We need to have a talk about: Subscriptions

Ben Matson
Swellnet Dispatch

A little more than fifteen years ago, I started Swellnet. 

We’ve come a long way since I penned my first long range forecasts for the South Oz Mid and South Coasts - which, to a small select group of SA crew, began several years earlier as one-pager faxed through to Cutloose every week.

Since that time there’s been an enormous change across the surf industry, and also across the broader media landscape. 

In the early 2000’s, digital media was still somewhat of an unknown entity - everyone knew the online revolution was just around the corner, but the business model underpinning this transformation hadn’t become clear. 

A decade and a half later, it seems nothing much has changed. No-one is quite sure how to generate money online.

Whilst the first few years of Swellnet’s existence were essentially an unpaid hobby, by 2005 there were trickles of advertising revenue to be found. Within a few years, the business had enough revenue to employ Swellnet’s first full time staff member Stu Nettle, who’s still waiting patiently for a repeat of the East Coast Lows we saw in 2007.

And ever since then we’ve been fortunate to build the business up to a point where we have four full time staff, plus our surf report team and other editorial contributors. Swellnet is a company whose staff and contributors I am immensely proud of.

But there’s still a lot of things we want to do - we’ve got a massive backlog of as-yet undeveloped forecasts tools to build. And we need to focus on building better Apps. These things require significant investment.

For much of its existence, Swellnet’s primary source of revenue has been advertising. But, as we’re all too used to hearing in the mainstream media, advertising revenue is slowly sliding across all media companies - not just due to a weakened economy, but because significant chunks of advertising budgets are now being channeled to Social Media giants like Facebook. 

This problem ain’t exclusive to the surf industry either. No doubt you’ve heard of the massive editorial layoffs at Fairfax, News Limited and other publishers across Australia and around the world. Fortunately, Swellnet is not in the same boat as these large media companies.

However, this means that all publishers - including small websites like Swellnet - need to find new revenue streams in what’s a pretty tough business environment. Paid subscriptions are the most transparent and direct relationship between you and Swellnet, and the best way to show your support. 

So, first up, I’d like to thank all of our current and former Swellnet Pro subscribers for their help over the last couple of years. Your contributions have helped Swellnet in a massive way.

For everyone else, I’d ask if you would consider subscribing to Swellnet. By helping a small Australian business, you’re also helping the local economy. And you’ll be assisting us to build better tools to get you surfing in better waves more often.

If you don’t want to subscribe to Swellnet, that’s fine. I understand that everyone’s got their own preferred surfing website, and Swellnet may not be your number one destination. 

But… and here comes the rub… please consider subscribing to something, be it Surfline, Magic Seaweed, Coastalwatch, White Horses, Tracks Magazine or anyone else - if you use their services, show your support by giving them some of your hard-earned. 

Every single surfer on the planet has benefited from a surf story, a photo essay, a long range forecast or a live surfcam at some point in their lives. And the best way to acknowledge their hard work is to give something back in return. 

If you’d like to subscribe, we’ve got a $1 introductory offer for the first month - and you’ll also go in the draw for a holiday to Nias for you and a mate (including flights and accomodation). Check it out here.

Thanks for your support.

Ben Matson
Founder, Swellnet.com

Comments

Denis Finn's picture
Denis Finn's picture
Denis Finn commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 4:24pm

Im a proud subsciber. I justify my annual subscription in PETROL. Swellnet info ensures I never drive to a surf destination & get totally skunked. Swellnet is awesome value.

Denis Finn

curbs's picture
curbs's picture
curbs commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 4:39pm

I too am a subscriber to Swellnet. Last year I went to Fiji for a family holiday. In the days leading up to our departure Swellnet predicted a swell that would push 2.5m waves @ 13.0 seconds to the tropical paradise. As a result my son and I scored absolutely pumping perfect waves at Namotu Lefts for two days during our stay. I was going to Fiji regardless. Knowing we'd score waves had us amped. We still gesticulate and confabulate like weirdos about Fiji. Thank you Swellnet. You're tops.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 4:41pm

Is there a way to pay for a subscription other than by credit card?

Ignorance is Zen

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 4:56pm

We'll happily trade AFL cards.

Seriously, we should have a PayPal option soon. Otherwise, what kinds of payment options would you like to see? I can research and see if we can get them on board.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:41pm

Paid up also but I would prefer Paypal than credit card.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:54pm

No probs.. will expedite the PayPal option. I use it with all of my subs too. Much easier. 

mcsc's picture
mcsc's picture
mcsc commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 1:10pm

Be happy to subscribe with Paypal option

Appreciative for the forecasts, easily the best

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 10:38pm

I've always meant to subscribe but would like to pay by debit card too. Is that feasible?

I'd prefer not to use my credit card hence me asking above.

Ignorance is Zen

Winkipop2017's picture
Winkipop2017's picture
Winkipop2017 commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 8:14pm

Visa " DEBT CARD" for people like me who are banned for life from ever having a credit card every again.

;+) har ha ha ha.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 6:28pm

DO you have a bank account? Get a debit/(no credit) card. You only have access to your money and it can be used just about everywhere.

ecodownunder's picture
ecodownunder's picture
ecodownunder commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 4:43pm

I am also a proud subscriber. I have used all the models and 90% of the time Swellnet is the best. Occasionally the models miss something and I have given constructive feedback. Each time I have received a detailed, personal explanation that makes me want to support these guys more. I have a local business on both sides of this. We want advertising options that work, and we need local people to support us. If we don't support our local shaper, forecasters, surf shop etc then we all know how it ends....... It won't be the same riding your Adidas plastic surf board wearing your Nike boardies and L'oreal zinc cream!

Russ1500

Brendan Ford's picture
Brendan Ford's picture
Brendan Ford commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 4:55pm

Happy subscriber and think its too cheap anyways. Everyone has coin for a single origin double shot short long extra froth skim macchito so empty ya pockets lads and pay up! Crowd forecasts would be a sweet addition.... ie. Snapper is so crowded you'll need to park at Nerang and walk in...

freerider.'s picture
freerider.'s picture
freerider. commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:11pm

While I'm not quite ready to subscribe, I don't live in OZ., could I just give you guys a $20 donation. This seems to be one of the few websites where you can actually get intelligent feedback in the comment section. Kinda dig Stu and blindboy's take on things also.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:36pm

Thanks mate. Whilst I feel a little uncomfortable accepting "donations" (I'd prefer people to pay for goods and services, that way there's a clear understanding on everyone's side), and I'm also not sure of the tax implications, you're welcome to donate via our PayPal account here: https://www.paypal.me/Swellnet

Alternatively, you can just sign up for a few months ($1 first month, $8.95 thereafter, no lock in contracts etc - cancel whenever you want).

freerider.'s picture
freerider.'s picture
freerider. commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:42pm

okay maybe donation wasn't the right word

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:54pm

Also a subscriber, well worth it.
If you're on here planning your surf time on a weekly basis it'd be rude not too sign up I reckon

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:57pm

Yeah, but overseas. I imagine transfer fees would ramp this up to unholy levels. Your forecasts are better than anything else in the UK. This is weird given other sites located here. I guess it is a more accurate modelling algorithm. So, I am happy to pay but need a way for overseas crew to do this more effectively. There is a revenue stream here maybe not being made the most of. I can 'donate' as per freerider.

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 6:00pm

Interesting Clif, we've had great feedback on our forecast model across Indonesia but not a lot from the UK and surrounds. Good to hear it's treating you well. With an Irish wife, I want to spend a lot more time in Europe over the coming decade so our model will be getting a lot of upgrades and fine-tuning in this part of the world :)

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 5:59pm

Also need to tidy up the link system for some overseas locations, some are under the wrong headings. I can help for my location.

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 6:03pm

Thanks, that'd be great. We've already committed many sins by one section of our location database listing Ireland under "United Kingdom" (whereas the main database link is under "Europe"). I've fielded quite a few indignant emails at my end as a result.

braudulio's picture
braudulio's picture
braudulio commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 11:24am

Hey Ben,
Yeah also noticed a few irregularities in Europe but didn't get around to letting you guys know before I gave up on (banned myself from) commenting. You've got Soesto, Razo and Pantin listed under North West Coast of Portugal. Just as well you guys obviously don't get many Gallegos (or Spaniards) using your forecast. Coulda got ugly as these spots are in Galicia, Spain. Also just as an observation it is interesting you forecast these pretty much unknown/under the radar spots but no forecast for Munduka, Rodiles etc.
Anyway, also like to add my voice (and coin) in support of the site. Like others pretty much subscribed as a sign of appreciation. Don’t really need anything on the site I couldn’t have got for free, although the little bloke loves our local surfcam, but other than on Android there are workarounds to get rid of the ads sorry to inform you. It’s the articles and interesting and (relatively) ‘civilised’ forums that for me are the points of difference.

‘IF YOU UNDERSTAND, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, THINGS ARE JUST AS THEY ARE.’

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 11:29am

Thanks for the heads up mate, we'll attend to these anomalous listings ASAP!

bepopalobop's picture
bepopalobop's picture
bepopalobop commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 6:09pm

have long enjoyed the Vicco reports and the level of detail that goes into them. I have become a paid member Ben. Thanks for all the work that goes it into forecasting and the site.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 6:22pm

Thanks everyone for the lovely words.. really nice to hear you all enjoy what we do.

