This year, this site celebrates its 11th birthday. Given the ever-changing world, 11 years of blogging is a milestone. Over the years, I have seen bloggers become household names and others fade away into obscurity. Blogging has come a long way, and it’s been one strange ride!
Yet the one that thing that has remained the same is: How exactly does one make money from blogging or really any type of digital writing? In reality, the average writer is making very little as consumers have come to expect a steady stream of content to be available at no cost to them. I say this not just as a blogger but as one who was partnered for 20 years to a journalist. An ole-school J-school grad, who has watched his own fortunes dry up. The days of writing for a buck or two per word have gone the way of the landline telephone.
Unfortunately, as a Black woman from working-class roots, I have no rich relatives or angel investors waiting in the wings to assist me in growing this operation.
What I do here at Black Girl in Maine Media was once very niche. But as awareness of race has exploded in this country, it has brought an influx of readers to this space in recent years. It is thrilling to know that we boast readership both nationally and internationally, and no doubt the increasing popularity of this site has led to a significant increase in speaking work for me. However, the site and our writers will always be the flagship operation and my baby. But unlike speaking engagements, there are very real costs to running this site. Regular and continuing costs.
Significant hacking attacks have become my norm, and the security and expertise that keeps this site running has a monetary price. Services I may have used only once or twice a year have become monthly. The trolls and harassment are very real. I recently shared a gem that showed up in my Facebook inbox. Higher visibility as both a Black woman and someone doing anti-racism work is persistent and takes a toll.
What hasn’t increased proportionally is the number of people financially supporting this site. I launched an end-of-the-year drive to increase the number of monthly patrons. In late November until almost the end of December, many signed up to support the site and by the end of January, we saw a number of people either cancel their pledges, or the pledges didn’t go through.
Monthly pledges determine the number of writers I can afford on any given month as those pledges pay the writers, cover the material costs of running the site, cover our editing costs, pay for the podcast to be produced and occasionally even pay me. Typically when pledges fall short, I cover things but as I make changes in my personal life, I can no longer do that. Instead what happened in February is that the podcast recording with our producer has been pushed back and I decreased the number of assignments to writers this month.
Given that reality, I am making some changes moving ahead. Effective March 1, only a limited amount of content will be available on this site. I am moving a portion of our content over to Patreon where only patrons will have access. For those who give monthly through Paypal, you will receive an email copy of those pieces. Anyone making a one-time gift will be eligible to receive all content for that month.
I have long tried to avoid these changes and yet for many of my blogging colleagues, shifting to the Patreon/patron-only model has become the norm. Recognizing that money is an issue for some and wanting this work to be accessible has always been important to me, which is why I am keeping some of the content available at no cost.
This was not an easy decision to make and if and when we are fully funded and the pledges are stable, I may reconsider. However with a decent-sized following across multiple social media channels, it has been disheartening to get so close to the goal and then watch support shift. What makes this site unique is that my actual work background is rooted in 20-plus years of social movement work; I actually work at an anti-racism organization and I have been writing on race for over a decade. I am committed beyond any monetary desires and yet things cost money. There is also the desire to serve as a hub for Black people and other POC.
While we are talking changes here at BGIM, we are rebooting the podcast. The time off from recording has been beneficial, as it has allowed me to get a better focus on what my goals are with the podcast.
Moving forward, I will be engaging in dialogue with others in the anti-racism world across the US. Some of my confirmed future guests will be Austin Channing Brown, author of “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness”, Kelly Wickham Hurst, a longtime educator/blogger/activist and the executive director of Being Black At School and Chris Crass, a social justice activist/educator and author of Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy. I will be tapping my extensive network nationally to engage in conversations with some dynamic changemakers.
Patrons will have early access to the podcast and while each episode eventually will be made public, there will an increased delay in terms of when episodes go public compared to before.
Right now, we need to bring approximately another thousand dollars a month to be stable; that means 200 folks committing a minimum of $5 a piece or some combination of patrons.
As always, thank you for your support and keep fighting! Fight as if your lives depend on it.
Shay aka Black Girl in Maine
If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.
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2 thoughts on “The site, the work and life: Keeping it going”
Shay, as a white woman 8n California – in an area with a relatively small population of POC – I find your perspective incredibly valuable and worthwhile, and I will be going over to Patreon to support you even though it won’t be very much. But the only way I follow most bloggers these days is on Facebook, because I simply don’t have time or bandwidth to keep seeking out all the people I want to follow on their separate feeds. And unless I missed it (which I might well have done!) This is the first post I’ve seen on FB from you that talked about all of this. I hope you’ll continue to post at least some of your content on FB where it can reach a wider audience so that others like me can learn from what you’re doing. Thanks, and I hope you keep doing it for a long time – you’re making a real difference.
I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I’m glad also. Our work has worth, and we need to be paid (or otherwise compensated) for it. So here’s to a bold new step. I’m with you!
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