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This type of article has been written before.



I don't think as many users are going to be "hooked" as many of these companies are hoping. I pay for a service only if I feel I'm getting something out of it. I would pay for Ebay, I payed for this site (though I kinda hoped for more content with the incoming donations and not just reporting the same news everyone else is), I would not pay for Yahoo or a search engine I use once a week nor would I pay for access news or things like WebMD.



Personally I see a wave a companies testing the waters in regard to public response to fee based services. In the end I see much of it returning to how it is now. The internet grew so big so fast because it was free. I think it will largely stay that way.





IMO.
 

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I enjoy the web and appreciate the access it gives me to information not otherwise easily obtained but if I had to pay for this info in addition to my DSL subscription, well.....the price couldn't be justified in my mind. MO is just one site among many others I visit and if they all wanted a donation to drop in and browse around I would be broke in no time flat. I say 'NO' to the fee based web sites, the day I cant find the info I need for free is the day I renew my library card.
 

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S h o w m e t h e m o n e y .



If you make the site grow profitably as a fee-based site, I'll believe it. I bet that you can't offer information that's valuable enough that readers will pay for it. As long as subscribers don't see value for the transaction, they're not going to bother. Advertisers, however, should definitely see value if the site gets traffic.



MO does not by any means dominates internet motojournalism. It's hard to imagine it competing against free sources as a fee-based site.



If it offered information that had transactional value, it might be different. For example, if I could log in to a subscription service and access online factory service manuals, parts lists, and parts 'microfiche' for virtually any make or model, that would be valuable -- to shops, dealers and service departments. Compete against what they pay for this information already, and you have a viable fee-based site.



Just don't expect to get money for your opinions. I already have some.
 

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I have to agree with the former posts. Unless content that is worth paying for is posted, many people will just balk at the idea, and all that does is create another dead .com. I do enjoy this site, don't get me wrong, but I don't see the quality that a fee requres. Besides, I already pay for the mags that I get in the mail...
 

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I'm curious as to how many people actually read

MO. In looking at the "reads" attribute that

is on the header of all the news articles it seems

rare for one to get more than 2000.



Sure, some of the bike review pointers ( like

the 600 comparo ) have more, but I wonder

how many people actually read MO, and if

MO expects to only convert 10% of them, how

profitable MO could be on a subscription based

model?



-- Michael



 

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Real services will get people to pay. When Internet phone calls began, the quality was so bad, no one would have paid for it but by being free it became popular and may mature to a real service that deserves money, as long as it beats using a real phone either in quality, ease or price.

But information only sites? If the cost factor gets too high, people will go back to hosting fan sites on 3-10 meg personal sites, or maybe even fall back to newsgroups and/or email groups. Right now I can go to Delphi http://forums.delphi.com/ab-motorcycles/start

and get loads of information for free. Granted Delphi is thinking of charging as well, but the amount of info may make it worth it.

What may happen is info sites like this one will band together creating "Mega Sites" that can generate content to bring in a variety of users.

Or who knows, maybe the 90% rule will work with online only magazines. But I think the print/online magazine (or newspaper) have the edge because they are already paying for most (all) of their content on the print side.
 

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"Free" internet has never existed

I'm no webmaster, but I don't think the internet has ever been free in the strictest definition of the word. Most people pay service provider fees in order to get access to the various websites. Judging by the spam I get, websites are finding out information about me, which is an extremely valuable resource to advertisers. I don't want to disable my javascript either because lots of the cool websites I visit won't work. I look at the internet like I look at television. It's free as long as advertisers know how to use it. I don't think advertisers have found out how to best use the internet to target their audiences, but I think it is only a matter of time. There is too much money at stake for companies not to continue to target consumers via the internet. For that reason alone, I don't think there will ever be a time when we have to pay for every website we visit. However, the bad websites will be the first to bite it. The "bad" websites will be the ones to fold because they haven't been able to keep their reader's interest and/or they weren't able to succesfully obtain advertiser support. Just my two cents, which is of course a "free" opinion.
 

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I have an idea for the MO staff. Recently, another motorcycle site sent out an email asking for donations(but promising to remain free), and actually listed their costs for running the site. Amazingly enough, they run a site on about $385 a month. Granted, MO is the largest site of its kind(or so you say), so the cost should be more. But even if it were 3 times the cost, you'd only be looking at $1,155 to run the site per month. Something the readership(especially those who've already paid) might want to know.



