Lesbian Website Autostraddle Raises $20,000 in a Week, Predicts Bright Future

I’ve been sitting here staring at this text box for about three days, not knowing what to say. I keep thinking of the emails you’ve all sent me — hundreds or maybe thousands at this point — and how a sort of inherent self-deprecating function prevented me from realizing that if it ever came to this, you’d all be there. Can I just write “I love you” 500 times?

When a reader on formspring suggested that we keep Autostraddle in business by holding a “10,000 in 7 days” fundraiser, I believe I literally laughed out loud. I mean really — us?

But then, as tax season offered us an opportunity to assess and subsequently totally freak out about our financial situation, we decided it was at least time that we attempt to recruit a business advisor of some sort and subsequently we posted a post asking for applicants. We also put Fundraising Stickers on sale.

At the end of the post about needing a business advisor we asked for donations.

By the end of the weekend we’d already raised, much to our surprise, NINE FUCKING THOUSAND DOLLARS.

We were shocked. We told you that we loved you and you told us to keep raising money and so we decided to aim for $20,000 which we thought was totally completely 100% crazy but we f*cking did it.

It’s possible, internet. We did it and it’s possible.

This all happened at a weird time when a lot of bloggers, LGBT and social justice bloggers in particular, are questioning the sustainability of their enterprises.

Womanist Musings – April 11, 2011

“If a sustainable model is not created soon — many of the social justice spaces that we have become accustomed to frequenting, will simply cease to exist.”

Bill Browning of The Bilerco Project – April 6, 2011

“If we don’t find a way to put together a model that actually pays queer bloggers for their hard work and dedication, it will definitely be the end of the LGBT blogosphere as we know it. The only ones left will be the corporate owned behemoths who are more interested in lining the pockets of their board members than the blogger.”

Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend – March 24, 2011

“I wish I could do this full-time, but no one has come up with a sustainable model that allows editorial freedom… Putting tips in the jar won’t make a difference; it really comes down to time. I don’t see how I can ramp up for 2012 coverage, help with the marriage amendment battle in my state, hold down my day job, produce content for the blog, and work a third job I now have.”

Meanwhile, BlogActive is done bloggingQueerty just closed up (Update: But is, apparently, returning?) Web bohemeth Regent Media is getting sued, and who knows how that will turn out.

The resounding theme in these posts?

That idea that someone can eternally run a successful, quality, kickass, evolving, breaking-news-supplying, multi-authored website AND work a full-time job? Yeah… that’s a myth. People get really tired.

The idea that advertisers come in as honors/traffic/authority accumulates? Nope. Not for this kind of material.

I mention this because I want to talk about a sustainable model because despite the sacrifices (and the fact that everyone works for free and they deserve to be paid), I’m still sitting in an apartment right now typing on a computer, I’m 75% sure my landlord didn’t notice that month of rent I skipped, and I’ve got electricity. I’m g-chatting Laneia, and earlier she mentioned lunch. This website is operational. So something is being sustained.

There’s a unanimous internet consensus that unless you’re purchased by Viacom or Regent, there is no sustainable model.

There’s a consensus that readers will not pay for content.

But Autostraddle has survived primarily on your donations and investments and hard work for two years now.

So what gives?

I understand that our success in raising funds is due to a lot of intangible/specific elements of our readership which I don’t know how to put into words yet. Sometimes I am so sure of a thing that I feel like the words I need to describe it haven’t been invented yet.

But what I can talk about, what I do have wise words on regarding “The State of the LGBT Blogosphere,” is that creating anything more than a personal blog, especially when you’re reporting actual news, isn’t feasible as a long-term “side project” with no goal/end in sight. Your facts must be impeccable, you must prepare to deal with trolls and bigots, you will be held just as accountable for your work as paid journalists are. There’s an expiration date on that kind of energy. We need to demolish this misconception that something as awesome and reliable as Pam’s House Blend can be anybody’s eternal easy-to-accomplish “hobby” or that these semi-large projects will follow a “blog on the side until the money pours in and you can quit your job and dedicate yourself to your blog” trajectory if your blog is super amazing and you just work hard enough and manage your time properly.

Where does that idea come from?

+ People don’t understand how much time this all takes.

+ People assume that a blogger’s “day job” will somehow involve earning a salary/benefits while sitting at a computer secretly operating a blog. (Which is classist and stupid! I’ve never had a job that demanded less than 100% of my consistent attention, and I’ve really only had one job ever that even involved a computer.)

