Community Commentary Lieback's Lounge: Digital Never Felt So Good (100th Issue Celebration)

Lieback’s Lounge: Digital Never Felt So Good (100th Issue Celebration)

Lieback’s Lounge: 100th Issue Celebrations

The timing is perfect.

Not only does the Ultimate Motorcycling staff get to celebrate a New Year in January, but also the Centennial issue of our magazine.

Dealing with modern times—the waning interest in print magazines and the cost of production—we went fully digital in September 2016, and began offering a magazine every month vs. a print issue every other month. We have, however, provided all print issues digitally since 2010.

Lieback's Lounge | Ron Lieback Motorcycle ColumnThe difference was not only dicing the print and going fully digital. We went digital on an interactive app rather than the typical PDF format—something new for the motorcycle industry.

The app allows readers to fully interact with our magazine. From clicking hyperlinks to watching videos, everything is optimized for a leisurely read on a mobile device.

Before we went fully digital, I predicted success, but the numbers were much higher than I expected. The magazine gets around 250,000 downloads per month, which is a much larger audience than we had for our magazine.

Combined with an average of a million visitors per month on our website, we have quite a reach, and the majority are faithful readers who visit our digital publications every day.

Even though I’ve been the Website Editor since 2008, I came from a print background—I even worked in the newspaper industry for five years as a night reporter.

Besides handling my own daily writing/editing/uploads and traveling the world to test motorcycles, I also complete all SEO duties on the website—basically another full-time job to keep our site search friendly and recognize and threats or opportunities as they show up.

Of course, before the change I was pro-digital, but I was very sad to see the print edition go. There was always an unmistakable energy present while waiting for the issue to arrive in the mail. Up until about four years ago, I was a complete magazine junky—I had subscriptions to every motorcycle magazine available, along with my other favorites like Esquire, Inc., and Forbes.

Nowadays, the only print magazines that come to the house are Esquire and my monthly AMA issue—American Motorcyclist. That’s it. All other news is consumed through digital.

I still have a huge love for print—only novels and non-fiction books. As part of self-development, I’m constantly reading. This year my tally is around 65 books, and they are all print. I can read magazines and news on a digital screen, but I mark the hell out of my books with an ink pen for notes and quotes. Every morning I awake with ink marks on my right palm, something that makes my toddler laugh.

I never read a book in digital format. Magazines are an entirely different story, They are more leisure vs. self-development or study, though the UM staff is always out to educate as much as entertain.

That takes me to the staff. Due to the nature of any online business and the various digital formats for meetings nowadays, people can work anywhere.

I’ve been completing my daily Ultimate Motorcycling duties for a decade now in Northeast Pennsylvania, though the UM offices are about 2700 miles away. People are stunned when they see our output and the small staff.

They are even more amazed when I say I met UM President and Founder Arthur Coldwells and Magazine Editor Don Williams in person only once—at one of our twice-a-year track days three years ago. I planned to visit those track days every year, but personal family issues and motorcycle launches have prevented me from getting back.

Like most organizations, we do have our weekly meetings. Most are about strategies and actionable items, but the conversations always end discussing some MotoGP race or whatever new bike just hit the market.

That’s what living in a digital world does—it allows us to do more with less stress, just as one can read any one of our digital magazines whenever and wherever they are by simply visiting our app.

Because we all come from a long line of print magazines, we never lost that energy to put out the best editorial practices. I observe the lack of editorial quality in many of the digital magazines I try reading; you can tell when things are rushed and sloppy, and that quickly diminishes readership.

Not at Ultimate Motorcycling. The staff here is hyper-focused on creating only quality content that is filtered through a strict editorial process, and I’m super proud to be a part of it. We do the hard work, and deliver it on a digital platform that allows the audience to read when the need is there.

And the best part? The app is completely free, and will remain that way for the next 100 issues that I’ll again be super proud to be part of.

A big thanks to all of our readers. I hope you’re enjoying the digital ride.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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