What If Today Was the Day You Joined A+?

This month marks nine years since the launch of Autostraddle, and the most incredible thing about that is that we’re still here at all. We’ve seen other queer and feminist websites come and go, we’ve thrived despite intense competition from publications with far deeper pockets than our own, and we’ve done so because of you. 

But! We still need your help. Starting now, we’re gonna be lightly begging y’all regularly to join A+, our Premium Subscription program, which you can do for less than three dollars a month, until we reach 3,000 subscribers. We currently, as of 5pm on Monday March 19th, have 2,562 paid subscribers. So it’s gonna be a long climb but we can get there.

The only catch for us, which’ll make a lot of sense to you once you reach the end of this post — is that we literally do not have the time or resources to beg you to join A+! We just need you to do it. So if y’all could just join up quickly as possible, that would be great, maybe I’d have time to write about something else besides how we need money for a few days!!!!!!

We’ve Got New Stickers & Tees For You!

We’ve been gradually rolling out new perks for Gold A+ members and our latest is the Gold “Gal Pal” Tee! It’s a gorgeous way to really broadcast your status as a golden supreme being.

And, we’re doing a special promotion for this A+ membership push — if you join at the Bronze, Silver or Gold level; in addition to getting your A+ member sticker, you’ll also get this fun sticker sheet!

We don’t want loyal A+ members to feel left out of this promotion, but also don’t want to lose money in the process — so, if you’re already an A+ member and want a sticker sheet of your very own, we’ll send you one for $2.50, which covers the cost of the sticker sheet, envelope and postage (we just averaged international + domestic postage to keep it simple). You’ll have to give us the email associated with your A+ account here:


Your A+ Account Email



If you joined A+ between January 28th and March 16th, good news: your sticker sheet is already in the mail.

But listen… maybe you don’t understand why it is SO DESPERATELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU JOIN A PLUS.


We Do This On the Cheap, Which Still Isn’t Very Cheap

In which we attempt to seduce you with intense transparency. 

We Don’t Advertise, Do PR or Buy Traffic. Everything that happens here is grassroots. Back in 2015, leaked financial documents revealed that in the first six months of 2014, Buzzfeed spent $5.9 million of its $10.5 million editorial budget on “buying traffic on Facebook and other websites on behalf of its advertisers.” We spend less than $100 a year on Facebook advertising. We rely on word of mouth to promote everything we do, including camp and merchandise.

We Don’t Have an Office (We Don’t Even Live in the Same City). Bustle and Romper operate out of a 51,150-square-foot office in New York, paying between $4 million and $5.4 million dollars a year in rent, with additional offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. Granted — BDG Media, which also owns Elite Daily and Please, reaches 80 million readers a month. Still, adjusting just the New York office proportionately to Bustle & Romper’s readership only, a site our size would be renting office space for around $20k/month. Instead, our full-time staff works, year-round, on laptops in desks squeezed into tiny spaces in small apartments all over the country, and the senior editors spend one week a year sharing beds and sleeping on couches for our annual “Senior Staff Retreat.” Instead of having a team of full-time staff writers, we manage a stable of 20 staff writers and dozens of freelancers. We use “virtual office” tools like Slack, Gusto and Airtable to connect the entire team, for around $1,000/month.

We Work At Half-Price. It costs up to $30k a month to pay all the humans who contribute to this site — our editors, writers, designer, accountant, tech director, illustrators, cartoonists, lawyers, consultants, all of it. Another $9k/month goes towards taxes, workers comp and health insurance. If we paid ourselves according to, for example, the absolute minimum the Gawker union settled on for its employees (and we work as many if not more hours than they do, so we deserve it!) and I was paid what editors-in-chief are paid (looking at what CEOs are paid is just a whole different (very depressing) ballgame), and our Marketing/Business Director and Tech Director what their jobs are worth, and our writers/freelancers on par with what similar sites pay — it’d cost over $80k a month to pay all the humans who contribute to this site, with taxes on top of that. And that’s before we even consider that most of us are doing two jobs or that we’re understaffed and need to hire way more people, which brings me to…

We Do So Many Jobs. We have an accountant who handles our invoices, paying our writers, and Gusto management, but I’m (Riese) still the CFO and I still do the bookkeeping. For the past two years I’ve been the one handling all the A+ perk mailings, too, as well as being CEO and editor-in-chief and having a heavy hand in A-Camp. Heather does two full-time jobs: she directs all our social media, along with Valerie (who also writes for the site and has a full-time job), and is a Senior Editor. Sarah also does 3+ full-time jobs — overseeing ad sales, event partnerships, sponsorships, merchandise design, and all the design and graphics for the entire site. Cee is the sys-admin for two servers — they build, maintain, update, and run our servers and fix them when they break, on top of keeping the website’s code working, programming the site and setting up plug-ins. Normally Cee’s job would be done by a small team — and “web developer” and “systems administrator” would never be done by the same, part-time person. Instead, they have one intern (Chloe!) who handles all our tech support and has done so, for free, for five years.