Just to clear it up before it might happen, don't go quoting us figures and leave out ad revenue or anything(if you indeed have the stones to post or distribute to the membership any kind of disclosure), give us the ammount you project you will need to run the site, month by month, until the end of the year. Break it down for us, and let us see it. I think some of these people who've gone and donated $50 or more might be quite upset to see what the cash situation really is.



Finally, don't try to weasel out of this, at least not for those that have paid. It seems to me by "donating" they have become a shareholder of sorts and would therefore be entitled to some sort of financial responsibility report from you(i.e.- what you're spending our $$$ on). The gauntlet has been laid down MO... how will you respond???
 

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Squidbait,

As for the number of people who read news, and trying to decipher total MO readership based on the number of reads a news post receives, you simply cannot, and here's why:

MO's most recent audit was in August of last year. It was done by BPA (I think their web site is www.bpai.com) and those are the same people who audited Motorcyclist, Cycle World and many other print magazines (though now I believe they have their stats checked by ABC). Anyway, the results were right under 700,000 Unique Visitors for that month. If memory serves it was about 200,000 Page Views/day and about 800,000 hits/day. If these numbers seem high, just ask any of the advertisers about the high numbers we're able to return.

Anyway, back to your original question about how many people read news: less than 10 percent on a good day, actually.

So, as to whether or not we could survive on just 10 percent of our total readerhip from news.mo then the answer is, of course, no. But 10 percent of our total monthly readership (which has swelled and is over 1 million as of this last month) at 12 bucks or so a year, that'd be able to get us by. Still, we prefer to hold off on that for now. We're starting to deliver some good ad numbers and it look like things might (cross your fingers here) be on the upswing.
 

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Tits and Ass!!! If you show it, they will come. They will come of all ages and from all places. They will bring money, more money then you can ever imagine. Just show it, splash it, or flash it. I'll even think about paying if it happens. Sports Illustrated does it, why not MO? Didn't a famous actor once say about it that, "It's what's for dinner." Oh, I'm sorry, that was relating to another topic. Besides, what else exists in this world that is as equally captivating as motorcycling?......Sex!!!
 

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I applaud the folks @ MO for trying to find a business model that works for them and their readers. The advertising revenue model (as used in radio and television) has not worked online because there are fundamental differences in the media. Even the subscription based model (as used in magazines) has proven difficult because nearly everyone has underestimated the money and effort required to maintain a site such as this. This is not just the servers and the software and the bandwidth (which themselves are probably $500+/month), but the staff required to maintain all of it, and the staff required to write and maintain the code that allows us to interact like this, the staff required to ride and write the reviews, and the staff required to solicit new readers and new advertisers (because they don't just come a knockin').



I'm not sure if the donation model (like public radio and public television) works either but it is worth a shot. Alternately, the New York Times charges small fees for archived articles yet offers the daily stuff free. I don't know if they are profitable though. Or perhaps the micropayment model (perhaps utilizing some Paypal type technology)?



If I knew the answer I'd bottle it. But I don't, yet. In the meantime, keep the shiny side up, and I hope that your readership has the patience to stick with you until this dotcom mess is sorted out.
 

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The 90 percent model doesn't apply...

...because MO is not the Wall Street Journal. WSJ only has one real competitor, Investors Business Daily. MO has several competitors for basic motorcycle information (although MO is usually more enjoyable). More importantly, WSJ is often paid for on a company expense account, probably over half. I can't imagine expensing MO at my current job, and that's true of many readers.

Five percent is probably a better number. Could you survive with five percent of your current visitors?

Did you ever read "Burn Rate"? How's it look?
 

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Right at the top of the article is the following quote:

"Paul Anderson became a big fan of Yahoo's free Internet phone calls not long after moving to Memphis, but he has learned to live without the service since the portal began charging for it."



I will do the same. You guys are terrific for FREE. I will live without you for any more than that.



