A few weeks ago, a reader sent me a message chiding me for not responding to their request for information about Maine. It isn’t the first time that I have received such a message, and I am sure it won’t be the last. Black Girl in Maine (the blog) launched on January 2008, though I didn’t start regularly posting until about June 2008. Since that time, despite personal and professional ups and downs, I have kept writing and kept sharing. Over the years, the readership has grown and it never ceases to amaze me how far my words travel…I wish I were as well-traveled as my words, to be honest.
In a day and age when we can log onto our devices and have an endless supply of words at our fingertips for merely the cost of our internet connection, it is very easy to forget that behind the words we read are real people who provide their time, energy and resources to write the words that amuse, inspire, educate and maybe even piss us off at times.
This space has never been a commercial venture (and trust me, I’ve tried) but, in any case, it’s hard to sell racial justice and life with a side of baby food! The demographics just don’t match up. Some readers may recall that almost two years ago, I wrote a post asking readers to consider supporting this site with a financial contribution and at that time, enough people answered the call that I felt good about keeping the site going. In the past year, I have shifted to using Patreon, a site that allows people to support the content creators that matter to them. In almost a year of Patreon use, it’s been a mixed bag. Patrons come and go so it’s a continuous struggle.
I love writing and I get great enjoyment from the words I share, but the reality is that in any given month, less than 10% of readers are supporters, and I would love to see that figure increase ever so slightly especially given how far these words travel. My words have ended up in classes far beyond Maine as learning tools, and even in books that I neither wrote myself nor gave the green light to use my words within their pages, but that is another story. (Yeah, I know, I know: The author didn’t have to ask but an ask would have been a nice courtesy move).
There is a monetary cost to running this blog and there is also a time cost which, given that I no longer have a partner, I have become increasingly aware of…do I keep writing or get a weekend gig as the greeter at Wally World? While I do have a day job, the reality is that running an organization that has an annual operating budget of less than $250,000 a year (with a staff of 4) means that I am hardly getting over like a fat cat. The upside of growing up working class is I know how to make the dollars stretch. While I have added speaking events to my repertoire, as anyone who has ever attended an event knows, I do try to partner with groups to ensure that readers rarely have to pay to hear me speak. But those gigs are catch as catch can.
So, much like public radio (which I am a big fan of and support with my dollars), you can read here as much as you want but if this space holds value and you have the ability, consider becoming either a monthly patron or make a one-time gift. Your support allows me to upgrade and maintain the site and earn just enough to know that I am not taking away from myself and my kiddo in continuing this venture.
Now, back to the readers whose messages I don’t always answer. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time in my day. On any given day, I field twenty or more emails/messages related to this blog and given that I do have a full-time job and other responsibilities and that this is a solo operation, I can’t always get to your request. Though, sometimes, I answer messages by writing a blog post that addresses the question that you asked. However if support grows and stays steady, down the road I can consider hiring a virtual assistant to help me get through the emails.
As always thank you for your support and commitment to justice!