signpost chipps singletrack world magazine

Cost of living crisis and Singletrack – An appeal

by 260

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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Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 260 total)
  • Cost of living crisis and Singletrack – An appeal
  • onewheelgood
    Full Member

    Does the drinks flask fit in a bike bottle cage?

    The Kleen Kanteen flask/cups fit a bottle cage perfectly.

    oldfart
    Full Member

    Am I the only one who still has every issue all 144 of the buggers !

    endoverend
    Full Member

    Happy to pay a tad more even it means getting down to the last Turnip from the field next door in exchange. Have been absorbing mtb mags in one form or another since the birth of the sport but funnily enough I could live without a magazine if it meant you could survive as a website. Maybe adapting to a quality online photo story style would be a more affordable format.

    belgianbob
    Full Member

    As it happens, I’m looking to ditch a magazine subscription. The one I’m thinking of has changed out of all recognition over the last few years and what used to be compulsory reading now appears to be an exercise in self-congratulatory navel-gazing and NFTs.

    Thankfully, Singletrack has remained relevant, useful, informative and at the heart of a welcoming and supportive community.

    Now, which mag do I cancel? Singletrack, or British Journal of Photography. Crikey, that’s a tough choice, isn’t it?

    redthunder
    Free Member

    Is there a PayPal donate option.

    Like the forum. If was more like emtbforum etc. or just better. I’d cough up for that.
    Like the news etc on the front page.

    Got a PayPal donate ?

    Not fussed about the mag. Physical or Digital.

    tillyfishes
    Free Member

    Haven’t been round his neck of the woods in a while, but Singletrack has given me a lot over the years, a love for riding bikes to say the least – had a sub as a early teens and adored the magazine which I would read cover to cover. In addition the magazine certainly informed a love of printed media which certainly contributed to getting into running and editing a magazine at university (we never made a profit, running a magazine is hard!) This then let to other thing, a first ‘proper’ job amongst these. So from my first pay check I will be buying a sub. Thanks Singletrack, you’ve given me a lot, I hope my small contribution can help keep things going…

    jamj1974
    Full Member

    Sorry STW Towers – have to wait until i am back in work.

    oldnick
    Full Member

    I bought a bell, go me!

    The cost of everything has gone mad, I had some steel L brackets made recently, 9 bits of steel, 6mm thick, 200x75x70 – anticipated £40-50 based on previous use of this supplier/fabricator, £150! F@ck me backwards, I thought timber and sheet material prices were bad enough.

    So, all told, my digital sub to support my equal favourite forum is a snip. Good luck keeping the good ship STW afloat, I would miss it if it sank (I still miss the good bits of BikeMagic, bloody nostalgia freak).

    jamiemcf
    Full Member

    Signing back up to the digital.
    I let the print lapse as I never got a chance to read it before the boys discoverd and coloured it in.

    MrOvershoot
    Full Member

    I’m always slightly worried that as a “life” member it’s really not enough & in reality is probably only 5 or 6 years. I get the printed copy as part of the deal but really don’t often get to read it so would be fine with digital only.
    As someone said can we have a PayPal donate thing like Patron, hell we could even get our names on a scrolling bit along with the ads that I don’t see.

    twonks
    Full Member

    Sign of the times we live in unfortunately, and personally I think it will get worse during 2023 before we come out of the other side.

    I believe I’ve asked this before and I’m sad to say I have forgotten the answer if I did but, just how much do the subs contribute to the profitability of STW towers? For the measly amount they cost, I’d imagine the subscribers would have to be in the 10s if not 100’s of thousands to make sense commercially.

    Clearly ad revenue contributes as does savvy google fu type activity and on the above I’d like to offer the following.

    1. Everything in the world has risen in cost. In industry most prices are up 20% at least in the last 2 years alone. Fuel food and freight has gone up even more. To the powers that be at STW towers, please do not feel guilty putting prices up. If they do indeed make a greater contribution than I imagine, then they need to rise to save the company!

    2. The £180 earned by members clicking through on a PSA was interesting and shows the power of good and correct interweb activity, tracking etc. Question is, can you let us in on anything else than perhaps members could do to generate STW funds in this way? Not sure if you are allowed to say or advise such things on an open forum but, it’s an interesting topic and if we can help etc.

    inbred853
    Full Member

    Just updated to paper/digital…….waits for new magazine paper smell. Don’t really know why I went digital in the first place as my heart lies with simplicity, **** I still ride a fully rigid steel MTB with 2015 geometry, although there is a Murmur in the offing.
    I will wait with some trepidation though to the updates to the site, be they good or gooder??

    dby_biker
    Full Member

    I subscribe digitally as I’m in the US but would be more thank happy to pay the paper price and just get digital copies. After all, I buy a digital album/movie/game and they are all the same price as the physical copy so why should a magazine be any different.

    pictonroad
    Full Member

    As sad as this is to read I suspect nearly every small independent concern is having the same thoughts.

