Why subscribe?

After sending out a notification a couple of weeks ago that I was in the process of putting in a paywall that would limit non-subscribers to three free articles a month, I got a number of questions/comments/complaints concerning this … all from non-subscribers, of course.

So I thought I would lay it out in a post. Why subscribe?

  1. I pay to provide a site that is ad-free, and have for almost a decade. It costs about $360/year. Why do I do it, when there are numerous “free” web site options? The answer is simple but long, and it’s this: Reading only really works when your mind is uninterrupted. The jarring effect of having each paragraph of text broken by a screaming ad, or by pop-ups, or by tailored and targeted messages rotating top/bottom/side of your screen, whether you realize it or not, is distracting af. Even The NY Times and WSJ won’t give you a quiet read to yourself anymore, let alone the junk-filled advertorials of every cycling “news” site out there. When you come here, you get peace and quiet and a space to concentrate. It’s not free.
  2. I don’t believe in paying people to advertise to me. Virtually all subscriptions are this way, whether cable, pay-to-read sites, Spitify … The typical subscription requires you to pay so that once you enter the site you can be subjected to more ads. You are paying people to advertise to you. I dislike this and am pretty sure that straight content that meets standards of relevance, punctuation, and basic grammar is rare on the Internet unless you also have to pay to get subjected to someone’s advertising. My model is the book. Once you buy it, the transaction is complete.
  3. I have subscribers who have been paying since I first began accepting money; some have back-paid for a decade’s worth of subscriptions. Their loyalty and dedicated readership is worth a lot to me. It’s worth it financially but it’s also worth it as a motivator. You might think that $2.99 is a pittance, but there are days when I don’t feel like writing, and the knowledge that people are paying in the expectation that I will post something is a huge motivator. It’s not that way with people who simply read … I appreciate readership, but after almost ten years it’s the committed core of supporters who keep me fired up.
  4. One long-time reader and subscription refusenik said that a paywall will prevent other people from “discovering” my blog. That’s not true. Three free articles a month is more than enough for people to dig around. Moreover, what creative person gives away everything they make so that they can get “exposure”? Answer: People who don’t value what they make. If it takes time, effort, and expense to create, and people don’t want to pay for it, then perhaps it’s not very good. If it is good, then those who use it should be willing to pay for it, same as they do for Slurpees. Not saying this blog is even remotely as good as a Slurpee.
  5. Another criticism: A paywall will screen out poor readers. Reply: Three free reads a month, plus this bonus–email me your situation and if it is dire and if this blog is central to your life, I’ll create a free account for you.
  6. And this one: “I’m just a cheapskate.” Well, honesty is the best policy, but even the cheapskate gets three free reads a month, and being a cheapskate isn’t much of an argument as to why I should keep giving away what takes so much effort and actual money to make.
  7. Scarily, this site is a kind of library. It has over 2,000,000 words and more than 2,500 posts. Something that’s not evident from the way this site is set up is the depth and breadth of content. I can view reads/downloads from things that were posted years ago; a healthy chunk of site visitors are referring to old material. It’s no longer simply a matter of putting up new stuff, but it’s also a matter of giving access to a library of materials that cover the waterfront with regard to cycling. Hosting that space and keeping it current takes time and money. Should it be a public service? Maybe, but that’s what it’s been for almost a decade, and again … three free reads/downloads a month.
  8. Freddy Freeloaders continue to swell. My web stats show that although visitation continues to grow, subscriptions are much slower. At some point it starts to feel like I’m punishing the very people who support me most, while rewarding those who support me not at all. Time to end that. All of the South Bay people who’ve pointedly told me they “never read the blog” while somehow keeping abreast of every post will finally get to stop reading it.
  9. Bare financial necessity: mine. Over the next few years I plan to be greatly reducing my workload as a lawyer, and to segue into doing way more of what I love doing most, which is riding and writing. Unlike people who write from a chair based on what they’ve read, this blog, in Michael Marckx’s words, is produced by “method writing,” a play on method acting. I do and then I write, and the doing costs money. It’s my goal over the next few years to build a subscription base that will make it feasible to go out and physically collect the data, whatever they may be.


