Is reader-funded journalism a model for IrishCycle.com? Maybe…

BEHIND IRISHCYCLE.COM: I’ve just closed IrishCycle.com’s reader-survey which basically asked if reader-funded journalism is a model for securing and developing the future of IrishCycle.com. I’m sharing the results here to keep readers informed about the future of this website and answer some points raised.

The responses — especially the written optional responses — were inspiring. Thank you to those who responded — even those who might not be able to help out at this time for different reasons.

The first thing I want to make clear is: The idea is a reader-funded journalism model where content remains free. This means a percentage of readers (maybe less than 4%) might pay to fund keeping this site running as open journalism.

Overall there were 570 respondents in total to questions 1-3 (as below), and 283 answers to question four, which was an optional text based question.

Question one was simple enough as I didn’t want to collect too much information from respondents but I want to understand this basic question about who was responding:

Q1: Do you visit IrishCycle.com? How would you best describe your self?

Answer Choices Responses
A very regularly reader (once a week or more) 32.81% 187
A regularly reader (once a month) 22.46% 128
An infrequent reader (less than once a month) 23.86% 136
A first time reader 11.75% 67
I have not visited the site yet 9.12% 52
Answered 570
Skipped 0

In question 2, there were 292 people who said they were “willing and able to financially support IrishCycle.com’s independent journalism”. Another 59 said ‘other’, including a number of ‘maybe’ responses for different reasons.

Q2: As editor of IrishCycle.com, running the website in my free time has become too time consuming, and is quickly becoming unsustainable. As part of a plan to secure the future of IrishCycle.com and increase the volume of coverage, would you be willing and able to financially support IrishCycle.com’s independent journalism?

Answer Choices Responses
Yes 51.23% 292
No 38.42% 219
Other (please specify) 10.35% 59
Answered 570
Skipped 0

When it came to question 3 — ‘if you were to support the site, which of the below options best describes the amount you would be likely able and willing to give per month?’ — 400 people said that they would give at least €2.50 per month.

This amounts a little less than €1,500 per month — thank you to all of those who responded. It is a significant amount, although, not quite enough to run the site full-time.

One comment a few people made was to just seek advertising or to also seek advertising — that latter of those is something I will be exploring. But there’s a catch here — around the same number of respondents said that they would support the site but expect the site to remain adverting-free.

There was a difference of around 100 people who said ‘no’ or maybe to question 2, but answered with an amount to question 3. The maybes giving support amount is more understandably than the people who responded with ‘no’. Of the people who said ‘no’, 67 then went onto specify an amount that they would give. A breakdown of the amount showed that 1 said €10 per month, 13 said €3.50 per month, 50 said €2.50 per month and 3 said €4.50 per month.

Q3: IrishCycle.com has an average readership of over 18,600 readers per month (12 month average in 2018) — it’s not massive but as well as having readers who just cycle to work, IrishCycle.com also reaches politicians, council officials, campaigners and others. It would also take a fraction of readers (2-3%) supporting a small amount to keep the site running in the long-run and its journalism open to all. If you were to support the site, which of the below options best describes the amount you would be likely able and willing to give per month?

Answer Choices Responses
“Large 99” level — €2.50 per month 37.54% 214
“Cup of coffee” level — €3.50 per month 13.51% 77
“Pint” level — €4.50 per month 16.14% 92
“Cinema ticket” level — €10 per month 2.63% 15
“Takeaway” level — €15 per month 0.18% 1
“Bicycle light” — €20 per month 0.70% 4
None 29.30% 167
Answered 570
Skipped 0

Question four was “If you were to support IrishCycle.com, what ‘rewards’ would you like or is the journalism alone the reward?”. This was a text answer. Of the respondents, 283 gave an answer and it was skipped by 287 others.

Of the 283 who answered, the vast bulk of them — 224 — said “journalism alone”, “no rewards”, “journalism enough”, or equivalent phrases. Four others had editorial requests (such as more non-Dublin coverage, an issues I am trying to address) which didn’t rule out journalism alone beyond that.

Less than 20 people looked for rewards — a mix of things: mainly stickers and discounts in bike shops, as wells as suggestions of t-shirts, mugs, and holding events. No adverts were mentioned a few times in the context of rewards, but around the same amount of people said that they would not mind advertising or that there should be advertising.

Q4: If you were to support IrishCycle.com, what ‘rewards’ would you like or is the journalism alone the reward?

Answered 283
Skipped 287

A few people said that they did not have much or any disposable income, and that’s fine, I don’t expect people who cannot afford to support the site to do so. Others asked to be able to support with lower amounts — this is possable, but realistically even €2.50 per month is on the low amount to get the website to a sustainable footing. If enough people don’t support amounts higher than €2.50 it won’t be viable.

Given the opportunity to provide anonymous responses, I was expecting a few more negative text responses. There was only 2-3 of such and only two of these were purely troll-like — one of the three bemusedly thinks asking readers their views to be “blowing your own trumpet” while another said that the repetitively new model of reader supported journalism was the “old model”.

Bemusing cranks included — thank you to all for filling out the survey. I will try to keep you informed of the future plans and, as always, welcome feedback before or via the contact section. You can also subscribe by email and other means here.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

1 Comment

  1. You seem to be running this site mainly by yourself and definitely write most of the articles. Would it be helpful if perhaps some of the regulars contribute articles, or that contributions are sought from people who know about infrastructure and traffic flows (to name two)? Perhaps you could also see if you could publish some featured articles from foreign bicycle groups.
    Why not create a “newsroom” with some writers, and you as editor, who can take the load of you doing most things yourself? This allow the site to grow and perhaps this growth will eventually lead to the independent, fully reader funded site.

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