Should Start Charging a Subscription Fee?


It’s obviously the New Year, but it is also the beginning of a new month and what does that mean? That means it’s time to pay rent, child support, credit card bills, insurance, etc.

It’s also time to pay the business’s bills.

This means that there are some actual real people waiting for checks to arrive in the mail. I’m honored and proud that G. L. Pease writes a monthly column for us. We like each other and I think we’re friends, but he does get a check each month.

Then there’s Bob Tate. Another great guy that I consider a good friend, but he has to pay his mortgage and eat and other stuff to live. He gets a check too.

There’s our new video editor, who happens to be named Kevin too, and he gets a check every month. Let’s not forget Carter. He’s a full time student with dual majors in psychology and journalism, but he also had a part time job that he recently lost. So he asked if he could write two articles this month instead of one. I said yes and we will pay in advance for the 2nd one before it is done so he can pay his bills on time.

Let’s also realize all the travel; airfare, hotels, rental cars, meals, etc. to the pipe shows, tobacco factories, pipe makers workshops all over the USA and to Denmark. That does not come cheap.

We acquired a new server last month so the site would run better and faster – and doubled our monthly hosting bill in the process.

Oh yeah, and let’s figure in a little something for my time doing all of this and managing it all in lieu of having a real job.

We have lots of new content coming in the next few days including a Mac Baren factory video tour, which required travel to Denmark and hours and hours of video editing and other work.

We are doing new Pipe Babe photo shoots next week too. The model gets paid, the photographer and make-up artist get paid. Then there is renting a location for the day and the cost of pipes and tobacco.

We pride ourselves on offering the highest quality content available. Guided by our principles of quality over quantity, all of our content and information is of the highest caliber with extreme attention to detail and accuracy. This does not come free. We employ many people that help keep our site updated with original content on a frequent basis.

Keeping our site supplied with fresh content is not cheap, nor is our monthly hosting expenses or the team required to keep it all running smoothly. While there are many ways to cover these expenses, we have decided on banner advertisements. This means our website can remain free, and we do not have to charge any kind of premium to access our content.

99% of the ads we run are about pipes and tobacco – just the reason you come to the site anyway! We are not showing you things you might not be interested in. The one exception is the video ads. Our regular pipe and tobacco sponsors cannot  afford to produce video ads. This business is not big enough to support it. Therefore, we use an ad network that feeds regular TV-style video ads – just 15 or 30 seconds before a video that may have taken 100 or more man-hours to produce.

And wow! Some people can’t be bothered with that!

We bring our audience specialized high quality content that cannot be found anywhere else. We provide unique information, news, advice, and entertainment that would otherwise be non-existent … and we give it to you for FREE.

We’re just trying to make a living.

If you’re using an ad blocker, please turn it off before we block YOU.

Kevin Godbee
Owner / Publisher –
Right Click Media, LLC

12 Responses

  • Kevin,
    You and you “staff” provide a wonderful product that I truly enjoy. The articles are well written, informative and entertaining. The forums are a lot of fun as well, inhabited by some wonderful, pipe loving folks. This site has become a nice little corner of the world to escape to and I look forward to it most everyday.
    As for the ads, bring them on. I don’t see them as obtrusive at all. In fact they have lead me to some products I might not have otherwise considered. When I combine those ads with product reviews I see in the forums I find that the ads are not misleading. By and large the company’s that advertise here produce fine products and provide good service. I tried Chelsea Morning based on an ad I saw and some comments made in the forums. And I just ordered a pipe through, again based on their site and on positive comments I found here on
    Paying for “enhanced” access might be worth considering if push comes to shove. I believe those who could, would pony up. I also think that in today’s economy, paying for access may well drive some folks off. This is a hobby after all and many of us enjoyed our pipes long before the internet came along.
    What I’m getting at here is that you are right, ad blockers do no one any good in the end. You don’t want to have to charge people for access and the visitors to this site don’t want to have to pay for the privilege.
    So to my fellow users, turn off those ad blockers. They keep this site available to us 24/7 for free and they offer some really fine products to-boot.

  • Kevin,
    I love the fact that this site is free and the ads are just a price to pay for the content that you provide.It is a bonus that you keep the adds relative to the subject of this site. I would be willing to pay for premium content.

