Subscription choice

yocal's picture
yocal started the topic in Monday, 14 May 2018 at 2:51pm

Hi Guys,
I've followed Swellnet & relied on your forecasts since the first day you announced the launch of Swellnet on an old Bcam forum. I've been thinking about commenting on the subscription option for a long time now...

To me, 16 day forecasts would be detrimental to my mental health. I already lose the plot having visibility 5 days into the future only to have the glorious forecast shift 1 day out from arrival of the swell and obliterate my dreams, I rarely need to look at surfcams for more than 30 seconds, and I don't have issues using the app with ads.

What I do want to do is support Swellnet, and even when wearing my altruistic hat, I can't justify $8 per month given my complacency with the free option.

So I am wondering if there might be merit in providing another subscription option for people like myself who want to help chip-in for goodwill to support the cause more than anything via a simpler alternate offering.

I don' know what that offering could look like in terms of content that would gain my extra $. But some things I have thought of:
-Live Notifications if a particular parameter is met in the forecast or actual data
-Dashboard including extra plots such as LWT and MJO with detail on the likely scenarios more than 1 week out.
-frequent forecast note updates available to subs only.
-Less adds or no adds between cam timeouts

Worth throwing my two cents in given i've been a cheapskate (but avid & vocal supporter) since the Bcam days!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 7:43am

Thanks Yocal, appreciate the nice words. Been a while since the B/cam days!

FWIW, we are in the process of slowly migrating over a lot of content for Swellnet Pro subscribers only. It's a difficult task as it involves undoing a lot of complex web architechture set up years ago by previous developers. 

Also, it's ten months ago that I wrote this article: We need to have a talk about: Subscriptions and thus fascinating to see how the digital media landscape has evolved since then.

It's also interesting to note price increases across pretty much everything I purchase on a daily basis (local coffees went up from $4.00 to $4.50, for example, and I consume a couple of them a day). However, it's a difficult topic to broach for Swellnet Pro subs. Do we need to benchmark the relative value of Swellnet against other consumables?

Working out the best 'subscription' model for Swellnet is difficult. We've looked at a lot of different options but ultimately for a small website (compared to say, the New York Times), every iteration costs $$ to produce and implement. So the current monthly-only option is the cheapest and easiest for us to achieve (we had technical hurdles related to the previous Annual subscription, and the ways we wanted to improve/incentivise it).

As for your dot points above, they're all on the road map. I don't have an ETA - because website development schedules blow out more frequently than second hand tyres on the Gunbarrel Highway - but we're committed to developing a wide range of new surfcam, surf report and surf forecast tools that'll be 100% Swellnet Pro exclusive.

As for how else to donate other than fork out for a subscription - as I mentioned in last year's article, 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

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 9:27am

yocal......30 cents a day........seriously and you think its tooo much?

simba

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 9:35am

Rather than 30c per day (what does that buy, anyway?), the best analogy I’ve heard recently is that the monthly subscription is the equivalent of shouting one Swellnet staff member a coffee every fortnight.

So, are we worth one coffee every two weeks?

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 5:01pm

buy a coffee machine for the office Ben, best thing you'll ever do

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 5:07pm

Ha! Got one for home.. been meaning to get one for the office too. I’m the only coffee drinker though so it’s a bit of overkill! 

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 6:12pm

I’ve recently converted from buying 1-2 coffees a day to buying a machine and only making one in the morning before work. Bloody love it!

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 7:36pm

ill probably get shot down for this and don't bother unless your a fellow subscriber, but i'd love to see the forecaster notes behind the paywall. These are the cream in my opinion and whilst i like to support your site just like what yocal said, i feel as if its a bit of a rip off for subscribers to have the most valuable part of the site being given away for free. the 16 day forecast is great but i only use it once or twice a year. This is just some random feedback Ben just incase your interested. If not, chuck it in the bin. cheers mate.

mackdog's picture
mackdog's picture
mackdog commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 7:43pm

With you on that one Geoffrey

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 7:44pm

Thats Happening very soon Geoffrey.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 7:49pm

16 day forecast......wheres that?

simba

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 7:54pm

PayPal? so 2010.

When is the option to pay in cryptocurrencies going to be added?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Sunday, 20 May 2018 at 10:32pm

For the record 12% don't use internet > Mostly rich transact online nearing 62% @ Xmas.
Govt warns not to trust payment without P.O. Address. Leaving half of OZ to go without...

Being a bodybasher I roam free of mod cons- Mobile phones/Tablets/Lap Tops/Fitbits/Apps.
I contribute exclusives better than money can buy but shouldn't excuse me for my share.

Simple P.O. Address we could send $/fan mail/Surf/Art & Craft/Maps/Postcards/Brochures.
Stickers/Wax Labels/Decal trading hub probably suit most.
Perfumed handwritten Letters sealed with a kiss from Gary.

