So, as it seems, I am an influencer now. Well, this is not a self-proclaimed overestimation of my own capabilities, but apparently the German state seems to regard me like this. Last week I received a phone call from a surprisingly friendly young man, introducing himself as a responsible official of the Luebeck tax authority. “Your blog is really beautiful and looks awesome”, he said. I felt humbly and honestly also a bit proud of this compliment: “How much money do you make with blogging?”

A letter nobody wants to receive …

That was a blow. I don´t make money, never did. I don´t receive payments, don´t have adverts and don´t get a single Euro from anyone. NO FRILLS is a private, non-profit and 100 per cent self-paid spare time project, sustained by myself out of fun and love for the sake of publishing stories. Apparently, the Luebeck tax authority does not believe this: “This looks too professional. And I assume that publishing so much content is driven by a for-profit attitude.”, the guy stated. Days later I receive an official decree of a full tax-inspection.

Would you pay (a bit) for this content?

So, here´s the thing: Apart from the hustle that is connected with such an audit, I have nothing to fear. On the contrary, somehow, becoming the focus of the tax authority feels like receiving an official “approval” of my work. I mean, if they think I can make money with this, what better business-evaluation or at least advice could I hope for? I know from talking to “real” journalists working for various yachting magazines that it is very hard and until now not profitable to be living off of digital yachting magazines. It´s just not really working, meaning, profitable.

Luebeck tax authority: I have fans here.

Nevertheless, I of course have plans, better: visions, of professionalizing NO FRILLS, generating at least a bit of money to pay for my expenses. I would also love to add more media, like podcast or video to enhance immersion and widen the experience for my readers. All this is costing money. Not too much, I don´t have any overhead to be paid, but it costs money. So here´s my question, fellow readers: Would you be willing to pay at least a bit? How much would that be? Five Euros a month? Or even 10 Euros? Looking at the prices per issue for printed media in the newsstands, a printed issue is past 7 Euros right now …

Prospects and opportunities

Thinking this through and letting apart the financial aspects for a moment opens a great and colorful world of prospects. Professionalizing NO FRILLS would enable me first to open up the magazine to advertisers. I refrained from doing so all those years (I am publishing since 2016 now, this is article number 810) because a website full of banners looks … well, extremely shitty. And it´s not just the looks, banners deviate reader´s attention from the content. They blow the layout. It´s just awful! So, in consequence, I could turn the blog-based magazine you know now into an issue-based magazine.

Distribution via Readly?

You could download any new issue onto your device and read it as you go. You´d be turning the pages digitally. There are some great looking providers for digital publishing. In such an environment, ads wouldn´t disturb the layout or readability as the digital issue isn´t that different from reading a printed magazine on paper. I could also create revenue, or at least a bit turnover, from allowing ads. Well, assumed advertisers acknowledge the quality, reach and target group of NO FRILLS to spend money investing in an ad. Would you place an ad in such a digital magazine if you had a business in the maritime world?

How it could be done

Well, there are a lot of “ifs” and “woulds”, but this is a step I honestly think about for some years now. For example, turning NO FRILLS into an issue-based downloadable magazine is something I wanted to do 2 or 3 years ago. But it was always the damn cost – and the fact that I do not make money on this, just living out my hobby of writing, that kept me from taking this step. Now, with the mighty German tax authority believing I am an influencer making money with my publishing operations, why not? Why not register a business and start?

Is this a way you´d follow?

How ever the whole thing turns out: I am a storyteller. This is what I did my whole life, even before I was taught how to write my stories down. Years ago I ran one of the biggest race bike blogs of Germany, before that I published widely acknowledged bike travel-blogs. I will continue to hit the keyboard, to take pictures and to write the stories down I come across. I have to, because this is what I do best. Maybe this is finally the kick-off to another exciting chapter of NO FRILLS maybe this is the catalyst I needed to step up a notch. As usual, I keep you, dearest reader, posted.