Doublems111's picture
Doublems111's picture
Doublems111 commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 6:35pm

I'm sold and believe actually surf forecasting is a skill that I should pay for to get the goods. I check the surf report(s) at least twice a day and without sounding too cheap I think the free option gives me too much. A non subscriber should get for example: Gold coast = 3 Foot and maybe a bit about upcoming swell/wind /tides for the day to entice subscriptions. No in depth report, no email with forecast for the week end, etc. but some cams with ads I guess...
A subscriber should get: Full report and cams. More in depth; maybe a contra deal with local surfshops to talk a briefly about currumbin/palmy banks or surfers/broadbeach handling the straight east swell with a link mention for their shop/sale/shaper(similar to your board choice and sponsored page for the webcam's location) I think we'll find that everywhere gets crowded as we tell and show EVERYBODY everything instead of a select few whom shows the $$$$.
I have no idea about revenue of display ads currently or traffic for that matter but I'm thinking 8000 paying subscribers where you can collate true data about the user will be more valuable to advertisers(think deals or exclusivity) than 50000 returning unknown visitors getting all services for free. I'll sign up now and see you in Nias:) good Luck

Billyw's picture
Billyw's picture
Billyw commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 6:53pm

Put the violins away mate, if you can't make it work with the business model you have got, then someone else will come and do it better/different, just ask the surf magazines

B Dub

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 7:55pm

You're a moron with no idea about running a business.

Billyw's picture
Billyw's picture
Billyw commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 10:19pm

great comment, perhaps you would like a job in my fintech business, the one that I run and is making money and adapting to the changing economic climate?

B Dub

alexsmith1's picture
alexsmith1's picture
alexsmith1 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 7:32am

Out of curiosity what m fin tech business is that?

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 9:33am

You haven't got the word Trump in you name somewhere?

mackdog's picture
mackdog's picture
mackdog commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 7:04pm

I have been a subscriber since day one and it's a great resource I'm happy to continue paying for. However, as much as I like looking at the WAMS and forecast two weeks in advance, the forecast notes is what separates you guys from your competitors. I don't understand why this is still a part of your free website content. I would assume if you made this a subscriber only aspect of Swellnet you would see a decent rise in paying customers. Don't undervalue your knowledge and experience. Just my 2 cents.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 7:48pm

That'll be happening in the near future mate.

rusty-moran's picture
rusty-moran's picture
rusty-moran commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 7:55pm

Agreed.

mibs-oner's picture
mibs-oner's picture
mibs-oner commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 7:37pm

You've sold me too ben. I got the free subscription when I donated to your surf team a little bit ago but I also run a small business and I understand that community is what keeps you and your employees in work. I'll be a payed member once the freebie runs out, I just need you to have a word to Huey about this east coast flat spell.

Mibs

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 8:00pm

Thanks for the nudge Ben, I'll make sure I sign up in the coming days as well. Now pay for a similar snow resource and happy to support swellnet as my preferred resource for weekend warrior planning.

rmj's picture
rmj's picture
rmj commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 8:47pm

Hey Ben, love Swellnet and do check the forecast for my regular fix but in an age where everyone want a slice of your money another $9/mth is just another one I have trouble justifying. Just a thought, if it was say $4/mth you would potentially get a truck load more than $9 and maybe even be in front?

mackdog's picture
mackdog's picture
mackdog commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 9:14pm

Geez mate. Haggling over $5/month. That's one less beer or not even two coffees. Think of how many decent surfs you've had on the back of the information Swellnet has gifted you. If you were a smart man you'd be looking at curtailing your spending elsewhere.

rmj's picture
rmj's picture
rmj commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 9:59pm

I hear ya but just sayin sometimes the economics make more sense long term, get more at a lower amount and potentially keep them on board long term vs get a frewer on board now and retain even fewer.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 10:33pm

no flaming wallet , 'friend of swellnet' hoodie , or even a stubbie cooler.?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:36am

Aside from the cost of manufacturing promo gear, it costs a minimum of $8 per person to post one item. So the economics don't stack up unless someone is purchasing a subscription of much higher value, where the promo costs can be somewhat absorbed.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Friday, 14 Jul 2017 at 10:58pm

Saw a comment above about bank transfer fees if overseas.

I have a Citibank Debit Visa Card I use only for overseas travel and on-line overseas purchases. Its linked to my usual bank account in AU where I get paid. On-line transfers in/out any where in the world.

No limits, no restrictions, and no fees. AUD to Euros, Pounds, Rupiah, Kina.

Old mates have them too and we all reckon it works a treat.

podrig's picture
podrig's picture
podrig commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 1:38am

For what it is worth, very happy subscriber.

Been using many similar services for free forever and became frustrated with pay walls and the condescending language of other sites. The willingness of Swellnet to maintain free access to a basic service coupled with the transparency of forecasting and the humility of the engagement with the punters became so stark a point of difference I had to bite the bullet and dig out the cash. To be honest I rarely log in as so much of the site is still accessible for free but I subscribed precisely because of the sentiments above.

To all those bitching about the price, here's a thought. Stop whining about someone trying to provide you with a useful service and go mount a world wide movement to destroy free market capitalism because as it stands... SHIT COSTS MONEY!! Servers, software, hardware, maintenance, labour, all these things are commodities in the brave world of dollars and someone has to foot the bill. How many hours per week do you spend doing volunteer work? And yet you expect these guys to not only spend their time poring over charts and models and driving up and down the coast every day to provide you with detailed and comprehensive reports and forecasts but also to stump up the cash to pay for a network of real time surf cams? Seriously! Get your stingy, self-entitled head out of your ass and take responsibility for the media you consume, whatever, as Ben says, that media may be.

Surfer-wave-lover's picture
Surfer-wave-lover's picture
Surfer-wave-lover commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 2:06am

You're a bunch of whiney cunt's who are either old or don't go out any more or just despise anything that is not a stick with fins. Fuck you, you whiney cunts. Times have changed and you're clinging onto dead seaweed and you won't throw a few bucks to keep a great community alive. Sure, some other site will pop up and semi-offer the same shit, but it will die in the arse in due course. Could we all just get along and stop being total vag stains about SUP, Bodyboards, kneeboards, kitesurfers and your mother's inability to get over life? Together with a few bucks Swellnet can be great. Divided we're just cunts.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 9:35am

Spot on and colourful language.

Thor-Zone's picture
Thor-Zone's picture
Thor-Zone commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 5:59am

To all of those of you that have not subscribed yet, I can tell you the investment I have made in Swellnet is one of the best subscriptions I have ever paid for. I can't imagine life without Swellnet.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 12:42pm

That you Craig?

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 7:15am

As an NZer - and a meteorologist/swell forecaster - I don't use your forecasting and webcam resources, but Swellnet is easily the best forum in the SurfSphere. Compliments to Swellnet and all you contributors.

I shall sign up for a while, as suggested above, to contribute some funds.

Thank you everybody for your efforts

Yendor's picture
Yendor's picture
Yendor commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 8:11am

Hear hear! Also a NZr, and I agree Swellnet has the best articles and forums, and regular linking of good content.
Perhaps Swellnet could consider expanding some influence over the Tasman with tailored models and the like? Sadly our local providers don't really measure up.
Keep up the good work.

holophage's picture
holophage's picture
holophage commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 9:38am

Thanks for the unsolicited begging letter this morning. I hope your business dies along with the cancerous surfing industry you help create. You have exploited a beautiful natural resource and made money out of it, both destroying and polluting it in the process. I'm so glad I have my past instead of your future. Die motherearthfuckers....

happiness is.....

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 9:45am

So you don't work for a living? You seem have a very troubled psych I would suggest some serious counselling and move beyond Byron Bay.

surfiebum's picture
surfiebum's picture
surfiebum commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:03am

haha, yet you are on their website today and have obviously signed up for something free previously. I think there's a word for that.. hyptokrypto or something...

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 9:41am

Yep I admit I was a freeloader but no longer paid up and proud. SWL was right you need to contribute to the community and not be a bunch of tight arses for which surfers are well and truly known. A coffee in Melbourne is $4.50 so for less than two of those a month look what you get access to. Swellnet are for me the only ones who even know about the peninsula and give a decent forecast. Come on ladies and gents if you aren't already get on board.

Gardo1's picture
Gardo1's picture
Gardo1 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 9:47am

It comes down to choosing which way to operate your business.
Either offer everything for free and rely on advertising (sounds like that doesn't work) or offer very little for free and rely on providing a valuable and unique service, accesses by subscriptions.
At the moment a subscription to swellnet offers little more than what any punter gets for free;for example as a non subscriber I can get access to all the charts and forecast notes for free. Way i see it, a subscription is little more than a donation. And who donates to a commercial business?

rhys-thompson's picture
rhys-thompson's picture
rhys-thompson commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:10am

I don't comment very often but the first thing I do every morning is check Swellnet for 'Wave of the Day' as this can sometimes be the highlight of my day whilst I work remotely away from home and surf.

Maths isn't my strong suit but with the $1 intro it works out to be be $99.45 for the year- ridiculously cheap when you consider the ability to dissect a swell to the point of being able to choose a spot to surf based on the period, wait times between sets, grunt in the swell, angle etc etc, these are very important things for the Margies/Yals coast.

I have been able to tweak my surfing around my young family so that I get the best of the conditions whilst keeping the home front happy. I wouldn't have been able to do this without the in-depth reports regarding swell.

The articles that are written are also fantastic, always original and with some cool perspectives about the industry. Absolutely love the weather/coastal creations articles. LWT's SAM's and so on are really cool and have made me look intelligent in front of some friends who don't surf/use Swellnet but are discussing weather!