I'm guessing PayPal is either a Pimp or boss S&M Sex Worker. OK! Just a wee bit scared I am!
Brown Paper Bag of fresh $20's...Ben! Slip me a subscription at the Border.

I'm not advocating a human touch but to fairly utiIize the P.O. for poorer silent majority.
Gentlemen's handshake & I'll back up a prized Swellnetonian's subscription deal!

[Vote for Me] Most miserly Swellnet excuse comp! (Your vote wins us both a Subscription).

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 5:50am

Yep, we have a Post Office Box too: 

PO Box 1282
Kingscliff
NSW 2487

 

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 8:32am

nice one.

there'll be some grumbling from the masses but we can always direct them to the free online meteorology courses provided on the internet.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 8:33am

@ID,

Ha ha ha

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 8:50am

Yes Simba,
I am a shrewd economist: why pay for something I don't need for $ when I can get something I do need for free? Advertisements obviously bring some degree of (declining) revenue in for Swellnet, so I don't feel any guilt for my choice, as it is also Swellnet's choice to split the offering in this way. But I do feel it worthy to point out so that Swellnet are aware of my type of custom & can address people who have similar needs to mine if they want to broaden their subscription base.

Thanks for the info Ben,
"Do we need to benchmark the relative value of Swellnet against other consumables?" No, I think there are plenty of people who appreciate the value of the current subscription offering. People who can't stand ads between their cam timeouts /on the app and see merit in long-term forecasts. I can imagine other people's rituals for checking surf are at opposite ends of a range of needs that Swellnet provides for: one ritual is checking the cams at 6am for 5 minutes of "yeah/nah" to decide whether to go down to the beach that morning, and the other ritual is perhaps for someone who books travel or work commitments 2-3 weeks in advance and wants the added granularity up to 16 days out.

Sounds like you guys are all over it though and looking forward to the rollout of the new features in the roadmap

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 9:55am

Geoffrey/Udo/Ben,
Absolutely worth my coin each month if the detailed forecast goes behind the subscriber wall and non-subscribers are left with a basic one/less frequent one.
Case in point last weekend: I did a 3hr mish, leaving home 3am Monday morning on a whim that the Sunday WAMs ran an alternative scenario to the Friday detailed forecast for NNSW. The detailed forecast didn't specifically call out the predicted surf size for Monday morning, just that it would temporarily drop back from Sunday 6ft at south facing magnets. At the time the Friday detailed forecast was written, the models showed Sunday and Tuesday being the biggest days @ 10s, and Monday smaller 4ft and shorter period, which wasn't enough to justify a drive. Monday was my only chance work-wise. Come Sunday, the WAMs jumped to 6ft+ at south magnets for Monday, and the period was upped a little.

Pre-dawn in the carpark, I couldn't see the indications of the 6ft I was hoping for. threw the Wettie on and raced down to the headland to check it up close as the sun came up. After 20 mins of trying to use my mind to manipulate the harsh reality, I could only see a wobbly 2-3 ft. This particular reef's magic is so specific to the swell size & tide that if its 2ft either side of ideal, it's either a fat foamball or a mess of wash-throughs. There were probably waves in other spots nearby but I decided to cut my losses and fanged it 3hrs home so I could get a half-day of work in, and try again some other time. Fuck.

I cursed myself for not treating the Friday detailed notes as the only true gospel. Might have saved $50 in fuel amongst other things so the economist in me applies a big price tag to these notes.

Another thing that is invaluable is the comments made after the notes are released, especially when Don/Ben /Craig are sharing the results of ASCAT passes, assessing the actuals as they develop and fine tuning their predicitions.

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 10:25am

How about the basic notion of supporting a small business? Does everything have to be scrutinised under such a focused economic lens? I totally get that everyone wants value for money, but for such a relatively small expense (if you are an economist!) it seems like you're overthinking it.

I have to also balance in the idea that we can't put everything in behind the paywall - we need to provide a glimpse into what's on offer (and there's no better way to do that than to participate in semi-realtime discussions, as per the Forecaster Notes).

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 12:19pm

Ben, yes i do agree with supporting small business to a degree BUT on the same token i dont just blindly support every small business i come across and as most of us know alot of small business dont survive, with the harsh reality being that they just don't have a good enough idea/product.

You on the other hand do have a good enough product and since i use your site virtually every day i chose to subscribe (thats a compliment because im quite frugal)

In my situation, the risky midweek strike missions down the coast rely mostly on the forecaster notes. I think this is very valuable information which is why i would like to see it behind the paywall and to put it from a non selfish perspective: i think this is the product that your business can derive the most value from.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 12:50pm

Thanks geoffrey (actually, my last comment was for yocal.. I should have been more clear).

