We want to take this holiday to look back at where CBJ came from (and where we’re going) and to give thanks to all those who have made it possible.
We launched CBJ back in July of 2013 at the Lander, Wyoming public library after a 3-day marathon coding session. At that time we were traveling the country visiting climbing gyms, seeing friends and enjoying the mountains.
We had the idea of bringing back Routesetter.com, a popular routesetting blog that we ran from 2007 until 2009, although now we wanted to cover the entire indoor climbing industry, not just routesetting. We spent weeks building the site and researching articles, and at the 11th hour we came to the hard realization that calling it Routesetter.com would limit our reach; thus Climbing Business Journal was born.
Now, after a year an half of reporting from the road we have settled in Reno, Nevada which serves as CBJ’s official headquarters. We have grown our readership base from a few hundred people to more than 7,000 readers visiting CBJ each month. While the majority of our readers are from the USA (77%), we have a strong showing of readers from Canada (5%), followed by UK, Australia, Japan, Germany.
While growing quickly, the indoor climbing industry is small, really small. Only a few hundred companies operate in this sector. Even if we reach every single professional in the industry, our readership numbers will never be sufficient to attract big advertisers.
That’s why we created a hybrid model of revenue. One part advertising, one part memberships. With our growing community of members we have been able to cover the cost of our web hosting, invest in upgrades to our job listing software, and expand our coverage into Canada. We are also thrilled that we were able to hire our first paid Editor-at-Large, Tino Fiumara, and are looking to bring on additional writers starting next year.
We can’t stress enough how grateful we are to all of our Members and advertisers that continue to find value in what we do.
We also need to thank all of our readers. Needless to say, without you we would not have a website.
Also a huge thanks to all the sources we’ve used over the last year and half. Wall builders and hold shapers; gym owners, managers and setters that have taken a moment out of their busy schedule to answer our endless questions which make all of our content possible. And a special thanks to Chris Shotwell for authoring From Lexington, a series or articles on the trials and tribulations of opening his climbing gym in Lexington, Kentucky.
CBJ’s extensive database of climbing gyms would not be possible without the help from Jon Lachelt who is not only a computer wiz and really nice guy but is also opening Ascent Studio Climbing Gym in Fort Collins, Colorado next year!
A Look Back
CBJ has gained popularity by producing a steady stream of quality news about climbing gym openings, expansions, sales and closures. We try to mix in a healthy dose of hard business news and advice related to gym operations, marketing, risk management and finance, along with some light-hearted news and funny videos.
Our most popular feature has become our annual Gyms and Trends article, which aims to provide hard numbers on the growth of our industry, as well as some context for its long-term viability. We have been told by multiple developers that this article has helped them get financing for new locations and expansions. Other popular features are our annual Biggest Gym list, which ranks the biggest climbing gyms in the country, and our Grip List, which highlights the most popular hold companies, as judged by the routesetters that use, love and obsess over their shapes.
This year CBJ added a Resource Directory which provides a comprehensive listing of the vendors that serve our industry, including manufacturers and suppliers of climbing walls, padded floors, holds, ropes, auto belays, software and insurance. We also have an interactive map of every commercial climbing gym in the country.
One of our unexpected successes is our free Job Listings, which has become the go-to source for employers and job seekers in the indoor climbing community. We are pleased to hear from gyms that CBJ has delivered them many quality applicants.
To 2015, And Beyond!
We strive to be an independent voice for climbing business professionals. We must walk a fine balance of supporting and promoting the industry, while at the same time striving to improve the climbing industry through critical reporting and research.
Our goal is to play a positive role in shaping the growth and maturation of the indoor climbing industry; we hope you think we are succeeding in this effort. Either way, we would love to hear your feedback. Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter, or send us an email.
We look forward to another year of providing you with great content about the business of climbing!
Mike Helt & Marlowe Kulley