Business of Art Fix #13: I Can Get You Here With These Shiny Things

Welcome to the thirteenth “This Business of Art / Media / Web Fix,” in which I share with you things I read that I loved relating to the work I do here — online media, business, entrepreneurship, women in tech, start-ups, journalism, publishing, management, queer visibility, and so forth.


Hello! I had a two-hour BUSINESS phone call last night and a thirty-minute BUSINESS skype call yesterday afternoon AND a two-hour BUSINESS skype call last night. Are you proud of me? I’m proud of me.


This Business of Online Media

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+ Okay so, first things first: there’s an article about Autostraddle on Broadly. This piece actually was initially intended to be for Vice’s LGBT section (before Broadly existed) and most of the interviews were conducted back in January and February — Nicole chose who to reach out to on the team, and ended up talking to me probably ten or so times, Laneia a few times, and also Alex, Rachel, Yvonne, Heather, Stef, Mey and (I think) Carmen. I have to be 100% honest and say that I am too much of an anxious psychopath to actually read it myself, instead I’ve made everybody else read it and tell me about it in detail! Contrary to popular belief, journalists don’t let you read what they’re gonna write about you before it goes up, so we’ve been really nervous for a good eight months. I did start skimming it but once I realized somehow “friends made through my personal blog and L Word recaps that I then met in real life” had been framed as “friends made through L Word recaps and forums that were mostly just online” I had to stop. (I only ever visited L Word forums to post links to my recaps, and never made friends that way, but I probably didn’t explain that clearly enough.) So instead I just pull it up on my browser and look at the headline and the picture and feel like FINALLY WE HAVE ARRIVED! Reports that have come back to me on the story have been largely positive — that it was flattering, made our financial situation clear (although many numbers were outdated by the time the story went to press) (Don’t worry, Stef is being more adequately compensated for her Vapid Fluff), and left people feeling good about what we do. I’ve read some really nice quotes from it too! I’ve also heard that it talked about a lot of early problems without discussing the incredible energies we put into fixing them and the results since seen, that Heather and Yvonne were erased from the story, and that it made us seem VERY WHITE due to people talked to, pictures chosen, and aforementioned problems mentioned but resolutions left out. It sounds like very little if anything that Mey said about trans inclusion, Stef said about bisexual inclusion, or Yvonne said about WOC inclusion made it into the final story. Anyhow, maybe you read it and felt FINALLY THEY HAVE ARRIVED. If you did, that’s very sweet, and I love you! Also Nicole is a really really good queer writer to keep your eye on! I recommend Patrolling the Queer Craigslist, Eddie is Gone and Better Sex, Better World.

+ Today is the day — an ad-blocker for Apple mobile devices is coming into our lives, and many fear this will cause the bursting of the publishing bubble. Stratechery has some crucial points about how we got to this unsustainable precipice to begin with and, of course, so does The Awl: in Welcome to the Block Party, one of many issues discussed is that if the lack of display ads drive publishers to produce content primarily on other platforms, like Facebook or Google News, then we’ll really be fucked, ’cause you can’t block those ads and they’re pretty abysmal on the privacy front.

+ How Audience Engagement Editors are Guiding Online Discussions: I didn’t even know these existed!

+ There are exciting changes happening at Rookie.

+ It Happened To Me: I read The First-Person Industrial Complex: How The Harrowing Personal Essay Took Over the Internet.

+ UPDATE: A response to the First-Person Industrial Complex piece on The Hairpin.

+ Why is the Internet so obsessed with celebrity breakups?

+ An interview with the lovely and amazing Eboné Bell, Founder of Lesbian Magazine Tagg, about “racism, labels and building from scratch.”

+ For anybody out there who thinks that podcasting began with “Serial,” this article invites you to Meet the Company That Mastered Podcasting Long Before “Serial.” (Everybody knows podcasting started with This American Life, DUH.)

+ Women Write About Comics thanks you for your help and has new goals and perks for anybody who can pitch in!

+ Everybody’s talking about Slack!

Readers finish 95% of the longform articles they start reading.

+ The viral economy of Digifest.

+ In Against Students Stories, Aaron Bady explains why crafting a story out of comments made on a private facebook group for Duke freshman is lazy, awful journalism.


This Business of Business

+ VC Bill Gurley is confident the on-demand startup bubble will burst, just like Kozmo did in the early ’00s when it shut down and broke my ice-cream-and-DVD-loving-heart.

+ A Case Study of Start-Up Failure.

The Rise and Fall of Quirky — the Start-Up That Bet Big on the Genius of Regular Folks.

+ Pack Mentality: How Herschel Reinvented the Backpack

+ The Pilatespocalypse: How the method That Started the Boutique Fitness Trend Is Going Bust

+ The Living Wage Gap: State by State contains an interactive map you might really enjoy tinkering with!