+ Because blogging is THEIR hobby, they think it should be everyone’s hobby. Anyone who can’t blog and work full-time is just a bad organizer because look, they have a job AND posted 25 pictures of their dog yesterday on tumblr!

The biggest internet success stories start, like all print publications, like Gawker, HuffPo and Nerve.com, with start-up funds and full-time people. A sustainable model requires somebody’s full-time attention, which means it also requires somebody’s full-time salary.

So what do you do if you’re us, and you have no start-up funds and no corporate backing?

You either don’t bother or you take a giant, stupid, crazy risk. Those are the only two options any of us have to sustain independent LGBT media.

Among many other expenses, a major place where your donations go is to sustain my LIFE and Laneia’s LIFE. Yet we undervalue ourselves. We avoid financial questions ’cause we feel judged/insecure that we’ll simply be written off as irresponsible for not somehow holding down another job on top of Autostraddle.

Nobody asks the editors of AfterEllen or SheWired what they do for their “day jobs” or if they have “a trust fund or something” — it’s understood that their work commands a salary and gets it.

What we learned last week is that you “get it,” too. And g-d that feels good.

We bring our whole lives and hearts and souls to bear upon the page and we spend ages making sure all our content is perfect and all our writers are the right writers. I believe our readers sustain us because we are trying (and usually failing, but sometimes winning) to sustain them, too. I’m 100% positive that we wouldn’t have the financial support from readers and the team that we do have if we haven’t always had at least two full-time people working on Autostraddle (right now that’s Laneia and me).

Being full-time on this wasn’t the plan, we all had jobs when we launched. It’s a long story how this became full-time so quickly and I don’t want to get into it but needless to say, it wasn’t ’cause the money was rolling in.

I wanted to fill this hole we saw in the lesbian/feminist media universe, be this thing that wasn’t being done. We want to analyze and report but we also want to make art and build community. We crossed our fingers that we weren’t the only people who wanted this thing. We can’t describe it. It’s just IT.

So back to our “sustainable model.”

How have we survived this long?

Our income sources are varied and many: Some team members own shares of the business because they invested money in it. We make a couple hundred bucks a month from affiliate sales (Amazon, Shopstyle, Linkshare, Babeland, Good Vibes) and network-ads. We’ve sold ads (some months $0, some months a couple thousand, it fluctuates wildly)  to those companies eager to invest in this market, and for that we are so so soooo grateful so please please please please patronize companies like Girlbar, Focus FeaturesPandora Events and Lucky Dog Leather. We make somewhere around $2,000 on our annual pride party, and selling merch brings in varying levels of cash too.

But depending on the month, reader donations have often been our largest revenue source.

Eight of you have given us over $1,000, some well well well over $1,000. Without you, we would not be here.

We also have debt and maxed out credit cards and unpaid bills and haven’t gone out or been to a restaurant or fixed our computers or flown home to see our families for a long time. The past few months Laneia & I both reached a point where it had just been too long since we’d gotten shoes or slept more than 6 hours a night and so many previously often-available-team-members had gotten full-time jobs and our plates were full & overflowing and we really started wondering how long we could keep believing in an impossible dream. We often wanted to just let go of this and start over again in life and make a paycheck like everyone else. #firstworldproblems.

But you wouldn’t let us go and for that we thank you.

What our donation drive shows is that readers are hungry for things like this, and they will pay for it to keep it.

In conclusion, the only sustainable model I can suggest to anyone not employed by Viacom is to be completely fucking insane, accept life at the poverty line, have really talented friends, and to love your readers in hopes that they will love you back.

It’s not for everyone. It is my dream to do this. I did write my own blog and do L Word recaps on the side for three years before taking this leap into an ultimately all-consuming project, and brought many of those dedicated readers and investors with me.

The lesbian market remains apparently unappealing to investors and advertisers. When marketers feel our community isn’t buying what they’re selling, they somehow blame the buyers rather than what’s being sold.

But we know they’re wrong. We’re going to prove this. We know our writers trust that the second we can afford it, we’ll pay them. We desperately need those people in the top 1% who own companies with ad dollars to recognize and appreciate the market here, which is present and hungry.

With our traffic levels, we should be making $1,000/day in advertising but we’re not, obviously.

But all the reasons why advertisers and marketers neglect us are the same reasons why you like us, so the money then comes from you.

