UKRGB - the money side of things

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Mark R
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UKRGB - the money side of things

Post by Mark R » Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:31 am

In a rbp posting, Darren Kirk, the guy who tried to pull a scam with the url ukrgb.com, suggested that this site is run for profit.

A fair issue to raise, and I'm not one for secrets...I think it's important that all the site's money dealings are out in the open. So, here are this site's 'books' - feel free to query anything further.

Site costs:

My internet connection costs are just over £200 a year.
The hosting costs of the site are now £845.29 a year (£59.95 a month plus VAT). Up to last month they were cheaper but escalating sharply (e.g. I just got hit with a bill over 100 quid for excess bandwidth use), so we switched to our very own server.

These costs are borne by just one individual, myself. I have absolutely no problem with this...it's the way I want it to be for as long as I feel I can afford it.

Advertising:

We have never approached a single advertiser, they have all approached us on their own initiative and requested advertising space. I currently receive about one request a week for advertising. At the moment I have a backlog of companies interested in advertising, as I feel that there are enough advertisers already, and I don't have the time to deal with many more. I'm not really sure I have all the answers to this situation, I'm just trying to tread a fine line between meeting their needs and not turning the site into a bannerfest.

We have never taken a single penny of cash in return for advertising. There are various reasons for this, but the main one is simply that it was never intended to turn ukriversguidebook into a business or to profit from it; when I need payment in order to continue with the site, then that means I'm no longer enjoying it any more. I would suspect that the same goes for the others who do work on the site; Mike Buckley, Steve Balcombe, Ian Beith, Rob Tuley, etc. What we do request as payment is free or discounted kit in return. A typical example is AS Watersports who supplied a helmet to Rob in return for two years' advertising. I am happy to admit that I quite like this arrangement - it keeps me boating, and that has to be a good thing.

Other sources of income:

I tried to avoid the 'ukrgb t-shirts' thing for as long as I could, mainly because I don't have the time, let alone the inclination to get rich. Simon Westgarth kindly sorted all this out for us. I personally made just under £400, after giving away about ten t-shirts to supporters of the site and having a pile nicked! That money is earmarked for the first six months of the site hosting costs next year, and I'm very grateful to SW for his help...takes some pressure off my wallet for the first time in the site's history.

I also receive a small commission from every book sold through the 'books' page. I just checked...since Jan 1st 2000, I have made £751.77.

--------

Conclusions:

So, is ukrgb run for profit? I would argue 'no', but yes, we do benefit in some pleasing ways from it. Through the site (and also a considerable amount of writing and photography work for mags) I am able to sort out most of my paddling gear.

I've never done the sums (too scary) but I tend to assume that the money I personally pay into the site is pretty much offset by what I get out of it materially. What I get out of the site in a wider non-material sense, is another story again...money couldn't buy the pleasure and enjoyment it has given me, I can only offer my thanks to all who have contributed to the riverguides, articles and community.

I hope that covers the main points. Let me know if you need any more specific information.

Cheers,
Mark Rainsley
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Daffers
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Re: UKRGB - the money side of things

Post by Daffers » Thu Dec 22, 2005 7:01 am

guidebook wrote:What we do request as payment is free or discounted kit in return.
Fair dos Guys!! Its an execiilent site!
guidebook wrote:we do benefit in some pleasing ways from it.
Don't we all - I've meet a few wicked people thought this site and bought kit off it at bargin prices... That has probable saved me about £150 - and only bought two items!
guidebook wrote:I can only offer my thanks to all who have contributed to the riverguides, articles and community.
Ditto :-D


Daffers
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Post by Dave @ TRC » Thu Dec 22, 2005 7:58 am

And don`t forget the time involved in keeping a site like this free and upto
date.
Great work some people whould just go the pub.

worth more than just a lid .




THANKS TO U ALL AT UKRGB MERRY XMAS KEEP PADDELING DAVE
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profit etc

Post by snooky. » Thu Dec 22, 2005 8:08 am

That was a very diplomatic and open explanation.

I am afraid I would have been less tactful and told him to f### off!

10/10 Mr R.

