North East Climbing was launched just about a year ago. It started with two friends, both of whom share a love for climbing, an appreciation for photography, and a desire to constantly critique their gear. We decided to dedicate time and money to help contribute in any way we could to the mountaineering and climbing community. We encourage others to do the same and would like to share some of the stuff we’ve learned along the way so far.
Getting Started Was Slow
The first step we took was buying a domain name and designing the website. There were countless options to go about doing this, but we found WordPress to be the easiest because it seemed like the most user friendly. It has pre-designed themes and templates that you can use,as well as its own advertising options. Despite this, it still took hours to design, constantly tweaking the themes and format to achieve the look we currently have. After that the initial design, we had to build some sort of following. We did this by using our climbing Instagram profile. It’s a slow process, but by using Instagram (Hashtags are unfortunately a must), we saw our following grow month by month. We utilized this platform to disseminate our images and link to our articles.
Getting Started Was Expensive
Oh yea, this website cost money. Owning the name North East Climbing costs money. Trips that we go on cost money. All the equipment that we test out costs money. Be prepared to invest in your product!
It’s Time Consuming
Of course, the most enjoyable part of this website is testing the equipment. We tested 7 different ice tools last year. However, we reviewed 4 of them. Getting out and climbing is what we live for, but when you’re reviewing a product you have to test it in as many ways as you can. That could mean doing three different types of ice climbs with the same tools to see how they perform, pushing the equipment (and even yourself) to find its limitations.
All the while, it is very important to us that we capture products being used in realistic scenarios. This includes: how well a bag carries rope, how comfortable an ice tool is to use on an approach in mixed terrain, and what does it actually looks like to climb in a jacket? It takes some extra work and good timing to capture these authentic moments as they’re happening.
After testing a product and capturing all of the pictures we need, we then sit down and write meaningful reviews, which can take a while. At the end of a day of climbing, the last thing you want to do is write about the same thing that you’ve been talking about all day.
Writing Is Difficult
Starting off, we needed to find a writing and review style that worked for us. Firstly, we decided against a 10/10 or 5 star system. What’s a 10? Whats the average amount of stars? Do you start at 0 stars and work your way up, or start at 5 and work your way down? If we rate a bag a 9/10 in 2018 but a better bag comes out in 2019, do we have to change our review?
It took a lot of reading of our own, first drafts, critiquing and proofreading until we found a style the we liked. We’re constantly learning when it comes to climbing but we didn’t think we’d be learning more about writing too.
In our reviews we list what we like, what we don’t like, and our final thoughts about the product. We felt that this would stand the test of time. We will provide the facts and images and the reader will form their own informed opinion.
Don’t Do It For the Money
We really wanted to review gear because we found current gear reviews lacking or non existent for the gear we were interested in. To test gear we had to do the very thing that we were trying to prevent: buying gear without knowing whether or not we will like it. We buy gear, test it, and then try to sell it. We don’t make our money back, and that’s okay. We aren’t in it for the money.
One way we attempted to make some money back was to advertise on the website using WordPress’s integrated feature WordsAd. It was easy to activate and place on the website but after a couple months and about a thousand views, we made close to $0.50. With those numbers, we’d have to resort to click bait or fake news to cover the cost of a carabiner.
Our goal was to provide people with more thoughtful gear reviews, and entertain our readers with stories from our climbing trips. We hope North East Climbing has done one of those things for you. In year 2 we are doubling down. More reviews, more climbing trips, and more action!