It’s Our Birthday Party and You Can Join A+ If You Want To

Hello friends! As you may have heard, it’s our birthday, and for our birthday, we would like you to join A+. In order to sweeten the deal, we’re throwing an all-day Ask-us-Anything / Advice-a-Thon on A+ with heaps of special guests, like Mallory Ortberg from The Toast, Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo of Everyone is Gay, Ana Bel of La Loba Loca, former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent, and so many more! Plus Riese, Laneia, Heather and Rachel will be there basically all damn day long.

Also, you can get 16% Autostraddle Merch today with the code autostraddle6! (But you could get 20% off if you joined A+! See, it seems like a way to spend money but it’s really a way to save money!)

advice-a-thon-feature-3

Now, on Friday we announced that this thing was happening and we also announced that we’d be giving away some A+ memberships to Straddlers who couldn’t otherwise afford them as well. I bet you wanna know who won!

We’ve drawn names out of a hat and will continue to draw another winner for every six new sign-ups. We didn’t film it because we wanted to do this as quickly as possible, so just trust us:

Nine Bronze Winners (6 donated by Autostraddle, 3 donated by other kind and generous A+ members, 4 bonuses):
1. lisaw
2. lex / gunnna-see-the-light
3. eunoia
4. alexielr
5. launa
6. rachellauren
7. in the sky / colleen
8. mejampo
9. rebcalle

NEW WINNERS BECAUSE MORE PEOPLE SIGNED UP FOR A+ TODAY:
10. queennerval
11. tvini
12. jo.jessica
13. the cirrhosis machine / orange

NEW WINNER BECAUSE SOMEBODY BOUGHT YOU AN A+ MEMBERSHIP
14. sarah-kate / sarah

Eight Silver Winners (6 donated by Autostraddle, 2 donated by other kind and generous A+ Members)
1. pianaj
2. smb4948
3. jenlabarbera
4. al / alsayyid
5. marebear
6. purplefuku
7. toluaderonke / tolut
8. rlmpls

If you win, your next step is to send an autostraddle message to @napkined and identify yourself, and she’ll give you the code you need to sign up for your annual membership. Also, you’re basically obligated to ask a question if you win, soooooo…

ETA: We’re doing this giveaway to make sure that LGBTQ humans who can barely afford their own food, shelter and bills still have a chance to be a part of A+ … and in hopes that those who can afford it will join up to make it possible for us to be able to give these away in the first place. Last time we did a giveaway, sign-ups slowed down as people waited to see if they could just win one, but we thought that was a fluke. But it’s happening again today! Please join if you can afford it or we won’t be able to keep doing these! Thank you to all the generous humans who have joined A+ and donated memberships today!


Facts:

* We want to pay queer people to make uncensored queer media.

* I personally know that a lot of our A+ members are readers who have to budget really carefully in order to be able to afford A+, but they do it because they know paying for indie media is important. If you can comfortably afford it and you’ve been reading us for free, please consider pitching in!

* If you wanna read interviews with our ex-girlfriends, extensive g-chat transcriptions accompanied by groundbreaking graphics, listen to humorous podcasts, read about secrets we can’t share with the entire internet, and lip sync along to some of the best video editing work I’ve ever done, consider tossing in, ’cause you’ll get that stuff, too!

* We keep costs as low as we can: we don’t have an office or even a paid membership to our “virtual office” on Slack. We see each other once, twice or zero times a year. I personally handle three jobs that’d be full-time in and of themselves: CEO, Editor-in-Chief, and CFO (which includes all accounting).

* It costs us about $24k a month to pay six full-time staffers, three part-time staffers, 40+ writers/editors, as well as cover taxes, server costs, merchant fees and numerous other office, travel, research and internet-related expenses. To get to our next stage of development and to better compensate (read: value) our team, we need to pull in $35k a month. To do this we need everything that’s steadily gotten better to keep getting better (e.g, affiliate sales), everything that has steadily gone really well to keep on going really well (e.g., camp), and everything that is going mediocre to stay at that same level of mediocrity (e.g., network ads). We also need:

1. At least 2,000 A+ Members (we currently have nearly 1,100).

2. To increase how much merch we sell — which requires more capital to print the merch and more money for the labor to ship it.

