The future of IrishCycle.com: Open and free reader-supported journalism?

THE FUTURE OF IRISHCYCLE.COM: While times are uncertain for many, this website needs to be put on a sustainable footing to survive and be able to cover cycling, especially with a planned massive increase in funding.

Here’s answers to questions readers have posed, and some more questions for supporters of the website… some of this has been covered before, but it’s worth refining…. 

What is IrishCycle.com? A news and opinion website covering cycling. Mainly as a form of transport and greenways, and aiming to cover issues across Ireland. Key to how IrishCycle.com looks at cycling is from a lens of cycling for all ages and abilities, and that while cycling cannot solve every problem it can help solve many issues from inactivity to pollution to giving more transport choice. There’s an aspect of campaigning journalism

Hello... sorry to interrupt you: IrishCycle.com is reader-funded journalism supported by just over 250 readers like you -- they have subscribed for €5 per month or more. If you can, please join them and subscribe today. If you have already subscribed -- thank you! Now, back to the article...

What’s the problem? There’s too much to cover about cycling and related issues. The longer the site has gone on and the larger it has become, the more work there is just to maintain it, for example there’s a growing amount of emails to reply to, stories to follow up on, and other background issues to deal with.

What’s the solution? How would it be funded? A reader-supported website funded by people who see the value of having this website free and open. More time means more coverage from all over Ireland, time for investigate stories, tracking issues, time for articles both large and small, and working on the on-going process of getting a range of comment writers from different people.

There’s various example of such reader-supported models large and small which have a different blend of funding — The Guardian and Bike Portland with reader-support and advertising; Second Captains and Dublin Inquirer with no advertising but content behind a paywall; Strong Towns with more than just podcasts and articles; StreetFilms focuses on video; the Currency with niche content behind a paywall etc.

Can newspapers etc not do that? / Wouldn’t it be better if newspapers did that? Even in places where cycling as transport gets better coverage in the mainstream media, there’s still websites and podcasts covering the detail of the issues involved.

Is that not preaching to the converted? Since when is preaching to the converted not needed? IrishCycle.com also reaches more than just the converted.

What about an advertising element? Advertising can complicate things in a number of ways including making readers less likely to contribute financial support; cause apparent or real conflicts of interests; and be labour intensive when targeted. But, for now, we will look at a “business level” of reader support which might look less like advertising.

Questions to be answered… with your help?…

Do you value paying but having the website open? Would you support financially if content was open for all to read?

What’s the best legal setup for IrishCycle.com? Do you have any thoughts?

For payments, is Stripe or Patreon or PayPal better? Some people have indicated a dislike for PayPal, while there’s higher fees on Patreon. Is Stripe the solution? Has anybody experience using it?

We’ll also be looking at tax and accounting issues etc. But those issues are best left to professionals in those areas, unless there’s readers with experience of running websites etc?

One person suggested a podcast on active travel in Ireland… have you any suggestions along those lines?

Anything else? What other questions are we not thinking about?

Hello Reader... IrishCycle.com is a reader-funded journalism publication. Effectively it's an online newspaper covering news and analyses of cycling and related issues, including cycle route designs, legal changes, and pollical and cultural issues.

There are examples, big and small, which show that the reader-funded or listener-funding model can work to support journalism -- from the Dublin Inquirer and The Guardian to many podcasts. To make it work for IrishCycle.com, it just needs enough people like you to believe!

Monthly subscriptions will give IrishCycle.com's journalism a dependable base of support. But please don't take free access for granted. Last year IrishCycle.com had an average of 15,800 readers per month and we know our readers include people who cycle and those who don't, politicians, officials and campaigners.

I know only a small percentage of readers will see the value of keeping this open enough to subscribe, that's the reality of the reader-funded model. But more support is needed to keep this show on the road.

The funding drive was started in November 2021 and, as of the start of February, 210 readers have kindly become monthly subscribers -- thank you very much to all that have!

But currently, it's only around 1.3% of readers who subscribe. So, if you can, please join them and subscribe today via ko-fi.com/irishcycle/tiers

Cian Ginty
Editor, IrishCycle.com

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