 

Riese, Carly, Alex, Robin - May 2009

You all showed us this week that you love us just as much as we love you, which makes it a healthy relationship and lord knows those are few and far between.

We’re gonna work out some revenue streams that don’t require emptying your wallets and then we’re gonna take over the world.

Intern Hot Laura & Intern Katrina - June 2009

Amendment:

We want to help you all connect to each other so in that spirit we’re unrolling some social networking features, there is a new bar at the top of the screen. This will have no impact on the editorial content or quality here and nobody is required to post a profile or participate in that element of the site. But for those interested IT EXCITES ME. People are already starting groups to arrange meet-ups, you should go join one.

We’re using a buggy wordpress plug-in that we’re still trying to fix (issues include randomly highlighted profile sections and avatar disfunction) so we haven’t made a “big announcement” yet… but we just want to let you know that we’re stepping it up.

We want to be good enough for you. You have paid us. You are our boss.

(Also to those who applied to help us it’s taking a long time to go through all these fantastic applications so it’s looking like next week is when we’ll get back to you!)

(Also sidenote: if Pam’s House Blend or The Bilerco Project or Womanist Musings go offline we will weep on our laptops, but also understand.)

[ETA: Pam’s House Blend has a great article about this article. One of the things Pam mentions is that she has to keep her job for the health insurance it provides. As a person with a host of health issues including fibromyalgia, I agree — going without health insurance is a giant liability for me as became crystal clear when I got the ambulance & ER bills from Palm Springs. In New York, I was on Medicaid, which covered the meds I have to take daily. In California I don’t qualify for Medicaid and paid out of pocket for my medication for my first few months here, but eventually found a program at a hospital in Almeda County for low-income persons such as myself which pays for some of my meds. Laneia’s kids have health insurance through their father but she is also uninsured. I don’t see myself living in California forever.]

I don’t know how to end this so I’m ending it with a Stephen Dunn poem:

Between Angels

Between angels, on this earth
absurdly between angels, I
try to navigate

in the bluesy middle ground
of desire and withdrawal,
in the industrial air,
among the bittersweet

efforts of people to connect
make sense, endure.
The angels out there,
what are they?

Old helpers, half-believed
or dazzling better selves,
imagined,

that I turn away from
as if I preferred
all the ordinary, dispriting
tasks at hand?

I shop in the cold
neon aisles
thinking of pleasure,
I kiss my paycheck

a mournful kiss goodbye
thinking of pleasure,
in the evening replenish

my drink, make a choice
to read or love or watch,
and increasingly I watch.
I do not mind living

like this. I cannot bear
living like this.
Oh, everything’s true
at different times

in the capacious day,
just as I don’t forget
and always forget

half the people in the world
are dispossessed.
Here chestnut oaks
and tenements

make their unequal claims.
Someone thinks of betrayal.
A child spills her milk,
I’m on my knees cleaning it up –

sponge, squeeze, I change nothing,
just move it around.
The inconsequential floor
is beginning to shine.


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Profile photo of Riese

Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1782 articles for us.

158 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    I’ve followed a collection of lesbian/bisexual/queer websites and honestly Autostraddle is the only website that I (1) have followed for a consistent amount of time and (2) would be willing to pony up money for to support. The content is serious yet funny, entertaining, and diverse. I’ve also loved recently the focus on building an online and IRL community.

    Love love love.

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    I’ve only been reading Autostraddle for a couple months and already I feel like I’d die (or maybe just cry, let’s not get dramatic) if it disappeared. I’m very happy for the fundraiser success and future plans.

    Also the poem at the end is lovely.

    xoxo

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    This made me tear up! I love AS. I feel like the people here (writers AND readers alike) are my family! AAANNNDDD since I put myself up for adoption earlier this month due to my biological family being completely fucked up – I can use all the family/friends I can get!!

    Therefore I want AS to know that I LOVE YOU! ALL OF YOU! I ALWAYS WILL LOVE YOU! And, if I had ANY money AT ALL, I would so donate, subscribe, etc. Hopefully I’ll be able to soon. Until that happy day I will read AS religiously, buy a shirt when I can, and thank EVERYONE who has contributed monetarily since I cannot!!

    (((((AS HUGS))))

  4. Thumb up 0

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    Autostraddle filled a hole in the internet that I kinda subconsciously knew existed beforehand, but couldn’t put into words.

    Thanks for having interesting opinions, loving literature, writing about things Relevant To My Interests, teaching me about Important Issues, and not making me feel like I’m reading a slightly gay-ish version of an entertainment site.

