Support button or publishing a book?

I recently read a comment from a well known traveller who proudly claimed to travel without any form of sponsoring or support. Assuming this is true, it brought up a debate here about our support button. Is it ok to ask people for donations or support? We feel it isn't… unless you offer something in return, which we do. The traveller in question indeed does not have a support or donation button, but doesn’t keep a blog either and instead publishes the stories in a book, which you need to pay for… We publish our stories in a blog which can be read free of charge and if you like it, you can support us via the buttons on the right. 
If you still rather have a book then simply print the pages and put a staple in it.

What went wrong and what didn't? How do the bikes cope with bad roads, bad fuel and long distances? What did we change and why? All questions for which we provide answers on our site too.
Real-life product reviews like chain and sprocket wear
of different brands can be found on our site too
Personally we think the support button is the more sympathetic approach. After all you only have to pay if you like it and what you think it’s worth, rather than that the author determines what you pay and even asks for payment before you’ve seen it. On top of that I have to assume that the reason for writing a travel book is to sell them and use the funds for the next journey. Which to me is pretty much the same as asking people to pay for our stories and use that for our next trip.

The other question is of course: does it work? Quite a few assume we are making lots of money and our support button must be worn out by now. Some are even criticising us for having a support button and blatantly call us free-loaders (despite having published more than 400 articles and product reviews you can all read for free). So how much money is involved in this? I’m not sure about publishing a book as I’ve never done it but I have to assume it works as there is quite a bit of money involved in publishing, printing, distributing etc. All of which will be done by commercial companies, who will only do it if it generates them enough money.

Modifying a bashplate which works very well but retains too much
heat due to the exhausts being wedged between it and the engine
What I also know is that the support button as a means to pay for our trip, so far, doesn’t work. We’ve had 2000+ people pressing the support button but only a handful of donations at best. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining and we are grateful for the support we’ve had. At the same time all the donations we received together, wouldn’t cover the camping fees for a week. If the 2000 ‘button pressers’ would have donated the average price of a travel book then it would have been a totally different story.

Of course we also have the support from the companies listed on our blog. Before you get any funny ideas though, these companies do not support us financially. They are either companies or products we already used because we found them to be better than the competition, or companies or products that turned out to better than what we had before. Some of them support us with free products, others do so at a reduced rate.

Product reviews on new helmets, helmet comms and
videos from our helmet cam.
Our impartiality has also been questioned because of our sponsors. This can indeed be a problem if you are willing to accept sponsoring. That is why we are very selective with support or sponsoring and only look for companies and products we really like. Sometimes that creates tricky situations. We’ve had for instance dealings with a company that wanted us to use their motorcycles for the rest of the trip. As we’ve had zero support from Yamaha or Triumph, the offer of two new motorcycles and factory support sounded great! Then they demanded that we would ditch our Holan Nomada panniers, Avon tyres and our Wolfman gear and replace it with their own inferior accessories. From a financial point of view we should have said yes, but we didn’t as switching over to their motorcycles would have meant that we couldn’t write objectively anymore. Avon and Nomada cases have been with us from the start. We love their products and the people behind them. Wolfman was at the time a relatively new product for us but we had seen the quality of their Rainier tank bag on Mike’s XT and loved it.

We also show the people behind the products we use via factory
visits and give insight information on them
All the companies that support us have done so at their own risk as we are free to write what we think about the products. That we do so is self evidence. When our boots turned out to be leaking and falling apart, we went looking for something else and found Alt-Berg. They are great boots, no question about it. But lets suppose they would have been leaking as bad as the previous boots we had. Would I then write positively about them so that I can perhaps get another pair of leaky boots? No, I would be looking for something else anyway and thus can write honestly about them. Just to put the record straight: Alt-Berg boots do not leak! Another example is Hilleberg tents. We chose them based on previous experiences. What we didn’t know is that the product quality and user friendliness had gone downhill. In our post ‘All our gear after two years on the road’ you can read our real life evaluation. We’ve lost Hilleberg as a sponsor because of it but will not write differently because of it.

Somewhat tougher testing than the manufacturer had in mind
At the same time we also write about products from companies that have not supported us. Our ongoing reports about the Yamaha and the Triumph for instance. The RennTec crashbars we have are the best in the business and we’ve written that too, yet they haven’t supported us. So why do we write about them? Quite simply because before we left, we were struggling to find information from people that had actually used them in the field. We also feel there are a lot of sub-standard products on the market that promise a lot but don’t deliver (our previous jackets for instance), which makes it quite difficult for companies with similar claims but good products.

To come back to the question I raised in the beginning, can we place a support button? Yes we feel we can as we don't just hold up our hand but provide a lot in return via the travel and technical information you can find on our site. We are in effect asking you for nothing more than something in return for the work we have done. Our stories come with more photographs than the average travel book and we also include videos. I can’t quite see why we are not allowed to ask for payment for our work just because we have published it on the web, while we could if we had it printed on a sheet of paper. To me it’s the same thing, apart from us giving you the option to read before you buy and determine for yourself how much it’s worth. All the support we receive will go into actual travelling and providing the information you can find on our blog, rather than publishers, printers and bookshop margins. Any donation is very much appreciated.

Happy to provide info on travelling the world on a motorcycle, hope to see you on the road somewhere!