Only thing I would like to see improved is the wind information. Those of us who surf Margies/Yals coast know that the difference between a SE and ESE wind is the difference between side shore slop and barrels, not to mention trying to pin down the time to surf between a howling offshore at 7 and howling seabreeze onshore at 11am.
All in all I think for the people that use Swellnet they are getting a pretty amazing product for absolutely nothing, well worth stumping up the cash.

curly2alex's picture
curly2alex's picture
curly2alex commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:13am

Does this invitation extend to Bambam101 too ?
Have to agree with Gardo1 though....no real difference between pro or not.
And whilst I enjoy the forecasting notes it's not something I would pay for TBH.

pgs's picture
pgs's picture
pgs commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:24am

Hi, I have been thinking about subscribing for a long while however I couldn't see the benefit as everything I needed I was getting for free.
Thank you Ben and the "positive" contributors to the comments that I needed to "give back" as I was receiving much more than a mere 2 coffees a month i.e. approx cost of subscription.
One thing though what has happened to the Flinders cam. When it went off line approx. 2 years ago I posted on the forum asking what happened and was told a new one was in the pipeline. Is it still on the way or has it been shelved.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:27am

Yep, won't be too far off. Just haven't had the time to get it finalised.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:26am

At the moment, subscribers get 16 day forecasts (instead of 5 days) and surfcams without the annoying pre-roll ads at the start and through the stream.

As mentioned in the article, we have a wide range of new forecast tools and other products to be launched, and they'll be for subscribers only. Some of our existing content (i.e. forecaster notes) will soon also be for subscribers only too.

The problem we have at the moment is estimating the transition between a primarily advertising business to a subscription business. As several commentators have noted above, thoretically the numbers stack up - but what they haven't considered is the transition period. Putting content behind a paywall risks web traffic, which drives advertising revenue.

How long will it take for the new subscriber intake to make up for the lost advertising dollars? Two months.. four months.. six months.. twelve months? Swellnet still has to pay bills throughout that period (almost all of our overheads are fixed, regardless of how much revenue we generate), so there has to be a clear understanding as to how long it'll take for a new revenue streams to kick in.

Doublems111's picture
Doublems111's picture
Doublems111 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 2:20pm

Hi Ben
A huge loss leader can pin point this future date slightly to assist during transition. From all the positive comments I would assume that subscribers are quite sticky. Look at the Netflix or Spotify model; I had it for free for 6 months or something and there is no way I'm now giving up my playlists or unsubscribing half way through Narcos. These services are now the norm in my day to day life and I didn't need or want it. Getting the initial sign up is key...
Ah, to second another person's comment: These signups were both done with paypal. Click here, click there, done. Forms prefilled out and everything. Nobody likes opening their wallet, whether its $0.99 or $50.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:39am

I don't subscribe but i am currently helping a long time Indonesian friend build a small surf camp once up and running I will subscribe so can get long range forecast for him.

When in Oz i couldn't really care what the waves are doing more than a few days ahead of time.

"friendly passive aggressive wolves in sheeps clothing. ;)"

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 1:40pm

Call him whisper coz he never shouts.

You tight arse Indo ........bahahahaha

blindo's picture
blindo's picture
blindo commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:55am

Ben, some thoughts on making the subscription model undeniable..

your human input is the real value add of the service - but only really comes into play a few days out. there are plenty of sites that i can derive long term (la-la land) 2 week forecasts that will give me enough of an idea whether to tentatively throw in a 'day in-yew' to my work calendar.

To me the 16 day forecast isn't the useful part, its the 5 day forecast. So currently the service fee is the wrong way around. If you made people pay for the forecast notes and 5 day forecast then you'd have the whole surfing population by the balls. Anything beyond 5-7 days is so variable its hardly worth looking at. All the detail, ASCATS, the human experience of the SN team, and last minute tweaks you currently give away for free, and thats what lets us score waves. but, if i didn't have access to your notes etc. on the 5 days days before a swell then then i'd be flying blind.

obviously the problem is the whole industry went this way of free short term/paid long-term, so SN would need to get together with the rest of them to flip it on it's head.

hope thats an idea of interest.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:07am

Interesting analysis.. thanks. Most of the things you mention will eventually be for subs only but we need to find a suitable blend of free/paid content as we also have to encourage new subscribers.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:53am

I was actually thinking the exact same thing when i read the article.

"friendly passive aggressive wolves in sheeps clothing. ;)"

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 10:32am

I was thinking same thing. A 16 day model is great if you're looking at Indo but for East Coast Oz EVERYTHING can change 3-5 days out. It seems to me that for the East Coast typically the long range models overcall most swell events and then spend the next 7 days pulling them back. Its only 2-3 days out that you can really start getting a proper expectation of conditions. I too agree, the meat and potatoes here is the detailed analysis given by Ben and the team. That's really what should be exclusive to the subscription. Happy to be a paid up subscriber, thanks for all your guys work. Allows me to plan my work, family and surfing time so that everyone keeps happy....

mibs-oner's picture
mibs-oner's picture
mibs-oner commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 5:56pm

100% agreed here too ben. Every single person I know checks swellnet for their forecast. Give em 1 day for free and no free notes, especially for the weekend warriors. They're the ones sitting in an office clicking on every article you post 50 times a day when the boss turns the other way. Between you and craig, the forecasts are quite often perfect and for the most part more then good.

Mibs

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:24am

The Mid Coast would have to be a nightmare report to do wouldnt it Ben ?
What are you working with a 10 mile opening between Yorke Peninsula and K.I.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:41am

Yeah the Mid Coast is tricky, but so are many other coasts for different regions. Once you work out the swell window it becomes easier, but we certainly see interesting curveballs thrown every other week right across the country.

stevekat100's picture
stevekat100's picture
stevekat100 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:40am

Hi,
I can't really justify a subscription because I rarely know when I'll get a surf more than a couple days ahead and I only get to surf a few times a month atm, (thanks kids!) but I'd very happily pay a couple dollars a month voluntarily for your current free information- a "Don't need the long range forecast but want to support swellnet anyway" option, don't know if that could work as part of a business model or not, but thought I'd mention it, thanks!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:42am

Thanks for the feeback Steve, much appreciated. 

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:51am

Thanks Ben & Swellnet crew. Continually stoked with your product & services. Swellnet Pro is great value for money. Keep up the excellent work & I hope your business continues to grow successfully. Cheers!

Crystal Clear

Fleazool's picture
Fleazool's picture
Fleazool commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 12:13pm

Yes you could wind back the free content a bit so us subscribers feel a bit better about paying. Either way I don't really care & have been happily paid up for a while now. Being able to plan things (work/missus/kids etc) around prime opportunities for waves over the coming weeks for me is priceless.

MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 12:13pm

I've been retired for 4 years now after living at 2464 for 13 years and thanks to my swellnet subscription I'm living the dream.

Being based in Melbourne for the last 2 years bonding with 2 grandkids and 2 years before that doing the same with 2 grandkids in Adelaide plus my hometown at 2291, I can plan visits to my favourite surf locations.

Stu's articles are varied, informative and discuss current trends in surfing. The comments are usually insightful, appropriate and funny.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 1:38pm

Hey Ben,

Is it still the case that the annual subs "rolls over" automatically or am I barking up the wrong tree? I have another on-line subs and with them I need to advise them beforehand not to renew my membership otherwise I'm billed for another 12 months.

This really annoys me as a matter of principle I don't like any form of automatic billing like Bpay for regular household bills. I use Bpay for all regular bills but I just like locking myself in.

If Swellnet uses this automatic rollover system (I can't remember if you do or not) can I suggest an opt in or opt out field when starting or renewing a membership. Even a reminder email that the subs was about to end/be renewed would be good.

Cheers

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 1:45pm

The Ts and Cs state that they do auto-renew. All you have to do is log in and cancel your sub. You'll still have access for the rest of your subscription period but it simply won't renew once it expires.

Re: reminder email - that's a good idea.. though is it really necessary for monthly subs? (We don't offer the annual subs any more but are happy to keep existing annual subs on that plan until they choose to switch to monthly).

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 2:48pm

Thanks for the clarification Ben, I'll "cancel" my annual subs now and when it expires in a few months I'll renew via monthly.

inzider's picture
inzider's picture
inzider commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 5:13pm

I like swellnet for its writing by stu etc and your lack of censorship and colourful forums.
As for your forcast for where I live in NZ you would have to pay me to use it.
Id give you a dollar a week so long as the likes of stu keeps writing for ya.

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 8:34am

Surf2surf.co.nz now has a paywall so there's no free reports anymore

insidz what part of NZ are you in and what forecast do you use....??

SN NZ forecast is pretty spot on.

Interested to know, cheers.

Mick Free FIFOFOMO

groperbaby's picture
groperbaby's picture
groperbaby commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 5:37pm

I'm an ocean swimmer at Bondi and use Swellnet every day to check out the conditions. It's very accurate and extremely helpful. 'Good' days for boards mean less than ideal days for swimmers and vice-versa. I prefer swimming when conditions allow me to swim across the bay without being bombed out by waves and boards on the way out and way in.
(There are too many boards at Bondi these days but that's another rant for another day).
I have just signed up to pay the monthly fee because I appreciate being able to plan my swims.
Big question, would appreciate someone from Swellnet replying:
How about a blue-bottle report along with the surf report? Would be excellent and add to your already excellent site.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 5:52pm

Good suggestion re: bluebottle report, I'll have a think about how we can implement it.

groperbaby's picture
groperbaby's picture
groperbaby commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 8:58pm

Thanks thermalben, I'm sure there's a way
cheers

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 5:49pm

Nice representation of surfing on Swellnet. Accurate forecasts . Humble , considered , witty, informative and entertaining editorials.

Where else is documenting the current and historical footprint of the surfing culture like Swellnet ?

What's not to like ?

You've got my money.

Get a dog up ya*

* if you're not willing to stump up a few dollars you tight bastard.

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 7:46pm

I was a subscriber, for quite a while...was generally happy...

But when you give too much away, my hand starts hovering over the unsubscribe button. It happened for months...too much pleb guide, uneccesary photo captions...

Then the Lennox cam pushed me over the line...unsubscribed

alsurf's picture
alsurf's picture
alsurf commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 7:56pm

Have been a subscriber now for around 6 months among other subscriptions I have . This only rates second to Spotify only because I work more than I surf .