    What you guys are doing is real and beautiful, and I appreciate it.

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    Wow, thank you for this. It does suck that the ones that make money are essentially the sites that tell you how to make money, the ones that start losing heart. I hope the $20k will go far for both of you at least in regaining a sense of sanity!!

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    You were able to do it because you are amazing, you are providing your readers with something they aren’t getting anywhere else, and you work really fucking hard.

    There are several websites I love a lot, but I don’t have the money to donate to all of them, so I don’t. But I set up a subscription to AS – not because I’m super awesome and generous, but because I would be an idiot if I didn’t acknowledge how important this website and everyone here is to me. The humor and humility and love I see here every day makes me happy to be alive/queer.

    LOOK AT ALL THE FEELINGS I HAVE.

    Also I’m really excited about the social networking stuff, I hope it catches on, and I hope it helps me make new friends when I move in June.

  7. Thumb up 0

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    you could have probably definitely written “i love you” 500 times…but only if the kittens were included. POP TART KITTEN HAS BLOWN MY MIND.

    seriously though – well done AS team & readers. well fucking done.

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      Exactly. I feel like AS is this big ol’queer mirror reflecting back all of our beautiful faces. We see ourselves in this site. We didn’t want to lose our home, so we banded together.

      And in a time when so many people are still trying to tell us all that we don’t matter or count in society and that we have nothing to offer and that we don’t exist before the 9th grade in Tennessee…well. Our support of AS is like telling the world to “taste the rainbow” (I’m thinking Bat Signal over Gotham City style). We are going to survive and we want our voices to remain out there.

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    I read a wide variety of internet content, this is the only content that I would pay for. Partly because I really, really want you to not just make it but succeed. Also because even though you don’t know me you have made me feel welcome and included. Thank you and I love you guys!! :)

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    Riese, I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been wondering how the hell you were able to maintain a full time job (or even part time) and run AS. Thank you for clearing that up. It is important to let people know what is really going on in order to start changing the culture of FREE! that the internet has spawned. It’s too easy to not even think about or consider the amount of work a person/people have to put in to make something like this run. I liken it to what’s happened in the music industry. Everyone seems to think music is free. NO CONTENT IS FREE. Someone somewhere is paying for it – to create it, to publicize it, to get it out into the open so that it can be consumed. And guess what? They need to be PAID for that! It’s not about getting rich (although that would be great). It’s about being able to do this, provide an important service/product, and maintain a decent lifestyle, i.e. have shoes, an apartment, food, etc.
    Thank you for all your hard work and thank you for asking for what you need. That’s not always easy, especially for us independent ladies. (BTW-There’s a life lesson in there but I’m sure you got that.)
    Might I suggest that you keep the fundraiser going? Just cause you met your goal is no reason to stop. It’s only wednesday. I think of it as public radio fundraisers. They don’t stop if the $$ goes over their goal. (‘Cause you never know what could happen next time.) Maybe have one every quarter or every 6 mos for 10 days – 2 weeks? Have challenges. Solicit matching funds from corporations.(?) Just throwing out some ideas that I’m sure have come up before.
    I’m all for the social networking aspect. And I’m not at all opposed to the subscription model. I realize you may be reluctant to do this as there would be people excluded especially considering GLBT women are less financially stable than other groups of people. But perhaps an NYT model where top news is free, but other content requires a subscription. It’s been suggested before – subscription to unlock additional features/content. And there’s always a subscription based personals section you could get going. AS could do personals in a whole new way!!! ;-)

    Thank you again for providing something unique & much needed and for raising the bar in LGBT women-focused media.

    Unrelated – I saw your doppelganger today in the passenger side of a lime green VW bug in NoHo on Lankershim. Or was it you…..? Hmmmm ;-)

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      PUBLIC RADIO FUNDRAISING, YES! This is what this reminds me of. I think you guys should follow a model similar to that.

      As someone who has/wants to work with nonprofits, I’ll tell you have to be so explicit and repetitive in your asks. I find this excruciating to do, but it is the only thing that works. I didn’t understand until this last week just how dire the situation was for you guys. Transparency is also good, which is why I loved this post.

