We need to have a talk about: Subscriptions
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.
Thanks for your support.