Love the forecast notes and the long range charts even if the long term events don't always turn out its good to keep the froth at high levels .

alsurf's picture
alsurf's picture
alsurf commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 7:58pm

If anything the Lennox cam made me happy to be a subscriber just so it shit of the righteous locals at Lennox

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 8:09pm

You would you muppet.

Lennox crew live there cause surfing is more important than work.

Back to your cubicle.

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:43pm

No one owns nature. It's called respect. Give it to receive it....

Crystal Clear

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:39pm

Exactly Rabbit!!

That's why everyone and anyone should have to think long and hard about installing 24 hour surveillance on something that's not theirs just to make a quick buck

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 11:40pm

Yeah I hear ya Skypan. IMO observing nature is fine (via camera or however) but when humans think they own it, that's just ego out of control. Share the experience with those who show respect.....

Crystal Clear

big-al's picture
big-al's picture
big-al commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:16pm

Ben, like your well written call to action. It wasn't long ago that living 25min to beach made it difficult to read the weather/synoptics and work out - do I or don't I. As a couple of other crew have said - you save us time, and time is money. Shark Island cam and the Point are your critical big points of difference. You need to protect these where possible. What are the other points of difference everyone loves?

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:22pm

We need to have a talk about how I can't resubscibe. I am freaking out! It says I have canceled, but I am still valid!

I may have been a little bit drunk and confused the computer, like payed double, I love youse guys!

But, I want to be in the comp, so sort it out.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:43pm

I've sorted it out for you mate.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Saturday, 15 Jul 2017 at 10:45pm

Lots of good things about swellnet but from a surf day trip planning viewpoint surfcams are the main thing long term to hold people. Lots of other content seems to pop up on 10 different sites. Bom.gov tells me enough for free. But a few more cams in the less populated states and areas would be great. You dont need to do the lennox type drama location. Just at strategic places that show swell and wind for an area. Some areas are very underserviced still.

Frogg

Badrse's picture
Badrse's picture
Badrse commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 6:57am

Best and most accurate forecast available, more than happy to pay for the expert advice, cams and articles. Keep up the great work, fingers crossed for Nias!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 7:42am

Gotta say, I'm really thankful for everyone's comments - good and bad (though it's pleasing to see the vast majority is incredibly supportive).

I've also had an enormous amount of email feedback (as we sent this article to our entire database on Friday afternoon) so I've been personally replying to everyone as quickly as I can. Again, the email feedback has been overwhelmingly positive too.

Thanks again for everyone's opinions and suggestions, we welcome it all. I'm really looking forward to pushing ahead with these new products and ideas over the coming weeks and months.

Cooter26's picture
Cooter26's picture
Cooter26 commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 8:08am

Ben,
Your work and site is excellent and note you've received some great feedback from customers. I've seen a few comments from people like myself - love their surfing but due to things like family commitments (or even visitors) don't get out very often. Have you thought also having pay per view for the premium service at a higher premium- (eg 50c not sure what that figure is as a sweetspot?) on demand? I'm thinking that your market is bigger than subscription only. Just trying to think of ways to lower the barriers and capture as many customers to pay something for your valuable service.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 8:14am

Thanks mate.. do you mean like a daily on-demand PPV service?

Yes we have looked at that and are looking to roll it out as an App-only feature.

The only sticking issue is that we'd have to charge through the Apple Store - and they take 30% - so that bumps up the price (so, for "50c per day", we'd only receive 35c, then deduct GST etc.. ain't much left after that to pay for the provision of services).

That's why we feel $8.95 per month - or around two bucks a week - is the best price point. 

But you're right - there s an untapped market for people who don't necessarily want to "subscribe" but may want to access a particular forecast or surfcam on-demand when the surf is good, or if they're planning a strike mission somewhere.

Cooter26's picture
Cooter26's picture
Cooter26 commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 7:59pm

Yes - a pay per view service. This is simply as an alternative to tap the non-subscriber market. For some, the regular $8.95 per month may not be attractive (at some point those who don't want to subscribe switch). I probably used the wrong amount when I suggested $50c. It could and should be more $$ for a 'view' and the 'premium' that those customers are prepared to pay for not subscribing to a regular service they don't need/value. 

What I think you have is a 'pricing problem' - you seem to have everything else right about your value chain except you aren't sure how to charge, who to charge and how to charge for it.  I'm suggesting that you take time to look at the options (if you haven't already) because this appears to be quite critical for SN.  

I'm not sure how far you are down the track of all this (and I'm worried that I'm sounding patronising- be assured that I'm not trying to be). Your email/blog and the positive responses really struck a chord so I guess I'm putting my 2 cents worth in. Trust me, this is the first time I've responded to anything. 

PS- there a lot of passionate people who want to help you and see you succeed (there are some things people have raised which are great insights) so rest assured that you have a good following and customer base. You just need to tap them in the right way for the money. It's important to take the time to get this right.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 8:01pm

Thanks Cooter.. really appreciate your insights. Some great info there.

Reefeater's picture
Reefeater's picture
Reefeater commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 8:56am

I was a tightarse, now I'm not. I felt bad reading these comments. Keep up the good work. Only problem with it is the guy who does the morning report in my area must be a midgit, as he loves over calling wave size. The guy on the other site usually is spot on.......

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 9:12am

Thanks mate. Which coast are you on?

Reefeater's picture
Reefeater's picture
Reefeater commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 9:21am

From the Newcastle area Ben. I'd say the report is often done in the dark, under the influence or from the doona covers.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 9:34am

Our Newy reporter Dave supplies photos with his reports though, so you can cross check the size reference yourself. However, we do need to touch base with all of our reporters on a more regular basis so I'll make sure we address this (and any other) issues.

We've also got an upcoming article on our surf rating methodology that I'd like everyone's (i.e. readers) opinions on too.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 10:01am

I don't care if there's a photo or not, but why does the Ballina report always say 'come back for the updated photo report at 8am' and there is never a photo?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 10:09am

It's an auto reference added to every dawn report (as is the text "Dawn Report" at the start of the text). We're overhauling some of this in the coming months too - we have some new surf report products to push live.

Reefeater's picture
Reefeater's picture
Reefeater commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 9:48am

Hahaha..... Im well aware of who it is Ben. Just didnt want to go there.

campbell's picture
campbell's picture
campbell commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 11:13am

Not sure if its relevant to your figures Ben but you might well find that some(perhaps many?) contributors are a subscriber on one hand but also may have other Swellnet identities , so one paid up and one (or several even) running freeload, so hard to pin your actual numbers down I imagine

...

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 11:22am

Yeah it's no biggie.. contributors as a percentage of our members (paid or unpaid) is tiny.

bolts's picture
bolts's picture
bolts commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 11:52am

Joining up now mate. Have always clicked on the ads on your site but perhaps, like others, do not know how the business is really doing unless explicity told. Hats off to you for the honest Swellnet update. Big thanks to all of the Swellnet crew for all of the great content, photos, stories and surf forecasts over the years. Cheers from South Oz.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 12:31pm

Ben, would have appreciated an email saying my subscription was coming up, but otherwise it's ok. It's just a courtesy to do so, and for others may be an issue of cash-flow in their accounts.

One of my greatest gripes is the RMS toll payments system, where they take the money out with no up front advice. Of course, last time it happened my card had been hacked, I closed the account, RMS sends through a debit at the same time and I get hit for fees by them for non-payment. I hate paying bank fees, just on principle.

Paypal option is a good idea too.

As for the service, well I'm just doing it to support the site. I see the ocean every day and do my own forecasting based on publicly available charts, and just check your commentary for confirmation or to see if there is something I haven't picked up. If you and all the forecasting sites went belly up I'd still know what was coming, but others would miss out.

Good luck with it all Ben, Craig, Stu. Keep the stories coming, Stu's work is great and Craig's photo journals also add a lot of value, and I'm sure that Craig then makes his weekend forays up and down the coast tax deductible as a business expense. Nice work, if you can get it.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 12:31pm

Oh, and the captcha shit is really annoying.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 12:57pm

Yeah we know (it affects things at our end too, and gives me the shits!). It has massively stopped the SPAM issues we were having though. However we are looking to implement a different version in the future - i.e. Anyone registered for more that a few months and has commented more than a dozen time doesn't have to go through the system, because we know the account is legit. That will require more dev work though.

SA Wetdog's picture
SA Wetdog's picture
SA Wetdog commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 1:27pm

Just want to say thanks for the site Ben, I check it everyday. It has helped me get away from the wife and kids on a quick mission to get better quality waves many times here in SA. My usual line goes "have a look at the forecast, its the best swell of the year! I have to go". So I have finally stopped being a tight arse and am happy to pay up.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 at 4:52pm

@Ben

Check out Strava. Starva allows cyclists, runners, swimmers etc to plot their performance on an individual level but also against other athletes in their chosen sport(s). .......... anyway, they have 2 levels of membership (1.) free with good but not ideal options and (2) paid which gives you all membership options. My point: the paid up members have a small Strava symbol next to their on-line name so all members can see if they are paid up or a tight arse. Now I'm sure Strava have their own reasons for this slight difference but as a paid member I like it and maybe its something to consider for Swellnet.

Also, have a look at The Age on-line, you get 30 free visits a month before access is supposedly blocked, jeez all you have to do is go onto private browsing and access is restored. I'm not suggesting you do this for Swellnet but there maybe some creative ways to allow access you might consider.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 5:51am

Thanks mate, we've ummed and ahhed about whether publicising people's subscription status is beneficial (or detrimental), and its somehting we may consider doing. Not to shame anyone, but to show new users the large degree of support we have from other surfers. 

