An eensy beensy administrative note

bluesquirleyKarlIn which I wince and engage in some self-referentiality, vis-a-vis the blog.

For those who notice such things, or give them any thought (or read this blog in its direct form, and not in a feed reader) I figured I ought to point out the obvious: I’ve started running ads on this here jobbie.  

It became painfully obvious  long ago to she who tends our family finances (two guesses!  nope!  not me! guess again!  right: the beloved!) that despite its unquantifiable value to me, we couldn’t keep on shelling out for the operating costs of this blog.  As all who do their own blogs know, the sundry costs of web hosting, photo hosting, domain name registries, and other sundries (in my case occasional surveys) add up to make it an expensive hobby.  An invaluable one, to be sure, but an expensive one.  

As a staunch anti-commercialist — I want a marketplace of ideas, here, I cried, not a marketplace of products; we need to promote more LOVE, not more Dove! etc. — I pondered nearly every other route to getting this thing to cover its costs.  

I asked what readers thought of the notion of pledging support, a la public radio.  The net: eh, not so much.  Folks are accustomed to the standard online of receiving the content for free; many were willing to overlook (or even “click through”) on ads, simply as the cheap price of the ticket.  Others certainly appreciated the ad-free content, but didn’t feel like the imposition would be grave, or even inexcusable.  Somehow, even despite the generous offers of a few readers, I never installed a PayPal “donate” button on the sidebar.  I might well have simply wanted to avoid finding out how few would actually click the link (since I’d run a passive-aggressive invite to anyone who cared to buy my kids a book from a spiffy list of LGBT famly books at Powels, and after untold months, discovered that no one cared to ).

[Later note: Oop!  I stand corrected — & happily so, since that remark is both pitiful & whiny — by francesca’s comment.  Gives me the opportunity to say: we DO have a great public library.  Also to say: see how poorly cut out folks like me are, for the life of commerce?  My pitch had the audacity of  bidder’s nod at a  Sotheby’s auction.]

I hooked up a swag shop, to see whether peddling stuff with various inspirational pro-lesbian family-type slogans might go a ways toward covering costs.  Again: not so much.  Though it has been extremely wonderful to have heard about how some of the swag has gotten around. (Most recently: DC’s LGBT marriage equality/civil rights rally!)

The bar that the swag shop needed to clear was anything close to the annual operating costs of this here jobbie.  Er.  After almost six months, I could definitely buy myself and some friends a latté or two.  But that would be about it.  

Ultimately, though, it was a remark or two from Gina Garrubbo at the ’08 BlogHer conference in SF that helped me turn a corner.  She was urging us women to take our writing seriously, to “take the money” and “build the business.”  I don’t know about the “build the business” part, but I am finally willing to decide that it’s better to besmirch (decorate? accessorize? clutter?) the sidebar with honest-to-goodness adverts (interspersed, fortunately, with Public Service announcements) than it is to stand on principle, watching all the while as a steady leak of $$ drains my latte fund the kids’ college fund.

And the sisters at BlogHer make up a prodigious network of women online — THE major network of women online, basically — which I was only too glad to officially affiliate myself with.  The fact that Public Service Announcements cycle heavily through their rotation is another major plus.  Warms the cockles of a bleeding heart progressive’s heart.  Whatever a cockle is.

Do accept my apologies in advancefor whatever annoying animated whizzing and moving about might happen over there in the ad slot, right below the navigational box jobbie.   I’d suggest you utterly ignore it, but that would be cutting off my wallet to spite my face.   

13 thoughts on “An eensy beensy administrative note”

  1. You don’t need to apologise at all; on the contrary, thanks for giving us your writing, free, for all these years!

    (Besides, I just clicked on a public service announcement which I actually found interesting.)

  2. The ad that appeared when I visited your post was “click here for the top gifts for him”. Quite amusing really!!

    I read using google Reader but I do visit the actual blogs now and again because it’s hard to appreciate ALL of the effort that goes in to the blog if you’re reading via Reader.