So, in total: The Base Costs of Running This Website As Cheaply as Possible Are Around $45k a Month. On top of the aforementioned $39k, we spend around $3k a month on virtual office tools, server expenses, subscriptions, travel, office supplies and reference materials. There’s also payment processing fees and other random expenses. None of this accounts for money spent to produce merchandise or to put on camp — and while our Camp Co-Directors are paid and our Senior Staff consultants receive small stipends, the vast majority of camp staff are volunteers who do that work on top of their work for Autostraddle and their other jobs.

And advertising won’t cut it. Our income from advertising in 2017 was less than $3k a month, with another $3k coming in from affiliate advertising (when we drive sales to merchants like Amazon, Crash Pad, or Babeland, we earn a percentage of what you purchase, usually between 1% and 6%). Sarah’s working hard to get more advertising to the site, but it’s hard on top of everything else!

There is a cap on our growth. We’re writing for a niche within a niche. There are allegedly approximately 4.5 million LGBTQ women in the U.S., and if every single one of them read Autostraddle every single month (which is an absurd expectation, as we don’t necessarily appeal to every single LGBTQ woman and a significant number don’t have regular internet access regardless) we’d still only get half the traffic Jezebel does. (Jezebel gets 8 million U.S. uniques a month, the same number as 5% of the 157 million women who live in the U.S.)

But we do have you. We do have you, right? We wanna make it to Year Ten: ten years of independent, weird, heartfelt, community-oriented queer media. Whether we helped you feel okay about being queer, made you laugh a lot, or gave you a space to share your feelings about [tv show] — we probably did something for you that is worth more than zero dollars. You can do something for us that is only slightly more than zero dollars! THESE STICKERS ARE GREAT!!

Join A+ today


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130 Comments

  1. Okay, so I just bumped up to gold (hey, whaddup!) because honestly, when I consider what keeps me going these days, it’s Autostraddle.

    I know you have answered questions like this before, but what else can I do to help? I don’t have a huge network of queer friends to pester into joining/donating… Can I like, donate my time or something? What do y’all need?

  2. I’m going to the wedding of two wonderful A+ members tomorrow who met thanks to this site.

    Join A+ and increase your chances of connecting in cool comments by having access to gorgeous A+ posts! Who knows where it could lead you…!

    Also, just join so that there is any kind of AS at all for the foreseeable future! For Carols about Carol! For investigative news! For the latest pics of Janelle Monae! For lesbian Ken! For lesbian Jesus! For sex ed! For comics and advice and storing tabbouleh! For the amazing hearts and souls we connect with here in so many different ways <3.

    Yeah, JOIN US!

  3. Y’all are so amazing. I’m proud to be a silver member, and will upgrade to gold as soon as I have income again.

    Question: Would it be useful to have some current A+ members write blurbs or short essays about why we choose to be A+ members, like to compile in an article or use for some other kind of marketing strategy thing? I know nothing about how marketing works, but I guess I’m just saying that if you were looking for A+ members to volunteer some words about how great you are, I’d be happy to contribute, and I imagine many others would be as well. Because y’all are amazing!

  4. Have you considered making any higher levels? I know we can always donate extra or up our reoccurring donation, but I’m a sucker for swag who has been at gold level for a year and would like to take it higher…

  5. this made me cry. honestly we’ve had ups and downs – personal, professional, logistical, etc – but i’ve never found a place on the internet that feels more Home than autostraddle. i think this is true for a lot of people. and i think some people don’t find home here, and that’s okay, but they do find that one really true and important thing they needed at that very moment and that is so special too.

    imagining a world without autostraddle is really terrifying, and i want us to get to year 10 (AND BEYOND) so bad. brb, gonna go gather myself in this VERY PUBLIC TEAROOM I AM CRYING IN and then post this shit everywhere.

    thanks for everything always, riese. thanks for everything always, autostraddle.

    AND THANKS FOR EVERYTHING ALWAYS, EVERYONE WHO JOINS A+.

    love you weirdos for forever.

  6. I know I say this, on average, about four times a year, BUT: I didn’t know what being publicly queer was gonna look like for me. I’d always thought there were parts of myself I was going to have to hide if I wanted to be gay. Then I discovered AS and it was honestly like walking out of my little wooden Kansas house into the colors of Munchkinland.

    Thanks for the site, and for camp, and for all of what you all do. You’re superheroes and you’ve taught me so much. <3

  7. This weird, funny, heart-warming, force-for-good little corner of the internet makes me feel awesome about being queer every time I log in. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend part of my tax refund than joining A+!