Interesting re: Strava too - quite a few people have brought up their model elsewhere too. They must be doing something right (I ain't a cyclist though). 

 

unreelkneel's picture
unreelkneel's picture
unreelkneel commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 8:30am

Did I hear cycling? I am a cyclist and a kneeboarder (stand-up until r/knee gave out:) and will soon be a subscriber. I don't know much about Strava but do use several other ride building sites e.g. map my ride (US based?) and bikemap (Euro based). These sites utilise user input i.e. cyclists do all the "leg work" putting in detail about various rides. The rides are then posted with GPS? based detail about distance, elevation, gradients added by the website. Map my ride in particular pushes into other activities e.g. map my run. Judging from the feedback by several punters on subs issue, swimming & SUP etc there could be value here for swellnet. I have enjoyed the Swellnet journey (for free) keep up the good work!

Neale WW

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 8:36am

The difference is that user-generated surf reports and forecasts are too inconsistent, and too fickle to be truly relied on. A surf report is only useful for a short period of time, whereas a mapped "ride" from a cyclist is valuable for an indefinite period of time.

In order to produce a reliable service, all surf content (be it a report, forecast, model graph or a live surfcam) needs to be available all the time, and updated every day (with the exception of our Forecaster Notes, in which it's not cost effective to produce more than three times per week).

When a user logs on to Swellnet (during daylight hours), they should expect to be able to see all of that content. It's simply not feasible to expect the general public to provide it for free. Hence why a number of surf websites that previously employed this kind of approach are now no longer viable.

unreelkneel's picture
unreelkneel's picture
unreelkneel commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 10:21am

Hi Thermalben, I see your point about the variability of surf reports on one hand and the reliability of mapping a bike route on the other. My thoughts (now subscribed) were about appealing to a wider audience, might be a business strategy decision as opposed to a forecasting one? Although an interesting point is raised here about how to combine forecasting and "live" user feedback. Best, Unreelkneel.

Neale WW

timmythereformedkook's picture
timmythereformedkook's picture
timmythereformedkook commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 9:52am

Ben, I'm not a hater, and I know i'm going to get jumped on by all the crew around here, but honestly the services provided here just aren't worth a subscription for me.

The model generated forecast screen is honestly not super accurate, or at least doesn't provide sufficient detail to be meaningfully accurate. When I was living in Bondi the models just flat out missed a number of swells. I can remember a few times when the model said 1 - 2 foot and Bondi was closing out at 4 feet of straight south swell. I'm not criticising you or the team, I get that this is very difficult to do. But if you cant be confident in the information you are getting then its value diminishes. After being burned a few times I learned to just check the surf no matter what the models said. Now I live in Victoria the models don't miss swells but often are off by 2 feet+ (on the peninsula anyway). This really doesn't make swellnet's week long forecast any more accurate or useful than any of the information available at any of the other free, computer generated sites, including NOAA.

The forecaster notes are interesting, but I'm 10 mins from the palaces I surf so I don't plan a week ahead. This may be useful for the Melbourne/Brisbane/Western Sydney surfer, but that also means the crowd numbers do go up on the days you guys say it will be pumping. Again, not worth paying for, for me, and if you made it subscription only then it may reduce the crowds on those days.

The surf-cams are nice, but the ads are a pain and there are plenty of other places which have surf-cam feeds - trigger bros has ad-free feeds of most of the major breaks on the peninsula. Only still shots, but free.

The reason I come here is because of the observed reports, but as cool as these are they are subjective and I've had plenty of days which have been rated at 7/10 been almost un-surfable at most of the places I surf. I don't trust them either. For me the morning ritual is the SN observed report, then a check of the Point Nepean and (sometimes) Cape Sorell Bouy data which just flat out tells you what energy is in the water and coming from where, and a willy weather wind forecast which is much more detailed than SNs.

These services are just not worth $100 considering what else is out there. And at the moment, all I would get access to is a long range forecast which is no more accurate or useful than the Magic Seaweed forecast, which is free.

If you want subscriptions you need to provide a service which is worth it, especially in relation to your competitors. What does swellnet provide which can justify $100 a year when there is so much information available??? Answering that question would get you more subscriptions, just asking for money honestly doesn't leave the best impression. I might be interested in giving you a donation, but it wouldn't be anything more than charity honestly. If the current model isn't working as well as you would like, or at least isn't providing enough revenue for expansion, then you need to innovate. This post isn't innovation.

And lastly, you misrepresent the situation when you say that we should be supporting surf media by subscriptions - our consumption gives you money. We do support you simply by providing the place with traffic, which is how you justify your advertising, which i'm sure has provided you with the bulk of your revenue historically. None of us have to be here and, honestly, if you made the place subscription only or limited access I just would not come, and I doubt i'm the only one.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 10:08am

Thanks for the feedback mate - we appreciate all input, be it positive or negative.

Whilst I disagree with most of your points, I am also aware that it's impossible to please everyone. We'll certainly take your comments on board as we continually upgrade and improve our services over the coming months and years. Hopefully down the track you'll see some value in subscribing to Swellnet.

vesi's picture
vesi's picture
vesi commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 10:49am

Figuring out how to prioritise subscription or ad based revenue must be a nightmare and a risky guessing game when it comes to transitioning weight between the two. I am a long time user, now charitable subscriber. I say charitable not because I think the content in itself is unworthy of payment, but rather why pay when it’s free? I have had no need to upgrade to pro. Now that it seems Swellnet is moving to subscriptions I am happy to pay, I know the content is good. But how do you get new visitors to see the value? Metered paywall or freemium type services might work but they could threaten Swellnet's community interaction, which Is one of it’s most attractive and unique qualities. I think the forecasting, cams and reports need to remain largely free. Then build Swellnet as a brand and content outside of that, and charge for that. It’s like a service station, people are there for fuel, but they make their money from everything else. We come for the forecast - now get us to stay for everything else. Whatever new direction you take, I wish you the best of luck. I sincerely appreciate the website.

P.S. As has been said above, definitely need a Paypal option.

freerider.'s picture
freerider.'s picture
freerider. commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 11:07am

I've 'never' looked at a surf forecast on Swellnet, I just like to read it for some of the depth in their articles and their somewhat intelligent comment section. Swellnet seemed to be the only one giving honest viewer information when the WSL took over claiming (falesly?]) millions of viewers. You couldn't find that anywhere else. Don't know what's going to happen here--but I'm going to make a 'contribution'...Stu and blind boy keep up the good work...

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 11:41am

Swellnet is the only place on earth where you'll get all the Gary you can handle for the measly sum of $8.95 per month.

If that doesn't up the subscriber rates, let's talk about a 24hr GaryCam so people can check the Gary conditions any time they want. You may need to upgrade your servers to handle the traffic though.

When I get that feelin',
I need: Ga-ry-G healin'
Ga-ry-G,
healin baaaaby; it's good for us.
When I need chin-ups

Larry Lee's picture
Larry Lee's picture
Larry Lee commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 11:45am

Too Far Gary .... too Far .

Gary, now I know I was wrong
I messed up and now you're gone
Gary, I'm sorry I neglected you
Oh, I never expected you to run away
And leave me feeling this empty
Please come home 'cause I miss you, Gary
Gary, come home
Gary, come home

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 9:39am

Sorry Larry, I only just came out of the tanning salon after making my earlier post so missed your reply. Gary likes your adoption of the Gary G Siren call as your signature (the aim of Gary's training regime is to emulate Sir Squarepants' incredible figure)

I take it you are suggesting that Gary has gone too far in his offer of content for the measly price of $8.95 per month?

This is what makes it such a privilege to be a swellnet sponsor: More Gary, more of the time.

When I get that feelin',
I need: Ga-ry-G healin'
Ga-ry-G,
healin baaaaby; it's good for us.
When I need chin-ups

nicolas _nsr's picture
nicolas _nsr's picture
nicolas _nsr commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 2:05pm

Hi Ben,
I'm not a member, basically (like other people have mentioned) bcs all the info that I want is for out there for free and I'm a tight arse =P
I do find the info here awesome and I think you guys do a great work, like written reports and articles, so I could be a potential customer one day =)
Maybe a way to approach different type of potential customers would be to have different member categories? something like:
free - you only get the model info (swell, wind, tide ) but no text or comments
bronze member - free + written report and photos + limited access to articles/forums
silver - bronze + no adds in webcams + full access to articles/forums
gold - silver + tools to make the forums more user-friendly or exclusive? like fav topics, private messages, chat, etc

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 2:24pm

Thanks for the suggestion Nicolas.

We've discussed that kind of tiered approach, but have decided to keep it simple. Knocking a dollar off here or there is unlikely to make that much of a difference (revenue wise) and it's a pain (and also a considerable expense) for us to intricately configure everything at our end.

As an example, Spotify and Netflix - both of which I have subscriptions for (amongst a large number of other subs) - have very simple strategies.

Netflix has three prices - the more you pay only increases the quality of the stream (SD to HD to Ultra HD, where available), and the number of concurrent screens (1, 2 or 4).

Spotify has a simple choice - free with ads, or paid without ads.

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roubydouby commented Monday, 17 Jul 2017 at 8:49pm

I've been using Swellnet since the early 2000's, way back when I started learning to surf on the Mid. Later, other services were used for heading west of Adelaide (more than a few communal Buoyweather passwords got abused), but for the Mid and Victor Swellnet was always the mainstay, purely for the depth of the forecast notes. I dare say a large portion of my meteorological knowledge has stemmed from reading and thinking about them.

It's well and truly time I assuage the guilt I feel at not being a member and put things right.
Thanks for the years of service and apologies for not doing this earlier.

PS. Anyone remember the travel article Ben wrote about a trip to Costa Rica?

Results may vary.

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thermalben commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 10:05am

Wow.. you have a good memory! I did that trip in '98. I think the story first appeared on the Line Up website, may have also been published in the Southern Surfer too.

