Happy New Year, dearest readers, skippers and landlubbers! I was a bit lazy the past days, deciding not to open the laptop for a whole week, I spend a wonderful Christmas- and New Year´s Eve-vacation in the Netherlands. Refreshing, different, calming and perfect to get a nice recharge. 2023 has been a buys year, troublesome, frightening when it comes to politics and again densely packed with lots of work. “A busy year” sounds quite nice, but when it comes to sailing, it was the worst year for me since I consider myself a sailor: Less than 200 miles on a boat. That´s absolutely disappointing!
Nevertheless, you might have read it, the one trip that was outstanding was the delivery of a new Oceanis 34.1 with some really nice heavy wind sailing, gorgeous to see the little new boat behaving so well in wind with up to 38 knots, hitting 40 knots in the peaks. Other than that, all the bigger sailing trips I had in mind had to be cancelled for various reasons and since I am “boatless” since I sold my First 27 SE that was it. Anyway, I got partially reimbursed with some absolutely fantastic moments during the building process of my new yacht, the Omega 42 “ALPHA”, later more on that. So, what will 2024 bring in terms of NO FRILLS SAILING.com? Well, I have some big news here …
Monetizing and professionalizing this website
Since the German tax authorities did indeed scare the shit out of me a few months ago, insinuating that was illegally making money with the blog – which of course I do not – I was playing around with the idea to actually starting to do it for real. I mean, if the mighty German authority tells me that NO FRILLS SAILING.com was appearing “very professionally made” and has the “potential to make money with”, well, maybe it really has this potential? In this, I decided to officially register a small company, which is called No Frills Sailing Services and pull it off finally.
So, the introduction and opening of the blog for advertising is a project now. I under no circumstances want to waste the nice clean design of my blog for a multitude of blinking, ugly banners from an affiliate network, that´s not my thing. Instead, I plan to have two “partners of the month”. The will appear on the home page with logo and one ad (just Jpeg, no moving banners) and one full width banner in each article of the blog for the duration of the month. I hope to attract one or two brands per month to invest a little budget that way.
I also will set up a Patreon.com-account. Providing the content on NO FRILLS SAILING.com in a frequency of three articles per week is a huge effort. Since 2016 I am writing now, creating a universe of 882 articles up to now. The cost in both time and real money is huge. I was doing this just for fun and without any financial aims – and there is still no real interest in raising serious money. What I am interested in is to re-invest the money collected both from my ad-partners and also from money spend by donators via Patreon into more quality content, covering travel costs and even widening the audience by paying for Google Adwords and such. I sincerely hope that you, dearest readers, will support me in my work.
Keeping it real: No A.I.!
It is not since my very intense interview with Jochen Rieker, ex editor-in-chief of Europe´s biggest yachting magazine “Yacht”, that I´ve heard about the fundamental and partially frightening transformation of content-production by artificial intelligence. ChatGPT and other A.I.-software products are a reality. These programs are right now turning a whole industry upside down. The production of content by A.I. is a matter of some clicks, a more or less good basic briefing and a last human check (if at all). I know it from many agencies, editorial departments and the industry: Artificial Intelligence is already a common thing. And it will dominate content production in the coming years. For sure.
This means that in the future, you are going to consume mostly A.I. generated content. In the European Union there is a law in the making that such kind of content must be marked in the future and I hope it will be reality. For NO FRILLS SAILING.com, my promise is already a basic part of the brand: No A.I.-generated content whatsoever! Neither for creating rough content nor for optimization. All my texts (and any other possible form of content) are and will solely be created by me – with all their glory, their mistakes, typos and creative little puns. I am sure that both my advertising partners and brands as well as Patreons will be happy to spend their budgets.
Is blogging still a thing?
This is a question one of my respected colleagues, sailor and professional skipper, Johannes Erdmann, raised a few days ago in one of his latest facebook-postings. He did not come up with answer – I guess, no one has the answer: Is reading a text still fashionable? Everyone makes videos now, but few are doing them frequently and constantly (I mean over a period of years) on a high-class level. High class video content also means much higher production time, cost and post-production efforts. Is this something for NO FRILLS SAILING.com? Please tell me if you´d like to see videos here.
Another new channel could be the podcast. I´ve produced a podcast series of nine episodes in German called “Buying a boat from A to Z” for the company I work for. This series is very, very successful and constantly produces a high amount of download and very positive feedback. Producing a podcast is relatively low-cost, post-production is reasonable. What I like most about this channel is the usage: A podcast is mostly consumed underway, maybe on your way to or from work, in your car, the bus or the subway. A location you maybe not like or can read. Again: Is a NO FRILLS SAILING.com-podcast something you´d frequently like to download?
What to expect in 2024
So, is blogging still a thing? I would say: Definitely yes! The numbers don´t lie. In 2023 this website got between 25.000 and 32.000 visits each month. The huge and constant growth from 2016 to 2020 has flattened to this stable and constant usage. This is the reason, by the way, why a further widening of audience will only be achieved through paid advertising. I have reached the apex of natural growth through SEO and Google-traffic. Nevertheless, constantly attracting some 29.000 people each month … is quite an achievement I´d say.
I say thank you to all my readers, 20 per cent of them being US-based, 10 per cent my fellow Germans, but also people from (in this order) the UK, Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, France and Spain! 51 per cent read NO FRILLS SAILING.com from a desktop PC, some 43 per cent use a smartphone (I know the mobile design sucks when it comes to displaying pictures, I am working on this!). 34 per cent are returning visitors – thank you for remaining a fan of NO FRILLS SAILING.com!
I am playing around to also widen the content with some new categories. For example, adding a “female touch” to NO FRILLS SAILING.com. Talking with my partner, who you may know from her encounter with sea sickness, we are sketching around with “sailing related lady topics”, like a waterproof yachting-safe make-up, a lady´s crew wear-section or even a big Prosecco test underway. I definitely won´t go woke, but I think adding this angle could be a win. Even for my male readers.
New boat, new people, new life
2024 will bring a major change, I am sure. ALPHA, my new yacht, will be seeing the water – not sure exactly when and how. But that´s not so important. The real deal is something a friend wrote to me in a whatsapp-message lately. She wrote: “With this boat, you won´t have any excuses not to sail around the world!” And she is right: With a boat like this, I will have to change everything, she cannot be tied up all year long and just do the annual traditional Baltic cruise with some occasional weekend-sailing. The Omega 42 must be sailed seriously. No excuses!
And so, for sure, things will change fundamentally. I can feel it. I can see it. And you will be witnessing it too. NO FRILLS SAILING.com will change (a bit) and I hope you will go on being my company and dearest readers. No matter how the adventures will turn up, what they will be and what 2024 will bring, I am sure it will be something great, exciting are worthwhile to read (see and listen?) about here – on your favorite sailing blog & magazine.
May you, your family and loved ones, have a blessed, sound and healthy, exciting and eclectic 2024.
Yours, Lars Reisberg