Haven’t subscribed yet? Maybe it’s time! Your $2.99/month keeps the pedals turning, the shutter snapping, and the pedals cranking. Please Go ahead and hit this “subscribe” link. Thank you!

27 thoughts on “Why subscribe?”

  1. Speaking as a recent subscriber (although I did buy your book a few years ago) I’d like to endorse this post and tell everyone, it’s worth the $2.99 a month.

  2. David Evan Atkinson

    I enjoy your writing and viewpoints, and find value in them, and thus I am a subscriber. I don’t comment often, but I enjoyed reading about your travels these last few months. Please don’t sell the race bike, do the doughnut ride this Saturday and tell us how about it! Then you can sell it.

  3. I only recently subscribed. I’ve been getting up early everyday for many years to read my favorite blogs yours and Steve Tilford. We lost Steve and now I only have yours. I want yours to stay, so subscription. RIP Steve.

  4. I started paying when I realized I read the blog every day. The absence of ads is a HUGE plus. Seth has taken over the role of Steve Tilford (RIP). Reading his blog during his bike tour was a highlight of my day and I’m happy to support that kind of writing and experience.

    1. Thanks David, and also for the good comments. It’s amazing how fragmented your brain becomes when it’s trying to concentrate on a sentence, and then gets bombed with enhancement ads …

  5. Now that’s what I wanted to hear: getting out of the soul-crushing legal business! Whoohoo! Knowing that we’re contributing to your exit from that business is reason alone to subscribe:)
    Now if only I could write…
    I can’t wait to hear about the next adventures and hope they bring you to Minnesota.

    1. I met a lady who, after talking for a while, said, “You’re a lawyer? Really? You’re the only one I know who still has any humanity left.” I didn’t know what to say … but anyway, thanks, and “Yes” to Minnesota!

  6. Long time subscriber many time commentor, I’ve been out of work for a few months now and it’s had some subtle changes, one being I comment less than I used to, I think it has to do with not needing a release from work related stress but I could be wrong, it could also could be me retreating in my introverted self. Any you can count on the $2.99 from me, mainly because I can’t figure out how to cancel it… 😂

  7. I remember the days when I used to bring you a soggy check on the Flog ride in December 🤦🏽‍♀️ Happy to be a subscriber enjoy blog every morning with my coffee…

    1. Yes, for sure. You can always PayPal an amount and put “gift” on it. But I will also add a one-time donation link as well. Great idea. I am also hearing that I need Instasham and Gritter feeds …

  8. Every artist was first an amateur – Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Lots of writers stay amateur and that’s great. But amateurs have no moral obligation to write daily. Keep writing daily.

  9. Well worth the $2.99 every month. I really enjoyed your travelogue, particularly the encounters with people out there in the real world. I know not every day’s blog will be a hit (sorry) but there are enough gems to keep me coming back. The lure of Tillford’s blog for me was the humanity, and to a much lesser extent, the cycling stories. That’s what I get here. Keep up the observations and encouraging your readers to think and feel and not just coast through life.

  10. I’ve read your blog for quite a while, off and on at first and didn’t subscribe. Bought your book but missed the signing party and still didn’t subscribe. But the day you declared you were matching the mens prize money for the women at CBR I said “Hell Yeah!” and couldn’t click fast enough. I thoroughly enjoyed following your trek along the west coast and am looking forward to see what the future brings.

  11. Been freeloading for years. Glad you finally put my feet to the campfire to subscribe. Enjoy your talented writing and observations on life.

  12. If I subscribe will you upgrade to a camera that doesn’t suck? I have travelled many of the areas you captured over the last few months and the pics will never do them justice. However, using an Iphone 1+ doesn’t help. Keep up the great work Seth, I enjoyed your ride.

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