Only 12% of our income comes from direct and network advertising. The network ads that run on our site run at a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of about 23 cents and we can’t run them on any posts that reference sex. So we rely on you to fund this company or we sink. 87% of our monthly budget goes directly into the pockets of queer people making queer media.

A+ Infographic

graphic by intern nikki

 

* There’s money — big money — flooding large media companies who have recently become interested in covering the same LGBTQ stories we do and courting the same writers we need. Of course, we’re not as large as Buzzfeed or Vice, and most of these companies are doing great work. But to even pretend to bat in the same league as their LGBT verticals, we need at least one quarter of the proportionate amount of funding for our size. As you can see, that’s not happening just yet:

Most of the companies on this list have gotten most of these investments in the last 1-3 years, whereas we've been around for six! Also, The Huffington Post (which has a gay vertical) was purchased for $315 million in 2011.

Most of the companies on this list have gotten most of these investments in the last 1-3 years, whereas we’ve been around for six! Also, The Huffington Post (which has a gay vertical) was purchased for $315 million in 2011.

* Furthermore, many of those companies have yet to turn a profit or figure out reliable revenue streams, and some of them pay their writers and staffers the same that we do, despite clearly being able to afford more. Here’s the deal about this company: we do know how to make money. Yup! We sure do. We’ve got zero debt, we’ve never been unable to pay somebody a promised amount at a promised time. Our merch sells out, our camps fill up, and we have heaps of ideas for more revenue streams — we just don’t have the money to go pursue them. I’d like to write more, but I can’t when half my time is occupied with business stuff. With the right funding, we could become what we’ve always wanted to be: a revolutionary employer and job-creator, funneling millions back into the queer community and queer media without corporate oversight.

* A-Camp has been super-successful, but doing it twice a year was a huge strain on the staff, and the website suffered. We hoped we could cut down to once a year and make up for the lack of revenue with A+. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Here’s what we’ve been able to do since launching A+ that we wouldn’t have been able to do without it:

  • Hire Heather Hogan as a full-time editor
  • Promote Yvonne Marquez to full-time
  • Pay Rachel and Laneia a not-unethical salary
  • Pay nearly 100 queer writers and illustrators to do the work they love
  • Pay the majority of our writers as well as all of our cartoonists and illustrators
  • Start soliciting new talent over 30 to enable us to grow up with our readers!
  • Print and sell a lot more merch, therefore making a lot more money!
  • Now 45% of our content is by women of color, up from 20% two years ago.

So, if you like what we do, or you like what we do but think we could do much better, then consider throwing some cash in our direction!

If not, you’ll keep on enjoying Autostraddle dot com for free as always, forever and ever more, and thank you for being a valuable member of our community and showing your support in whatever way you can. Also, your hair looks UNFUCKINGBELIEVEABLE today.

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 2689 articles for us.

42 Comments

  1. Ermahgerd I won a year membership? I’m so excited; thank you!

    Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY AS! You are spectacular and I believe in what you’re doing so much! I send donations and buy AS stuff and next year when I graduate I am getting a Gold membership as a graduation present.

    Thanks again for all you do! You’re making the world a better place!

  2. I only comment sporadically and don’t really participate in AS stuff off the site (like meet-ups, etc – mainly due to pragmatics tbh) but I am just so constantly in awe of what you do in every regard. There is not a site I link to more than AS, nor one that I check more regularly, and I’m constantly trying to persuade friends, my partner, etc to get A+ memberships.

    Basically, thank you! And wow.

  3. A quick hint to other non-US people – if you keep getting errors with paypal, it might be because there’s a problem with recurring subscriptions – seem to be something in Germany at least. BUT DON’T FEAR! You can buy a 1-year subscription from the store, which is a non-recurring payment and avoids the problem! I would have joined A+ months and months ago had I worked this out at the time…

    • You guys are fucking awesome. Really. I wish I could support you guys financially so bad, but the tale of my inability to do so is long, and…sigh. You guys have literally been there from 2011, when I didn’t even know what girl-on-girl culture was, so being able to help keep you guys afloat would mean so much to me. I will get there, and donate the shit to you, just wait and see.

