In today’s episode we Wax On with Matt Warshaw. Matt tells us his origin story, what compelled him to chronicle surfing’s history, the value of distancing one’s self from the act of surfing, while he gave away all his surfboards, and what’s next for the Encyclopedia of Surfing. Enjoy!
A note from our friend, Matt Warshaw . . .
Hello Encyclopedia of Surfing supporters, would-be supporters, friends, family, and surf lovers everywhere.
Well, this is a tough one to write, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Encyclopedia of Surfing is underwater. We need to raise $30,000 by December 31, or the whole online project—Encyclopedia, History of Surfing, Above the Roar—goes away.
How did this happen? Short answer: funding a website is really, really hard. In 2010, when I started building EOS, the goal was to have it up and running and modestly profitable by 2012. For three years, with SURFER Magazine’s support, it was very close. But the SURFER deal wasn’t renewed, and I couldn’t find anybody to step in and take their place—as many of you know, the surf industry is having its own problems. Surf-biz fluctuations, in fact, are why I believe the subscription model I’ve had in place for EOS since May is the only way to create a sustainable revenue stream. But at this point, EOS is still in the red . . . and out of time.
So there it is. Down but not out. We’re looking at no-holds-barred $30,000 December fundraiser, and I’ll be doing everything short of selling major organs to hit that 30K target.
But why? Why do I keep flogging away on a project that is unlikely to ever be much more than a break-even deal? Two reasons. The work is incredibly satisfying. Not just the day-to-day building of the site, but also the fact that it allows me to pay down the huge debt I owe the sport. Surfing has shaped me, inspired me, fed me, taken me around the world, and put me in contact with multitudes who are just as stoked and crazed about the sport as I am. So there’s a huge personal incentive for me to keep EOS going. I simply love the job.
The second reason I stick with EOS is because, as the old expression goes, it’s good for the sport. Nothing else does what EOS does, or at least not on the same scale: preserving, archiving, curating, and presenting our shared history; connecting present and past; creating a stage big enough for all the savants, freaks, outcasts, champions, and adventurers who have built their lives around surfing—and have in turn built surfing itself. To that end, I’ve assembled a peaceful army of surf-world filmmakers, photographers, and writers, all of whom donate their work to EOS for free. Look at the photo and film credits on the site. Every name you see there contributes to EOS not for personal gain, but because it makes all of us look good; because surfing is elevated by EOS’ presence. No other sport has a set of websites that can touch EOS, HOS, and Roar. It costs you three bucks a month, true. But we’re ad-free and independent. The sites are not built for advertisers. They’re for us—for surfers.
How can you help? Three ways.
1. SUBSCRIBE: Just 1,000 new subscribers this month, and we’re good through 2018.
2. DONATE: I’ve added a “Donate” page—silly me for not having it up six months ago. Fernando Aguirre, Bob Hurley, Kelly Slater, Nick Woodman? Any one of you could put this fundraiser to bed right here, right now, one click and done. The rest of you, choose your amount— anything is appreciated, nothing is too small. Note: if we don’t hit $30K, your donation will be refunded.
3. TELL YOUR FRIENDS: Word of mouth is going to make or break this drive. Light up your social, send a group email, hold forth in the parking lot. Keep it short and sweet if you like. “I’m a satisfied Encyclopedia of Surfing subscriber, and you will be too!” Grab an image or two from the bottom of the page. Don’t forget to include links.
I’ve tried to anticipate some of your questions (see below), but if there’s anything else you’d like to ask, email me at email@example.com
Thank you for listening. Thanks for supporting the site. Now help me pull this drive off so I can get back to making videos about boards flying off cars and stuff.
Encyclopedia of Surfing “30K OR BUST” fundraiser FAQ
IF YOU HIT YOUR 30K TARGET, WILL THERE BE MORE SUBSCRIPTION DRIVES?
Hopefully not. If we pull in 1,000 subs this month, and continue to grow from there, EOS will be drive-free.
IF YOU DON’T HIT THE TARGET, WHAT HAPPENS TO MY DONATION?
You get it back. It’s like Kickstarter. If we make our goal, we keep the money. If not, all donations are refunded. Also, if the sites go down, subscriptions are automatically cancelled.
IS MY DONATION TO EOS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?
Yes. EOS is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit.
IS MY EOS SUBSCRIPTION TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?
No. I don’t get it either, but no.
WHY DON’T YOU SELL ADS ON YOUR SITES?
EOS doesn’t generate enough traffic to attract corporate advertising. Plus ad money on the web is running away from independent websites, over to Google and Facebook, and that trend is not changing anytime soon. Also, EOS, rightly or wrongly, was designed and built to be an ad-free experience. It’s something that sets us apart from virtually every other surfing website.
IF YOU DON’T HIT THE TARGET, WHY NOT JUST KEEP THE SITE UP AS-IS?
I pull my content, go back to my book publishers, and work on revised print editions of EOS and HOS.
WHO HANDLES YOUR CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS?
Stripe. EOS has no access to card numbers, or personal card-holder information.
I’M NOT A BIG FAN OF GIVING MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER TO ANYBODY ON THE INTERNET. IS THERE ANOTHER WAY I CAN SUBSCRIBER OR DONATE?
Yes, we can do it through PayPal, or by check. Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
CAN I GIVE A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION?
Yes, but not through the site. Again, it would through PayPal deal, or by check.