 

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For those of you who own a business or have a substantial financial/emotional/personal stake in one will understand that we, as a private corporate entity, have absolutely no obligation to reply to this request in a public forum. However, I can say this. Our monthly expenditure (not including logistical and support expenses) runs well over the $1,155 figure you quoted. We are a regular business, with an office, staff, taxes, payroll, electric/water/gas bills, air conditioning maintenance, insurance/registration costs for corporate vehicles and the rest. Can you run a site on $385 a month? Heck yes. In fact, you can run a site for free! But you get what you pay for. With all the infrastructure thats currently in place at MO, it makes it really easy for us to expand (which we need to do so very desperately). If we don't expand, we stand to loose are only true asset, the reader. It sounds corny, but all you business owners know exactly what I'm talking about. Granted, I don't own MO, but I've invested alot of my time into seeing things take off. I remember coming to work here before all the php, MySQL, fault-tolerant junkie-stuffie was in vogue.

As for your analogy that the "gauntlet has been laid down..." I disagree with that. I believe that the only gauntlet there is, exists in the office. You have told us what you wanted. So far, reading the reader feedback and emails, it seems alot of people have ideas on how to improve MO. Some have been tried, some have not. Some have worked, others have not. However, you must believe me when I say that whenever any ideas come through the door (or in this case, the inbox) they are all discussed, argued about, and eventually some sort of action is taken.

Soon we will be courting more freelancers to write for us as staff writers. We will also be looking to be hiring one or two "gophers." This won't happen overnight, but it will happen. And when it does, rest assured the quality and quantity of content will go up exponentially (or at the very least, 34.6% better). I'm pretty sure Blip, Minime and I have the same goals that you do when you fire up the ol' browser and take a ride through this digital mag. However, when we get feedback like, "you guys are suck" we get mad. When we get feedback like, "you guys suck because you did x, y and z. please try and do a, b and c to remedy." we listen. When we get feedback like, "bleeka bleeka ooga booga." we wonder what our readership smokes.

Sorry for turning this into a rant. But I'm at home right now and have nothing better to do. I suppose if I was a die-hard enough, I'd take a picture of the Futuras really trick dash-board lighting... in fact I'll do that right now... check it out guys!

Anyway, my point is, motorcycles are freakin awesome... so let us do our job better by being our customers. Continue to let us know when and why we're being stupid, and we'll let you know when we can or can not accomplish an objective. There is no reason to be adversarial as its not, nor was it ever, an "us versus them" scenario. We're here because you want us here. As such, tell us what you want!

One last note. The staff here are under the impression that motorcycles are fun. As such, we do things that are fun and fun related. Thats the only way we can approach it. If we're not smiling when we do it, we don't do it.

Well, unless its required by law or something...
 

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Some of you guys just amaze me with all this b!tchin, you log on this site, read what they have to say, then complain that "MO sucks" come on! IF they suck so bad, why do you come hear? I have to admit that I have not donated yet as I dont have a credit card(never wanted one) and most of the content is for sport bikes, and there not relly my bag. However, it is a great site, the guys do a good job of trying to keep up with the bike market, and if I have to go get a card just to hang out hear I will. It would almost be worth it just so I dont have to listen to the sniviling and crying on all the forums. Some of you compair MO to print mags saying how much better they are, but I havent seen a print mag that I can talk to others about any topic that is printed!

I just think that some of you should think about what you are saying, and ask yourself why you read MO in the first place.

oh, ya, more tits and ass!!!!!!!
 

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ERUPTION's post is right on the, er, money. Well, in my opinion, "terrific" is stretching it. I mostly check here just in case something hasn't been covered elsewhere. It is unfortunate that M.O. does not have the budget to put together more frequent motorcycle tests, comparisons, product reviews, and "feature" ariticles (travel, how-to's, interviews, etc.).



However, it's posts like springerman's (below) that won't make me miss M.O. at all. So much for minime's request for "informed and insightful" comments...



If there ever come's a time when ALL motorcycling web content is pay per use, and there is none I feel is valuable, there will still be the print magazines I get (including the FREE and always timely CityBike) and I could always breakdown and pay for satellite television and get SpeedVision for all the motorcycle racing and news I need.
 

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I read this article earlier today and thought of MO.



Did you ever see the movie Field of Dreams? Remember, "If you build it, they will come"?



But, all along, you guys are saying, "Give us the money and we will build it". That's usually not the way successful businesses are built. While I'm not yet convinced of the financial viability of any non-porno related web business models, yours seems weaker than most.



How about incorporating many of the excellent suggestions for unique content into your site (user reviews, specs + price guides for all makes / years, micro fiche, ect.) and then see if "they will come" and bring their wallets. I've made a corny analogy here, but have you ever heard of a brick and mortar business that asked customers to pay for items or services before they were prepared to actually offer the items or services. One of the main points of the article you are basing this discussion on is that the idea that internet businesses don't have to follow normal business practices to be successful is false.