I totally agree re: Forecaster Notes - and they'll be going behind the paywall shortly.. only reason it hasn't happened earlier is because once something is 'paid for' then there's an expectation that the service is guaranteed... which is difficult when either Craig or I am on holidays or are away sick. As such I've been reluctant to commit.

As subscription numbers increase, we'll be able to employ more staff to ease the workload - not just with Forecaster Notes, but right across the board (we're a small company compared to our competitors).

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 1:56pm

I have hardly any income, but I changed my phone plan to a $20p/m prepaid that includes unlimited call/text and 2.5g data. Add in swellnet and I just think of it as a $29 phone bill a month.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Monday, 21 May 2018 at 7:21pm

Ben it's less to do with Swellnet & more about internet taking over but giving less.

Back in the day you'd go to the tip to trade up your old TV. Slap/hoist wire then crickets on...
Now neighbour orders super ministry to raid B&W so shop can sell you a more rubbish one.
Computers never got cheaper,dumb down each model,breakdown more for costly repairs.
Simply try to type a letter without some 3rd party daily reminder of contract breach.

Each new computer user has less access to local town history than each year prior.
www is robbing us of our history. Vacant news years now extending from 1954-2011.
By 2030 we add 1 year to 1955 but rob further until 2025 (Approx) Adult lifespan wiped!
There is talk of introducing copyright free subscriber pay newspaper history.
You'll get Song & Dance but next to nothing else but brainwash pack aka Trump maxi series.

Newscorp is white-anting all Wikipedia/Swellnet links faster then I can type.
Village idiot got billed $24/mth for accidentally putting his town back on map.Whole 7 years!

Recall (My Space) featured cool local bands Rock Almanac from (2003-2010)
Ended up a Dark web trophy piece as pretty vacant usernames/passwords were devoured.

Soon www will bear no relation to your town but you'll be asked to fork out more.
Costly Computer/Modem/Package passwords to access subscription only freeview sites.
Each Pay $3.30 mth to view facebook app plagued AD free ABC iview. (100% Facebook App$)

We all value things differently...Live event cams/Surf Cams/Surf Forecasts does it for some.
Could a subscription reopen a search window to entire Swellnet Library? Just say yes Ben!

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 1:32pm

Ben,
After considering the possibility that the detailed forecast notes would go behind the paywall, its clear to me that my lack of subscribership isn't about value for money at all. I'm talking only about comparing meeting my needs for free versus paying for them. And I make that decision with out any economic scrutiny whatsoever. Actually it is probably an autonomous behaviour: I just haven't been given a significant ultimatum to hit the subscriber button today.

For me, even the virtue of supporting small business only comes into play when I'm forced choose between vendors. Its a choice of how I part with my money. Today Swellnet gives me the choice not to part with my money at all.

I don't think i'm the only person who would behave like this (however selfish it might appear), so I welcome you to keep me in mind when you are working out what goes behind the paywall, how to bait me (i'm already baited, it hurts doing the 3hr drive of shame!) and how to get my subscription.

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 1:58pm

Thanks yocal. To be fair I've heard a lot of similar feedback over the years, even from mates: "you guys make it too easy not to subscribe" etc. There don't seem to be any lack of support for what we do, nor unwillingness to pay for our services (instead of getting them for free - everyone knows we cost $$ to operate, and have gotta pay the bills somehow), it's just not that convenient to actually do the transaction - which I totally get (the system is a bit klutzy).

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 3:40pm

Rid the mind numbing diversionary games excising News-forums from we Swellnet fans!
Just call off your captcha raptors & reinstall Swellnet Site Search to seal the deal for me Ben!
(Cam/Reports pack) or (Hassle free forum/Swellnet Vault key) @ $8.95/month...Fair choice?

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 4:58pm

I have no idea how you guys make money and all the effort that you guys must put into these stories/articles almost daily, advertising must pay pretty good i guess.

If i was you guys, id diversify into a surf forecast/surf travel agent website, good combination and decent money in commissions and you already have the followers/traffic/online presence.

Not many people pay for anything online these days, news, movies, music, porn, surf vids etc it's all there for free i don't even buy iTunes songs anymore I'm back to buying CD's instead.

Only thing i buy online now is my teams AFL games that aren't on free to air.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 5:20pm

ID, one day I'm gonna write a book. You'll all be pretty amazed to hear the stories. No-one (except those few that run large online websites) has any idea about what actually goes on behind the scenes.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 6:01pm

Damn you indo-dreaming...I just had to Google [Swellnet Porn] (Image Search)
Clicked First picture of slurpee wave.
Simply followed my dirty mind & scrolled down to truebluebasher...

Swellnet Porn (Definition) "Wave erotica of slow mo' flesh-like, living breathing playmates!"
Seems the "Swellnet Porn" brand is exclusive to Swellnet.
indo-dreaming/truebluebasher... Save the day by making the darkweb easier for you Ben!