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roubydouby commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 10:36am

As a new surfer I was pretty impressionable and hungry for knowledge. For some some reason it stuck with me.

Speaking of nostalgia, Looks like Christies has a wave today. Used to love that wave.
Every time I'm back home I kind of hope for a stormy.

Results may vary.

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loungelizard commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 9:44am

long-time lurker... same as mr roubydouby, dont think i have missed a day of barreling dribbleton for years courtesy of the surfcam! and good for west coast..

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loungelizard commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 9:50am

sorry, that is a yes to subscribing finally, had justified inertia in the sure and certain knowledge i was indirectly supporting a large number of the forum contributors .. but clearly this is little comfort to your team. keep up the good work

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tango commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 1:30pm

I may well end up subscribing at some stage, but I won't do it lightly.

I enjoy some of the content and use the forecasts and check the cameras etc, but I'm not sure that I'm comfortable contributing to the profound change we are seeing in surfing which is exacerbated by surf forecasting and reporting.

Some will see these comments as negative, as they have to do with genuine concerns that I know lots of others who don;t have time/interest to post share with me, but I'd encourage you to think about them.

Everyone I know in the water is increasingly fed up with the effect surf forecasting and reporting is having on crowd numbers. Anecdotally, it is a no-brainer: the call is made several days in advance and the crowds increase. Everyone sees the effect clearly. I'm not sure that a business like Swellnet (or any other which is run by people simply wanting to make a living from surfing) is entitled to impact on surfers and surfing like this. On this and other issues, Timmythereformedkook makes some excellent points.

The impact of the forecasts is indisputable - Blindo, for example, admits he'd be flying blind without forecasts and actively uses them to schedule time off work. The problem is, everybody's doing exactly this. Even the middling days are crowded now, especially if they've been subject to the usual hype a week out and crew can;t re-adjust the day off they've organised.

I think it is one thing to drive a business based on exploring the art of surfing and even reporting on/analysing the circus of competition. Many others do this. However, surf reporting and forecasting do little else than "provide too much pleb guide.." as Symkan so eloquently puts it. As a result, and as I have said on other posts and email, crowds are increasing. This seems to be a complete sell-out of the core values of surfing, especially when even Swellnet openly laments the crazy crowds at different breaks. Seems pretty hypocritical to me.

I'm also pretty concerned at the likely future suggested in another of Blindo's comments, where he says “If you made people pay for the forecast notes and 5 day forecast then you'd have the whole surfing population by the balls.” Indeed you would, because you'd be effectively in the driver's seat for directing crowds to given locales at best and spots at worst, as has been done frequently in Victoria. Competition between all the forecasting sites will inevitably lead to greater detail and tips to retain that leading edge....in order to be the best, what's next? Where is the accuracy and 24/7 nature of things is going to get us?

I probably said this on another post, but I think you have bolted into this because you can, rather than stopping to think whether you should. While some in the commercial contingent of surfing and those without any interest in gaining their stripes will be pleased, I wonder whether this direction will be remembered in future for its positive or negative contribution to surfing.

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Blowin commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 3:42pm

Tango , I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you say except .....

Except that someone is going to sell surfing for money . In fact the commercialisation of surfing has become so complete that an entire generation of surfers has been raised on the parasitic media attached to the self interested posse of the surf co's and their paid cool kid rippers who have created a culture whereby any dissent from the exploitation of surfing is seen as redneck Luddite behaviour.

A world where people openly refer to growing the sport ie saturating lineups to the point where no one enjoys it -as the ultimate goal and one we should all aspire to.

So the best we can do now is manage the problem.

In that vein Swellnet is actually our best hope. Name one other Surf media that displays not only the restraint of Swellnet in exposing spots , generality of locations in forecasts etc but also attempts to educate surfers and reinspire the culture of restraint .

Two examples spring to mind : The removal of the Lennox surf cam and the mention by the Swellnet editor ( Stu Nettle ) in the recent article regarding Fannings sand point video and how it's a good thing that videographers / photographers could learn discretion in their job to prevent spots from overexposure.

In short - Someone's gonna do it . May as well be people whose hearts are in the right place and who genuinly realise the negative impacts of media over reach.

Plus it's a great site !

Where else is an opinionated wanker such as myself going to get to add their 2 cents worth to considered discussions on the surf world we love so much ?

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tango commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 11:06pm

I'd have to agree that the team's editorial tendencies are pretty loose allowing blokes like you their 2 cents worth, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

I'm with you about it being a great site - heaps of interesting info and perspectives that an overage grom like me can get stuck into - and that we need to manage the problem.

But I disagree with you about Swellnet's awareness about both media over-reach and the culture of restraint. In my opinion, surf forecasting and the publication of surf reports and cams is the antithesis of restraint and the perfect example of over-reach.

I'd suggest White Horses as the benchmark these days, though Gra could get the photogs to crop a few more inches off a few shots which give the avid google earther a bit too much info. Like swellnet, they're a committed bunch of zealots - the difference is that they don't forecast/report and as such have an overwhelmingly positive impact.

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nogo commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 4:35pm

I only come here for the comments....

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Feralkook commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 6:31pm

I have no issue with paying for an information service that I use and find worth it, this is Australia, nobody likes a bludger. However if information that is relevant and valuable to me is withheld by that service I am not likely to subscribe, information is king and this is a user pays society. Personally, I would prefer whilst still oozing kook germs not to be surfing more popular breaks on a good day, I want alternatives so I am not in the way and can get a decent wave to learn on and enjoy myself, simple as that.

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thermalben commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 6:51pm

Sorry fella, I can't quite understand what your saying - the first and second sentences kinda contradict themselves. 

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Feralkook commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 5:26pm

Yea sorry about that I was pretty tired when I wrote it.
Ok, so when images of good waves are posted with a forecast the location is not disclosed, reason for this, "crowd control". As a subscriber I would expect full disclosure of good breaks and suggestions of alternative breaks, not protectionism. I am new to this state so I need all the help I can get, which I am happy to pay for as I said. But if the service does not deliver the level of information I am after there is no incentive to subscribe. I will still have to get out, drive to the coast from Brisbane and do the rounds as I do now. So here is another idea, this forum is full of smart people, instead of asking for more subs, maybe run a competition, ask the punters to provide some innovative ideas and solutions to the problem, see if the sponsors would be happy to stump up a killer prize. Best proposal if accepted wins. If it was me I would be approaching the local TAFE and ask them if they have some marketing students who would like to tackle the problem, that wont cost you anything because they do it as a final project in their Diploma studies. You may be surprised at the results, try the local universities, they have plenty of students who would be happy to do this sort of thing as part of a major project. It is a win all round for the business and the students who get to consult for real clients, valuable experience and looks good on their CV. There are other organisations you could engage with such as the "Young entrepreneurs" and the like. But I still believe there is a significant amount of SME knowledge among the users, maybe get a focus group of non paying and paying customers together and talk to them. Do a survey and elicit more feedback that way, some people might be flame shy in the forum.

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alsurf commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 8:57pm

I'm with you nogo . I love the wams and forcast notes but the comment section at the bottom of forcast notes in anticipation for a good swell or any other article is what I read the most.

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staitey commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 10:57pm

.

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tango commented Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 at 11:21pm

Geez, it's somehow disappeared in the post feed on my screen, but I did want to say that another poster a few after my original had some great points.

The additional issue that arises with their post for me is to do with conducting what effectively amounts to a commercial operation on public land.

In Victoria and other states, the coastal Crown land is owned by the state on behalf of the people. Commercial activities have to pay to play e.g. tour buses at Bells, weddings on the foreshore, triathlons etc. The key precedent occurs through commercial photographers who take pictures of public land assets being required to pay for the access, as the live video feeds are essentially doing the same thing. I can;t see the arrangements the camera operators have in place with surf clubs (who enjoy privileged access to the coast for peppercorn rents) as being relevant, as the actual footage is of the near-shore and marine environment which is outside the SLSC lease area.

I'm curious as to whether Swellnet pays for its video feeds of surf breaks, as they're a commercial use of a public asset. With the push toward subscriber-only access to these feeds, this will need to be addressed.

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thermalben commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 7:36am

I'm not going to go into specifics, but yes - we do pay locations to install our surfcams.

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tango commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 8:56am

Thanks Ben. I'd have expected payment to the locations for the physical hosting of the camera and transmission.

The other component of this is as I said: the product you are commercialising (the surf zone) is a public asset whose commercial use is subject to regulation, permits and access fees to ensure that impacts are minimised and the taxpayer receives a benefit. The hosting location would be very unlikely to have such commercial operations included in their Crown land lease.

It seems only fair to me that if the cams/feeds are commercialised outright then there should be some return to the State to contribute to managing the situation. This is even more relevant in light of the evidence that the reports and cams are having a direct influence on beach visitation and increasing use of carparks, toilets, etc.

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sypkan commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 9:09am

I like this thinking

So swellnet should be subscribing me?

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thermalben commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 11:54am

Tango, I appreciate your interest in the government setting up an exclusive tax for surfcam websites - which would affect two Australian companies, and less than a dozen internationally - however I refer you back to the start of my article.

Swellnet was an unpaid hobby for several years, and since Stu came on board in around '08, I've taken on board two more full time staff, for a total of four full time staff. That's (on average) one new person every three years.

I'm not sure how much $$ you think the government would extract from Swellnet by way of a tax or levy (noting that this would pave the way for many other small businesses to pay similar levies).

However, if company taxes are of interest to you, in the short term I'd recommend that the government prioritise addressing the multinational tax evasion that's been occurring for a long time. I refer you to Michael West's incredible website here (which I am a subscriber to, incidentally).