      Good luck <3
      XOXO,
      Betty Oh

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      you’re so right — i never thought of that, that we were perpetuating that illusion. that illusion drives me crazy cuz it makes me feel like “do i just write really slow or something?”

      there is absolutely no way in hell i could keep a full-time job and do autostraddle right now, nor could laneia keep a full-time job, RAISE TWO CHILDREN, and do autostraddle. that’s why it’s sorta always been all or nothing, we couldn’t really “reduce” our outputs and still keep it going, it would just start sucking which would depress everyone.

      mostly i just close my eyes and jump.

      anyhow thank you for real!

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        We will all be here to catch you!
        We are many and mighty because you guys gathered us and make us stronger each day.
        Fine, I’m being hormonal and cheesy, but also honest. Thank you for that huge leap of faith building Autostraddle, Riese.

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    Thanks for this great post. I am proud of this community.

    I was reminded of RadioLab and This American Life while reading this. They have inconspicuous, but very regular and earnest interjections asking for donations, as they run only on listener donations. Regular readers of Autostraddle certainly “get it” that your business model is similar, in that we provide you sustenance. But don’t be afraid to do what RadioLab & TAL does. A consistent reminder that we are what keeps you running.

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    you guys rock!

    missed the fundraiser but i just subscribed to the monthly donation thingy. that’s a great idea to keep the donations coming :)

    good luck! its pretty awesome to be a part of a community that can just throw together $20K in a week! ;P that’s a lotta love!

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    I’m so glad that Autostraddle exists! For a number of reasons, but a big one being that you guys really helped me through a shitty summer where I was dealing with being unemployed living with my parents post college and also having big identity things going on that I didn’t know how to process.
    You guys give a good blend of serious/lols and are always informative.

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    I think you should put that “donate” and “subscribe” either at the bottom of every article, or keep it always on the sidebars =)

    I see the donate one is on the sidebar already, but I want the subscription option to also always be available

    And also merch! I love the Autostraddle tshirts – are any of those still available?

    I love you too, by the way, and it took me a long time to say it cause I don’t throw words around for nothing =) Xx

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    “they somehow blame the buyers rather than what’s being sold.”

    that’s why I love AS. cause you all get and are totally honest/sincere about it. cause it’s diverse in a not token-y way. throw in the humour, stephen dunn poetry, and general awesomeness and it’s pretty clear why this is my favorite queer website.

    so i’m glad you all are sticking around. keep it up :)

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    I have a serious suggestion for Autostraddle in converting to profit. The suggestion itself is not my original concept but comes from a memory I never forgot because I thought it was a rather obvious idea at the time. I’m a trader and am wont to watch or surf financial programming. Several years ago I was watching Cramer (Mad Money) and he was reviewing struggling media properties. Shocked I was at the time, when he addressed the woes of – of all companies – Planetout. He said they would be out if they didn’t learn to capitalize on their fledging personals site which was only a part of their focus at the time. He continued his comments by noting there was no same sex personals site with true panache. Well, there still isn’t, and the invisible capital you ladies have is 1. sheer campy brilliance and 2. a commitment to your ideals as outlined in your mission statement. With your public reach, you could convert your natural talents into a fresh interpretation of online dating. You have a base, a following, and what’s more the technology for such sites is far more readily available than ever. In other words, to put it plainly, if Autostarddle had a pay for access personals site, I would recommend it to anyone because I know their ability to create interesting profile markers would exceed anyone else’s and you would immediately rule market share in this sector if you took it city by city, state by state. Best of luck, but you won’t need it if you maintain the essence of your brand in this endeavor.

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    My favourite thing about AS is how personal it still feels. When you start a article by mentioning that you’re hungover/not wearing pants, I think “hey..me too”. Then your article is awesome and your cats are awesome and the comments are awesome. This site and its content is so professional yet so deeply personal and that’s why I care.

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    When I visit this site everyday, i took it for granted that something this awesome is able to run. I do see however everyone’s dedication to it( ya’ll work on Sundays!!) this week went from holy crap AS might not be there to bloody hell that is actual money. As someone not in a position to donate, I would like to thank everyone who donated. Your contribution not only made everyone at AS gloriously happy but those who felt helpless to do anything feel humbled and very happy. So anyways THANK YOU, AUTOSTRADDLE AND LIFESAVERS FOR BEING AWESOME!!!

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    I was going to try to say something useful, but then I realised that when you scroll your page all the way down you can find this:

    “Powered by WordPress and your mom BUT BETTER.”

    You guys are awesome! Thank you for all your hard work!

