As a new member of Milestat I love everything you do! I am always so impressed with all the wonderful pictures and stats that are put up each week. It would a very bad thing to lose! I will do everything in my power as a parent of a sophomore who loves Field & track to make sure this site is around for a long time! Keep up the GREAT WORK!!! You have my continued support!
Sorry typing from my phone. Please excuse the spelling.
Though not a popular choice, because of all the sharing, it might be wise to go to registering an account based on IP address. This locks one particular computer/phone that a person can view your content and will virtually eliminate the sharing problem. While there are drawbacks to doing this, the vast majority of people do only view milestat from only one computer in one location. People that don't like that idea can purchase more then one account. The alternative to not having this site versus having unhappy non-paying customers is a real no-brainer in my opinion.
As much as I want Brandon to be able to maximize his income from milestat, limiting by IP is not a good idea. Perhaps by external Ip would be ok, so based on the internet provider not each individual device, but generally this would just cause outrage. I log into milestat from an average of 3-4 devices and on two different internet providers (home and school) a day. It just wouldnt be practical to limit this when I own a unique account that is not shared.
Thanks for the coverage Brandon, hope you get more subscribers!
I’m one of those people who visits the site, but is not a subscriber. (Before anyone jumps all over me, I’ve never used anyone else’s login, even though they’ve been offered to me several times.) And my hat is off to Brandon for all of the hard work he puts into it; it’s clearly head and shoulders above every other site in the MileSplit network, even without full access. The number of people who do subscribe is a testament to the value it holds for Virginia’s high school running community.
However, if MileStat is a business, it needs to be run like one. This includes searching out alternative revenue streams, instead of posting pleas for money every new season. I know that there are some expenses Brandon has that run-of-the-mill bloggers don’t, like on-site photographers—but seriously. Tens of thousands of people run websites as their full-time jobs, and MileStat is the only one I’ve seen where the webmaster spends so much time schilling for money. If the current subscription system isn’t working, change it! Explore new forms of advertising! Start a blog on running gear, with click-through ads! Anything!
I won’t stop visiting MileStat, despite the frequent threats to drastically minimize coverage, because it’s the only place I can see results for every meet in the state. And I want it to succeed as much as every other person in Virginia’s cross country and track community does (despite my apparently evil decision not to subscribe). But please, Brandon, think a little more like a businessman. There are multiple solutions to this problem. Yelling at people about subscriptions is, as you have seen, only going to get you so far.
Do you have any leads that you could refer Brandon too? Brandon seems like a smart guy. He's got two great Outdoor track meets that he has started simi-recently for addition income. Instead of knocking his hustle, why not subscribe? I'm sure that Brandon likes the hits to the page but hits don't pay the bills. How does asking for subscribers bother anybody? If people subscribe cool. If they don't it's cool too but don't complain about him asking if you don't have a viable alternative.
We have been subscribers for years, and I really appreciate the site, especially since Brandon started it right when our own son's high school running career took off, and we had just moved to VA. Now that our son is running in college, we continue to enjoy the updated stats and info. I am constantly amazed at the quality and quantity of coverage. And, with a second son starting to run in high school, I feel like I have an old friend to keep me informed.
That said, I think one simple thing that would make it easier to improve the budget situation would be to allow very little free content. We let our subscription lapse briefly about a year ago and I couldn't believe the amount of stuff I could view for free. An easy step would be to allow teaser articles that cut off after a few lines and require a log in; or perhaps no pics or videos without a log-in. Certainly no info on any meets: performance lists, heat sheets, teams attending, results and so on, should all be subscription only.
I know other subscription sites allow very little for free.
Thanks again for all you do, Brandon.