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 10:14pm

Ben needs to develop a Swellnet Token!!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 5:38am

It'll be a bummer if the f/cast notes go behind a paywall....I won't be paying but I hope the comments stay open.
I love the banter in there and learning/discussion that goes on with swell events.
To me, the value is not just the notes but in the comments learning how different swells are interacting with different sections of the coast and the experiences people have with them, as well as the calls and insights people throw up in there.

If there was a shop or affiliate program I would buy shitt I'd also, if there were micro-payments available, pay to read Stu's and Craig's articles.

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 10:01am

Freeride. You are on this set all the time. Pay your 30c day you tightarse. Or are you just looking for a freeride?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 10:19am

Contributors generate traffic, traffic generates advertising revenue. Thats website business 101.

Like I said, I'm willing to pay for the things that are of value to me, like the editorial.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 10:41am

Steve, I reckon you'd be thoroughly surprised how diminutive comment traffic is on Swellnet. I know I was when I first found out. It's far too small to factor into any viable biz model, though the entertainment and enlightenment makes up for it.

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 10:44am

One scenario could be: if non subs got ~2 detailed forecast updates a week and were entitled to view the comments on those updates, but subscribers got ~4 updates, and perhaps more detailed comments & analysis of the developments. That would provide non-subscribers exposure to the subscriber benefits, and it wouldn't deliver non-subscribers the granularity someone like me needs a to make a decision day out from a mish.

ID I like the travel agency concept. Or simply a forecasting service for addressing people's travel plans. ie: discussion on the forecast & recommendation for that region a few days out from the travel booking.

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 10:46am

One arguably derives personal utility from the contributing to the online community. Therefore it is value. Over at ski.com.au you need to pay once you get over x posts. I'm sure Ben is across this as a previous contributor over there.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 11:09am

Travel agency ?

Isn’t there enough surf pimp action in the world already ?

No crowds . Photographer included. Two Bintang per person /day. Get in quick these deals won’t last at these crazy low, low prices.

Along with several other commenters , Freeride adds tangible value to Swellnet as far as I’m concerned. Each unique , entertaining or insightful post in the comments section is worth 200 WSL issue post comp roundups. But this site wouldn’t provide a location to read those interesting posts without monetary support.

And if that support isn’t forthcoming then Swellnet may be forced to turn to such seedy income stream generators as a Lennox surf cam. If you know what I’m saying.....

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 11:15am

"Steve, I reckon you'd be thoroughly surprised how diminutive comment traffic is on Swellnet."

I'm sure Stu but people come and stay and engage when there is a community they feel part of.
If you can't make and keep that happening its rarely a viable business model for online, no matter what method of monetising is chosen.

And it's not like there is any shortage of surf sites online to spout off on.

But everyone is different and you can't please everybody.

Anyway, fwiw, I think putting forecasts behind the paywall is probably a good idea, I just hope commenting below the line stays open and free.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 11:44am

"If you can't make and keep that happening its rarely a viable business model for online, no matter what method of monetising is chosen."

Commented on Surfline lately?

No, but then nobody has, yet it hasn't hindered their path to the top. What's becoming clear is that there isn't one lone way to survive online. All the current players in the surf world - us, CW, Surfline, MSW, BG, Inertia, Surfer.com - employ varying MO. Spend enough time observing and it becomes clear what each one is doing right, and it also becomes clear that there's no 'Website Buisness 101' - indicating a single formula to success.

At one end of the spectrum you have BG, who are reliant on comments, and then there's the surf forecasting sites who are patronised overwhelmingly by people who want ultility, not engagement. Their website traffic is orders of magnitude above comment sites, but then so are the overheads (another thing you'd be surprised about is the running cost of Swellnet). Somewhere in the middle is, say, Stab, who don't rely as much on comments cos they get the surf industry dollars.

Sites can fall anywhere along the spectrum. And none of this is taking into account the people backing or investing in sites.

philw's picture
philw's picture
philw commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 11:55am

The Economist - subscription / pay for print only. Based on quality of content and the cachet. Can surf world accomodate the equivalent? Or are other tactics worth trying? Free sub with a block of wax / other surf essentials. Swellnet is essential right...?

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 11:57am

Sorry mate. What was it that The Inertia is doing right again ?

It’s so easy to overlook . What ever it is.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 12:00pm

Ha ha ha...I paused when I wrote that.

OK, no value judgements, in this context the word 'right' implies that they're surviving online. They're doing something correct to achieve that.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 12:27pm

yeah, yeah and my comments are self serving. I just want to talk shitt about waves.

But I'm happy to pay for what I use/need.

Actually, the Surfline model, with premium and free content would be perfect.