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    I found Autostraddle over the summer, and it was kismet. I had recently made a friend who was just coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian. She was fine with it, but so, so angry all the time because all she could see was the injustice and inequality that had fallen into her lap. I introduced her to autostraddle, and when I saw her again a few days later, she was a thousand times calmer. She’s from a very conservative area, and her parents didn’t take the “I’m gay” talk very well. Finding a community of people who are frank and upfront and gay and okay with it was a major boon, so I thank you for that.

    and for providing me with a place to giggle about my obsession with gay things. I love gay things.

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    Let me quote Valerie, from V for Vendetta:
    I hope that the world turns and things get better. But I hope most of all that you understand that even though I will never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you

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    I remember finding this site after you wrote the Taylor Swift article and becoming obsessed with going through the entire archive and reading everything!

    I found Autostraddle at a really low point in my life – closeted, just starting grad school, living in a new city, being broke, etc – and I don’t know how I would have made it through the year without obsessively following the site, tumblr, and formspring!

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    I found Autostraddle recently, and it has been kind of a life raft in what is a rather confusing/closeted stage for me, not only because it’s gay and it rocks but because the people behind it are so damn cool and smart and funny but also have so much integrity and compassion for the community. The site feels real and personal. It wasn’t until you described what running AS involved that I understood the full weight of directing a non-stop content website for free would mean. Pretty insane dedication, but I thank you for it.

    You’re doing a lot of good :)

  23. Thumb up 0

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    “You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down. Twenty thousand isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? A hundred thousand”

    Paraphrased, but you get the gist. I think you are all wonderful and cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve done. You ladies have created a goldmine with big things to come, but until that gets tapped, keep us in the loop and we’ll take care of you.

  24. Thumb up 0

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    OMIGOD I NEEEEEED A POPTART KITTEN LIKE BAD!!

    “”I understand that our success in raising funds is due to a lot of intangible/specific elements of our readership and I don’t know how to put those things into words yet. Sometimes I am so sure of a thing that I feel like the words I need to describe it haven’t been invented yet””

    Riese, your L Word recaps are the sole reason I stumbled across this amazing amazing work you and so many people are dedicated to. I’ve started spreading the word to my friends (straight or not) about how AWESOME this site is and how it’s always the best part of my day to read – not only the articles, but every poster here is so intelligent and so open and SO FUNNY that I’ve never felt more comfortable in an online community (and I’ve been part of forums for a good 10 years).

    So, I’d like to extend my gratitude for all the hard work that goes into maintaining the brilliance of this community. A few people have already chalked it up as being like a family on here, but I think more appropriately, Autostraddle is the GSA club I was too scared to sign up for in high school. We’re all in the same boat, and we’re here to support each other through our lives with laughter and tears.

    To quote Martha Stewart: “It’s a good thing.”

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    Autostraddle is necessary for life. We love you!

    I think you should have fundraisers like this at regular intervals. I know Democratic Underground has quarterly fundraisers and they do pretty well with that. I agree with whoever up-thread said that part of what they love about Autostraddle is the personal feel to the writing. When you write so honestly about the financial issues behind what you do, we connect with and understand that as much as we connect with and understand all the other various things you write about on here. And because of that we want to help! Don’t be afraid to ask us for what you need and don’t feel bad about having to remind us of those needs periodically!

    ALSO! I got my shirt in the mail today. SO HAPPY!

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    I owe so much to this site, and I swear as soon as I come into money, It’s coming your way. I owe so much to this site, I’m serious. It’s the community I crave in real life, and it’s a constant reminder that there are other crazy beautiful people out there who are like me. I love every single writer on this site, and I read every article.

    So Riese, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel like I owe you a debt that money can’t repay, but that’s where I’ll start. I owe you my happiness, and my sanity. Thanks for everything.

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    AS team and readers I love you guys so much! It means so much to know that there are people out there that like poetry and music and girls and kittens as much as me.
    I’m proud that we raised the money to keep AS going and I’m proud to be a part of such an amazing, inclusive, open and friendly community.

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    I’m not really sure how to express my feelings about AS. Rest assured, they are all 100% positive! I think maybe it would be easier to think if weren’t in three plays right now (MY BRAIN AAAHH). So yes. I love you guys.

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    As long as the social networking portion doesn’t suck up the bandwidth or server time or whatever it is that’s costing you money, I am all for it. I’ll feel terrible though if this superior facebook puts all of you in a worse sinkhole as my newly graduated poor ex-college student status is not helpful in the paying of the bills. Best of luck to you!