    There’s no room in my budget for anything approaching discretionary spending, let alone retailer choice.

    Energy and interest has taken all our ‘discretionary’ cash. All of it. The cost increases have removed shopping choice now.

    Delving deeper, that means all our money goes to multinationals. Food is whoever is cheapest out of the big ones, energy to Octopus, interest to HSBC etc.

    Pretty sure we’re not alone, so how will all the Singletracks of the world survive?

    All our cash is going up the chain and it’s clear this is what the current Government are happy with.

    Next few years are going to be weird.

    fazzini
    Full Member

    Just a thought…For those who receive the mag but don’t want it as part of membership, why don’t you donate it to your local library?

    Cougar
    Full Member

    As sad as this is to read I suspect nearly every small independent concern is having the same thoughts.

    Of course, and not just the small independents. Walk down your high street, the silence from those who aren’t there is deafening. Who’d have ever thought, say, Debenhams would go bang?

    Energy and interest has taken all our ‘discretionary’ cash. All of it. The cost increases have removed shopping choice now.

    We are, for now, OK. And by “OK” I mean, I’m into my overdraft by about the 12th of the month and YAY ME because it’s not getting worse month on month. We can still afford the occasional escape room and we’re going on an ‘extravagant’ family holiday to the Peak District shortly, so by any sensible measure it could be a lot worse. We’re going down to one car soon which will save a wedge, but sending mine back is probably going to cost me approaching four figures because some country & western dragged their car down the side of it in a car park. Not quite sure yet where that’s coming from, credit card probably.

    But… we’re OK compared to many. I have a friend who has to choose between food and being late on his rent payment at month end. I don’t doubt that there’s plenty more who are way worse off than that.

    We’re OK. It pisses me off that at the age of 50 we’re merely “OK” rather than coining it in and if I survive to retirement age we’re donald ducked, but the point of this ramble is that it’s hard for everyone right now and only going to get worse. I genuinely feel for folk.

    Still, blue passports.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    Just a thought…For those who receive the mag but don’t want it as part of membership, why don’t you donate it to your local library?

    On the rare occasions I visit an office, I stealthily stick my read ones on the coffee table.

    danieljohnreynolds
    Full Member

    Interesting post and some really relatable responses. From my POV, for years i rarely looked at the mag like a lot of people it seems. But then during lockdown I started spending a few hours the week the mag arrived sitting reading through the articles with a beer/tea (!) and thoroughly enjoy it. I don’t know what prompted the chance (maybe the growing pile of untouched magazines in the TV room) but I’m a convert to old-skool physical magazone reading like I would have decades ago. I’m not Brit-based so most of the cycling route articles aren’t necessarily relevant but I’ve found a renewed joy getting through the mag every time it drops.

    Mark
    Full Member

    Thank you all for your support. I can’t say that enough really.

    …and your thoughts on the problems we all face along with some great ideas.

    There’s enough ideas for me to start a ‘how to support Singletrack’ FAQ and I’ll definitely have a go at that. But in quick answer to a few questions..

    – The best way to support us is by becoming a full member. Digital or Print – At the moment it makes little difference which you opt for.

    – If you are a full member then stay with us as long as you can. Retention is as important as Acquisition, if not more so.

    – The ratio of reader revenue (membership, merch sales etc) to Ad revenue is about 40:60. Ad revenue is still really important to us but it is extremely volatile which makes it very hard to forecast and plan ahead. Membership revenue I can forecast a year ahead – That’s what makes it really valuable to us from a business POV.

    – It’s ad clicks that drive the ad revenue. Very little of the revenue from ads is derived from an ad simply being displayed. It’s mostly programmatic which means the system learns (not our system) and if an ad doesn’t perform well the system will divert impressions to sites where it does better.

    – I could say ‘click the ads’, but ultimately that doesn’t work if there’s no actual ‘conversion’ at the end of the road for that ad. So what I will say is click an ad if it’s of interest or relevant to you. Don’t click an ad for the sake of getting us a click – the system is too clever for that to be a long term solution. Not a great deal to takeaway practically from that other than an understanding of how it works. The point is you can’t game the system when it comes to ads. They work when they, well.. work.

    – The ones that are super mountain bike related are mostly likely put there directly by us. These ads are more important to us in terms of revenue because our relationship with the advertiser is direct. These are prioritised above the ads that are pumped in by ‘the system’.

    – Third party cookies are going to come to an end at some point (ETA 2024) and that will radically change the way advertising works. Instead of targeting you directly (Those ads that follow you around the web after you have been browsing air fryers on John Lewis) advertisers will only be able to target websites. This should be great for us and you as we are a mountain bike website so the ads will be relevant to that cohort. However, any system that targets websites rather than individuals will need to know as much info as possible about the users on that site. ie. Their interests, age range, income.. what subjects they are interested in within the site. etc. ‘The system’ can’t get that information directly from you – that’s a third party cookie thing – so we have to gather that info as the publisher and present it as a ‘profile’ that ‘the system’ cam then use to direct the right kind of ads to our site.