      Anyway, happy birthday Autostraddle! I hope this is a good year for you, and your hair looks UNFUCKINGBELIEVEABLE today, too. That party hat really compliments it 🙂

  4. I won a thing!!!

    You guys are the most generous and I love you all so much! Cross yer fingers that by this time next year, I’ll have a real salary and I can a) keep this a+ membership going and b) finally finally someday get to a-camp. Goals, you know?

    xoxoxoxo
    and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, best website in the world.

  5. I want to order another pin, but the first one I got like broke as I was wearing it. I am cautious about ordering another one. On the other hand I’ve been meaning to order AS briefs and shirt so this comes at the perfect time. Thank you!

  6. I am so excited to win, so now I am promising you all that by this time next year, I will have enough money to renew my membership.

    I’m sure you get it a lot, but this site changed my life and I am so grateful for its existence.

  7. happy birthday, autostraddle!

    I’m super interested in how y’all manage your finances and how you make it work going against those internet news giants. Thanks for sharing/making those graphics! maybe I’m the only commenter interested in this (and I really can’t believe I’m saying this), but more financial graphs please if you’re interested in posting them!

    (like how does that 78% break down? How much from donations vs. merch sales etc?)

    • I was also relieved / interested to get an update from last year’s “2015 will be the last year of AS unless we can raise more monies” statement on the A+ signup page. You all are doing an amazing job running independent media and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would FIND A WAY to make sure AS got enough money to keep running through 2016 and beyond!!!

      For the bar graph, the numbers represent the total investment over the lifetime of the website? So AS has gotten 25k worth of investment over 6 years, vs 100 mill invested in BuzzFeed over its lifetime, correct? (I ask because the 25k is also the monthly op cost for AS.)

      • The $324 is the budget we launched with, from donations people gave me when I said I was starting a new site. (yes, two hundred and thirty-four dollars and zero cents.) in november of 2009, the year we launched, one of the founding humans put $20k into the company, which laneia and i lived off of for the next year! there was another human who put in $5k that summer so that i could focus on writing the business plan. then that was that! since then we’ve just been making do with the money we make. b/c ladies are RESOURCEFUL.

  8. Wow, thank you for adding more information on your financial needs. UGH, i really want to be able to sign up, but i’m so tight on budget as is, and may need to move in the next few months which we all know costs $$$. I really, really wish I could.

  9. THIS IS AWESOME, I love you guys. <3 Seriously. This website is the first queer community I joined, and even if it's online rather than face-to-face, it has helped tremendously in the whole journey of coming out and self-acceptance. And I honestly don't have much extra spending money, so this is really awesome. I really appreciate everything the autostraddle team does here!
    -Patricia (a.k.a. Eunoia)

  10. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUTOSTRADDLE!

    I think I say this in reply to every fundraising post, but your transparency when it comes to the financial realities of running this site makes me have the utmost respect for Autostraddle as a company and it’s leaders as human beings. You guys are just the raddest, and there will always be a line-item in my budget software for A+.

  11. I’m so keen for Autostraddle to keep running! I can’t get a membership in my current situation but as soon as I can, I absolutely will. It might be years until then, but it will happen!

    You guys have completely changed my queer experience – such varied, different, interesting, passionate voices with such varied, different, interesting, passionate stories to tell. You have done an amazing job.

    Thankyou.

  12. I CAN’T BELIEVE I WON. This is fantastic! I can’t tell timewise whether I’ve missed that AMA, (it’s Tuesday here, what is time?). But I can’t believe I won!!

    side note: everytime I try to message for my code, it says Message failed. Help?

  13. Autostraddle i love you! I love every human who works here and you’re all great. Not exaggerating when I say that a lot of what I am today is in part thanks to AS.

    I promise that as soon as I get a job again (in June probably!) I am going to get an A+ membership.

  14. Ugh love you guys. Love the transparency, love the heart, love the mission. I believe in it and I believe in you because you’re smart and work so bloody hard. I want this site to realise itself fully. The vision has been cast and it is great! People, sign up for A+ … the lip-syncing vids alone are classic. Throw in interviews with exes (which are actually often really touching) and there’s a lot that’s super rad! (and that’s not even half of what it involves!)

