Wednesday, March 7

Outdoor Blogs and the 'traditional' press

Returning to my thought of yesterday...........
As I recently posted this site received 5,000 visitors in approximately 7 months, or around 700 per month.

Now not all of those hits was a reader. And not all readers stayed to browse the blogs content, but accepting that then let's go with the figure for the moment.

So does this format, this new journalism, threaten established media formats?

To look at this I needed facts, so off I wandered to the magazine industry's benchmark, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (the little ABC you sometimes see inside the front cover next to the magazine publisher/edit team blurb) Their remit is " circulation, distribution & attendance data for ABC certified Magazines, Newspapers, Exhibitions and Directories within the UK and Republic of Ireland"
(All this material is freely accessible via the web, and of course remains the copyright of ABC just in case I'm inadvertently treading on any toes here over ownership)

Taking a look at the UK outdoor/walking magazine monthly circulation figures for 2006:
Circulation : 40,552
Cost: £3.50
Subscription: 41% of copies sold

Circulation : 46,849
Cost: £3.50
Subscription: 43% of copies sold

Mag: TGO
Circulation : 11,368
Cost: £3.30
Subscribers: 38% of copies sold

And what about an alternative, covering the same audience?
Magazine : WALK
Circulation : 105,809
Cost: n/a
Subscribers: n/a

Not recognise that particular mag? It's the quarterly 'freebie' included as part of the membership package for the Rambler's Association.

Now I happen to think that TGO is a far superior read, but each of you has your own preferences.

But look at the circulation figures. The other two (both EMAP titles BTW) outsell by TGO by a factor of 4.

Meanwhile WALK, with a 'captive' audience nearly triples their readership. A magazine which I've always felt to be an advertising glossy interspersed with a few articles, not particularly relevant to what interests me.

I was surprised when I saw the comparative figures. Is TRAIL/CW really that more relevant to the UK outdoor readership? Maybe. Or perhaps it's a case of availability as TGO has had some issues in the past with it's distribution network, hopefully sorted now.

So a bit more digging for something else aiming at that readership.

Magazine : CUMBRIA
Circulation : 13,043
Cost: £1.85
Subscribers: 56%

A limited appeal mag, but with a bigger circulation than TGO and by the nature of its subscriber base possibly bought by a large number of readers outside of it's target area. My guess again.

So back to my 700. On the face of it it's hardly going to rock the foundations of the UK media moguls. And I'm trying here not too get too hung up on the statistics Or 'damn lies' before someone comments with that particular quotation.

So to put it into context of blogging, let's recall some points from my weekend post:.
1. Blogs like this one address a very niche audience
2. Many blog pieces are short and snappy often using the news/diary (i.e. Not magazine multi-page articles with glossy photo layout)
3. The majority of bloggers are amateurs
4. Commercial websites use ... advertising to get visitors ....Bloggers ........(don't) spend their money on this type of thing

And of course the last is the biggest differentiator. I don't advertise, nor do I ask for commercial sponsorship to keep all this coming at you. But then I don't draw a salary, have publishing & distribution costs, or offer subscription deals, although a few outdoor websites have been adopting that model offering "value added" services - detailed gear reviews/route guides etc.

Blogging. The new journalism? Possibly.

A replacement for the established traditional press? Not on the face of these figures.

But an alternative, offering things that the paper press cannot offer - speed of news items, article relevancy, targeted readership.

Not a threat. More an alternative still finding its feet.

Depends what happens as the moneymakers decide it's virgin territory ready for expansion.

I'll leave it there. There's much more to be sucked out of these bare bones, and I'm sure the commenters will add more than I can think of at present.

Labels: ,

John, very nice of you to host this debate. And I look forward to discussing this with you in person as well at the FIRST EVER UK OUTDOORS BLOGGER CON at the NEC on the 16th March 2007.
Was that an example of subtle advertising? ^_^
Still very good points, and it is evident that you are spending alot of time thinking this out and putting a very reasoned argument across. I also think that not many people would disagree with you (mainly due to that large stick you are carrying), but it will be interesting to hear Camerons views once a podcast has been released with them on. (oops is that a scoop?)
Scoop - it don't count until it's out
I`m amazed at the monthly sales figures for TGO, When I first started backpacking I bought a couple of issues of TGO (circa 1984) but found it to be a bit to 'Beards and Red Socks Brigade' and have only in the past year gone back to buying it, mainly because of the lighten up series.

I`ve every issues of trail (upto 2001) but stop buying because it moved away from what I wanted. It seemed more traveller orientated, don't know if it is still like that.

I can understand CW getting the figures it does because most people only want a 3-5 mile stroll on a Sunday afternoon.

I agree about the speed of news items, etc. This is one area that magazine can't compete.

People like us are unlikely to get articles published in said magazines, best we can hope for is a letter published but these are usual short and sweet.

Take my piece 'what is lightweight?' its to long for a letters page and wouldn't be a piece in a mag but I feel to does raise some issues. Now the chances of manufacterers seeing it are probabbly slim but if someone new to this hobby sees it and it helps them make a better choice, I`m happy.

(this has been a 'its late and I`m tired' post so to may all be waffle).
not at all AM

I've tried all the mags in the past, was also once a TRAIL fan, and like you have come back to TGO after forgetting most of them for a couple of years. And yes TGO circ figures surprised me as well.

The lightweight piece - how about getting rid of Mike Hardin's TGO page. It needs an opinion that can be followed by someone on planet earth!
bugger- sorry George (NOT AM!) the fingers went off on one
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