IrishCycle.com ran a reader survey from 27/09/2021 to 06/10/2021 and there were 452 respondents — thank you to all readers who responded.
Like everything, not everybody will be interested, but I promised to keep readers in the loop, so, below are some of the main results, followed by answers to some of the open feedback and questions posed by readers.
Before getting into the detail, I’d like to say: Thank you for the strong show of support from readers and the kind words of many outlining how they value IrishCycle.com.
How frequently do respondents visit IrishCycle.com?
The breakdown on how frequent respondents visit the website. Respondents were dominated by very regular readers (once a week or more — 36%) and regular readers (once a month or more 37.6%).
Infrequent readers (less than once a month), made up 19% of respondents but among this group, many still see the value in IrishCycle.com. Part of a comment from one user said that despite them being an infrequent reader that “I think your work is important and would want it to continue, even if I remain an infrequent visitor to the site myself.” The same reader also said: “I selected €5 per month but would go higher if you don’t meet the target number of supporters.”
Supporting IrishCycle.com’s independent journalism
Of respondents, 67% said they would financially support IrishCycle.com, 25% said they would not, 5.8% said some version of ‘maybe’ with different conditions, and 1.6% said that they would prefer one-off payments.
For the next question, on how much readers were willing to give monthly, people who responded ‘no’ to the last question were excluded from the chart below.
Presuming around the same number of respondents who answered yes and maybe actually go onto support IrishCycle.com from its relaunch as a reader-supported website, then it’s a start but the website would not be on the firmest footing straight away and support would be needed to be built up further.
How to set up the pricing tiers is a tricky balance, especially for a website planning to use an open-access system with no paywall. Some — including somebody with experience in this area — have suggested increasing the suggested entry-level tier to €4 or more. A middle option might be to retain the €2.99 level and also offer something like a €3.50 option.
No decision has been made yet on this, so, further feedback is welcomed by commenting below or contacting me directly.
There is also the possibility that more people will sign up from the start than those who are willing to fill in a survey. This is possible but it is hard to account for it in any meaningful way.
Offer reader rewards or focus on journalism?
The below chart is from the question on if users want rewards (such as stickers or t-shirts etc) or if they see journalism as the reward. The chart shows people who responded yes or maybe or one-off to the question of if they would financially support IrishCycle.com, those who answered ‘no’ were excluded.
In our 2019 survey, a striking result from a similar question with an open-ended answer was that the vast built of respondents said something to the extent of “the journalism is the reward” or “no reward”. The same is even more clear below.
Interestingly when only the yes are looked at the percentage of people who say focus on the journalism remains the same at 93.4%, but when just the ‘no’ respondents are looked at the percentage declines to 83.5% — this and open-ended comments show a possible disconnected between at least some people who say yes and no to supporting the site, in that among those who said no there could be a misunderstanding or disbelieve in the model of open-access journalism supported by readers.
Overall going by the result, rewards will likely be an optional extra at some point in the future or as merch sold separately.
Will there be more bylines / a more diverse set of writers?
Yes. It is aimed to both (a) have a freelance budget to pay journalist/s and/or a columnist for more content, and (b) also seek for readers/campaigners/etc to write guess comments articles.
Will the funding mean more frequent articles?
Yes — there’s a lot of issues to cover relating to walking and cycling across Ireland.
Have you considered doing a podcast?
Yes. It’s something I’m keeping in mind, but there’s a lot to catch up with written word journalism first. There’s a lot to cover to keep the site updated with normal news articles and also to spend a bit more time investigating issues.
Make sure to focus on more than just Dublin.
Yes, definitely. More time will allow IrishCycle.com to cover more and to keep track out of the balance of covering different areas and issues. I will also always welcome readers suggesting stories to cover and suggesting where there are issues with a balance in coverage.
Why not try advertising?
Unfortunately, online advertising is a losing game, especially for smaller publications. Advertising also conflicts with the reader-supported model as many of the readers who want to support do not want to see adverts or want to get our articles via email or RSS without adverts.
I would prefer to give a smaller amount.
A small number of respondents said they would prefer a smaller amount than €2.99 per month — this will be possible (see below re one-off payments), but IrishCycle.com, as planned, will not work if it does not get enough support. I have to stress at this point and will have to keep stressing this: I know not everybody can support the site financially and I’d ask that people who cannot to please don’t feel like they have to.
Will one-off or annual payments be possible?
One-off payments will be possible. Although currently the payment service which IrishCycle.com will use, Ko-Fi.com, does not allow for recurring annual payments. So, anybody wanting to make annual payments will have to do so manually. This is harder to for me to get an idea of if the site is viable and, when it is, how to plan for the future. So, if you can please choose the monthly option for now. I have given feedback to Ko-Fi that supporters want an annual payment option.
Addressing editing/typos etc
Some readers asked about focusing on typos and proofreading — I am already trying to address this. If there’s enough support to work on IrishCycle.com full-time, I’ll have more time to not just write articles but to be able to hold back at least some articles for a third or fourth read / get others to look at non-breaking news articles before they are published. On the recommendation of a reader, I have recently started using Grammarly. I hope this has improved things lately (please note: two articles published recently with a high number of typos were cases where Grammarly failed to load).
Why use €2.99 or €7.99 etc… it’s not a supermarket?
I’m in two minds using this pricing structure for some tiers, but it is used by several reader-supported journalism outlets and by popular online subscription services, ie The Guardian, Netflix, Prime etc.
Is an RSS feed available?
Yes, it is. You can find it via this page. One of the advantages of keeping advertising out of IrishCycle.com is that we can offer full articles via RSS and email updates. But you will have to visit the website to view updates to any article.
Need more cycling content in the mainstream
One or two commenters suggested that rather than publishing on IrishCycle.com that what’s needed is more cycling content in the mainstream media. These are both not mutually exclusive and serve different roles in journalism, and you’d be surprised with the range of people who read IrishCycle.com.
Remove the comments section
A small number of people giving feedback asked for the comment section to be removed — this will not be happening. The comment section has led to contact with people affected by issues and given insight from people. However, people commenting will have to abide by the comment policy and clear anti-cycists rants or trolling is not allowed.
Cover more positive issues as well as negative
Funding will give the website the time to cover a mix of issues, includes more positive stories.
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