  8. What if today was the day,
    That you joined A+,
    You’d be supported some great articles,
    So I don’t know what’s the fuss,
    I don’t know that anybody,
    Feels the way I do, about you now

    And all the revelations here are blinding,
    It’s good information you’ll be finding,
    There are many things that I,
    Would like to say to you, and this is how

    Because maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me,
    And after all, this should go on your wall

    Today is gonna be the day,
    That you joined A+

  9. I’m a person with real monthly income now, largely due to working for Autostraddle changing everything for me career-wise (and let’s be honest — personal life-wise). So now I am a paying A+ member and GLAD ABOUT IT!

  10. I had a mental breakdown after the election and impulsively got a gold membership because I was afraid everything good in the world would stop existing and I wanted to try to make sure there was at least one media outlet that would remain gay and angry that could be a bright spot in a dark dark world! I don’t regret this decision because I got cool podcasts, content, shirts, stickers, and the love of my life out of the deal! You could too!!

  11. Just joined. Autostraddle is just too damn important to me.

    Thank you for all the work you do each and every day to create this amazing space for our community! It is so incredibly necessary. You’re all beautiful human beings!

  12. Disabled my ad blocker for you guys (sorry, I forget that I have it). Hopefully, that helps even a tiny amount. I can click on some ads too 😛

    In a few years, when I have an income again, I’ll try for gold

  13. @Riese Im officially no longer that person who bums on your couch, uses the last of the ketchup and borroes your favorite hoodie without asking.

    But my joining A+ the other day after an entire year of admitted mooching and internal shame… that had nothing to do with the timing of this post? 😅 Did my amends inspire a movement? Do I get to be a limited edition mug or have plaid themed photo ops?

  14. Yay I leveled up! The vision of Riese one day taking a 6 week sabbatical is very motivating to me.

    Personally not into the gold ring idea bc ppl have different access to moneys and that feels exclusionary. BUT SUPER INTO the testimonials idea and keeping Autostraddle alive & thriving.

    • My guess is that this is for search engine optimization, which helps with website traffic data that might be useful for partnerships (another source of funding for AS) and some kinds of ad revenue. So more A+ memberships would reduce dependence on SEO and give Autostraddle more room to choose about language.

    • the tagline didn’t change! i’m not sure why it says that now or where — both of those taglines have been employed in different contexts since the day we launched, actually…. i think a new plug-in changed which one appeared at the top of your bar, probably the new SEO plug-in we have, as those are important keywords

  15. Been a Silver member for a while, but finally upgraded to Gold! Thanks for all your hard work!

    Some of my best friends and I have a group message and have gotten to the point where nothing is real if we havne’t seen it on AS yet. So, thanks for keeping it real.

  16. Planning to upgrade to gold once next paycheck hits. I don’t have tons of in person people to talk queer things with or who pay attention to stuff and reading autostraddle helps so much with keeping me informed. I never realized one could actually like/relate to pop culture until I read things here. Though my girlfriend might be sick of me starting many conversations with “so I was on autostraddle and saw this thing…..” or giggling at the Insider and her just not getting why I’m so amused 🙂 I never comment as much as I should, and as a lurker feel like a voyeur into friendship and community interactions… so maybe I should get off my butt and type/interact more.

    Tips for being a good commenter when you don’t think you’re witty/funny?

  17. I’m adding you to my budget so I can power up at my next renewal. Not that I want anyone’s economy to tank, but I would ever so appreciate a break in the exchange rate. Maybe I’ll get lucky and you’ll get more of my money rather than the banks !

  18. I just joined after years of reading, and making my partner listen to “I read this thing on Autostraddle today…” (as someone else mentioned). I had been thinking a lot about joining, then read Carmen Phillips’piece on Lena Waithe in Vanity Fair, and knew I had to support all that you do! Thank you for creating this essential space!!

  19. I just joined after meaning to forever. I appreciated the reminder-to-join post!

    This website is a daily source of queer love & culture & community for me, and I’m sure for so many others. Thank you so much. <3

  20. I think I have an annual cobalt membership at the moment – how do I find out when my renewal date is/upgrade to an annual bronze membership? Would I have to pay twice for those months I already have?

    • I am not on staff, but I recently moved up a level in membership. When I’m logged in, and click on ‘Join A+’ and click on the button to get the new level I want, it’ll take me to a page where it shows how much I will be PRO-RATED for the remainder of the current year, and how much I will be charged for the year after that. It also offered me two payment methods. I used a different payment method than the one I used before, and it automatically canceled my old payment method. I hope this is helpful.

    • @ladywolvs in short, you will not have to pay twice because your new subscription will be prorated, and you don’t have to know when your renewal date is. Details in my reply above. It went smoothly for me, and I hope it goes smoothly for you. Thank you for leveling up on supporting AS, from another A+ member 🙂

  21. Would you consider accepting bitcoin donations? That could be handy for people in countries where it’s not easy to make international payments/transfers or for those who want to donate anonymously. Obviously, it would only make sense if several people are interested in this option. I would be interested in donating in this way.

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