Donation

Donate towards the upgrade and upkeep of our servers so we can get rid of those frustrating 502 errors. We want to make our site faster, more reliable and with more features for our members but we need your help to get that work started.

Click ‘Description’ below for more details.

Suggested price: £20.00

Minimum price: £5.00

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Description

Donate towards the upgrade and upkeep of our servers so we can get rid of those frustrating 502 errors. We want to make our site faster, more reliable and with more features for our members but we need your help to get that work started.

All donators will be added to our exclusive Singletrack 502 Club newsletter which Mark will personally use to keep you up-to-date on our progress and how your donations are being used.
Donate more than £50 and we’ll add your name to our supporters page printed in each issue of Singletrack World Magazine through to the end of the year. We will also send you a limited edition Singletrack 502 Club t-shirt. Pop by our office at anytime with your t-shirt and we’ll invite you in for a tour, coffee and a friendly chat.

This campaign was launched by our publisher, Mark, via our newsletter. Here’s the full content of that email…

Things aren’t going well but they could be with your help

No one owes Singletrack and the staff here a living – Singletrack is a business and it stands or falls on its ability to provide something that is worth paying for. As the sole director it’s my job and responsibility to make sure that the balance of value vs costs are always in our favour, but right now that’s becoming increasingly hard to achieve which puts me in the position of needing to make some very harsh but necessary decisions.

About this time last year I appealed for your help in keeping Singletrack operational. Since that time and despite some radical changes to the way we operate, the financial situation has not eased and once again I need to ask for your help.

Media sinks or swims based on two things – The content it creates and the willingness of both advertisers and readers to ultimately pay for the content and service that is on offer. For 23 years that equation has just about worked in our favour but right now and for reasons I’m going to explain, the balance has tipped into the red and unless I take some sort of action the future of Singletrack will be at great risk of coming to a close. I know some will not be too bothered if that happens and ultimately it’s not life or death – Singletrack is and always has been light entertainment in a niche of a niche within the world of bikes. While we have broken some very important stories and provided a quality platform for some amazing brands, products and indeed you all via our forum, the world will not end if Singletrack does.

But then again, we also know that there are a lot of you that really do care about the future of Singletrack and the community that you have helped to build over two decades and this message is for you.

What’s happened?

When the pandemic struck in 2020, our revenue was hit hard. The losses in advertising were hard to deal with as the world essentially shut down. I’ve never run Singletrack as a business in order to make profit. The fact it pays full time wages to an amazing team of dedicated staff has always been enough for me. But that principle has partly lead to our current situation as the almost inevitable problem with that business model is there’s little left in reserve when things go south. Profit is absolutely necessary for building up reserves and being able to ride out the storm. Unfortunately the storm has gone on for much longer than the duration of the pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic, in order to survive and pay our bills, like hundreds of thousands of small businesses I took out a bounce back loan underwritten by the government. The idea was that this would tide us over until the recovery came once the pandemic was behind us. When things got back to normal we’d be in a sound position to pay back that loan. Unfortunately we have been hit with two problems. 1) The financial crisis that hit pretty much straight after the pandemic and 2) The global chaos of the bike industry. Both of these factors have resulted in there being less money sloshing around for things like memberships and advertising and the peak levels of subscriptions we reached during the pandemic have now returned to pre-pandemic levels. The advertising situation has fallen much lower than that though.

There are some signs that things are improving, however. Advertising revenues are showing some glimmers of hope and the latter part of this year could see that area of the business recover. The problem is we currently may not make it to that recovery unless something changes.

In short we are at a critical point in the life of Singletrack and we need your help to get through it.

Now, we are not without a plan that goes beyond just finding more cash. I understand the strengths and more importantly the weaknesses of our operation. At a fundamental level despite the Singletrack name being pretty much globally synonymous with our print magazine I’m very much aware that without the website, Singletrack Magazine would simply not exist. The website is key to our day to day operations and our future. The website is not in great shape and that is a big problem.

Our site is one of the biggest cycling websites in the world and it is the heart of our business. Our print subscription operation is built into the platform. It’s how we take money from advertising and memberships but it simply isn’t stable or fast enough. Our rate of development is slow and before we can build the business back up we have to fix that.

We have two exceptionally talented and experienced tech staff (1 full time, 1 part time) who are responsible for maintaining the site AND developing the new features that allow us to adapt and grow the business. Unfortunately the task of simple maintenance of our current systems is enough to tie them up pretty much all the time at the cost of any significant development. This is a massive blockage in the business and it affects everything from your ability to consume content and use the forum to the performance of our advertising. I’m convinced that if we fix that problem and free up our tech so they can worry less about the site staying up then they will be in a position to actually build new features that you have all been asking for for so long.

That brings me to our planned migration to a new server platform called WordPress VIP.

WordPress VIP (I’ve mentioned it before some of you may recall) is a managed server that autoscales to handle the demands of the tech and the traffic. It’s very clever and it’s very fast. As it happens it’s not much more expensive than our current Google Cloud setup, but it is still expensive. Some huge sites around the world are run on WordPress VIP including parts of Facebook and CNN. Despite the significant levels of traffic Singletrack attracts (Over 650,000 users/month – Over 1000 forum posts/day etc.) we still come in to the WordPress VIP club at the lowest entry level. This costs $30k/year.

Now, as I said, this is not a significant increase on our current server costs but whereas currently Google charges us monthly, WordPress VIP requires a bi-annual payment. This means in order to migrate over to a new, faster, more stable platform we need to stump up $15k and that’s our biggest problem right now.

We planned this migration many months ago and we’ve just begun the process in the last few days. However this means we have a very large bill to pay at the end of April.

How can you help?

Subscribe

That’s the very best thing you can do. If you can, increase the annual amount you pay by a voluntary amount when you subscribe and every extra penny that earns us will be invested in the website.

So many of you already subscribe and to you we can not thank you enough. If you can encourage others to join then that would be amazing. But if you can, then a donation to the server fund would be incredible (A member referral scheme is in the works too).

We are not a charity and we only ask that you help us with donations or by subscribing if you think Singletrack is of enough value to you that if it were to end you would feel its loss, but anything that is donated will be ring fenced for the server migration. If we can cover that initial cost then the rest of the business will (just) be able to squeak through the next few months until the financial situation hopefully improves. It will also give me the ability to prioritise the repayment of our outstanding finance AND keep the wages flowing to the team behind SIngletrack.

Enter our Raffles

We have contacted our marketing partners in the bike industry to see if they can help us. While their marketing budgets are incredibly tight many of them have made some amazing offers of help through product and in the next few days we will be launching our first raffle in support of our server upgrade. Our raffles will offer up prizes worth a minimum of £2000 and our first raffle features a Cannondale Habit LT 1 complete bike worth £4750. You can support us by buying a raffle ticket and all proceeds will be ring-fenced for our server upgrade.

To the nuts and bolts then.

This button will take you to our donation page.

This button will take you to our subscription sign up page.

Watch the site for our Cannondale Habit LT 1 raffle coming soon.

Everyone who makes a donation of any amount will be listed as a Singletrack Supporter in the pages of Singletrack World for the rest of the year.

Anyone who donates £50 or more will get a very special ‘Singletrack Club 502’ T-shirt. We will also add you to a new ‘Singletrack 502’ mailing list to receive updates on how the money you donate is being used to improve the service we offer you. Your T-shirt will be an all access pass to Singletrack. Come by the office wearing it and you will be welcomed inside for coffee and our thanks. We’ll introduce you to the team and give you the tour.

Finally, I plan to organise a live broadcast that you can attend and ask me any questions you like about SIngletrack. More news on that in the coming days.

Mark


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