Dear Cyclone Fanatics –
A few months ago, I penned this letter to you all explaining the challenges being an independent site in today’s media climate. I am a firm believer in transparency. To me, there is no point in hiding these challenges. This truly is a Cyclone community and I figure we can tackle them head on, together.
Over the years, I have made it clear that we never want to make Cyclone Fanatic a site where you HAVE to pay for content. We want to keep it free. We intend on keeping it free. It’s important to us to make our content easily available for every kind of Iowa State fan, regardless of age or income level.
Last May, I watched friends of mine get laid off from the big dog that is ESPN. Sitting from humble home office in Bondurant, Iowa, that was a scary thing to see. At the same time, CF was making pennies on the dollar when it comes to CPMs (industry lingo). It seemed like most outlets were moving to a subscription base and the Patreon model intrigued me. It creates an opportunity for loyal fans of the site who want to help out can do so in an easy and safe way.
This has helped CF significantly. Currently, we have 300 patrons giving $1,357 a month to CF. Let me tell you a little bit about where that money is going.
MORE content for you: Love Jay Jordan’s “Sunday After” pieces? Those are Patreon funded. What about what Kevin Fitzpatrick has brought to the site this football season? Yep. Patreon. Does Jeff Woody teach you something every Tuesday on CFTV-Live? Patreon. You get the point. The more money we raise, the better our product will be for you all. There is no secret as to how we have been able to bring on these extra contributors.
Boosted server: Good news and bad for a small company like ours … crazy growth. From October 1 to Nov. 30, CF’s user numbers are up 145 percent compared to 2016. That’s insane.
I am sure that Iowa State’s successful football season has a lot to do with this but while other media outlets have generally seen shrinking subscription numbers over the last five years or so, our user numbers have steadily increased – even without the football success.
As Iowa State’s alumni and fan base has continued to grow, so has our site.
I also think this has to do with delivering the type of content consumers want and knowing your audience. Podcasts are a great example. It is now rare for us to post a podcast that doesn’t get downloaded/streamed at least 10,000 times.
The problem with the growth is that it costs more to run CF. For example, in October, we had to boost our server significantly, which now costs us and extra $500 a month. We make some of that up in ad revenue but as I have stated multiple times before, we would love to get to a point where we aren’t as reliant on ads, which would make the site even better for you.
Point is, Patreon funds have gone to the server increase as well.
Bowl/away game coverage: Sending writers to events can be expensive but I believe it is necessary to do in order to cover a team the way it should be done. We recently sent Jared Stansbury and Rob Gray to Manhattan on the Patreon’s dime. Jared covered the hoops season opener at Missouri. We will have in-depth bowl game coverage courtesy of our patrons as well.
The ultimate goal
While other media outlets that are owned by giant corporations are constantly cutting back, I want to continue to boost us up.
We greatly appreciate our current patrons but we can always use more. Every little bit helps.
If you want to just keep reading/conversing with other Cyclone fans, that’s mighty fine by us as well.
Thank you and have an awesome weekend!