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Thanks for voting BikePortland “Best Local Blog” – again

Posted by on July 14th, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Yours truly rolling in the Willamette Valley last week en route to a Cycle Oregon event.
(Photo: Lars Larson)

You guys did it again.

For the second year in a row, your votes helped earn BikePortland the title of “Best Local Blog” in the Willamette Week Best of Portland Reader’s Poll.

Just wanted to say thanks for all your support. This time came as a bit of a shock because I never once even tweeted or mentioned that I’d needed your vote. I figured winning once was cool enough and maybe someone else should win this time. Even so, I’m thrilled that y’all still consider this blog to be the “best”.

It’s been a strange year for me both personally and professionally as I’ve had to re-adjust to doing this business solo. I’d gotten used to (maybe too used to) having a very talented partner at my side before Michael left about one year ago. We were on a nice trajectory together (and I’m happy he’s still contributing now and then); but now the course has shifted a bit. I’ve been working from home for several months now and trying to plot how this business will survive — and thrive! — well into the future.

My central dilemma is: How can I make BikePortland sustainable — in every sense of the word?

Those early years were thrilling, but far from sustainable for me or my family. Now that I’ve found a bit healthier relationship between my blog and my life (not perfect yet, but better), the revenue side of things isn’t where it needs to be for the long haul. I’ll figure it out. I’m not complaining. Far from it.

Every day I think about how lucky I am to still be doing this. Thank you to all our advertisers, subscribers, readers commenters (and lurkers!), for making it possible. I appreciate your support.

If they had a “Best Blog Readers” category, you’d get all my votes.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or an advertiser today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

34 Comments
  • Matt July 14, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Congratulations! This is a well-earned honor.

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  • bikeninja July 14, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Congrats, I voted for BP.

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    • Pete July 16, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      I voted against BP, but he won anyway…

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  • bikeninja July 14, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Jonathan, I plan to become a subscriber soon, but in the meantime, have you thought of adding some kind of digital “tip jar” to the website, or is it already there and I have missed it.

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  • Ryan July 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Congrats! Well deserved. Sweet bike in the pic too 🙂

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  • brian July 14, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    That Cannondale though…

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  • Mossby Pomegranate July 15, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Better and more fair moderation please.

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  • Go By Bike
    Go By Bike July 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I can’t imagine Portland without Bikeportland. The other day I was chatting with Michael about what we like about Portland and he mentioned that it is full of smart people who want to make the city a better place. In my opinion, one of the reasons this exists is because of Bikeportland and the community Jonathan has helped build. There are certainly bikeportland haters out there but I think most of that sentiment comes from folks being envious of bikeportland’s success and that the posts are not only about doing the “Portland back pat” but about pushing people to make our city a better place. Excited to see where you take this success Jonathan. You have shown that you do not need to be ED of a big advocacy group and raise a lot of money to make a difference.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 17, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Thank you Kiel! I have loved watching your success evolve too.

      And I hear you about all the smart people in Portland. One of my main tenets with BP has been to create as many smart people as possible because informed people can’t be f***ed with (excuse my language).

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      • Alan 1.0 July 17, 2017 at 5:03 pm

        You’re excused as long as you aren’t fooling with us.

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  • rachel b July 15, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Hurrah! You deserve it. Thank you so much for all you do here. And I owe you some money! Good to have the tip jar info–I encourage one and all to give a congratulatory $$ tip to BikePortland/Jonathan in honor of this… er… honor. Do it! Or ants will bite you! And the heavens will rain FIRE!!!!

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  • Big Knobbies July 15, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Haven’t seen any posts from Hello Kitty lately. Is she on vacation?

    Congratulations on the blog honors. I didn’t even know there was a vote!

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    • Middle of the Road Guy July 16, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      You might have one the “Best Legs” category if there was one.

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  • Scott Kocher July 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    +1 Congrats. Pretty bike too ;).

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  • Ron Richings July 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Congrats Jonathan. Well deserved. You should come back up to (the real) Vancouver and try out our very new Arbutus Greenway. 9 km of car-free paved pathway for your riding pleasure.

    Ron

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    • Pete July 16, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Yeah, sure, you might have awesome cycling up there, but last I checked The Alibi Room was still out of Megadestroyer Imperial Licorice Stout.

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      • Alan 1.0 July 16, 2017 at 7:33 pm

        Vancouver-2 did have wonderful apple, pear, and cherry ciders from the nearby Okanogan valley well before microbrews became a thing down here.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 16, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    I wish BP could extend beyond its niche of “urban cycling activism and politics”, to use a phrase I just made up.