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/

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tango commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 12:47pm

OK, Ben, let me say good on you for starting up a business, agree that you blokes write some great stuff, and acknowledge that the contributions/comments provide a great forum for discussion. All good. I think the journalism side of your business is a plus.

But I'm not sure you're seeing the point here.

Firstly, it's not an "exclusive tax" - it's a statutory, established and very common approach to managing commercial gain from public assets, and firmly entrenched on the coast around Australia. Secondly, many other small businesses who operate profit-making ventures through the utilisation of public land and/or resources already pay some form of rent - levies, fees, royalties, call them what you like. Hardly paving the way, more like established practice being applied to a more recent commercial use which has thus far flown under the radar. I've no idea off the top of my head what an appropriate rent would be, but in the context of a business model the primary resource Swellnet uses to generate profit is the beach and clean, which are currently free and treated as an externality. Everyone's familiar with that concept these days thanks to climate change.

Company tax is of interest to me, but quite irrelevant here as that's not what I'm on about at all. And Michael West is a legend, to be sure. I reckon you blokes write some interesting stuff, too, though perhaps not of the import he does.

But the point is
a) you're asking people to pay for services you provide - reporting/forecasting one one hand and surf journalism on the other
b) you seem unwilling to acknowledge, let alone address, the impact your forecasting and reporting has on surfing via the crowding issue
c) your reporting has strong commercial implications for your business model and is underpinned by relatively exclusive access (through your own investment, granted) to a public resource for which there is long-established precedent for recompense.
d) Surely, if you are asking people to pay for your service you should also be willing to pay for the "service" provided by the public land/water on which your business relies. Goose...gander...all that stuff?

I know, we could have debated all this over a beer, alas.....

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jonok commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 1:38pm

So by your reckoning, anybody who takes a photo or video of nature (or has nature in the background), and then profits from it, needs to pay a tax to the state? Surf photographers won't enjoy that. Actually, a lot of photographers won't.

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tango commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 10:15am

Well, according to the rules which exist now and are applied to many other situations (surf schools, fitness/bootcamps, educational activities, etc), those making a commercial return from public land are expected to get a permit to do it. Some of those activities attract more significant fees than others. In theory surf photogs are subject to it, but they're relatively mobile and low profile so you would;t expect the state to chase them. Of course nobody much enjoys paying for anything, especially when the thing which allows them to make a living (the beach/coast and surf) has been provided free for so long. Most other businesses have to pay for their working capital.

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thermalben commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 2:51pm

Again, I appreciate your attention to detail, but it ain't like Swellnet has created rivers of gold that is somehow denying the taxpayer a rightful source of revenue.

You're also implying that surfcams generate the bulk of our traffic, and/or revenue. The fact is that they are a small (and disproportionately expensive to run) percentage of the business.

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tango commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 10:33am

I'm not suggesting there are rivers of gold. You would;t be going cap-in-hand to the crew if there were (or you'd have a thick hide to try).

I'm not trying to imply that cams generate the bulk of anything at your end - that's you inferring. And I am not implying that cams generate the bulk of surfers visiting the coast.

But I am directly suggesting (not implying) that reports and cams have a significant and largely detrimental impact through increasing crowds, and that your provision of that service appears to fly in the face of the surfing culture which you claim to support through your journalism. I am also directly suggesting that you operate a commercial business which provides a service that relies on public assets which you currently do not pay for, and your comments and responses clearly indicate you are unaware of this potentially applying to you.

You've got a lot of comments above and have provided a lot of responses, but I'd appreciate direct responses from you about the points I'm being straight up about, not the peripheral things I might/might not be implying.

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thermalben commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 11:03am

Quote: "that you operate a commercial business which provides a service that relies on public assets which you currently do not pay for".

I do pay for them, as I have stated before. 

So, to address your points from earlier:

a) you're asking people to pay for services you provide - reporting/forecasting one one hand and surf journalism on the other

Yes, I am asking people to pay for services we provide. You've stated that I have gone "cap-in-hand to the crew", which is actually a misunderstanding of the article's intention. I was encouraged to write this article after being reminded yet again by the perilous state of media in general, and also by the lack of information around how Swellnet runs as a business. I thought the time was right to address both of those points in one.

You'll note that the article included the following towards the end: "But… and here comes the rub… please consider subscribing to something, be it Surfline, Magic Seaweed, Coastalwatch, White Horses, Tracks Magazine or anyone else - if you use their services, show your support by giving them some of your hard-earned."

b) you seem unwilling to acknowledge, let alone address, the impact your forecasting and reporting has on surfing via the crowding issue

You seem to have swung the narrative from a "concerned taxpayer" to an "irate local surfer". Additionaly, you haven't asked a question but instead made a statement. Are numbers in the water increasing? Yes. Is Swellnet the sole, underlying source of this? No. 

c) your reporting has strong commercial implications for your business model and is underpinned by relatively exclusive access (through your own investment, granted) to a public resource for which there is long-established precedent for recompense.

Let's seperate the two issues here: "your reporting has strong commercial implications for your business model" is different from our surfcams.

Additionally, our "reporting" is not under any degree of "exclusive access". Anyone can create a surf report website, and write surf forecasts, if they choose. Indeed, many have.

Furthermore, I pay locations locations to put in my surfcams. As well as a location hosting fee, I also pay all camera hardware, installation and maintenance costs, plus the supply of an internet connection. 

d) Surely, if you are asking people to pay for your service you should also be willing to pay for the "service" provided by the public land/water on which your business relies.

See above.

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tango commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 3:19pm

Thanks for the response, Ben - I'll leave you alone after this.

- Yes, you pay for the surf club or other building to host the camera, but not for the activity or asset which the camera beams to Swellnet and which you then use to make money. See d).

a) The article may have been intended as you say, but I certainly interpreted it as a call to the audience to support the business which provides the service they value. Cap in hand may have been a stretch. It seems clear others (if not all) interpreted it in this way. Para re supporting others also noted (we have one with Horses).

b) I can;t see how you've reached that conclusion as my point is concerned with what is increasingly obvious: the "nothing to see here" approach. Still no acknowledgement or discussion of any real substance, I'm afraid, just the same old. I don;t understand why you see justification in not being the sole contributor to what is one of surfing's most pressing problems. The fact remains you have a role. My statement was one of several I was using to make a point, not intended as a question.

c) OK, I agree the reporting and cams are different, but they are strongly interdependent in most cases. Are you seriously suggesting that being an early entrant and stitching up the prime SLSC and other locations doesn't give you "relatively exclusive access"? Do you truly believe those clubs would allow other camera/reporting businesses to co-locate with you? It also raises the interesting question of whether you would be cool with other businesses beaming from the same location as you do. Payments - my point was not about the physical buildings as I already stated....it's about the public coast you broadcast thru your cameras, and the serious unlikelihood that this is covered in the lease areas of the buildings hosting the camera.

d) There's nothing in your response about this at all.

We're going to have to pursue this over a beer one day, I'll get a finger injury at this rate.

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thermalben commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 3:31pm

Tango, I'm happy to continue discussing this matter - I'm very open and transparent about my business - however you've made a lot of assumptions in your posts, and not really done enough research either. In the interests of not boring everyone to tears, I'll follow your lead and leave it there. But, let me know if you require any further clarification. Article comments or email is fine with me.

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tango commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 3:38pm

Righto, and I have indeed made a lot of assumptions. But in the context of research, what did you expect? I've worked in coastal management for 25 years, with a fair bit of homework (and formal research) behind me, including working on these very issues. You're my only source of info on swellnet, hence the questions to try and find out whether things are being considered, as the initial article did;t mention any of it. Are there other sources I can chase for info on your approach? Happy to look them up if you can direct me.

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thermalben commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 3:50pm

So you undertook some research before you posted all of the above?

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fong commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 12:13pm

I'll subscribe if you put the lennex head camera back on line?

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ljkarma commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 1:59pm

mmmmm Ben, your decision to write this piece will either be the best or worst business decision you could make. You have asked for financial support to run a business for profit and that now exposes you to be questioned as to the veracity of such a request if you wish to maintain the level of loyalty you are seeking.
Like many I enjoy SN, I do not subscribe because I do not look at surfcams on your site, only occasionally on CW who seem to have the superior coast coverage (correct me if wrong).
Tango has made intelligent and considered points and asked some very interesting questions, that IMHO, you should elaborate on because just saying "we do pay locations to install our surfcams" raises even more questions.
Like who do you pay?? Is it the indivdual surf clubs or the Council/ owner of the premises? What about privacy issues if someone on a public beach changes their kid in view of the camera? In other words what public protocolar in place for any of the 'surface' operators to have a licence/formal permits etc to sell information of public spaces for profit??
I, for one, would be pissed off to the max as a ratepayer who funds the local surf club, learns that those cubbies are pocketing the SN dollars you paid and not the Council who are charged with maintaining the whole beach, carpark, showers etc etc
I would be happy to contribute in some form to the ongoing enjoyment I derive from SN, but I need a reasonable amount of transparency as to where my buck goes.

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thermalben commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 2:56pm

As far as I am aware, Swellnet is one of the more transparent small businesses around. I'm happy to discuss anything that doesn't broach any typical commercial sensitivities.

On another note, are you applying the same level of scrutiny to my competitors?

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tango commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 10:46am

For the record, I'd be very happy to put the same queries I've raised to Coastalwatch. In my opinion they're in the same position, though they have diversified their operation to diversify their revenue base as I understand it (a friend used to work there).

We have an interesting case study here in Torquay/Jan Junc with both Swellnet (operating the camera from the surf club at Torquay Point) and Coastalwatch (at the surf club at Juc beach facing up all the reefs to Bells) providing live vision and reports. Both cameras operate in a similar fashion from the perspective of a run-of-the-mill viewer. However, a differentiating factor (on which I have posted before) is that the Swellnet reports have over recent years tended to provide direction to people on where to surf with far more specifics, while CW has been more general and reported on conditions rather than adding what kind of breaks the conditions are best for. Funnily enough, you have to pay to access the CW report now.....

