TMO 2018 Q4 and Annual Report

A weak fourth quarter belies the awesomeness of 2018

The fourth quarter of 2018 was a challenging one for your favorite motorcycle blog, marked by serious deficits in finances, time, energy, and spirit. However, it was a low point in a year that otherwise produced a number of positives, and as 2019 rushes in I feel quiet optimism toward the future.

Become a Patron of The Motorcycle Obsession

The fact I never got around to writing up the the Q3 report tells you pretty much all you need to know about Q4. Things generally fell apart; I was forced to take on a full-time job to counter the colossal debt run up as a result of excessive self-belief. When I struck off on my own toward the beginning of 2018 – officially launching TMO on 1 March – I bet too heavily on myself and failed to honestly consider how long it takes to make a site profitable/sustainable. Turns out it takes longer than six months.

Getting a chance to finally meet Spurgeon Dunbar of Revzilla was a highlight of Q4. Fun fact: he owns a TMO T-shirt.

Working a full-time gig (as a copywriter in marketing) now eats up quite a few hours of each day but I’ll admit the most damaging aspect of the arrangement, in terms of TMO output, has been the knock to my confidence and sense of direction. In other words, a lot of the fourth quarter of 2018 was spent lost in my own pity party.

Numbers in Q4 were down roughly 24 percent against Q3 (which had been my most successful quarter to date). Some of the Q4 dip is seasonal, of course; track the numbers of any English-language moto site and you’ll see a significant drop in readers from November to March – the time when the majority of readers have tucked their bikes away for winter. But some of the Q4 dip is my own damned fault; TMO published just five stories in the month of December. That is double ungood.

ANOTHER Q4 HIGHLIGHT: 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 – Ride Review

Things weren’t all bad, however. After all, it was in the fourth quarter that I got to be Indian’s guest at Intermot for the unveiling of the FTR 1200 – a bike that I still salivate over on a daily basis – and in November the incredibly good folks at Honda gave me the keys to the Greatest Motorcycle in the World, a Gold Wing, for the sake of riding to EICMA (Full review of that incredible bike coming next week).

Riding to EICMA astride the mighty Gold Wing was definitely a highlight of Q4.

Not a Bad Year

Overall, 2018 was pretty good. Officially, TMO was only in operation for nine months and saw readership growth until September, when things levelled then dropped (in December) due to low output and seasonal variation. Throughout, my social media game has been piss poor, so imagine what could have been accomplished if I could be bothered to use Instagram more often.

Still, we managed to do some pretty awesome things in 2018 and went to some pretty awesome places: the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Tenerife, and all four UK nations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). And the site has received a tremendous amount of support from bike and gear manufacturers. Aerostich, Dainese, Kriega, Michelin, Oxford, Pando Moto, Pirelli, Shoei, Weise, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Triumph, and Zero all stand out in my mind. But most of all I am thankful to you, the person reading this. I hope you like what I’ve been trying to build and I hope you’ll stick with me in 2019 as I continue to try to build the awesome site that I think can exist and succeed.

Early in 2018 I got a chance to travel out to Spain to test the Michelin Road 5 tire.

To that end, I am particularly uber thankful to The Motorcycle Obsession’s fantastic group of patrons. Reminding myself of your support has helped pull me from the emotional funk of Q4’s lows, and you will be the driving force in making shit happen in 2019.

Where We’re Going

Speaking of making shit happen: the first article published on TMO in 2019 was also the first to be delivered as a result of funds raised through Patreon. “Jake Barnes” is a pseudonym, of course, used by an experienced industry amigo who agreed to write a piece for less than a third of what he should be receiving. He also provided some awesome video (I’m to blame for the amateurish editing, however).

Thanks to the good folks at Pirelli, I got to go to South Africa and pet a fucking elephant in 2018. I have nothing to complain about.

This is crazy exciting as far as I’m concerned (if not simply because I can now claim to be a job creator on my next UK visa application), and I’m working hard to bring in more voices as we speak. This is me living the dream, y’all – building the website that I feel should exist – and you’re making it happen.

Beyond that, “we” here at TMO are looking forward to another year of riding and loving bikes. I can’t really predict what the future holds but I think it will be pretty cool. It always is when motorcycles are involved.