    But more than anything, for those of you for whom this is a financial option, being part of A+ is supporting this site to provide groundbreaking content, and supporting the future of the LGBTIQ community. It’s supporting our voices and our creativity and our wit and our talent. That’s lovely. One of the reasons this is so great and A+ is worth your dollaz.

    Get amoung it <3

  15. Okay, first let me say that I love Autostraddle and visit the site several times a week. Thanks for everything that you do; I truly enjoy this community.
    I mostly come here to read TV recaps, and herein lies my objection to you asking for money: Why should I support your website, when you make your loyal readers wait for days for a recap? Other websites manage to post these at most a couple of days after a show airs, but AS frequently stretches this turnaround time to almost a week, often with no explanation. For example, the most recent Glee recap only hit the site today, more than two days after the AfterEllen recap appeared. This reeks of unprofessionalism. If I were a paying customer, I would be extremely put out. I’m happy to buy t-shirts or calendars or whatever else to support you, but it is absolutely ridiculous to expect people to pay to read articles.

    • A lot of other TV recap sites have writers who get early access to TV shows so that they can release those recaps immediately after the show airs (even though they’ve had a week to write them). If you’re saying that AS is unprofessional when they’re NOT getting early access shows, and often reviewing multiple TV shows by the same person, then I don’t fucking understand why you’d refuse to give them money to FIX THAT PROBLEM!!

    • And also, none of the TV recaps are under a paywall. None of the general content is restricted to A+ readers. Members who donate get EXTRA goodies that are perks and mainly inside-joke-esque material, so it’s doubly absurd and insulting for you to throw a tantrum about waiting a couple extra days for a recap that is going to be accessible regardless of applying for A+ membership.

    • Kate, hey! So here’s a kooky thing: I recap here at Autostraddle but up until about five months ago, I worked for AfterEllen. Six years, in fact, of working for AfterEllen.

      I can tell you very truly and honestly that when you support Autostraddle financially, you’re not paying for recaps. You’re helping to support queer writers in ways that no other website on the internet does. Not a single one. Women of color, trans women, women over 30. And not just support them monetarily. The fact that we have a full time staff of editors that care so deeply about our mission and our writers means that we’re supporting queer artists emotionally and spiritually too!

      At Autostraddle, my soul and spirit are uplifted, and my brain is challenged and stretched, and my heart is comforted because my bosses are doing the nearly impossible work of creating and sustaining a safe, warm, ethical community online. Not just entertainment things like TV recaps, but news things and culture things and first person essays and cartoons! We have our own cartoonists, did you know that? They are amazing!

      It takes me longer to write recaps here because I don’t have the kind of access I did working for a website owned by Viacom, yes, and also because I have more responsibilities here and also because Riese and Laneia and Rachel encourage me to sleep and spend time with my girlfriend and go for walks. And also these women get that it takes time to write stuff that is influential, both to the queer people who are reading and to TV writers and TV showrunners and TV producers who are reading (and trust me, they are reading).

      TV recappers burn out hard and bright. I could point you in the direction of some of the sharpest, cleverest queer writers of our generation who will never write again because the culture of recapping is a damn beast of a thing. (Check out Rich Juzwiak’s candid essay here at Gawker, for example.) Most websites these days — yes, even the popular queer ones — plop down $50 and ask writers to go all out for them and grow their traffic and their brand and interact with readers and actors and TV writers on their behalf, until the recappers are so burnt out they don’t even want to own a laptop anymore. And then those websites plop down $50 on the next person, until they burn out. And the next person. The process is soul-sucking.

      Autostraddle is a different thing entirely. It’s about soul-sustenance, for readers and for writers. It takes me longer to recap here, but also I’m not a robot here! I hope you understand why that’s a good thing.

  16. My mom walked in while I was looking at that snazzy (and depressing) infograph about how AS’s income stacks up against other websites, and my mom said “Maybe they can get someone like Ellen DeGeneres to donate lots of money so they don’t have to shut down!!”

    Even my mom wants you to keep up the good work!

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