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thermalben commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 11:07am

Can you provide examples of where Swellnet provides "direction to people on where to surf with far more specifics"?

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tango commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 3:31pm

I think one of my earlier emails (a couple of years ago now) to you blokes tempered the bloke doing reports here a bit, which was appreciated. He was naming breaks at one stage.

The content in the reports has moved to be directing people to the high/low tide breaks, the sheltered corners, etc. Pretty basic stuff, but surprisingly influential for those who seem unable to read a tide chart or tell which way the wind is blowing (cue: smart-arse remark about this whole issue).

My "specifics" stem from seeing several reports talking up a particular, and well-known, protected point down here which was noted by others in the carpark when talking about how crowded it was those days. Of course it's one of two or three real options in the region those days, but it doesn't need any more fame.

Even though most of the references are pretty general, the gradual refining of the content and incremental increases in detail still have the very likely effect of steering the masses closer to the mark and concentrating crowds. A bit like the boiling frog. In my opinion.

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thermalben commented Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 at 3:35pm

All of our archive Forecaster Notes are available to access on the site.. feel free to point out a specific incident, rather than making broad, sweeping generalisations.

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ljkarma commented Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 at 3:32pm

hey Ben I am not asking you to breach anything or having a go at SN. I am a fan!!
The post was sparked by the points Tango made and it made me wonder how the whole camera thing works financially as that is what you are selling and wanting to increase funding.
As I mentioned, by your request and, yes, your transparency requesting financial support via increased subscriptions, you opened the door to a reasonable level of scrutiny and whatever you competitors do or don't do might just get asked the same questions if they do what you have done.

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tango commented Friday, 21 Jul 2017 at 1:02pm

I've had a robust discussion with Ben via email outside this forum, and just want to make it clear that I am not accusing Swellnet of trying to avoid any kind of permit or payment for the operation of surf cams. To the best of my knowledge, there is no precedent for surf cams housed within an existing coastal structure to require explicit permission to operate outside the approvals already provided for that structure. I am not accusing Swellnet of any kind of misconduct or unethical behaviour in this regard.

However, as a long time coastal professional and observer, it is clear that visitation to the coast is increasing significantly. It is clear through all coastal arrangements that we have an obligation to ensure that visitation and the requisite infrastructure are managed properly, or we risk wrecking the very things we all value about the coast. Pressure to use the coast for commercial activities is increasing too, and much commercial activity has some (+/-) impact on other users of the coast and the coast itself. The combination of these factors suggests to me that it is only a matter of time before policy and awareness of drivers for coastal visitation catches up with reality. There are established processes for many forms of commercial activity on the coast as I said earlier (surf schools being a good example). As a result, I won;t be surprised to see things change for surf cams in the future. However, until that time, surf cameras, like many other commercial uses, would appear to be outside the recognised activities for permits etc.

I trust that clarifies my earlier comments.

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the-u-turn commented Friday, 21 Jul 2017 at 2:01pm

Two Bob's Worth. I remember the fax report, I never got it. Too old, and the young punks I know that were getting it - we're getting a ton of waves.

Growing up in SA you became a disciple of Keith Martin (yes, I bought the Almanac) on the nightly news and then along comes a young bloke who put some serious effort into this thing called 'forecasting'. SA did have a predecessor but the promise was a façade. Doing the dash to Yorkes, on a hope and a prayer and a little knowledge of Keefy talking about Hectopascal's didn't always deliver.

15 years on I'm yet to understand who has nailed the Australian coastline better, or more broadly, who has put the energy into forecasting and the community it has generated better than Swellnet. Like these bloody forums. I'm on the other side of this argument, I think the site gives away too much for free and the subscription model is too cheap. Way to cheap....

I imagine the onslaught of, as Jeremey Cordeaux would say, the public court of opinion will fire up again.....

The U Turn
...a little Aloha goes a long way.

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fong commented Friday, 21 Jul 2017 at 2:43pm

I'm taking you out of context I know, but the logical expansion of your thought is -

ONLY RICH PEOPLE SHOULD GET THE BEST WAVES??????

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the-u-turn commented Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 at 1:02pm

Fong, yelling at someone does not achieve a thing. If you don't want to pay for the service provided by Swellnet quite simply, turn off. There's always the BOM.

The U Turn
...a little Aloha goes a long way.

maddogmorley's picture
maddogmorley's picture
maddogmorley commented Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 at 8:54pm

No. The people with flexible schedules get the best waves. Nothing to do with money. Everyone in Australia has enough money to afford Swellnet subscription. Get a grip.

crustt's picture
crustt's picture
crustt commented Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 at 1:29pm

Will there be a discount if you have a healthcare card?

terrance's picture
terrance's picture
terrance commented Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 at 7:51pm

I'll pass paying as it has always primarily been free, so hence the intrinsic value will always be zero. You should have done better planning and develop a better business plan. Make it a pay only site and see if that works, as I said, like the WSL, if it ain't financially viable, it won't last. If it is, happy days for all of you.

That said, if you get rid of that paranoid rambler that is obsessed with US politics and that petetyblows bloke that wants to revive the third verse of Advance Australia Fair making it sound like a death metal festival who keeps saying "Discuss" after writing jibberish, I may reconsider.

Discuss...

drodders's picture
drodders's picture
drodders commented Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 at 8:13pm

Ben is PayPal coming? Would prefer.

Bindog's picture
Bindog's picture
Bindog commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 11:20am

Sorry,not a fan of your show and would never pay to support a couple of dudes sitting behind computers documenting every swell event so they don't have to get a real job. Every event is now hyped to the max with the average punter frothing over every swell knowing the exact time to surf .
Even when there isn't a swell you guys a generating something out of nothing just to get the hype and hits on the site which keeps you going.The more hits the higher advertising rates and then you want us to pay for viewing.Seriously!
We don't need it and never did!
Gone are the days of reading the maps and being one step ahead of the average punter ,all you have done is give it to the masses. I look forward to the day when the internet crashes and we may find a few uncrowded swells. In my opinion the documented forecasting has been a huge factor contributing to the ever increasing crowded line-up only to support your income and a couple of employees. Go and get a real job and don't winge to us !

Bindog

Bindog's picture
Bindog's picture
Bindog commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 11:49am

Agree with Tango, Ben state s that the cams are minor revenue.Every hit on the site and a camera is income.More hits ,higher advertising prices. Please acknowledge the negative impact of your reporting.

Bindog

fong's picture
fong's picture
fong commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 1:16pm

Ben and swellnet , be fair....if he doesn't do it someone else will.

Has swellnet ever considered going on "shark tank" in a effort too raise$$$ ?

If nothing else it would be free publicity .

terrance's picture
terrance's picture
terrance commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 10:15pm

Fong, free publicity? If they want to be personally and professionally embarrassed forever. Social media wouldn't let it go. Ouch!

Imagine the Swellnet knock-knees in front of those ''sharks''. Hilarious... This would be how it goes...

"Hi ''sharks'' we're from Swellnet, we have been primarily been giving away a a free on-line service, occasionally begging for donations to stay afloat, so hence the intrinsic value of our business is probably zero. We also have plenty of online competition doing the same service. But ''sharks'' we are here today to offer you 90% of our business for $90... so ''sharks" who's in....''

"Sharks" go in chorus ... 'I'm out...get out!"

Cuts to paid commercial break.

It'd be on Tosh.0 the following week.

Bindog's picture
Bindog's picture
Bindog commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 2:13pm

Fong,you are obviously one of the many punters who rely on someone telling you where and when to surf.

Bindog

heals's picture
heals's picture
heals commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 2:34pm

This week The Conversation ran an article on the 'restorationist impulse', the urge to go back to a (mostly imagined) better way of life in the past. Your line about "the days of reading maps" is a classic example of what the article describes - it discounts all notion of reality. If Swellnet were to disappear what do you really believe would happen? Honest question. Keeping in mind similar information is available in myriad forms all across the Internet (you should also know that as long as electricity is in the grid the Internet can't crash, the US military made sure of that).

The other vexatious part of your comment is the implication that no-one wants surf forecasting. The existence of this site, Coastalwatch, Surf Line, Magic Seaweed, Seabreeze, Bali Belly and many other smaller sites would fly in the face of that assertion. In fact, I WANT surf forecasting and I'm not ashamed to admit it, and you've got no right to speak on behalf of me or others who like the service.

Bindog's picture
Bindog's picture
Bindog commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 4:40pm

Heals- .Sorry to upset you but am speaking for myself, and yep your right ,its not reality to say such things. But the reality and fact is the line up has changed due to mobile phones and internet. And one day when the internet is down due to virus ,you may find yourself reading a chart .Good luck

Bindog

Skeggzie's picture
Skeggzie's picture
Skeggzie commented Friday, 28 Jul 2017 at 7:54pm

If you are as old school as you think and you still use the News paper and Brownies Coastwatch to tell you where to surf , then you won't be reading this , Right ?
I consider myself pretty handy at reading the charts but running my own business and recently becoming a new dad , i have found myself time poor of late .
I still use my own tools for timing of swells and where to head to but after stumbling across your forecasting notes , i have found them to be invaluable and accurate , a quick browse every Mon , Wed and Friday keeps me in the loop , i get to spend less time staring at my phone or computer allowing more time to spend with the family , so in return i get more time in the surf .
So Thanks guys you have my subscription keep up the good work :)

arch_dog's picture
arch_dog's picture
arch_dog commented Sunday, 30 Jul 2017 at 7:35am

signed-up this morning - sorry it took me so long.