How can Singletrack mountain bike magazine get it so right?

SEVERAL months ago Cameron McNeish published a blog post about whether outdoor magazines have had their day considering there’s so much information via online magazines, bloggers and retailers publishing their own, self-generated, content.

He took the words out of my mouth; I’d been thinking for a while how over the past five years or so I’d gone from a regular reader of Trail magazine to giving it a cursory glance on the newsagent’s shelf.

That’s because I’ve started to follow brands, retailers, publishers, bloggers and adventurer’s websites on Facebook and Twitter, as well as requesting email updates from all of those just mentioned.

The publisher of Trail, Bauer Consumer Media, brings all of its magazines under the umbrella of Live for The Outdoors (LFTO), which is pretty much a website aimed at getting punters to subscribe to their various titles.

I get LFTO emails and I see their updates on Facebook, which means I get plenty of information for free making the hard copy less attractive; in fact, so unattractive that a couple of months ago I thought I’d download Trail to my tablet to see what it was like, and up until that point I’d never downloaded any magazine. I shouldn’t have bothered; it was nothing more than a glorified PDF; no interaction or social sharing.

Moving from two feet to two wheels, I also get lots of info from the website of Singletrack mountain bike magazine, a publication that McNeish touched on in his original blog post.

Singletrack has won accolades, such as two years ago when the Specialist Media Show gave it the Media Pioneer Award for its approach to “combining digital and print into a combined publishing strategy”.

It is independently-owned, and is based in Todmorden; which is on the very western edge of West Yorkshire. It was co-founded by and is edited by Chipps Chippendale who, I’m guessing, had to make a lot of personal and financial sacrifices in the early days to get the magazine out which, I guess, is to a certain extend run as a cottage industry.

The magazine is beautifully put together, really well written, entertaining and lengthy articles with great photography from across the globe.

As for the website, which I get directed to via updates on Facebook, this is mostly bite-sized pieces of information which attracts healthy feedback.

There’s a regular updates of videos, usually of crazy downhill people riding crazily downhill.

And a couple of weeks’ back there’s was even an article on how you could rent the flat attached to the office.

They’ve even forged a partnership with a brewery in Kirkby Lonsdale called, wait for it, the Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery.

fresh goodsBut there’s more; there’s Tuesday Treats, Midweek Mini Movies, Throwback Thursday and my personal favourite Fresh Goods Friday, especially when it’s the video version which is done in a professional yet amateur way. And that’s a compliment.

Nowadays it’s not always about hard copy sales; in Singletrack’s case both the magazine and website are well supported by advertisers and without knowing the circulation figures and analytics it’s obviously a good proposition for them.

I said at the beginning I no longer buy any magazines regularly and Singletrack is no exception, but I do use the website and that’s good from the perspective of the advertisers as well as the PR people offering products for reviews because I trust Singletrack so I’m obviously inclined to buy things, or at least be highly tempted, as well Tweeting about what I’ve seen.

Singletrack has produced a truly great product that is supported by an avid online community, and other publishers can learn a lot from them.

Team Singletrack, I applaud you!

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