    There is a big world of cycling out there. Recreational cycling, sport cycling, bike racing, gravel riding, mountain biking, BMX, bike packing, cyclotourism, bicycle technology and products, vintage bicycle collecting, on and on.

    BP does post on some of those other aspects of cycling, from time to time, but the current audience seems mostly in the range of disinterested to hostile. BP’s posts about Cycle Oregon typically get a handful of comments, if that. Reviews of new bicycles and products usually elicit bitter comments about expensive toys for rich people and how the commentor’s bike was a dumpster find and the best rain jacket is a Hefty bag over a wool sweater from the Goodwill box. Coverage of even local racing falls entirely flat. And given the frequent scorn expressed for lycra wearing roadies, I guess I see why there’s essentially no coverage of the sport recreational riding scene.

    The reason I wish this is that I think the niche of urban cycling activism and politics, and the reader participation that it brings, is too narrow to support a financially successful blog. Blogs are supported by advertising. Advertisers want to sell things. To sell things, you have to reach an audience that buys those things. Judging by what posts get the most reader comments, and the content of comments, the current BP readership doesn’t seem like a good audience for most advertisers, or at least there’s lots of room for improvement.

    I’d be happy to be wrong, but when being the repeat winner of best blog in Portland, and the only Portland cycling blog that most people know of, isn’t leading to financial sustainability, it seems like something has to change.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Sorry, I guess I shouldn’t have posted a downer comment in a celebratory thread. I’d delete if there was a delete button. Feel free to delete for me.

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      • Kate July 17, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Actually, I think that’s some pretty interesting analysis on the advertising vs interest and coverage in cycling events that might be more attractive to place advertisements on. Coupled with Jonathan’s post, it makes me think that perhaps part of the solution is that more of us who do those other events should step up with guest posts.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm

          I love guest posts! Please and yes! If you do a fun event and have 2-3 images and feel like sharing your experience by all means get in touch.

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    • Joseph E July 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

      I suspect that the comments are not very representative of the number of page views each post gets. The recreational cycling posts may well get plenty of views, but since they lack controversy they may not get as many comments per view.

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      • Gary B July 17, 2017 at 8:37 am

        That’s what I was thinking. I read those articles, but have nothing to offer in a comment. It’s just not really a topic for discussion, which is fine.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 17, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Hi John Liu, thanks for the comment. You raise some important points. Here are my responses:

      I wish BP could extend beyond its niche of “urban cycling activism and politics”, to use a phrase I just made up.

      There is a big world of cycling out there. Recreational cycling, sport cycling, bike racing, gravel riding, mountain biking, BMX, bike packing, cyclotourism, bicycle technology and products, vintage bicycle collecting, on and on.

      I agree and have made this part of my approach from Day One. Thing is, this blog tends to focus on news, and the activism and politics is where the news is. Those other topics are awesome and I want to post about them more — but they generally don’t fall under information that is newsy and/or time-sensitive/urgent for people to know about.

      BP does post on some of those other aspects of cycling, from time to time, but the current audience seems mostly in the range of disinterested to hostile. BP’s posts about Cycle Oregon typically get a handful of comments, if that. Reviews of new bicycles and products usually elicit bitter comments about expensive toys for rich people and how the commentor’s bike was a dumpster find and the best rain jacket is a Hefty bag over a wool sweater from the Goodwill box. Coverage of even local racing falls entirely flat. And given the frequent scorn expressed for lycra wearing roadies, I guess I see why there’s essentially no coverage of the sport recreational riding scene.

      It’s a mistake to judge our audience primarily by what you see in the comments. Commenters make up a very very small portion of our audience. And remember that people generally tend to get riled up about things that bother them — and feel more motivated to yell and scream and make-known their frustrations when they are upset or emotional. That’s just human nature… and that’s one reason why internet comments can seem to “hostile”.

      And about topics you see on BP… Keep in mind that I feel it’s important for me to share the things I have the most knowledge and insight about. When it comes to the politics and activism I feel I have a perspective and a body of knowledge that is very unique and very valuable to the community. I know a lot about racing and bike industry and recreational-oriented stuff too — but so do a lot of other people. My feeling is that good blogs have information that is distinct and that is available nowhere else. I can do a good job at the product and riding recaps and stuff… But I feel my main strength is in the activism/bike news/politics so that’s where my energy goes.

      Speaking of which, I have limited energy and capacity. Which is why I want to build a team. I want a weekend editor to cover fun rides on the weekend. I want a product editor to do regular product reviews. I want an event editor to keep our calendar and event promotion top-notch. I want a news editor to help us delve deeper into big issues. But those things comes with costs. They make my business much more expensive and more complicated. I’m trying to find the right balance. It’s a process. I will get there – but I don’t have unlimited time to figure it out.

