It’s been a little over six months since I acquired Carbs and Coffee. As with most big decisions six months in is usually a good spot to take pause and reflect. Have your current self check in with your past self and see if you still agree on your choices. Look at where the brand was six months ago vs. where it is today and judge what kind of job your are doing. Finally, take a hard look at what you have gained and what it has cost to get there. Is it all worth it?

When Rob (our founder) and I first started talking about the future of Carbs and Coffee, I was immediately on board. At that stage the website had been off-line for a long period of time and the social media platforms were all but silent. The Whatsapp groups had descended into chaos with posts going largely unchecked. Levels of toxic trolling were causing long time members to leave the group.

I made life difficult for myself

Having made the choice to take Carbs and Coffee, lock-stock-and-barrel, my first priority was to get the website back up and running. Because I wanted the site to be easily maintainable, I made life difficult for myself. I completely redesigned the framework of the site, which meant that each individual article from the Carbs and Coffee back-catalogue had to be painstakingly reassembled. Hundreds of pieces of writing, thousands of photographs. All numberplates had to be edited out of pictures and new “banner” images had to be created for each article. I didn’t see my family for a couple of days.

carbs and coffee

Today, the blood sweat and tears has paid off. The website traffic is higher than it’s ever been. The site is easy to navigate and load times are much quicker on all devices. Thanks to the increased traffic, we recently had to upgrade our hosting packages to ensure we could handle the traffic and storage requirements for the site. Initially I managed to get our 2 main sponsors back on board and this has recently been followed up by adding Harper Sports Cars back into the fold. (So expect great content from them soon!). The content has been coming out weekly and (mostly) on schedule. This consistency drives even more traffic to the site and increases Google’s search engine scoring. My team of columnists, all working on a volunteer basis, really stepped up and helped me ensure there is always new content for you guys to enjoy here.

Corne, your photography is amazing and I can’t thank you enough for your contributions and inspiration behind some of my own photography. Reece, Connor, you guys working together create some really awesome content – not only does it consistently perform well on the site, but Reece’s writing also scores highest on the Google “readability” scale out of all the columnists! Thank you guys. Derrick, you have some great car experiences in your catalogue, and a great way of sharing them with us. Every piece you write seems to spark a conversation! Thank you! And finally Rob, you started all this, continue to support what is happening and your guidance has helped me side-step a few landmines on the way. I’d love to see you writing more bud, I know you miss the cars!

so thank you all for that!

With the return of our sponsors and the website, our social media platforms became active again and our reach has increased such that we consistently show up on twice as many user’s timelines as we have followers. Largely thanks to you guys interacting with our posts, so thank you all for that! There is always room to grow even more!

Breakfast runs have been consistent too! We have had monthly runs for a while now, and they remain very well attended. Our last run with the Lotus group saw nearly 20 cars in convoy on Clarence Drive. For many this is their favourite part of Carbs and Coffee, myself included. Commercially, these runs do nothing for the company, but I won’t ever stop doing them. Because going for a drive with a bunch of like-minded petrol heads is what Carbs and Coffee is all about. Thus far, our runs have been without major incident because everyone sticks to the rules. Thanks guys, I’m currently planning the next one so keep your eyes and ears open.

The Carbs and Coffee Whatsapp group

Finally – the biggest challenge. The Carbs and Coffee Whatsapp group. I have received countless messages of support and thanks for doing what I can to clean up the group. However, the clean-up and enforcement of rules that have always existed, has not been without resistance. In certain smaller sub-groups I’m pretty sure that I’ve become the most hated figure on the group. But, the group has become a space that’s mostly dominated by car talk again. I don’t find myself having to break up fights, or send members DM’s to reprimand them for sending something inappropriate half as much as I had to at the beginning.

Carbs and Coffee has always been a business first, but not foremost. It’s a kind of passion project that runs with commercial interests in order to cover its own costs. It does provide genuine value to its sponsors and the consistent release schedule has certainly helped. As has the sponsored features of cars provided by Gilmour Collection and Road and Race. To that end the greatest assets for the company have been the website and the social media platforms. Both of which are performing excellently.

an element of satisfaction

So what have I gained, and at what cost? Probably the biggest gain for me, has been the opportunities to drive and experience some truly incredible cars, and meeting the people that own them. There’s an element of satisfaction in seeing personal growth both in my writing and my photography. And obviously taking a completely defunct website and stale social media platforms and bringing them back from the brink of death. The social aspects of our breakfast runs have also been amazing!

The costs – substantial. Financially Carbs and Coffee just about takes care of its own hosting costs, software costs, equipment costs, storage costs and backup facilities. It sometimes, but not always, even manages to contribute to the costs involved with some of my features. By far the most significant costs have been the intangibles. The amount of time spent on features, site maintenance, product development and admin. Time away from my family that hardly get to see me as it is. The pressures of maintaining our self-imposed release schedule and breakfast run regiment, also take their toll. By far the biggest cost though, has been a loss of faith.

allies, would turn against me

Not a total loss of faith, but a very significant dent. In my faith in our little car community. In spending my time and effort trying to make this community the best it can be for everyone, I have somehow found myself on the fringe. Rather than all working together, I found that certain people, whom I considered allies, would turn against me. I’ve had to endure targetted trolling, thinly veiled insults and constant flogging of dead horses over things I might have said months ago. I’ve been told by some members that our group will soon be dead, as a splinter or parallel group has been set up with more relaxed rules. Hardly the reward I was hoping for given my commitment and effort.

But I stand by everything I have done so far. I have always maintained that Carbs and Coffee is better than other car-based communities. We do things differently to those guys. The reason we are different is because we have rules, and for the most part, we now live by those rules. Our passion for cars is something that should be shared, not just with each other, but with non-car people, our families and the towns that we visit. Without our rules and best behaviour, we may not get the reception or result I am hoping for.

Change was never going to be easy, and there have been some great losses in the process, but I believe we are better and stronger now than we were 6 months ago. Carbs and Coffee has a future now, and although it may not be for everyone, for those that remain it is everything.