Pootling around London

Last month marked 9 years since a blog about the Capital, seen through the eyes of a Licensed London Cabbie, entered cyberspace. At the time I had no idea about the direction the website would go, or even if it went anywhere. Since those nascent days, it has managed to take shape with over a thousand posts and picking up half-a-million readers along the way, and become the oldest blog written by a London cabbie.

[I]T HAS ALSO sneaked into publications as varied as the National Geographical Magazine and Time Out London; featured in a BBC documentary; and seen fit to appear in a book presented to Her Majesty The Queen.

Originally hosted by WordPress, in 2012 CabbieBlog became self-hosted. This decision brought benefits but one very big disadvantage.

When you view a blog with WordPress in its URL, it means the site’s owner enjoys free hosting and complete online security. The problem is that there is a price to pay, and that is advertising, targeted at your readers generated by clever algorithms.

Patron (noun): One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is repaid in flattery. A Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson (1755)

Look at CabbieBlog’s URL, to see that WordPress is absent and that it is a self-hosted blog. You won’t find any spurious adverts popping up. In fact, the only income received has been derived from Guest Posts. Unfortunately, one venture committed CabbieBlog to posting a guest post daily culminating in featuring a Leeds hotel. This brought in a healthy income, but more importantly losing regular readers. In fact, one follower from America, putting metaphorical pen to paper, took me to task, threatening to stop reading my missives, and rightly so.

A ghost in the machine

Taking in these criticisms, now only one paid post is published a month with an appropriate footnote indicating that it is monetized content. Despite many offers, anything found on CabbieBlog, including ‘What I’m Reading’ on the homepage is not paid content unless it is stated as such.

Over time the blog has grown from a single project to more like a city travel magazine, with at least 8 posts a month; daily ‘On this day in London’; a Sunday post with 11 clips about the capital; and daily trivia tweets; and for anyone remotely interested, a continually refreshed database of cabbie slang.

If a patron buys from an artist who needs money (needs money to buy tools, time, food), the patron then makes himself equal to the artist; he is building art into the world; he creates. Ezra Pound (1885-1972) American poet, critic and intellectual.

Having a self-hosted site means all this can be brought to CabbieBlog’s readers, but it comes at a price, both in time, but importantly ensuring the site’s security.

And there’s the rub. Having more time on my hands the extra work isn’t a problem, but security costs. Because of cybercriminals, outlined in last month’s post, Sorry, both readers and the author needs protecting from these malicious viruses. Add to that the site needs backing-up to a trusted cyber-vault.

There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. George Washington (1732-1799) First President of the United States of America

A few years ago some clever Silicon Valley entrepreneurs saw this shortfall in supporting creativity and launched Patreon, whereby patrons can encourage creators, but importantly for CabbieBlog, producing a modest income stream to make visiting the site safely accessible for all.

Now those wishing to support CabbieBlog may commit to investing in maintaining this popular site. For just $1 – or for those on this side of The Pond, the price you contribute is equivalent to one copy of your daily newspaper – contributions are taken at the beginning of each month, which may, of course, be cancelled or amended, at any time.

As a bonus, for your support, each month two long-form posts from my book Pootling around London: Manor House to Gibson Square, a travelogue about riding around London exploring the Capital’s traditions, tripe and trivia, whilst undertaking The Knowledge will be published on CabbieBlog exclusively for patrons.

Each post will include an in-depth article about a single ‘run’ on The Knowledge: the journey; notes and observations from the present; facts and urban myths; historical accounts of places on the route; and the occasional insight into the process of gaining The Knowledge.

Much of the narrative is taken from personal observations and experiences at the time, but also included is the occasional anecdote about fellow Knowledge boys.

They were a sign of patronage, a sign of having so much money that it had to be squandered on objects with no purpose except to be beautiful or interesting. Jenny Zhang, Sour Heart (2017)

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