Friday, April 10, 2015

Is there really no more good motorcycle content? Part 1...


Last week a friend of mine forwarded a link to a story on Gizmodo entitled, "How To Make The Next Great Motorcycle Blog". That story’s been read by quite a few people, I surmise, because a.) my friend doesn’t even ride motorcycles, and b.) the story contains a link to a story that, in turn, contains a link to a story here on Bikewriter.com. And that third-order link has led to a measurable uptick in my traffic in the last week.

Phew. Pretty complicated thought there. Hope you’re still with me. Anyway, the story that started all this, which I’ll call HTMTNGMB was written by Wes Siler. 

Siler’s credentials are, he created a blog called Hell for Leather, which was almost as good as its name. H4L sadly morphed into one called RideApart, which is almost as crappy as that name.

He launched into his piece with a provocative statement, "There's no good motorcycle content anymore." That was bound to rile a few of the people who make a living (or, as in my case, part of a living) putting up motorcycle content. And, when he followed it up with a somewhat self-aggrandizing "That's partly my fault", it was a cue for some eye-rolls amongst motorcycle journalists. 

At least he didn't say, "It's all my fault." 

Before I agree with some of what Wes has to say, I am going to disabuse you of something he wrote in order to establish his bona fides. In HTMTNGMB, he claims that he "...grew [H4L/RA] into the most widely read motorcycle website in just a few years." 

Maybe he's basing his claim that H4L was the most widely read blog on his estimate that "the biggest scoop of the year" on other sites is lucky to pull in 10,000 viewers. 

I've written for both MO and (recently and regularly) Motorcycle-USA.com. I think both those sites always drew a lot more readers than Hell for Leather. While I informally track 'likes' on my own posts and, otherwise, kind'a want to stay out of their business, I’d say that for either MO or MC-USA, a post seen by 10,000 viewers a day is solid but not record-breaking. 
To put Siler’s audience estimates in perspective, Motorcycle USA’s video review of the new YZF-R1 has been watched over 200,000 times in the last six weeks, according to YouTube. Asphalt & Rubber claims to have built it’s audience up to 650,000 unique viewers a month.
That said, Hell for Leather was—in its heyday—one of the sites that I checked daily. Wes put up some decent content, and I'd be very interested to read a follow-on post from him about how H4L, which started out as a bit of a prodigy, ended up as RideApart, a purveyor of shitty clickbait listicles. In the meantime, if I'm going to be upset by a little hubris, or a post that plays fast and loose with facts, I need to get off the Interweb.

That's most of my Wes-bashing, done. His post raises some interesting points. Over the next week or two, I hope to find time to address some of them in two or three follow-on posts.
  • Is there really no interesting content?
  • Is that the fault of "old media" brands like Motorcyclist and Cycle World?
  • Would it really be easy to make $10k/mo as a motorcycle blogger?
Check back in, why don’t you?

2 comments:

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    1. Feel free to explain further. But surely 'uniques' are by definition less than or equal to page views? Jensen's 650k generate more (probably a lot more) than 650k page views. Unless you know something I don't, Jensen's 650k uniques and the view count on that MC-USA video are not consistent with your claim that a blockbuster scoop is seen by 10,000 people.

      I admit that a blockbuster post on Bikewriter.com is read a few thousand times, but my traffic's minuscule by comparison to MO, MC-USA, A&R, etc.

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