It’s around this time of year when PetrolBlog normally rolls out its seasonal message, complete with festive photo of Santa behind the wheel of a Citroën AX GT.
This year, there will be no such message. Instead, I’m here to say that PetrolBlog’s days are numbered. The chances are, it won’t make it into 2017. Sad times, eh?
I could make some remark – laced with false modesty – about it being no big deal and that nobody will miss it. Heck, PB has had more false starts in 2016 than a Vauxhall Viva on a wet morning. Yes, I’m speaking from experience here.
But the fact is, I know a few people have enjoyed the waffle and bunk over the past six, nearly seven years. I know this, because I have the emails, messages and support to prove it. To the PB community, I say thank you.
It has been fun. Somehow – against all the odds – PB has managed to occupy a small corner of the internet, assembling a loyal band of fans and followers. You know who you are. Some of you are kind enough to slap a PB sticker on your car.
From the early days, it has punched above its weight, but has never taken itself too seriously. It has made a bit of cash along the way, but nowhere near enough to cover the outgoings and expenses. But making money was never the point of PetrolBlog. It was all about the joy. Which is why you’ll find no ads on the site.
Things change. When PB was established, it was an escape from the day-to-day. It didn’t need to generate any money.
But through extreme good fortune, not to mention the odd case of being in the right place at the right time, I find myself in a position where writing generates the vast majority of my household income. Keeping PB alive is like writing for free.
And writing for free isn’t a sensible idea when you have a wife, two children, an increasing number of animals and an ever-expanding fleet of cars to support. It’s a harsh truth, but PB has to pay its way.
Only it can’t. I’ve never chased hits, page views and whatever else keeps advertisers happy. And I turn down opportunities to place sponsorsed posts on the site on an almost daily basis. Being commercially savvy was never my strongest attribute, but at least you know the waffle on PB is authentic and not paid for by an SEO agency.
The landscape has changed, too. Back in 2010, car blogs were few and far between. Today, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of them. I can’t help but think PB has become a minnow swimming in a very large ocean.
And that new DriveTribe thing stands a very good chance of sweeping all before it, like a basking shark swallowing plankton.
Being brutally honest with myself, I’m not entirely sure PB is quite the force it once was. I look back at the some of the early posts with a touch of pride. I can’t say the same about much of the content over the past couple of years.
So, what’s best? Let it die a slow and painful death? Remove it altogether? Hand it over to somebody else? Decisions, decisions…
Right now, my head says pull the plug and move on. My time is needed elsewhere and PB can be filed under ‘good while it lasted’.
But a small section of my heart is telling me to sleep on it. Give it until the new year, then make a decision fresh from a Christmas break filled with eggnog and cheese footballs. I do have some ideas that could generate some cash in return for the waffle. At the very least it would be good to cover the cost of keeping the fleet alive.
If nothing else, this might help to explain why PB has been so quiet of late. Maybe you’ve moved on already, I don’t know. But this isn’t a retirement speech. Yet. That might come later.
In the meantime, have a very PetrolBloggy Christmas.
Here, have a photo of Santa in an AX GT. You know, just for old times’ sake…