  3. No need to apologize at all. I think the ‘purity’ of ad-free zones is pretty much impossible without the support of other income. And I’d much rather have your family doing what it’s doing than somehow squeezing money to let us share your space. That’s not a kind of purity I believe in 🙂 We’re happy you’re doing this, and BlogHer is a great network.

    I’ll admit to being someone who *does* put money in paypal donation boxes pretty frequently, because I know the kind of economic and emotional labor that it takes to run these spaces. But I certainly understand the decision not to open that can of worms.

    Oh, and I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this in an email or not– but I did try multiple times to send books through the Powell’s link, and it never worked for me. It always redirected me to set up my *own* list and I couldn’t find your list by searching any of the various name permeations: Lesbian Dad, LesbianDad, etc. Many apologies for not mentioning this sooner!

    But we’re all glad to have you, and I’ll also mention that I have honestly clicked on BlogHer ads before. I say ‘honestly’ because I’ll click around on ads for friends just to drum up a bit of support, but the BlogHer ads actually do feature some cool stuff.

  4. Thank you all. Genderkid, themoosevolta, francesca & virgotex, I appreciate the nods. The tortured, pretzel-ey life of the neo-Marxist who’s not on a trust fund.

    Themoosevolta, the ad that popped up just now for me was the “Have you been a dad today?” PSA from the Ad Council. And I had to answer to myself, “Well, as a matter of fact, yes! I made scones with the kids, and then while they baked, hoisted one on each hip, and jogged them around the room in a very fatherly manner. Thankyouverymuch.”

  5. I am sad to see your site so cheapened by these ads. Your words, which rang so true to me just a few days ago, now sound hollow and tinny. I hope you will reconsider hosting them because I cannot, in good conscience, read a blog that contains advertising.

  6. Are you willing to share with us how much your monthly cost is?

    I am a few months away (okay, “a few” means 9 or 10, but after almost 8 years that doesn’t seem so bad) from having a real income again, and had already decided that subsidizing this blog with a regular monthly donation would be one of my first acts of financial glee when that happens. I’m curious what, precisely, it would cost to let you go ad free again. I doubt I can subsidize it 100%… but I may not be alone in being willing to commit to a regular amount.

    Mind you, I’ll keep reading, with or without the ads.

  7. See? Soup to nuts. Or rather nuts (Looky, Daddy!) to soup (Reno).

    I’ll answer the soup question (brace yourself for the whole enchilada of detail!) and just punch the nut in his upper arm, or take off my baseball hat and whop him over the head with it once, which is what you need to do to a pesky brother whenever he asks for it.

    The annual costs are a little under $500. (“Five HUNDRED DOLLARS?!!” Most of you say! Esp. those who run blogs for way less. “Lemme sell you some Everglades real estate!”) Web hosting, (which I’ve had to bump up twice, to manage the archival files & the traffic), domain names (3; I redirect .com and .org), and Flickr pro membership account for about half that.

    The other half is the Survey Monkey costs, which I frequently think of cutting, then think again. I really enjoyed what I learned from past surveys, and thought also that many readers took the opportunity to share pretty nuanced ideas. I’ve long wanted to do a monthly survey and keep the results archived and available. One of the future LD features I haven’t been able to give up on.

    All these are just the costs of publishing; clearly the question of how or whether to compensate the time spent is another one entirely, and one answered differently for every self-publisher/blogger who really clocks a lot of time at it. Into the mix one must toss Ariana Huffington, who doesn’t pay most of the writers at HuffPo (1,800 write gratis). So the whole wicket is very sticky. Also into the mix one must toss the observation that the whole self-publishing business has provided a ton of people the wonderful opportunity to sidestep commercial publishing for the very reason that it guarantees one’s writing is available, irrespective of the editorial or financial constraints in that sphere. So. One takes one’s chances, is the point. Price of the self-publishing ticket.

    I once averaged the annual subscription costs of the major magazines I liked (weekly ones), and then shaved that cost down by half, just for good measure (the word count in those things is way more than what I’d ever be able to provide here, even if I were a one-woman prose factory with talent remotely comparable). That wound up to some kind of $9.95. At which point, I’d need around 50 folks to do an annual subscription. These 50 would be essentially covering the costs for the rest of everyone who wouldn’t/couldn’t subscribe. I.e., I wouldn’t password protect anything, or anything wacky like that. (I HATE that stuff on the NYT; I subscribe to their Sunday paper and STILL can’t figure out how to get to the “premium” content.)