    What this means is that we need to know a lot more about you so we can build a highly accurate user profile picture to present to ‘the system’. Our plan is to start asking you lots of questions through surveys and to track what sort of content you like on the site – this will help us work out what content and features are actually popular as well as build a comprehensive picture of the user demographics. It’s all first party data and can’t be shared with anyone external to Singletrack at the individual level. It will be a massive step up in terms of personal privacy when it happens. So TLDR: If you see one of our surveys then filling it in will help prepare us for the changes ahead.

    – Create PSA posts to bargains in the forum and INCLUDE A LINK. That is a direct help financially.

    – Also check out the price comparison widgets we are adding to product stories. We get a commission on those too.

    And finally.. We aren’t asking for your help in order to just stay in business. We need your help so we can do that but also adapt and make things better for everyone. It’s just hard to do the things that need to be done when tight finances keep getting tighter. Hence the appeal now while we have time to make changes and be able to ride out any storms heading our way.

    If you have any questions on any of this then ask away. I’ll try to keep up on this thread between todays jobs of video editing and taxonomy cleaning 🙂

    Mark
    Full Member

    Ah shit! I forgot one really useful way of supporting us. Share stuff. Retweet our posts, ‘Like’ things on our socials. Post comments and stuff. ie. Spread the word 🙂

    convert
    Full Member

    Interesting to hear about the changes to cookies – didn’t know that.

    And glad the search facilities might be on the way to being improved. A lot of very valuable user provided information/entertainment is so hard to find currently.

    Another thing that would help user engagement (and therefore exposure to ads they might click on) would be a better system to find the threads you have previously contributed to that have dropped off the front page. It used to be so easy before the changes made 3 or 4 years ago, then it wasn’t. You can now do it again (click on user name drop down, profile, forum, replies created… and then as it adds a line for every post you have made you’ll probably have to press load more replies a few times too) but it’s too many clicks, too hidden away and still not as good as it used to be. Threads die now more easily if they are not getting frequent contribution; and dead threads are not getting people coming back to have a look. What remains at the top are the frequently contributed to threads which are heavily dominated by the bickering type. And I bet their general feel puts a lot of people off from coming back. You could almost have a subforum for those threads – ones that have legs and won’t die that a certain sort of user will always come back to anyway. Once they have grown into monsters, put them somewhere obvious that people can still access and leave the rest of the forum more friendly.

    Finally – it would be interesting to know how much control website owners have over the ‘surface area’ of ads you have on a webpage that ‘the system’ populates for you. STW is not too bad not logged in to my premium account (who am I kidding – it’s bad!) but nothing like as bad as your average local newspaper website which is quite frankly unusable. Then people resort to naughty ‘workarounds’ that we are not allowed to mention. I can understand why you hate that, but I am sure as a user of the internet too you can appreciate why people do. There is a finite volume of adverts people and their devices can tolerate and I think a lot of sites don’t get this right, overdo it and drive away business.

    I like your podcasts too BTW – could more be made of that?

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Oh. Please restore the “Favourites” function too. That makes finding some threads so much easier. Little (unplanned/untested) changes like that make the site much harder to use for no obvious benefit.

    BigJohn
    Full Member

    Am I the only one who still has every issue all 144 of the buggers !

    Gross!

    Cougar
    Full Member

    I see what you did there.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    Incidentally,

    The artwork / photography in the mag is rarely less than top notch, but I love this month’s cover. I genuinely had a little bit of a gasp when I saw it. Kudos.

    zilog6128
    Full Member

    It’s ad clicks that drive the ad revenue.

    I always assumed that the only people who click on ads & then buy things were the same type of folk who agree to have roof repairs done by cold-callers! Especially as it’s been mentioned before you don’t always have 100% control over what ads are shown, and they aren’t necessarily vetted. Never going to happen with me, sorry 😃

    Create PSA posts to bargains in the forum and INCLUDE A LINK. That is a direct help financially.