 

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It seems to me that all the rats on this sinking ship

are stow aways . Whats wrong with paying per read or donating to an on line magazine . It seems in light of all that is transpiring at the moment that self financing by any means is the way to preceed,

In the end the old adage "if you want it you'll pay rings true more than ever Take a Look at any free Journal and then a $10.00 dollar glossy mag and you see the bright shining path .Is the reason people whine on about this site so much because it resembles a freeby ? Get off your wallet and put up

some money "if you build it they will come"
 

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Ok. First of all, lay off MO for once guys/ gals. MO, like any other business, is trying to SURVIVE. Sure, they love motorcycles as much as we do, but, in the end, a mere passion for motorcycles doesn’t put bread on the table (well, unless, of course, your name is something like Rossi, Edwards, Bostrom, Corser, Bayliss, etc…). As such, I think MO should be commended for providing free content for the past several years. I for one enjoy reading MO’s articles and their insights as well as witty banter…



Now, the following is directed more to MO…



The term ‘business model’ is often misunderstood and has a plethora of definitions by all kinds of ‘professionals’… In general, a business model is how the company makes money so as to stay afloat. Plain and simple. The idea of ‘subscription’ based or ‘advertising’ based ‘models’ is misleading; they are but several ways to generate cash flow/ revenue… that does not necessarily show how a business actually creates a PROFIT. A company can only stay afloat if you have a PROFIT. Though people with a finance background will swear by cash flow, what good does cash flow do if you can’t hang on to? Obviously, there are tremendous expenses that are incurred with running any kind of business; as one poster said, just trying to keep the site up and running costs MO thousands of dollars. Never mind the office, servers, bandwidth, etc., etc., etc. somebody’s gotta’ pay the bills… subscription/ advertising revenue is but one way to solve that problem; what that doesn’t address is how you turn a profit…



To that end, what you guys really need to do is figure out what your strategy is. What is the purpose of your existence? Are you a content provider? Retailer? Portal site? Etc., etc., etc. You need to ask yourselves, "What BUSINESS are we in?" Your answer to that question will make it quite clear what direction you need to take.



Furthermore, you need to address key issues that MUST be dealt with. Competition is one; you have numerous print magazines, not only from the U.S., but, globally. Then there are the hundreds of online e-zines that provide what most consumers perceive to be the same thing… information. How are you going to deal with them? What sets you apart from them? What can you do to set yourselves apart from them?



What about technology? From hackfu’s post, I’m assuming you guys are running a SQL backend to this site with numerous other web-technologies that in and of themselves are difficult (and expensive) to implement and upkeep. Is there anything that MO can take advantage of and use to create a competitive advantage over your competitors? And for the record, the site’s design is LONG overdue for a change. Your competitor, MCN, has changed the look of their site something like 3 times over 2 years or so (very generous approximations…). Your site, however, looks EXACTLY the same as it did in 1997! From there, your adoring readership may sense a lack of value… almost if they are getting second rate stuff when they really aren’t. Presentation counts for something nowadays on the Web ya' know…



Your ‘hits’ are tremendous. Can you attract INVESTORS, not advertisers, with that? By addressing some of the above mentioned issues, MAYBE you can attract venture capital and infuse it into your company.



No, I am not the CEO of MO and by no means am a pro at solving business problems… I’m just another dude who happens to like motorcycles who doesn’t what to see MO go down the tube…



Whatever the case, I’m hoping MO can figure out what they want to do and begin to make improvements as a company. And no, you can’t hold me responsible if you try out what I said and nothing works out! =) As hackfu said, you guys read all the posts and I’m just trying to help out… but, hey, what do I know about running a business…



Flame away if ya’ll want, nit-pick if you must; but remember, minime wanted ‘informed’ posts…. I’m not arguing with anyone here nor do I intend to. But, perhaps at this critical juncture, MO really needs to refocus instead of just trying out the ‘latest’ because everyone else is doing it…



Oh, btw, the person who demanded to know MO’s financial information should be caned. A donation is just that; A DONATION. Once you give it, that’s it. That does NOT make you a shareholder in the company with vested interest and MO doesn’t have any social responsibility to divulge company information like that to anyone especially so in a public forum. Shame on you.
 
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