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    <333
    I lovelovelove Autostraddle so much. I'm a queer girl in high school (a very queer-friendly one, but I only know of like ten other queer people and only regularly talk to two) so Autostraddle gives me a lot of things that I wouldn't know where else to find.
    I remember reading the Taylor Swift article and that was the first article I can remember reading that talked about the stuff it did so it holds a special place in my heart. Like, it made me realize why I disliked Taylor Swift so much. All the people I knew were like "She can't sing" and I was like "Well, I guess, but there's something else…" and it just opened my eyes and I was like "EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH CLEARER NOW."
    ANYWAY. I'm really happy you exist and I love you.

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    I felt a bit guilty that I wasn’t able to donate last week. But on the other side, I really feel happy for you guys and for myself. Auostraddle makes my day complete. And nowadays, I feel anxious whenever I can’t read your articles. I feel like I am getting addicted to this. OMG!

    And I think, this is not the end of the world, right? I can still donate and share financially next time. Not because you say so but because I really, really want to. I owe you that. And I hope you will stick until the day that I die. LOL!

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    Payday today; am now signed up as a subscriber. I think I stuck around here originally due to the narrative, personal and personable tone of the posts (like a friend is speaking to you through the internet, as many have said). But that doesn’t work on its own, there’s got to be great content too, and I think this confluence is where you’re somehow managed to hit the jackpot. Five things I’ve loved about AS this year alone: Pure Poetry Week, Gleecaps, your consistent global LGBT news reporting, NSFW Lesbosexy Sundays and that amazing post about how break-ups can be survived and love found anew. I subscribed at the level above what I pay for LoveFilm (like the UK Netflix) on the basis that I enjoy movies but if I stopped seeing them regularly I wouldn’t miss them like I miss AS. Keep on keeping on, people. We’re behind you 100%.

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    I read Autostraddle BEFORE I check my emails or facebook…
    Yes you are more important to me than people who I might actually know me irl but you guys know me better… I’m sure you are all living inside my head..

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    Unless you are being paid for your work, blogging fits definition of “hobby” in regard to pursuing something for fulfillment, particularly when one’s primary income derives from elsewhere. It is not a insult so much as a comment on where the money comes from.

    I agree that blogging/online work in general should be sustainable, and it is encouraging to see so many readers support AS.

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      As far as Australian taxes are concerned (yes I know A/S isn’t Aussie but bear with me) A/S would actually be considered professional. It’s not whether they are actually earning money yet; it’s their intent and effort to earn money and establish this as a commercial or professional venture. This mainly accounts for artists and other folks that will need a lot of startup loss before really earning money, but would work for A/S too.

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    I give to Autostraddle for the same reasons I give to NPR during their pledge drives.

    • I’m not being TOLD to pay (like the New York Times paywall) I’m being asked. People like to be asked, I think. That’s a softer approach and it makes me feel good, like I’m helping someone out. People like to help, I think.

    • The content is trustworthy, smart and funny and sometimes weird.

    • I like the people. Authors, editors, commenters, non-commenters, Tinkerbell, etc.

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    Autostraddle! Ask us for more money more often! This is like “Women in the Workplace 101″ – women don’t ask for money and when they do they don’t ask for enough. I know you’ve got that little donate button up there, but run an annual pledge drive, do a month-long contest for people to host Autostraddle fundraisers in their communities (everyone who donates gets entered into a prize to win a trip to LA to meet the AS girls IRL, etc), set a big annual goal and report on it to us as you make progress. We are a community – let us all be a part of making sure AS not only stays in business but thrives.

    Foundations can suck because they require grant proposals and reporting yada yada but big donors are awesome. Whoever those 8 people are that gave you over $1k, Riese should be meeting with, in-person, and asking them to intro her to more people in their social circles. Have them host a cocktail party in their house for the AS ladies and 10 of their friends.

    You guys are so amazing and that’s why I’m a regular (although puny) AS donor. $5 a month is nothing to pay for my favorite reading/discussions. Everyone with a job who feels the same way should become a monthly donor furrealz right now.

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    Also, think of all the love in that April’s Fool! No other website would have done that <3

    Barbara, promising to raise my subscription to a more decent amount as soon as I get a bit more "settled" in the British labour market

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    This is so perfect. Heartwarming, even.

    I have plans to begin work on a website of my own in the fall/winter, and I’m fucking terrified. I work as a tutor at an after-school institution 5 days a week, but it isn’t by any means enough on which to “make a living”. I want my own site to be as funny/informative/awesome as AS, and I know that it will require a lot of work.