    I do this already though and will do it a lot more if it helps! I guess there’s some kind of affiliate revenue to be made there or something? Does it still work if people also use Quidco etc?

    merch sales etc

    I would buy t-shirts but tbh probably only use them for riding etc so it would need to be some kind of wicking one which I note you don’t do. Possibly because the plastic Under Armour style ones don’t fit your ethos, which is fine. Is there a decent alternative, bamboo etc (no idea if they actually wick well as never had one!) Would probably buy such a t-shirt fairly regularly if there were fresh designs to choose from – maybe a tie-in with some of the more artistic members? – preferably with any branding quite (very!) subtle

    Mark
    Full Member

    You can’t have multiple affiliate schemes on a single link. Our system will over-ride any affiliate links that you add so you wouldn’t get the cashback yourself I’m afraid.

    zilog6128
    Full Member

    You can’t have multiple affiliate schemes on a single link. Our system will over-ride any affiliate links that you add so you wouldn’t get the cashback yourself I’m afraid.

    that is fine, was more worried about it having the opposite effect i.e. the Quidco knocking out you guys’ bonus! (Out of interest, have you got any rough stats re. how much this helps? Personally I buy stuff mentioned in PSAs here very regularly!)

    chipps
    Full Member

    I’d like to echo Mark’s thanks as well. We’re only a small team, and the magazine (and especially the forum) is as much yours as it is ours. We only steer its direction, in the way you end up steering that drunk mate home from the pub. We like to think we’re pretty approachable – and I reckon it’s rare to have a publisher and editor of a magazine on the end of a forum thread for all to comment on. It’s always been that way, though, and we rely on our readers to tell us where we’re going right and where we could improve.

    With that in mind, please get in touch (either through the forum, email or the surveys we send out occasionally) to tell us what you like and don’t like. While it seems that 80% of readers are seemingly always happy with the direction of the mag and website, there are always ones who would like to see some change. Confusingly, for everyone who wants more foreign trips there’ll be the same numbers who want fewer. For every reader who wants more enduro, there’ll be one who wants less enduro. More reviews/fewer reviews and so on. We appreciate that we can never keep everyone happy, but as long as the spread of content keeps you reading and entertained, we’re doing our job.

    While everyone seems to have less discretionary cash available, there are still a few places where it can make more of a difference (to you and to those you give it to). For example, rather than buying a new handlebar recently (as mine is 20mm too uncool) I bought some wider grips instead (Santa Cruz Palmdale – they’re worth 8mm a side) and spent the rest on a ‘Find your flow’ skills day at Glentress. Something I probably use on every ride.

    Thanks again for your support. We’re here for you and we appreciate you all being there for us too.

    duncancallum
    Full Member

    I’d love a singletrackworld.com Xmas or some other do…. not that we need a particular thing…

    Imagine a room full of awkward argumentative pissed up blokes.

    Should sell tickets.

    Get @binners to select the grub and @dazh the drinks menu….

    chrismac
    Full Member

    One thing you might want to consider, and as a print / digital subscriber slightly irritates, is that within hours of getting my magazine you start to publish the same articles on the home page that can then be read for free. IMHO it kind of negates the point of paying for the subscription.

    I think the mag is in a difficult place because the website isn’t updated fast enough to be a go to place for news as the competition is much quicker and carries more of those stories, probably because they dont produce a magazine, so less click advertising revenue. Equally if the articles in the magazine can be read for free on line then why subscribe?

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    TBH I’m on digital only and would probably be fine with a price increase, does print make ST more more money Vs printing costs?

    I might buy myself some merch at some point too, I’m keen for more independent sources of cycling media to survive.

    Mark
    Full Member

    “One thing you might want to consider, and as a print / digital subscriber slightly irritates, is that within hours of getting my magazine you start to publish the same articles on the home page that can then be read for free. IMHO it kind of negates the point of paying for the subscription.”

    They are not free. They are paywalled. Only you full members can read them. Try logging out of your account and reading one.

    si77
    Full Member

    @Mark

    – Create PSA posts to bargains in the forum and INCLUDE A LINK. That is a direct help financially.

    Is it worth you listing affiliates so we can PSA the deals that make you commission or is the affiliate list really too long?

    Mark
    Full Member

    The list is very long. Thousands of retailers. It’s a good bet the majority of outgoing links will work.

    leffeboy
    Full Member

    Thanks for the detailed info on what works and why you do stuff. It’s this sort of interaction that makes this place special and it’s appreciated. Hoping that stock in the shop improves soon so I can catch up on stuff I need

    reeksy
    Full Member

    The artwork / photography in the mag is rarely less than top notch,

    That’s probably the biggest thing that’s put me off making a submission to the magazine. I was a freelance feature writer years ago, but i’m not convinced my photos would be up to scratch!

    imrobert
    Full Member

    Can’t you just **** the reviews off, keep it to stuff that people use and ride. Double the magazine subscription, and keep it funny and entertaining ie 2 years ago and backwards. To be fair the last magazine was the first one i read cover to cover for a long while. They just seem to have become really boring of late, full of moaning and politics.

    lightfighter762
    Full Member

    Last issue is great.

    Small order placed and will gift a subscription to a family member.

    Mackem
    Full Member

    I like the reviews, the articles i can’t satnd are the ones where 2 random people go off on an adventure and blabber on about finding themselves etc.

Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 260 total)

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