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Post by madyak.co.uk » Thu Dec 22, 2005 8:22 am

An excellent resource and great work avoidance. Mark and friends keep up the good work, good to hear some of the T shirt money is offsetting server costs. Maybe some stickers would add extra revenue for the future, or even a hoodie? I know you want to avoid this and get out boating but i'm sure someone would volunteer in the greater cause.

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Post by steddyjames » Thu Dec 22, 2005 8:59 am

To be honest Mark I think you deserve any kit or money you get because this site is a fantastic resource and you invest so much of your own time into it.

I would say you are one of the most influencial people in UK paddling at the moment so keep up the good work.

SJ

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Post by CHOWSH » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:18 am

I enjoy the site, one of the few internet sites I visit regularly. Personally I would have no problem with people making money out of something done well and not appearing to be biased in any way. The fact it is done not for profit out of your own time/pocket/income from site (delete as appropriate) is something that I consider very generous. The current subtle advertising is good but maybe a section of the forum for people who run courses or want to put up commercial postings about their shop etc would be a good idea. People would be clear what was in there and visit voluntarily. Thanks for a great site.

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Post by SANDY0728 » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:25 am

Mark,

Very honest of you to 'open the books' - but IMO not at all necessary.

The fact that Darren has had a cheap jab at this site stinks.

The site costs the user's nothing, so there’s no need for you to explain any finances to us.

Of the few forums I visit (not all kayaking related) this is the only one that does not even ask for donations for the upkeep.
Any fringe benefits you get is your business, as long as the site keeps feeding us the vast amount of info as it does now, its all good.

The next time I'm at a event and I see the name Darren Kirk - I'll be snorting with laughter. The fool.

Merry Christmas to you and the team.

Sandy.

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Post by David McCraw » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:31 am

"CHOWSH" has a good idea... I've seen more than a few Canoe Control etc. postings here and it seems to me that a dedicated forum might be better?

Personally I have no problem with the way the site's finances are managed, it's not a public service after all! If you were to open some kind of anonymous donations system, though, that could go a long way towards meeting costs without introducing bias?

D.

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Post by FreshAl » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:37 am

Wow! I'd never have guessed the hosting would be that expensive. Again, thanks to Mark R for keeping it running.
David McCraw wrote:"
If you were to open some kind of anonymous donations system, though, that could go a long way towards meeting costs without introducing bias?
Good idea. Maybe open a paypal account Mark?

I gain enough from this site to be happy to make a donation.

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Post by Mark R » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:41 am

FreshAl wrote:I gain enough from this site to be happy to make a donation.
Thank you, but that's not a route we will ever go down.

Selling things like t-shirts is clearly a mutually beneficial way of covering some costs, presumably there'll be more of that sort of thing in the future.

If such time should come when the costs become too big to bear, then the first begging calls will be to advertisers, not end users.
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Post by boater rich » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:58 am

Despite being a regular (possibly obsessive) reader of the site, the URGB / DK thread managed to pass me by until now. God what a weirdo.

Cheers for running the site out of your own pocket for so long, I doubt many of us would have will to fund it privately for so long.

Rich

edit: Trouble spelling... doh
Last edited by boater rich on Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Ian Beith » Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:58 am

I've know Mark for a very long time now since before this site was hosted at free-online and didn't have a forum.
I can't even begin to imagine the amount of man hours that have gone into making this site what it is today. That alone could off-set any kind or reward financial or not.
For a guy who started off with no Web design skills at all it’s very impressive (even if behind the scenes it’s a bit of a handful to say the least).
To think that a user of this site could make such accusations makes me quite upset. I’ve never met Mr Delimits and I hope I never do.

I’d also think a compliment is due for Heather for putting up with the time Mark spends on this site.

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Post by Zoe Newsam » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:13 am

The amount of work and thought that go into the maintenance of this site is extraordinary- and it really appalls me that anyone could conclude that this isn't worth some kind of reward (financial or otherwise). There are very few people on the planet who would dedicate this kind of time and effort for free.
Ian Beith wrote: To think that a user of this site could make such accusations makes me quite upset. I’ve never met Mr Delimits and I hope I never do.
Absolutely. Mark, I know you don't like banning people from this site, and rarely do, but I for one would be pleased if he was never allowed to grace us with his presence again.
Ian Beith wrote:I’d also think a compliment is due for Heather for putting up with the time Mark spends on this site.