      The reason I wish this is that I think the niche of urban cycling activism and politics, and the reader participation that it brings, is too narrow to support a financially successful blog. Blogs are supported by advertising. Advertisers want to sell things. To sell things, you have to reach an audience that buys those things. Judging by what posts get the most reader comments, and the content of comments, the current BP readership doesn’t seem like a good audience for most advertisers, or at least there’s lots of room for improvement.

      You nailed this one! To some degree at least. If my motivation was to make money from advertisers, I would post a lot more about products and I would think about my audience as markets of consumers. But I don’t do that. I have never done that. I have a lot of respect for you and other readers. I value your time and your intelligence. My singular motivation has always been to inform and inspire — not based on what makes me the most money, but based on the information I think people want and need.

      And that’s the tricky conundrum. I don’t put financial gain first; but I probably should. That’s where the magic is… when you can be motivated by money but in a way that adheres to your principles for quality and respect of the audience. After all, in this system you need money or else you can’t do the good work (btw this is very tricky for nonprofits too — and why they often mess up the balance between fundraising and actually doing the hard essential work it takes to change the world).

      I’d be happy to be wrong, but when being the repeat winner of best blog in Portland, and the only Portland cycling blog that most people know of, isn’t leading to financial sustainability, it seems like something has to change.

      Bingo! I couldn’t agree with this more. That’s why I put “successful” in quotes when people ask about the site. And yes, something does have to change. Still working on it. Overdue. I appreciate your support.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu July 17, 2017 at 10:47 am

        Good deal. Again, sorry that I didn’t hold my tongue.

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 17, 2017 at 11:07 am

        That you receive a financial benefit that allows you to provide a service does not imply you’re necessarily sacrificing service for anyone. In fact, it helps people enjoy something important to them that might otherwise be unavailable to them. We can’t ride bikes unless someone makes money building them, and a lot of the news and analysis you provide is unavailable unless you can find a way to make it work for you.

        I don’t think that putting money first is necessarily the answer — your ideas need to come first, and the money flows from that. There is a huge difference between having good articles that people want to read be accompanied by targeted ads alerting to things they’re actually interested in and trying to maximize screen impressions and clickthroughs.

        What makes BP special is that it is the single best place to get local cycling news along with analysis of things that affect cycling — the new transportation bill is case in point.

        However, the environment is unfriendly to those outside a narrow spectrum and the reverse snobbery against broad categories of cyclists (especially those who like certain gear) is pretty bad. There are a lot of cyclists who could and should be here, but they’re not because they don’t want to be clobbered. These people could help bring you revenue while strengthening BP and not taking any of the advocacy that’s so important. Diversity is a good thing, and this place could use a lot more of that.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu July 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm

          Maybe BP could revive the forums, organized so that each of the various aspects of cycling in Portland have their own place. Forums need active moderation to avoid becoming sewers, but volunteer moderators working from clear guidelines can take care of that. Forums allow readers to generate content and discussion, without BP having to write it all.

          Guest posts are good, but writing one requires a level of effort higher than starting a thread in a forum. The number of possible guest posters is limited by the requirement to be a subscriber. The topics of guest posts is limited by the same comment dynamics I mentioned; no-one wants to write a guest post about their new CF shoes just to get mocked or ignored.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 17, 2017 at 2:01 pm

            Hi again John Liu,

            I liked the forums and would like to bring something similar back in a different format. That’s a good idea to only allow subscribers to participate. We’ve talked about a section where people could post links or questions as a post and then have the comments be like the comment thread. I love Ask Metafilter and have dreamed about having a similar resource/tool centered around Portland biking/transportation issues.

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          • Mossby Pomegranate July 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

            We need a forum where only Adam and 9watts post…oh wait.

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  • Toadslick July 17, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Thanks, Jonathan, for all that you do! I’ve met wonderful people, participated in unforgettable events, and connected with activists and organizations, all because of your blog.

    BikePortland has made living car-free in Portland so much better, by providing vital information about route closures and openings, fostering a supportive and inclusive community, and enabling people like me to have a voice in the future of transportation in Portland.

    Thanks again for all of your hard work and dedication.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 17, 2017 at 9:35 am

      That is so nice to hear Toadslick. You have basically put words to my mission and my dream. Replicating your experience with milions of people is my goal!

      Thank you.

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  • Paul Cone July 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Did Lars Larson put the Thanks in your mouth, or did you?

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  • Eric U. July 20, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    this is a great blog. It’s the only bike blog I read, from across the country. I guess I just need to see how the other half lives, since we’re lucky to have a few bike lanes that are really converted gutters

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