It is a tough decision to decide how much should be free and how much should be subscription only. I think the results to meets pretty much has to stay free or you won't ever attract users. I think it's a great site and an unbelievable tool for coaches. I subscribe and am on here all the time, it seems. I use the stats section to figure out what percentiles of performance my athletes are in and plan things out accordingly. I'm sure many coaches use this site in similar (and even smarter) ways. We schedule our meets through here, we always here people say at almost any meet, "The results will be on MileStat." I wouldn't make it mandatory, but what if the schools or the big meets paid a little bit for the obvious benefits the site has brought them? I don't know how anyone came up with schedules and seeded meets before this wonderful site.
I honestly would know absolutely nothing about cross country or track if not for this site. My subscription is the best bargain in the world.
MileStat is a fantastic resource, and I would hate to see it shrink. I have friends in other states, so I occasionally I go check out their MileSplit pages... Virginia has by far the best one. Thanks, Brandon! tl;dr version of what I wrote below: I hope Brandon finds a way to keep MileStat profitable!
Unfortunately, as I see it, the freeloading-subscriber problem is something that isn't going to go away. So much of the web is free that people often forget that everything has to be paid for in some way. Additionally, most of the site visitors are high school students without credit cards... I know that I had to bug my parents for weeks before they got around to paying for my account. It is _so_ much easier for students to share an account (I don't condone that, but it's the truth). However, I don't think that IP locking is a good idea; mobility is one of the great strengths of the internet.
So, if the subscriber problem is going to stay, how do you fix it? @mattymath
had a good idea about asking the meets to pay a little for registering with MileStat.
A few more ideas: Online academic databases share the same problem; how do they get people to pay for and not share their services? What they do is sell institutional licenses. Why not make a way for coaches to buy a subscription for their whole team? The price for a team subscription could be determined by the number of athletes on the team, or something like that.
Two simple changes: I've seen a few sites split up articles into two or more pages with ads on each page. More pageviews = more ad views = more revenue. Secondly, there are probably some single or two-season athletes on the site who simply don't want to pay for a whole year's subscription. Maybe there should be a $4/month subscription option for them.
A final suggestion: at most track meets, there are tons of people with cameras. However, most of the pictures never make it to MileStat. Maybe there could be a slight discount for subscribers who upload pictures? The discount could even vary depending on the number and quality of the pictures uploaded. This would encourage people to put more content to the website, hopefully to the point that MileStat wouldn't have to hire as many freelance photographers.
I agree with what was said above about advertisements and having third party buissnesses pay for the site. This is method is the main method of revenue for facebook, unsubscribed spotify users, youtube, etc. Just like your television uses comercials to give you free channels and other sites put advertisements on the side you could do the same. The adds could be placed on the left side of the screen on the home screen taking up a bit of site space and at the bottom right over the "more articles" link thing. These two would be the most expensive because the homescreeen gets the most views (its how you get into milestat). then there should be adds on the sides of all meet sheets with the price of holding an add increasing with newer meets and decreasing as they get older with the exception of state and regional championship results sheets. Then on articles and at the begginging of videos and finaly the least expensive adds on the athletes page (again on the left side).
Thanks so much for all the things you do for all of us on the track. Hope to see this site prosper.
im just looking at your site and there is so much room for adds!!
The ads on the site are not controlled by me (except the local ads on the front page). That is controlled by MileSplit and Universal Sports, which we have a pretty good ad revenue sharing program with them. Despite that good deal that we have with Universal Sports (NBC's olympic sports network), subscription revenue is still 4-5 times greater than the ad revenue. The website could survive and operate w/o the ad revenue, but couldn't w/o the subscription revenue. I think people generally overvalue how much or assume too much on what websites can make from internet advertising. In today's economy, many businesses are scaling back on the money they invest in advertising.
The monthly rate is something that I'm a advocate of and been pushing MileSplit as a whole to implement. Some people think at $36/year and think that is too much, but when you break it down to $3/month...its really not. Most of those same people I believe if the site only offered monthly renewals at say $4 or $5/month would probably think that is not much and affordable to them, yet if they remained renewing the entire year that would be either $48 or $60 year towards the site's revenue and budget. That would make a huge difference in the sustainability in the site and ability to expand the coverage more.
