full Member

    @toby.
    Yes the drinks flask sort of fits in a cage.
    it doesn’t have the narrower bit where some cage snug over the bottle… you know what I mean.
    I have used it in both titanium and nylon cages and it works on the cages I have used. It’s not a perfect fit, but has worked for me.

    The flasks are out of stock right now, but not for long. Klean Kanteen are lazer’ing up more for us any moment now. There is a “Wait list” box on the product page… pop your email in there.

    flask product page

    toby
    Full Member

    Great! Thanks, @charliedontsurf. I’ll get one ordered when they’re back in stock 🙂

    Lee
    Full Member

    bit crass – which subscription is most profitable for Singletrack – digital or print?
    Will “re-become” a full member.

    EDIT – read the comment noob!

    sadexpunk
    Full Member

    I’d rather you paid £20/year for something you find useful than £39 for something that includes a printed mag you aren’t interested in.

    i pay the £39 as i feel its worth it just for the forum. i dont read the mag that comes with it so i take it to work for others to read, but they dont either.

    is there an option to not send me the mag and save that cost, even tho its minimal? send it to someone else instead?

    anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    Been posting here since it was all fields, was a mag subscriber right from the off, then I lapsed, then I subscribed during COVID but honestly never read the mag so it lapsed again…gone digital now, its the future or something. Good luck at keeping it all together…many people, not just you, are going to be roundly screwed this winter whilst the zombie government holiday.

    Tom
    Full Member

    Great post.

    Weirdly this is why I never bought a lifetime subscription – I’d rather keep paying annually and keep the cash flowing into Singletrack Towers.

    Keith Lilley
    Full Member

    forty quid for six issues of a great print mag is an amazing price, I’m sure I pay over ten quid for Cranked at four issues a year so some scope for Singletrack to up the annual subs for print I reckon!

    cheers,

    Keith

    julians
    Free Member

    Because it contained a direct link to the product on offer and we have a system on the forum called Skimlinks that affiliates all outgoing links to a very large number of retailers. That £180 was our commission on the forks that you guys bought.

    Cool, glad to have helped….

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Postage costs and print and paper costs have risen

    Stop sending me the paper mag. As a lifetime subscriber I’m making no ongoing contribution and I’m perfectly happy downloading the .pdf of the mag. In fact the download is all I ever look at.

    ctk
    Full Member

    Stick the price up if you need to, everyone else has!

    brakestoomuch
    Full Member

    That was a tough read, but I’m glad and grateful you’ve given us the chance to help out, even if just a little. Everything I would like to say has already been said, far more eloquently, too (I think I do my best stuff after several beers), so I can only echo those posts, adding that I would like the magazine to continue: I may take a while to get round to reading them, but they’re always a treat when I do.

    I would head to the shop, but if I get any more t-shirts, I’m going to need a sponsorship deal, so I’ll donate instead.

    Like many others, I hope you keep the ship sailing merrily. The place just wouldn’t be the same without you.

    Matthew Hornby
    Full Member

    Does that make sense?

    Yeah, perfect. I’ll stick with the print subs in that case so I don’t dilute my bit of the fixed cost then. 👍

    Steve
    Full Member

    New paper,new smell…..

    rootes1
    Full Member

    Price up seems inevitable and sensible, but not sure how I feel about the ‘donate’ aspect of this story.

    If this was mountain rescue, air ambulance etc, donate request is for me perfectly acceptable but for a private business mountain bike magazine?

    The subs for what you get are still very reasonable. I like many others probably skip/not interested in half the mag, thought recently the recipes bit of a waste of pages and the amount of pages given over to Guy Kesteven bit much!

    But as an example Claudio Caluori article was well worth the time to read.

    Does feel at the moment as if STW mag is slightly trying to redefine what it is.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Price up seems inevitable and sensible, but not sure how I feel about the ‘donate’ aspect of this story.

    I know what you mean, but it’s a small business being honest with it’s customers. It’s the honesty bit which is the unusual part. Businesses don’t normally talk about how they’re doing and you just assume they must be fine, until one day you notice they’ve gone..

    I had this walking through town and noticed our local independent outdoor shop had closed after 20+ years in the city center.

    I would really miss STW if it went.

    jonnyboi
    Full Member

    ok, so I signed up to print and digital when it was on offer… does that mean you are losing money on the deal? if so I would be happy to not actually receive the paper copy but stay on the P&D subscription so it renews at full price?

    ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Interesting..  I just went into the STW “Shop” and page response times are horrendous. I can only hope it’s because everyone else is snapping up stuff.

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