  • You raise some great points, Kevin. Even though it’s delivered electronically, is a magazine, and has costs associated with it. It’s free, or almost free to put up a simple website, these days, and anyone can create a blog if they want to explore self-publishing, but a real magazine, no matter how it’s delivered, must offer more, including diversity and breadth of content, opinion, style, frequency of updates, reliable bandwidth, and so on, and all of these things come at a cost.
    As both a reader of PipesMagazine, and a member of the editorial staff, I appreciate the fact that the ad content on the site isn’t invasive, and that includes the short ads that appear on some of the video segments. There are no unwelcome, pushy, always on, noisy ads that begin running as soon as a page is opened, no clown blathering at me from the corner about hemorrhoid creams or weight-loss supplements, and for that, I, for one, am very grateful. I’ve seen no NEED for an ad-blocker, so I don’t have one. Nor do I find it necessary to turn the sound off when I’m on the site. These are all good things.
    What I see on the page is tastefully presented, and not at all annoying. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would feel that these ads are intrusive, but the issue of advertising is a delicate one. So many sites DO bombard their visitors with both visual and auditory noise that we’ve probably all become hyper-sensitized to it.
    Keep things as they are, Kevin, for as long as you can. The site continues to have visual appeal and interest, provides diverse content delivered regularly, and lots of good reasons to visit frequently. And, readers, *do* visit frequently, support those who advertise, and let them know you saw their ad here. That’s likely the best way to keep things going as they are.

  • … and to think, I’ve been sending monthly subscription money to Bob for the past year! 🙂

  • Kevin, what I find quite ironic is that the old print media world is attempting to wedge itself into the Online global economy and they are chock full of ads. Thank goodness. Otherwise, I would find my opportunities to freelance in my dotage would be greatly decreased.
    And as most are aware, the print world of newspapers is hurting for circulation (that’s actual readers), which in turn determines ad revenue. And, wow, even newspapers that do not charge for their Online stuff are considering tacking on a cost. And why not? The Online staff is not free.
    The only thing that is holding many newspapers in check in charging you for its Online news is that once the genie is out of the bottle, in this case the freebie Online presence, it is difficult to hand her a buck or two and instruct her to return to her bottle.
    In other words, newspapers, even the majors, are finding it hard to reconcile charging for their Online product since they have allowed it to be free for so long. That was no forward thinking, if you will.
    Also, you can bet your last enchiladas those Online pages are paid for and supported by ad revenue. No way is that precious space and commodity going to be given up for free.
    So, coming from the print world as I do, I say bring on the ads. They make life better for everyone.
    I don’t know what an ad blocker is, and would not own one. In my pup days on an early newspaper, my first editor made it a rule that his reporters read everything in the newspaper. That included the display ads and the Classifieds as well (long, long before there was a Craig’s List).
    So, for me, advertising ads to my pleasure, my knowledge and information.
    And, besides, I always worry that my old editor is out there somewhere in the ether, looking over my shoulder. I miss an ad, and I’ll get a cold wind on my neck.

  • To me the ads are only helpful! I love that ads all point us towards furthering our hobby and don’t point us to a “free credit check” or to a “guess your IQ” ad. The ads on this site allow us to see what is new out there and I use them to my advantage, as I am sure many of us do.
    I think most of us forget how easy it would be for Kevin to just start pulling in random advertisers, he could be making all kinds of money from them, but he doesn’t because it would take away from this wonderful site that we have here.

  • The question about charging a subscription was rhetorical, but I think it came off as serious to a lot of readers. I wanted to use it as sort of a wake up call that this stuff doesn’t just magically happen all by itself.
    People have ad blockers because there are a lot of annoying ads and crappy sites.
    Most sites suck because of the low barrier to entry of putting up a site. Most people do not have the energy, skills, knowledge and experience to create a site that actually makes money.
    They think it is easy and find out it is not.
    It’s probably safe to say that my site is the only informational site about pipes and tobacco that makes money.
    Again, I was only being rhetorical to make a point.
    I will NEVER charge a subscription for this site.
    Thank you everybody for all of your comments and participation.
    I thank you all for being here and helping make this site what it is.
    An thanks Cortez for making me laugh as usual.
    Now, I leave you with just the first sentence and last sentence of my blog post:
    2. If you’re using an ad blocker, please turn it off before we block YOU.

  • I love the site Kevin, and I think that Greg and Jerimiah nailed my opinions. So, there is no real need to reiterate them.
    I would say, however:
    Visit the advertiser’s sites see what they have to offer, order if you so desire, and be sure to tell them how you got there… “Yeah I saw your great advertisement on”

  • I would pay to subscribe to this site – not a lot, but $20/year or so. I also would still not care if there were advertisements on it. Perhaps a freemium model would work – some general areas that are free with a subscribers-only section? In any case, I really like what I read here. I think this is a must-visit site for pipe smokers.

  • I’m delighted with the progress the site has made over the last two years. I’m also happy that the quality of writing is so high. I’ve no problem with the ads, great to see the trade getting a good place to advertise. A small annual fee would be exceptable, but I’d rather see the ad revenue do most of the hard work. Keep up the good work.

  • Hey man I like the site just as. I’ve never had a problem with adds that appropriate to the type of site it is. The type products mentioned above are not appropriate even though we do spend alot of time on our butts, but weight loss, gender enhancement nd such, NADA~!!
    As a matter of fact the visuals of pipes, tobacco, cigars and all other things save cigarettes and snuff seem to add some class to the material and character of the site.
    Subscribing to a site? Nah.