The pain in monthly for us is to be able to process a lot more frequent payments (our current setup is not automated...I have to check my email and receive an email notification from paypal to process a subscription), so I'd be having a lot more emails to go through with the switch to monthly payments from annual. We'd likely have it setup towards an automatic renewal, which when we did this previously...people wouldn't realize it and then complain when they were charged again the following year and want their refund (even though if they read closely when they were purchasing the subscription that it was automated because we had an option to do either automated renewal or one-time payment). But I guess those headaches would be worth it in my opinion if it helped increase the site's revenue and budget.
As a 2nd year track parent & 2nd year subscriber, I use MileStat mostly for the results of track & XC meets. With the pleading for new subscriptions, I wondered why this site was free for results. The majority of parents just want to see where their child finished in a race. MileStat is a great site and I do advertise it word of mouth for you.
I did just wander on this site when my daughter ran Runnin’ With the Wolves as an 8th grader and I wanted to see the XC race results so I googled Runnin’ with the Wolves and Milestat came up. Then I subscribed when my daughter was running cross country the following year in high school. I didn’t know what the advantages were for subscribing so I asked our coach after the XC season and he showed me the site since there was no preview of what extras was included if you subscribed. There were some nice features such as some pictures of my daughter so I subscribed.
Although my daughter’s school did have the 2011 AA outdoor pole vault state champion (who did not get coverage to my disappointment), our school meets and some of the bottom heats do not get much coverage unless they are at a very large popular cream of the crop meet. (I know that you can’t cover everything). I really don’t need to subscribe at this time since my athlete is not cream of the crop but I support your work so I subscribe. I suspect that many parents are in the same boat so they just check results for free. Although I have taken more of an interest in the other coverage since subscribing, most times I only take a look at the photos or videos and not the articles.
I do take photos for our team for our end of season banquets and for our coaches for reviewing technique. I think the pics would be MileStat quality but I don’t post them because it would take some time to upload them, or I am busy preparing photo discs for our coaches ASAP and mostly, the pics just cover our team. If I would upload them and MileStat sees an athlete have one of my pics on the athletes’ Facebook, would you think that they are stealing it from MileStat? I give our athletes their pictures and sometimes get contributions from parents for them. I do take a lot of pictures since it is good practice for me and I like to show the progression of their races or jumps and not just athlete portraits.
I find that the extras that MileStat provides with a subscription are really great if you are from an AAA school or have a runner in the top heats or are a coach. Unfortunately for most parents who just show up to cheer for their average athlete (and there are many of them), they are not really interested in the cream of the crop coverage, just the results of their athlete and team that they cheer for. Therefore, the results are the most important feature of this site that might increase subscriptions of people who are not that committed or excited by T&F and are just supporting their athlete or school. I know it is not a popular opinion but I honestly think it is the reason many parents don’t bother to subscribe.
As for payment schedule, monthly is not a good idea with automatic payment. I don’t do automatic payments but a yearly payment if increased might look too expensive at the time for some people. I would suggest with seasonal payment if that could be done at the beginning of each season of XC, Indoor & Outdoor if not yearly payment. This is just an opinion from a parent who is not immersed or well versed in the T&F world but I love, learn from, subscribe, and use MileStat on a consistent basis.
Another potential source of income is to sell pictures, I know you are trying to do that on a limited basis but linking photos through SmugMug or another printer service would automate this process and make it easier to buy photos for print or even downloads. Could look at even sharing income with photographer to encourage quality of work.
In terms of content I think people enjoy articles on indiviuals and teams. They like to read about themselves. Especially smaller programs and private schools who do not get as much coverage. Maybe look for a coach or indidual to cover different categories, with articles and rankings. Possibly partner with running stores for shoe, trainning or equipment stories.
Thanks for your hard work on keeping this site going, keep us updated on your progress.