To put it simply, changes in tax regulations mean that without securing a reliable source of funding MyOutdoors will face closure in 2020. In a world where success is counted turnover and profit we've bucked the trend for almost a decade with a free to access website, 16 hours a day free Social Media news coverage and unique, real-world, product test and reviews - all without major brand support or advertising. Those principles of being free to access and no banner advertising remain a core belief, but to continue we now need public support. As a result we've turned to Patreon, the monthly subscription crowd-funding service, and appeal to support us from $2 a month (unfortunately Patreon only bills in $ not £).
MyOutdoors started initially as my way of staying involved in an industry I’d been part of for nearly 3 decades and a reason to get up each day following surgery. With the principles of offering independent real-world product reviews based on experience on a free to access for all basis, combined with up to the minute news reporting via social media, the workload steadily increased to the point where I had to bring a couple of industry friends on-board to help out.
9 years on we still operate to the same principles of independent reviews and free-access, but we’ve grown to a team of over 15 adventurers across multiple disciplines. We’ve built relationships with many of the biggest brands in climbing, mountaineering, trail running, cycling, skiing and travel, and work closely with tourist organisations across Europe on destination reviews.
To date every member of the team has worked unpaid in testing products, visiting destinations and compiling unique and independent content, retaining review products as reward. The costs of hosting, insurance and travel have been met by a minimal amount of commercial advertising, supplemented by subsidy from my Working Tax Credits. This model has allowed us to remain totally independent of brand influence but, unfortunately, is no longer viable after recent changes in Working Tax Credit entitlements. With over 25,000 social media followers and 65,000 unique users across our website and social media, however, we feel a responsibility to not only continue our service but to retain the principles of brand independence and free access to all.
That’s where you come in. We’re asking for your support, if you can afford it, because you value the service we provide and having an independent voice at a time when outdoor and adventure magazines and websites are struggling to survive. The money we raise will go directly into not only supporting, but improving, the service MyOutdoors provides.
At present our team members cover the costs of travel insurance on official press trips from their own pockets and travelling to and from airports, meetings and events. Our first target is to cover these costs, so no-one is out of pocket for producing unique and informative content, followed by product distribution to reviewers, hosting, and specialist software costs essential to producing MyOutdoors.
While we really value each and every supporter we gain we also understand that by contributing you expect and deserve something in return. Although we hope to gain supporters who are on-board simply because they value what we produce and want to see us continue we also see it as an opportunity to allow our readers a bigger say in what we do, where we visit and what products we review. As a member of our community you’ll have an input on these decisions, and be able to talk directly to the review team on how products have performed in real world conditions. We’re also working on a series of “rewards” for higher level supporters ranging from advanced access to features to live Q&A sessions and social meets outdoors.
With 500 supporters at our entry level rate we’d not only be able to support the review team’s costs but also improve and expand. At present we only attend a single outdoor trade show, the Outdoor Trade Show (OTS), each year – declining Europe’s biggest trade shows ISPO and OutDoor (best known as Friedrichshafen) although accredited, due to costs. We’ve also been restricted in terms of the number of products we can physically review with team members all having “day jobs” (often in the outdoor industry) and limits on how much they can contribute from their own pockets.
A reliable source of income will also enable us to plan ahead, developing our adventure travel coverage. More importantly, however, it would enable us to remain totally independent of commercial interests. We’re proud that despite the offers, we’ve been able to take a moral stand on refusing advertising from the gambling industry and funding from supporters will help reinforce our values.
The subscription level is set low because MyOutdoors don't want to be elitist about who can be involved in this community- if all you can afford is a pound a month, but you still want to be on board and support, that's huge, and that's plenty. If you can afford more, that would be fantastic.
The whole team at MyOutdoors would like to thank you for your interest and hope you feel you can support or aims and ideals of producing free, independent, outdoor and adventure news and reviews 365 days a year.