It never ceases to amaze me how many different people you can meet whilst riding a bicycle. Over the past few years I’ve undertaken the task of starting up a new business and publication house. And, it’s thanks to the cycling community who have rallied around me to help out. These are all people I’ve meet whilst riding a bike. That’s the strength of this amazing community.
Over the past few weeks it’s fair to say life has been hectic, but amongst the noise, I’ve still managed to find time for the bike. As without this there’s no creativity, inspiration or drive. I’m a firm believer that you mustn’t forget to ride when life gets unsettled – as riding gives balance and perspective. I’m writing this note on the back of some pretty busy months; printing magazines, creating content and managing a business.
With the current situation, life has asked me to slow down, reflect and take stock. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to connect my passion with my job; the journeys, experiences and community has led me to some of the best adventures of my life. But, like anything in life that’s worth doing, it comes with a lot of effort. Through the years, I have met some incredibly passionate people from the cycling scene. They’ve all had their fair share of setbacks, but above all else, they just keep moving towards their goals. And, for me this is what drives and inspires me.
To be honest, there’s not much money to be made in print media, well in media generally. If you look at the current media landscape, especially local media, you can see there are some major flaws. Basically, the model is broken. Media outlets, journalists, creatives and freelances struggle to keep things afloat. This is generally down to ad revenue not cutting it and readers not wanting to pay for the content. Whilst I wouldn’t say we operate on fumes, as the owner of Pedal Press, the publishers of NZ Cycling Journal and NZ Mountain Biker, we have to work really hard to stay and ensure we can sustain and continue to publish both magazines. I’m lucky to have a great team supporting me, but there’s still a lot of sacrifice. From racking up miles covering the country and the world to get content, to working weekends and late into the night, it takes a lot of work to make money in the age of digital. With that said though, there is literally nothing else I’d rather do.
Covid-19 brings a lot of uncertainty. With our current lockdown status here in NZ, we have thousands of magazines that will be sitting in bookstores, bike shops and our distributors warehouse for the foreseeable future. We might still be in some supermarkets, but once they’ve sold out, they won’t be able to restock until the lockdown is over. For us, that means no income. To give you some insight, advertising revenue covers the cost of printing the magazines. Retail sales are used to pay our contributors and staff. Without retail sales, we don’t really know when our next pay cheque is coming. That’s before you even consider that whilst we print locally, our paper comes from China and prices were quickly rising even before Covid-19. We plan to publish our next magazine in June, however there’s only so much we can do
We’ve been working hard to put together a plan to get us through the foreseeable future, and the first stage to that is implementing a new website. Over the past couple of weeks, Cam Baker, our production man, has been building a new site from the ground up, and it’s now live! We’ll share content on this website super frequently, from old stories through to columns through to some of our favourite videos. I’ll add the link to the bottom of this email so you can take a look!
We’ve also decided to implement a ‘Supporter’ option on our website. Essentially, with this option, you’ll be able to support us with a one-off or monthly payment of whatever you choose. Basically, you choose what you think our content is worth. Monthly supporters will be supplied with a digital copy of our magazine each time we go to print and you’ll also gain access to our exclusive Facebook community – this is an ideal option for people who want to support us from overseas or that travel a lot and aren’t always able to receive a physical copy. If you wish to support us, you can do so here.
I’ve also started an exclusive Facebook community for our supporters. In this group we’ll talk about content ideas, share stories, videos and photos, you can ask advice – really, anything goes. Serviced your bike? Tell us about it. Need opinions on what helmet to buy? Ask away. Tried a new beer that’s super good? We need to know! This group is only open to those who subscribe and support us, so if you’re a subscriber, check your emails!
Finally, thank you for supporting us over the years. We’re determined to continue creating content based on your feedback and to keep printing magazines showcasing the best of cycling. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start seeing some of you out there again, soon.
Liam Friary & the NZCJ Team