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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This Blogging Life

I try to come up with a topic every week, it's sometimes a challenge.  After all, most of my riding is commuting over the same 35 miles every day with a little variation.  Sometimes it's fun to go off and do something different or take a group ride, these however are few and far between mostly due to my weird work schedule and secondary self-employed income.  So I don't feel weird telling you that this blog post is a little different, a little off topic but I think important enough to read and talk about.  This post was inspired by my second job in a way.

My little company supplies and stocks various magazines into the local grocery stores.  I don't deliver Ride NowFull Throttle or Go Far magazines.  These are delivered by the publisher and each of these magazines in geared to the "Motorcycle Lifestyle" and are free publications.  I'll pick them up and often just browse through the pages.  With the exception of Go Far (the magazine withe the Map) most of these fine publications end up in my trash can.

They just don't apply to me.

Maybe if I had a Harley, maybe if I wore a lot of leather, maybe if I had a beard...OK, I do have a beard.

The blogger in his natural state.
Frankly there is no content in these magazines.  Nearly 50 to 75% of them are advertisements and what often passes for content is light or non-sensible.   One of them offers the ramblings of old man where he uses nicknames, slang and lingo.  Great if you're part of the inter circle but  horrible writing if you're actually looking for content.  Another offers safety tips but their lifted directly from the MSF website.

Go Far at least provides you with a map of a route (which is how I learned about the Green Swamp) which is great for riding, but even that magazine is mostly advertisements.  Still though, they offer content.  Perhaps not content directly related to me, but some content.

Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not knocking one magazine or another.  The point I'm trying to make is that if you want a review of a particular bike, a particular jacket or helmet...your not going to find it in the pages of a magazine anymore.  Your going to find it in the hands of a blogger.

Magazines and websites count on there advertising dollars to keep publishing.  In order not to upset this "gravy train" you often get reviews that rave about a product or gloss over the rough points. Don't believe me?  When was the last time Rolling Stone gave any piece of music a rating under 3 stars?  Go and look, you'll be shocked.

This lack of content is self feeding.  A publication needs to advertise to pay it's costs.  Advertisements then become the majority of the magazine, pushing original content into a smaller and smaller space.  No one buys the publication since it lacks content.  To pay for the magazine you have to have more advertisements.  What little content may be in the magazine is supplied by giant companies that often provide bland or superficial material that provides no in depth analysis.  I am looking at you Associated Press!

Self feeding circles
Is it any wonder that publishing is dying?

So here I am, a (relatively young) scooterist.  I want to learn about the newest bikes, the newest farkles and get a honest opinion on them.  The only place I can turn is the internet.  The only place I can read something honest is the internet.  One of the original goals, which I believe I've  failed in. is to answer questions I had about riding, about the products, about the farkles.  I've learned a lot, but have I passed that knowledge on to other new riders?

I've been considering adding advertising to this blog.  Not that I expect to make much, but as a business man it only makes sense.  I've used Amazon with little success and I've considered adding a link to Bike Bandit or similar site.  What I worry about is writing a good review of a product because I want to deliver you to one of the websites that advertise with me.  So they will pay me.

I enjoy writing, I like having you, the gentle reader, provide feedback and support and even a slap upside the head when it's deserved.  It's been said that a writers job is to write.  I disagree, a writers job is to get you to think. If I do that then this is successful.   I have written for soccer publications and websites.  I've written about relationships and politics.  One year, I actually made $3000 from my writing for a now defunct soccer site (and have not got paid for my writing since).  That writing stopped being fun because I was getting pressure from the editors to stop being critical of the (then) new MLS as well as a well established minor league.  Who ever tells you advertising dollars don't matter is lying to you.

So yea, this blog is going to take a slightly different tack and offer product reviews in the future.  I'm still not sure if I'll accept advertising.   Time will tell.


Unknown said...

I think you're doing magazines a disservice with this blog post. According to your post, these "are free publications" and expectations of high quality original niche content is misplaced. Granted, even with conventional magazines, tose posting a cover price, and to which one may subscribe, there is a serious bias towards hogs, chrome, leather, and boobs. That doesn't mean there aren't decent rags available, just fewer in number. Leaf through Cycle World, Rider, Sport Rider, and Motorcycle Classics before you condemn all the cycle magazines with one broad stroke. But still, don't expect much in the way of scooter coverage.

Trobairitz said...

I think the choice to accept or use advertising is just a personal one. Some bloggers do it, some don't.

I won't put the google ads on mine as I think it clutters it up a bit.

I do receive emails - usually several a month of people and bike websites wanting to advertise on my blog. Dennis Kirk was the last one. While hubby has ordered from them before and we do get their catalogues they asked me to put in a link to their site and didn't even offer anything in it for me.

Yep a personal choice. You need to do what is right for you - no one else will.

The City Mouse in the Country said... make a fair point. As a scooterist I don't expect to see ANYTHING geared towards what I ride.

That was not my point however. As you said "there is a serious bias towards hogs, chrome, leather, and boobs." While I do enjoy the company of the fairer sex I don't give a hoot about the rest really.

Where are the interesting ride reports? The gear reviews? The articles about laws that will affect me as a cyclist? That will affect MOST cyclists?

The fine publications you mentioned do all these things but again, when was the last time you walked into a local supermarket and saw this on a shelf? Of saw an issue for sale at your local bike shop? They require subscriptions and unless you go hunting for it, your probably not going to come across a Rider magazine.

Well there will always be a demand for "hogs, chrome, leather, and boobs" I think a lot of these magazines would do better if they served a changing market better. For example, if the new BMW GT (a scooter) demand is outstripping supply that story needs to be told.

OK...rant over. We now return you to pictures of Grumpy Cat.

Dar said...

I can totally relate to what you are saying about the mags, as a new rider & female I just don't find a lot interesting to me. I get tired of the gratuitous boobage and the hog rider image. I have found in my quest to find info on motorcycles and gear that forums and other bloggers give me far more ino and for the most part they write honestly and straight forwardly about products because they are not getting paid to rave about something and there is no hidden agenda. I prefer getting the straight goods. As for advertising on my blog I have decided its not for me, I get requests several times a month and I prefer to keep my blog 'my thing'.

David Masse said...

Rob, blogging does have its challenges. I'm interested to see where this leads you. For the past few months my blog is trending very high in Google searches for certain key word combinations (i.e. always on the first page of results, usually in the first three results) but unlike Dar and Trobairitz, I'm not being solicited for advertising. My post on my installation of Hot Grips has gotten several thousand page views.

David Drouin said...

I think advertising can work well on blogs and magazines if done properly. Overwhelming advertising is a nuisance to a reader and will likely make the person reconsider ever picking up that particular mag ever again.

I read Cycle Canada (surprise! it's Canadian) and they give good and bad reviews. They also generally do not pull any punches. But, they are also the most popular Canadian publication so advertisers need to advertise with them otherwise they don't get to the same audience.

Newer and less editorially strong publications can have trouble deciding where advertiser input stops.

As for Rolling Stone...I think they lost their way long before Justin Bieber was on the cover.