    Why didn’t I launch the voluntary subscription thing? (1) I needed to hook up a PayPal acc’t and track the process, and that hullabaloo, at the time, was too great. (2) I wanted to see if ancillary stuff like the modest mark-up on the CafePress swag would do. Didn’t help that I put the tiniest available mark-up on it. But I saw that as spreading the good lesbian family gospel, too, and wanted to make it more readily available.

    What’s good about your note, Reno, is that it helps me to get a hair clearer about this whole shebang, about which I have been fairly consistently conflicted. I’ve talked to friends about the whole subscription/ads stuff, as well as the dilemmas of getting one’s work underwritten. That’s after I’ve gone through the process of deciding that this writing work is part of my Official work (other writing work definitely is, as well as editing).

    Ultimately, selling ad space is how 99% of writers online keep online, as far as I can tell. Subscription stuff might work for some who have huge readerships. I can’t remember the chap, but I know there’s a tech blogger who does a version of what Issa — formerly Jane Siberry — does, and asks people to donate or pay what they’d like. I think he covers his outlay, and actually also has his time paid for. But for most of the rest of us it’s a problematic thing (so says a businessey article here, for further info).

    The last point, and probably the most interesting to me, is the proactive one about BlogHer. Going to the BlogHer conference was a revelation to me. I’d been to tons of academic conferences before, back when I was an academic. I’d attended political ones before (NGLTF Creating Change, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, etc.). But I hadn’t been to one all about this new medium in which I’d spent so much time, and which I’d grown to value hugely.

    I imagined myself to be at the periphery of the core BlogHer demographic, what with being a mannish lesbian. But I actually found otherwise. Not like there were a ton of mannish lesbians. But rather, I found a lot of different women with a lot of different interests, and many many of them were very interested in making connections across difference. That has long been a strong value of mine, and hooking up with their network enables me to be connected to that large group of people. [That is, under the ad is a short strip of links to other posts in the BlogHer network.] And the gals running the BlogHer shop were then and continue to be very very welcoming, something that’s been a pleasant surprise to me, and something I very much appreciate, given that this welcome includes a tacit invite to continue the cross-pollination of ideas. The good we can do together, by extending these seeds of communication back and forth, is really amazing to me. And worth the occasional Mr. Clean graphic. So I think, week one. I’ll keep you updated.

  8. I say… go for the dough, and never look back!

    You deserve what wee bit of financial offset you can get to support all your good work.

    (okay, not very nuanced, but that’s my stand.)

  9. 1. I don’t mind the ads at all, if that’s what you need to do to keep this great LesbianDad community going.

    2. I absolutely think you should include a PayPal donation link on every page. You are putting a lot of valuable time (and money) into creating this community; and members of the community should have an easy way of thanking you (monetarily) for your efforts.

    3. I have looked at your Powell’s book list on more than one occasion, I’m glad it’s up there! I think it would also behoove you to put a wishlist up for yourself and not just your kiddies.

    4. If/when the time comes that I have a steady income again I would be more than willing to give you a $10 per month subscription fee. And I can’t speak for anyone else but I would guess that this type of fee would go over well to anyone else who can afford it. If you get 20 people to give you just $10 a month you’ll have half of your operating costs paid for. And I know there are oodles more than 20 people who regularly visit.

    5. Also, I would be willing to give more than $10 per month if you were willing to recommend my services as a copy editor on your blog (by a link, a post, or something like that)…freelance workers supporting freelance workers, that sort of thing.

    6. On a totally unrelated note, I need to change the website that my name on here links to. I changed my blog address but don’t know how to update my profile on here.

    Finally….THANK YOU for everything you do.

  10. Studying Stones, I think the $500 is for the year. That means your $10/month and my $10/month right-now offer would cover almost half the annual costs, and when I get a real job (August) my contribution will increase.

    LD, I think you need to create that PayPal account. 🙂

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