Friday 27th November marks a special day, today I celebrate twelve years of running the Flatmattersonline website!
In 2008 I said to myself after plenty of conversations and prompting from Sam Foakes on our trip to Japan (see yesterdays TBT) “let’s make a place where Flatlander’s can “document their riding, share it and naturally progress!”.”
The meaning of FM…
The name “flatmatters” originally had two meanings, the obvious, flat is important, the second, discussing topics flatland related, this became more meaningful when Mark Noble at Ride UK asked to start a flatmatters page in his magazine.
My parents competition, King of Concrete helped indirectly come up with the name, when other contests across the globe were dripping flatland. Flatland very much mattered at King of Concrete, there was a big contest floor to ride, prize money etc. I helped design a Flatland Matters tee to giveaway to everyone who rode the contest back in 2000 era, great times!
The original concept of starting Flatmattersonline pretty much runs true 12 years on. I wanted an independent place for Flatlander’s to be able to look at fresh content everyday, and help inspire their session that day. I thought if I am looking for something else on the net, than perhaps other people are too.
Interestingly enough, when I started FM back in 2008, video platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo were pretty fresh so not a lot of people were using them, and I was relying heavily on original content which eleven years on is something I am going back to and am more inspired by. So between October/November 2008 was spent writing articles to et ready for the 27th November launch.
From the initial generic blogspot days, to a full website FM that has seen many changes over the past 12 years. I really do have to pinch myself when I think about how many posts, and also how much time I must have spent putting content together for you the viewer at home.
Various stages of the site of the past 12 years:
– Posting almost every video out/ blogspot days
– Birth of the website, rebrand.
– Writing Original content
– Detailed contest repos
– Flatmatters exclusives
– Video reviews
– Top 5’s
– Old School Sunday’s
– Last Time’s
– Classic Mondays
– Throwback Thursday
– Must Watch edits
– Exclusive Interviews
– Year end awards
– Flatmatters How-to’s
– Flat Snitches
-the rebirth of the Flatmatters exclusives
As the site grew, I heard a few viewers say that it should mean something to appear on Flatmattersonline, and in a way I kind of like that, and I kind of don’t. FM in my mind shouldn’t be elitist, it’s definitely for everyone. But at the same time, I can’t sit behind the computer all day posting every video, so something has to give. This is a tough part of juggling what goes past the “Firewall” as James White calls it.
12 years on Flatmattersonline is still an independent place for Flatlanders across the globe to visit daily. Via Google Analytics it’s easy to see that not every one checks videos everyday, and I can see like 3-4 day cycle of which most of you check videos.
Since my younger years putting together Totally Intense ‘zine I always enjoyed putting together content, and sharing ‘zines with riders from other scenes across the globe. You have to understand there was internet.. The part of FM I enjoy the most is gathering original content in whatever form that might come in, and sharing it with you across the globe, I can reach so much further than I ever did as ‘zine.
Through my experience from Novice, expert to pro rider competing across the globe for over 30 years, If I can help educate the next generation of Flatlanders with my articles that isn’t a bad thing in my mind. As the natural quality of riding progresses, my motivation to keep going is more driven by trying to provide original content, and help up and coming riders which I have done over the years rather than just copy and paste edit after edit.
People over the years have asked what’s the hardest part of running Flatmatters?
Time management is definitely the hardest part of running the site and perhaps the major thing I have improved, at least in my mind. For many years FM would take over five hours a day which affected my personal riding sessions a lot (my one regret if there was to be one), now I’ve learnt to manage tha,t and not rush content out so that I can spend time riding for myself.
So when you are at home asking why your edit is not online yet? Chances are 1) I haven’t seen it yet. 2) I’m at work or riding or 3) I’m saving it for the next day as I have already posted 4-5 videos.
The Flatmattersonline Year end awards…
After the concept of the Must Watch edit started to gain momentum, I started to think about all these videos I describe everyday and the need to do something to recognise the work people put into flatland. But, not just rider of the year like the Nora Cup. I went back and forth with a few friends and the Flatmattersonline year end awards were born in 2013. Johann Chan stepped up to help on the graphics to share the news, and seven years on the awards are still running. The 2020 awards will be coming up really soon, and it will be interesting to see how the lack of live contests affects your judgement this year.
From Flatmattersonline to Judging…
It’s also interesting to think about my role now as a curator/critic//rider, I feel curating Flatmattersonline and having a critical eye and knowledge on what’s current and also whats been done in the past in flatland has lead me to judging events worldwide. And last year specifically the honour of being headjudge at the Fise/UCI world series. On top of that, my work has been recognised by people such as my childhood hero, Pete Brandt who organised a fundraiser to get me to SF along with Fred Gates and James McGraw for the One Love jam earlier last year and I went back again for January 2020 in SF/LA thanks to Fred, Pete and James. Thank you once again to everyone who donated to get me out to Cali!
The support for the site really does blow me away, many great memories that will never be forgotten. And I look forward to making more!
FM is a labour of love for me, that will no doubt take many swings and turns in the future.
The rebirth of the Flatmatters exclusives..
Whilst I was out in San Francisco earlier this year, the idea to start the FM exclusives came into my head and being that I was staying with Pete Brandt at the time, it only made sense to feature Pete on the first episode, and he came through with an amazing clip that got the ball rolling again. And now the exclusives seem like they have been such a good idea to do with COVID destroying travel and live contests this year, although as of right now clips have dried up since episode 59. That is completely understandable with many of us locked down for the second time..
I was hoping to publish my own riding edit today to celebrate 12 years of FM, but a pulled back muscle in the right side of spine has stopped me riding for two months now. The website also is a great tool for me passing time, and keeping me motivated during these difficult times, right now there is so much time to ride and it’s frustrating as hell when you can’t. So I’ve taken this time to reflect a lot on what I am doing, hopefully if I can stay injury free for a few months you will see the edit in the new year.
What’s next for FM?
I am finally getting round to launching Flatmattersonline as a brand, and setting up my own business to tie in the FM brand, judging, and the flatland coaching I do in my spare time. With the help of Johann Chan’s amazing graphic design the clothing is looking amazing, the set up time is taking longer than I envisaged. Again much like the edit, I was hoping we might get the clothing out for the anniversary, but it’s not to be. Details as soon as I can on this project.
I could ramble on, but want to keep as short as possible. Thanks to everyone who has supported FM over the years, all the contributors over the years for which there are too many to name. Shoutout to Pete Brandt for stepping up and offering his help with content for the site, and being my co host on various different projects for the site. Johann Chan for the new graphic make over of the site, Kurt Hohberger at BMX Union for all his help over the years, Simon Shorten who helped take all the content from blogspot to a full website and did all the early branding on the new site. All the advertisers that have helped me out, Flatland Fuel, IGI BMX, Four Pegs BMX, and anyone I have forgotten.
Last but not least, I would like to hear from YOU!
How long have you been checking out Flatmattersonline? And how did you find it to begin with? Word of mouth? Social media? Lets hear it in the comments section. Normal updates will resume tomorrow, today i’m taking a moment to enjoy and acknowledge this achievement.
Last but not least, thanks Flatland!
Effraim Catlow : Flatmattersonine / 12 Years Strong.