And for looking after the site (if she is at home and not paddling somewhere herself) when Mark is away.

David McCraw

Post by David McCraw » Thu Dec 22, 2005 11:16 am

I look at it like this: Mark is paying basically £1000pa out of your own pocket to provide this resource for the benefit of everyone else. Factor in the number of hours he spends on maintenance (for which we could imagine him waiving £15-£20 an hour?) and we come to some stupendous total...

In exchange for this Mark is accepting only gear donations (or discounts) from manufacturers who don't have any real influence over the site (they just get a banner ad), and now, merchandise which the site's users themselves have decided they want...

Surely this is satisfactory to everyone? There have been a couple of times now where I have not run a fairly familiar, easyish drop 'blind' because UKRGB reports there being tree blockage... I should start sending in cheques!

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Re: profit etc

Post by MrJazz » Thu Dec 22, 2005 11:50 am

snooky. wrote:That was a very diplomatic and open explanation.

I am afraid I would have been less tactful and told him to f### off!

10/10 Mr R.
agreed. I dont think you have any reason to care what people think about your finances. It's good that you try to keep the ads minimal.

I really don't think your users care how much money you're making if you're providing a great service. keep up the good work :o)

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Post by AS Watersports » Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:02 pm

As a banner advertiser I think the UKRGB arrangement represents good value. This site is an excellent way to reach the white water paddlers and the white water community and we have certainly benifited from advertising on the site.

Therefore, I can only conclude Mark is more than entitled to the contribution we (and other banner advertisers) make. It is a fair trade as I see it.

The informal arrangement where Mark proposes an item of kit, and we send it out, in exchange for banner advert space works well.
We have always been happy to work the advertising this way, and Mark has always suggested something that represents fair monatary value for the exposure our advert banner gets online. The banners all seem to randomly pop up, and so I feel I am getting the same exposure as other advertisers. I think the current number of different banners is about right.

Having said this, the site has grown considerably since we last contributed... I wonder what we will need to donate when we come to renuing our space...?

Just some (probably unnecessary) reassurance from an advertisers angle, that the work done by the site and usefullness of the advertising should be matched by the donations/ discounted kit from advertisers.

Merry Christmas,
Roger

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Post by Will » Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:28 pm

Just to add my voice to those of thanks - been a reader since the free online days, when planning Uni club trips. Don't paddle so much but still read the forum regularly purely for it's entertainment value.

Thanks to all those involved - you deserve whatever benefits you get out of it, whether monetary or otherwise.

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Post by MikeB » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:31 pm

As one of those "working" on this, I can categorically say I do it because I like doing it and because I enjoy it. That said, the friendly comments are very much apprecaited and I get a lot out of knowing people enjoy the sea site I work on.

Just to put things into context though, the last sea update took something like 4 to 5 hours to pull together in total - thats taking contribuitors work and formatting it (including pics) as well as doing the actual work of creating the update. I guess hunting for external links takes time of course, but I regard that as a normal part of my web browsing! If I write an article, it can take anything from 1 to 8 hours depending on what it is.

In terms of "reward", I've had (over 18 months) a cag, a ba, a strobe and a paddle donated (all via Mark's contacts) - total gross retail value estimated at c £500. I hestitate to estimate the time working on the site in those 18 months, as I dont in any way correlate effort to reward, it's a hobby! The donated kit was however very much apprecaited, especially at a time when my income was (shall we say) limited!

I for one would seriously condier whether I worked on the site were it ever to become a commercial / profit making operation - for me or anyone else. The strength of the UK guidebooks is that they are very much a community effort and if it weren't for the folk who contribute, we wouldn't have a site at all, quite apart from Mark's personal commitment both in terms of finance and time, and the rest of the "site team's" time dealing with tech and support issues.

It just goes to show what mutual co-operation can achieve! What a contrast to the attitude being displayed by someone else as evidenced by another discussion on this very forum.

