Reflecting on the first 10 years of CyclingTips
Most Fridays, CyclingTips founder Wade Wallace sends out an exclusive newsletter to a list of our most loyal readers. In it, he reflects on the week that’s been, what’s happening with CyclingTips, and what’s on the horizon. This week we’ve put Wade’s newsletter on the site as well, to help celebrate a very special milestone: CyclingTips’ 10th birthday.
Tomorrow marks 10 years since I wrote my first post on CyclingTips. I literally gave it a few minutes of thought, opened up a Google Blogger account, named it, and started writing.
It was an escape from my career situation at the time and gave me something positive to focus on rather than dealing with the doom and gloom of my then-failing workplace. I had no expectations or intentions, except for writing for the people right in front of me.
(I’ve written the entire story of how CyclingTips started and evolved in our annual print publication, if you’re interested in reading it.)
Everything I’ve ever done in my life that’s been worth doing would probably not have happened if I knew what I was getting into. CyclingTips is no different. There have been countless sleepless nights, we’ve had tough family times, I’ve pissed people off and made enemies, and I’ve had to make some incredibly tough decisions that have affected other people’s lives. I haven’t enjoyed any of that, but it’s necessary life experience that has made me a better person.
I’ve also had some of the most incredible moments in the past 10 years that I never could have imagined. I continuously need to pinch myself when I consider the people I’ve met, those whom I’ve had the privilege of working alongside, and the situations I find myself in.
I often ask myself what I’d do differently if I were to start CyclingTips again, but the answer is simple: CyclingTips would never have made it past the first few months if I were to do it differently.
I have an enormous amount of appreciation for those who come up with an idea, create a business plan, raise money, and execute on their vision. This is not one of those stories. If CyclingTips had begun as a commercial endeavour I would never have had the patience or fortitude to see it through to this point.
Millions of dollars have been spent, but it’s been a blessing in disguise that I didn’t have those millions at the beginning. It forced us to be different, to be focused, and to think carefully about every risk we take. It’s come at the cost of slow growth, but I’ve always been a late bloomer in everything I’ve done and I’m confident this will be the same.
The next 10 years
Building a media company is perhaps one of the trickiest and most unnecessarily complicated businesses I can think of. It’s a two-sided marketplace where we need to facilitate the exchange between our audience and advertisers and provide benefit to both. Without one, the other doesn’t exist.
The larger we get, the more people we need to service who don’t really care about who we are or where we’re going. Sure, there’s still a business in this, but it’s an ugly business where nobody really benefits the way they’d like. This way of doing business is the internet’s biggest sin and something I’ve always been very uncomfortable with.
We’re working hard to change this through our membership program, VeloClub, so that we can alter the dynamic. VeloClub aims to bring our most loyal readers closer to us and give them what they deserve.
My primary focus over the next 10 years will be to make sure that every single one of you reading this newsletter will find good reason to become a VeloClub member. If I do that one thing, everything else will take care of itself and both you and CyclingTips will benefit greatly.
The most important thing I’d like to say is that I could not have done any of this alone. It takes many, many readers to make a media company work, and I thank each and every one of you for tuning in and giving us your attention and feedback. The moment that stops, the entire thing falls over.
I have to thank my past and present colleagues whom I’ve worked with every day. Every single one of them could be working elsewhere but they have sacrificed that to help build my dream. All of us are doing something together that none of us could achieve on our own. The achievement of attracting such talented employees who have given CyclingTips a life of its own is what I’m most proud of. With a few exceptions, I’m not even needed anymore.
Thank you for everything and I hope you continue to join us on the journey for the next 10 years.