    I keep hearing (mostly from family) that there’s no niche for me, that it won’t be worth it, that it will require too much time. I’m very easily discouraged, so I take a lot of what they say to heart.

    But you ladies, the fundraising, this POST, are so immensely inspiring. I’ve bookmarked this specific post for when I need to reassure myself that the old cliche that “anything is possible” is entirely true.

    Thank you so very much. I adore you.

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    As a longtime lurker I’ve had Autostraddle in my heart for so many years now. I became a part of this when all that lived was simply the personal blog of a young woman with worn out Chuck Taylors, whose taste in literature made the internet worth having. I voraciously read what you recommended Riese, and those glimpses into the anti-cannon gave me back the incendiary desire I had developed for reading as a child.

    I related so strongly to your personal experiences with love and sex and heartbreak and self deprecation. I silently celebrated your victories and wanted to hug you when the heat in New York got too much and your AC was broken and you couldn’t see your way out of a dark time.

    Then came the L Word recaps, and resultant unwitting acceptance of IFC into my life. I adopted your acronyms and began sharing New Vlog Delight with my small collection of real life queers. In those early days (4 long years ago. Really Papi, really?) I was hesitant about my sexuality, scared of myself, lonely from the heartbreak that coming out can cause. But today I am strong. My strength, my feminism and my love for this fucked up world knows no bounds. Now, with this incredible community that you have built, I simply cannot imagine being lonely ever again.

    It’s so exciting to see this little piece of the universe growing steadily under our fingertips. I’m delighted to be adding this congratulatory missive to a long page of dedications. As readers we appreciate every small seed that you have planted, and are amazed to suddenly find ourselves in a forest!

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    Subscribing was the best $10 I spent this month. You guys have something special going on here, something real and relatable and true, and it helps us all get through the day more than you could ever realize. Thanks for putting this out there for us, Riese and all of the Autostraddle staff. What you’re doing is important. Never, ever think it’s anything less.

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    I really can’t add much more to the conversation than what has already been said. I just wanted to say “thank you” to AS and everyone here. I have NEVER subscribed to a blog before and there’s a multitude of really good reasons why AS is my first. All of this warms my heart and makes me so happy and proud to be a teeny, tiny part of it.

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    I couldn’t even finish reading the entire blog – I had to come down and comment to say that when you started fund-raising/panicking/looking for help – I could feel my own desperation at the idea of loosing an amazing LGBTQ interwebby asset.

    And I think that would be a horrible loss for us all. I’m grateful that everyone pulled together. Keep up the good work, I’m still here for you with my sofa change and my smart ass comments. Love you back.

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    Riese and Laneia – ***please please please*** get yourselves health insurance. Seriously, living with fibromyalgia and not having health coverage = brutes. And unacceptable. As a Canadian who believes everyone should have free (but paid for by taxes) health insurance, this makes me (and kittens) sad.

    I agree wholeheartedly with JJ:

    “Everyone with a job who feels the same way should become a monthly donor furrealz right now.”

    The stuff you produce here daily (even on weekends! Love NSFW lesbosexy sunday) is worth the money, and so much more.

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    Love all of this. I think if we responded with such intensity to every article, certain advertiser’s interest might peak…it’s like PPI vs PPC – companies usually prefer to take the safer & more secure & cheaper route if they don’t trust their audience, & I think if they see heavier user interaction (despite our market not being the ideal target & already having evidence of # of hits), they’d be more likely to make the bolder move/bigger investment.

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    OMFG I LOVE YOU TOO!

    I want Autostraddle to win all the things because you ladies are AMAZING.

    Seriously, it makes me feeeeeeeeeel.

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    Hey Riese and Laneia!
    I’ve been learning lately about how social justice movements lose their power when they nonprofitize and have to become accountable to the corporate and government agencies that write their checks — it’s wonderful that readers are paying for a portion because it frees you to be accountable to the READERS and not to advertisers (who might pressure you to not say certain things) — and it shows how relevant Autostraddle is to the population it’s trying to reach! I’m not saying ads are bad — please, sustain yourselves any way possible — I’m just saying it’s a huge strength that you’re now financially accountable to the readers. You’re a movement.
    ~Lulu

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    This is like the feel good story of the year. It makes me feel all glowy and hopeful about shit.
    Now if only that friggin’ Canadian election could turn out ok…
    Congrats you guys!

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