(Edit) - incidentally, the UKSKGB merchandise which should soon be available won't benefit me - the suggestion iirc was that a donation would work it's way in the direction of RNLI via the commercial "partner" - as with Mark, I don't have either the time or resources to run a business venture making and selling polo shirts.

Regs, Mike. Sea Ed.

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Post by buck197 » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:40 pm

Hey guys where else would I look for UK paddling info, absolutely brilliant and I would be happy to make a donation/subscription even though that is not your aim. I'm a new kid on the block (actually over 50) in a kayak but your the second site I visit after my e-mail account. Many thanks and if your at a Kayaking event let me buy you guys a beer. Don't ban this guy for his stupid, thoughtless, rude and jealous comments but I'd be surprised if he will be too visible in the near future.

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Post by Pete » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:49 pm

It's a great site. I realise that I've upset people from time to time with some of my comments, but at least I'm not bitter and twisted and sniping from the sidelines.

Ignore people like Mr Kirk and keep it up.

Personally, i promise to try and be a good boy in future, as I'd hate to think that I make your life any harder by being 'witty'.

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Post by mharrall » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:07 pm

David McCraw wrote:
I look at it like this: Mark is paying basically £1000pa out of your own pocket to provide this resource for the benefit of everyone else. Factor in the number of hours he spends on maintenance (for which we could imagine him waiving £15-£20 an hour?) and we come to some stupendous total...
I was doing the kind of maths in my head as I was reading my way down this thread, and I came to the same conclusion. I.E. that the amount of hours put in are by no means covered by the small amount you guys get back from free or discounted kit.
Martin

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Post by PhilG » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:54 pm

Merry Christmas to Mark and the team, long may you continue to give us such a valuable resource.

The balance of advertising / info is just right, you justly deserve any deal which you arrange with advertisers and partnerships are certainly the way forward if generating income to cover costs is necessary.

Happy Paddling - one and all!
Phil G

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Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:36 pm

I can't help but admire the good work you chaps do. Very nice.

Merry Christmas.

Tom

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Post by Dave Thomas » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:55 pm

Yep - many, many thanks to everyone involved, both in the 'Guidebooks' operation as a whole throughout the year and in the recent succesful migration. But particularly so to Mark for having had - and sustained so well - the vision to share his 'hobby' with so many in such an entertaining and hugely useful way.

Hope you all (and indeed all visitors and contributors) have a great Christmas - and if it isn't going to rain this holiday, let's at least hope for the chance of a brisk paddle on the sea!

Dave Thomas

(edited for finger trouble!)

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Post by Mark R » Thu Dec 22, 2005 7:01 pm

Erm...thank for all the positive feedback here, but all I wanted to do in this thread was 'air' the financial details, in order to remove any misunderstanding or misinformation.
Mark Rainsley
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Post by daKrusty » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:04 pm

Personally I think you shouldn't care what people think of you or your intentions. Fact is that thousands like your site (includiing me), that says enough.

Great job, great work. Keep it going (and as I too spend countless hours to keep a site running, I know what it takes ... it simply can't be done without passion)!

Greetingz,
Krusty.

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Post by Adrian Cooper » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:24 pm

There I go again, I miss a day and I find everyone has already said it. This is the best site for finding out what is going on in the paddling world, for obaining information and generally keeping in touch. I always thought that mark must put in an enormous number of hours keeping an eye on things and updating the guides but I have to say I was surprised by the net personal cost in financial terms.

Thanks very much Mark for all your efforts.

A very merry Christmas to all of the team.

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Post by Adrian Cooper » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:31 pm

Out of curiosity I had another loom at the rec.boats.paddle thread and it occurred to me that the only person who has tried to make money out of UKRGB is Darren Kirk. Up to now I guess his speculative venture has not earned him very much.

Perhaps I should put up a poll to see how many of you all think

a) Mark has made more enemies

b) Darren Kirk is an all round good egg

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Post by active4seasons » Fri Dec 23, 2005 12:28 am

Thanks for a great site. People can make their own choice. If they don't want to take the subtle advertising they don't have to!
How simple can it be.

Here's to water flowing in the right direction for you!

Ollie

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