Businesswoman’s Special: How To Do Business Better

+ This was in Helping You Help Yourself, but it helped me really think long and hard about helping myself: How to Sneak a Home Office into ANY Room.

+ This article on The Advantages of Recruiting Your Startup Team Internationally  is actually filled with good advice about what to do when you are planning on hiring a team that telecommutes. So does this.


Stories I Wish Somebody Would Write For Us

+ Personal essays that highlight the struggles still faced by women who date women in this world of ours despite the seeming assumption that everything is a-okay now for the gays. Because it’s not! Especially looking for women of color and people living in rural, conservative or Bible Belt areas.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. 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 Nylon, Queerty, 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! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2727 articles for us.

21 Comments

  1. Well done on all your business-ing. I’d be very up for an AS BUSINESS T-shirt or related merch. Maybe if you made AS power suits it would convince advertisers that highly successful executive types are reading and they would finally pay you.

    Also, those stories about failed startups were interesting, and made me wonder if the disparity of men/women in the whole startup circus is because girls are programmed with a greater fear of failure and/or women are afforded less failure, and fewer opportunities to come back from failure.

    • yes, this is actually a true fact: “the disparity of men/women in the whole startup circus is because girls are programmed with a greater fear of failure and/or women are afforded less failure, and fewer opportunities to come back from failure.”

  2. i had such an icky feeling about the “personal essay industrial complex” piece, and then the hairpin response shined a flashlight and wrote words on the icky feeling and now everything is much clearer.

  3. I may actually have something I’ve written that is related to Stories You Wish Someone Would Write For You! I can check a few boxes, such as living in a rural, conservative area, growing up in said area, and also being queer and trans. I don’t like shameless plugs of my own work, so I’ll try to PM a link. What a coincidence!

  4. Bernard uses celebrity content as bait. “If I can get you here with these shiny things, then we can start talking about more complicated ideas,”

    OMG, I’ve been played all this time? Bad, Riese, really bad.

    But thank you because sometimes an easy way in is what we all need.

    I do agree with comparing AS with The Ladder, in the sense of community and quality and I can say this because I’ve seen some very old issues of The Ladder. AS has the same spirit.

  5. I will just say again that I think the “vapid fluff” of Autostraddle is what makes it delicious. It normalizes queerness. It’s like putting on glasses that make the whole world look like it understands and recognizes the presence of queer women and then reading the internet. It makes concrete the sales pitch of “it gets better” and “you’re not alone.” I suppose I understand that some people would get frustrated that Autostraddle isn’t, on the surface at least, 100% activism 100% of the time. But there is a real way in which it is – it is always projecting queer female voices (and a more diverse set of those voices as it continues to the obvious benefit of the site and the audience) without apology or self-effacement. It refuses to go away or be silent or be overtaken by corporate versions. And that’s a lesson that I know I need to keep coming back to hear.

  6. Yay a write up! A good write up even though some facts are wrong!

    I try to recommend Autostraddle to my straight friends but slightly queer minded friends and they just don’t get it. This place is my home. Straight people have everything the other website it feels and it’s really important that I can read about LGBT stuff from LGBT people rather than feeling like I am constantly being lectured or judged by someone shitty tone.

    Long story short, I like what you all are doing. I am in the process of coming out as trans and I am in this really weird place identity wise where I feel non binary but I’ve started T and … I’m eventually going to be seen as a straight guy but i identified so strongly as a lesbian and OH MY gOSH feelings?!?!? k but I love Autostraddle.

  7. “…instead of focusing on journalism and getting the business model for free, publishers need to start with a sustainable business model and focus on journalism that works hand-in-hand with the business model they have chosen.”

    This line on that Stratechery article gave me the creeps.

    Yeah, yeah, I know we live in a beautiful capitalist system where money talks, but come on, if you totally go that way, you will get journalism only dedicated to sports, show-business and probably Donald Trump and some crap like that.

  8. This column is going to break my poor computer; it can’t handle this many open tabs..

    Keep doing yr thing, Riese! I will just have to get a new laptop. And if I order off amazon, I promise to use the affiliate link. ;]

  9. That Slate piece about personal essays. Damn. That’s why I always step back from the brink of writing about myself and second guess what and how I’m writing about my experiences. And the part about thinking of an interesting turn of phrase about oneself and instantly moving to “How do I monetize this” – that reminds me of how social media has led me to think “How will I put this into a FB status or tweet” – just the feeling that I never think or write just for myself anymore. I always have that invisible audience in my head. And I think that’s one of the biggest negative consequences of social media and viral journalism/writing now. We are never simply existing in the moment in our bodies and our experiences.

    Now I have to read the response to that essay.

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