[UPDATE 2023-09-24: I collapsed the Patreon membership from four tiers down to only two, keeping the cost of the bottom tiers, but merging in most of the benefits that I had defined for the top tiers. The value to patrons just didn’t seem to be enough to justify the cost for the top two tiers.]
[UPDATE 2023-09-23: I realized after posting this that the merch store is currently only open to customer in the United States, so that impacts some of the current Patreon perks. I would like to expand the shop to be global at some point, but there are complications with stricter privacy laws, shipping, and VAT that I need to figure out first.]
My vision for This Is Bike Trials! began initially as just a way for me to post my progress while I learned trials – that was before I had actually created the brand name. It started about just my journey, with the hope that it might also inspire people. Eventually, after getting a GoPro, I worked up the guts to ask my local crew if they minded whether I filmed the group rides to post on YouTube. Since then, the YouTube audience began to grow steadily. The breakthrough, however, was my decision in 2022 to travel to trials competitions in West Virginia and then Arkansas for the sole purpose of creating videos (I was injured and could not compete), with the expected side benefits of meeting more trials riders and watching UCI riders in person. Those experiences, combined with an increasing level of interactions with other trials riders both online and in person, have inspired me to expand the scope of my original YouTube channel. Since then I have re-branded the channel, created dedicated social media accounts, built a website, increased the amount of content I had been posting, started selling channel merch, and began thinking much bigger.
As the vision increases, so does the financial demand to support it. While I’m happy to fund what I can personally, I would really like to improve the audio and video quality and expand the content, including trips dedicated to creating more videos with a broader variety of programming – competitions, group rides, meet-ups, interviews, and more. I’ve elaborated on some of the specifics elsewhere.
My goal is to provide a variety of high quality trials biking content across multiple channels and formats on a consistent basis. The mission is to continue supporting and strengthening the trials community, growing the sport (awareness and active riders), rebuilding the trials scene in North America, providing inspiration, and providing interesting and useful entertainment and information. It’s not just about me, it’s also about all of you. My vision is to build this brand for you and with you.
In order to do all of the things I’d like to do, I’ll need to figure out how to fund it. I’ve been toying with several ideas, several of which I will address here.
Probably the easiest way to support the site financially is to visit the shop to buy some channel merch. Not only do the purchases provide financial benefits, but showing off your merch help spread the word. We’ve started out with shirts and hoodies, but plan to add more products like hats and mugs as well.
I’ve decided to give Patreon a shot in order to provide some perks to our fans while also bringing in some funding to support channel growth. I’m starting with four tiers from $2 to $10 per month with a variety of perks. Honestly, I’ve been holding off on opening up the Patreon site for a few months as I’ve struggled with the rates as well as what to offer for perks. I certainly don’t take our fan’s generosity for granted, and I want to make sure that the perks are valuable. I suspect I will probably adapt the perks over time to refine this. I’m certainly open to ideas – either in the comments to this post or using the Contact Us form.
I know that sometimes fans want to provide support, but don’t necessarily want anything in return, other than more (quality) content. Also, not everyone wants to commit to a longer term subscription-based model. If that’s you, then making a donation is another option. I’ve set up a donations link that provides some suggested amounts for convenience, but honestly, I’m appreciative of any amount. Options include one-time donations as well as monthly recurring pledges.
I’ve been considering other ideas like GoFundMe as well, though I have not created any campaigns yet. This might be a good option for very specific things (for example, a new video camera). I might experiment with this at some point.
Regarding the merch store, I have been considering other product options as well, in addition to just channel merch. I’ve been considering a few options, including: selling my used bikes and components, adding a used trials bike/parts marketplace, and possibly becoming a distributor for certain trials components. This requires a larger time commitment, however, and requires some deeper thought.
Affiliate links are another idea I’ve been considering, but if I do pursue this avenue, I will only partner with brands and products that I would use myself and recommend to others. This would be as much to support the trials community as to generate some income.
I Value Your Ideas Too
Now that I’ve presented to you my current options for fans to support the channel financially and told you my ideas for future fundraising plans, I would love to get your input as well. As I’ve stated before, my goal is to serve you all in the trials community by providing valuable content and listening to your feedback. Please share your thoughts and ideas publicly in comments below or privately by using the Contact Us form.